It was a beautiful evening on the small speck of land that was Whale Island. The sunset reflected warmly off the cobalt waves of the ocean, somehow making the salty air smell sweeter; just as she remembered it. Breathing it in deeply, she continued up the dirt path to the house she recalled so clearly.
It had been years since Cerridwen stepped foot on the shores of Whale Island. She would go there from time to time in order to escape the hectic life of a contract hunter, especially after she found out that it was the home of her friend Ging Freecss. He was always away, but his family was always more than hospitable to her, treating her as if she was family as well. However, the last time she was there, she didn't part ways with them on the best of terms.
As she reached the door of the small, quaint house, she exhaled anxiously before knocking. A woman a few inches shorter than her with short tawny hair answered the door. When she looked up to see Cerridwen's emerald eyes smiling back at her, she gasped in surprise.
"Hello, Mito," Cerridwen greeted amicably. "It's been a while."
"It certainly has!" Mito replied hurriedly, obviously flustered by shock. "Well...um...come in then, supper should still be warm. You must be hungry."
Up in his bedroom, Gon heard a strangely familiar voice join the conversation downstairs. Cautiously, he crept partway down the staircase to investigate. There was a woman with long, purple hair seated at the table with Mito and Abe, conversing with them over tea; Gon knew he had seen her before, he just had to remember who she was.
"So what brings you back to Whale Island, dear?" Abe asked eagerly, leaning forward with her chin on her hand.
"I wanted some solitude, mostly," she replied, sipping her tea. "Kite and I have done a few stressful missions recently, so I wanted to escape to the forest here for a few days. Especially with the Hunter Exam coming up."
"What does the Exam have to do with it?" Abe inquired. "Don't you already have your license?"
Mito sipped her tea distantly.
"Oh yes, I do," the woman answered. "I got mine the same year Kite got his. But Hisoka is taking the Exam again this year, so the Hunter Association wants me to come back again and try to keep him under control like last year."
Abe scoffed. "Because it did so much good last year. Didn't he almost kill an Examiner?"
"It wouldn't have been 'almost' if I hadn't have been there to intervene."
Mito set her tea down almost robotically. "But why are you here?"
The woman turned to her. "Because when I was in the market, I heard some of the merchants saying that you were finally going to let Gon take the Hunter Exam. I figured he could come with me."
Mito glared at her.
She arched an eyebrow. "Unless you have a problem with that?"
Coldly, Mito replied, "You know how I feel about you being around Gon, Cerridwen."
That's who she is! Gon thought excitedly, eyes dancing as memories of adventures in the woods and laughs on the beach came flooding back to him. Aunt Cerridwen!
The air around Cerridwen changed from warm and pleasant to slightly hostile. "I thought you would have buried that hatchet by now, Mito."
"I could overlook it, if it wasn't for the fact that you'll be with that homicidal clown at the exam. You know I don't approve of your relationship with him."
Cerridwen leaned forward on the table slightly. "Hisoka may be less than moral, but he respects me and respects my wishes. On that note, so does Kite, and even though he's not particularly crazy about Hisoka either, he trusts my instincts."
Abe sipped her tea discreetly, clearly somewhat amused by the exchange.
Mito moved back from the table slightly and raised her hands defensively. "Now, I know how you live your life is none of my business, but Gon is going to see you with Hisoka there. What if he remembers seeing you being with Kite? He's smart enough to know a love as strong as that would never die. Won't he be confused seeing you with another man? You know how emotional he gets, what if it makes him think less of you? In the middle of the Hunter Exam? If he gets distracted he could die!"
"The only person who thinks less of Cerridwen for being polyamorous is you, Mito," Abe replied evenly, a small smirk on her lips.
Cerridwen tried not to smile at Abe's defending comment. "Mito, the last time Kite was on Whale Island, I think Gon was what, four? I doubt he'd remember him."
Gon leaned against the railing. It was true; for the life of him, he couldn't recall anything about this Kite person. But if Cerridwen was in love with him, Gon knew that he must have been a decent person.
"Also," Cerridwen elaborated, "do you think Ging didn't know about my love life when he told me he'd like me to help watch over Gon?"
Mito fell silent.
"Besides," Cerridwen added, "Gon's the sweetest, most understanding child I've ever known. He'd probably be more accepting of it than most anyone."
Taking that as his cue to lighten the mood, Gon came tearing down the stairs and into the room.
Cerridwen grinned, turning to see the spiky-haired boy running toward her.
"Gon!" she exclaimed, jumping out of the chair and crouching down to receive the full force of the running hug. As Gon collided with her, he nearly knocked her over. Laughing, she wrapped her arms around him and tenderly kissed his cheek. He smiled and buried his face in her shoulder.
"It's been ages; you've grown so much," she said, fighting back nostalgic tears.
"I missed you, Cerridwen-san," he mumbled into her hair.
She giggled. "Do I already have to remind you to just call me Cerridwen?"
As they broke apart, Gon turned to Mito and inquired, "Mito-san, why didn't you tell me Cerridwen was here?"
"Well I figured you were busy packing," she answered. "I was going to let you know once we finished our tea."
Gon smiled. "Oh, okay!"
Cerridwen smirked and gently took Gon by the shoulders. "So, I hear you're leaving for the Hunter Exam tomorrow?"
Gon nodded excitedly.
"So am I," she stated happily. "The Association wants me to keep an eye on one of the participants. Would you like to go together?"
Gon grinned from ear to ear. "Yes! I'd love to!"
"The ferry leaves tomorrow, doesn't it?" Abe chimed in. "Why don't you stay here for the night, Cerridwen?"
Unseen by Cerridwen, Mito clutched her chest.
"Oh, I wouldn't want to be any bother," Cerridwen said. "I've been camping in the forest every night, I can make due."
"Bah, nonsense!" Abe waved the statement away. "We can at least spare you the couch for the night, can't we Mito?"
Begrudgingly, Mito relented. "Well, alright. As long as you'll make sure Gon stays safe. Let me go find you a pillow and a blanket."
Cerridwen gave her an earnest, grateful smile. "Thank you, Mito. And you too, Abe."
The old woman laughed, "Oh don't mention it! You're practically family!"
"That's right," Mito added, relaxing slightly at the sight of the gleeful smile on Gon's face. "You're family."