The Kitsune and the Huntress, or A tale of Rika and Renamon

Part Three

Early the next morning Renamon walked with Rika to the edge of the forest, and when she stopped they stood there a moment to quietly talk. "Thank you, for what you said to me yesterday," Renamon said to Rika softly. A shaft of sunlight broke through the thick branches, illuminating Renamon and making her fur seem to glitter gold.

"You were awfully quiet after I said it," Rika said. She smiled shyly up at Renamon as she admitted, "I was a bit worried I offended you, or something."

Renamon placed her hand on Rika's shoulder to smile at her gently. As she looked down at her, Renamon realized that the bone thin girl she had met more than a year ago was almost gone. Rika loked healthy and well, her red hair had grown out a bit, tied back into a long ponytail. She had flesh on her bones, her arms grown muscled and strong from helping Renamon with her tasks. But it was the eyes that showed the greatest change in her. The anger that had once seemed to fill them was gone, and they seemed much more at peace.

"No," a quiet Renamon said, shaking her head firmly, "I just didn't know what to say." She smiled slightly before admitting, "I still don't." Renamon looked deeply into Rika's eyes, unsure of what she was trying to look for. "I will miss you, Rika," Renamon whispered.

"And I you," Rika said, her voice choked and a single tear gleaming at the corner of her eye. With a careful caress by a single finger Renamon lightly brushed it away, and then she silently disappeared into the safety of the forest.

Rika stood there for a minute or two and watched her go, wishing that she had been able to say something more. Then with a small, soft sigh she turned around to follow the path to the house that she had left so very long ago.

'I don't think of it as my home anymore,' Rika came to that realization a little sadly, 'Renamon's den is home to me now.; She sadly shook her head, more than a bit worried. 'And if Renamon grows tired of me, what will I do then?' Rika wondered.

Over the past few months, Rika had slowly felt something new growing deep inside of her, a powerful emotion. Beyond the simple gratitude that she had felt at first, Rika had begun to feel love for the remote and intense kitsune. But she didn't know how Renamon felt about her.

Rika looked up and with a faint blush realized she had walked right by the house, she was so lost in her thoughts. Rika was just a little surprised, when she finally saw it. The roof was repaired, the spring garden around it alive with green, and the newly painted walls shone in the morning's light. The only out of place thing was a slight stain of dark red on the bottom of the front door. She raised her hand, hesitated, then knocked on it firmly.

The door opened up and Rika found herself looking into her Mother's suddenly bone pale face. "Rika?" she whispered softly in pure disbelief. Then with a happy shout she threw her arms around the taller girl as she cried, "Rika! You're back! Oh, where have you been?"

Rika held her weeping mother in her arms, gently patting her on the back and trying to reassure the sobbing woman as much as she could manage. As her Grandmothger came out to join them Rika was also a bit surprised to see how much taller she was than both her Mother and Grandmother were.

'I guess it must be because of Renamon's care,' Rika thought to herself with a little smile, 'all the good food and exercise I've gotten.'

Her Grandmother smiled up at her, and extended her slighly shaking arms for a hug, too. Rika's Mom set her free, so she moved into her Grandmother's comfortable embrace. She held Rika close, then repeated her daughter's question: "Where have you been?"

"I've been living with the kitsune of the forest," Rika answered them a short time later, sitting in a comfy chair and sipping a big cup of tea in front of the blazing hearthfire. With a odd feeling of sadness, she suddenly realized that she'd much rather be sitting on the bed with Renamon drinking a hot mug of her soup instead.

"With the kitsune? But why?!" Rika's mother asked her worriedly, wringing her long apron between her two hands.

"Because of a promise that I had made to her," Rika said, intentionally not mentioning Renamon's offer to free her from that vow. With a few interruptions for questions from her frantic Mother, Rika told the tale of that winter's hunt. "Renamon, the kitsune, has taken good care of me ever since then and I think has kept her part of the bargain, as well," she said as she saw her Grandmother's thoughtful expression.

Rika's Grandmother nodded her head in agreement, "The fresh kills, every morning and evening. That must have been her, then."

"Could she be holding you captive, using some kind of spell or enchantment?" Rika's mother asked with a frown.

Rika shook her head, firmly. "Why let me come back here at all, then? If I was under some kind of enchantment, I doubt I would even want to."

"This kitsune, Renamon," Rika's Grandmother asked her curiously as she saw the look on Rika's face "what is she like?"

Rika's eyes shone with happiness as she talked, her face lighting up as she told them of her and Renamon's time together, the many adventures they had shared and always about how she cared about her. Her Grandmother listened to Rika quietly, and her smile slowly grew. Later that evening, Rika's mother and Grandmother talked softly after she went to bed.

"What do you think?" her Mother asked her Grandmother worriedly. She still suspected some dark enchantment held her daughter, but she wasn't sure.

Grandmother smiled ruefully , "If she's under a spell, it's only one of love. Prepare yourself for a kitsune daughter-in-law, daughter."

Mother's eyes widened. "You don't mean she's a..."

"Of course," Grandmother answered, giving her daughter a 'my, you're dumb' look. "It seems to me you have only two choices; you can accept this, and hopefully gain a kitsune daughter, or fight it and likely loose Rika."

