“You’re thinking of her, aren’t you?” Kaede asked, watching him from the corner of her eye as she gathered in the last of the fall herbs. “Are you still waiting?”
“Keh,” he replied, as he turned away from the old miko, unwilling to see her look of sympathy.
He watched the children playing in the snow and thought about a snowball she threw once. Making one, he placed it on the lip of the well, and watched how it melted in the late winter sun, so slowly. It reminded him of his heart, his hope.
Sakura time came, and he watched the slow, lonely drift of a petal caught in the wind, drifting, delaying the inevitable, coming at last to rest on the ground, like the cold death of hope. He smashed it into the ground, refusing to believe.
He thought about that petal as young hands tugged his ears, and how his heart was like a snowball. Suddenly a whiff of scent and a touch of aura, and that snowball that trapped his heart melted immediately.
As his arms wrapped around the warm flesh of the one person who mattered most in the world, he knew that delay does not equal never, and he rejoiced..