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The Journey

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00 – The Fool

Tohru wakes up exactly 22 weeks and then some after her mother’s death, staring at the ceiling, and aware of every life she’s had before then. She was Robin, the Tactician, the Grandmaster, the vessel of a Dragon God. But she was also Minato – or was it Minako? The lines blur – Arisato, the Fool, the Wildcard, the Universe, the Messiah, the child destined to die.

Who is she now? She’s Tohru Honda, an orphan – and wasn’t that funny, being an orphan the third time in a row – and she lives with her grandfather. She wishes to be self-sufficient, to be able to support herself and not make herself a burden on others. She is normal, she is average, she does not wish to change the story more than the world desires her to.

But if her past two lives have sacrificed themselves to ensure the betterment of others, then what’s to say that she won’t die either?

She knows that she will die. And, oh by Naga, by Philemon, by God themselves, there is no way to stop it from happening.

---

01 – The Magician

She hands Kuronero the number of one of her best friends, and tells him that he has a chance, if he should choose to do so.

He tells her, that, as a zodiac, he can’t. Anyone he is close to is destined to fall to misfortune, that he cannot, because he does not wish that one anyone, not even on his worst enemy.

Tohru smiles sadly, and curls his fingers around the paper holding Uotani’s number, smiling sadly. “But I don’t think you believe that at all.”

---

02 – The Priestess

She encountered Ritsu on the wrong side of a bridge once. Back then, she had asked them if they were okay.

Today, she asks them that question again, as they sit on the veranda of Shigure’s home, enjoying cold tea in the summer heat.

Ritsu is silent, and then they say, very quietly, “I think…I think I’m getting better.”

Tohru smiles, and holds Ritsu’s hands gently in her own, smiling. “And, that, I think, is good, because that means you are healing, and that is what helps you breathe a bit easier.”

Ritsu smiles, a small, but genuine one, and thanks Tohru for understanding.

---

03 – The Empress

She sees her teacher three weeks before she is scheduled to die. Shiraki does not understand why Tohru comes into her office looking torn, but she sits her down and speaks to her, and Tohru speaks back.

Between an educator and a student, they help each other heal. They help each other build back their own lives, piece by piece.

Tohru cries and apologises for not trying harder, and Shiraki apologises too, for not helping her when she noticed that something was wrong.

---

04 – The Emperor

Kazuma thanks her, one day, for accepting Kyou, for trying to understand him. He adds that he wouldn't mind having her as a daughter-in-law, he’s seen the ways that Kyou looks at her sometimes.

Tohru smiles, sad and broken, because she knows that she’s never going to live that long. She never says any of this, and just acts flustered instead, laughing off whatever Kazuma had just said.

There is a silence that hangs over them, and then Kazuma thanks her again, because she’s managed to help Kyou in ways he was not able to, and Tohru cries a little at that.

---

05 – The Hierophant

She and Uotani talk at her mother’s grave, and Uotani tells her that her mum would be proud of her getting this far.

Tohru laughs, and says her mother would be proud of Uotani too. Uotani smiles at that, and pats Tohru on the head. They lean into each other, staring at Kyoko’s grave, just taking in each other’s presence.

There are no words that need to be exchanged between the two of them.

---

06 – The Lovers

Kagura finds her one day, and they spend the rest of that day learning how to bake, and laughing with each other when they manage to get flour into the other’s hair.

When they have cleaned up, Kagura thanks her, for being able to reach out to Kyou, and for helping her too. Tohru smiles, and thanks her back, for allowing her to become strong with Kagura, and that if she ever needed it, then she will not hesitate to help her.

Kagura laughs, clear and strong, and tells her that she would do the same, for her.

---

07 –The Chariot

Kyou asks her once if she ever felt that she’s weak. Tohru had answered that she has, all the time, because sometimes she’s afraid of a lot of things, of loss and of the dark, that she isn’t as strong as she wishes she could be.

Kyou is silent for a moment when he hears her answer, eyes narrowed and fists clenched. He’s silent like that for a long while, as if trying to figure out what to say. In the end, he asks if she trusts him to protect her, despite being a monster, despite being the cursed cat of the zodiac.

Tohru smiles, and she tells him that she trust him with her life, because he is her protector and she is his rock, and together, they can do anything.

---

08 – Justice

When Yuki tells her about the hat, that he’s the one who gave it to her, Tohru smiles and thanks him, because she was honestly lost that day, and he helped her find a way home.

He smiles at her understanding, and she tells him that she’s glad that he’s been able to rebuild himself, little by little, until he’s able to stand on his own two feet with pride. There aren’t that many shackles chaining him anymore, she tells him, and he laughs, mostly because it’s true. He’s freer now, no longer chaining himself to the past.

He’s found the balance between the two sides of the scale. He’s finally able to understand that yes, he’s allowed to access all that he has denied himself. He’s okay now.

---

09 – The Hermit

They talk, sometimes, both Tohru and Isuzu. More often than not, Isuzu speaks, and Tohru listens, because she trusts Tohru. Tohru has helped her with so many things, she has to return the favour someday.

Of course, it can wait. For now, Isuzu is content with speaking and Tohru listening, and maybe one day she’ll be able to provide an ear towards Tohru.

---

10 – The Wheel of Fortune

Megumi doesn’t talk to Tohru much, but when they do, it’s often with a smile and understanding that sometimes, the world doesn’t go the way you want it but fortune favours the bold, and if you are clever, and if you are wise, then the world will keep going.

Sometimes, when Megumi sits with Tohru, they don’t speak at all, but it’s comforting because the silence is just Megumi’s way of saying Thank you.

