2013 - I have exported all the chapters and begun editing every chapter for grammar mistakes. I also have thoughts for a possible sequel. Stay tuned. :)
Disclaimer: I don't own any of the material in this story. All of the characters, plot, and even dialogue belong to Hayao Miyazaki.
I might own Haku's thoughts and some events...
The landscape always was breathtaking from up in the sky. Aburaya's green nature flourished in the mineral enriched soil. Taking in the spectacular scenery, Haku flew over the terrain. As wind whirled around him, Haku heard whistling as it brushed along the scales of his white-pale body. The wind always had a voice; telling him daily of stories that it had discovered throughout the week. The pale dragon smiled as he listened to it. Up in the sky, the blowing air caressed his body in such a way that it almost reminded him of something; the details, unfortunately, escaped his mind. Breathing in the scent of the spirit world and its entirety, the green-eyed dragon caught the familiar smell of happiness and nosiness. The clouds felt like running waterfalls and reminded Haku of soft, plush, green spread rocks that gently eroded. The air was filled with contentment and it seemed to sigh along the waves of wild flowers that bloomed in the grassy fields. The exhilaration of flight created a carefree and relaxing sensation… and yet… Haku sensed the wind acting unusually active and happy. It was as if it knew something was going to happen that was celebrated and couldn't wait for it. Haku tasted the air with his serpent-like tongue. The airstream had begun to have a flavor of curiosity. Haku wondered what exactly it might mean. It had never produced this much feeling before. The long dragon flew over the meadows and small lakes just below the moist white clouds that hung happily under the sun. Closing his eyes just for a moment under the swift current he made with his long body, Haku soaked in the sunshine; loosened up with tense muscles that swarmed his back.
Having just returned from a mission, Haku needed some time with the surrounding nature. It soothed his stressed mind and allowed him to relax into the floating wind. His missions were always hard on him, and always dangerous. Haku often found himself daydreaming about leaving the bathhouse for good. Just keep flying until he was away from Yubaba, his witch employer. But he was enslaved to her. She had his name under contract, so no matter what Haku did, she held him under lock and key.
This particular mission had been anything but safe. Sneaking into Zeniba's property in the swamp lands had always been difficult for any creature or spirit, no matter how powerful or strong. Zeniba could sense emotions from miles and miles away. Haku found a way through her system by burying his feelings deep within him. He used this talent to keep the bathhouse employees in line. Sometimes stoic to the point of rude, he could control any of the situations by a quick annoyed look. But it was not a way that he liked at all. Haku was, by nature, a kind and gentle spirit. He loved all things that grew and lived. Yet he survived the hardships dealt to him by Yubaba, by shoving every happy feeling or sad remorse deep within his soul; where he locked it, never to come out.
Zeniba, Yubaba's twin sister, was entrusted by the higher beings to hold the golden seal and keep it safe. The golden seal was an amazingly powerful object that could control the comings and goings of the spirit world. That was why Yubaba craved it so. It was more power for her to have. So, she sent Haku to spy on Zeniba in order to discover where she kept it hidden. Haku could sneak into her property as long as he kept his emotions under control.
Yubaba desired everything that had to do with power, and Haku was her slave. All the employees of the bathhouse thought he did it for power, but in reality, Haku desired nothing more than to exist freely in this world. Yet, he was trapped as a henchman to an evil cause.
What was worse was that Haku could not stop himself. She had his name, his being, in her hands and could control him with the slightest twitch of a finger. Alas, if he struggled against Yubaba's wishes even a fraction, he was sentenced to an unbearable amount of pain and anguish. Haku might hate his job and maybe Yubaba even more, but regrettably she had taken him in when he was a wanderer; almost disappearing from the world of spirits. Having fallen into a life of forgotten continuation, Haku remembered he had willed himself to exist. It was in this condition that Yubaba found him. Haku muttered to her about wanting to work, and because of an oath forced upon her by the higher beings, Yubaba reluctantly gave him a position at her bathhouse. She was cursed to always give those who asked for employment a job.
