Author's note: Written for Canis M., of course. ^_^ Please see my disclaimer page for copyright information regarding this story.
A Spirited Away Fanfic
By Natalie Baan
Sharply Chihiro drew in a breath—like starting awake to the sound of her alarm clock, breaking the surface of sleep into the air of a new day. She blinked at the rectangular shape in front of her for a moment or two, until it began to make sense. The brush in her hand sketched a ragged circle in midair, indecisive, diffident now that her focus had been broken, and at last she lowered it. She supposed she was probably done. A slight frown creasing her forehead, she studied the small painting perched on the easel before her.
A broad stream curved sinuously about the foot of a gnarled, sparse willow, narrowed to spill through a short drop, and then widened out once more as it reached the foreground meadow. Its banks were hazy, moss-soft washes of brilliant emerald, low hillocks fringed with wisps of long grass and sedge; the water itself was a darker, fathomless green, tracked with almost startling white where it caught the sun. There were a couple of muddy, blotched places (watercolor was really tricky, though she thought she was getting the hang of it), but overall....
"Well?" Haku asked quietly, as if still mindful of her concentration. "How is it?"
"Eehh...I think it's okay?" She couldn't quite keep the rising pitch of dubiousness out of her voice. Glancing past the easel, she peered intently at her model, still sitting with graceful ease against the bole of the ancient tree, his legs curled up beneath him. Sunlight through the scant curtain of branches traced delicate patterns across his white yukata; his eyes seemed to have captured and concentrated all those shadows as he returned her gaze with an elusive smile of almost catlike serenity. Squinting, she looked from the painting to the god and back a couple of times, then frowned once more, crossing her arms and pursing her lips.
"It's so weird, though," she murmured, more to herself than anything else. "Somehow, it always comes out like this."