Notes and Disclaimers: Maria-sama ga Miteru, Satou Sei and Todou Shimako are the creation of Konno Oyuki, and the property of Konno Oyuki, Shueisha and Geneon Entertainment.
I can't stop myself from writing Marimite fics! Heeellllp! No, wait. I'm enjoying the hell out of this series. And I hope you are, too. This story stars the queens of ambiguity, Satou Sei and Todou Shimako. Although having now read up to the ninth novel in the series, I think I actually understand them, at last. :-) Oh and a quick note about the "biscuit door." Just about every time the door to the Yamayurikai meeting room in the Rose Mansion is mentioned in the novels, it's described as "the door that looks just like a biscuit." That sounded awkward in English, so I changed it to "biscuit-colored", but that's not really right. The door looks like a biscuit, okay? Okay.
One last note - for some bizarre reason, I find I write Marimite fics in first person more than any other series I've written for. I have no idea why...it just seems to fit, somehow. Anyway, I did not attend a Catholic private school, so read nothing into it. ;-)
Anyway, if you like this story, as always, email me and let me know. It really is nice to know that people enjoy reading my stories.
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Parler à Coeur Ouvert (Heart-to-Heart Talk)
"We're leaving now,"
The biscuit-colored door was shut. I could hear the footsteps going down the stairs, and the voices fade away as they left the Rose Mansion. Slowly, I turned to face the only other person in the room.
"Alone at last," Rosa Gigantea heaved a melodramatic sigh.
I couldn't help but laugh a little - she looked like a child who desperately wanted to play with a new toy, but was prevented from doing so by visiting adults. Her grey eyes shone with anticipation, making her look more mischievous than usual.
"Shall I make fresh tea?" I asked, tearing my gaze away from her eyes; that piercing grey gaze was too much to endure for long.
"That would be nice." She looked a little thoughtful. "Do you have any plans today - this isn't too inconvenient, is it?"
"No," I reassured her as I rinsed out the teapot. "I have nowhere else I need to be." *And, nowhere else I would rather be.*
"That's good," she said, as she paced nervously back and forth behind me. Her voice trembled slightly.
As I made the tea and set the table, I wondered at her nervousness. The Rosa Gigantea that was so popular with the students would never have allowed herself to be seen pacing. The Rosa Gigantea who commanded the attention of upper- and lower-classmen with her presence, would never let her voice tremble. The Rosa Gigantea who didn't care about the opinions of others would never be so vulnerable in front of another person.
And I wondered, for a moment, if I was seeing a part of Satou Sei that no one else would ever see.
"I thought that went well," I commented lightly. "The others seemed pleased."
"What? Hmmm, yes I guess they did."
I smiled to myself as I recalled the earlier events that day. Rosa Gigantea, coming into my classroom, taking me by the hand and dragging me bodily to the Rose Mansion, where she thrust me forward and defiantly pronounced, "Shimako's my soeur now." I didn't need to see her face to know that it was filled with pride, possessiveness and a host of other emotions meant for others, not for me. I had simply bowed.
"Well, then," Rosa Foetida had smiled at me, something easy and pleased in her eyes.
Rosa Chinensis smiled as well, and leaned her chin on the backs of her hands. "I'm glad that's settled. Shimako, welcome to the Yamayurikai. Officially."
I had bowed again, and thanked them all for their hospitality over the past few months, then wished for a good future as a productive, official, member. Rosa Gigantea had said nothing else, but sat in her accustomed place, looking smug and pleased with herself. Only Sachiko-sama did not smile, but when she caught my eye, her face softened and she welcomed me politely.
That had been hours ago. Now that I was alone with my onee-sama, I felt a slight tension, no more than a small kernel of doubt in my stomach. Much stronger than that though, I felt a sense of peace. Since the first moment I had seen Rosa Gigantea, Satou Sei-sama , under the sakura tree, I had felt, quite strongly, that I wanted to be near her. And here I was, officially her soeur; a little sister by choice, a helpmate by design. Thinking about it gave me a warm feeling.
I turned to face her, the teapot in my hand. Without a word, she whisked the pot from me and placed it on the table, then pulled out a chair, gesturing for me to be seated. Her chiseled features displayed joy, tempered with irony. I bowed and sat. If she wished to turn the tables on our relationship and serve me, then I would play along. Again I wondered that she would allow me to see so much of what she was feeling. I felt honored.
She poured two cups, watched while I added milk to mine, added too much sugar to her own, then looked up at me. For a long moment we simply stared at each other; taking in features and colors, measuring each other up, and memorizing each others expressions.
She left her tea where it was and leaned forward, her gaze intense and brittle. "I'm not the person you think I am."
I said nothing. What could I say? I hardly knew what kind of person she was, and yet I was sure, as sure of anything, that she was wrong. After months of watching her with the Yamayurikai, I was convinced that I understood her - as she clearly understood me.
"I wanted us to have some time alone," she stood up and walked to the window, her arms crossed in front of her protectively. "Because there's a few things you need to know about me."
She looked out the window, her eyes far away, as she spoke. "I'm irresponsible," she said. "And selfish." There was a long pause while she chose her words. "I'm I hurt the people who care about me."
