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Fanfic / Windows of the Soul

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Windows of the Soul is a fanfic that serves as a direct sequel to the original My-HiME. It was published in 2008 on by Lestaki.

It's a very ambitious work at 77 chapters and over 420k words.The story is told in alternating first person perspective between Shizuru Fujino and Natsuki Kuga, and introduces original characters Shinri Fujino (Shizuru's father), Viola Fujino (her mother), Sayaa (Viola's personal assistant), and Hideko (Shizuru's maid), as well as characters from the First District.

The other Hime and related characters also are given appearances.

The primary focus of the work is Shizuru's feelings of guilt and shame for her actions during the Carnival, and Natsuki's efforts to support Shizuru while coming to terms with the feelings of betrayal and hurt she has, herself.

The work takes the stance that the darkest interpretation of the Ambiguous Situation involving Shizuru's actions to a sleeping Natsuki are correct, and the struggles to rebuild a relationship with that in mind.

Windows of the Soul provides examples of:

  • After-Action Healing Drama: Shizuru spends a good deal of time in the hospital after the confrontation in the courtroom.
  • After Action Patch Up: We're given a detailed account of Natsuki's knife wound being treated.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: A non-romantic example. When Shizuru falls ill with the flu, Natsuki tearfully tells Shizuru that she loves her, and wants her to stop self-harming to punish herself for the things she did during the Carnival.
    "I'm crying," Natsuki said savagely, pulling her head up again. Her face was close to mine, ravaged and angry and sad. "You know that. I've been crying, all this time, on the inside." Another fell. "All for you. So love me, as I love you! At least understand that feeling of mine!"
    • Actually averted during the Relationship Upgrade. Natsuki and Shizuru have a long chat, leaning back to back, and when Natsuki decides it's time to confess her love, she asks Shizuru to look at her, and simply says, "I love you." Cue Big Damn Kiss.
  • Apologizes a Lot: Shizuru, which is understandable given the depth of her justified guilt.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Chapter 36 Natsuki asks Shizuru, "And if I had raped you?" So powerful, Natsuki has to repeat it.
  • The Atoner: Shizuru and Reito are each trying to make amends for their actions during the Carnival. Shizuru is trying to distance herself from Natsuki to prevent hurting her again, as well as trying to suppress her own feelings. Reito is trying to bring happier endings to the Hime who suffered.
  • Bathroom Break-Out: Natsuki pulls a variation, getting Umi Tsuda to take her to the bathroom. She's handcuffed behind her back, so she also has to suffer the indignity of Tsuda undoing and lowering her pants and underwear. But when Tsuda shuts the stall door, she's able to contort and get her arms in front of her.
  • Batman Gambit: Reito tells Shizuru that he intends to ask Natsuki out, trying to get her to realize that she still has feelings for Natsuki that won't go away just because they're inconvenient.
  • Be All My Sins Remembered: Shizuru will quickly remind Natsuki of her crimes whenever Natsuki shows her kindness.
    Shizuru: "But I can't forgive myself. And you've probably noticed, but whatever made me do that, whatever brokenness in me that allowed me to do that, isn't dead… it's part of me. That's why I have to leave."
  • Big Damn Heroes: Akira Okuzaki shows up to aid Natsuki after she escapes the hostage situation.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Three. The first is when Shizuru is about to leave for Kyoto, planning to sever her ties with Natsuki for good. She asks Natsuki for a kiss in the Student Council Room, where they spent so much time together, and Natsuki agrees. The second is after their Relationship Upgrade, as a way of making it official. The third is in front of Shizuru's family after they out their relationship, but Shizuru has to snap her eyes shut before she gets a good look at her father's reaction.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: Well, not big, but the Fujinos have...issues.
  • Boke and Tsukkomi Routine: Saaya suggests Natsuki and Shizuru are doing this after this exchange:
    "You know, I'm not so bad at matching my tone to the person talking to me myself."
    "That's very lucky for me," I said hurriedly, trying to defuse the situation with tone of voice alone. "Can I test that?" I leaned sideways, coming up close to her face and whispering sensually in her ear. "Please pass the water jug, Nat-su-ki."
