A/N: My muse is refusing to give me anything on the existing stories I have, and she insisted that I write this instead.
Disclaimer: Hakuouki, not mine.
The aristocratic arch of his eyebrows that sometimes communicate more than words ever could. The thin lips that always, always, always curl into a lazy smirk that never failed to make her heart beat faster. The deep voice that was so reminiscent of a field of flowers on a warm afternoon, in strong, secure arms that held her tight.
The piercing crimson orbs, ruby flames burning deep in his eyes, flaying her alive with its intensity, stopping her breath from the way he gazed at her across the Shinsengumi compound.
Have you ever had this feeling?
Like you are reaching out for something that is just out of your reach, dangling just a hairsbreadth away from your fingertips, with every atom of your being screaming for you to take it, to grab it, to snatch it out of the air and hold it close so it can't ever be taken away again.
Chizuru wasn't sure but she felt like she could relate pretty well to that, whenever she saw Kazama. The first time she laid her eyes on him, he'd struck something within her. It's like she knew him since...forever.
But that was impossible. Because she'd never seen him before, and the first time he appeared in her life was when she was on her way to Mount Tennozan. And she'd remember him. With his face, his eyes, his body stature, no one could cross Kazama's path and forget someone like him.
Was this how it is like, trying remember somebody you've never met? Every time she thinks she'd finally figured it out, finally, finally, finally reached it -the pieces of the puzzle coming together, the words just on the tip of her tongue, the shadow of memory that just crossed her mind- it'd slip out of her clamoring grasp once more. Like chasing the broken strings of a kite, when it's too late.
But what scared her, what really, really scared her, was the way her heart was trying to remember something her mind could not, with a ferocity that went beyond frightening, since one such as Kazama was concerned.
He was everywhere she went -every flash of golden-blonde hair had her head turning, every voice she heard, low and deep, had her eyes searching the streets, had her pulse racing. And as her search came away with nothing -as it always would- there was always that one question she found herself asking:
When would she meet him again?
And as she laid down to sleep for the night, soft sakura petals floating outside the open window, the warmth of the blanket not reaching the cavity of her heart, she found herself asking that same question.
"C-Chikage-san!" A light blush suffused Chizuru's cheeks as she replied, darting behind her mother, not daring to meet the eyes of the Kazama heir. He was strong and capable, his gait confident, but not bordering on arrogant. Yet Kazama Chikage had been the talk of the Yukimura household not only because of that. Chizuru could see for herself why.
He is...pretty, Chizuru thought shyly.
At five years old, there was always time for puppy love.
Chizuru's feet slapped against the wooden floorboards loudly as she ran. Her breath was coming out in short puffs, stray hair loosening from her bun and flying about her face, but she pushed on, not able to suppress the grin on her face.
Today, he was going to come visit today!
Chizuru rounded the corner with a sharp turn, skidding slightly, before darting towards the main door where her parents and the visitors were conversing. Her smile widened mischievously as she forgo her manners, launching herself at a man who caught her just in time. A fresh, clean, earthy scent enveloped her senses, strong arms coming around her waist before settling her on the ground gently. From the side of the corridors, envious maidens whispered behind their folding fans.
To approach the Kazama heir unwelcomed would be asking for a death wish.
But then...Chizuru had always known that she was special.
"Chizuru." Kazama Chikage smiled, and Chizuru's heart forgot to beat. As she looked up at him, the sun in the backdrop just above his head, golden-blonde hair framing the sides of his beautiful features, Chizuru could not help but allude him to an angel sent from the heavens above. Her guardian angel.
His large hand ruffled her hair, running his fingers through the stray strands as he helped tuck them behind her ear before he stepped back, placing a respectful distance between them as the elders laughed at Chizuru's antics. But the fire within his eyes danced playfully as he sent a small smirk her way.
Chizuru's breath stopped unwittingly for a moment as she tried to remember how to breathe.
At thirteen, Chizuru thought that she may finally have an inkling as to what all that fuss on love was about.
