It was oddly befitting for Haku to see her—them—off the second time.

Chihiro could hardly bring herself to believe that eight years have passed since she last stood there. The grass was a juicy green, and it stretched out infinitely, like a mini-sea. The sky rippled with wispy clouds. She turned, half-expecting to see a preteenager and not a strapping young man. Haku's cool palm enclosed in her own.

"This is not the goodbye," he reminded her. "We'll meet again."

Chihiro tried to swallow the bitterness. Last time he gave her a promise, she had to overcome eight years of uncertainty and sadness before seeing it fulfilled.

"We have our parents to see," Dai, her newfound brother, reminded gently. Chihiro sent him a tight-lipped smile, wondering how their parents would accept him. Would there be surprise? Disbelief? Joy? Or will they be discouraged by another mouth to feed?

"For you to retain your memories of this world," Haku said, "you will need to look back once. Both of you."

Chihiro's face fell. "You erased my memories?"

"I apologize; it was a matter of law. Memories of the spirit world can be harmful or even dangerous. Only the strong can bear them while living in your world." His eyes flashed with pride at the last sentence.

"Well, it's good we will remember this time," Chihiro joked, grasping her brother's hand. "Isn't that right, Dai?"

"There's too much worth remembering," he agreed, smiling.

Grief fisted in her gut, bringing tears to her eyes. Chihiro looked back and tried to commit every detail to memory—the cracked stone stairs, the one-story shops, the flowing grass, the dry riverbed, and, in the distance, the tops of the bathhouse. There was a shaky inhale, and Dai stepped away. Was he remembering Granny and how fondly they must have spent the evenings together?

"Tell Lin I love her!" she blurted out. "And Kamaji, too. Tell Boh I am sorry I did not get to play with his time. Tell Granny—Zeniba, I mean—that she will always be my grandmother. Please." Her breath hitched. "Please send my love."

"Of course." Haku's voice was mercifully clear and strong, albeit his misty eyes sparkled in the sun.

"And—and Yu-bird," she floundered. "Make sure they all know I love and miss them."

"They know how much you love them, Chihiro," Haku said gently. He placed a hand on her cheek, brushing back her hair. "They also know you'll see them again. Just wait."

He took a step closer and guided her head into the crook of his neck. Chihiro squeezed back tears and breathed in his scent of fresh grass and slightly salty water. His hands pressed into her back, hugging her. A single tear fell on her bare shoulder.

"I'll wait for you, Haku!" She pulled back and stared at his achingly handsome face. "I will, I promise!"

Somehow, Chihiro mustered the strength to break their embrace. Her empty hand sought her brother's, and at once warmth and courage swam into her. Thanking her lucky stars that No-Face—Dai—was accompanying her, that she wouldn't need to do this alone, she stepped off the rock steps and into the field.

Haku's hand fell slowly to his side.

When Chihiro turned around to wave at him, she thought her heart would explode with sadness. The sun silhouetted him, and with the glowing backdrop, he looked like an angel. The three of them waved their goodbyes, and the human siblings went, hand-in-hand, back to the Human World.

"I love you."


Hello, dear readers! I'm back after a very long and painful hiatus with a bonus chapter for you all! I never included the "second goodbye scene," whereas Chihiro and her brother Dai (a.k.a. No-Face) go back to the Human World. Reflecting on this story, I realize that it was high time I wrote this chapter as a small gift to you all! My heart swelled with happiness every time I got a notification for this story, even though it has long since been completed and the sequel posted. So let me know what you all think of my new (and hopefully improved) writing!

Lana (SAK00/SAK1530 on Wattpad)