    To my delight, she flushed, glaring at me. "Shizuru!"
  • Bound and Gagged: Ikuru, the head of the surviving First District survivors, has all the Hime, Saaya, and Viola bound and gagged, except for Shizuru. Natsuki realizes immediately that he's left Shizuru free and forced her into a Sadistic Choice to put a wedge between her and her friends.
  • Broken Tears/ Tender Tears: Shizuru and Natsuki do this together in one scene.
    Shizuru: You can't cry. If you cry… for me…" My hands moved upwards, lancing her hair. I pushed her head down, trying to muffle the sound. "It's unbearable." Tears welled up in my eyes, and I tried to stop them.
  • Came Back Wrong: Not in the usual sense. Shizuru tells Natsuki that ever since her return from the dead she's felt a sense of displacement, like she doesn't properly fit in the world. Natsuki agrees, but says she's always felt that way since the murder of her mother and her year long stay in the hospital when she was a child, recovering from near-drowning.
  • The Cameo: Midori's only appearance is via a letter she sends to Shizuru which gets Shizuru thinking about things.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: On both sides. Justified. Natsuki has to resolve both questions about her own sexuality as well as reconciling her love for Shizuru with what Shizuru did to her. And Shizuru doesn't dare spit it out, and doesn't want to risk losing Natsuki's friendship, knowing the depth of her own guilt. Natsuki has to make the first romantic overtures, and it takes her a lot of talking to get there.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Shiho, per usual.
  • Closet Key: Shizuru and Natsuki for each other. Shizuru describes Natsuki as an eye opener for her, and Natsuki had never even considered what her sexuality was while on her vengence quest against First District.
  • Cool Big Sis: Reito encourages Shizuru to take this role for Shiho.
  • Courtroom Drama: Umi Tsuda is put on trial for attempting to murder Shizuru. But the trial is cover for the survivors of the First District to initiate a hostage situation.
  • Death Glare: Shinri and Natsuki spend a good deal of the story exchanging these.
  • Despair Event Horizon: The story opens with Shizuru on the precipice, and it takes concentrated effort by Natsuki to draw her back.
  • Devastating Remark: Zigzagged. Natsuki has spent a good deal of time contemplating a potential relationship with Shizuru, and comes to a conclusion. She starts her conversation with Shizuru by saying, "We can't continue like this." Shizuru is crushed, until Natsuki realizes how it sounded and amends by adding, "I mean... what I'm saying is, you can't hide your pain from me any longer. All of those things you wanted to say. And for me, as well, I can't hide anything or keep anything back. We care about each other."
  • Door Slam of Rage: Natsuki storms into Shizuru's hospital room when she's pissed off.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female: Averted. Natsuki states plainly that what happened to her has left serious emotional scars, and at one point even reflects on the fact that her now considering a physically intimate relationship with Shizuru was an issue, knowing that if a boy had done that to her, her current actions would be messed up.
    Natsuki: Is it even sensible to begin with, thinking of dating someone who pretty much raped you? If Shizuru was a man, wouldn't that be beyond messed up? So isn't it just the same anyway? The fact that my fear and resentment isn't overwhelming is certain, and I can find a lot of comfort in her warmth and hesitant affection. But does that make me the wrong one? Am I weird for forgiving her like this?
  • Dress Hits Floor: Shizuru tries to avert her eyes while Natsuki is undressing to be measured for a kimono, but a comment from one of the shop workers has her turn just in time to see Natsuki's dress hit the ground.
  • Driven to Suicide: In Chapter 19, Shizuru states plainly that she deserves to die and asks Natsuki for her sword. Natsuki, very sensibly, refuses.
    • And again in Chapter 35, "I thought I could bear with it, even though it was tough, but it's hard. You know, Natsuki, this isn't like a normal injury. I'm bearing with the pain all day, and gets worse and not better… and when I'm alone with my thoughts, it's more than I can bear."
  • Easily Forgiven: Zig-zagged. Natsuki had forgiven Shizuru back in the series proper, but their friendship was fractured and Natsuki was trying to rebuild it, running hard against the problem that Shizuru wasn't willing to forgive herself.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Lampshaded eloquently by Natsuki,"I've suffered, cried, fought and died for this, I've come back from the dead, I've been stabbed and shot and agonised over everything in the dark."
