Chapter | 16
“What now?” I asked, running a hand through my messy hair.
A hand softly touched my shoulder from behind. “If it were me, I’d do what she says,” Yoru said silently, almost as if he knew what it felt like to be threatened. I turned around to face him.
“That would be an option if I weren’t here,” I almost yelled at him, but realised I had no right to be mad at Yoru. Well, I did have a little right, but yelling at him wouldn’t exactly help my cause either.
“Well, if that’s what you’re worried about, then don’t worry,” he said, “I’ve been given orders to take you back home, well, back to the bath house anyway.”
I looked at him suspiciously.
“Oh, don’t worry, I promise there’s no strings attached,” he said when he noticed my expression. My legs shook a little as we left the room, the feeling of dread not staying behind as the doors closed.
I followed him out and back to the room I had been put in when I first woke up.
“Oh, and by the way,” I asked Yoru on the way, “What am I wearing?”
Yoru, only giving me a single glance, suddenly started laughing, almost so loudly that he needed to stop and catch his breath.
“Your dress had been torn on the way here, and the only clothes available were the servants clothing,” he explained once he calmed down. We passed my room and headed back to the stairs. I was able to catch a brief glimpse of my dress and felt a little pang inside my stomach. It was such a beautiful dress.
Once we had reached the bottom of the stairs, Yoru told me to wait for a moment. Barely a minute later he returned with what seemed to be a cloak hanging from his arms.
“Here you go,” Yoru said and handed it over to me. “We’re going to be flying; you’ll freeze to death before I can get you home.”
Gratefully I pulled the cloak around my shoulder, fastening the strings at the front. After I had finished, Yoru came and stood in front of me.
“Sorry Chihiro, but I’m gonna have to blind fold you,” he said sheepishly, obviously not comfortable with the idea.
“It’s okay, understand,” I said, trying to sound as cheerful as possible. Gently Yoru began to wrap a piece of cloth around my head until the world became black.
“Okay, I’m going to pick you up now,” he said before scooping me up in his arms. I wanted to ask why, but held my tongue when he started to chant. The words were in a different language, so I decided to block it out and feel if there was any change around me. At first I couldn’t feel or hear anything strange, but a few verses into Yoru’s chant, I felt a prickle. It started at the nape of my neck and soon spread to the rest of my body, almost as if the darkness outside was consuming us. Then it stopped.
A cool breeze blew across the two of us, fresh air flooding into my lungs.
“You can take of the blindfold now, but don’t panic when you open your eyes,” Yoru said close to me ear. I could feel his lips near my ear, but it sounded like he was far away.
I reached up and undid the knot, wanting to pull it off, but before I could stop it, it was whipped right out of my hand. The wind current was so strong that I had to keep my eyes closed before prying them open. When I finally did open them, I cried out. I instantly understood why Yoru sounded so far away, it was because we were very, very, very high up. Unconsciously I wrapped my shaking arms around Yoru’s neck, who seemed to be completely confident in his ability not to drop me.
Slowly I pulled away from him; bit by bit until I was able to look down. In the dark the world looked beautiful from up in the sky. Everything seemed to blend together, but at the same time everything was set apart. I could see little houses and animals, trees and fields of grass. It wasn’t like it was my first time up so high, but when I was with Haku it was completely different. Back then I was too young to fully admire the view. That and the fact that Haku and I had our first PG-rated moment.
Yoru soon found the train track and we swiftly followed it until the bath house came into view. When we reached the train station where I had lain in the sun only a few days earlier, Yoru flew in a tiny circle before landing on it.
“I’m sorry to say that this is where we part ways,” Yoru said once he had put me back on my feet. He looked genuinely sad saying good-bye to me, and somehow it chipped at my heart again. It’s not like we knew each other at all, but I had a feeling that we would have been great friends if it weren’t for the whole ‘you’re my enemy’ thing. Taking him completely by surprise I stepped forward and wrapped my arms around his neck.
“Thank you, Yoru” I said into his chest before pulling away. Yoru took a few forced steps before lightly jumping off and into flight.
“Oh, I forgive you for molesting me!” I yelled before he could get out of hearing range. A laugh escaped his lips before he made a quick turn, swept down until he was in front of me, and kissed me softly on the lips before taking off again. I could have sworn I heard him whisper “I’m so sorry…”
I stood motionless for a millisecond, giving a little laugh. Then I turned to face my problem. I sure as hell was not getting in the water when I couldn’t see what else was in it along with me. Luckily the heavens appeared to be smiling down on me since I could barely started to make a plan when I saw a dark figure in the sky.
Haku came barrelling towards me at a speed that could only be described as record breaking. He barely slowed down be for he took a running-landing straight at me, which meant it hurt quite a lot when my running start and his running start brought the two of us together. Not that a really noticed it at that moment, all I could think was how happy I was to see him again.
