Title: The Flower Of Forgetting
Series: Fruits Basket
Character/Pairing: Hatori/Kana, a bit of Hatori/Mayu
Rating: PG
Summary: For all things had a season, and his would come again some other day. From the beginning to the end of a love for a girl, to the bridging for the love of another.
A/N: 13. the flower of forgetting, The Gauntlet. All the poetry mentioned here was by Ono no Komachi. Hatori's story came fairly early, so does this really count as spoilers?

//

Kana had worked for him for months before he truly even noticed her. She had a flower in her hands the first time he had begun to realize the scope of his feelings. It was a Gardenia as white as newly fallen snow.

"I hope you don't mind me taking it – it had broken off and it seemed a shame to just let it rot away. It'll wither away soon and die."

He took it from her, gently, carefully and put it behind her ear. It fit there, such a transient, beautiful adornment for her. Her cheeks colored, and it was such a pleasant moment.

It had merely been an inexplicable impulse, despite being not given to impulses, he had done it without thought. It had seemed a natural thing to do at the time. He noticed so much more of her after that. Her hands were small, thin boned and delicate. She arranged them with a grace that belied all her seeming modernity. She brought in small, blue flowers in a vase along with white buds and a reed. It was a strange, yet intriguing display like few he'd seen. He fingered a blue, petite flower and she smiled at him.

"I like my office space to be neat, but with a little bit of flair and...serenity. I hope you don't mind."

"Of course not," Hatori said.

"Those are Forget-Me-Nots. They aren't the usual kind to use. My mother always loved them."

He would later learn that her mother had been raised traditionally and had insured that her daughter would be raised the same. Ikebana and tea ceremony. She was on the precipice of the past and present, herself a unique combination of each part.

//

The weeks wound on and he found himself indelibly caught. It seemed a place far off, where thoughts of Akito was a cloud to never darken their doorway. When he was with her, he forgot about the constant burden of his responsibility. She slowly learned ways to make him laugh. Days never seemed as somber as when she was there.

She had fallen asleep, her head against the table, her short hair spread out, light and lovely. He sat for a moment, merely watching as time slowed to a crawl. The world outside of them was meaningless for that short period of time. When she stirred, she groaned slightly and looked up, rumpled and soft-edged with sleep.

"I'm sorry– I merely dozed off and–"

He stopped he. "It's fine. I didn't mind in the least."

Under her fingers was a book of poetry. He couldn't quite make out the title, but it was old and yet well kept. He could make out half of a Kanji on the front, but not enough to discern the meaning.

Her eyes followed his gaze. She pulled the book away, clutched it to her breast in shame.

"Oh, I was just reading a bit while I took a lunch break."

"Recite some," he said.

"Right here? I..." She flushed and laughed, nervous and pleased in the way of women in love. She met his eyes as she began to enunciate the familiar verse. She closed the book and recited from memory, a verse obviously close to her heart.

"....Did he appear, because I fell asleep thinking of him?"

"If only I'd known I was dreaming I'd never have wakened," he said, finishing it for her.

"You've read Ono no Komachi?"

"Some," he said.

She looked down, away her cheeks flushed with the rosy colors of a girl in love again. She chanced a look up back to him, his eyes, her gentle intentions so clear on her lips before she said them.

"Will you read with me sometime?"

He should've said no. But the sun came through bright on her face and he forgot the curses and the bonds Akito claimed over them all. With her, the air was gentler and he forgot the prices they paid with their lives. He forgot enough that he felt a flicker of hope Akito will be lenient, she will see, this isn't actually taking me away—

"Yes."

//

He noticed every blink and breath, now. She ate the pastries he brought delicately, licking the tips of her fingers in a way that was childish and yet refined at the same time. They read together and walked together. Work was a quiet and tense affair, with tense brushes of skin and secrets unspoken.

And for a while, they were happy. The fingers clasping, laughing in the sunlight kind of happy that permeated deep to their cores. For a while he was delusional enough to try to clutch at the bars of his prison. When he asked for her hand, he thought for them to live in secret. His hidden bride, their codes spread out through poetry through the day. Quiet meetings, flowers pressed into her hands in lieu of love letters.

A life such as that could only exist in novels. They lived that for a short while, until Shigure caught sight of a glance, a touch that lasted too long.

"What have we here?" Shigure purred. "A secret love, for you of all people? What a delicious secret..."

Hatori had stared back, stony and reeling. Kana had clutched his hand tighter, her eyes wide in shock.

"Don't worry," Shigure said in a way that was flippant and silky, "I won't tell your secret. It's safe with me."

That was the time it came to him that living the love of a novel wasn't a life they could live.
Even if Shigure didn't tell, there was no telling if it might accidentally slip. If Momiji might catch them and burst out in his innocence, or any other of the children. Perhaps Ayame might proclaim it in his effervescence, or Hiro in a particular angry moment.

In a family like the Sohma, there was no keeping secrets from each other. They were too closely knit, too interwoven with their lives and bonds and the curse that shackled them tight together.

That was how he came to Akito, with a heavy step and mixed anxiety and determination in his step. Did he know the words Akito would scream, the violence that would occur? No, but he had guessed. He knew the chaos in its rawest form even if he had no clue to what ugly creation it would manifest itself in.

