A/N ~ A plot bunny bit me in the rear end and wouldn't let go unless I wrote this. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: I don't own Spirited Away. There ya go.
She could hardly recall what happened when she was ten years old. When her and her parents left the amusement park, Chihiro attempted to speak about what occurred, but found that her parents couldn't even remember. They couldn't remember anything at all. Chihiro was never able to understand why her parents had no recollection. She tried to spark their memory, but to no avail. After a while she gave up seeing no point in trying anymore. As she got older even her own memory of the amusement park had begun to fade. It wasn't that she wanted to forget because she didn't. It just simply dissolved as time passed. The only thing that kept her memories from truly fading was the hair tie that No-Face and Boh made for her. She always used it to put her hair up when she was younger. It remained as the only constant reminder of a memory that was left hanging by a fraying thread.
Eight years passed since then and she was now eighteen. At some point during those eight years, she stopped tying her hair up. She saw no point. The hair tie was then moved to her wrist where it permanently remained. She never took it off. Not even to bathe. It was always kept on her wrist. Her parents once asked of its origins and she simply told them that it was given to her by one of her friends when they moved all those years ago. They never questioned her answer. The hair tie glinted in the waning sunlight as Chihiro leaned over her bedroom balcony. She was troubled that day and she certainly didn't feel like herself. She felt like something was missing and she knew what she was missing. That spirit, Haku. Unfortunately Chihiro had eventually forgotten what he looked like. The spirit who helped her. The spirit who saved both her parents and herself. It broke her heart to have forgotten. Each and every day she attempted to remember what he looked like and what he sounded like, but the only thing that she could remember was his name. Only his name and she held onto it like it was a life boat. Out of everything she could have forgotten, she had to forget the one thing that she never wanted to slip away from her.
A sigh escaped her lips and she rested her forehead on her arms. The more she thought about it, the more distressed she became. She was having a difficult time distinguishing the truth from her overactive imagination that she had when she was a child. By that time the hair tie also became proof that she hadn't been dreaming. Of course it didn't matter anymore. She could barely remember the amusement park. All of the spirits names, aside from Haku's, Boh's, and No-Face's, had long since slipped away. Desperation bubbled up from her chest and she felt her mouth quiver. Chihiro let out another sigh and gritted her teeth to keep the tears from escaping. She then shook her head and stood up, squaring her shoulders.
Chihiro wasn't the little lanky girl that she had been when she was ten. She was now a lady. She was tall and lean, any sort of childhood fat was long gone. A pair of blue jeans hugged her hips before flaring out at her calves. A white shirt hung loosely from her shoulders. Her brown hair cascaded down her back like waves, stopping just before her rear end. Her jaw line was no longer indistinguishable, but rather rounded and feminine. The most stunning thing about her was her brown eyes. Her eyes held such a hurricane of emotions that were ready to burst from their depths and that was quite right at that moment. Chihiro didn't know what to feel. There was an onslaught of anguish, but something else that she couldn't quite pick out. She figured the missing emotion was due to some of the emptiness that she was feeling so she gave up on trying to figure it out.
She leaned her body against the railing again and set her attention on the setting sun. 'It's so beautiful,' she thought to herself. It reminded her of something though as well. Something that was among one of the first things that she began to forget a long time ago. A frown formed on her lips before she suddenly remembered the trail through the woods. Just as she thought of the trail, she spotted it down the hill from the house. 'I can see if I can regain the lost memories!' Her eyes widened and she inhaled before she rushed through the house. She ran down the stairs and past her parents to the front door.
"Chihiro!" Her mother called after her. "Where are you going?!"
"I'm going on a walk!" Chihiro responded as she quickly put her sneakers on. "I'll be back in a couple of hours!"
