(A/N: Final chapter, short and sweet. It's sad, but it's inevitable. Hope you'll enjoy it while it lasts.)
Disclaimer: I own nothing
She didn't know why she kept coming here. She just felt drawn to this tree for some reason, like something special to her was here. For some reason, she felt a connection to her son at this spot. But that was silly. He'd disappeared several years ago, having left only a message on her answering machine to let her and her husband know that he was ok. He hadn't said where he was going, only that if he didn't return that he was happy. She really hoped that was true.
Still, for some reason she kept coming back to this tree. She didn't know why, it was just an old memorial tree. Other than that, there wasn't anything special about it. But her mother's instinct, as she felt it was, brought her back her every few weeks.
She hadn't told her husband about why she kept coming; she hadn't told anyone. As far as anybody knew, she just enjoyed taking walks in the park and resting under this tree for a while. If she told anyone that she felt connected to her son while sitting under this tree, people would probably look at her strangely.
Once again, she wondered what happened to her son. He was still alive, she felt that, and she missed him terribly. She suspected that he went across seas or something. Perhaps he went on a spiritual journey or something. But he had told her that if he didn't return that he was happy. Maybe he'd even settled down with a pretty girl and had a bunch of kids.
A sad smile crept up her face as she thought about grandchildren. There were times when she thought her son wouldn't make it into his teenage years, let alone becoming a father. His poor heart had always left a cloud of death hanging over them. After the operation, he had been in good health, and the future that she had been hoping and praying her son would have was finally possible.
But it seemed she'd lost her son anyway. Not to death, but to life. She supposed she should be happy for him, wherever he was. Life had been given to him, and he was out living it the way he wanted. As long as she kept that in mind, she would be content.
With a sigh, she rested her head against the tree, looking up. For a split second, she thought she saw a little person looking down at her from in the branch before they ducked out of sight. She blinked a few times and rubbed her eyes. There was nothing there now, and it was too high up for her to check.
Could that have been a…? No, that was just silly. Why would a little person be in a tree? According to her father, they lived in the walls and floors of other people's houses, so they wouldn't be in a tree. That is, if they even existed. Although she believed what her father said, she had never seen one, so there was always some doubt in her mind.
Perhaps it was her mind playing tricks on her. Yes, that had to be it. She was getting up there in years and was finding herself feeling tired more often. She must be tired now and had seen something that wasn't there. Or perhaps she had dozed off for a minute or two. Maybe she'd take a nap when she got home.
With that thought in mind, she left the shade of the tree and began walking down the road.
Once she was at a far enough distance, a little girl of six years with black and her mother's eyes came out of her hiding spot behind the leaves. That had been close. She would need to be more careful. Being seen was the one thing a borrower must never allow to happen. Her parents had told her that long ago, and her grandparents reminded her far more often than necessary.
"There you are." The girl looked towards the entrance of the tree to see her father coming out. "Your mother and I were wondering where you got to. What are you doing out here?"
She stood up, dusting her clothes off. "I was waiting for Uncle Spiller to come back." She pointed at the woman. "Look, Papa, that lady came back again."
Shō looked where his daughter was pointing, seeing the woman walking away. A sad look crossed his face as he watched her leaving. "So she did. I wonder why she keeps coming back."
"Do you think she knows about us, Papa?"
Shō shook his head. "No, I doubt it." Although sometimes he wished she did. It would be nice to be able to let her know he was safe and happy. He glanced at his daughter. "You weren't seen, were you?"
The girl shook her head. "I was careful, Papa. She almost caught me, but I was too quick."
He sighed. "You know you can't be seen. Your grandmother would have a heart attack."
"Granny worries too much."
There was a laugh from behind Shō as his wife appeared by his side holding their sleeping infant son in her arms. "I know that better than anyone. I grew up with her."
Shō wrapped an arm around her, kissing her cheek lovingly. "She has a right to worry, but I agree, she does worry too much." He looked back at the woman walking away. "Just like my mother worries about me."
Arrietty looked at him in concern. "Shō?"
He gave her a smile. "It's all right. I never once regretted my decision."
"What decision?" his daughter asked, skipping over to them.
Shō smiled down at her and patted her head. "I'll tell you when you're older."
(A/N: Sigh, I hate writing those last two words. It means the story is at an end. I really enjoyed writing this one too. Not that I don't enjoy my other ones, some are just more fun than others. Sorry to those of you that expected/wanted Lori and Spiller to end up together, but I was trying to be more realistic. Not everyone gets the happy ending Shō and Arrietty received. And Shō's mother misses her son, but she likes to believe that he's happy wherever he is, and he is. Anyway, thanks to everyone that stuck with me until the end. The next Ghibli story I want to aim for is Ponyo. I'm still brainstorming ideas, so it'll be a while, but it will happen eventually, so look forward to that. In the mean time, I hope you'll take a look at my other fics.)