When I was younger, my sister told me all sorts of lies, including the one Kagura thinks back on. I whole-heartedly believed in my sister because she was smarter and older than me. I not only believed in her, but in everyone else without question. Yep, I was really gullible. I still am, although I'm a bit more wary now. I think everyone wants to believe in a lie that gives brilliance rather than the simple truth. With these thoughts, I placed my naivety in Kagura. She's a childish, cheerful person, but I'm not sure if this concept of Kagura believing so willingly in others could apply to her. It seems to fit Tohru more. In any case, I hope that everyone's IC.
This fanfic is
dedicated to peridot scarves. Her talent amazes me and I know I
can't compare. However, I did my best to write a fic that's as
perfectly-written as the ones she writes. Also, she came up with the title!
Disclaimer: I don't own Fruits Basket.
All we have are memories. Memories and dreams.
The memories of the times that were precious to us, and the dreams of a better life. Stitched together, these small threads of happiness didn't amount to much, but it was easier to believe that amid the torture, the good things in our lives could form a blanket smothering the blizzard of our suffering.
It was a deceivingly soft lie, but we adored it and fell into its safe warmth. We couldn't brave through the cold sometimes, we needed hope. That earnest wish, that hope, that lie soothed us.
This room has many memories. They echo within me like the clickety-clack of my heels on the hard floor. The shades were not drawn for once, letting the sun decorate the interior. It was a simply furnished place, with a computer, bookshelves, a file cabinet...
And two large desks.
Because I couldn't imagine myself sitting at the desk that first caught my eye, I eased myself into Hatori's chair. I enjoyed the juicy warmth of the sun rays on my bare arms. My dust-colored eyes regarded the tiny dots swirling on the columns of light.
I didn't identify the dust as such in my youth. When I was four, I played in this room and didn't even care about that strange substance. That was before Hatori knew he would pursue a career in medicine, before the cabinets were erected and before the desks, one serving as a memorial for a woman whom he could love and be loved by only in dead memories. This office was a vacant room, regrettably as empty as my mind. I was so eager to learn, for I knew so little about the world and how it worked.
It was a lonely place. No one really used it. I was the first to venture in that room, to breathe in the stale air and twirl about on the dusty wooden floor, to yell things to my imaginary friends who would only cruelly mimic me. The shadows were frightening, but I told myself that even the dark things were afraid of this place. I would comfort the shadows and tell them not to be scared because I was here now.
On one of my few excursions to this room, I was a princess in my make-believe universe. I had journeyed to the Marigold Stream, that role in my play being designated to the sunlight falling out of the windows, to gather flowers. Instead of sweet-smelling blossoms, I found dirty, ugly beings like lint balls, which were so bold as to cling to the strands of hair on my royal head. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't imagine the interlopers away. This was just ridiculous. I could befriend strange shadows but how could I possibly interact with these brazen creatures? There was no denying it. The stream was corrupt.
Hatori entered the room and stopped upon seeing me. There were textbooks in his arms and a pencil behind his ear. I didn't realize it at the time, but I'd ruined any chance of him studying in a quiet place. The room had been in use long before I "discovered" it; he'd been using it as his own private library. But without that knowledge, I had just assumed that he was trying to escape Shigure and Ayame's company.
"Tori-kun, what are these... these... things?" I asked him with a mixture of disgust and genuine interest. Hatori knew many things. Everyone praised him for his clear judgment and sound mind, so I was certain that he'd explain this phenomenon to me and offer a method of getting these pests away from the pure Marigold Stream.
Hatori gave me a grave look, which was nearly all his face was capable of expressing. Even when he was young, he was pensive.
The motto he always lived by, it seemed, was, "Choose your words carefully." I knew he was selecting the right words to explain this to me in a way that I would understand. Hatori wasn't like Ayame and Shigure, who would prattle on for eons without sparing a breath. Their pauses were filled with nervous excitement while Hatori's were filled with poise. He wasn't uncertain or shy; he just never found the need to be loquacious. This trait made an impression on me, and even at that young age I wanted his painstaking care with words. I had a tendency to sunnily belt out anything that came to mind, mostly childish drivel.
