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Day #11 -

Title:
A Strange Girl
Fandom: Natsume Yuujinchou
Characters: Natsume Reiko
Rating: G
Words: (+/-) 577
Summary: Reiko stops caring about the stares and lives on, but when she dies, the stares live on.
Notes: Written for [community profile] fic_promptly - the prompt was 'she's stopped acknowledging the weird stares'.

The youkai whispered that she was a harbinger of destruction. The humans just thought she was strange. Pretty, but strange. Never quite fitting anywhere, like a mismatched puzzle piece.

Once upon a time, she had hated the looks she got. The looks of contempt and fear and pity. Then one day, she was pushed into the mud by a kid half her age and she realized - nothing was going to change. She stood back up, dusted off the worse of the caked on dirt and grime, and decided it didn’t matter. It wasn’t a bad day. The sun was shining, the clouds were scarce, and there was a faint wind to cool off the heat of the day. There was very little she could complain about and so she smiled. If she forgot about everything else, then maybe she could find that elusive happiness from younger years.

After that, she never stopped smiling. There was always something fun to do. Some poor youkai to harass. Some human to defend herself against. And there were a few, seldom few, that she considered herself lucky to have met, even if she didn’t show it properly.

The stares she had been so aware of before - they dimmed, as if they never existed in the first place. She laughed more, she fought more, she cried more when she was really, truly alone, but she lived more than she had before and she had begun to have fun. A lot of fun that made up for the painful memories she would have to bear for life.

And she learned. There were spells and incantations, wrestling moves and judo throws, and even a couple of stranger things, like feelings. Though that last one she ignored obstinately. There wasn’t enough time in one lifetime to waste on how she felt; she just went out and felt it.

In the end, she was free and at peace and happy with how she had chosen to live her life. She had completed her life goal from long, long ago. Back among those childish days, where she had dreamed of only one thing. She had made a Book of Friends.

The names collected would be passed down to her daughter, and then her daughter would pass it on to her child. The cycle would go on, unbroken, and not a single member of her small family would suffer the same loneliness she had. She wouldn’t allow it. If her life had meant anything, it would mean that she had provided a future for her family that was unlike her own. No one would have to be left behind.

So when she died, unexpectedly, one crisp winter night, her perfect plan shattered.

The Book of Friends laid forgotten under a floorboard, and it took twenty years for her daughter to find it. And it took another sixteen before her grandson inherited it.

But the Book accomplished what she could not. It fell into the right hands, and it helped them find friends. Something Natsume Reiko never really had. She pretended and she laughed and she lived, but there had always been an emptiness to everything. A taint she could never erase.

After all, the stares hadn’t disappeared. They had just gone unnoticed.

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off on an adventure

August 2012

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