Summary -- Moro reflects as she watches Ashitaka and San. First person vignette. [Is that even possible…?]

Etc. -- It's a very rough draft, but I'll organize and edit it better when I have the time.

Yearn

"I love you Ashitaka. But I cannot forgive the humans."

"That's fine. You will live in the forest, and I in Tataraba, and I will come to see you, from time to time, riding Yakkul."

He keeps his promise and comes to see her regularly, sometimes only once a week, sometimes daily. He brings with him nothing, except Yakkul and a smile, ever ready on his face.

She knows he is coming before she even turns, and when she does look, she is smiling back.

I don't know how I can still see them, only know that I am and always will be, like Shishigami-sama, like the Young One said. It is a rather tiring thought, so I concentrate on them, on the living.

My daughter is not impressed with the scar on his hand, unlike those idiot human girls within Tataraba. She knows and has seen too much to be affected by such an insignificant thing of the past. And I am not surprised that he does not expect it of her. He is a strange man, this Young One, claiming to see through unclouded eyes.

I almost despise him, because he will make her forget her anger at the humans, he will make her human. She has said that she cannot forgive humans, but she loves a human, is in love with this human, this Young One.

Why does he want to take my San, my daughter, away from the forest she has served all her life and her brothers whom she loves so dearly? He can have any woman in Tataraba; all the single and young admire his courage, his good looks, the words that spring from his lips. It disgusts me, the emphasis that humans put on their appearances. I see no physical beauty in him or in my daughter sadly, and yet, he is admired, and he admires her.

Even though she tries not to show it, she is morose when he does not come. She longs for his small smile, his honest eyes, his gentle touch. She enjoys the attention he lavishes on her, each brush from his hand, each glance of her. She likes when he addresses her, as 'Princess of the Mountain dogs,' likes even more when he simply says 'San.' She loves every press of his hands on hers, each tender embrace, each gentle stroke on her hair.

It hurts me somewhere inside when I see how much she loves him; he, who is helping rebuild that hateful town that will inevitably take over the forest that San, my sons, and the Mononoke are so desperately trying to revive. Despite the Young One's optimism about humans and the forest living together, side by side, no one really believes him, not in Tataraba, not even San. And it hurts me more when I realize that it doesn't matter that much to her, not anymore. Only half her heart is in the forest and the other half belongs to him.

She too, is aware of this, and she is appalled at this discovery. She tries to deny it, putting all her energy into reviving the forest that will never reach its past glory. It is futile, I know, even as I watch her energy waste away.

My sons are jealous and anxious of the power he possesses over San. They keep their distance when he comes, though his overtures are friendly towards them, he is still human, after all. "My brothers," I heard San remark gravely to him once, "don't trust you." He had laughed, brushing the thought aside. They constantly urge her to break off any connection with him, with all humans, and it pains her, but she never answers. "It is for you we are worried," one of them had said. "For you, San." She had remained obstinately silent.

It is only Ashitaka and San that connect the humans with the forest. Everyday, they grow larger in numbers, a thorn in the side of the forest, a thorn that will grow larger until the forest is finally gone.

Gone. It is a hard thought to swallow, and my sons and my daughter would have protested if they had heard me say this. Ashitaka too, but he is an optimist, idealist.

The forest and the humans will never live side by side in peace. The humans will never compromise; their needs grow with their rising numbers.

And yet, I can't help but think that it will all work out, when I see Ashitaka and San sitting at the Shishigami Lake together. Their hands are intertwined, their hearts are at peace, and the gentle ring of San's earrings echoes through the forest.

As always, reviews, good or bad, are very welcome.

+ + shirayuri