Chapter | 17
It was pretty early when I woke up the next morning; the bathhouse was eerily quiet.
I slipped out from between Haku’s arms and was about to head downstairs when I remembered what I was still wearing. Trying once again not to wake him, I looked for my clothes. In the light it was much easier to see things so finding my clothes didn’t take as long as I thought it would have.
Grabbing the clothes and stuffing it in my empty backpack, I ran down to the bathroom. No one seemed to be about so I went ahead and enjoyed a very long (and much loved) bath. When I was pretty sure I had scrubber away an entire layer of skin, I started to wash my hair.
Once I was satisfied that I was clean, I just laid back and thought about what the woman had said. It wasn’t like I didn’t believe her… I just didn’t know how she would do it. I mean, she couldn’t seriously consider attacking some pretty strong spirits; it would be suicidal, never mind stupid.
She could go after my parents, but I’m sure she knows they are the only reason I would ever consider going back to the human world. What else could she do? I needed to talk to the others, they would be able to help me.
After a few seconds I pulled my body from the tub and dried myself off; thinking about it was only confusing me further and being left to myself meant it was inevitable. The clothes I found were some that I brought with me from my house. Ah, normal clothes, there truly was nothing like it.
Once dressed in a pair of light grey shorts and a baby blue top, I emerged from the bathroom, almost ready to face the world. Taking my backpack and dirty clothes, I returned to our room to find Haku already up. I stopped for a moment in the doorway, simply looking at him while he leaned against the balcony door, peering outside.
“Morning,” I said as I stepped in and left my stuff on the floor, closing the distance between us. It had been only one night’s rest, but he was looking like his old self again, the bags under his eyes completely gone.
“It’s good to see you don’t look so crappy anymore,” I said, wrapping my arms around him. He chuckled before returning my hug, ducking his head down so he could kiss my hair, which made me glad that I had washed it.
“Luckily I don’t need that much sleep, a few hours help a lot,” he said, still holding me.
We stood like that for a little while longer, just being happy.
Unfortunately I knew what lay ahead. Slowly I pulled away from Haku, forcing myself to completely let go of him. “I guess it’s time I told all of you what happened,” I said. “Could you please get Yubaba to find everyone and tell them to meet us in her office?” I asked, already nervous for some reason.
Haku nodded and left me to my thoughts. I followed not long after, hoping that everyone was already making their way to the office.
Yubaba sure made quick work of contacting everyone, because almost everyone was there once I reached downstairs- even Zeniba and Boh. Scanning the room one more time, I found that the missing person was Luna, guess she couldn’t make it. Oops, too bad.
The room grew silent as I entered, it seems someone asked them not to jump me with: “Are you okay?”’s and “What happened to you?”’s. Taking one more moment of silence, I walked to the middle of the room and stood in front of the unlit fire.
“Okay, I guess most of you want to know what happened to me,” I said, giving a little laugh. When no one laughed with me, I started to tell them every little detail about my little trip. Once I was done, I was met with only bewildered eyes before the silence broke. Questions started flying at me from everywhere. I tried to answer as best I could, but it was hard when I didn’t really know the answers.
Running a hand through my hair, I held my breath and closed my eyes for a few seconds until everyone stopped yelling. When there was once again silence, I opened my eyes and looked at everyone separately.
“What I told you just now is all I know. At this moment I don’t know what to do either, all I know is that the woman will hurt one of you. She’ll try and force me to leave by getting the people I care about most.”
I looked down. “So maybe I should just leave,” I muttered, not making eye contact with anyone, especially not Haku; I was too sacred that I would start crying and that would be way past embarrassing.
The next person who spoke was someone I had never expected to say something. It moved me past the point of tears, and all I could do was smile.
“Don’t be silly, girl,” Yubaba said. “You have become a part of our family now, what kind of monsters would we be if we didn’t help you when you need us the most?” There was a string of agreements from everyone in the room.
Before I had a chance to talk myself out of it I ran up to Yubaba and hugged her. “Thanks Granny” I said. She didn’t say anything back, but I knew she was smiling. I was about to let go when someone pressed against my back, followed by another, and another, and another until we had one giant group hug going on.
