Arm in arm, Chihiro and Haku walked down the hall, somehow more light hearted because of Lin. Together they faced the door, listening to the sound of Ayame softly humming for amoment before Haku sharply knocked on the door. "Come in," the woman inside said softly. Haku reached out to open the door and stood back to let Chihiro enter.
"Thank you for coming so promptly. I have something to tell you both." Ayame took Chihiro's hands into her own, noting the way Chihiro clung to a blanket that was draped over her shoulders. "Chihiro, I..."
Chihiro awkwardly let the woman take her hands as asked the question that she came for in the first place, cutting off what the woman was saying. "Why do I have these?" she simply stated as she dropped the blanket she had clung so tightly to and spread her new and magnificent wings.
"Oh dear, I see Ishouldn't have waited so long to tell you this. Maybe you both should have aseat as this story involves both of you."
After a quick glance at each other, Chihiro and Haku took a seat together on a nearby sofa. Ayame seated herself in a chair facing them and hesitantly began her story.
"A very long time ago I was the Queen of a land long since forgotten. My husband and I had but one daughter. At her birth she was betrothed to a nobleman's son, as was tradition. Had she been a river spirit like the rest of the people in the kingdom she would have been betrothed instead to a prince, but because she was an air spirit like me she wouldn't be forced upon the prince."
Chihiro sat silently listening to the story that seemed somehow familiar, but Haku suddenly interrupted Ayame to ask a question. "But how did you end up as Queen, being an air spirit?"
"Oh yes, my marriage wasn't like most." Ayame said, smiling fondly. "We married for love, but this story isn't about me. As she came of age her wedding came to the forefront of everyone's mind. The king had introduced her to the prince, who would have been her betrothed had she been a river spirit, a few years before she was to be married and they had fallen deeply in love by then. This would have been a great match but the prince had the same problem she did, he too was betrothed at birth. When she finally met the man she was supposed to marry her course became even clearer to her. She and her prince planned to be secretly married and run away together should it come to that. Unfortunately it did come to that. The man she was supposed to marry found out about heir plan and became violent. The king found out as well, and in order to save his beloved daughter and he chance at happiness he sent her into the future. In order for this to be done her memories would be lost, at least temporarily, until she once again grew up, and also he couldn't guarantee that she and her lover would ever be able to meet again. But it was either take that risk or force his daughter to marry the other man. After she was gone the prince went away, having no other reason to stay, and left that land completely. He lost his memory too as he crossed the border."
At this point Chihiro, with tears running down her face, knew who the story was about but had to hear Ayame say the words anyway. "That was us wasn't it? And Kusiro was the man I was supposed to marry wasn't he?" She said rather than asking.
"Yes, but there is more I must tell you. Once you two were gone Kusiro killed your father, and somehow found a way to come to this exact point in time, and, as you know, is here now."
As Chihiro's memories came flooding back to her she could hold back no longer. She ran to her mother and hugged her tightly, tears streaming sown both of their faces. Haku sat still, somewhat in a daze. His memories didn't return quite as fast as Chihiro's did but he knew what the woman said was true.
After their tears had dried and Chihiro said goodbye to her mother Haku took her for a walk in the garden. They remained silent for a long time and did nothing but walk and enjoy the calmness of the garden. Suddenly, very quietly, Haku spoke, barely breaking the silence. "Chihiro, this may seem sudden, but will you marry me?"
Chihiro almost didn't believe her ears. She knew to others it might seem sudden but she had felt all along that they had known each other much longer than what she remembered. When she was here last time she remembered him from when she was achild and now she remembered back further. With the most beautiful smile he had ever seen, she flung her arms around him, "Yes, and a thousand times over yes!"
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