Chapter 1: The Bloody Reunion (rewritten)
It had been little over six years since Chihiro had been spirited away, but it felt like a lifetime. Her sudden change in manner since her ordeal in the spirit world took her parents by surprise. At first they were a little concerned at the sudden change in personality and more than a little stumped as to what caused it. She had changed from a coddled ten year old child scared of walking down a dark tunnel, to a significantly more mature and steadfast girl by the time they walked out of the very tunnel she had been afraid of.
They of course, remembered nothing of being in the spirit world.
Chihiro herself was meant to forget it all as she passed through the tunnel, never looking back. But that shimmering purple hair tie woven by a few of her friends allowed her to keep her memories for good.
Sometimes the memories were so vivid she could almost feel the steam from the baths or hear the clinking of coal being thrown into the boiler. But more often than not, it all seemed like a blurry dream.
Chihiro would sometimes sit in her room for long periods of time sometimes, staring at a picture of the Kohaku river she stuck to the ceiling that was taken before it was filled in. She would close her eyes and think of the friends she made and of what adventures they might have if she ever went back there. She imagined strolling with Haku and talking about the past. If spirits aged the same as humans, then he would be quite a bit taller than when they first meet.
Chihiro got along well enough with her peers at school - she was polite and humble and easy to talk too, but often she'd stare of in a daze. There were the odd classmates who still felt a bit uneasy around her as the old rumours of her and her family being spirited away were never really forgotten.
It was during math class that Chihiro had the tendency to daze off the most for the simple fact she found it quite boring. Chihiro's close friend, Oli, who sat in front of Chihiro, leant back in his chair. He had unkempt, wavy dark sandy hair and was somewhat of a class clown from time to time, and almost always a tease. He was one of her closest friends.
"Yo. Psst, Chihiro" he whispered. "You're gonna get in trouble again if you don't snap out of it"
"You were daydreaming again. Snap out of it"
"Was I? Sorry" she said with a carefree smile.
Oli glanced down at the refill paper on her desk and almost wished he hadn't. His right eye twitched in irritation. Chihiro had clearly been drawing that "Haku" character again. It was almost all she ever drew.
"Why do you keep drawing the same character over and over again Chihiro?"
"What do you mean?"
Oli picked up the refill pad and put it right in her face. "This!" he said drawing out the word. "You keep drawing the same character all the time. Apart from a handful of other weird looking people or creatures, he's all you ever draw. You should try draw him less"
He sighed, putting the refill pad back down on her desk. "Whatever. I don't even know why I bother"
A particular blonde haired girl seated next to Chihiro hushed him.
"Be quiet Oli! You're going to be the one to get us in trouble! And leave her alone will you? She can draw what she wants" She turned and smiled at Chihiro. "Don't listen to him. He's just jealous cause you won't draw him" she said grinning cheekily, making the implications of her words as clear as she could. She knew what she was implying would go past Chihiro's head but it wasn't her she was teasing.
"I am not!" he hissed angrily taking the bait. Both girls ignored his denial.
"Y'know. That Haku character would be way cute in real life"
Chihiro smiled at her adoring friend. "Yea. You're probably right"
Heili was Chihiro's other closest friend. Her hair were like threads of gold with beautiful big sky blue eyes making her fine featured face even prettier. Chihiro occasionally wondered what such a pretty person was doing hanging around a plain girl such as herself. Girls like her were often the queens of the school and surrounded by friends. But not Heili. She was much happier having a hand full of real friends rather than a bunch of fake ones.
"Hey, Chihiro" whispered Oli, leaning back on his chair. "Are me and Helly still going back to your place after school?" He turned his head a little to face her.
"It's Heili! Pronounced Hay-lee! Its not Helly you jerk, and you know it!"
"Whatever Helly" said Oli brushing her aside. He successfully pissed Heili off and considered it revenge for before. "So are we still going to your place or what? I want you to show me where it is everyone says you and your family were spirited away"
Heili shot him a glare that warning him to be more sensitive about that subject. A warning he blatantly he ignored, and was about to press the issue more when he noticed Chihiro gazing out the window lost in thought. Both Oli and Heili sighed upon seeing the familiar sight.
"She does that every time we even remotely mention being spirited away" declared Heili.
"Yea I know. Kind of makes you wonder if it really is true, ya know?"
"It sure would be nice to know if it was"
"What, you actually believe she could have been?"