"Chikage-sama! We have to leave! The imperial soldiers have surrounded the village!" His aide tugged hurriedly at his sleeve, sweat dotting his forehead. But Kazama ignored him, his crimson gaze trained on the doors leading to the apartment of the main Yukimura family. His teeth grounded together, frustration rising by the seconds, hands fisted at his sides. Why wasn't the Yukimura main family rushing out? There was hardly any time left!
Uttering a low curse, he made to go into the compound, but a tight grip on his upper arm stopped him. Fierce ruby eyes darted up to clash with similar ones, and Chikage had to struggle to keep himself in line. "Father. Let go."
The eldest of the Kazama clan shook his head, blood-red eyes cold and hard. "To enter the compound now would only lead to a futile death. The soldiers have already occupied the place. For those left within, there is no hope. We must leave." As his father finished his words, arrows tipped with fire soared above them. Chikage looked up at them, and for a moment, he thought that they looked like hundreds of stars dotting the midnight sky, a blanket of wonder that Chizuru and he sometimes laid on the field to admire.
And then they rained down on the Yukimura compound, flames torching the wooden structures. Smoke took to the night sky in mere seconds as everything was set ablaze. Chikage growled, crimson eyes flashing dangerously, promise of death within them. Filthy humans...how dare they. How dare they!
"Chikage!" The hold on his arm tightened, and his father's voice was one of warning. Yet he could not seem to bring himself to care as he struggled against his father, hair steadily turning frost white, a stronger blaze reflecting in his scarlet eyes.
"You don't understand, Father! Chizuru is still in the compound, I must-" Chikage grunted, eyes going wide as a heavy punch landed on his stomach. His vision blurred as his body slumped towards his father's. His aide supported him from another side, and they made their way into the dark covers of the woods.
"Father... H-how could you..."
"I'm sorry, my son."
For years to come, Kazama Chikage could not rid his senses of the acrid smoke clinging to his throat -burning, suffocating...damning. And he wouldn't even if he could.
She woke up to the face of a kind old man, remembering nothing. Nothing about before, nothing about now...and she vaguely wondered about what will happen after. The room she was in was poorly furnished, a worn candle lamp casting a pale orange glow about the plain room. Beside her laid a few bandages, the dried blood on them the colour of rust.
"Who are you?" She had asked him.
"I'm Yukimura Koudou."
She paused to think for a while, but nothing came to mind. Her eyebrows creased as she frowned. "Why can't I remember anything?"
He stilled, sitting a little straighter than before, and then Koudou replied. "You hit your head while going down a flight of stairs and was out for an entire week. I was getting worried."
There was nothing much that Chizuru could remember, so she could only take the words of the old man as the truth. She accepted a cup of water from Koudou, sipping for a while in silence, before looking to him again. "Who am I?"
"You are Yukimura Chizuru." He replied, a sad smile on his face. Chizuru did not understand the reason for it, and even after a few years, she never did. "You are a human...and you are my daughter."
Chizuru waited for him, perhaps to explain why he felt the need to indicate she was a human, or why he looked so sad, but he did not mention anything more. She stared at the cup of water in her hands. Something weighted heavily on her heart, but she could not put a finger to it.
Warm trails of moisture tracked down her cheeks, and she was not aware of them until Koudou thumbed them away gently.
"What are you thinking about?"
Chizuru looked out the window. The full moon hung in the dark sky, bright and promising. Yet Chizuru knew that the mistress of the night would bring up more questions than it would answer.
"I don't know," She answered softly, chestnut-brown eyes lost in memories she could not remember. "I just feel as though I've forgotten something...important."
At sixteen, Chizuru's memories began.
Somehow, she felt him there. His footsteps as light as a feather, his breath no louder than the beatings of a butterfly's wings, but somehow, she just knew.
Ruby eyes gazing back at her from the side. The earthy scent, of fresh green meadows and droplets of dew on the tip of leaves, in the room. The low, deep voice that was familiar, too familiar, and now oh so close.
But when she opened her eyes the room was empty, except for the lingering scent of grass after rain.
In the dark of the night, trails of tears made their way down a girl's cheeks. Tears only her heart knows why she shed.