Wow, I can't believe how awesome Spirited Away is. I just watched it the other day and I swear it is the most awesome movie I have ever laid eyes on. Of course, I HAD to write a fic on Chihiro and Kohaku, because they are so adorable. Be warned! They might be a little bit OOC.
My first One-shot ever.
Disclaimer- I don't own Spirited Away (but the plot is mine, soooo)…
Everyday she ran. It was the only way to get away from it all, the terrible life she lived. Each time, she went somewhere different, but she was always dragged back by either her father or mother.
Each time, she was beaten and bruised as punishment.
Yet, she still ran. Being in that household was torture for her, every one of the years she lived there.
Chihiro Ogino, being the daughter of Nobles, was expected to be a refined and elegant- the exact opposite of what she really was. As she grew up, she longed to be outside, playing with other children and dancing in the rain.
Instead, she got lessons on being a fine lady. 'Sit up straight,' they said. 'Do not groan, it is unladylike.' With her parents watching every lesson, she obliged. Outside of the lessons, though, she played and fooled around every chance she got. When nobody was watching, she would tap her feet on the floor or fumble with her fingers. Even biting her lip was more entertaining than sitting around her house finding more ways to be ladylike. The lessons compelled her to flee further and further every time.
Once, Chihiro made it all the way to the farmer's market, until one of the stand-runners brought her back home after immediately recognizing her. That adventure had earned her two beatings- one for taking off and one for humiliating her family.
When she turned ten, the situations only got worse. Her parents threatened to take away any chances of ever leaving the manor in her life, but the idea of that only made Chihiro go out more. Two weeks after her birthday, she decided to run a completely different direction; into the forest behind her house. Everyone warned her of the forest- the dangers inside, horrible monsters, and the Kohaku River. The servants described the river as a flowing monster, sucking up anyone that set even a foot in its rough current. Of course, it was a lie set up by Chihiro's mother set specifically to scare the wits out of her, but on that day, Chihiro decided it was best to take the route least expected, no matter how terrified she was, so she snuck out when all the servants and her parents were busy.
The forest was dark and eerie, she noticed. Barely any sunlight touched the ground through the thick trees, making her shiver. She kept walking, her ten year old will pushing her to go further into the forest. She passed by a small shrine box, labeled 'Zeniba's Shrine for Lost and Helpless Souls', but paid no mind before continuing forward.
Then, she saw light. Racing forward with a relieved smile, she came to the most beautiful clearing she had seen. Pristine waters flowed peacefully by, cutting through the bank of thick trees, letting the sun shine freely. A few large rocks lined the edge of the flowing water and Chihiro used a flatter one for a seat. She gently put her hand to the surface of the clear water, letting it surround her fingers with an icy cold feeling she had never felt before. She sighed, feeling the frigid water caress her hand, and smiled. This was much better than being at home.
She pulled her hand out of the water in shock when she realized that this was the river the servants talked about. Suddenly afraid to even look at the water, she stumbled backwards and off the rock, slowly edging towards the eerie forest. Movement on the other side of the river caught her eye, barely seeing something move behind one of the tall trees. Summoning up a speck of courage, Chihiro shouted to the other side, hoping the thing was human.
"Who is there?"
Her regal tone surprised herself, but seemed to alert the thing hiding as well. A head swiveled around the trunk of the tree, showing a kid her age. A boy with striking emerald eyes and mossy green hair looked her in the eye with no fear, just surprise. Chihiro felt much better knowing it was human rather than a horrible monster, and exhaled the deep breath she was holding. He stepped out into the opening, revealing his clothing- a white hakama with slits in the shoulders and a blue shirt underneath. Chihiro looked at him curiously.
It was not uncommon to see hakamas worn, but they were generally worn by people of servants' stature, she knew this because the workers from her manor bore a dark peach colored style of hakama. Chihiro promptly stood from her position on the ground and dusted herself off, still keeping proper distance from the river, which the boy noticed.
"Do you fear the river?" he asked, bearing a seemingly emotionless face, but with subtle curiosity peaking at his features. She seemed stunned at the fact that he chose to spoke, but answered, regardless.
"Yes. I have heard many stories of the river, about how it drags you in like a monster catching its prey," Chihiro said, eyeing the boy. Why does he care, anyways? His stunned reaction to her answer made her confused.
