Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters in the Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind manga or anime. The proper owners would be Miyazaki-san and Studio Ghibli. XD
Selm looked at his reflection in the water. There wasn't much to look at; he had his gear on and his face covered, so there wasn't any use in looking. Today was the day she'd be coming for another visit. He'd seen her throughout the years, and communicated with her telepathically ever since Shuwa had fallen. Through this special connection, she'd shared with him her most secret dreams and hopes. Those moments were such treasures, and he held them very close to his heart.
As he began walking forward again, he dove into his memories. He remembered the day he'd asked her to come live with him in the forest. She had refused him, and he hadn't thought too much of it at first. After all, at the time she had been only 14, and he 16. Now he was 22, and with each passing year the fact that she'd refused grew heavier on his mind. He didn't dare ask again; her reason for staying outside the forest was a justified one. But this didn't keep him from wondering what it would be like if he asked her again and she said yes. Every time he thought about it, his heart leapt in different directions. Back when he was 19 and asked his sister why he had been feeling this way, she called him "naïve" and "clueless". She then proceeded to tell him that this is how people feel...
"This is how people feel when they're in love," he said out loud. He hadn't wanted to believe it at first. The whole reason he'd asked her to stay back then was because it seemed like something logical. Not that hadn't found her pretty, but she seemed to love the forest and insects a lot, and living with him would've given her the opportunity to be around the things she loved the most. He had known she would be happy to live in the forest.
But now? Now it was so different. Over the years he had grown closer to her than he thought was possible. And with each visit, his wanting to be even closer to her increased. He remembered telling this to his sister as well, explaining in his innocence that the feeling was like a forest that had spread inside him, covering great distances over short periods of time, consuming everything. She merely laughed at this, telling him that if an outsider heard his explanation, they wouldn't take him too seriously. His way of explaining this was far too...what was it she said? Poetic?
It didn't matter. Those feelings would never make it through to her. And even if they did, what difference would it make? He knew that for her sake he must never speak of these things. It would only make her decision to remain outside more difficult. He created a clear bubble for clean air and removed his gear. He decided to try meditating to calm down. Usually he meditated shirtless, but since he was expecting a guest he dressed modestly. He slowed his breathing down, closing his eyes. He thought of the creatures in the forest, going about their business like they had every other day. He thought of how beautiful the forest looked around him, the light glittering off the leaves and flowers. "I wonder what it looks like from a bird's eye view?" He rarely left the forest, so he had no idea what it looked like from above. "It must be beautiful," he thought, trying to imagine what it would be like. He would have to fly in some sort of ship to see it if he ever wanted to try.
He opened his eyes for a moment to watch an insect fly over him. It had always amazed him how things could fly. Seeing a giant insect take wing was actually something spectacular to watch if ever seen up close. Aside from insects there were large ships, airplanes, fighters and mehves. Mehves came from the Valley of the Wind. Nausicaa flew one. She actually flew it pretty incredibly. She'd let him see her fly it a couple of times, and even got him to step out of the forest so he could see her fly it out in the open. The way she moved on the mehve was...breathtaking. He closed his eyes again and recalled the memory. Her face in pure bliss, her hair being teased by the wind, her smile as bright as the sun itself. It was the most wonderful sight he'd ever taken in. "Nausicaa…" he said quietly to himself. He wondered if he could really keep what he felt inside without telling her this time.
"Yes?" he heard a voice beside him say, and his eyes bolted open. She was sitting right next to him, her elbows on her knees, her cheeks resting on her hands. She had one eyebrow raised and had on a laughing smile. How could he have not realized she was there?
"You know, it's interesting to watch you meditate," she said, taking her hands off her cheeks and entwining her fingers together. "You have the most interesting facial expressions. You looked pretty concentrated this time, so I didn't say anything just in case it would disturb you."
Selm tried not to let his surprise show, and smiled. "Did you have a safe journey?"
"I did," she said, turning from him to look at her surroundings. "It's so good to be back in the forest again."
"It's good to see you again Nausicaa," he said, admiring the surrounding of the forest but actually thinking of how to slow down his startled heart beat. "How is Tepa?"
"She does well on the throne," Nausicaa said as she hugged her knees. "She's been taking care of the kingdom as its princess for 5 solid years now. She's grown so much." She got a wistful look on her face. "Chikuku has also grown up fast. He turned 15 years old this year. We had a coming-of-age ceremony for him in the Valley not too long ago."
