Well, guys, I'm back. I hoped you liked my previous story, and I hope you'll like this one too. Just letting you know, this story will have stuff that the first one was lacking in, like humour and romance. But on the downside, since this takes place after the war... It'll be lacking in war and violence. This one is also noticeably more lighthearted than the first one, but it does have its moments once in a while. It also has very slow pacing. This fanfic is the second of a trilogy and personally, I think this one is my least favourite, but it could be a lot worse... And as a second reminder, DO NOT READ THIS FANFIC UNLESS YOU HAVE READ ITS PREQUEL!

Thank you and happy reading! ~ 321Haruko123


January 1946,

I walked down the path that was surrounded by trees on both sides. The grass was a dull brown and the trees were bare. A little bit of snow was lightly falling from the sky - a rare sight in this southern area of Japan. I admired the snow for as long as I could, because it never stayed on the ground for long. It would usually melt once it came to the earth.

Seeing the snowflakes reminded me of my friend Yuki, whose name meant snow. In fact, Setsuko, my sister's name, could also mean "snow child." I wondered what they both were doing at home, for I had come here by myself. As I walked along the path, I took off my glove and held my hand out to let the snowflakes fall onto it. In an instant, they melted into small droplets.

Finally I got to my destination. I stood at the top of the hill overlooking the city of Kobe. The hill looked barren with the brown grass and bare trees, but I knew that at night the bright winter stars would make up for it. This was the place that I, Yokokawa Seita, had picked to bury my mother's remains. My sister and I had both come to this hill, which was bursting with colour at the time, and buried the wooden box containing our mother's ashes, along with our father's photograph. I had made a marker out of wood and placed it there, and now I found myself in front of that same marker.

"Hello, Mother." I said as I kneeled in front of the grave. "I know it's around the time of your birthday, so we decided to give you an extra special offering. Here..." I reached into the pocket of my dark blue coat and took out an offering of food. Then I placed it in front of the grave. "Setsuko and I made these ourselves. She couldn't come today, but she wanted to make sure you got them. Hope you like it! We made them the same way you used to."

I looked at the wooden marker. The writing on it was faded. Luckily I had prepared myself just in case. I reached into another pocket and took out a small black crayon. Then I began to rewrite the words on top of the faded ones. When I was done, I stood back and took a good look at it.

"Aha! Good as new!" I exclaimed. After that I prayed and bowed a few times before walking back down the hill towards home.

Walking along the roads, I looked at the new houses. Since the war had come to an end half a year ago, people worked day and night to rebuild our city. Back in August, the area had been nothing but piles of burnt rubble as a result of enemy air raids. A month after a kind elderly woman had taken us in, I began to work with other boys and men on construction projects. These projects had been going on for months, and they would keep going until the city was rebuilt.

I looked up at the grey clouds in the sky. It was starting to get dark. When I heard the sound of a plane in the distance I frantically looked around, preparing myself to run and dive into a ditch. Then I stopped myself and calmed down. Why did this always happen? The war ended months ago! There was no need to run and hide anymore. I didn't think I'd ever get used to it.

Finding myself back on the road surrounded by fields I looked in the distance at the small hill on which a house stood. A warm light flowed out the doors and windows of the house, defining the phrase "home sweet home." Yes, this was my home. This was where Setsuko, Yuki and I all lived under the loving care of the woman named Tanaka Teruko, whom we affectionately called Obaa-chan, or "grandmother." I smiled as I arrived in front of the house, because I could smell supper cooking. Suddenly a small figure poked its head out the door and ran towards me and into my arms.

"Nii-chan!" My sister Setsuko cried. "You're finally back! Yuki and Obaa-chan and me were all wondering when you'd be home. I wanted to eat supper, but Yuki said we couldn't until you were back."

"Oh, I see..." I teased. "So you care about food more than your big brother, do you? Oh well. I guess I'll just keep your special treat for myself since you don't seem to care..."

"What?" Setsuko gasped. "Oh, no, I do care about you, Nii-chan! And what's the treat?"

"Well..." I fiddled in my bag and felt the item I was looking for. "Weren't you saying something earlier about wanting one of these...?" I took out a small wooden Kokeshi doll and held it in front of Setsuko.

My sister beamed when she saw what I had brought her. She had seen that particular doll in a store window a while back and had asked me nonstop to get her one. Since her fifth birthday was back in October, I decided to get her one as soon as I could save enough to afford it. I knew that she, like most children, would not stop bugging me until she got it. Setsuko grabbed the doll out of my hand, thanked me quickly, and ran back inside to show the others. I chuckled as I followed my sister inside the house.

As I took off my boots and coat, I said hello to Obaa-chan and Yuki, who were busy preparing the supper table. My stomach growled when I smelled how good the food seemed.

"So, I see Setsuko finally got that doll she's been eyeing." Yuki told me. "You're such a good brother, Seita. You always go out of your way to make your sister happy."

"That's right." Obaa-chan added with a chuckle. "Right now the little dear is trying to find the perfect place to put it!"

Once the supper table was set, the four of us sat down to eat the delicious food. For the past few months, despite hard times, we all lived happily. There was almost always enough food to eat. It was guaranteed we'd have shelter over our heads and a comfortable bed to sleep in. Since the clothes we had come here in were wearing out, Obaa-chan had seen to it that they were mended and that all three of us got new sets of clothing. I now wore a dark blue coat with matching pants, a long-sleeved white shirt and a navy-style cap.

Yuki and Setsuko had various types of clothing, them being girls and all. Both of them had white shirts and blue work pants. They also had skirts they wore with their shirts, Yuki's being dark blue and Setsuko's a bright red. They were both pleased to have hair ribbons that matched their skirts, but I didn't see what the big deal was about. Finally, when Yuki was around the house, she wore an apron that covered most of the front of her body, the same style that most women wore.

We also had our own sets of yukata for sleeping in. It felt very nice to put them on and sleep under the warm blankets during the winter nights. In some ways it was hard to believe that just a few months ago, Yuki and I were struggling to get enough food to feed Setsuko and keep ourselves alive. Nevertheless, it wasn't uncommon that one of us would wake up from a terrible nightmare, remembering the horrors of the past. Fortunately the only dreams we had this night were sweet and happy ones.