The Garden of Remembrance

By Edward Simons

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Based on characters and situations created by Takahashi Rumiko. Ranma 1/2 and characters copyright Shogakukan, Kitty Animation Circle, and Takahashi Rumiko. Magic Knights Rayearth copyright CLAMP, Kodansha, and Dentsu. This story written 2004 - Edward Simons

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Even as a child, I knew I'd inherit a dojo. What happened before I actually got one is more story or perhaps stories than I care to recall, though in the end, I didn't get the dojo I expected. There were too many rivals with too many names. When my husband and I finally decided to marry, we knew we couldn't stay there in Nerima, nor even keep our real names.

Not that many had expected us to marry. We got along poorly at first; I think I even hated him for a bit. And I spent too much time focused on the attention he paid to the other girls and not enough on his courage, confidence, and determination. We were children trying to be adults and not always trying as hard as we should have.

He proved a better husband than I expected. Perhaps it was his father's example, his father's bad example, that is. I knew my husband would do anything rather than end up like his father. I had a far better example in my mother, though I doubt I ever matched her skills as wife or parent.

In the end, I was happy and I know my husband loved me. Our dojo is even bigger than the one I would have inherited, though the name on the gate is Shidou, a name that still feels wrong, even after all these years.

Time passed as our school and our family grew; three strong sons and a beautiful red-haired daughter. Any woman would be happy with what I had, but I'm not just any woman and I sensed our happiness would end someday.

Though when something finally shattered the dream, the past returned in a way I'd never imagined. Our six-year-old daughter was sparring with her father. It was a silly accident; he slipped and fell. Little Hikaru proudly proclaimed her victory, then pulled her hair back and asked me to braid it so it so she could grow her hair long, yet it wouldn't get in her way when she sparred. I did it, but I didn't know why my hands trembled.

And that night the dreams came, dreams of a laughing pigtailed boy, a boy who'd been closer to me than anyone else. And I remembered the magics my husband had used, magics that tore me from that boy and compelled me to love my husband.

The next morning, I told Hikaru that her father had gone away to train for a rematch against her. It's the only time I've lied to my daughter, perhaps that's why she believed me. And I planted a cherry tree, a tree that's grown as rich and full as my life used to be, a tree with petals of startling pink, fed by what lay below it.

I couldn't go back, not after what I'd become, and I prayed that Ranma had found happiness with one of his fiancées. I prayed for myself as well, for though my husband was gone, though I hated him still, his magic would not let me go and I loved Tatewaki still, even though I hadn't been called the pigtailed girl for years.