Watanuki has been told by Yuko to teach the girl who came to the shop for cooking lessons. But he found out that she didn't want to taste the food she ate, because she found eating her own cooking disgusting. He talked to Yuko and Domeki about it, and this time, he tells her that he wants her to eat what she has cooked.
She tries to tell him that she doesn't eat what she has cooked, but he assumes that she is afraid- afraid to know herself in the way that eating her own food will let her know herself. He shares his own past and problems- that he can't remember what his own food tastes like, or even his own past, but that he can learn something of himself by eating the food he cooks.
She is offended and runs out of the shop, and afterwards, he talks with Yuko about her. He tells her that what he said to her offended her, and she said, "Was it something you thought she needed to hear? Was it something you needed to say to her?" and he says, "Yes."
But as they talk, Yuko grows translucent and indistinct, and realizes that he's seen her outfit before, and Yuko never wears the same thing twice. He grabs at her arm, rendering her real and solid once more. And then he realizes where he saw her wearing what she was wearing- in a dream. But as he vocalizes this, she says, "The dream will soon end." and dissolves into a mass of butterflies and flower petals.
Watanuki wakes in bed, and calls out for Yuko, but all he finds is a single, completely black butterfly, and that dissolves into dust. Later, walking with Domeki, he says he searched the shop for her, but she was gone, and so were Maru and Moru. Then, even Mokona was gone. And he has the feeling that he will never see them again. Then, he rethinks and says, maybe they are just on some errand.
But Yuko had a wish of her own, and he wants to fulfill it for her. In the meantime, he will keep doing what he can for people. And to that end, he goes to see his student. He brings her Omusubi he made and tries to get her to see him. But she won't, so he leaves the package at her gate and tells Domeki he'll keep trying. Domeki asks what if she doesn't let him in then? And he says he'll keep making Omusubi.
Day after day, he leaves her Omusubi, and after a month, he finally moves her to act. But the next time he comes by, she is angry at him. She tells him they were the worst things she ever tasted. Not his Omusubi, but her own. His Omusubi had a gentle, familliar taste, and her own were tasteless. She has no flavor of her own. She asked her fiancee to put the wedding on hold, and he is willing to wait for her to develop s flavor of her own. But in the meantime, she still wants to learn from Watanushi, and asks if he will accept her as a student.
Watanuki agrees, but in his converation with his student, he discovers a distressing fact- that even though she met Yuko, she doesn't remember her. He tells Domeki about it after class, and wonders how much of what he has lived through is real. He runs to the shop, wondering if it is all a dream and if it will still even be there, but once he gets inside, it is all black, and he thinks this has all been a dream. Everything, all of it.
However, Yuko is there, tied up in black cords and hanging from the ceiling. She tells him it was not a dream, but a frozen moment in time, and now, time is starting to move again. She should not even be alive now, but it was wished that she should be there for Watanuki, and so, she was.
But she should be gone, and now that time has begun to move- not his time, but a different time, she cannot remain. Watanuki, who has seen two Syaorans and two Sakuras, and they have hurt his heart. But who are they and how does he know them? And can he fulfill Yuko's wish, and she fulfill his? What happens when a wish cannot be granted, despite the most earnest wishes of one's heart?
Well, we sort of knew this was coming, but to finally read it was just... sad. And now I understand Yuko's butterfly iconography. Just as falling Cherry Blossoms in Japan fill a category of things known as Mono no Aware- which literally means you barely have time to gasp in awe at their beauty before they are gone, butterflies are another impermanent symbol of spring,and they barely seem to last longer than the cherry blossoms. So Yuko's plentiful butterfly symbols seem to mean that she, too, was an impermanent part of the story.
And so what will become of Watanuki Kimihiro after she is gone? For the longest time in the story, he had nothing and no one to tie himself to. But now he has friends, and people who value him- will he be able to stay around for their sake? And what will he do with all those things that he inherited from Yuko? What will become of him? Will the shop disappear? And where will he go if it does?
I'm not sure, but hopefully it will still be there now that Domeki has moved in with him. Maybe the next volume will be the last. But I do want to see it. Will Watanuki turn into a male version of Yuko? Does he have the powers to do so? I don't know, but I do want to know and find out. Recommended, if sad.