"I think there's a lot of strange things in this world we don't know about" Heili rested her head on her hand as her arm leant on the table. "So who know's. Maybe it really did happen"
The rest of the day ticked by and before the trio knew it, the bell rung signaling the end of the school day.
For the most part Chihiro and Heili walked, gossiped and laughed whilst Oli just followed lazily behind with his hands stuffed in the pockets of navy blue school trousers, joining in the odd conversation when directed at him or when it was one that took his interest.
It didn't take long for the trio to reach Chihiro's house up the green hill. The climb had been a little more tiring than either Heili or Oli cared to admit.
"Finally, home sweet home" said Chihiro as she unlocked the door with a spare house key she kept hung around her neck. "Mum? Dad?" she called as she opened the door. "Im home" She waited a moment for a response before calling again, and got none. "Huh…I guess they're still out. Looks like we have the house to ourselves for a bit" Oli and Heili did a little whoop in excitement. "You guys sit down and make yourself at home while I go run and get the mail. I forgot to check it" Chihiro dashed out the door and Oli put his feet up on the dark wooden coffee table.
"Hey! Get your feet off the table! Don't be so rude" growled Heili.
"Sheesh, you sound like my aunt. You know how scary that is? Besides, she said make yourself at home"
"Yea well there's a limit to that saying" Heili gave Oli's feet a push and the two cringed internally as something was knocked off the table.
"That's your fault"
"Shut up. It was your legs on the table. I hope it wasn't a breakable"
Oli reached down for the small, smooth dark wooden box that fell on the floor. "Relax. It's just some box" He showed it to her and Heili gave a sigh of relief. It seemed to be ok. The small box was barely bigger than his hands, with an intricate pattern printed on top. Curiosity got the better of Oli when he noticed the lock on the front. Without hesitating, he opened the lid.
"Don't just open other people's things!" Heili scolded.
"It had a lock so I was curious. I wasn't sure it would actually open though" he said a little surprised. It was even more surprising when he saw what was in the box and he could help an impressed whistle.
"What is it?" Oli's reaction peaked her curiosity. And Heili could sometimes be a very curious person indeed.
"This" Oli opened his hand in his palm was a tiny golden cube with a frog statuette on the top sitting atop what looked like some eggs. Neither could take their eyes of it. It gave off a very unique and mysterious aura.
"It looks like real gold" Oli said.
"It's a seal" Heili pointed to the bottom of the shimmering gold object. Sure enough - there were Japanese characters on the bottom.
"OLI! HEILI" The two friends dashed out the door without a second glance at the sound of Chihiro urgently calling their names.
Chihiro hummed herself a happy little tune as she walked to the mailbox. She couldn't remember the last time she had friends over. Maybe if she was lucky, Oli and Heili could stay over. The sound of rustling caught her ears and she paused for a moment. She heard a voice say her name so faintly that Chihiro was sure she was imagining it. She opened the mail box and grabbed the heap of letters and junk mail inside. Why oh why did her mother never collect the mail?. She walked back up the path to her house and heard her name again but the voice seemed more solid. More real. Chihiro froze in her tracks. She heard the clear sound of rustling behind her. She turned around to see a young man with a face she would never forget, trying to support himself by holding on to the mailbox.
"Ch-hiro" he muttered quietly before falling limb to the ground.
"Haku!" She dropped the mail in alarm and rushed to the young river spirits side. He was covered in cuts and bruises of all kind from head to toe with patches of blood all over him.
He needed help. Quickly. But she couldn't carry him up the hill on her own."OLI! HEILI! COME QUICK!"
Her two friends emerged from the house a moment later and ran down the driveway frantically. They could see her huddled over something on the concrete. No. Not something. Someone
"Haku. It's gonna be ok"
Heili was the first to reach her. "Ch-Chihiro. What's wrong?" Heili gasped when she saw the limb, significantly wounded young man.
"H-help me get him inside. Quick!" urged Chihiro. Heili could see she was near the brink of tears. But before she could bat an eyelid, Oli had wordlessly moved to help her and the tears had been fought back. They shuffled slowly and awkwardly up the driveway with one arm slung around each of them and the young man's feet dragging behind.
"Lock the door" urged Chihiro as they shuffled into the lounge. The last thing she wanted was her parent's barging in and calling the police or an ambulance. She noticed the box and seal lying on the sofa as she went to lie Haku down.
"What is this doing here!? Who touched the box?" Both Heili and Oli looked around sheepishly. "Never mind. Please move it" Heili put the box back on the coffee table as Oli and Chihiro lay Haku down gently on the couch.