  • Embarrassing Nickname: The eccentric owner of a kimono shop calls Shinri "Shin-chan". Natsuki throws it out once after learning that fact, earning her a serious Death Glare.
  • First-Name Basis: After Natsuki takes a knife to the thigh saving Shizuru, Saaya and Viola insist on calling Natsuki by her first name, and also that she's now one of the family.
    • Shizuru makes a wager with her maid, Hideko, about whether Shizuru will tell her parents about her relationship with Natsuki. When she does, Hideko has to call Shizuru by name, instead of "Oujo-sama". To Shizuru's embarrassment, Hideko adds The Glomp.
  • Foil: Umi Tsuda, an OC for the fic, is a foil to Natsuki. Both are women wronged by Shizuru. Umi lost her fiance to Shizuru's wrath, Natsuki lost her mother to First District. Both sought revenge for lost loved ones. But where Natsuki learned to forgive and let go of the past, Umi couldn't let go, and sought to take Shizuru's life. Umi even tells Natsuki that they're similar, noting that she bears Natsuki no grudge.
  • Forceful Kiss: In an early chapter, Shizuru does this to Natsuki to try and dissuade her from being close to her. It's described in ugly terms, including teeth smashing together painfully. Ultimately, it doesn't work, as Natsuki is still determined to keep Shizuru in her life.
  • Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: Natsuki genuinely forgives Shizuru for betraying and raping her, but she can't banish the memories from her consciousness, even after their Relationship Upgrade.
    Red lips, red eyes, bearing down on me. I was suffocating, and for a moment deep revulsion and fear struck me. My whole body tensed as my hands snapped up to push her away-
    "Natsuki?" Shizuru asked uncertainly, pulling back slightly.
    I threw my arms around her, pulling her closer to me and resting my chin on her shoulder. Don't let go. I can't let go. I'll break her if I shove her out of reach.
  • Forgiveness: Natsuki had already forgiven Shizuru by the time she battled her in the series proper. But she realizes that Shizuru hadn't forgiven herself. Furthermore, Natsuki realized that Shizuru was regarding Natsuki's forgiveness as a cold, saintly forgiveness, rather than a genuine desire to remain her close friend and eventually, her lover.
    Natsuki:But she isn't just that night, in the same way she isn't just the girl who speaks with an elegant, affected Kyoto-ben and smiles kindly at me. What I can see of her, close by me now, is only kind, and good, and hurt. I can't associate her with that time at all.
    • Shizuru was forced into a Sadistic Choice to sacrifice one of her friends, and she chooses Saaya. Saaya is spared by circumstances, and Shizuru apologizes to her. Saaya forgives her, saying she understood Shizuru's reasoning.
    • Shinri eventually forgives Shizuru, largely because Natsuki pointed out to him that it was she that Shizuru had wronged, and she'd already forgiven Shizuru.
  • The Gadfly: Sayaa, Viola, and Shizuru, in turn.
  • Gayngst: Shizuru still feels this way, and her knowledge of her actions during the Carnival only reinforce this sentiment in her.
    • Averted with Natsuki, who isn't so much concerned about feeling attraction to another girl as she is wondering if it's reasonable or sensible to love someone romantically after they've sexually assaulted her in her sleep.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Averted. At no point is the relationship between Natsuki and Shizuru treated as a source of titillation.
  • Glad-to-Be-Alive Sex: Subverted. Our heroines try after they get out of the hospital, but Shizuru accidentally pulls Natsuki's injured shoulder, then realizes that she pulled something in her gut that still hurts. The two lay side by side and suggest that they heal completely before trying again.
  • Guns vs. Swords: The final fight between Shizuru and the leader of the First District survivors. The bullet shatters Shizuru's katana, imbedding shards in her gut, while she manages to carve him up with the portion of the blade still attached to the hilt. He dies. She spends time in the hospital, recovering.
