Ruri, the Koorime who threw Hiei from the floating island, reflects on Hiei's mother (Hina) and the events surrounding her death. (women in love with other women implied)
And yes, that one line is supposed to end "and simply - "
Are you happy?
She had asked me that more than once and I'm embarrassed to say, as close a friend as I thought I was, I never once saw the question for what it really was. She wasn't happy. She hadn't been asking about me, she had been trying to tell me something but I could never understand.
Hina and I had been together practically since we had been born. Though I admit it was not quite the 'together' I had hoped and would always wish it could have been. Still, she was a part of me.
As children, we spent most of our time trying to find places on our floating kingdom that we had not yet been. After a few years, I stopped searching as avidly as Hina and eventually I was spending more and more time doing other something altogether different as I waited for her to return from whatever it was that held her interest at the moment.
Some days she would come back and tell me everything she had seen and done, as rapidly as she could. I don't know if it's time coloring my view of things, but now it seems that those were the moments she looked happiest. Even when in my arms or my bed she was never truly as alive as when she was out there, alone.
I still have no idea when or where it was she found that fire demon. Even after she was found out by the rest of the Koorime, she wouldn't talk about him or what exactly had happened. Still, I knew simply by listening to what she didn't say, that her dalliance with him had been her choice. He hadn't forced her. I was glad for that.
It may seem a surprise that I say I had no idea she had found another - and a male, to boot - to interest her. The Elders certainly didn't believe at first that I was ignorant. And even after they accepted I wasn't lying, they made me pay dearly. And without even lifting a finger against me.
I think they believed they were actually doing me a favor, having me do what I did - they thought they were giving me the opportunity to right a wrong done to me by an errant lover.
The Elders didn't understand when I tried to convince them Hina wasn't really my lover. They obviously felt I was trying to protect her, especially with Hina insisting whenever she could speak that she had wronged me.
She was being foolish.
Even the nights when we had shared a bed, she wasn't mine. I had always known that and yet I still gladly welcomed her to my bed or entered into hers, taking what she did offer.
I know that she loved me with as much of her heart as she possibly could, but there was something lacking inside of me that kept it from being all mine. I suspect that it was because I was too much like the rest of the Koorime, too cold inside. Hina had something inside her that burned hotter than the weak fires of the rest of the Koorime's souls combined.
For as long as I had known her, I had been aware that she was different, special. But it was far too late when I realized that the same spark that drew me to her was pulling her away from the Koorime.
I found out later, whispering with her through the window of the hut the Elders had confined her to after she gave birth, that she didn't care what the outcome of her "trial" would be. She seemed to believe that she deserved to be punished for her transgression, but her opinion of just what that transgression was, was different from what the Koorime thought it was.
She was shocked that I would still speak to her. I told her there was little she could do to make me stop, that I knew better than the others, she was different, she was -
"I know I am not one of you."
"Hina! That's not at all what I meant," I had cried. "You are Koorime. You are just . . . more, so much more than the rest of us could ever be."
She had just smiled sadly at me through the window and turned to go to her cot. "The Elders should have a verdict for me by tomorrow. Goodnight, Ruri."
I think that Hina had expected to be banished from our floating island, along with her children. She had borne her imprisonment and trial calmly and serenely until it was announced that only her boy, a fire demon like his father, would banished.
At that pronouncement, Hina crumbled. She was in tears, begging for her son's life - how could a baby possibly survive on his own? While the others ignored her sobbing, I tried to comfort her until one of the Consulate had grabbed me by the arm.
"Ruri, aren't you listening?" the Elder had reprimanded me. When she realized no, I hadn't been, she repeated the end of the pronouncement concerning Hina's male child.
I would be the one to ensure the baby was thrown from the island by doing it myself.
"I will give him whatever chance I can, my love." I had whispered to Hina. It was the only time I had slipped like that and called her something like that outside of my own thoughts. I suppose I am still grateful for that one and only slip.
The fire demon baby was given to me and I was shuffled off to perform my task.
As I walked the baby to his fate, part of me wondered why I hadn't even argued with the Elders, or at the least demanded that someone else do this. Another part of me, the third part that wasn't being taken up by the numbness that I realized had set in during Hina's imprisonment - that part felt there was no purpose in arguing - I should be glad I was the one doing this. I was the only one other than Hina who should have had the right to even touch either of her children.