"Oli, run up stairs to the bathroom and grab the first aid kit. Heili grab a flannel and bowl of water from the kitchen" The two nodded and went to do as they were told.
Chihiro crouched down next to the injured man and held his hand gently. "Haku? Haku can you hear me?...Kohaku?" The boy grumbled so he was not completely unconscious, but his breathing was heavy. She felt his forehead. Just as she thought. He was burning up.
Heili wordlessly placed down the bowl of water and flannel on the coffee table just as Oli dashed down stairs with box a big full of first aid supplies, almost tripping in the process. He placed the box on the coffee table next to the bowl without saying a word. The two stood silently and merely watched as Chihiro tended to the injured stranger. Both felt the pale, fine featured young man looked oddly familiar.
Chihiro dipped the flannel in the water and began to gently cleaned away what blood she could before Heili assisted her in helping remove his simple black V neck t-shirt, so she could clean the rest of the wounds.
The two silently observed Chihiro gently wipe away the blood and perspire. They had never seen their friend so serious and focused so intensely.
They both liked to imagine that they were they type of person who would remain calm and take charge in an emergency situation. But this had proven this was not the case. They found that all they were capable of doing was watching their dear friend tend to the stranger's wound, and doing whatever they could to help her. Neither of them knew what they should be doing otherwise and how they might help Chihiro tend to the stranger.
To feel so helpless frustrated Oli in particular, and stung his pride.
"Oli, run upstairs and grab the blanket from on top of my bed. First door on the right" Chihiro asked, breaking the chain of thoughts he was sinking into.
She grabbed the antiseptic from the first aid kit behind her as Oli ran upstairs. "This may sting a little so bear with me ok?" The young man in question, who Heili guessed to be eighteen on closer inspection, grimaced at the gentle dabs of antiseptic on cotton balls. Chihiro started applying it to the more serious injuries first before moving on to the minor ones.
Oli made his way down the stairs moments later with a large, thick, baby blue blanket in hand. Chihiro held out her hand behind her, gesturing for him to hand it to her.
She asked Heili to rinse out the bowl and fill it with fresh water as she pulled the blanket over the top of him. Both Heili and Oli felt a slight sense of relief as Chihiro seemed far more calm and less panicked. She was more like the Chihiro they were so familiar with. Heili reemerged from the kitchen moments later and Chihiro folded the cool, damp flannel and placed it on the patient's forehead. The atmosphere was a little calmer but Oli felt the situation was all kinds of wrong. Aside from a random stranger showing up at Chihiros door step injured, Oli felt he was missing something. But he couldn't figure out what, and it was quickly irritating him. What irritated him more was that he was certain he had seen this person somewhere before. But where?
"This is stupid" His two friends turned at his sudden statement. "Shouldn't we ring an ambulance?" Wasn't that the logical thing to do? "Where's your phone?" he asked more than willing to dial the emergency number himself. Now that he thought about it, he should have done it sooner.
"Wait. Don't...don't ring an ambulance. I don't know if that's the best idea" Chihiro's response puzzled them both and only served to annoy Oli more. Something was up and he wanted to know what.
"Why the heck not? He's injured! Injured people need to go to a hospital!"
"It's not that simple. If he goes…"
"If he goes?" Oli repeated daring her to answer.
"It's complicated ok? They may not be able to help him. And even if they could...they'll start asking questions. Questions no one can answer"
"Questions? What questions? Like what?"
"Like who he is" Neither of them knew what to make of her answer.
"What do you mean?" Heili asked chiming in. But Chihiro remained silent. Neither knew what she was pondering.
"You wouldn't believe me if I told you"
"Try us" Oli dared. Chihiro remained kneeled on the floor next to the couch, wondering how best to explain to her friends that the injured person lying there was a river spirit. She reached into her bag and flipped through the pages of her refill pad before stopping at the very drawing of Haku she had done earlier. Wordlessly, she stretched out her hand for one of them to take it.
Oli took it and a frowned appeared on his face mirroring the confusion both he and Heili felt. "I don't get it" he said. The two glanced from the drawing, to Chihiro, to the stranger then back to the drawing. It took a moment, but it dawned on them that 'Haku' who Chihiro drew so often, looked alarmingly like their injured guest.
"Wait a second. Your not sayinh this is him, are you?" Oli asked in disbelief. Chihiro gave a simple nod in response.
"But...we always thought he was a character you made up inside your head" Heili said.
