Early Spring Farewell
The wind was blowing on the sacred hilltop where the village kami dwelt, but they didn’t near that part of the shrine, and instead, stopped in front of a small funerary shrine just at the top of the stairs. Lighting some incense, the two stood silently for a moment, his silver hair and her ebony hair catching in the raw spring wind.
The man, not quite human and dressed in red, wrapped his arm around his wife’s waist. She looked up at him, and saw just how hard this was for him, but didn’t say anything, merely leaned into his shoulder. He sighed, and looked up at the sky.
“I asked her to come stay with us,” InuYasha said at last, “But she wouldn’t leave the village.”
Kagome looked at the small shrine, and how the incense curled up, and thought of the gentle older miko who had taken her in and set her on this path, and sighed. “I’m not surprised,” she said, covering his hand with hers. “This was her home, her family, her world.”
InuYasha rested his chin on the top of his wife’s head. “I wish I had known. Maybe we could have gotten Sesshoumaru to . . . ”
Kagome pulled back and put her finger over his lips. “She wouldn’t have wanted that, you know. The fact that she had brought in Yorime to stay with her, not just help her with the work says she was getting ready to let go. The fever that went through the village was just the tool that let her out.”
The hanyou took a deep breath, and his eyes looked out into the distance, remembering. His voice was soft and sad when he spoke. “Let go. I know what that’s like. My mother, one day she just let go, and then I was alone.”
Kagome rested her hand on his arm. “But you aren’t alone now.”
“Yeah,” he said. “But who am I gonna go to when I need to talk about all the stupid stuff I’m trying to figure out?”
“Well, there’s your wife, for one. She’s always willing to let you talk.” She interlaced her fingers with his. “And Miroku and Sango, too, for that matter.”
He held her very tightly, not speaking,
“It always amazed me, you know,” he said at last. “How even when she thought it was me who had killed her sister, she took me in, and treated me like a real person, from the beginning, even back in the days I was a real baka about everything. She’d look at me with that single eye, steady and sure and calm, and actually listen to me. I called her a hag and she treated me like a nephew or son.” He pulled away from Kagome a moment and wiped his sleeve across his face. “Kami-sama, I’m going to miss her.”
“Me, too,” Kagome whispered. “Grandmother Kaede, thank you for being just who you were.”
The wind gusted once again, and this time, a single maple leaf, new and barely open, drifted down in front of them. InuYasha bent over and picked it up and twirled it in his fingers, looking at it thoughtfully.
“It’s too early for maple leaves,” Kagome said.
“I know,” the hanyou replied. He looked at the shrine while stuffing the leaf in his jacket. “Goodbye, old woman. Thanks for everything. We won’t forget.”
Together, they turned and walked down the stairs and into the rest of their lives.
A/N: Kaede means Maple