She soon discovered his true potential and raised him to her apprentice. At a price of his name, Haku had stayed at the bathhouse learning everything about magic and how it was used. Though his studies increased his power, he was depressed because of Yubaba's greed. He couldn't control himself from her orders. Whatever she commanded, he knew with all his being he would obey without struggle. Even if he tried, the pain would break him in the end.
'She's just using me for violence and greed, and I just let her.' Haku thought bitterly.
The wind softly blew through his mane as though trying to sooth his sour thoughts and sadness. It told him that someday he would break from Yubaba's spell and get his name back. It promised him of this, assuring.
'I hope your right.' Haku sighed into the wind and he felt his mind calm. The whistling purred with pleasure at being able to subdue his dismal thoughts.
The pale dragon continued on his way to the bathhouse where he would have to check in with Yubaba about the progress of his mission. To cheer himself even more, Haku allowed a break from his flight ritual and preformed a few loops and dives in the air. The whistling wind roared in delight and quickly whipped his long body through the air. It was in this state of mind that Haku felt at whole. He was the wave of the wind like a wave on water. He was a steep dive like a quick plunge into the lake.
Just when he had taken another dive, he smelled it again. The wind smelled of increasing inquisitiveness as if something new had settled into the lands.
'Strange.' thought Haku. 'The wind never has acted this way before.'
It increased its feeling as he spied the bathhouse a few miles off. The sun was almost at set. The bathhouse was soon to be opening for the daily customers that fluttered in and out of the city. Haku decided that waiting till complete nightfall in order to report to Yubaba might be better than interrupting the insane preparations that occurred every night for business. And so, he headed to the bridge for his favorite part in the entire flight.
His spectacular landing skills and touchdown techniques.
Flying over the red roof of the bathhouse, Haku changed into his human form just in time to flip once in the air and land professionally on his feet with a satisfying thud onto the wood of the bridge; his knees bent slightly to steady his balance.
Straightening up, Haku breathed deeply in a satisfied sigh and suddenly tensed.
Looking up, Haku gasped as, there, right in front of his eyes, stood a human girl.
His brain seemed to sit in shock mode as he found himself glued to the spot. Taking in her strange sight, Haku unthinkingly studied her interesting profile. Her brown hair was pulled back off her face into a tail of some sort while bangs framed her small cherub face. Her outfit was odd in the sense that her legs showed skin and her arms were bare. It seemed natural to her as she balanced her feet innocently on the bottom railing of the bridge.
Haku's green eyes reached her face, which had just turned to look his way in surprise. The sunset made her brown orbs seem to glow gold as it kissed the soft skin of her cheeks. Her eyes flashed into his like lightning; feeling as though they had reached the very core of him.
She was familiar.
This was familiar.
Her beautiful twinkling eyes captivated him. It was a bizarre sensation that he could not place. He just knew, from the very bottom of his heart that this moment on he would do everything in his power to protect this young, innocent, child.
He breathed in and almost choked. Her human scent was way too strong. She would be caught easily if she stayed here any longer.
The creeping shadows of sunset grew on the blanks of the bridge. It was quickly approaching opening time! He had to get her out!
"You shouldn't be here!" Haku demanded, tensely. "Get out of here! Now!" He walked closer as she jumped down off the railing. She looked at him with eyes of sweet innocent confusion.
"What?" She asked. Her voice was small and dainty.
"Leave before it gets dark!" Haku commanded harshly. He knew he was frightening her, but he needed her to get passed the river before it filled. The lights to the door of the bathhouse flickered on after a second.
"Their lighting the lamps." He whispered, more to himself than to her. He turned to see her mouth hanging rudely in shock and confusion. She still wasn't moving!
"Get out of here!" Haku shouted at her, as he pushed her off the bridge. "You've got to get across the river." He explained. Again she did not move.
"GO! I'll distract them!"
He watched her start to run and turned back to the door. Lifting his left hand, he blew on his thumb and pointer finger, which he had pinched together. Invoking one of his specialty spells, Haku released his magic as the breath grew into white scales. They floated around the bridge and door keeping anyone from coming in or out.
Knowing Yubaba would wonder about the hold up of business, he quickly jumped off the bridge and immediately transformed into a dragon.