"He's been real all this time? How come you never told us about him?" Oli felt like Chihiro has been keeping this guys existence a secret and the very thought irked him greatly.
"There was no point. He promised we would meet again. But I wasn't sure we ever would" There was hint of loneliness in Chihiro's voice that her two friends did not miss.
"Why not?" Heili asked. Neither she nor Oli knew what to expect.
"Well because he's…" She hesitated, frustrating Oli who was growing more impatient for answers by the second.
"He's what? A criminal? A foreigner? Someone important?"
Chihiro couldn't help a slight embarrassed grin imagining the possible responses her friends would give to her answer. She didn't expect they would believe her, but she would tell them the truth anyway.
"He's the spirit of the Kohaku river"
Her two friends reacted the way she thought they would. Heili stood there not quite know how to respond while Oli stifled a laugh.
"Good one Chihiro. Funny. Now who is he really?"
"I just told you" she insisted with an embarrassed smile.
"Come on just tell us already"
Chihiro's embarrassed smile disappeared, and she looked them both straight in the eye. "I'm not lying. He's the spirit of the Kohaku river. I don't how he got here, but we've meet before and I could never forget his face" Neither had seen such a sincere look on her face. But what she said was more than a little hard to swallow.
"This isn't funny Chihiro" Oli frowned. "Jokes over"
"It's not a joke. You guys know the rumors about my family being spirited away when I first moved here right?" She turned and looked back at their injured guest fondly. He already appeared noticeably better than before, much to Chihiro's relief. "Those rumors are true. My parents were turned into pigs so they don't remember anything, but I remember it all. Haku saved me. He helped me and my family get out of the spirit world"
If it wasn't for the tears in Chihiro's eyes threatening to spill over, Oli wasn't sure he could even remotely believe what she was saying. Wether she was almost crying out of sadness or happiness at seeing Haku again was beyond him. But even without the tears and sincere look in her eyes, he knew that Chihiro was no liar. Heili however had bared this fact in mind from the beginning which is why she wasn't quite sure how to react to such a claim.
"Are you sure its him? His face as face is the same as the Haku in your drawings. But isn't his hair too different? And doesn't he usually wear more traditional clothing?"
What Heili said was true. Haku still had a straight cut fringe, but the rest of his hair had grown considerably longer and was tied up in a ponytail that reached his waist, with long bangs that framed the side of his face and reached just below his chest.
In addition to that, Haku had been wearing a simple black zip up jacket over the top of a dark green tank top and simple dark jeans. He still wore the same kind wooden sandals she remembered though which made the rest of his outfit quite odd. Chihiro smiled at her unconscious friend fondly.
"Your right. His hair and clothes are different. But it's him"
Oli sighed. He still wasn't sure he could believe something so absurd but for now, he would simply go along with it.
His hand bumped the wooden box as he sat down on the coffee table and went to lean back. He picked it up as curious about its contents as he had been before.
"What is this thing anyway?" he wondered out loud. A nervous look crossed Chihiro's face as he took out the golden seal and held it between his thumb and index finger.
"P-please put that down"
"It's dangerous" Oli couldn't help but raise an eyebrow and Heili peered at it curiously next to him.
"It's dangerous? How so?
"Just trust me on this. Ok?" Chihiro gave an pleading smile, and Oli handed her the box.
Chihiro peered at the wooden box in her hands concerned. It had always remained upstairs in her room, in the deep pocket of a coat she never wore that hung in her wardrobe. A simple but unlikely hiding place. So what was it doing down stairs? She could only assume that her mum had done some sneaky spring cleaning and decided the musty old coat needed a wash. Perhaps she shouldn't have tried the 'hidden in plain sight' approach.
Chihiro still remembered how three years after she was spirited away, she had come home from school one day to find the box sitting mysteriously on her bed with Zeniba's precious golden seal inside. Its sudden appearance filled Chihiro with a strong sense of foreboding she simply could not ignore. Her instincts told her that she needed to protect the seal and keep it hidden until the assumed time where Zeniba herself or someone who she trusted came to take it back. She had shifted its hiding place numerous times over the past three years and had even gone so far as to create a replica of both the box and the seal. It wasn't hard for her to know which seal was fake and which was real. Even from inside the box, she could feel the power radiating from it.
A thought struck Chihiro as she stared at the wooden box in her hand.
