Notes and Disclaimers: This story, like all the other homages Ive written for the magnificent series, Maria-sama ga Miteru is based on the property of Konno Oyuki, Cobalt Shueisha and Geneon Enterntainment.

The characters from this story come from the 10th novel in the series, Parasol o Sashite. (You can read my notes on the novel itself on Okazu, the February 20 and 21 entries, 2006 posts. It'll help to understand what's going on, in case you don't remember or haven't seen the anime.

This story is the first of a short series, because they all just came to me in a rush. If you enjoy this, or any of my stories, please think about buying my original novel Shoujoai ni Bouken: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko. If you can't do that, then a nice email telling me you like my work would be nice. :-)

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Until We Meet Again 1
by Erica Friedman


"Please excuse my interruption."

The door slid open and I stepped in to the room. I was a little surprised to see that there was someone else there; she stood up from a chair as I entered. But I barely noticed her captivated as I was by the figure lying in the bed in front of me. I tore my eyes from that beloved face, and mouthed a few polite words of greeting and apology to the girl, who pretended graciously that I was not interrupting.

But then she turned her head, and asked for a moment with me. The girl bowed and excused herself. The door slid closed. We were alone.

For a long while I couldn't move. My eyes took her in; the long hair that lay like the finest white silk across her shoulders; her eyes, now deep set and exhausted, but with the same sharpness I had always loved. I took a step forward, hesitant to approach her, but her hand lifted to beckon me forward.

"Yumi..." Her voice was deeper than I remembered, and tired, but it was the same voice that had, for so long, filled my heart. I could feel tears in my eyes, and reached out quickly to grasp her hand in both of my own.

"Onee-sama," I whispered, bringing the hand to my lips. Her fingers were cold. I pressed my lips against them, willing the warmth within me to fill her. My eyes rose once again to her face.

There was color in her cheeks now, and her eyes were wet, but her voice was steady. "You came."

"I...I'm so sorry, Onee-sama." My own voice flew from me. All the words I had ever wanted to say...I wanted to pull my chest open and hand her my beating heart in apology. Nothing else would do to show how sorry I was for all the pain I had caused her, for all the years lost between us.

Smiling, she lifted her other hand. Stroking my cheek gently, she said nothing for the longest time.

"It was all so long ago, Yumi. There's nothing to be sorry for." Her words, when they came were unexpectedly kind. I might have been forgiven, or absolved, but sympathy? It was the one thing I would never have expected from her. "The important thing is that you're here." She fell silent again and closed her eyes, sinking backwards in the bed slightly. "I hardly dared hope.... I missed you."

Tears splashed down onto my cheeks. "I missed you too, Onee-sama. Every day."

She smiled again, wiping the tears from my face gently. Her hands felt warmer now. Her eyes sparkled as she gazed up at me. "Come sit by me. We have so much to catch up on."

I pulled the chair up close to the bed. "Onee-sama," I began, "I want to hear about your life."

"My life? What is there to say?"

But I insisted. She told me of the years we had been apart - school, marriage, family. I delighted in every word, every person, every event. My own contribution was unsatisfying, even to me. What could I say to her? I'd done nothing special with my life. My husband was long gone; all I had left was my house and some distant relatives. But still she wanted to hear about it.

We talked for a very, very long time, until I could see that she was becoming tired. Her face grew pale and her voice less strong. Reluctantly, I stood. Reluctantly, she let go of my hands.

"I'm so glad you came," she said quietly. "I love you Yumiko."

The tears began again. "I love you too, Saiko-oneesama."

"Until we meet again," she said, her face radiant.

"Until..." My hands covered my eyes, as my voice caught in a sob. I forced myself to stop the tears. To smile. "Until we meet again."

Before I closed the door behind me, I wiped my eyes with my handkerchief quickly.

The young woman who had been at her bedside stood up to greet me. This time I could see her clearly - she was the spitting image of Saiko. Clearly the granddaughter Sachiko of whom she had spoken so proudly. She had Onee-sama's same long, beautiful black hair, and classic looks. The same sharp eyes, the same smile. I thanked the girl for her indulgence. It was obvious that she was worried for her grandmother, obvious too that she wanted to be at her side more than she wanted to be with me, but her manners were impeccable. She asked how I knew her grandmother.

"I'm an old friend. We haven't seen each other for a very, very long time."

"Well, thank you for coming," she said fervently. "She seemed so happy to see you."

I nodded slightly and bowed. "It was my pleasure." I knew I wouldn't be able to hold myself together for much longer, so I thanked her again, and made my way out of the hospital.

I took a taxi back to the station, and boarded a night train to return. Alone, as the train sped through the night, I allowed myself the luxury of those tears.

It was late when I returned home. As I walked up the path, I could see a light from Kei-san's cottage, and hear the muted strains of music. She was much too serious, that girl. As I passed, I smiled and bowed, knowing that she would neither see nor hear me.

"I'm home," I whispered to the darkened house, as I opened the door.


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