Whatever else her mother had to say was not heard as Chihiro opened the front door and bolted out. Instead of taking the road, she went down the grass-covered hill. She kept her arms out to keep herself balanced as she stumbled downhill. Just as she got to the bottom, she tripped and landed on her hands and knees. She hissed as she got up and ignored the tiny dots of blood that were forming on her palms. She looked to her left, then to her right and smiled when she saw the trail leading into a canopy of trees. Her feet started up again and she ran into the canopy. The fading sunlight was shining through the trees, but Chihiro paid no heed. Her heart was hammering in her chest and her heartbeat was roaring in her ears. She huffed and puffed as she ran and ran. 'Can it be?' She desperately asked herself.
The trail slanted as it began to lead her uphill and her eyes widened in recognition when she spotted something up ahead. The moss-covered rock. The closer she got, the more she was able to see. Chihiro clenched her hands and desperately forced her legs to go faster before she finally came so a stop. She stared at the rock in front of her before she went around to look at the front. She remembered this rock. It was starting to come back to her and her heart swelled with excitement. She then turned to stare at the tunnel. There it was. It wasn't the red wall that she vaguely recalled, but was rather a brick wall that had vines trailing along the top half of it. She looked down and shuffled her feet feeling grass instead of brick. She turned around one hundred eighty degrees with her arms open wide and laughter bubbling out of her chest. She stopped turning in front of the tunnel and became serious. 'Do I...do I really want to do this...?' Chihiro questioned herself as she clenched her eyes shut. 'I do.' She opened her eyes and watched the tunnel with new-found determination. 'I do want to do this.'
Chihiro moved forward with resolve coursing through her veins like wild-fire. As she went through the tunnel, her movement quickened and quickened until she was running full speed ahead. Her feet stopped her in a room for a short moment and she remembered it. It was a train station and instead of looking around some more, she rushed to the entrance where a breeze was blowing in. A wide smile broke out onto her face. Her eyes greedily took in her surroundings and she inhaled the familiar smell of the tall grass. The sun was still setting and she raced forward attempting to get a peek at those buildings in the distance, vaguely remembering that passage stopped when all light was gone.
She skipped forward with an abundance of energy and jumped over the rocks in the small river. She felt like she was going to pass out when she saw the buildings. The buildings were oh so familiar and she could feel the missing memories on the tip of her tongue. It never occurred to her to wonder where all the people where. She knew deep inside that it was a question that wasn't needed to be asked. Her movement slowed seeing as she now wanted to take in her surroundings. Her feet led her all around the place until she stopped at a familiar restaurant. She recalled her parents eating there and her begging them to go home. A content smile rested on her lips and she followed a familiar path until she stopped at a flight of stairs. Her heartbeat suddenly quickened and Chihiro couldn't say why. She couldn't stop herself as she made her way towards the stairs. Her feet led her closer and closer until she stopped at the first step. Chihiro stared at the step for a while before lifting her leg and setting foot on it. Nothing happened. She lifted her head and narrowed her eyes before striding up the steps with purpose written all over her face.
When she made it to the top, she swiveled around to take a glance at what was around her. What she saw suddenly put her to a stop and her eyes widened. There was a bridge that led to a bathhouse. It wasn't normal bathhouse though. Chihiro raced forward and stopped just before the start of the bridge. She was breathing fast and was lightheaded because she recognized it. She recognized it all. A smile broke out on her face and she jumped around with elation.
"I remember!" She whooped to herself. "I remember everything!" Her laughter echoed across the bridge and she didn't notice when a shadow was slowly making its way across the bridge towards her.
Chihiro stopped and felt like she was going to burst. She turned around and could feel tears forming not due to sadness, but due to delight. A gasp rushed out of her and she took a step back at what she saw. Her eyes scanned the shoulder length green hair and the green eyes that were wide with astonishment and disbelief. This person had the features of the spirit who helped her all those years ago, but had grown just as she had. The emptiness that she felt earlier disappeared when she laid her eyes on this familiar spirit.
"Chihiro." Her name rushed out of his lips and Chihiro gave him a wide smile before shooting forward toward this wonderful spirit who appeared to be all grown up.