"Haku?" she asked hoping to rouse a response "Can you hear me?" He gave a weak unintelligible mumble before he winced in pain. "Haku, I have Zeniba's seal. If you can - try draw on its power to heal yourself some more. It might help" She took the seal from the box and held it between her hand and his, hoping fervently that her shot-in-the-dark idea would work. She she closed her eyes anxiously as a few moments ticked by without anything happening. And then she felt it. The energy in the seal became more alive and static as a calming warm sensation flowed up through her hand and around her body. A gentle green aura enveloped Haku and Heili and Oli stared in disbelief as his wounds began to heal one by one. The lighter cuts and bruises healed with ease leaving no traces, while the more serious ones left some fresh scars. The light began to fade and Haku's eyes opened wearily.
"Chihiro" he murmured, giving her such a serene smile it was as if he had just woken from a blissful dream. But his smile disappeared all too quickly, replaced by concern as he looked at the seal still held between their hands. He hesitated and his words were weakly spoken. "Chihiro. Get rid of Zeniba's seal"
"I will. Just rest. Please. I'll go hide it back up stairs in a better place. Tha-" Haku slowly shook his head.
"It's not enough. Throw it into the ocean"
"The ocean? But Haku. Its Zeniba's seal. We can't just-"
"Don't worry. We can retrieve it later. But for now, it's the only way to keep it safe, short of destroying it. Please Chihiro"
She hesitated for a moment, before nodding in agreement. "Ok"
Haku gave a relieved smile as his eyes got heavier. "I'm so glad you're-safe" He drifted off immediately into a calm and deep sleep, but atleast now they knew he would be ok. Sleeping was an improvement from being near unconscious at least.
"H-hey. What just happened?" Oli was more than a little unclear about what exactly it was he just saw and heard. Heili was just as dumbfounded though Oli had beaten her to the question first.
"Magic" Chihiro replied simply, placing the seal back in the box and putting it on the coffee table. "Haku is a river spirit afterall. He used the seals magic to help heal his wounds"
Oli's brain almost ceased to function. "Magic really exists?" he murmured to himself. He saw it with his own two eyes. He felt that just by knowing this, a whole world of possibilities had opened up. Possibility and wonder. Both of which made Oli very happy. When the time was right, he definitely wanted to know more. Heili also found the newfound prospect of magic exciting and intended to ask a little about it later herself. But for now she brushed it aside.
"I'll be right back" Chihiro disappeared upstairs before coming back down a minute later carrying a box identical to the one the seal inside. She crouched down and slipped the wooden box under the low armchair next to the sofa.
"What are you doing?"
"I think someone is looking for it. So I need to make it look like I at least tried hiding it. If I'm right then they should find this fake seal and take it with them. And hopefully, leave Haku alone"
"And us" murmured Heili nervously.
Oli's gaze was fixed on the wooden box on the coffee table with the golden seal inside.
"What about the real one?"
"That-" Chihiro moved to pick it up "is going in the ocean. If Haku thinks it's the best thing to do then I believe him" With the box in hand, she took a step forward towards the door.
"Wait" Oli caught her sleeve as she passed him, stopping her. "Let me do it. You should keep watch over Haku. Make sure he stays ok"
Chihiro thought over this for a moment before handing Oli the box. "Alright then. Throw it as hard as you can"
Oli nodded and headed out the door, closing it behind him. He stood there for a moment, staring down at the box long and hard. "Am I really going to toss something with magic in it in the ocean?" He took the seal from the box and held it up to the light. Even the way is shimmered in the sunlight seemed magical. And they were going to throw something like this away? The idea didn't appeal to him at all and it seemed like such a waste. There was no way they could really get it back from the ocean after all. He didn't believe it. Even Chihiro had seemed hesitant of getting rid of it. His mind was made up. He stuffed the little golden object into his pocket, whistling merrily to himself as he headed down to the wharf.
It's been a while! But in a way, I'm back. With the intention of rewriting this fanfiction no less, chapter by chapter, in hopes of improving it indefinitely. For the most part, the events will be the same, albeit some minute differences, but hopefully my writing will be a lot smoother and it will be a more enjoyable read. Honestly I have been looking back over it and some parts imp articular have the tendency to make me cringe, despite the great fun I had writing it. All the lovely reviews and such I got For the most part made writing this particularly enjoyable. For those who have already read this, please let me know if you think this first chapter is an improvement or not ^^
Also, i've had the recent displeasure of someone posting this fanfiction on Wattpad under their name without my consent or without crediting my name I hope this hasn't happend to anyone else