Summary of story: Life's been less than rosy for Chihiro since she left the realm, but at last, she's met the man of her dreams, Hayate. She wants to spend the rest of her days with him. Chihiro has returned to her parent's home town where she and Hayate will marry in nine days. Something unexpected happens the first night of Chihiro's return, when she stumbles into a boy who has grown into a man, and faded memories begin to re-surface. Of course, it was Haku. The encounter forces Chihiro to re-examine her past fifteen years, her way of life, and to question if Hayate is the one.
Prologue: The Night Before
The chirping of cicadas and night crickets brought a crooked smile to her cherub lips. It was Chihiro's first night back at her hometown after fifteen years away. Her parents and Hayate- her fiancé-were at the Shinto pagoda making the final arrangements for their wedding ceremony: scheduled to happen in nine days. She left it to her parents and Hayate to finalize the finer details of the ceremony; Chihiro just wanted the marriage over and done with, caring nothing for the logistics or what the occasion meant to her parents. If she had her way the wedding would only involve her parents, Hayate's parents, and naturally Hayate, plus a quick signature at the registrar's office.
But I just went with the flow as usual didn't I? She exhaled with exasperation at the fuss her family was stirring up over her nuptials.
Since their arrival this morning, she and Hayate had spent most of the day catching up on local gossip in the neighbourhood, making pleasantries as dictated by custom. However, listening to gossip or useless prattle in general was something Chihiro detested, but being the model citizen she was, no one would ever hear her complain.
Tonight she was adamant on staying home on the farm to visit her beloved Kohaku River. The tiny brook lingered in the recesses of her mind, and with it the countless hours she spent there - from dusk to dawn if possible. She wondered if anything had changed about it during her absence. Is it still there?
Are the reeds still swaying back and forth like a dancing chorus line on the banks?
Are the cherry blossom trees still crying over the shores during blossom season?
The welled up pressure of city life that Chihiro hadn't realized she harboured, seemed to magically lift from her body as she sauntered with bare feet, down to the stretch of water that snaked at the bottom of the lush hill. The green wheat grass cooled her heels, and as she padded over the fine leafy blades, the sensation under her feet cooled and refreshed her worn senses.
Back in Saitama, the city where Chihiro lived, the nights serenaded her with a cacophony of cars screeching by her front door, finished off with a sonnet from her neighbour's blaring television set. It was as if she was living on the set of an action blockbuster every night of her life. The 'tree change' to the country setting and the soft hum of the naturally orchestrated symphony of the insects and night winds, was a welcome respite for her senses. The stressed muscles knotting in her stomach unravelling to the music of her childhood home.
Remarkably, the wedding chaos that buzzed around her like bees to honey began to fade. The jack-hammering talk in her head of: caterers; invitations; calling her relatives; listening politely to her in-laws constant nagging about the microscopic details from her kimono; to her make-up to the colour of the pins that would hold up her hair at the ceremony. A disused mischievous grin pulled at the corners of her mouth.
Why can't I be allowed to choose any of this? After all, it is MY wedding isn't it?
Her parents had insisted on a wedding in their hometown and Hayate, had gracefully agreed. This guaranteed the traditional ceremony would have all the bells, whistles and over the top trimmings for the sake of impressing her parents' friends and family; to uphold the honour of the Ogino family, and to keep up with the Yamadas!
"It's more going to be a stage show than a wedding ceremony!" Chihiro hissed ruefully.
Since this morning Chihiro's ears had pleaded for mercy from her parents incessant rambling about wedding-this and wedding-that. She needed this eve to savour the quiet company of the whispers of gold fireflies circling her, and silence was the only company she desperately yearned for. This kind of peace, the quietude that protected her tonight was as out of reach in the city, as the stars were out of reach in the indigo canopy of the sky.
This night alone was one Chihrio had longed for and she had finally plucked up the courage to insist upon it. Hayate had agreed to leave her unattended for once. Returning to her long forgotten home town, seduced by the fresh scents of the meadows and winking stars in the heavens, lifted the overwhelmingly claustrophobic weight of city life from her shoulders.
Why does my familiar life feel so foreign? Everything is just too stifling. Maybe I'm too tired to think straight. Thank heavens I got one night to be in solitude with the dusk of the crisp, clear air... and my own private meanderings. Hayate is a wonderful man, save the fact he has a penchant for smothering me with his over-protectiveness at times. He is my Knight in Over-Possessive Armour. Chihiro chuckled wryly.
