I wrote this story because of something I read on Nausicaa.net - Miyazaki-san saying that Chihiro does not remember what happened in the spirit world. (). I found this... horribly sad. So I angsted about it to my friends for a bit, and it stayed on my mind for several months. Then, one day, my brain decided to bring me out of an unintentional writing hiatus to write this story.

I'd like to thank Meia and Silverlight for listening to me angst and then putting up with various disjointed snippets. Also, thanks go to them, Gaki and Odile for prereading and beta-ing this story. I'd like to thank Hayao Miyazaki for making this wonderful film, and offer my most sincere apologies for abducting his characters. I swore I'd never write for Sen, no matter how much I loved it...

Call Your Name

"You will make me call your name
And I'll shout it to the blue summer sky."
- The Hunters and Collectors

Ever since moving to this new town, something had seemed... different. Or, more accurately, it was ever since they had returned from a picnic on their way to this town to find their car full of dust and foliage.

Part of it was the changes in herself. Sudden changes that made no sense, that made her parents turn to each other over the top of her head and exchange worried looks. The way she reacted to some perfectly ordinary things was just... strange. Well, other people found it strange. It all seemed perfectly natural to her.

She got inexplicably depressed whenever she saw or heard of a river that had been filled in. She told strangers off for littering in the waterways. Whenever she found a frog or a slug in a public area, she would gently pick it up and escort it to safety.

She couldn't stand the sight of pork.

There was the time she'd accidentally dropped her hairtie into the river. It had slipped off her wrist and into the river as she had hung over the rails of the bridge watching the water rush underneath. She was absolutely distraught and moped about it for weeks. Her mother had grown very impatient with her about it. "I know it was your favourite hairtie, but you've had it for two years, Chihiro. It was time for a new one anyway."

"I don't want a new one!" she had said, indignantly. "I want that one! It's special!"

But she couldn't remember why.

And part of it was just that the world didn't seem the same any more. It felt like it was missing something. Something... special.

"You're growing up, that's all," her mother explained patiently. "The world doesn't seem magical any more, because you're finally understanding its secrets."

That was true, she supposed. Rainbows had seemed magical to her until she found out they were simply caused by the physics of light and water. But it didn't seem like the answer to her question.

She liked to sit on the railway bridge and watch the freight and passenger trains rattle their way towards distant places. The town was too small to have a station, but a line ran quite close by.

She had a few friends from school. Nice, ordinary girls who thought of boys and clothes and of the wonders of the city. Sometimes they watched the trains together.

"Sometimes I dream of getting on one of those trains and getting out of this tiny town," said her friend, distantly.

Chihiro looked out at the train disappearing into the distance. "But she won't let you leave until you find your true name," she murmured, without thinking.


She blinked. "I don't know. Never mind."

Her friends thought her a little strange and spacey. She didn't really mind. She thought them shallow. But sometimes it was nice to pretend to be normal.

Which was a silly thought, really. She was normal. Just a very ordinary, plain, fifteen year old girl. Her favourite colour was green, her favourite food was onigiri and her favourite animal was the dragon. Her friends liked to poke fun at her for saying that.

It was summer now, a Saturday and a school day. The sky had been threatening rain all day and had left her feeling slightly uneasy. She couldn't help the feeling that something big was going to happen. That something was coming, under the cover of nightfall...

By the time she got home, it had finally started to pour with rain. It was a dark, heavy rain that made going outside again impossible, with the occasional thunderclap to show that somewhere, at least, there was lightning. Summer thunderstorms made her sleepy.

"Mo~u, what a waste of a weekend," she said, resting her head on her crossed arms and staring out at the grey clouds. "Nobody should be out in this rain."

Something flickered amongst the darkness. She thought she saw a strange shape, twisting and turning in the sky like a snake. She blinked, and it disappeared.

"I must be tired," she said, sighing, turning to go back to her room and finish her homework. She hesitated as she passed the back door. Her father was always telling her off for leaving the door open when it rained.

The rain finally stopped on Sunday evening. As she left for school on Monday morning, she half expected to see that the fields surrounding the town had become an ocean. But everything was the same, if somewhat more damp.

She liked riding her bike to school. Their house was situated at the top of a hill and she liked to just take her feet off the pedals and coast down to the main road. The wind in her hair, the constant sudden fear that this time she was going too fast and she really would hurt herself... It reminded her of flying. She loved to take the corners fast as the road snaked its way down the hill.

