Is it his heart? Or his thudding footsteps as he races through the forest? He doesn't know. Or maybe he doesn't care. All he cares about is running, running, running. Away from him. Before he swoops down and...
Toshiro shudders and almost stumbles over a tree root protruding from the ground. He quickly regains his balance and picks up speed, only looking back for a second before glancing around for an opening in the wild and closely knit forest of cypress trees. His clothes are ragged and barely covering him from the biting wind and icy mist of the devil of a forest. His hair is a mess with bits of dirt and twigs scattered across the white crop of once lush locks. His wide aquamarine irises are filled with terror and fear. He wants out. He wants to see light. What did the sun look like again? He can't remember. It had been so long ago when he had stolen him from humanity. Locked him up in his castle, doomed to be his forever. To become one of him and be his mate for all of eternity. To become a vampire.
'Brother Hitsugaya! Brother Hitsugaya!'
Toshiro Hitsugaya turns around to almost be barreled down by Hinamori as she launches herself at him.
'Sister Hinamori!' he hisses in her ear and pulls her away quickly. He glances around swiftly before fixing her with one of his sterner looks and despite him being a foot shorter than her, she bows her head in shame. 'How many times have I told you not to hug me in public!'
'I know, Brother Hitsugaya,' she says in a meek voice. 'But I just had a horrible nightmare about you and seeing you standing here as fine as ever almost made me cry as my dream felt so real…'
She starts to choke on her words and Hitsugaya's face softens a little. He sighs and very hesitantly pats her lightly on the back. She looks up and he notices her eyes are swimming with tears. He looks around once again and then back at her, a look of concern on his face.
'Would you like to talk about it, Momo?' he says softly, calling her by his pet name for her. Nobody is allowed to call her that but Hitsugaya. The waterworks lessen a bit and Hinamori nods slowly.
'But won't you get in trouble, Brother Hitsugaya?' she asks concernedly.
'No worries, Hinamori,' he laughs but it sounds hollow. Fake. Like he's trying to reassure her that he'll be fine but he knows better. Magician's apprentices aren't allowed to mingle with the normal folk in Karakura village. It's the first rule one must follow when they embark the path of becoming a wielder of magic. 'What Master Yamamoto doesn't know won't harm him.'
He says this last line almost bitterly, like he regrets ever choosing to become a magician. He isn't from Karakura village. He was found wandering the edges of the Eerie Forest ten years ago when he was seven years old with a lost look in his eyes. The locals thought he was some tortured soul out to curse them and were hell bent on killing him when the local fortuneteller, Yoruichi, saved him. She had brought him into the village, declared him very human, very child-like and very much an orphan suffering from slight amnesia. He didn't know where he came from or why he was here or who he really was either. He stayed with Yoruichi for a while until he found his bearing.
Yoruichi decided to name him Toshiro for as soon as he got used to the village and its people, he began to display amazing abilities and knowledge. He excelled in his studies past all the students at his school and found it useless to stay on so he worked at the village inn instead. At the same time, he helped the local carpenter to make better wooden transport, sturdier furniture and so on. Karakura village was soon a bustling business center for both the locals and the visitors thanks to the boy's intelligence. But despite all his knowledge in the sciences, he was least interested in the subject and its objective explanation of the universe. He was more interested in magic.
Magic that spins secrets out of whispers of animals; that writes recipes for spells in spider's webs; that is hidden in the howls of wolves as they look to the moon for strength. That kind of magic that proves the existence of banshees, werewolves, ogres, goblins, elves and vampires. He can sometimes feel the throb of this power as it circles around him, the village, and the land. He is drawn to it, hungry to know its secrets, to be able to use it for his own. He cannot satiate his thirst for knowledge through science. It is too limited. Magic is his true calling. So he had turned to the village druid, Yamamoto.
He is not a kind man. Ancient he may be. Frail, probably. But weak, never. Severity and order is his oxygen. At first, he refused to take on Toshiro as his apprentice. He found him too young and oblivious. This angered Toshiro. He had proven his worth to the village. He is more than just a young orphan boy in Karakura village. He was their savior. But Yamamoto still refused to acknowledge him. So Toshiro did the unthinkable. He broke into Yamamoto's house to steal his spell books. But he was probably arrogant in thinking he could get away with it scot-free. Yamamoto found him and trapped him with a body binding spell. It was the first time Toshiro ever experienced real magic and he was awestruck. Yamamoto had approached, leaning heavily on his cane and stroking his beard thoughtfully.
'It seems I have misjudged you,' he had grunted and snapped his fingers to release Toshiro of his bound, allowing him to drop to the floor hard. 'I always thought you were a simpleton's child who had bumped his head and forgotten your way home.'
'What made you change your mind?' Toshiro had asked coldly as he had gotten to his feet, wincing at the pain in his body.
'I have erected spells around my bookcase of spell books,' the old man had mused and glanced at the said object warily. 'Nobody can take anything from there unless they are very powerful magic-wielders. And you, a mere child of fourteen, had hopped in and grabbed a book without even breaking out into warts or dying. You can't be a simpleton's child and yet you don't even remember your family. Who are you, little one?'