Mother looked like she was fighting an difficult inner battle, then she slumped with a small sigh, "It was a lot easier when I was younger." She pointedly ignored Grandmother's quiet snort of amusement at that.

Early the next morning, Grandmother drew Rika aside and asked her, "Have you told your Renamon about how you feel about her?"

"What," Rika squeaked out, looking over at her in surprise.

Grandmother decided to take that as a no. "From what you said, you care for her a great deal," she said to Rika leadingly, and waited for a response.

Rika just nodded quickly, a flaming blush appearing on her face. "I do love her," Rika said nervously, "but I don't know how she feels about me."

"Well, there's only one way for you to find that out," her Grandmother said to Rika with an encouraging smile.

"I don't think I approve of this," Rika's Mother said firmly and then she suddenly smiled to Rika wryly. "But I do wish you well. Bring her over here one day, I'd like to meet this Renamon," she said with a small smile on her face.

Later that morning Rika left the hut carrying a satchel full of breads and cheeses under her arm and walked briskly back towards the safety of her forest home. The sun was shining above her, the flowers were coming into bloom and Rika felt secure in knowing exactly where she most wanted to be.

Renamon there stood anxiously waiting at the edge of the wood and smiled in honest relief as she saw Rika finally approaching. As soon as Rika saw Renamon waiting there she broke into a run and then jumped right up into the surprised looking Renamon's welcoming arms.

Renamon held her fiercely close, twirling her about happily. Rika looked up and was surprised to see tears at the corners of the kitsune's eyes. "Oh, Rika! I feared you would not be allowed to return to me," Renamon admitted a bit tearfully. Rika reached up to gently wipe at her eyes, she hadn't understood before now how much her leaving had worried Renamon.

"Thank you for letting me go," Rika said, actually crying a bit herself. She then grinned at Renamon, "I come bearing gifts! Bread and cheese."

Renamon smiled a bit, "Cheese is one of the few things I miss, living in the forest with you." She paused a bit, "Rika, are you... staying?"

Rika wrapped her arms around Renamon's neck and broke into tears against her shoulder. Renamon looked very discomforted, and Rika couldn't resist the urge to laugh through the tears. "I think," Rika said, smiling up at the mildly stunned looking Renamon, "I had to see where I had been, before I could decide to go forward."

Renamon looked hopefully into Rika's eyes, and gently hugged her more firmly. "Forward, with me?" Renamon asked her tentatively.

A grinning Rika nodded to her happily. "I love you, Renamon," Rika cried out joyfully, and then she kissed her.

They drew back, and a broadly smiling Renamon said "I love you too, Rika." She chuckled a bit, softly, and Rika gave her a odd look. "I just could never say it," she admitted. She pulled Rika in to another sweet kiss.

They stood there together, holding each other close. Rika smiled a bit as she pressed her cheek to Renamon's own softly furred one. "My mother wants to meet you," she said softly, and waited for the likely response.

"What?!" Renamon replied, and for the first time since they met, the kitsune looked honestly afraid of something. Or in this case someone.

Rika couldn't help it. She just laughed.

The End

Author's Notes:

The basic idea for this came from various sources, including quite a bit of 'Beauty and the Beast'. I was also inspired, or irritated, by stories where the hero or heroine falls in love with a magical creature, but then ultimately chooses to return to their boring normal life. That always struck me as a bit unfair to the poor magical character who fell in love with them, so I decided to write something in that style with a more happy ending.

So why did I pair up Rika and Renamon? Well, their relationship in Digimon series three has always seemed to be a little different, compared to the other digimon and their tamers. They start out more like allies than actual friends, only growing closer over time, not unlike how a real world couple would develop their relationship.

At one point, Rika says to Renamon: "What really impresses me is how heroic you look, standing in the moonlight," and in the original Japanese version she actually comments on how strong and beautiful Renamon is. She may not have intended anything romantic in that but it certainly implies something....

Later on in the season when Renamon first meets Rika's Grandmother, she kneels down and then pledges to her "I'll protect her with my life." More like a knight in armor than a digimon. Very much to Rika's great surprise!

Of course, after seeing how they ended season three, I was hopping mad, literally! Rika actually told Renamon that she loves her right before Renamon got sucked back into the digital world! Grrrr! I was also pretty irritated by the totally gratuitous attempt to pair Rika up with Rio, despite her obvious dislike for the guy!

I tried to work in a mention of Renamon's digivolved forms without messing up the fantasy plotline too much and I'm not quite sure if it works. I though about having Renamon giving Rika a magic charm (aka digivice) to help the transformations but decided that it would be way too hokey even for me. I will probably contine to tinker with that bit...

I've done my second set of revisions and rewritten a bit more, added a few paragraphs here and there and tried adding some more description. Rika now has a reason to go home other than pure homesickness, and I've spelled out Renamon's job a bit more. The homecoming is also a bit longer, and I've tried to clarify the growing romance between them.

Yet another Mercedes Lackey reference! Go through all my stories and collect them all! Laughs. The 'wild lands' was inspired by the 'uncleansed lands' in the Mage Winds trilogy (Winds of Fate, Change and Fury). Renamon serves a similar role to the Tayledras from the novels, working to clean up the magical equivalent of toxic waste, as well as protecting any innocent bystanders who wander in there.