Prelude; lock it all away.

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Memories. Sad ones, happy ones; Akane had made them all.
By heart, she could trace the bustling streets of Kyou. With her mind's eye, she could see the mansion, the houses, the fields. In her ears, she could still hear the voices of her protectors and friends ringing.
It was enough. It was too little. It was too much. She didn't know anymore.
She didn't want it anymore.

Akane closed her eyes, and saw herself twice.
Both her. The left one of the pair was the present Akane, looking very vulnerable and so very normal in her flowing summer dress.

Next to her stood Akane of a distant time, the purple haori-esque clothing thrown over her school uniform. She looked strong and determined, and around her seemed to be a shadow, people that had been a long time ago, whispers of reassurance, adventure and protection.

Four years. Four years it had been!
She had come home, with two of her guardians, and the dragon-summoner. Only that they weren't that anymore.

She could still see her parents, pale with grief (afterwards, they told her they had given up all hope she'd return and had died somewhere), their faces going slack in disbelief as their daughter plus three others stood at the front door, before they lit up. Family of the four teens was assembled, and after extensive hugging and crying, they had demanded an explanation.
With help of her companions, she had told them everything. But their tale didn't meet the understanding they'd been hoping for; little siblings asked for another fairytale, and adults shook their head disapprovingly. End of story was, that they'd supposedly 'ran away from home', and thought they'd be forgiven of they'd think up such a crazy tale.
Kids these days.
Their sentence was being grounded for months to come

Still, Akane didn't give up. She tried to everyone willing to listen of her adventures, of how she had seen demons that looked like angels, and young princesses and loyal samurai. Of powerful priests and hotheaded boys with good hearts. Of emperors and noblemen.

Her friends sided with her, but after sometime, they told her, 'Maybe we should all just forget about this, Akane. We're back home now, anyway', happy to be home and able to finally move on.

But instead of forgetting it, Akane tried not to think about it, because those were very different things.
Still, in history classes, she couldn't help the flash of recognition as her teacher droned on about the Heian Period. Nor could she hold back the few attempts, growing more feeble and desperate by the day, to convince someone about where she had been.
She couldn't stop thinking of them, hindering her sleep.
At school, students had dubbed her 'the crazy girl', and she stopped trying more and more.
The dark rings around her eyes became something she couldn't ignore anymore.

At twenty, she had had enough. She wanted to forget it all. Really forget.
Akane-now dragged Akane-then to an opened gate, its distant depths looming, leering at them both, as if wanting to swallow everything that came close. Akane-then's shadow rushed and rocked, trashed and rebelled. It didn't want to go, but the seemingly weak Akane-now had a strong will, and it got caught and subdued.

Even more open went the gate, mouth gaping.
In went the strong priestess with her shadow of memories.
The key churned, got pulled out of the lock by Akane-now-- no, it wasn't necessary to give her a special name now; there was only one Akane left-- Akane pocketed the key. After everything, she couldn't bear to throw it away.

A single tear slid down her cheek; who wouldn't cry, if a part of life had just been locked away?

After that, Akane slept soundly for weeks. Her skin reclaimed its healthy glow and the shadows under and in her eyes faded away. She made new friends at college, regaining her cheerful manner.

Hachiyou? What's that? Is it some kind of food?
Akane was oblivious of it, unknowing. Akane was happy.

That's when the dreams began.

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A/N; Hullo! I just though of this, and had to write it!  Ah, it started off with a dramatic bang! Might tone that down.. then again, might not. :D
Won't say more than this because.. must study now. Test week. Torture. You know what I mean.. probably.
Much appreciated if you R&R!