Throwing the nagging thoughts from her head, Chihiro broke into a run and burst into hearty unladylike laughter, rotating her lanky arms wildly like crazed propeller blades. It was her personal celebratory gesture of having achieved the 'aloneness' this evening. The sun had bid goodbye over the horizon, ducking behind the distant mountains, leaving a veil of growing darkness between Chihiro and the river. As she bounded down the hill in delirious anticipation of the welcoming waters, she noticed a little too late the figure of a man sitting at the shores.
What the hell is a man doing by the river this late! "WATCH OUT!" she cried, careening into his back with a heavy thud. "Oh crap! I'm SO sorry!" she screamed, as she and the stranger plunged head first into the water. Chihiro gave a screech that was muffled by a mouthful of icy water. The liquid coldness bit into her skin. Chihiro spluttered water from her mouth attempting not to drown in embarrassment. As she struggled to stand from the knee-deep depths of rippling water, she heard a soft laugh from the direction of the mysterious man a few meters away. She saw his lithe figure rise effortlessly from the water, as if he was water itself. From her lowered lids, she spied at him from under her wet fringe as he stood to face her.
Who is this guy…?
Her heart stalled, afraid of some unimagined horror the stranger would inflict upon her as the water lapped against their bodies. His hypnotic laughter started again. What is he laughing about? She knitted her sopped brows together in consternation. That laugh doesn't sound like a psychopathic laugh does it?
"Chihiro. I knew you would come back," and the stranger shyly smiled at her through the gossamer of darkness between them.
She sat like a rock in the water as a shiver of trepidation (mingled with the sensation of her backside freezing off!) crept up her spine.
"H-how did you know my name?" Chihiro stammered in a voice pitched with curiosity and alarm.
Again, there was that gentle, almost teasing laugh. "Don't you remember me, Chihiro?"
A pregnant pause thickened between Chihiro and the stranger as she managed to stand on her feet, nowhere near as gracefully as the man.
Maybe he is a local fisherman? With a somewhat provocative laugh.
She brushed the length of the wet tresses from her face, allowing her eyes a better view of the man. A view that widened her irises to the point they could have filled her entire face. Her jaw dropped like lead into the water with a splash. The beating of her heart hyperventilated, pounding mercilessly, threatening to break free from her rib cage.
Through her mist of cold and darkness, her whiskey brown eyes truly saw, and recognized the man standing in front of her.
You're no longer a boy...
She recognized the man's white porcelain skin, the wet emerald black hue of his hair. The slight slant of his almond shaped eyes green of a dark verdant forest. Her heart stalled, when she recognized how and why he was so familiar to her.
It can't be...
It was then, the dammed river of her childhood memories burst open, gushing forth all the repressed emotions and events of the bath house.
About the pigs.
About the spirits.
About a dragon.
About the bond they forged fifteen years ago. About the boy that had saved her and her parents.
"H-Haku?" she stammered, suddenly scorching in the biting temperatures clinging to her skin.
"Yes, Chihiro," Haku smiled a masterpiece, that left hearts broken in its wake. "I must admit I am slightly hurt," he hushed in a playful tone, "...that you forgot about me," he finished stretching his arm towards her, offering his open hand.
"Come with me."
AN: Okie, I've decided insert the original prologue but not in its entirity. The rest of the prologue will be revealed as the story between Chihiro and Haku unravels. Thanks to Frozen Dragon for requesting the prologue be resurrected.
When I first joined the pit, I fell in love with a Spirited Away story called '30 Days to Love a Dragon' by Misty Voughn. It was different from all the other Spirited Away stories because Haku was imperfect, Chihiro wasn't available, and plenty more reasons. I especially loved the Asian voice she embedded into many of the chapters. Unfortunately, the author chose to purge her account and all her stories for paid writing jobs! Needless to say, I was pretty upset she left and took her stories with her, as were many of her fans who requested she send them the unfinished fic and plot summary (me being one of them!). I nagged and nagged her to come back. She politely declined. I literally, sent her at least 40 plus 'beg grovel e-mails' per day to re-post the fic in the past few month alone! Still, she told me to 'sod off' but in the nicest way. FINALLY one night , my persistence paid off and she sent me the fic and told me to do what I wanted with it!! HOORAH! I have a feeling she did it just to stop me from spamming her and to shut my dumb guts!!
I'm reposting - with minor edits to the narrative voice- Misty Voughn's fic, because personally, I feel it's too good to die. Not to mention I don't have the talent and knowledge she possessed. If Misty hadn't caved and given me the fic, I was planning to beat her up when I got to Japan! Yep, I've moved to Japan for work but what does the woman do? Move back to Australia to get away from me. Heehee, then I'll get her! If you were one of the many many who had this fic on your favourites list and alerts, please enjoy.
Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Spirited Away. The characters are borrowed and anything else is MV's property.