  • Hates Rich People: There's a lot of friction between Natsuki and Shizuru's father, Shinri. She sees him as self-important and cold, with her making quips about him needing to spend his money to keep the Japanese economy running, while Shinri initially thinks of Natsuki as a useless Social Climber. He revises his opinion of her after she saves Shizuru's life while taking a serious injury in the process. And Natsuki begins to have grudging respect for him when she realizes that he works hard and holds himself to very rigorous standards.
  • Happily Adopted: Played with. When Shizuru takes ill Viola cheerfully says she'll pretend Natsuki is her daughter. Natsuki says it's a bit of a sudden promotion. Saaya takes to calling Natsuki her favorite daughter, and describing Natsuki and Shizuru as twin sisters. Both Viola and Saaya say it more seriously after Natsuki takes a knife to the thigh saving Shizuru from a vengeful survivor of First District.
  • Healing Factor: All the Hime seem to have a healing factor after the loss of their primary powers. It's not instant healing, ala Wolverine, but it does allow them to recover from what should be crippling injuries as if they hadn't happened, albeit over time.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Viola Fujino and Saaya. Saaya was hired back when both were 19 to serve as Viola's eyes, and they've been together ever since.
  • I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Shizuru essentially explains this as her stance to Mai, which convinces Mai that Shizuru's repentance is genuine, and turns Mai into a Shipper on Deck.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Shizuru runs Ikuru through with the shattered remnants of her katana.
    Shizuru(thinking): Oh how I hate you. Let me count the ways.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Natsuki delivers a letter to Takeda telling him she can't return his feelings. She ends up handing it to him directly, and he correctly guesses that the person she loves is Shizuru, although it was a bit before she had decided to admit it to herself, so when he says as much, it's a bit startling for her, but she doesn't deny it.
    • When Shizuru reveals to Reito that Natsuki has confessed her love, Reito light-heartedly quips that hitting on lesbians shouldn't impact his reputation as a lady's man.
    • Shizuru, when asked by Natsuki when she first realized she was a lesbian, says she'd gone on a date with Reito, but had hated the experience, and felt that Reito had understood the truth at that time, but was too polite to tell her what she wasn't ready to admit to herself.
  • Lodged Blade Removal: Discussed and Defied. Natsuki is stabbed in the thigh by a vengeful survivor of District One who was trying to murder Shizuru. Natsuki narrates the fact that she was aware that pulling the knife would be the worst thing she could do, and she waits for emergency care, though it's excruciating all the same.
  • Luminescent Blush: All the women in the Fujino household develope a keen interest in making Natsuki blush.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: "Sister" Nao accuses Shizuru of doing this with Natsuki.
  • Mythology Gag: Viola is named for Shizuru's My-Otome incarnation.
    • At one point, Shizuru describes a dream of Natsuki beating her over the head with a leek, a reference to one of the audio dramas.
    • After the Relationship Upgrade and Big Damn Kiss, Natsuki thinks to herself, "I'm fulfilled", which were Shizuru's Last Words in the series.
  • Not Herself: Discussed, but not concluded one way or another. Shizuru's family suggest that this is part of the explanation for her crimes, but Shizuru denies it, saying that she was always herself, though this could be because she sees it as too easy an excuse. Her father later points out that she was under unusual and extreme circumstances, and pretending that it didn't influence her at all was a form of vanity. Shizuru considers it, but doesn't make any decision one way or another.
  • Not Under the Parents' Roof: Cited by Mikoto, of all people, leading Natsuki to wonder what Reito is teaching her. After she kisses Shizuru in Shinri's study, Natsuki actually stops to consider that it might be sage advice, as Shinri owns real katana and is quite versed in using them
    • When Shizuru and Natsuki reveal their relationship to the Fujinos, Shinri has a serious conversation with Shizuru in his study, where he tells her to keep it out of his sight, adding that he'd say the same thing if Shizuru was dating a boy.
  • One True Threesome:In-Universe Natsuki wonders if Shinri, Viola, and Saaya are this before deciding that she'd really rather not know.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Played with. Natsuki is injured twice in the story. Once, near the midpoint, she is stabbed in the thigh. She's smart enough to wait for proper medical care to remove it. Later on, she's shot in the shoulder, and notes that the blood loss is a serious issue, and it affects her aim later, as she can't weild her gun with both hands. Doctors tell her after the fact that she'll likely lose functionality in the arm, which is only Subverted by her Healing Factor.