I decided that when I returned to the village, I would take Hina and her Koorime child and we would find someplace to live on this floating island, away from the others.
Lost in my thoughts, I almost missed the sudden movement in the corner of my vision. Curious, I stopped to see what I had just dropped. The baby seemed to glower at me as I looked around, as if I were wasting his time. A sudden glint, only slightly different from the surrounding ice, caught my eye and I found a tear gem. Confused for a moment, for I hadn't been crying and it certainly wasn't the baby's, I realized that it was Hina's. It must have fallen into my clothes earlier as I had held her. I turned my attention back to the seemingly angry but silent baby and showed him the gem, before tucking it into the bindings about his body.
"That is your mother's," I told him. "She begged for your life, baby - I can't be the one to save you though, so you'd better survive on your own. You become strong and I'll be here, I'll wait for your revenge."
Those red eyes seemed to judge me and I was certain then that the baby knew exactly what I had said. I was also certain that I had just been judged a coward.
By the time I had reached the edge of our island I could only worry that Hina would forgive me for this. In all honesty, I didn't mean or wish the child harm, but it was Hina's safety that took precedent for me. With the worst of her mistake gone from the island, the others would probably be unconcerned when we left the village as I intended.
So, I did as the Elders had instructed and flung the baby to his fate. Though I felt as if I should, I couldn't bring myself to linger at the edge any longer than to see him disappear into the cloud bank below. He didn't cry.
When I returned, the hushed gossip had of course, only increased. I demanded that both Hina and her female child be brought to my home. There was surprisingly little argument and soon Hina and her female child were with me.
For a few days, it seemed that although it would be a struggle, the three of us would certainly someday be a family. Hina was depressed over the loss of her boy, but it was clear that she loved her girl, Yukina. She would sit beside her cradle for hours, just looking at her.
On the fifth day she had moved in with me, I came in to find Hina whispering to her daughter as she sat by the cradle.
"You're not whole, are you? I had heard her say, "What have I done? I've tainted you . . . I cursed your brother and killed him even before he was born. Yukina, forgive me for what I have to do, but I can't be your mother. At least if I'm gone, you'll have a chance to be Koorime." She had noticed me at that point and rose to meet me at the doorway.
"Hina, what - "
She cut off my words by putting her fingers to my mouth, then replaced them with her lips. It was a chaste but sweet kiss, but she didn't smile when she pulled away.
"Ruri, I'm sorry that we couldn't be what you wanted. I hope you can forgive me though. I need you to look after Yukina - make her happy."
"Why? Where are you going?" While she hadn't exactly been hysterical in the past few days, the calm with which she spoke then was frightening. "Wherever you're going, I'm coming with you. So is Yukina."
I think she hit me. I'm still not quite sure what she did. All I know is that I don't remember her response to me and when I was aware of my surroundings again, only Yukina and I were in the room.
The news came quickly to me since much of the village was present at the moment Hina had chosen to take her life. She had made her way to the same building she had been kept in during her trial and simply -
At first I thought I would follow her. The presence of Yukina however, quickly quashed that possibility, if not the desire. I would not let her be brought up by anyone else and Hina had asked me to look after her. I was now even more the only one with any right to the child. I thought of my original plan to leave the village, but it no longer seemed to be an option without Hina. I didn't think living alone with me would allow Yukina to become a happy child. I was certain she would have at least some of her mother's inner fire and the fact of what her father was practically ensured it in my mind.
It was that which made me realize there was only one thing for me to do. Thinking of such fire made me recall the little male demon and my words to him. At the time, I think I told that baby what I did simply because something needed to be said at that moment. However, after Hina's death, I realized that I would wait for that boy here in the village. I would wait for him to return and take his revenge.
And that is what I do.
Yukina could not wait for him to come to us, assuming he was still alive as I did. She left the Koorime to search for him and to make herself whole. Her own little spark must yearn for her brother's flame, as both children must long for their fire's source. As I still long for that same source.
I will not take the chance of passing Hina's boy somewhere along the way. However, I didn't try to keep Yukina here to wait by my side even though I knew better than to expect her to ever even attempt to return here. I don't fear for her though. I imagine that leaving this island, whether by force or by choice, is the only way that a child of Hina's will actually live.
So I wait here alone. My absolution did not come by raising Hina's daughter. It will only come when the boy, the embodiment of his mother's fire as well as his father's, comes for me.
I look forward to his revenge.