---

11 – Strength

Hatsuharu gives his gratitude to Tohru one day, whilst they go towards their next classes.

She laughs, and asks him why.

Hatsuharu tells her he is giving her gratitude because she has been kind to both Kyou and Yuki, for being someone the Sohmas can confide in, for just being there when they need it. He tells her that his gratitude is from a lot of people, because she has given a lot of strength to a lot of people, and for that, he is grateful.

Tohru smiles, and tells him that she’s grateful for him too, because if he hadn’t existed, she might not be the person she is today. Hatsuharu might have gotten a little teary eyed at that.

---

12 – The Hanged Man

Tohru is aware that Shigure has made sacrifices, and tells him so. He laughs, because he’s always been skilled at hiding his pain but never towards Tohru, who smiles and tells him that he can be better, if he just afforded to try.

He tells her that he can’t, that an old dog like him can’t repent for the things he’s done, the strings he’s pulled, that he might have hurt her in his machinations.

She tells him that she forgives him, because really, she does not mind. She cannot really be angry with him, and tells him that, despite everything, she will forgive him, because that is who she is as a person, and that’s who he is too.

---

13 – Death

Hatori asks her if she is trying to die.

Tohru laughs, loud and clear, and tells her that Death does not always mean a physical death. It can mean change; it can mean rebirth. She’s not trying to die, fate has already told her of that, but she’s glad Hatori has been able to change.

He’s rebuilt himself from the broken shell of a man that he used to be, that he no longer longs for the past as he used to. And for that, he is able to move on from Kana, able to move on from his trauma and change for the better, because Death is metamorphosis, that Death is regeneration and change.

---

14 – Temperance

Hanajima tells Tohru that her waves are odd as they approach graduation, and that perhaps she isn’t finding the balance between work and high school. Tohru reassures her, that’s not it, and it isn’t anything to worry about.

Hanajima calls her a liar. Tohru agrees with her. But they find a balance in their differences, they find a balance in their lives.

Two extremes, meeting in the middle. This is what their friendship is, it is of balance and of choices.

---

15 – The Devil

Ayame invites her to his store once, and they talk over tea. He tells her thank you for bringing him and Yuki back together, for making sure that they could reconnect as brothers should.

She tells him, in turn, that the reconnection, that was his own effort, and all she did was just be there, that is all. They talk of many things, they speak of how one day, Tohru will be there for them again because he and Yuki as just two siblings trying to be better, and Tohru laughs and tells him they already are.

This is healing, Tohru tells him. Just no more going inside her shirt as a snake.

---

16 – The Tower

Hiro and Tohru don’t talk often. More often, it is silence that surrounds them, not knowing what to say to the other.

But alas, what happens is that Hiro thanks Tohru for helping Kisa, and Tohru thanks him for helping her figure out her grief.

Hiro thinks back to his animosity, and thinks his past self was a bit stupid for treating Tohru like that, and that, much like the Tower in tarot, he had fallen from grace. However, he’s willing to climb back up, and try to be better this time round.

---

17 – The Star

Momiji watches Tohru sometimes, and then he says that he appreciates her, that she is a good person and that he is glad that they are friends. Tohru smiles, and tells him that she’s glad too, she’s glad that they were able to meet, that they were able to smile together despite all that has happened to them.

They speak of happier days, of being strong and of being full of hope. Tohru does not tell Momiji what will happen to her in a year or so.

---

18 – The Moon

Kisa thanks Tohru for helping her, for saving her, for allowing her to become better, to become wiser, to become kinder. Tohru smiles at her, all sunny smiles and warmth, has tells her that what she just did was all on her own effort, that she got strong on all on her own.

Kisa laughs, because she is allowed to do that, and smiles as they spend the rest of the day, happier because this is who they can allow themselves to be.

---

19 – The Sun

Manabe approaches her one day, eyes to the side and trying his hardest to look smaller than he actually is. He tells her that, on the day of her mother’s funeral, he was being an asshole to Tohru, that he should have apologised better then whatever he tried to do. He says, that he’s sorry for saying the things that he said, that he wants to try again, that he wants to be able to be friends with her.

Tohru smiles, and says that she’ll gladly be his friend, that she forgives him, that she does not hold his past actions against him because she knows he is trying to be better, trying to be kinder, and that’s important, and she tells him so.

Manabe is silent for a few moments, and he laughs, and tells her that hey, perhaps he does have a chance at having a proper introduction to her this time.

---

20 – Judgement

Akito asks: “How much time do you have left?”

Tohru replies: “Until graduation.”

Akito smiles at that, but it’s not a cruel smile, but rather a sad one. “I’d hate to see you leave this world so soon. In breaking our curse, you are sacrificing yourself. Are you happy about that?”

Tohru smiles back. She’s done her goodbyes. “I’m ready this time. It’s been nice knowing you, God of the Zodiac.”

---

21 – The World

Tohru stands on the roof of the school building on Graduation Day. She’s in her third year, she should be with her friends, but instead here she stands, on the roof, and she slowly sinks to her knees. The spring sun is warm, and she is very tired.

She’s penned 19 letters to 19 people, all of them in neat little stacks on her desk. Shigure must have discovered them already. She can hear footsteps running up the stairs to the roof, and by the gods she is tired.

She’s made peace with her death. It’s not the first time she has sacrificed herself for the betterment of others, not the first time she’s given up her life to make sure people get to live happily. She prays that they understand, that to break the curse it needs sacrifice, and she is willing, because she is willing to give up many things, and her life is one of them.

She’s so tired. She’ll sleep. Maybe she’ll meet them all again, in a better life.