//

When he told Kana, she had cried, but as the days passed it didn't heal. She was a fragile thing at heart, soft and kind. She was too hard on herself and never forgave herself for mistakes. As a doctor, he knew the signs as she fell into darker and darker spells. No longer did they sit in the warm light of day and read aloud to each other. She could barely look him in the eyes. She was living a half-life.

So it went, their sluggish act, of meaningless words and her trying to pretend that they both weren't irrevocably broken by Akito's actions. They could be no secret, now. Their novel life faded away, wilted into nothing.

And then one day, months later, she didn't come into work. Days passed, and the phone rang on endless, unanswered when he called. It was then that he took the steps towards her, towards her place and the final answering of what he knew must be closed.

He came upon the scene of her breaking. Her apartment, usually neat had fallen into a state of disrepair. Papers were strewn about, dishes were uncleaned in the sink, drowning in a soapy film of static, murky water. Her favorite book of poems lay on the floor, as if it had been tossed aside. The edges were frayed, and the binding broken. The floor had not been swept and all the curtains were drawn. It gave the place a dingy, gothic appearance, as if the chaos that Akito had unleashed had bedded down with her.

She had been crying. Her eyes were red-rimmed. Hair uncombed and face unmade, she had not bothered to come out of her grief for months. She couldn't look at him without breaking into fresh tears. She was crumpled and so very small. Childlike, her fragility was so evident.

"Kana...."

She sniffled and looked up, her gaze blinded by the constant tears. This was a wound that she would never forgive herself from, a pain she would never let heal.

He had brought a gift with him, a Gardenia. Now, instead of putting it behind her ear, he ripped it to pieces. He plucked each petal, she loves me, she loves me not and each fell down to her lap.

It ended on she loves me. The scent of the torn apart flower was intoxicating. She watched the fluttering down of snowy petals in a daze. She was barely alive, and this was no way to live. He knew the choice to make, to free her from this curse and let him remain chained.

"H-Hatori?" she said through the haze.

"I'm here," he said.

He bent down to her, touched her hair for one last time and embraced her. He breathed in her scent, the mix of old and new, the flowery perfume she chose which he never knew, as it was her secret. So many secrets he'd never had time to uncover, so many of his secrets he'd never gotten a chance to bring to light.

He released her from the embrace, but kept his hands on her arms (Bicep and tricep, his cold doctor's mind thought, muscle and fascia and bone).

"Kana...I love you."

He gazed at her for a long, last moment and drank in the sight of her with his remaining sight. He pictured this moment, his last – their last as he began to search for the words. She focused on the pieces of the flower as he began in his slow, monotone.

You will remember nothing. You never loved me. We never were anything more than coworkers. We never were lovers. You never loved me.

He watched them slowly rewind, as each moment was drawn backwards through the time to their first meeting. Each word was a sharp pain until there was nothing but numbness and endless fields of blank, pure snow. Everything felt cold, so cold. He felt choked up, so much that he could barely breathe. Their life was little more than picture once snapped, now thought to be a portrait, a fiction. The first walks, the flower he put behind her ear, the first time she saw him transform – all these dissolved into nothingness, a handful of enchanted dust he alone held now.

She looked up and she did not remember more than the barest details. Tomorrow, he would let her go. Her presence would only open the gaping wound. He would have to be cruel to be kind, though it was cruelest of all to him, for he would remember.

//

And so the years passed. She left, her face free of tears for the first time since the news had come. She would be happy. Somewhere else, with someone else who seemingly loved her as much as he did. Perhaps more. No, not more pe se; only more shown. He had no darkness to bring into his world, no more breaking to instill upon her.

Theirs had been a perfect love cut short. They were pristine, locked in amber and ice for as long as he lived.

So she would live as the culmination of some other man's dream. He was a lucky man, for sure. Far luckier than Hatori ever was or would be.

So that was how he lived out his days. Cold and hollowed out, a shell of a man. Somewhere in the peripheral, he noticed the strings of their family being tugged and rearranged. Rin, Shigure, and a new arrival in Tohru.

Things changed. People changed. He however didn't notice the scope until Shigure brought him to a bookstore.

Shigure grinned in a way that Hatori could tell meant he was up to something. He winked back at Mayu, who scowled at him. This exchange brought on a rare smile to Hatori's lips.

At the sight of the smile, Mayu turned away, but not before he glimpsed a reddening in her cheeks. Mayu blushed in the same way Kana had. That was the only similarity between them. Mayu was different. Kana had been fragile where she was strong, quiet where she was loud, gentle where she had spunk. Had Mayu been the one, she wouldn't have cried, she would've gone directly to Akito herself and demanded retribution. She'd had married Hatori whatever the consequences.

The thought alone made him want to chuckle.

Kana was happy somewhere else in another world, but for a moment, Hatori saw a chance of a happy future for himself. The world spun on, winter turned to spring. For all things had a season, and his would come again some other day. From the beginning to the end of a love for a girl, to the bridging for the love of another. He kept the memory of Kana tucked tight, a flower inside a book that neither wind nor rain could steal away.

//

I thought to pick
the flower of forgetting
for myself,
but I found it
already growing in his heart.