I don't know what made him say it. Maybe he knew even then that everyone favored a fairy tale over cold, hard nonfiction. Perhaps he didn't want to end up like the dust to me: loathed and misunderstood.
I mistook his pause as meditatively thinking.
"They're sun butterflies, Kagura."
That was my mistake: not catching on to that hesitation, making it that much easier to follow the lie. But I had genuine faith in Ha'ri's knowledge. He was so reliable and had given me no reason to doubt him. So I smiled as I raised my chubby arms.
My view of them changed. Where I once kept my hands away, I lifted them up to the butterflies. "They're not pretty," I said. "They don't have any wings, they're just small. But I like them."
I played with my new friends, the sun butterflies, the entire afternoon. I cherished them dearly, for they were with me from sunrise to sundown. I was always melancholy when nighttime rolled around, wishing that there were moon butterflies and star butterflies to ease my loneliness, but this absence made them even more precious to me.
That was only the beginning of my endless fantasy. Hatori didn't encourage it, but his talk of sun butterflies made my naivety grow. Shigure and Ayame blew stardust dreams into my imagination, sending me to cosmic worlds that once seemed out of reach. They changed how I saw the world.
The migration of birds was no longer a winter voyage, but a flock of spell-bound priestesses, defying their witch jailer and traveling to a paradise with handsome suitors, this island being the only place they could regain human form. A thunderstorm wasn't charged by agitated ions, but an angel family. The rumbling thunder was a mother shushing her baby's rain tears and the angry sizzle of lightning was a father's frustration, angry at not being able to soothe his child's pain. Babies grew in gardens, sprouting from the nectar-sweetened center of every fragrant blossom. Only a mother's love could make the tiny flower baby grow healthy and strong.
I knew Hatori didn't like the stories, but I saw them as truth, absolutely harmless. But now I know why he hated and even feared the lies.
The tales were starting to resemble their parents.
Shigure's hopes for us, Ayame's dreams, all of our yearning.
After hearing about the origin of babies, I asked Hatori about Akito. If she grew from a flower, then why was she so sick? Akito wasn't small enough to grow from a blossom, but she was as frail as one. Her skin was cherry-blossom white, translucent and easily bruised. She was a fragile petal.
'All of our love,' Shigure answered. 'You see, Kagu-chan, Akito-san doesn't have a nice mommy like yours or a happy life. So we all have to pool our love together and make her healthy. If she has her family's love, everything will be better. We should love her twice as much, all of us, to compensate for her hard life. Things will be better when that happens.'
My dear Shigure. I loved him so much. It was so easy to trust him, with his friendly dog eyes, his simple happiness, the way he enjoyed life. I think Hatori really did see Akito as a malnourished flower that only needed sunshine and gentle rain. She needed our love, our obedience, and our sympathy, not the intense heat and heavy downpours of hatred and condemnation. That might have been the reason that he never blamed her for what happened between Kana and him.
With love, Shigure promised, Akito would change.
She's had Hatori's loyalty and Shigure's faithfulness, but that has spawned nothing but sorrow.
Our God is not kind. Our God is...
But despite Akito, my life was a happy one. Shigure, Ayame, and even Yuki lied to me to make my life a whirlwind of vibrant color.
Everything had a magical origin, even Hatori's disposition. He was studious, straitlaced, and serious, and his cousins liked to tease him about it. They offered several theories for his manner.
Shigure snickered that Hatori battled a dragon in a past life. Hatori was a formidable foe and the dragon, showing respect to him, gave him his greatest strength: his graveness. Ayame giggled that there was no special reason, that Hatori simply had a stick shoved up his ass, but I thought that was mean to say. But I knew that the both of them were simply joking. They loved Hatori no matter what. They just liked to kid around with him.