The sun set faster and faster. Darkness grew and strengthened. Haku felt his power leaking out of his core as it strained to hold in place. His body trembled with control as he forced himself to keep the spell. He had to endure. He had to hold up!
Coiling his long body on one of the bridge legs, Haku threw all his concentration on maintaining the spell. It would hold off the greeter slugs long enough to hopefully help her escape. As soon as they smelled the remaining human stench that lingered in the air, they would warn Yubaba of Chihiro's presence.
... Chihiro… that was like a name from a dream. A blissful, happy dream. Yet he knew it was hers. How he knew… he could not figure it out. It was like a block stone, jamming his memories.
Haku shook his head and let his musing slide. All concentration must be focused on his spell. He felt the needs of the bathhouse greeters, pressured in their opening duties. He trembled more violently as customers tried to cross the bridge.
Haku felt his power drain slowly from him like a pouring glass of water. Night had fallen. The strength to hold his spell left him. It released as he, slowly and silently, slipped off his tense coiled place and half fell; half flew, down under the bridge. As he landed painfully on the train tracks below, he felt the wind come with him again. It brushed up against his face with force and told him she hadn't made it.
Haku cursed bitterly as he struggled to get up. He shifted back into human form and climbed on wobbly legs to stand. He dared not fly as a dragon to find her less she see him and really be frightened. He needed her to trust him now.
The green-eyed youth raised a trembling hand up to the bridge in the direction of the door. The residue of his magic would still be present.
He waved left to right and then back again making sure that all traces of magic were gone.
Now with that taken care of, finding Chihiro was now all that mattered.
Remembering his own spiritual experience of disappearing, Haku knew he had to search for some form of food. Something natural and not made processed by the cooking spirits. She would start fading soon enough. It would only be a matter of minutes until she vanished completely.
It was full dark now as Haku ran, still shaking, up the hill from the train tracks below. As he passed, he spied a berry bush. After asking the bush for one of its fruit, Haku plucked a ripe berry from the obliging shrub. Haku explored in the back city, behind the houses that lined the dirt road leading to the bathhouse. Haku closed his eyes and found the trail of Chihiro's human smell.
Running past the different gardens and leaping over fences with inhuman speed, Haku clutched the berry in his hand. He muttered a small strengthening charm over it and slipped the berry into his pant pocket. He wished he could have done more as he raced on through the fields. He sprinted up the hill until he finally heard her. A whimpering sound was coming from behind the houses close to the river. And there he found her, clutching her legs together and laying her head on her knees. She smelled so scared. Haku didn't really know what to do. As he approached her quietly, he noticed she had started to disappear. He had to give her the food without frightening her even more.
Unknowing how to calm her, he crouched low and unthinkingly put a tender arm around her in comfort. She gasped and tensed as he touched her. Her head popped up to show her sparkling, panicky eyes as she shrank away from him. He needed to calm her down.
"Don't be afraid." He said in his most reassuring voice, his eyes pleaded with her to trust him. "I just want to help you."
It didn't work.
She struggled in his arms, trying to push herself away from him. She was scared of him despite his words of comfort. She attempted to push away from him and struggled to get his arm off her shoulders. Because of her constantly fading arms, Haku felt nothing of the attempt. Chihiro struggled even more when she realized her efforts were not working. "No, no, no…" She continually whispered in that sweet soft voice.
Haku, his left arm never leaving her shoulder, reached into his pocket with his right hand and produced the berry. He held it out for her to see.
"Open your mouth and eat this." Haku instructed gently. Warring with himself for a moment, Haku decided to explain his actions. "You have to eat some food from this world or else you will disappear."
A lot of good that did.
"NO!" Chihiro screamed, and with all her might, pushed her hands at Haku's face. She opened her beautiful eyes wide when she realized she pushed nothing but air. Her hands, as expected, passed completely through Haku's face. She gasped and stared at her gradually vanishing arms. Haku decided this was a good time to introduce Mr. Berry to her mouth.
