Hallowe'en Harbinger

By: Crystal_V_Princess

Disclaimer: All characters and storylines (except for the one I'm writing of course!) belong to Rumiko Takahashi (God bless her genius!).

Important Note!!!!!!!!!!: The legend I based this story upon is an actual legend, I don't know the exact location of its origins, but I know it is still believed throughout Europe. Another legend which I used in this story is an Irish legend, and it states that on Hallowe'en night, the spirits of the dead are walking about and if you hear footsteps it is one of the dead following you, so if you turn around and see him or her, you will soon join them. Eerie, eh? Mwahahahaha!!!!!

Akane Tendo watched out of her second floor bedroom window, her dark, velvety brown eyes following the large raindrops falling from the grey sky. She sighed in defeat. It had been three days and the rain hadn't stopped yet, there was no way it would stop by that night.

She dropped her face into her arms and sighed again, subjugated by the mizzle. A sudden knock on her door broke her out of her depressed thoughts. "Come in." She mumbled through her sweater sleeve.

"I brought a lamp, dear." Kasumi said, stepping into the dimly lit room. She noticed the candles glowing on the desk were almost burned down to the pins that had been stuck through them.

Earlier in the day, Akane had come home from an early morning outing with two white candles and a book of charms, then preceded to ask Kasumi for four pins. Without asking questions, the older girl had committed said amount of pins over to her shorthaired sister. Now, staring at the candles lit on the desk by the window, she understood why.

An old legend, which originated in the North of England, used candles as love charms. It was believed that if two pins were stuck through a lighted candle, by the time it burned down to the pins the sought-after lover would have arrived. For extra effectiveness, it helped to recite a special verse while inserting the pins. 'It's not the candle alone I stick, but (name of the man or woman)'s heart I mean to prick; whether he (she) be asleep or awake, I'll have him (her) come to me and speak.'

That would explain the quiet chanting Kasumi had heard while passing her sister's room only hours ago. Seemingly, Akane thought she would need two candles to snare her love. Moreover, the eldest Tendo daughter had an idea who that might be.

The longhaired girl smiled quietly as she placed the lamp on the desktop, resting her hand on the girl's shoulder. "Akane, are you alright?" She asked, stroking her sister's bobbed hair.

"Yes." Came the muffled reply. It sounded much more half-hearted than intended Kasumi was sure. Akane lifted her head and looked at the girl standing before her. "It's not going to work, Kasumi." She choked out, a small tear creeping down her cheek. "I just know it." It was obvious the older girl knew what was going on.

Dark eyes gazed sympathetically at the sobbing young woman, and Kasumi leaned over to wrap her arms around her younger sister's petite form. "I'm sure it will, dear." She assured, smiling even though Akane couldn't see her. "But even if this doesn't work, I know something that will." Her sibling perked up a little and managed a small smile.

"What is it?" She questioned, wiping her eyes and sniffing sorrowfully. Kasumi straightened and pointed at the lamp.

"Do you remember that old legend mother used to tell us when we were young? How on Hallowe'en night, if a girl carrying a lamp goes to a spring of water and peers into the depths she'll see the face of her future husband?" The younger girl nodded and looked in the other direction, fresh tears appearing in her eyes.

"Yes. But I already thought of that, and the rain won't stop in time!" She broke out crying again, louder than before. Kasumi slipped her fingers through the dark, cropped hair of her sister, the same way their mother had when she had been upset.

Akane had always been the most spoiled in a way, being the youngest, and Kasumi hated to see her cry. Especially since she so looked like their mother. The same soft eyes and pouty little mouth, the colour of peach petals against porcelain skin, and the ebony-black hair, straight and glossy. To see her cry was to see their mother cry, and it was painful to be reminded of the sorrow of the dead.

"True." She stated simply, smiling sweetly in hope that her words might pull the girl from her melancholy, "But the tale never said that it had to be a clear night to see your lover." Akane lifted her face, the start of a grin pulling at the corner of her mouth.

"Then you think I could-?" She stopped in the middle of her sentence, biting her lip in anticipation, Kasumi nodded emphatically.

"Of course! I don't see why not!" She lowered her voice to a whisper and leaned forward, "But I think you may want to wait until father and Nabiki are asleep, they may give you trouble and ask questions." Akane agreed quickly and stood up, stretching her cramped limbs.

"I think I'll go and eat dinner now." She beamed, and headed downstairs, stopping at the door to turn and look behind her. "Thank you, Kasumi." Suddenly, she ran to her sister and threw her arms around her neck, then scampered down to the dining room without another word.

All through dinner, she was staring straight at her food, smiling uncontrollably. Or so it seemed to her fiancé, Ranma Saotome. "Hey, Akane," he began, cocky and sarcastic as ever, "How come you're smiling so much? Find out that even homely chicks like you can get away with marriage if it's arranged by parents?"