Just like Hatori was, in his own way, kidding when he complained about Aaya and Shii-kun. Nothing could disguise the speck of happiness in his eyes when they would loop elbows with him and lead him into their carefree world, Aya on one side and Shigure on the other.
They still haven't let him go.
I swiveled around to see Hatori. I sprang to my feet, the chair receding into the bookcase stocked with medical books. It had taken years for his collection to grow. He prided himself on that library.
But Akito's ailment couldn't be found in any of those books. He had many theories, one of them being that she suffered from a combination of illnesses, a medley of complicated, thick-sounding diseases. He'd returned from tending to our sick matriarch. It was perplexing. Here she was, without the strength to do many simple things and yet she had the energy to fling a vase at Hatori's eye and storm about at any indication of love. There was no remedy as of yet, just endless medications that only prolonged her life for the time being.
"Ha'ri-kun!" I disbanded from the sunshine parade and beamed at him. "I'm here, just like I promised."
"I thought you wouldn't show up." He approached me with his customary steady manner and tone. I'd grown up hearing this voice, but I yearned for the days when Kana loved him, when she colored his soul. The way she made him smile, laugh, just experience happiness… Drawing joy from this somber man was her talent alone.
I giggled, rocking back and forth. The open window chased the breeze inside, sending my dress into a gallop around my legs. "I'm so scared of needles though. If only Shigure were here to comfort me. You better have a lollipop for me because I'm being a brave little girl!" I teased.
A strange look passed over his face, but because I blinked, I wasn't sure it had even existed. "I wouldn't be able to comfort you?"
There was more in the question than he was letting on, but that didn't make me any less confused.
"Just for moral support," I explained with rosy cheeks. "I mean, Shii-chan hates getting shots 'cause they hurt. When someone's scared of something, it makes the other person feel better. But not because they're miserable!" I said quickly. "But two people, facing the same problems, the same fears... It's easier to endure with someone. That's all, Ha'ri!"
He walked over to where I was and stood in front of me. Even in my heels he was a tower. I felt so tiny in front of him.
Hatori was so wise... I wished I were more like him! Then I would've known what to say instead of babbling like a child. Couldn't I see that he needed support too? Hatori wasn't an island. He needed people too.
But it was his difficult life that had made him this way, unable to directly ask for someone to depend on. Comparing my home life with those of my cousins, my smiling mother with their parents, did they all resent me? I wanted to say no, they didn't. I wanted to believe that my family loved me, but Rin's reaction to my mother and me was enough of a testimonial.
That was my fear: that they secretly hated me.
I couldn't say I was so tortured, not by comparison.
So I have no right to complain.
About Akito or anything else.
"You're afraid of me."
I looked up at him. He was still unemotional. His voice was flat.
But his eyes...
I couldn't say I feared him because I barely knew him. He was my doctor and my cousin, and those were the only roles he had in my heart. But did I love him? I never told him. Was that because I was secretly afraid of him? No! He couldn't scare me, didn't scare me. He only knew how to heal, not to hurt. He was living with a wounded heart for the woman he loved. How could I be afraid of him?
"No! No!" My arms went around his waist, my head on his chest. I reached his shoulders, but just barely. In this stance, I truly felt the weight of my age. Eighteen is still an adult, but in essence I was a child. I was a kid in spirit, and that was what made me so unable to see the truth for what it was.
Like the many tragedies that befell us. The lie was told in my mother's voice. The first time I fell into a boy's arms, when I realized I wasn't normal. I was a maroon boar faced with that boy's disgust.
"It's not that bad."
Akito imprisoned Yuki yet again and I went into the room to comfort him. She caught me holding his hands through the bars and attacked me. Yuki cried so hard, wanting to save me but being unable to while imprisoned in that cage. Later, my wounds were slathered in healing balm. I was bandaged but broken.
"It's not that bad."