After talking things through for another hour or so, everyone was forced to return to their duties. I didn’t want to hold them up, and I also wanted to cool my head a bit.
“I guess today wasn’t a total bust” I said to Haku once everyone left the room. He looked at me strangely.
“Sorry, it means that today went well,” I said, laughing a little at his expression. He looked vulnerable in a way, maybe even a little naïve. He made a sound of understanding before taking my hand and pulling me back up stairs.
Haku opened the door and we walked in together, squeezing so neither of us would bump into the wall.
Without a word Haku pulled me into his arms and carried me over to the bed before I could make a sound. Somewhere in the short distance between the door and the bed we started kissing, and I mean serious kissing. He deposited me gently onto the bed before leaning over me, slowly tracing his lips down my neck.
“Wait, Haku,” I said, lightly pushing him back. I actually started to feel bad about doing that the whole time.
“Isn’t there anything you want to say to me?” I asked. He had been quite throughout the entire meeting and it bothered me that there was nothing he wanted to talk about. He looked at me for a second before sitting up, rubbing one hand over his face.
“It’s not like I don’t want to say something to you, I just don’t know what to say,” he said, but when he saw that I wasn’t satisfied he continued. “Every single second you were gone, I was out looking for you. The thought of losing you scared me to death.
“I didn’t know what to think, every muscle in my body screamed at me to keep searching. When I finally realised that flying around aimlessly wouldn’t help, I came back here.” He took a breath, “Yubaba told me to calm down, because I was only making things worse for everyone since I was supposed to be the calm and collected one, not the freaked out one.”
He took my face in his hands, “When I sensed you nearby, I thought my head was playing tricks on me again. I thought I had finally gone mad,” he whispered, putting his forehead to mine. “But when I realised it really was you, I felt like a missing piece had returned to me. You had come back to me and I never, ever, want to lose you again,” he continued, pulling me into his arms until our bodies were squished together.
“Don’t ever leave me again Chihiro, I don’t know if I could continue living without you,” he said before giving a little laugh. I sat up and looked at him. “I’m sorry, I’m not laughing at you or anything, I’m laughing at the situation,” he said. “I’ve been alive for a very long time, not once had I thought that I would find something that I would die for.” Haku kissed me once. “That’s right Chihiro, I would die for you,” he said.
Instead of answering I pushed him onto his back and rolled on top of him. He hesitated for a second, but finally his hands started to explore a little, making my heart beat incredibly fast. How far would we go this time? Was I even ready to go far? Somehow I just knew that everything would be fine, because Haku would never hurt me or do anything that would make me uncomfortable.
Lips traced bare skin and hands fingers traced curves and dips. I didn’t care about anything happening outside our bubble, I didn’t care about anything that could possibly ruin what we had.
Even when my shirt came off, I didn’t mind, relishing in the sensation of his hand on my bare skin instead. I had never understood what they meant when they said that someone’s hands could leave a burning trail, but when Haku touched me, my skin started to tingle. I needed him, and I hoped that he needed me too.
As if reading my mind, Haku whispered, “I love you, Chihiro,” before kissing me again. And I knew he really did, I knew he loved me more than he loved anyone else, it almost made me feel stupid about the whole being jealous of Luna thing.
“I know,” I whispered back, “I love you too.”
I could feel his smile against my lips, spreading so wide I thought it might reach both his ears.
Slowly I reached down and pulled his shirt over his head. It came of easily and once again I was dumbstruck by how beautifully he was built. Muscular, but not buff. I truly did love everything about him, not just because he was always saving me. I had fallen in love with him the day I saw him on the bridge, I just hadn’t known it since I didn’t know what love was back then.
At a steady pace, more clothes came off. The thought of him seeing me naked made me nervous, but I knew all he saw me as was beautiful and nothing could change that. So when it finally happened, I felt only pure bliss at the thought that Haku and I physically couldn’t get any closer than we were at that very moment.
We couldn’t possibly love each other more.