"Really? He must have gotten big since I last saw him." Selm's startled feeling had fled, only to be replaced by another one because she was sitting a little closer to him than he expected. "H-how tall has he gotten?"
Nausicaa turned and gave Selm a weird look. He was always calm and collected; he never stuttered or got nervous about anything. "Selm?"
"You just stuttered."
Selm laughed warmly. "Well, I'm not perfect you know. All human beings stutter."
Nausicaa smiled. She'd never tell him this, but she found his laugh to be one of the most pleasant sounds in the world. "I suppose so," she replied. He probably had something on his mind, but she let it go. "Anyway, Chikuku has gotten taller than Tepa now. They've become pretty good friends through the years as well. Oh, and she's trying to teach him how to fly. He told us before that when he had come with me on my mehve, even though it was war time he'd had fun flying like a bird. So when Tepa mentioned that she could teach him he was really happy! I just don't know why he hasn't asked until now." She started talking about how the kingdom was going, and how the other countries were getting along. Selm heard her explanation, but couldn't pay too much attention. He was just looking at her intently, smiling as her expressions changed along with each explanation.
She stopped midway when she saw him staring. "…What is it?"
"Hm? Oh, nothing. You just look really happy. I'm glad things are going well out there." He inwardly kicked himself. He needed to watch it. He couldn't let himself get carried away.
She smiled, but her cheeks turned a little pink. She hadn't really had someone stare at her like that before. Or maybe she had, but not in the way that he did? …This was confusing. She continued on. "I am happy, but to tell you the truth, I've begun to feel a little out of place."
"Out of place? How?"
"I don't know," she said, leaning back to look up at the sky. "At first after the wars, everything felt like it was as it should be. I took care of Tepa for a little while, and then went with Chikuku back to the Dorok kingdom to raise him. But with each passing year, it has begun to feel like everyone moves forward while I stay in one place. Like my feet are stuck inside the ground and everyone else keeps going. …It feels like I don't belong out there anymore."
"It's always been that way for the people living here. Except here, it's fine to feel that way because that's how people of the forest care for this place. If you feel like an outcast, just stay here. Stay with me. Please..." He wanted to say those words badly but it just wasn't right, even though the world outside moving without her made her sad. Seeing her disappointed face made his heart wince. "It might just be your imagination," he said, maintaining a complacent face. He looked up at the sky too. "Sometimes feeling that way is natural out there. But even if it doesn't seem like the best thing in the world, it has its advantages at times."
"Advantages? Like what?"
"Well, for one thing, even as the world changes you can still remember everything from the old days. The important lessons never to be forgotten, the old ways that still remain crucial, the experiences cultivated in times long since passed. These are incredibly precious things."
"What?" Selm asked, turning towards her with a smile.
"Oh, nothing! You just sounded so serious!"
"Oh…I…well, it's true," he said, his face turning just a little pink as he smiled.
"I know, I know! I'm sorry," she said, her beautiful smile catching his eye and turning his face from pink to red. He quickly looked away again, trying to make sure she didn't notice. Years ago, these things didn't make him blush. Why did it have to be this way now? "But I suppose your right, Selm. Maybe I still have some things to look forward to out there. I'm glad I can come to you for advice like this."
He was happy she came to him for advice to, but this still left something to be desired. Did she really just come to him for advice and conversation and that's all? Was that really it? It was so hard to tell what she was thinking sometimes. He tried not to read too deeply into all this, and regained his usual calm smile with some effort.
"Still, I'm not so sure I have enough retained in the world out there anymore. Maybe it's time that I let it go."
"Come now, Nausicaa. You aren't one to give up so easi–" Selm's words stopped short and tumbled over themselves. He'd accidentally placed a few fingers over her hand while attempting to support himself sitting up. They both gasped and drew their hands away quickly. He didn't dare look at her, nor she at him. Selm swore that if he turned to look at her now, he was sure he'd die. "L-Like I said, Nausicaa," he said, blushing more profusely as he said her name, "you're not one to give up so easily. I think you might have a chance out there still."
"Do you…think so?" Nausicaa said, shyly tucking a piece of her hair behind her ear. They both slowly returned to where they'd been sitting before, still not looking at each other.
Selm's heart was beating a million miles per minute. All the memories of being with her ever since he first found her unconscious that day ran through his mind. He had tried so hard to ignore the fact that he'd fallen in love with her, but he couldn't take it any longer. He gulped.
