Author Note: Welcome to The Ghosts That Walk Beside You, a bittersweet Maleigh wedding minific, inspired by friesnotguy's post on tumblr, "real talk though who's going to walk mako down the aisle at their wedding?" This was my answer.

The Ghosts That Walk Beside You

You stare down at the bouquet in your hands and think to yourself that this should be the happiest day of your life—and in many ways it is. You are marrying your partner, your best friend, the person who knows you best in the entire world.

But still…


If your first family were still alive, you probably would've opted for a traditional ceremony—Western ones were becoming more and more popular, but your family was old-fashioned, and you are proud of your heritage. If your mother were still alive, she would place the veil over your head, a Japanese custom signifying the last time you would first be considered her daughter instead of someone else's wife. If your father were still alive, he would walk you down the aisle to where Raleigh waits. Raleigh would bow in respect, he would bow back, and the wedding would begin. Afterwards you would hug your mother and your father and your baby brother before being whisked off to your honeymoon, their laughter lingering in your ears as you waved goodbye.

That was another life, though, a life where your groom probably wouldn't even have been Raleigh at all, a life where you never watched your parents and your little brother die, a life where monsters were only found in stories.

(Sometimes you think you would have found Raleigh anyway in that life, a cocky young tourist visiting your country who would have come as a favor for your brother and stayed for you. It would have been a good life, you think.)


You play with the tulips and tigerlilies, adjusting them just a little. Tigerlilies were your sensei's favorite flower. He said they reminded him of you.

If he were still alive, he would be walking you down the aisle. You can just imagine it—the quiet look of pride on his face, the way he would tip your chin up before the doors open, smiling down at you with all the love and joy in the world in his eyes.

"He's a good man—and the luckiest person in this whole universe," he would have said.

You would have nodded once and smiled. "Of course. I chose him, didn't I?"

"That you did. Now let's get moving before he thinks I had you kidnapped and sent to Siberia."

And you would have placed your hand on his arm, steady and strong and familiar, your guide in darkness, your rock in the storm, and walked into your wedding laughing.

That should have been this life, you think to yourself.

But maybe it still is.

"Are you there? Kaa-chan? Tou-san? Hiro-kun? Sensei? I'm ready now," you whisper as the doors open. "It's time for us to go."

And you walk down the aisle by yourself—or so people think, in acknowledgement of all the people who by all rights should have been there but aren't.

But you meet Raleigh's eyes and smile, look at the empty spot beside him where a best man should have stood, and you know that he knows the truth.

You don't walk alone. You never walk alone. You hold your head high and stride down the aisle, smiling widely because you know that they're right there beside you.

(You can always find me in the Drift, he had said.

Yes, sensei, I know, she thinks. You're right here. I know.)

Thank you for reading, and please review and leave me with your thoughts! (Even if it's just to yell at me because I made you tear up. If it's any consolation, I teared up when writing this. T.T)