-I own Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi and all related merchandise. Yeah right.

Prologue: Realisation

Zeniba sat by her fireplace, knitting, while No Face quietly sat beside her spinning yarn. It had been quite some time since Sen, no, Chihiro, had returned to the human world with her parents, how long ago, Zeniba couldn't remember.

Putting down the scarf that she had finally finished knitting, Zeniba stood up and walked towards the window. Zeniba breathed gently on the pot of flowers growing on the sill, and the plant produced several more blossoms, each more exquisite than the last.

Zeniba smiled almost complacently at her work, and then looked out of the window. Winter was coming, and she wondered silently if Chihiro had enough warm clothing for the bitter weather ahead.

Chihiro, the girl who had sincerely called her 'Obaasan', who did not fear her for all she was according to the rumours, and who had been immune to the curse on her seal. Zeniba missed her dearly like a granddaughter lost; the short time Chihiro spent with her had been a most memorable occasion. After all, Zeniba was widely feared and known for her powerful sorcery and her mercilessness throughout the world she lived in.

True, she was a powerful sorceress, but she definitely wasn't merciless. It had pained her so to see all mobile living creatures flee at the first glimpse of her, and all because of what? Her deceitful younger sister, Yubaba's lies.

Zeniba was a compassionate person; kindness came to her naturally. However, she was also a very trusting and unsuspecting person, and these were the qualities that Yubaba had made use of in framing her.

Indeed, although Zeniba knew right from the start that she couldn't trust her twin to get a pencil for her without being harmed, she continued to hope fervently, day after day, that Yubaba would change for the better and discard her crafty and dishonest ways. Ironically, it was this hope that caused Yubaba to slowly morph into a bloodthirsty, materialistic, cruel and crafty witch, for Yubaba wanted nothing more than to defy all the wishes of the sister she hated so much.

Sighing at the painful recollection of such miserable memories, Zeniba slowly turned away from the window and sat herself down on her beloved rocking chair and rocked herself slowly, as if to help straighten out her train of thought by giving it a gentle rhythm.

No Face looked up at Zeniba, and the worry written all over his 'features' was evident. He stopped spinning the yarn, and waited to see if Zeniba would notice. She made no sign that she had, and this worried No Face even more. After all, Zeniba was ever concerned about him, always ensuring that he was contented in her presence; she knew better than everyone else, save Chihiro, that as long as No Face was cared for and felt needed, and under the right influence, he would remain good.

No Face quietly stood up from his stool in front of the spinning wheel and put the kettle on so that he could make Zeniba a nice cup of warm, soothing tea.

The tea was ready in no time, but Zeniba was not; she was still rocking on her chair, as if in a trance. No Face brought the tea carefully to Zeniba, but knew not how to approach her at this instant, for she seemed deep in thought. So No Face stood silently before Zeniba, patiently waiting for her to realise that he was waiting, and that dawn was breaking soon.

Seconds turned into minutes, and minutes into hours, and yet Zeniba still sat there like a statue, rocking rhythmically in her chair. The cosy cottage was silent, except for the crackling of the dancing flames in the fireplace and the creaking sounds made by Zeniba's rocking chair.

The eastern sky turned a lighter shade of blue, as the tea No Face still held grew colder, and yet Zeniba still rocked silently in her chair, oblivious to all around her. The smouldering fire slowly died out, the logs reduced to ashes, and the last of the smoke rose out of the chimney. Then, as the first rays of sunlight entered Zeniba's cottage, filtering through the glass-paned windows, caressing Zeniba's time worn, wrinkled face.

Just then, Zeniba suddenly stopped rocking, and the immediate silence was deafening. Zeniba sat up straight, and for a moment it looked as though she was much younger; her face was radiant as she announced to no one in particular,' I will visit Yubaba.'

Zeniba eventually noticed No Face, who was still patiently holding the cup of cold tea, and she apologised guiltily for her eccentric behaviour, and quickly gulped down the tea as a gesture of appreciation of No Face's patience and thoughtfulness, and then went about preparing for her first visit to Aburaya in a long time.

Yubaba, I'm coming.

A/n: my first spirited away fanfic. How nice. Hope you enjoyed reading the chapter. =)