Life After Molmol: A Tale Of The Missing Three Years Of Love Hina
By 'Goji' Rob Morris
Legal Disclaimer : I do not know exactly who owns Love Hina, or the other pop culture entities and works I often reference herein—I only know it isn't me.
Book One – Sisters At War
Prologue - The Girl Who Digs In The Sand
Hinata-Sou, The 1980's
She knew all their scummy, hurtful comments by heart at this point. So it was that a tough girl who prided herself on her emotional control waited till she was well inside the hotel before even allowing her eyes to even begin to redden. Her grandmother was already waiting.
"Your friends need to improve their social graces. Since that is unlikely to happen soon, why don't you go upstairs and look in on your baby cousin?"
She didn't mind the assignment. After all, a baby who had yet to say even his first words couldn't insult her. As she walked up slowly, so as not to awaken the kid (who had the healthiest set of lungs of any baby she'd ever heard), the words that had driven her inside rang in her ears.
*Honestly, it's not your fault. Your looks just don't inspire boys.*
*Boys like you well enough. To them, it's like you're not even a girl.*
*That tom-boy thing will come back in style some day. Not in our lifetimes, you understand.*
*'Ruka, let's be real. You're not a girl that boys will marry. The most you can hope for is that one of them will take you to the beach to dig fro clams in the sand with them. Heh. Don't get crabs!*
Her agitation huge, she saw that her stealth had been for nothing. While not crying, the baby was wide awake. Thankfully, Grandma had positioned his cradle/bed in position to see the sky above, calming him.
"Glad to see you're doing all right at least. Sorry I'm not your two little girlfriends."
She picked the delighted boy—really he was not a baby anymore-up and grew a bit bitter.
"Though you're probably better off without them. As bad as you guys can be, you have nothing on us, when we turn on each other. Why? Because guys go after each other for the stupidest reasons. Girls go after each other for no reason at all."
The boy laughed. His 'two little girlfriends' weren't even that, really, having only waved to each other across the room so far, like something out of a bad American sitcom based on misunderstandings. The one girl was reported to be very sickly. The other girl, while healthy, had been mistaken for dead on countless occasions.
"Don't. Don't you look at me like that. Don't look at me like I'm some kind of beauty queen, fairy princess, or goddess. Because I'm not. Just ask any girl at school. Or worse, ask any boy. I'm just plain old Haruka Urashima, emphasis on the plain."
But he wouldn't stop smiling at her in exactly that way, and eventually, she was smiling as well.
"Okay, I said stop. Here, you little brat. Take this."
With as little force as possible, she took one finger and swatted him across the nose. She figured to start a crying jag that would end her tenure. She figured wrong.
"Little cousin, are you some kind of masochistic monster? You shouldn't smile when I hit you! Keitaro…"
His gurgling took her by complete surprise. It sounded like a word.
"What did you just say?"
"Oba. Oba Haruka."
Her eyes went wide, and her eyes never went wide. The first real word out of his mouth had been her name. Her name—prefixed by the honorific 'Auntie'.
"You little creep. Your Mom's gonna wanna kill me for this! I took your first word, and it was—just for me?"
Okay, so she was a little young to be an aunt. Her pals would surely tease her about this. But that gave her an idea.
"Work with me, kiddo. I want to give those little bitches what for. See where Auntie is placing your hand? Well, when my friends come back, I want you to grab them right there—a lot! After all, they can't punish a baby. And live."
As she moved his tiny hand to the chest she whose lack she was teased about, she briefly mused that this could become a habit that could get the boy punished later on.
"But it's only okay when we're with friends, here at the Sou, got it?"
He seemed to understand. The next day, when tissues came out of one friend's bra, Haruka decided she would always be happy to see her nephew Keitaro.
August 2001, The Kingdom Of Molmol
"What the hell are you doing?"
She had gotten up to clear her head, and what she saw on the beach astounded her.
"Auntie, I'm just digging."
She pointed at him with a fury.
"Bad enough you mistook my advice to just do it with Naru the first time. But now, having won the woman you love by fighting all the other women you love, you're digging on the beach instead of making love to her?"
Keitaro waved a hand in the air.
"Please, keep it down. She said it was alright if I tell you, but no one else. For the others, I have to use my best goofball routine. I'm to say something awkward if asked."
Haruka grew concerned.
"Is she all right?"
"She is now. I had to rub lotion all over her. Err—she had rope burns and whip abrasions. I think it happened when Kitsune had her all tied up on the warplane. She took some pain relievers, too. She's tough, but the way this ruined things tonight really hit her hard. And that's not all."
He sat down, and she did likewise. He didn't have his 'woe-is-me' giving-up face on, but one from a more tangible sort of upset. This one wasn't going to pass with a shake or a punch.
"Go ahead, tell me."
"Auntie, I know the girls are just that way, and that this whole thing was a weird---very, very weird---way of saying that I do mean something to them. While I do wish they'd just told me this was a game, given the benefits of just knowing them, I'm happy to let it all slide. I'm not sure Naru is, though. She did a lot of grumbling while I rubbed her down, and for once, it wasn't aimed at me. Add to that, I think Shinobu feels like the others weren't fully truthful with her on some of what happened here. I'm beginning to think that, right after we settle this thing with Grandma and the Inn, there's going to be some bad blood."
Haruka sighed. Normally, she thought, this would be the time she smacked him and told him to not worry for no reason.
"Pretty damned insightful, nephew. You're finally growing up. Look, Keitaro. If this bad blood crops up, let it. Keep it from getting too bad, but accept that it will get bad. Also accept that you have nothing to do with it. All you and Naru's love did was catalyze some things that have been brewing since before you ever showed your adult face at the Inn. Friends are like this. I had to have it out with mine on occasion, even with Sarah's Mom. "
She half-expected to hear a whining jag about wanting everyone to get along, but it seemed he really had grown up—at least somewhat. Since she was still waiting for her own confirmation of maturity, she accepted this.
"You're right. We guys turn on each other for the stupidest reasons, but sometimes I think girls turn on each other for no reason."
His sudden smile told her he knew damned well where he had gotten that pearl of wisdom.
"Hubby Seta's sleeping off his accomplishment, and the verbal ass-kicking I gave him for dragging you two into this mess in the first place. Naru's not like us, and needs her rest after Mitsune's bout of outdoing herself."
Keitaro's head turned.
"Not like us?"
She looked at her watch.
"It's Three right now. Kitchen opens for Breakfast opens at Four-Fifteen. We'll eat then, and talk about a lot of things you need to know. But first, we dig for treasure. Okay?"
So it was that a girl now a woman far happier than any of the friends who had taunted her dug happily in the sand with the first man who ever recognized her worth and beauty. For good measure, just before leaving the area, they tossed their shovels over a rise, knocking two overly zealous Molmolian security force personnel silly. Haruka decided anew that she would always be happy to see her nephew Keitaro.