He held the berry to her face and she coiled back a little. He realized her hesitant behavior. She must have seen what eating the spirit food can do. She must think that the berry will turn her into a pig. Haku wondered who else had entered this world along with the girl.
"Don't worry," he gently reassured. "It won't turn you into a pig." And with that, Haku shoved the berry smoothly into her mouth. "Chew it and swallow." Haku decided to add for good measure.
She immediately close her eyes against the berry's bitter flavor and Haku determined mentally that he would have to have a talk with that bush about its berry supply.
When she finally choked down the foul berry, she opened her eyes hesitantly to look at Haku. He smiled happily at her as his eyes met hers.
"There you go." He said, still smiling in a soft friendly tone. "You're all better. See for yourself." To prove that it worked, Haku raised his hand for her to press hers against his. As she raised her hand, Haku felt his heart skip a beat. She was so petite and vulnerable that Haku wanted nothing more that to take her into his protecting arms. The wind gently tugged her hair around her face and Haku heard it sigh approvingly. Strange warmth grew from his heart as she faintly touched her hand to his. He felt her fingers gradually give more and more pressure on his skin. At this accomplishment, Haku watched Chihiro's eyes display relief and gratitude.
"I'm okay." She whispered. Haku kept his green eyes in her soft brown orbs, unable to break the contact.
"You see." Haku smiled at her. He unthinkingly put both hands around her small, warm palm. He slowly stood and kept her hand in his. He had to think of something quick. The green-eyed boy knew needed to take her somewhere safe. Haku racked his brain for someplace she could hide. And then it hit him. Kamaji! The boiler man would most certainly help Chihiro out. Kamaji had a soft spot for the furry, innocent and cute. Besides furry, Chihiro was definitely all those things. The tricky part would be getting her across the bridge into the bathhouse. Haku decided he'd worry about that later.
"Now, come with me." He said in a smooth, soft voice trying to pull her up by their clasped hands.
She stayed sitting though, still stubborn.
"Wait!" She cried, raising her voice, "Where are my mom and dad?" She eyes pleaded him for answers. "They didn't really turn into pigs, did they?"
Whatever a mom and dad were, Haku realized she hadn't been alone when she came here. There were more humans who had crossed over. Two of them it seems. And now they were trapped in the spirit realm as pigs for eating the god's food. She must have saw their transformation. Mom and dad must mean her parents. Her life-kin. Haku felt his spirit go out to her. He pitied her situation most grievously. Now entrusted to protect this girl, Haku felt a fire flame spread throughout his chest. He would protect this girl till his dying day. This he promised himself and the wind around him. It swirled about him as if to seal his pledge.
He kept his eyes on her face and wondered exactly what to say to help.
"You can't see them now, but you will." Haku tried, attempting to reassure her and not quite answer her entire question in one sentence. It seemed to work. She looked as though she trusted him enough for his word. Haku felt proud of himself.
But suddenly, Haku felt the air tense. He knew who it was. Yubaba was searching for her. Someone had seen her; no doubt from her trying to escape through the crowded streets, and had tipped Yubaba off. Lifting his face to search the sky, he spotted what he was looking for. A black bird with an old woman's face slowly circled the surrounding areas, looking for something. Yu-bird, it was called, was one of Yubaba's henchmen just like Haku. But Yu-bird didn't have the magic or the skills that Haku had.
Haku immediately covered Chihiro with his body and pressed her back up against the side of the house. He put one hand on the wall and pulled her small body against his with the other to help shelter her smell with his. He quickly invoked a mental charm of invisibility and hurriedly whispered, "Don't move."
Her staggered breathing blew his hair and told him she was doing her best to stay calm. He kept his head turned to follow the bird's circular movements. He narrowed his eyes, as it glided closer to their hiding place, and pushed himself more nearer Chihiro.
Eventually it gave up and decided to search somewhere else. Haku backed away a little and let out a quick breath he didn't know he was holding. He kept the invisibility charm up just incase it decided to come back again.
"That bird is looking for you." He said tensely, looking back at her. He abruptly backed away from her some more once he realized how close he had gotten to her. She didn't seem to notice. Her mind must have been too concentrated on what was happening. "You've gotta get out of here." He told her as he stood again.