She collided with a pedestrian as she rounded the second corner.

"I'm so sorry!" she exclaimed, screeching to halt - no easy feat, at the speed she was travelling - and jumping off her bicycle.

The boy shook his head and staggered to his feet. "I'm fine, you just clipped me, that's all."

"I'm so relieved," she breathed. "I was going so fast, I just didn't see you."

He shook his head. "Really, it's okay."

She nodded, not willing to leave just yet. There was something nagging at her, something she'd forgotten...

The boy - he was her age, she supposed - interrupted her train of thought by speaking again. He was standing at the edge of the road, looking out at the horizon. "You have a very fine river in this town."

She shook her head. "It's hardly a proper river. A stream, perhaps. They put it in when they built the new development a few years back. Trying to get more people in the town, you know how it is."

He nodded, slowly. "Usually they fill rivers in for that," he said, with a slight edge of bitterness to his tone.

Chihiro glanced at him, startled. "They do. I much prefer this way. And it is a nice river. I didn't mean to be contrary," she apologised.

In the distance, she heard the school bells start to chime.

"Ah!" she exclaimed, horrified. "I have to go!"

"Chihiro... Thank you," he said, as she jumped back on her bike and sped down the hill.

It bothered her for the rest of the day, that he'd known her name without her introducing herself. She couldn't understand how. Had she referred to herself by name at any point? Girls at school did that, they seemed to think it was cute. But she didn't...

And there was that constant nagging feeling that she'd forgotten something, not to mention that she'd met the boy before.

At least three teachers scolded her for daydreaming that morning.

She decided to take a walk along the river on the way home. She'd found that there was something very calming about sitting by the river, watching the water slip by. "Good afternoon," she whispered to the river as she arrived. It was moving quite quickly today, all the water from the rain making it rise and rush towards where it joined with the main river of the region.

A fast moving current, a shoe, water moving across her body as she clung for dear life to... something...

She liked to swim, but she was constantly nagged by the fear that she just wasn't going fast enough.

Somebody else returned her greeting. "Good afternoon," said the boy, politely.

He was kneeling at the edge of the water, fishing out a cola can with a stick.

She frowned. "There are perfectly good bins right over there," she said, pointing to the council bins. "Why don't people use them?"

The boy shrugged, and got to his feet to deposit the can in one of said bins. "Even if you say it's not natural, I like this river," he said.

She smiled. "It is a very lovely place. They did a wonderful job trying to make it seem as natural as possible." She frowned, darkly. "Even if people don't really appreciate it.

He glanced back at her.

"I don't like litter in our waterways," she confessed. "It makes me unbearably angry."

He laughed. "Neither do I," he said, simply.

The two sat in silence on the riverbank for some time.

"Um..." Chihiro began, uncomfortably. "We still haven't been properly introduced."

He shook his head. "You already know my name, Chihiro."

Silence fell again. Chihiro had no idea what he meant, but it would be too rude to ask his name now.

"Are you... going to be living here?" she asked, eventually.

"Perhaps," he replied, in a non-commital tone.

"I'd like it if you did," she stated, knowing it was true.

"Thank you." He stood up again, and offered his hand to help her up.

She took it, gratefully.

She was falling. Falling through the air from a great height. The ground was coming up to meet her so fast, but she wasn't afraid because he was holding her hand...

"Well," she said, uncomfortably. "I guess I'll see you around."

He let her hand go and nodded. She wondered why he seemed so disappointed.

After that encounter, the feeling that she had forgotten something very, very important only seemed to grow. The last week of school came and went, and she still hadn't seen the boy again.

She wondered why she found this so notable. It wasn't like they were friends or anything. He was downright rude to her, in fact, calling her Chihiro without even asking permission. She ignored the little voice that insisted it didn't seem rude when he said it. When he said her name, it sounded beautiful.

"So your name is Chihiro? What an extravagant name. From now on, you will be known as Sen."

She blinked, and shook off the memory. A dream, perhaps...?

The days grew hotter, and she took to reading by the river just because it was so much cooler near the water.

She was disturbed from a book of classical dragon myths by soft footsteps behind her. She turned, and started. "You're still here! I thought you'd gone!"