"This river is no monster," he half shouted in disbelief, "it is calm, peaceful. Why would people believe it is monstrous in any way?" He crouched down beside the river. She flinched as he placed his hand in the water as she had done before, but looked at him incredulously when nothing out of the ordinary happened.
"Won't you put your feet in with me?" he asked, already putting one foot into the flowing waters. She shook her head, reluctant to even take a step toward the river she once knew as a beast.
"I am too scared," she stated, voice wavering. When she looked at him again, he was smiling warmly to her.
"Look into the water. What do you see in there?"
Chihiro stepped forward slowly, just close enough so she could see the bottom of the river. There were a few rocks poking up from the sandy bed at the bottom, and a few fish swam by, but there was nothing out of the ordinary.
"I see sand and fish," she mumbled, beginning to feel embarrassed.
He merely gestured for her to put her feet in, still smiling. Now feeling a bit more confident, Chihiro slipped off the constricting flat shoes her mother made her wear and slipped a foot slowly into the river. The icy feeling enveloped her toes like with her hand earlier, making her sigh in content. Her other foot found its way in and she wiggled her toes underwater, feeling the water's flow.
"See? The river is not bad. I see it as the river wanting to be your friend," he said, a smirk rising onto his face. Chihiro looked at him confused, but he motioned her to look down. In the water, fish were swimming past her feet in large groups. She gasped, then giggled when one fish brushed the bottom of her foot.
Looking to the sky, Chihiro noticed the sun was beginning to set. She lifted her feet from the water and looked at the boy.
"I must go. I thank you for letting me understand the joy a river truly brings," she said, observing the downcast look overtaking the smirk he had previously. "My name is Chihiro, by the way."
"Will you come tomorrow, then?" He sounded desperate, almost lonely. Chihiro smiled brightly. Finally, she made a friend.
"Of course I will!" He returned her smile, then waved her off when she started walking into the forest.
She stopped walking when she heard her name, tingles running up and down her spine. When she turned to see him one last time, she was taken aback. He was no longer there, sitting by the river. Extremely confused, she whispered the one question she forgot to ask.
"What is your name…?"
When Chihiro returned home, she found her parents there, waiting with matching scowls. Obviously, they could not find her. That night, she received one of the worst beatings of her life, but the pain was numbed by her happiness- finally, she had a friend. The next day, she went back.
Then she went the day after that.
Day after day, she visited the boy by the river, sometimes even praying at Zeniba's Shrine; she was surprised to find that someone answered her prayers each time, but paid no extra thought to it. The visiting continued for six years, and they never failed to see each other once. Both had grown to be quite stunning. Chihiro's auburn hair grew to her waist, so she refrained from putting it into her usual ponytail. The river boy, being a couple of years older than Chihiro, grew remarkably taller, but his face remained just as handsome. Eventually, somewhere in the span of six years, he noticed the bruises sticking out from under her clothes. She explained the rules of the household to him, brushing off the look of pity he gave her.
"If I am at fault for this, I truly apologize-" he started one day, but was cut off by her.
"I choose to come here because you are my best friend, and I care about you. No matter what my parents do to me, it is because of my choice to come."
Once in a while, before she left, she would ask him the same question. "What is your name?"
He would always answer the same thing.
"I cannot tell you. You have to find out on your own." However, he told her she could call him 'Haku', the name used by his mistress.
They always met at the Kohaku River, rain or shine. Chihiro's parents never knew where she was going; they had not bothered to find out after two years of her daily disappearing ritual. One particular rainy day, Chihiro arrived first, which didn't normally happen. When Haku finally did arrive, he was cautious, and looked around frantically before sitting by the river.
"What's the matter?" She asked, twirling her umbrella. Her question startled him, as if he wasn't expecting it.
"There is a chance I may be discovered," he said just loud enough over the rain. "My mistress is beginning to wonder where I go during the daytime. If she finds out, we may never meet again, Chihiro."
The words stung her heart and she nearly dropped her umbrella. For years, she had come to the river to see him, to escape from the life that she loathed. They had been there for each other, and the fact that they might not be able to meet again-
A tear fell from her eye. Haku noticed it fall down her face and wanted so bad to wipe the accursed thing from her cheek, but couldn't. Yubaba, his mistress, allowed none of her workers to cross the river. In fact, no one was allowed near the river, but Haku was always drawn to it.