  • Papa Wolf: Shinri is very distant and aloof, but he loves his wife and daughter in his own way. Only after kissing Shizuru and making their relationship official does Natsuki start worrying that being intimate with his daughter under his roof might be a bad idea, as he has genuine, combat ready katana in his house, and the skills to use them. And when First District thugs attack, he's does everything in his power to help.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Mikoto has lost none of her strength, and goes into her combat mode during the standoff in the courtroom. Reito calmly informs the First District survivors that Mikoto will take at least two of them out before they can gun her down.
  • Politeness Judo: The Fujino family is well versed in politeness as a weapon, and Reito knows a thing or two about it as well. Natsuki actually impresses Shinri by demonstrating that she's capable of doing it, too.
  • Princess Carry: Shizuru and Natsuki fell asleep in the Fujino dojo, and Shizuru wakes to find herself being carried to her room by her father. He then does the same for an injured Natsuki, to her consternation and Shizuru's amusement.
  • Rape as Backstory: The story takes the darker interpretation of the Ambiguous Situation from the anime as fact, meaning the story opens with Natsuki as a rape survivor and Shizuru as her rapist, and both of them suffering PTSD because of it. The author touches on the Not Herself interpretation that many ShizNat shippers use to justify the relationship, but doesn't explicitly embrace it, as it would be too easy an excuse for Shizuru's actions, although the author doesn't explicitly deny it, either.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Shizuru's crime isn't taken lightly, least of all by Shizuru and Natsuki.
    Shizuru:I've caused you too much pain and sadness, and betrayed you in too many ways, for me to forgive myself. That can't be outweighed by my small and selfish kindness.
    Natsuki:To be degraded in that way, and to be left with this fear. For her, as well, it was below her, and it mocked and fouled what was between us. It wasn't something I could raise, or rationalise, or comprehend. It still festers insides, and I know that's reality. My wishfulness alone won't take that stigma from me, or from her. A shadow bloated from the dark that still separates us in some way, beyond view.
    • In addition, Shizuru's admission of what she did spurs far more anger from Shinri, her father, than her admitting that she slew hundreds of First District personnel, or that she's in a physical relationship with Natsuki.
    I'd been expecting it. But even so, Otousama's slap almost knocked me over. "If you fell to such a degree, dying is fine, isn't it?" he demanded, with a cold, channelled rage.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Averted with both Shizuru and her mother, Viola, who's an albino.
  • Redemption Earns Life: Shizuru comes very close to dying, but it's clear by the end of the story that she's redeemed herself, an act she finalizes by confessing all she has done to her family. Ultimately, Shizuru survives, and has reconciled her past sins with her current self.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Shnri accuses Shizuru of this after her confession.
    "Isn't that an unforgivable presumption?" Otousama demanded. "I've raised you, and yet you embody all things I despise, and your conceit is this, that the one you've most wronged would beg for your life?"
  • Relationship Upgrade: Around chapter 50, Natsuki finally resolves how she feels about Shizuru, and the two have a long, heartfelt talk. When all is said and done, there's a Big Damn Kiss, and the two are officially a couple.
  • Sadistic Choice: The leader of the First District survivors holds Shizuru, Natsuki, Viola, Saaya, Mai, Mikoto, Shiho, Reito, and Tate hostage. He tells Shizuru she must pick one to die, and it can't be herself. And if Shizuru doesn't pick, he'll choose for her. It's strongly implied that he was going to pick Natsuki, just to twist the knife.
  • Self-Harm: Shizuru, out of guilt for her sins, performs what the author calls a bastardized version of a purification ritual nightly until she makes herself ill. She also doesn't sleep or eat properly. Natsuki eventually learns what she's doing, and tearfully pleads with her to stop.
  • Servile Snarker: Viola relies on Saaya to be her eyes, including describing guests and their facial reactions. As such, she's given much more leave to speak freely than most servants would ordinarily be granted. She takes full advantage. Including making Natsuki blush almost as effortlessly as Shizuru.