Haku pulled away and put his hands on my face, almost as if trying to feel if I was truly there. When he was satisfied I wouldn’t evaporate, he kissed me, pulled away to look and me again, then kissed me again. The second time around I wrapped my arms around his neck and kept him in place.
“Where – how- who?” he started saying, but couldn’t decide which question to ask first, so I simply put my hand up and told him I would explain everything when everyone was there to listen. He nodded and pulled me back into an embrace that melted my core.
Without a word he hauled me into his arms and we flew back to the bath house in a comfortable silence. We landed on the balcony, awkwardly trying to walk without letting each other go. Once we were inside I could clearly see that Haku hadn’t slept since I left. There were dangerously blue bags under his eyes that could barely stay open, and he looked like a zombie.
“Haku, who knows I’m back? Other than you of course,” I asked, placing a hand on his chest to stop him from heading down stairs.
He looked at me strangely before muttering, “No one that I know of.”
I stood in front of him and pushed him until he sat down on the bed. “Sleep, I’ll go tell everyone I’m safe,” I whispered, putting my hand on his face.
He considered it for a second before his fatigue kicked in and he sighed, removing his shoes and rolling side-ways onto the bed. I gave a little laugh before heading down stairs.
I was wondering where I’d have to go look for everyone when I stepped into Yubaba’s office. I was still used to her being away that I was once again shocked when I saw the old hag sitting behind her desk.
“Welcome back Chihiro,” was all she said, not even bothering to look my way.
“Thanks for the warm welcome,” I muttered under my breath, praying she wouldn’t hear me. I walked past her and headed for the elevator, hoping most of the guest would be gone so that only a select few would get the viewing pleasure of seeing me in a slave’s uniform.
Luck seemed to be on my side when I descended the elevator and found barely any one around. Guess it must have been later than I had originally thought. How long had I been gone anyway? I mean, to me it felt like one day perhaps, but who said time was the same inside the void. I also had a feeling that Haku couldn’t look as bad as he did from only one night without sleep.
Pushing the thought aside I continued my search for any familiar face who could spread word like a wild fire. So it was simply perfect when I ran into the last person I wanted to see- Luna.
I have to admit that I was pretty surprised when upon seeing me, she ran and wrapped her skinny arms around me. My vision momentarily turning red from all her hair. Once she had managed to squeeze me half to death, she pulled away and held me at arm’s length.
“Thank goodness you’re safe,” she yelled at me, “I was terrified that they had hurt you!”
I stood there for a moment in stunned silence before realising she probably wanted some sort of reply from me, so I simple let out a measly, “Um, yeah.” It seemed to be enough, because Luna’s grip on my shoulders slackened and her facial featured relaxed.
“Listen, Luna. How long has it been since I was taken?” I asked once she had let go of me, rubbing the spot on my arm where she had held me.
“It’s been about 3 days,” Luna said sceptically, checking me out as if some of my pigs had escaped out of their pen.
“Don’t worry about it, would you just tell the rest that I’m back,” I said, “Haku doesn’t look so well, and I just want to keep an eye on him tonight.”
Luna nodded and headed off to tell the others.
It wasn’t long before I was walking up the stairs to my room, or was it Haku’s room now? Maybe it was… ours? That actually had a nice ring to it. I was pondering the whole Miss. Haku or Mr. Ogino thing when I crept inside, trying not to make any noise. Unfortunately I had forgotten about the bells wrapped around my ankles, so I had to go back out to take them off.
Leaving the annoying bells outside, I went into the room and started looking for a decent set of clothes. It seemed that I had missed laundry day or something since for the first time since arriving I couldn’t find something to sleep in. Instead I silently walked over to the desk where one of Haku’s shirts had been put out.
Unclasping the cape I let it fall to the ground. I tried do undo the laces on the rest of my get up, but it was hard without light. Picking the shirt up I moved until I was standing in a stream of moonlight that came from outside. It wasn’t a flashlight or anything, but it seemed to be enough.
Quickly I slipped out of the ridiculous get-up and pulled the shirt over my head, checking to see if Haku had woken up. Unfortunately, no such luck. After throwing my pile of garments in a corner, I climbed into the bed next to Haku, suddenly very aware of the fact that I wasn’t wearing a bra or pants.
Even in the dark I could see the toll my absence had taken on Haku; it was clear that he hadn’t slept a wink. I mean seriously, I semi-hot, semi-naked girl had just climbed into bed with him and he didn’t even wake up. Or so I assumed until he reached out and pulled me into his arms.
“I’m so glad you’re safe,” he whispered into my ear before falling asleep again.
I smiled slyly to myself before pressing myself into hischest, feeling his heart beat steadily against my back.