He tried to pull her up with him, but she didn't follow. She couldn't move her legs.
"Ah! My legs! I can't stand up!" She shouted in terror. "Help! What do I do!" She looked at Haku in alarm as more fear dominated her bright eyes.
Haku crouched low again. Looking at her intensely in the eyes, Haku told her through them to trust him. She settled down, her eyes pouring into his. "Calm down." He said in a soft whisper. "Take a deep breath." He saw her inhale slowly. And as she did so, Haku lowered his hand to her right leg.
"In the name of the wind and water within thee, unbind her." His hand glowed faint purple as he counter spelled his earlier one. Apparently, he had put too strong a strengthening charm and caused her legs to give out. Or that shrub had grown its berries to be extremely susceptible to spells.
That's another thing he would have to talk to that plant about.
"Get up." He instructed and she leaped to her feet as he pulled her up. After making sure the invisibility spell was still in place, Haku tightened his hold on her hand and gave her one more glance over his shoulder. And then like a flash, he took off with her scrambling behind him. Heading towards the bathhouse, Haku took all the shortcuts he knew. He charmed doors to open and close on his approach. Stopping was not an option. On and on they ran, through the pig pin, past the cook's station, through the bakery supplies, and behind a pair of frogs trying out their gourmet talents.
Finally, he reached the side gate. He stopped and let Chihiro have a breather. Holding the gate door open for her, Haku explained in a whisper, "You have to hold your breath while we cross the bridge." Her smell was so potent that it would attract anyone's attention immediately. "Even the tiniest breath will break the spell, and then everyone will see you."
She grasped onto Haku's arm extremely tight. Her face displayed fear, but there was a spark of courage in her eye that almost made Haku break into a smile. 'She's got some spunk, that's for sure.' Haku thought proudly. 'Hopefully, she can use it to help herself when I'm not there.'
As he led the way through the path from the back gate, Haku immediately surveyed the scene. The bridge was busy with customers filing in and out of the bathhouse. Many spirits and gods flittered across the hard wooden planks. The pre-welcoming committee, consisting of two frogs, was stationed out before the beginning of the bridge. His concealment charm, even with her breathing, would hold with them. It was the bigger spirits gliding, stomping, and flying into the bathhouse that would catch her.
Near the door at the end of the bridge, beautiful slugs enticed the customers through the door. Their long kimono's danced in the constant breeze that flew in through the fields. Haku remembered a secret door that led out of the bridge and into the eastern gardens of the bathhouse. He could lead her there while she stayed invisible, but the bridge and greeting station was a pretty long way to go without breath. Haku wondered briefly how long humans could stand without air.
Chihiro tensed and shrank back as they neared the gate that would let them through. She clutched Haku's arm even more tightly to her.
"I'm scared." She confessed in a trembling whisper. Her eyes started to lose some of the courage that had once shone so brightly before.
Haku wanted to tell her she wasn't alone. He wanted her to know he would always protect her. That he'd make sure everything turned out okay and that she shouldn't ever, ever worry because he'd always stay by her side. That she would never be hurt when he was around…..
But, he chickened out.
"Now, just stay calm." He blurted out instead and mentally cursed himself for being so stupid. How could he think such things about a human? Let alone say such things to her.
Yet… he knew that what he wanted to say to her was true. He really wanted to protect her.
At least he could have said something better than that. 'Great job on encouragement, Haku.'
Haku shook himself and pushed his emotions deep within. 'Let's get her through this and then we'll decide feelings.' He promised himself. The wind and plants snickered at him as if the very nature around him had heard his dilemma. 'Stupid nosy shrubbery.' Haku cursed.
He walked calmly with his head held high while Chihiro clutched his right arm in a puddle of nervousness. His feet paced with her soft ones in a rhythm of anxiety. And on they continued forward together.
With a forced calm motion, Haku quickly opened the whiny wooden gate and led her out to the entrance of the bridge.
More coming very soon! I've already finished this story, but I'm fixing it as I read it. If you see any mistakes, let me know!
Thanks for reading! Please review and tell me what you think!