'My name is Toshiro,' Toshiro had said indignantly and had puffed out his chest with pride. 'I belong to Karakura village whether you like it or not and I want to learn magic. If you won't teach me, I'll learn myself. I don't care. I love magic. Science is a petty matter covering up the truth about life. I want to know what is real. And only magic has those answers.'
'There is a price,' Yamamoto had said heavily. 'Are you willing to pay?'
'Yes,' he had answered, pure and simple, without hesitation. It's not like he had anything to lose. But that was before he thought about how it would affect Momo.
Cute girl. With a button nose, her lovely hair in a bun all the time. A demure smile and a very shy nature. For some reason, she appealed to Toshiro. He liked her though nobody else in the village found her anything special. Maybe he liked her because she never treated him differently even after he became Yamamoto's apprentice. In the beginning in school, she had been his guide, his only playmate. The other children had been cautious around him. Calling him a demon child and what not. He didn't care. It's not like he knows them and what you don't know won't hurt you, right?
Maybe that's why he regrets being friends with Momo. He knows her so well it broke his heart to tell her he cannot be her friend once Yamamoto had accepted to train him in the arts of magic. She had almost cried but he had comforted her and told her he will always be there if she needs him but otherwise, they must pretend that they are not friends. According to Yamamoto, a magician must never have friends for in fear he might endanger their lives.
A magician is hated by all magical creatures as he is human. Magic is meant for the creatures that were created by it. Humans have their man-made objects hence they should not meddle in things that are not theirs. So when the first magician had used magic, it tore the very fabric of the magical world apart. Werewolves came and tore people to pieces. Dragons flew in and burnt villages to the ground. Magic is not meant for humans to wield. Which is why they must do it in secret and hide their abilities from the monsters of magic. Which is why Yamamoto is one of the very few magicians still alive and a very powerful one indeed. Magicians can't help it if they are born with the ability to manipulate the magic around them. But Yamamoto cannot do much in the village except prevent little dangers and protect the village from nomadic hunting tribes. It is not a life of luxury for magicians. Toshiro knows that. But the knowledge that comes with it is all too delicious and tempting. And the rules that accompany it are difficult and painful for him to follow. He finds it hard to believe that Yamamoto has been like this all his life but then again, he cannot imagine this man with friends. Which is why no matter the rules, Toshiro cannot let go of Momo. He fears of being all alone like Yamamoto. Perhaps it's the one thing he detests about becoming a magician.
'What happened in your dream, Momo?' Toshiro mutters as he guides her behind a blacksmith's working place to hide from people who might report to Yamamoto about him spending a bit too much time with Momo Hinamori. She sniffles a little before fixing him with a watery gaze, trying to find her voice.
'It was cold,' she croaks. 'I was all alone in the dark. It was a room I think. I'm not sure but I was sitting in a chair and a table was in front of me. There was a pitcher on the table with a glass and I was very, very thirsty so I decided to pour myself something to quench it. The liquid was a dark red, like blood. I thought it was wine and I took a sip but it was so thick I choked on it. Then a voice said,' Keep drinking, my dear, you'll get used to it.''
She shudders and rubs her cloth-clad arms as if she feels a cold breeze.
'It was a horrible voice, Brother Hitsugaya,' she says in a teary voice. 'Like nails on a chalkboard but so sweet like honey. A poison that drew me to the person and yet made me want to throw my glass at it. Then he said, 'Do you want to save him?' I didn't know who he, it, was talking about. Then the voice had sneered, 'He's dying. He needs you but you can't save him. He can only save himself now.' I had screamed to the voice to stop tormenting me. Stop talking and leave me alone. But the voice had laughed and said, 'He's dead. He's dead. Do you want to see his dead body? He's right behind you!' so I turn around in fear and see…'
She pauses and looks at him fearfully. He looks at her, a confused look on his face.
'What did you see, Momo?' he asks after a moment's silence. She swallows difficultly.
'That's when I wake up, Brother Hitsugaya,' she says softly and grips his hand tightly. 'I never saw you in my dream but deep down, I knew the voice was talking about you. I know it's silly to assume but I just knew. And I was afraid…'
She bursts into a fresh torrent of tears. Toshiro frowns at her and bites his lower lip. He pats her hand and removes his hand from hers.
'It was just a dream, Sister Hinamori,' he says briskly and helps her to the front. 'Dreams are just dreams. Nothing more, nothing less. You're just torn about not seeing me as often as we used to when we were children.'
'I know,' she cries. 'But it felt so real-!'
'It was just a dream,' he repeats firmly and locks his teal eyes on her. 'Forget about it. It means nothing.' He gives her hand a light squeeze and smiles. 'I'm not going anywhere. I'm not going to die unless from old age, got it? Now let's leave before anyone sees us.'
She sniffs one more time before smiling and waving to him as she leaves him alone with his thoughts. He bites his lip again. Dreams are dreams sure. But dreams also have a link to magic. It's where magic is strong and it can tell you things. Sometimes about the past and sometimes about the future. And that is what Toshiro is afraid of.