----------------- The Dragon and the Glass Tower -----------------
Disclaimer—Spirited Away and it's characters belong to Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki. Copyrights are being infringed, but I, and all fans in every fandom everywhere, hope that no one minds.
AN--Last chapter! There is an illustration for this chapter (copy, paste, replace dots with .'s), and a nice long Author's Note explaining the sources I drew on for this tale. :) Enjoy!
------------- Chapter 8 --------------
"But Chihiro!!" Yumiko protested.
"Well, Miss Ogino, of course we will not force you," Mr. Hiraga said, "but this gentleman seems to have gone to great, if not the most scrupulous, lengths, to have a chance to speak with you. I would think that there would be little harm in doing only that."
"And Chihiro," Yumiko leaned over and whispered conspiratorially to her, "he's really cute!" She grinned, and refused to look at Mr. Hiraga.
Chihiro sighed and rolled her eyes, "Oh, I suppose I could at least meet him. But nothing more, I don't care what kind of deals Makoto made."
They ushered her out of her door and down the hall to Mr. Sato's former office. Yumiko opened the door and went in first, followed by Mr. Hiraga, and trailed reluctantly by Chihiro. She suddenly felt very nervous.
The instant green eyes locked onto hers she froze. Her mind and body went numb, and all she could feel was the echoing beat of her heart, and the awareness of this stranger's gaze. Through the fog the others were conversing.
"Mr. Nushi, this is Mr. Hiraga, senior partner in our firm." Mr. Nushi bowed respectfully to Mr. Hiraga.
"Pleased to meet you, Mr. Nushi," said Mr. Hiraga. "I'm afraid Mr. Sato has become permanently indisposed, and will not be available to conduct any further business with you. But I'm sure his assistant Miss Ogino would be happy to assist you in any way you may need." Mr. Hiraga gestured towards Chihiro.
"Miss Ogino," Mr. Nushi said, bowing, and never taking his gaze off of her face.
They all stood there silently for a few moments, until Mr. Hiraga and Yumiko began to feel uncomfortable, and Yumiko said, "Well, I have receptioning to do, if you would please excuse me."
"And I have clients to attend to," said Mr. Hiraga. He carefully looked between Mr. Nushi and Chihiro. The strange, tense energy between them was palpable. "Miss Ogino, it's been a trying week for you. I insist you take the rest of the day off. And tomorrow. You can return on Monday and finish your preparations for the Lake case."
"But..." Chihiro began in weak protest when Mr. Nushi spoke.
"I would be happy to escort you home, Miss Ogino," he said. She stilled; her eyes were wide.
"Well, that's happily settled. Coming, Miss Mitsu?" Mr. Hiraga said.
"Yes, sir!" Yumiko practically bounced out of the room beside Mr.Hiraga, grinning broadly. She stopped suddenly and turned back. "Nushi! What was the last thing you offered Mr. Sato?"
Mr. Nushi did not look at her, but half-distractedly answered, "A...an automobile."
"A WHAT?" she choked. Mr. Hiraga took her by the arm and led her away.
"Let us go, Miss Mitsu." She was still staring behind her. "Now, what is this that our custodians keep complaining to me about colored eggshells ground into the carpet in the reception area?"
"I have no idea, Mr. Hiraga. They just keep appearing..." Their voices faded as they walked down the hall. Chihiro still had not moved. Mr. Nushi did not move.
But his eyes seemed to be trying to reach into her soul and speak to her very core.
He took a step towards her in the silence, and then said, "Perhaps you'd like some air, Miss Ogino? We could step outside."
"That...that would be nice," she nodded weakly, and with a gesture he lead her out the door. "Coat," she said numbly, "purse." They stopped at her office and she quickly grabbed her things. Why would her mind not work? They walked through the halls; she did not see much of anything. He took her out through the back entrance, down an employee's elevator, and they were soon outside in front of the building.
She froze, and suddenly her mind went into overdrive. Mr. Sato was a few feet in front of them beside a red sports car, and he was surrounded by police.
"It was a gift! A gift from a friend! I just got it! They gave it to me!" Mr. Sato was saying.