Calmly, Ranma tensed every muscle in his finely tuned body, readying himself for the customary mallet used when he'd said something particularly stupid. Which of course, he had. When it didn't come, he opened one eye and peeked over at the still-smiling girl.

Akane ignored him and kept eating her food, a pretty smile still plastered to her heart-shaped face. It was as if she'd been given something irrevocably wonderful. Even Ranma's supposedly 'witty' repartee, wasn't going to ruin it for her. And of course, it didn't, for tonight, she would finally discover who, without a doubt, she was meant to marry, and love until the day she died.

Thing was, the boy had expected to be shot into orbit around Nerima, and that was the problem. It hadn't happened. And a violent reaction from this girl who he could take anything for was better than no reaction. No reaction meant she didn't care, not about what he thought, or said, or did, maybe didn't care about him period. This was the thing that bothered him the most, and as she finished up dinner and headed upstairs silently, he choked down his food. For the first time in his life, Ranma Saotome had lost his appetite.

'I wonder what she's up to-' He thought to himself as he left the table and headed for the bedroom he shared with his father. 'If she won't even hit me than it must not be good.'

"Stupid tomboy-" He mumbled aloud, cursing himself for not knowing her as well as he thought he had. "Stupid-" He stopped mid-sentence, his face downcast and worried. "Dammit, Akane, why won't you hit me-?" The pig-tailed boy let out a long sigh and covered his face with his hands, massaging his temples with his thumbs. Things were not going his way. At all.

Later that night, Akane pulled a bright yellow raincoat on over her pale pink skirt and white woolen sweater, and then grabbed a pair of black rubber boots to put on over her tennis shoes, carrying the lamp in her other hand. She crept noiselessly down the stairs, careful to skip the creaky ninth step. At the door, she donned her boots and snatched an umbrella from the basket in the front hallway, then ducked out of the house into the dark streets of Nerima. Ranma watched as she closed the door without a sound, slowly backing out from behind the corner wall near the front entrance. He'd been pacing around the koi pond for hours, kicking stones and dirt and trying to figure out what had made Akane so happy but had nothing to do with him. How dare she be made happy by anyone else! When he found out who it was, he was going to do some serious butt kicking! He'd finally decided to go straight to the source and ask her right out. That was when she'd come sneaking down the stairs holding a lamp, obviously doing something disreputable.

'She must be going out to meet this mystery man!' Ranma thought as he hid automatically and watched the girl leave, 'This is my chance to find out who he is!'

The boy slipped into his Chinese army jacket and slippers and followed her surreptitiously into the rain. He was always a step behind her, watching from shadowed doorways and dark corners, and when she finally made it to a bus stop three blocks away, he sighed in relief. Following on foot was getting tiring, but it was well worth it if he unraveled the source of Akane's sudden attitude of secrecy.

He pulled the jacket up over his head and tucked his chin into his chest, quietly sitting in the front of the bus, hoping she wouldn't acknowledge his presence. However, the girl seemed distracted to even notice her surroundings, she was staring out of the window, rain streaking down the outer glass. She was somber-faced, but her eyes were dancing with something that Ranma couldn't describe.

He watched from behind his collar, as she leaned back comfortably against the seat, sighing. Her small hands fiddles with the hem of her coat, her uncovered hair, then laced their fingers together and settled back on her lap to start the cycle all over again.

The boy stared down at his feet after a few minutes of watching her, and focused in on the droplets of water falling into a quickly forming puddle. He was soaked thoroughly and he would have some explaining to do when he arrived back at the dojo dripping all over the floor. As would Akane when she arrived at her destination, only she would be explaining to him. And in no uneven terms.

The bus made an abrupt stop and Ranma almost shot off the seat, but caught himself with his foot in time to duck his head as the girl passed. She stepped off the bus gracefully, opening her umbrella against the downpour, and moved into a large cluster of trees. "You gettin' off, buddy?" The bus driver asked in a deep, scratchy voice, flicking off ashes out of the window from his cigarette.

"Oh, yeah," the boy answered unconsciously, following his fiancée off the bus. He waited for it to pull away, then walked down the grassy slope she had, and into the collection of foliage. The sound of night animals going about their business perked up the young man's ears and he treaded carefully through the underbrush.

As he broke through the trees, he caught sight of Akane standing by a small spring. He had absolutely no idea where they were at the moment, somewhere rural enough not to be labeled he was sure, but then, he didn't really care. All he wanted to know was what was going on with this girl. His girl.

She closed her umbrella, letting the rain splash against her smooth cheeks and run down the back of her neck. The pale moonlight of the Hallowe'en moon hanging overhead glowed against her face, causing her to look ethereal, as if she were not of this world. Something wild and free, faerie.