Momiji's mother completely rejected him, saying she regretted giving birth to him. I'd never forget his face on the day she forgot who he was.
"It's not that bad."
Now the words were useless. I couldn't bring a face to them.
Seeing Kyo's second transformation.
"It's not that bad."
His downcast face at his mom's funeral. I knew Kyo blamed himself for her death.
"It's not that bad."
"It's not that bad."
"It's not that bad."
"IT'S NOT THAT BAD!!!!!"
I was an animal, and that was how I truly sounded. The screech, wild, frenzied pitch of voice... That was me. I clutched my head and pressed my palms into my skull like a piece of fruit as if to squeeze the darkness out. But my head wasn't full of the bittersweet nectar of an orange.
All I had were lies.
And all I was was an animal.
Just a boar. A wild beast. We were abnormal. I was abnormal.
I wasn't human.
Hatori grasped me, not speaking. I sobbed into him, crying, shrieking, gasping, letting my other side control me. He wasn't disgusted. He didn't push me away. He hadn't consoled anyone in so long and yet he soothed me with ease.
My tears abated, my yells and shrieks died. I felt something damp on the top of my head. The wetness crawled through my bangs and down my face.
Tears. Hatori was crying.
But he was like stone! Wasn't he the strongest out of us all?
Yes. Hatori was strong, but I was wrong in thinking he was impervious to hardship. He was human.
We were cursed humans, not beasts that needed to be ruled.
I knew that now.
"Hatori... This isn't fair." I hicupped. "This... All of this... We're all messed up."
His arms swallowed me. "Yes."
"With love, will everything be better, like Shigure said? Will it?" I asked.
There were a million directions that he could take this silence, but he was lost, not sure which road to take. It was the ultimate question, one we'd been asking our whole lives. Could love make everything better? Could we combine our love into Akito and change her? Could we lead happy lives? Was there even such a thing in our household? Could we be so bold as to choose happiness?
"I don't know."
Not a false affirmation. Not a denial. The truth. None of us knew what love could do.
But I knew I loved Hatori. I loved Momiji and Kyo. I loved Tohru, who was like a sister to me. I loved my troubled Ritsu and my shy Kisa, my stubborn Hiro, my gentle mother and everyone else.
But now, right now, I loved Hatori the most. Not only because he needed it the most, but because he was truthful to me.
We stood for so long, silent, just confirming each other's existence.
"I love you, Hatori," I said.
He slid his hands lower on my waist. With barely any effort, he lifted me off the ground. I wrapped my arms around his neck. Our heartbeats ran into each other's. They throbbed at the same pace, burning with the same rush of blood.
That's right. Even if we weren't honest, our bodies would be. Our hearts would race with fear and excitement, our palms would sweat with adrenaline, and our legs would go weak with feelings of love.
Soft patters entered our union. I felt Hatori's hair brush against my skin as we both looked out the window.
It was raining.
The sunshine seemed ridiculous with the clear drops. Outside, the wind was wrecking havoc on the treetops. The sun lashed out at me for admiring the rain, stinging my eyelids. Tears and rain were together on my face. Hatori squinted against the sun's fury.
The rain was usually loathed. It symbolized boredom from being forced to take refuge at home. It transformed the wedding of blue skies and clouds into a wake.
"The fox is getting married," I said softly.
He smiled. "It's been a while since this has happened."
I didn't need to say anything else. He nodded, completely understanding what I meant.
Braille-like bumps appeared on my arms, but I didn't mind the cold. I was being drenched in soothing rain, cleansing rain. The lies could be washed away now. We didn't need them anymore. But that didn't mean that they needed to leave. For now, the truth and the lies could coexist.
I turned away from the ceremony. "I'm heavy, aren't I," I said.
Hatori gazed into my eyes. "Yes."
I laughed softly with tears in my eyes. "You jerk."
The sun cried hotly on our shoulders.
The dust motes floated on the sun beams, silently observing.
We found the truth.