"Suuure they did," the policeman nodded. "No license plate, illegally parked, no title or even any insurance... tut tut, this friend of yours obviously didn't have your best interests at heart..."
"You really should be more careful in your choice of friends," another policeman laughed as they arrested him.
Mr. Nushi was at her elbow. "Don't worry," he said to her, "they can't see us. Come." She walked away with him, her back tense, expecting at any moment for Mr. Sato to see them and call out. The police would swarm, and this stranger would be carted away before she could even ask how...why...
But the cry never came, and they walked the streets of Tokyo in a bubble of calm. The bustling crowds around them did not touch them; the loud city sounds were muted. Walking beside him, she seemed to be surrounded by other things: a rush of wind, a green, moving submersion of water; the swaying of a train, a bouncing light. The stench of pigs. The feel of falling. And a mysterious, unplaceable joy.
She stopped and turned towards him. He was standing very close to her, but he did not touch her. He had not yet touched her.
"Chihiro," he said. Her eyes widened again.
"Do I...know you?"
"I've known you since you were very small." There was truth in his eyes.
They found a small park; he led her to a bench and they sat down. Her mind was reeling; it would not settle. Strange images were flashing through her mind. He turned towards her and caught her gaze again.
"You once asked me if we would ever meet again. You asked me to promise that we would. I promised. I have kept that promise. I hope...I hope that you will remember me."
"What...what is your name?"
"Kohaku," she breathed. And slowly she reached out, and touched his face.
Illustration: Kohaku and Chihiro in the Park at -- purple dot mytica dot net /art/fan/images/ whitetower underscore finale dot jpg
Images raged through her mind again, rushing wildly, but they began to take form and shape, to grow solid around this calm, anxious presence in front of her. Suddenly, her hand flew to her mouth to cover her strained gasp. She remembered.
"Oh. Ohhh, Kamajii, and Rin! The bathhouse! My parents! Yubaba, and Bou, and No Face. Zeniba, and, and Haku. You. Kohaku, the beautiful dragon. You saved my life."
"And you saved mine. And gave me back my name and my freedom." His eyes were shining with tears. He took her hand. "Chihiro."
Tears rolled down her face as she smiled at him. "And, and you've come! You came and saved me again! Saved me from that horrible Sato and my own foolishness!"
"Did, did you love him, Chihiro?"
Chihiro blushed with embarrassment. "Well, I kind of thought I did. He liked me! And he was working to protect the environment; at least I thought he was. And my parents liked him!"
"They may not like me."
"Kohaku--" she looked up at him in shock. "Kohaku...are you here to stay? Are you stuck here?"
"I could be here for just today for a visit, or I could be here to stay." Chihiro looked down and swallowed nervously. Kohaku reached down, and raised her chin up with his hand. "I....I'd like to be here to stay," he said.
"Really?" She felt like she might cry again. He nodded. She slowly smiled. He smiled, and suddenly they were laughing.
Sometime in that magical evening, as the sun set unnoticed, they found themselves in each other's arms.
Hori and Hiraga won the Shiro Lake case, and Chihiro and Kohaku soon discovered that the lake's guardian had abandoned it to its ruin a decade before. Together, they cleansed the lake of most of its impurities, and Kohaku set up residence there. He built a mansion at the bottom, and soon bought his bride to live there happily with him.
They kept a cottage at the edge of the lake for conveniences' sake, had several children, and Chihiro's favorite thing was for Kohaku to fly her to work.
And they lived happily ever after.
Hee! I hope you all enjoyed this fun little fairy tale. :)
Thank you so much to everyone who has commented and will comment!
Now, for a nice, long and explanatory Author's Note about the inspiration for this tale.--
In college, Winter Semester 2004, I studied Animal Bridegroom Folktales for a research paper (Beauty and the Beast is the most famous of the Animal Bridegroom tales). I repeatedly came across a motif that a large portion of the tales used, which has been nicknamed the "Questing Beauty" form, and many that can be even further defined as "Questing Beauty and the Three Nights."
