It started with a curse.
Or, rather, it started with a mother. A young woman who had waited so long to meet the child she was carrying, only to find that she couldn’t, well, carry him.
She couldn’t hold her baby, because if she did her baby wouldn’t be her baby anymore.
It started with a curse, or perhaps a long stream of them. Because she hadn’t done anything to deserve this. Why was she, of the billions of people on the planet, the one to give birth to such a monstrosity? All she wanted was a baby, and she had gotten this instead.
Of course, she had done nothing wrong. So she was allowed to forget.
It started with a curse, and somewhere along the way it resulted in tears. And then, somehow, it ended with you.
You weren’t involved in the Sohma family matters in any way. In fact, you didn’t even know anyone from the Sohma family. You didn’t know this beautiful, foreign child or why he was crying.
You didn’t know anything, so you were allowed to be kind.
“I bought you this.”
Everyone in the park knew that you didn’t buy him the ice cream you were holding out to him. Every eye that watched you as you stood before the child hiding under the slide knew that the strawberry flavored cone in your hands had been bought for yourself, and that you probably wouldn’t have even noticed the boy if the little girl you were supposed to be watching hadn’t pointed him out to you.
Even Momiji knew that as he looked up at you, eyes round with shock.
You were twelve at the time, an awkward and gangly thing swallowed by a yellow sweatshirt. But you, by what was probably the influence of the ice cream, were the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. And the child, a tender handful of years your junior, took the ice cream and cried some more, saying nothing as you sat beside him and rubbed his back.
It may have started with a curse, but ten years later it didn’t hold the same power over Momiji anymore. Ten years later, he was free.
Free from the curse.
Free from the Sohma family.
Free from all the pain that came with those two things.
Except, not really.
Because he was still in so much pain. His curse was broken but nothing changed. At the end of the day, his mother still didn’t know him as her son. At the end of the day, Tohru still wasn’t his.
In the end, he was still alone. But now he couldn’t even go home.
It started with a memory, a fleeting thought of a gangly girl with strawberry ice cream. And somehow, it lead to him standing in the rain, staring at a slide that he was too big to hide under anymore. And that lead to tears, and the whispering of a name he hadn’t uttered in years.
The name of a girl who sat with him as he cried. A girl who helped him clean the sticky, strawberry flavored liquid off of his hands. A girl who told him funny stories about foxes and hens and a very foolish traveler.
And as if by magic, she had found him yet again.
It started with “You should know better” and “You’re too old for this”, and now he was engulfed by warmth and caught up in the feeling of your fingers as they worked into his hair, trying to towel dry the blonde curls.
Ten years later, and you really hadn’t changed.
Well, let me correct that. You had changed a lot. You were a woman now, an adult with a job at the nearby kindergarten. Your body filled out, no longer the body of an awkward preteen, and you had become so beautiful.
But your heart was still the same. You brought him to your home without any hesitation, and helped him dry off even though he was seventeen years old and was perfectly capable of doing it himself. You even took his wet clothes and dried them, offering him a dry set and a meal while he waited.
You were even wearing yellow. What were the odds?
Honestly, he hadn’t been this happy in a long time.
“I can’t believe you remember me. You were so little…”
He beamed at you, and you pursed your lips in an attempt to keep yourself from returning the gesture. “What were you doing out there anyway, Momiji? Trying to catch your death of cold?”
He couldn’t help the warmth filling his chest. You sounded like an old lady.
“I don’t really know…” he muttered, looking down at the cup of hot chocolate you had graciously given him. He needed to look guilty for a little bit, because you’d be mad if you found out just how happy he was that you were worrying over him. He was having trouble biting back his smile, though.
A sigh from you brought his gaze up again, and he watched you put your hands on your hips. “It can’t be helped…” you mumbled, looking over at a clock. “It doesn’t look like it’ll clear up soon, so I’ll drive you home. I can bring your uniform back to you tomorrow, so can you do without it for a day?”
He was quick to interject. You blinked, unsure of how to handle that sort of reply.
“What do you mean? I’m sure you’ve got some other clothes you can wear.”
He shook his head, and you felt your arms fall to your side. Your facial features scrunched up into a worried look, but he didn’t look perturbed by it. He just kept smiling, though you noticed that somewhere along the lines it had lost its sincerity and was now being forced for your sake. Or maybe his own sake. You couldn’t really be sure.
“I don’t have a home,” he clarified, dropping his gaze back to his lap.
The two of you sat in silence for an uncomfortable length of time, and when he finally worked the courage to look up at you again he noticed that you were deep in thought, possibly weighing your options and trying to come to some kind of conclusion. He didn’t blame you; you probably thought he ran away, or something.
Well, technically he kind of did.
You reached up and tugged at your hair, looking troubled. “Momiji…” you cut yourself off with a loud puff of air, and you turned away from him and marched into the kitchen. He sat still, not daring to move to follow you or call after you. Thankfully, he didn’t have to wait long. You came back, trying to look stern and pointing a finger at him.
“I don’t know what’s going on, and honestly I’m probably better off not knowing.” You paused, staring at him for a moment before your expression softened and your hand fell out of the air. “But I’ve had my fair share of family problems too, so…” you trailed off, and the hand that had only just come to rest at your side flew back up to tug at your hair once more.
He waited patiently for you to say whatever you wanted to say, having an idea of what he wanted to hear from you. And you didn’t disappoint him one little bit.
“So…you can stay here, until you sort things ou-ooooow”
There was an exclamation of your name, and before you knew it you found yourself in the arms of the little lost rabbit you had rescued. A sweet kiss was pressed to your temple, much to your embarrassment, and you could just barely hear Momiji’s words of gratitude before he buried his face into your shoulder. You tried to hold in another sigh as you lightly pat his back, smiling softly at the turn of events and completely unaware that this was his first, real hug and not having the knowledge to understand just how truly grateful he was for you.
That was better, for both of you. Your ignorance was what made you the only person he could trust in this world now. Only you could give him the fresh start he so longed for.
It all started with a curse, and somehow it lead him to you.
And for the first time in forever, he felt like maybe this story could have a happy ending.