She shook her bobbed black hair, trying to free it of excess moisture. Ranma crouched in the bushes only two feet away, and gulped as a droplet from her tresses fell on his cheek, just below his wondering eye. An incredible thought came to him and he touched it lightly, bursting the perfect roundness of it's liquid form, slowly moving down his flesh. When it touched her, the rain took on her scent. The scent of lavender and her own essence, something sweet and pure, that he couldn't describe. This was Akane. His Akane. The Akane he knew, really knew was there whenever she smiled. And she was his world, cause whenever she smiled, everything seemed so trivial in comparison.

The girl placed the umbrella on the ground and knelt before the spring on the coat she'd spread out on the ground. Pulling a match out of her pocket, she cupped her hands against the rain and lit it, leaning forward to set the wick of the candle in the lamp ablaze. The coloured glass lit up brightly in the darkness of the night and she sat back on her haunches for a moment leaning her head back with an open mouth to catch the rain on her tongue.

'What's she doing?' The boy thought, creasing his eyebrows in confusion. Where was the man he'd been sure she'd gone out to see? Or was there a man? He kicked himself mentally and bit his lip. No, there wasn't. He'd been so overwhelmed by her lack of reaction that he'd jumped to conclusions and accused without proof. It was definitely a good thing he hadn't made it to her room that night with indictments aplenty. Wait! He stopped his train of thoughts suddenly, moving out of the undergrowth silently, and creeping closer to the stooped girl. She was leaning over the spring, staring into the water.

"Please-" Her soft voice came, pleading with the night, "Please. Show me-" A tear slipped down her cheek and Ranma moved forward, right behind her, staring into the depths of the water that she had been previously. He wanted to do something, something to help her. Anything.

Quietly, he reached out his hand and grasped her shoulder, his fingers squeezing the soft flesh gently. "Akane," he whispered, "What are you doing out here?"

The girl's velvety brown eyes flipped open with surprise and she gazed into the water at Ranma's reflection. "Ranma-?" There it was again, a voice softer than a spring dawn, calling again. To him. A sigh escaped her throat and she closed her eyes for a second, reopening them as her fingers pressed against the back of his hand.

"What are you doing here?" He repeated, with more force, turning her around to look at him. "What?"

"Looking for answers." She replied, softly, staring up into his azure eyes, bright in the October moonlight. His face leaned closer to hers involuntarily and his heart quickened.

"Answers? Did you find any?" The girl moved from her bent position, standing in unison with him, their fingers clinging together desperately, seeking answers of their own in each other's touch.

A smile appeared on the girl's lips and she blushed instinctively at the question with a double meaning. "Yes." It was only one word, but after a night of chasing her through darkened streets and worrying that her heart was lightened by another, Ranma did the only thing he supposed he could do in the weary state he was in. He kissed her.

Lips fitted against each other in silent conversation, expressing with actions what could not be articulated with words. Soft, sweet, and drowning, all were her kiss, all were being felt by him now. Ranma breathed her in frenziedly, sucking in gasps of the perfume of her hair. His hands moved down her back, to the small curve right above her buttocks, his fingertips brushing the warm, tender skin of her lower back, beneath the hem of her sweater. He felt her fingers in his hair, pulling him deeper into the kiss, she was inescapable. Though, even if he'd been able to let go, he wouldn't have wanted to. He moved as close to her as he could get, grasping the material of her pullover in his fingers, holding her to him.

"Akane-" He groaned into her mouth, his mind cut off from the rest of him, "I think I love you." She pulled away slowly, just enough to speak comfortably.

"You're not sure?" She questioned mischievously, swallowing in anticipation, her eyes focusing on his pining lips.

"Huh? What?" He asked, not sure of what exactly he was saying. The girl smiled and moved her hands to his face.

"Well, you better have figured it out completely by the end of the next kiss." She quipped, pulling his lips back to hers.

Ranma smiled into her mouth, enjoying her touch. "Mm-hmm. Next kiss-" He trailed off, but they both knew what he really meant, here in the rain on Hallowe'en night. I love you.

Author's Note: Thank you everybody who read this!!! And everybody who read all of my fanfics!! Who bothered to read them, that is, because you didn't have to, but you did! And I appreciate it! Truly and sincerely!!!! Again, I would like to thank all of those people who are continuous readers (possibly avid readers, heh, heh, I wish-) of my fics. I won't mention your names because I'm not sure if you want to keep a level of privacy or not. If you want me to I'll mention you in my next fic!!!! I love you guys!!!!! And, once again, I will also promote my other fics, "Wanna' bet?!", "Thinking 'Bout you.", "All I Want for Christmas.", and "Fence-Walking". All you have to d to get a listing of them all is click on my name and then click on the one's you'd like to read!!!! Thanks so much again!!!! God bless! -Crystal_V_Princess ;P