Haku looked at her with a pained expression. "Please do not cry, Chihiro," he murmured, watching her wipe the tear away with her palm. "I promise, no matter what happens to me, I will come to the river." She peered up at him, a small blush gracing her features.
"I'll never leave you to be alone, Chihiro."
Their meetings continued on up to Chihiro's seventeenth birthday- the legal marrying age of the village she lived in. Whenever her parents mentioned marriage before that, Haku's face would pop up in her mind, making her blush profoundly. After opening all of the gifts from the servants and her parents- who learned to accept her daily trips and quit abusing her- Chihiro left for the Kohaku River again, almost forgetting her umbrella. It was pouring buckets of rain. She could barely keep herself from slipping on the muddy ground, and her vision was limited to only a few feet ahead due to the downpour.
The first thing she saw upon entering the clearing was the river itself. The current flow looked overwhelming; the water level rose considerably high and the water moved much quicker than before. As she moved closer to the river, Chihiro could almost make out something on the other side…
It was Haku.
His body lay crumpled on the ground, one hand in the water, allowing a red substance flow freely into the current. Chihiro frantically strained to get a better look, and took a sharp intake of breath. Haku was bleeding all over.
Cuts and scrapes stained blood on his usually white hakama and his expression was contorted in pain.
"Haku," her voice was barely a whisper, but when she realized the situation, she screamed. "Haku!"
Her umbrella now on the ground, Chihiro raced to get her shoes off. Her heart was thumping in her ears. What had happened to him? Lifting up her frilly birthday dress, she placed a foot in the river. The water caught her foot, flipping her onto her bottom, and she nearly smacked her face in remembering the current's extreme speed. Across the river, Haku stirred in his spot and barely opened one of his eyes.
His voice was groggy, but just loud enough for her to hear.
"Haku! What happened to you?" She shouted to him, worry apparent in her brown eyes. He did not answer her question.
"I promised I wouldn't leave you alone," he said, a small smile barely making its way in before he went unconscious.
"No…" Before she could stop it, hundreds of tears poured down her cheeks. Sobs wracked through her body, and she was on her knees, feeling like a helpless little girl.
"Please, Haku," she pleaded between shaky breaths. "Pl-please don't go."
What was she doing here? Why wasn't she getting help? Chihiro snapped her head up. After the thoughts crossed her mind, she raced through the forest, passing by Zeniba's Shrine, until she skidded to a stop. Zeniba's Shrine for Lost and Helpless Souls…
Her brown eyes flashed with hope, and she clambered in front of the small box with its golden statuette in the center gleaming. Chihiro clasped her hands together and prayed out loud, "Oh, Zeniba, Zeniba, answer my call, please…"
What is it, child? What makes you speak in such a rushed manner, an old yet strong voice answered seemingly out of nowhere.
"Oh, please Zeniba, my friend, he's- he's-"
Hush, child, take a deep breath… the old woman soothed. Chihiro took in a gulp of air, then let it out shakily. Now, tell me what ails you.
"My- my friend, Haku, h-he is on the other side of the river," she paused when she heard Zeniba gasp, but continued, "and he is really hurt, Zeniba. Please, help him, let him live…" More tears poured down her face, and she heard Zeniba sigh.
I will help you child, because you prayed to me when nobody else would, Chihiro looked up to the statuette and opened her eyes hopefully, but you must do a couple of things for me.
"What k-kind of things?" she asked softly, trying to quell her tears.
They will help save him, but I cannot say how. The process is ancient, and if done wrong, Haku will not live.
Chihiro covered her mouth in slight shock, but any process that could help save him was better than letting him die alone. She had to try something. Sitting up, she spoke, ready for anything.
"I understand. Please, tell me what I must do."
You have grown to be strong, child, and I admire that, Zeniba chimed. For your first task…
Chihiro braced herself.
You must tell me Haku's real name.
To say she was stunned was an understatement. She had forgotten that Haku wasn't his real name; even after all of the times that she asked him. Utterly confused, Chihiro stared at the golden statuette.
"He told me he couldn't tell me his name. Why? I don't understand, Zeniba," the young girl ranted quickly, trying not to waste time.
Oh, dear me, the old spirit chided. I forgot to tell you. The other side of the river is under the rule of spirits. Most humans do not know this, and it is against spirit law to reveal such information. Telling your name to anyone besides another spirit results in penalty of death.