  • Shipper on Deck: Mai and Reito, though Mai wanted to have a talk with Shizuru first, since she knew what Shizuru had done to Natsuki during the Carnival. Once Mai realizes that Shizuru is genuinely repentant, she's fully on board. Also, Saaya, after she accidentally walks in on a kiss between the two
    Saaya: You should be more confident if you want to make her happy. But I suppose it's early days yet.
  • Shown Their Work: Viola is an albino and has poor eyesight, which, while not universally the case, is a symptom of some forms of albinism. Averted with depictions of kenjutsu, which the author freely admits were made up whole cloth.
  • Sick Episode: Shizuru takes ill for a few chapters.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Chapter 14 sees Nao and Shizuru engage in a hostile verbal sparring with each other. Shizuru states that of all her sins, she regrets her actions against Nao least.
    • Natsuki and Shinri engage in snarky back and forth. They both form a grudging respect for each other.
  • Social Climber: Shinri initially suspects Natsuki of this, and informs her bluntly that he has no use for such people. He changes his opinion of her when she's seriously injured saving Shizuru from a vengeful survivor of the First District.
    Shinri:. In general, hangers-on and other useless people do not throw themselves at armed assailants. Her calibre is higher than that, at least.
  • Sole Survivor: Umi Tsuda ends up the last living member of the First District. And only because Natsuki stopped Shizuru from killing her in cold blood.
  • Stepford Smiler: Shizuru, especially this exchange:
    "You were smiling earlier," I said accusingly.
    She turned, and smiled at me. "I always smile."
    • Even when all is done, she still has shades of this.
    "Why are you smiling?" he asked sharply.
    "Because I don't intend to cry," I shot back, equally firm.
  • The Stoic: Shinri Fujino is a very reserved individual, though he has moments where he's Not So Above It All. And he develops a grudging respect for Natsuki as the story progresses.
  • Take Off Your Clothes: As thanks for saving Shizuru, Viola asks Shizuru to have a high end custom kimono made for Natsuki. The shop owner, who could generously be described as eccentric, demands Natsuki strip for measurements. Shizuru is amused...until the shop owner demands Shizuru do the same. Shizuru tries to point out that she's not getting a kimono for herself, but the shop owner is having none of it.
  • That Came Out Wrong: During a talk with Shizuru, Natsuki says, "We can't continue on like this." Shizuru is immediately crestfallen, until Natsuki realizes how it sounded and amends herself to say she means that hiding their feelings from each other hadn't worked out well for either of them, and that they cared for each other too much to keep doing that.
  • These Hands Have Killed: A huge part of Shizuru's guilt. As she points out to Nao, Nao can take a dismissive view of the Carnival because she didn't kill anyone. Shiho also feels some degree of guilt, despite all her victims being resurrected. Thuroughly averted with Mikoto, who doesn't tend to dwell on the past, and is still more than willing to slay anyone who threatens her friends.
  • Training from Hell: Shinri teaches kenjutsu in his spare time. He doesn't hold back, either. When Natsuki asks him to teach her, he agrees. He actually provides her useful information, but not before knocking the wind out of her a few times. She does, however, manage to impress him with her defensive skills. As she notes to herself, having dodged Mikoto's sword, she was more than capable of evading a normal person's attacks.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Natsuki thinks this of Umi Tsuda after she convinces her to take her to the courthouse bathroom, and then closes the stall door to give her privacy. Ironically, Tsuda ends up the Sole Survivor of First District, although her actions do allow Natsuki to get free, which ends up a game changer.
  • Transparent Closet: Shizuru worries that she's in this situation, in no small part because of how perceptive and resourceful her parents are. We learn later that Viola had her suspicions, but kept them to herself.
  • Well Done Daughter Girl: Shizuru lives to meet her parents' expectations, which are very high. But we begin the story with her fully aware that her actions during the series, her slaughter of First District, and her rape of Natsuki, are in direct violation of the ideals of her family, and, indeed, of any decent person. She also believes her attraction to Natsuki is shameful, especially as a Fujino. Her family forgive her of her crimes, and accept, if not embrace,her orientation.