The boy shook his head. He knelt beside her and asked her to put her hand out. Bemused, she did so. He dropped something from his own clenched fist into her outstretched hand.

"It's yours, isn't it?"

She stared at the object. Chihiro took it between two fingers and held it up to the light, watching the way it sparkled. "Yes," she said, bewildered. "It's mine. But... I lost it years ago! How can it still be intact?"

He smiled at her. She liked his smile, it was gentle and kind. "Because they haven't forgotten you," he explained, simply.

"Who?" she asked, without thinking.

He didn't answer.

She let her hair out and replaced her existing black band with the new one. "Thank you for bringing it back to me," she said. But the boy was already gone.

She wondered what he had meant.

"It'll protect you. I made it from the thread that they spun."

When her friends squealed in delight over her 'new' hairtie, Chihiro simply smiled and told them it was a gift from some very special friends, and no, she had no idea where they could get one.

She just wished she could remember who those friends were.

It was long after that that her parents took her back to her old town for a holiday. It was an annual trip they made so her parents could catch up with old friends. Chihiro made a similar effort, but as time went by she found herself drifting further and further away from their world.

Overall, she was glad to finally come home. She found large areas of civilisation quite disheartening these days.

On the first night back, she dreamt. Chihiro didn't dream often, and when she did they were usually fairly ordinary dreams about going to school in casual clothing or forgetting the date of an important exam.

But this one... this one felt real.

It was a dragon, and it was being attacked by small, birdlike figures made of paper. And she knew this dragon. She knew his name. She had always known him...

She woke, and could not get back to sleep. She just couldn't stop thinking for long enough to allow sleep to take over.

"If it was a dream," she said out loud, "what caused it? It's nothing like anything I've ever dreamt before."

And if it was a memory, why couldn't she remember it?

"How could it be a memory, anyway?" she scolded herself, irritated. "It was about a dragon!"

Eventually, she slipped out of bed and into some outdoors clothing. She very quietly tiptoed down the stairs and out the door. She'd done this before. Slipping down to look at the river in the moonlight had been one of her favoured activities when she was thirteen.

She didn't need a torch. The full moon illuminated the streets enough to be like daylight.

Everything was so much quieter at night. If she closed her eyes, she could pretend she was in the middle of nowhere, without cars or trucks or houses or electricity...

The dull rattle of a train broke the silence and she shot to her feet. A train... There was something about a train...

"It's the sixth stop. Swamp bottom."

She listened until the noise of the train had faded into the distance enough to be inaudible.

"Some day, I swear I'Il get to that town. I'm gonna get out of here."

But this time, it wasn't Akane's voice.

"If she steals your name, you'Il never find your way home. I no longer remember mine. But it's strange. I remembered yours."

And she knew his name. She'd just forgotten, that's all.

Chihiro frowned in thought.

A hand on her shoulder made her start and she stumbled on the uneven ground. Arms flailing wildly, she tumbled into the water.


She was trying to swim, but she couldn't seem to find her rhythm. It was so dark and quiet under the water, and the river was moving so quickly... She was cold. So cold... And then she wasn't even trying to swim any more, she was clutching onto something hard, wrapped around something soft and warm. And then her head broke the surface and she could breathe again.

She got shakily to her feet in the shallows. The boy - when had he appeared, anyway? - kept a hand on her shoulder, obviously concerned for her.

"I'm sorry," he said, pushing dark, wet hair out of his eyes with his hand. "I startled you."

Chihiro looked up at the boy, her eyes filling with tears. "It's Haku, right? You're Haku."

He inclined his head slowly.

She stared at him in wonder for a second. "No..." she corrected herself, slowly. "Kohaku." She shook her head to clear it. "Nigihayami Kohaku Nushi."

He smiled at her. "Yes... Chihiro."

"I remember!" she cried, ignoring how wet and dripping she was and throwing her arms around him. "I remember!"

- School on a Saturday: I read somewhere that Japanese children attend school for half a day on every second Saturday. I hope I haven't messed up too badly.
- The hill: There really is one. I'm so proud!
- The river: I couldn't see one in the movie. I hope my explanation for its existence wasn't too contrived.
- Haku being rude by calling Chihiro by name: It's a Japanese thing. You don't call someone by their first name without permission. And especially not without an honorific attached.
- Most quotes from the movie are taken straight from the subtitles on the R2 DVD.

Please don't hurt me.