Chihiro paused to soak the information in, the downpour of rain turning into a soft drizzle from the gray sky. "What you're saying is that… Haku is a spirit?"
Zeniba hummed, I believe this to be true. For Haku to be injured, he must have been found out- going near the river is also against spiritual law. I am not affected by the law, though, seeing as I'm on the other side of the river, she said as if bragging to someone. This is also why I have the power to save Haku, and it is also why you must tell me his true name.
Chihiro nodded, letting her hair cover her eyes. She thought back to when they first met. He was so connected to the river, protective of it. Her heart fluttered, remembering the fish that swam by, the smirk on his face as if he was in control. He even told her to call him Haku, almost like…
"The Kohaku River…" she whispered the name, connecting her memories together like a puzzle. Could it have been that simple? She had no time to second guess herself. Hesitantly, Chihiro raised her head.
"His name is Kohaku-"
A bright light flashed from the direction of the river, leaving as soon as it came. Chihiro, alarmed, was about to run towards the light, but Zeniba's cheery voice interrupted her.
I have found Kohaku's spirit! He is healed now, but a powerful spell created by Yubaba has bound his memories. This is the next task, Chihiro, and it will decide whether or not he lives-
"I know what will happen if I am to fail, Zeniba," she commented, newfound confidence springing up inside of her. "What must I do now?"
Zeniba, surprised at the sudden interruption, chuckled lightly. You are eager to continue, I see. For your next task, you must look into your heart. You must tell me the truth, or my healing spell will diminish. Chihiro tilted her head off to the side, curious as to what the task might be, obviously unprepared for what the old spirit had in store for her.
Tell me what your true feelings are for Haku.
Heart speeding up at the words, Chihiro felt conflicted. Hadn't she already told Zeniba that he was her friend? What more was there to say? Her eyes darted across the ground, an enormous amount of pressure weighing down on her. If she didn't tell the truth, Haku would die. Wasn't that the truth? Wasn't he her friend? Chihiro grasped the sides of her head, trying not to start crying again. Suddenly, memories filled her head.
His emerald eyes waiting for her at the edge of the river.
Watching him grow taller and more handsome every day.
Him catching her staring, making her blush and apologize.
Hearing his deep voice say 'hello' when she entered the beautiful clearing.
Shedding a tear when he said he might not come back.
Dreading when she would leave to go back home.
And now, she longed to see him smile at her. All she wanted was to be with him all the time, all she ever thought about was him, and that's when she understood.
"I love him…"
Chihiro covered her face with her hand, a small tear rolling down her cheek. She laughed, joy bubbling inside of her.
"Zeniba, I-I am in love with Haku…" her voice diminished when she heard nothing from the elderly spirit. She really thought she answered from her heart. Burying her face into her knees feeling hopeless, Chihiro wept. She couldn't save Kohaku…
"Why do you cry, Chihiro?"
The young girl lifted her head slowly. It couldn't be-
She stood quickly, turning to face the speaker, wiping her eyes. Her mouth fell open at the sight in front of her.
Haku stood against a tree with no blood or cuts, arms folded across his chest with a small smile. She almost thought he was only an illusion at first, but he walked forward and cupped her cheek with his hand. Her doubt was replaced by relief, followed by the overwhelming sensation of warmth creeping into her heart.
"I love you too," he said, tucking a fallen strand of wet hair behind her ear. He slowly bent down, touching her forehead with his own. Chihiro felt like she was about to burst with joy. A small tear escaped her eye for the thousandth time that day, and she laughed as Haku wiped it away.
"I though I was going to lose you," she said, wrapping her arms around him, burying her face into his white hakama. He smelled just like the river. Haku peered over her head and looked towards Zeniba's Shrine. The old spirit appeared next to the small box and sent him a wave. Haku pulled away from Chihiro's embrace and looked straight into her brown eyes.
"I said I would never leave you, didn't I?" Haku bent down once again, capturing her lips into a longing kiss. She closed her eyes, wrapping her arms around his neck. It didn't matter if he was spirit or human. All that mattered was that he was here, in her arms, on the same side of the river.
Zeniba looked at the two and sighed. Young love at its best, she whispered, looking up to the sky. The rain had stopped long ago, leaving the sun to shine freely. The story of a girl who fell in love with the river...
How was it? Was it niiiice? That was my first one-shot. I don't think I kept them in character very well, so tell me how it was. Please review, it will make me happy :) Thank you for reading my story.