"Do you remember when we first met?"
"Of course. How could I forget?" He glanced over at her for a second, and saw a smile on her face unlike any other he'd ever seen. It was a warm smile, gentle smile that told him she still treasured that journey through her heart with him. This gave him a little more courage trek onward.
"Do you remember what we talked about? …I gave you a choice to come live with me in this place, or go back outside. And you chose to go back, to live in the twilight of the polluted world, right?"
He braved more than just a glance, and saw her nod nervously in agreement. Her face was completely red. He moved just a little closer. "Nausicaa…are you telling me that you truly feel as if you no longer have any place out there?"
"…Yes Selm. I…there is no need for me now, out there. I don't know why, but…it has become that way."
He placed a finger under her chin and turned her face towards him. He saw her eyes get a little wide as he did this. He hadn't been this straight forward for a long time; not since the day he'd asked her to come with him all those years ago. "I…don't want to make you do something you don't want to, but I have to tell you what I feel. During these past 6 years knowing you, each time I see you, I want to be closer to you. Each time you come, my best memories are shared with you. If what you say is true, then…come be with me here."
Nausicaa's lips parted to say something, but nothing came.
"When I asked you to be with me before, it was because I knew you loved the forest. I still know this now, but…my reasons for asking you are different. I guess what I'm trying to say is that….I love you." He almost felt dizzy as he said this, looking at her beautiful face balanced on his fingers. He'd said it, but he just hoped that it wouldn't make things harder for her. "I don't want to hinder you if you wish to return to the outside world, but…" He trailed off, slowly pulling his fingers away from under her chin. He didn't know what else to say. He'd never done this sort of thing before. She looked down at the ground, which made Selm's heart drop. "It's…it's alright if you don't want to stay you know. I don't want to keep you here against your wi– " Again, he didn't even get to finish. Only this time, it was because she'd thrown her arms around him.
"Oh Selm! I didn't think you were ever going to ask me again."
Selm barely heard her words over the thundering of his heart in his ears. He shook his head to snap out of it. "You were waiting for me to ask you that again?"
She looked up at him and laughed with such warmth that it made his breath leave him. "Until now, I was able to live out there, helping to take care of the people attached to the earth. Now that my job is done, I have wanted to go back to the forest I love so much. And," she said as she put a hand on his cheek, "to be with the man that I've come to love so much." Selm looked at the woman who was happy to be in only his arms; his heart felt like it would burst.
He put an arm around her and sat up straight. She looked up at him as he put a finger under her chin once more. "My dear Nausicaa. I thought you'd never agree." Her smile told him otherwise. He looked at her with all the affection in the world, and, to the surprise of even himself, gently placed his lips against hers. He'd never kissed anyone before, but it was like a piece of heaven to be able to kiss this woman; the woman he wanted to be with so long. When they parted, he just picked her up and held her in his arms, both of them laughing as he did so. They'd both waited so long for this day to come. Finally, it had come.
And so, although it is said to be only a legend, the child of the Ohmu went to join the man of the forest, living in perfect harmony with him and the beloved forest. Not many know about how they're lives went after they joined together. Only her close friends knew that if ever there were two people who defined the word happiness by their very existence, it was them.
Technically speaking, in the manga Nausicaa has a deeper connection with Selm than with the other characters she meets while she travels (aside from Chikuku of course). Not to say the others don't change her life, but he is there to aid her in great times of need, and they communicate telepathically from time to time. He is called "man of the forest", and asks her to stay with him after he saves her from getting lost in her consciousness. She's tempted to say yes, but decides to live out her life in the "twilight" of the world that humanity polluted. At the very end, it says that she abdicated her throne and let Tepa take over in order to care for Chikuku. It also says that a legend states she eventually left to be with the man of the forest.
What do you think? :]
I tried getting the ages right. I know that Nausicaa was around 14 years old when the manga story began, but I have NO IDEA how old Selm was when they met. He didn't look much older than her though.
There's a SLEW of Nausicaa x Asbel stuff, but not much for Nausicaa and Selm. Personally, I find more I can put towards that pairing because in the manga, Asbel and Ketcha end up as a sort of item. ...I don't know! Most stuff is left open-ended. So yes, there's my..."canonacy". Pffthahaha!
Anyway, tell me what you think! Tell me if I wrote this well or not; critiques and comments are more than welcome.
Thank you for reading!