In which Watakanuki gives Kohane-chan a balloon, and we discover Himawari's secret.
This is one of my very favorite volumes, after the sad park bench ghost in Volume 6. When I started the series, I loved the art and the Japanese folk tales, distrusted the emphasis on fate as an explanation for coincidence, and was faintly annoyed by the excitable, pinch-faced lead. Watanuki has changed--stronger and wiser in his love for the people he loves, gentler with those who are weaker than he is--but my perception of him and of the loss and fear behind the prickly defensiveness has also changed. Everyone in XxxHolic
wears masks, except Kohane, who is too young, and Yuuko, who is too powerful, and all the masks are hiding the same thing: fear of hurt and of giving hurt. Watanuki has learned he has more than pain to give, and gives it; and so do others here.