This type, "Questing Beauty and the Three Nights," all follows about this format:
Beauty meets up with her Beast in some way or another.
They live together in a married state, generally with him being in the form of a man at night.
She betrays some aspect of his enchantment, and he has to leave.
She goes on a quest to get her man back, and encounters 3 helpers who direct her, and who give her 3 items to help her on her journey.
She finds where her man is being kept. He has completely forgotten her and is about to marry some queen/witch/ogre type woman.
Our heroine trades one of the items with the Queen in exchange for being able to spend a night with the Prince. The Queen agrees, but gives the Prince a sleeping draught, and no matter how much Beauty pleads during the night, the Prince never wakes up.
This happens 2 nights in a row, and is finally stopped when someone lets the Prince know a girl has been crying in his room for 2 nights running, and he doesn't take the sleeping potion the next night out of curiosity.
The 3rd night, Beauty finds him awake, he remembers her, they get rid of the Queen, and live happily ever after.
Obviously, I've changed some things. :) I've switched genders around, changed night for day, and in general had fun with it, but the form is there.
Here are some examples of folktales like I've described.
(As ff dot net currently hates urls, for easy link access, you can go to purple dot mytica dot net /story/haku/ whitetowernote.php, where I've uploaded this page.
www dot pitt dot edu / (tilde) dash/norway034 dot html (a tilde is one of those squigglies at the left top of your keyboard)
In East of the Sun and West of the Moon (Norway), the heroine gains from three successive old women a golden apple, a golden carding comb, and a golden spinning wheel. With these she bargains to spend the night with the prince with the words "It's not for sale, for gold or money." The prince is in the clutches of a princess with a long nose and some trolls, and the prince hears about the girl in his room from some captive Christians.
www dot pitt dot edu / (tilde) dash/grimm088.html
In The Singing, Springing Lark (or The Lady and the Lion) from the Grimm Brothers, the heroine gains a chest with a sun-colored dress from the sun, from the moon she gains an egg which contains a gold hen and some chicks, and from the 4 winds, she gets a nut that grows into a tall tree to rest her griffin on. She bargains two nights in a row to spend the night with the prince with the words "Not for money or property, but for flesh and blood. Let me sleep one night in the room where the bridegroom sleeps." The prince is about to marry an enchantress, a servant informs the prince about his strange visitor, and on the 2nd night he doesn't take the sleeping potion. They escape on a griffin. :)
www dot stavacademy dot co dot uk/mimir/threedaughters.htm
In the Irish tale The Three Daughters of King O'Hara, the heroine gets a pair of scissors that makes clothes into cloth-of-gold from the woman who has her 1st child. From the second woman she gets a comb which cures diseased heads, and from the third she gets a whistle that calls all the birds of the air. She has to rescue her husband from the Queen of Tir na n-Og, and this smart princess leaves a letter for the prince with his servant to tell him what's been going on.
www dot darsie dot net/talesofwonder/bbn.html
In The Black Bull of Norroway (which is Scottish), the heroine gets an apple, a pear, and a plum from her bull's three brothers, and each has gold and jewelry in them. She has to get iron shoes to climb over a glass mountain, and contend with a washer-woman's daughter for her Prince. During the night she pleads: "Seven long years I served for you, The glassy hill I climbed for you, The blood-stained shirts I washed for you, Will you not waken and turn to me?" The prince is let 'into the know' by a fellow hunting partner.
One of the oldest Questing Beauty tales in the world is the Greek myth of Psyche and Eros. Read it as "Cupid and Psyche" by Lucius Apuleius at
www dot pitt dot edu / (tilde) dash/cupid.html
And here are just some fun ones with familiar motifs to enjoy:
www dot dal dot ca/ (tilde) barkerb/fairies/grimm/196.htmlOld Rinkrank, from the Grimm Brothers
A princess trapped in a Glass Mountain gets herself out.
www dot famous-quote-famous-quotes dot com/fairytales/theraven.html
An enchanted raven princess is in a castle on a glass mountain, and she is pursued by a man with a stick, an invisibility cloak and a horse.
I love folktales. :)
-Rebecca JJ, September, 2004