The Spirit Returns

Summary

Chihiro is nineteen when she meets Haku again. Then she learns his world is in trouble, and that it might be all their fault. Will they be able to overcome this, or is their new life doomed?

Genre:
Romance / Drama
Author:
UndeadLadybug
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
31
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

Dragon Dreams

“Whatever you do, don't look back,” Haku said. “Not until you reach the other side of the tunnel.”

“Will I ever see you again?” I asked.

“Don't worry,” he smiled. “I'll find a way to see you.”

“Promise?”

I felt tears well in my eyes, then his hand slid across my cheek. I knew he was telling the truth. His grip tightened on my hands, his face coming closer to mine.

“Of course I do,” he said gently. I don’t know how long we stood there, gazing in each other’s eyes. His were as green as the Kohaku River. I barely noticed when his lips touched mine. He pulled away a second later, once again serious.

“Go now, and remember; don't look back until you reach the other side of the tunnel. Understand?”

I nodded, wrapping my arms around him.

“I'll miss you, Haku,” I whispered.

“I'll miss you, too.”

His hands slipped to my back. I took a deep breath, smelling the river and remembering that frightening day. It had been so long ago that we first met and now I was leaving him for the second time. I hoped with all my heart that I’d get to see him a third. He pulled away slightly, though I was still in his arms.

“I'll always be with you, Chihiro,” he said softly. His lips fell back on mine and I found I didn't really want to leave.

“I don't want to go,” I murmured.

“You have to,” his voice almost cracked. “But I promise we'll see each other again, when the moment is right.”

He let me go and I felt the wind push me away. I looked at him a moment longer, then turned and went quickly down the steps. I ran because I knew I’d look back if I went too slowly. I soon found myself at the tunnel, where my parents were waiting.

“Chihiro,” my mother cried. “Where have you been?”

“Sorry, mom,” I called back, and dashed down the hill. There was no sign on either of my parents that they’d been turned into pigs. I knew somehow they didn't remember a thing.

“Where have you been?” my mother repeated.

“Just looking around,” I lied, shrugging.

“Well, come on, we're going to be late.”

She and my father vanished into the tunnel, but I stayed behind. I wanted to look back, to see Haku's smiling face one last time. Then I remembered what he’d told me. I shook my head, feeling fresh tears in my eyes. I hoped I would remember this, my time in the spirit world and what it had taught me. I wiped my eyes and raced to catch up with my parents, leaving the beauty of his land behind, returning to the human world.

I slowed to a walk, gripping my mother's arm. I didn’t pay attention to what she said. The taste of river salt was on my lips and I still felt Haku's arms around me. Something about it felt like a dream, but it couldn't have been. Could it? I blinked myself back to reality. I slid my hand in my pocket, feeling my fingers close around something hard. I drew it out, amazed by what I saw.

It was a stone, silvery blue-green, though it seemed to change as I looked at it from all sides. It was round, perfectly smooth, the size of my palm. A river stone. I clutched it tightly, holding it close to my heart. I turned it over, and saw that there was something engraved on the bottom. “The Kohaku River”. I smiled, looking up as we reached the other side of the tunnel.

The plants were overgrown. Our car was covered in leaves and dust, as if it had been there for a long time. It had seemed like only a few days; had it really been months? I decided not to think about it as I climbed in, clutching the silver stone and thinking about Haku. I looked back, seeing nothing. The car started and soon we were driving away, my parents chatting on about our new house like nothing had happened. I thought about what else he had told me.

We'll see each other again, when the moment is right. What had he meant? My eyes began to feel heavy, and I looked up at the sky. It was full of soft clouds and I could’ve sworn that I saw his face, smiling beautifully. I smiled back, letting my eyes fall shut. I slept, dreaming of rivers and crystal-white dragons.

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