She turned back to me quite suddenly, her eyes blazing, but almost immediately, the fire died and she looked terribly lonely. I almost stood up then and ran to her but before I could move, she had disappeared into herself once again.
When she spoke again, her voice was calm, as if she was talking about another person; she was clearly in pain. "Last year," her voice wavered, "I fell in love with another student."
I said nothing, and she continued, once again looking away. "She's gone now - left to go to school far away. But," she turned to meet my gaze, her eyes on fire once more, "I still love her." She stepped up to the table, thrusting her fists onto the tablecloth, her knuckles white, her face pale. "What do you have to say to that, Shimako? Can you have an onee-sama who has unnatural urges?" Her hair whipped around as she stood up, "Because I still do. I still love her."
She stared at me, challenging me to walk out, to deny our bond, to repudiate her.
"Well?" she demanded.
I folded my hands in front of me on the table and took a quieting breath.
"I'm not the person you think I am." I said, my will failing, my voice weak. I looked up at her, begging her to understand.
It felt good, I have to admit. When we got to the Rose Mansion, I ran right up the stairs in a completely unladylike fashion. I slammed open the door and placed Shimako in front of me. "Shimako's my soeur now," I said, my tone brooking no contradiction. I had made up my mind and now it was done. No more pressure from Youko, no more emptiness inside. I looked around the room. No one looked surprised, but that was all right. I didn't care if I was predictable. I was too happy to care and never cared much about what other people thought. But then, I gripped Shimakos shoulders too tightly, so I guess I did care, a little, what they would say.
Yoshino took Shimako in hand and the meeting started. I kept looking over at Youko, who just smiled back, pleased with herself and the world. I suppose she thought her meddling had something to do with my decision. Sachiko's expression was always hard to read, but I thought I detected a little peevishness in her congratulations. Maybe I imagined it. I smiled too brightly at her trying to get a reaction, but she just nodded.
When the meeting was over, I asked Shimako to stay. There were some things we needed to talk about - things I wanted to tell her so that she wouldn't have to learn them from anyone else
I marshaled my thoughts while she made tea, then sat her down and spit it out. Well, no, I didnt, really. I tried to, but the words got stuck and I started speaking in generalities. I stopped myself and tried again.
It was much harder than I though it was going to be. Since Shiori had left nearly half a year before, I hadn't talked about her to anyone. Not even to myself.
It took everything I had, but I admitted to Shimako what I had never been able to admit to myself - I had fallen in love with another student. And, even as I confessed this thing, as I had never confessed to god or man before, I realized that I still was in love with her. I pinned Shimako with a hard look and asked her flat out if she could stomach being the petite soeur of someone as unnatural as I. The instant I said those words, I felt terrible for her - what rumors would follow her around in her time here? Maybe it would be better if she just left now.
I watched her carefully, watched as a variety of emotions played across that angelic face. I was surprised that her usual placid expression changed, that it *could* change. I had never seen her look as fragile as she did in that moment.
A few long seconds had passed when she raised her head; that small, secret smile upon her perfect lips. Her mouth opened and I tensed, waiting for the reply. As intensely as I was watching her, I missed the meaning of the words as she spoke then, and had to replay them in my mind to make sense out of them.
"I'm not the person you think I am," she used my own words without irony or bitterness, her eyes wide and pleading.
I sat down suddenly, stunned at her response.
"What do you mean?" I asked, searching her face for hidden meanings, or some sign of distaste or rejection.
Shimako's eyes dropped. I followed them to her hands - smooth, white skin drawn across gorgeous, tapered fingers. My gaze rose again to her hair, the waves bouncing gently as she moved. What a burden it must be, I thought, to be so perfect. My own features looked foreign enough that other people's expectations were low. No one thought that I would amount to much, so every accomplishment stood out as special. But to be so doll-like, so delicate any fault, any blemish would be too much to bear. For the first time in my life I was genuinely glad for my face.
"I'm " her gentle voice faded away. I strained forward to hear her. "I come from a very religious family." She lifted her face and I could see in her expression something of my own earlier defiance. "Of Buddhist Priests."
I waited for the rest of her confession, but that seemed to be it. "You're Buddhist?" I repeated, making sure that I hadn't misunderstood.
She nodded, a little flame burning in her cheeks and in her frank gaze. "My father is the priest of the Shoguji Temple."
Cocking my head, I tried again. "But you're here at Lillian."
"Yes," Shimako nodded once more. "I'd like to become a nun."
"A Catholic nun," I confirmed, "Not a Buddhist one."
"Ah." I put my chin in my hands and stared at her. "And do you have any questions for me?"
She looked back at me, the fire quelled and the slightest smile on her lips. "Did she love you back?"
I nodded. "I'm sure of it."
"Good," she said.
We sat in silence for a little while.
"Well," I said, "I guess that covers that."
"Yes," she agreed and rose, reaching out for the teacups. I watched her clean them, dry them and put everything away. When she was done, she turned around to face me, her hands clasped prettily in front of her.
"Can I walk you to the front gate?" I asked.
"I'd like that, she said.
After we had both retrieved our book bags, I gestured for her to proceed me. I closed that door which looked so much like a biscuit, and turned to join Shimako as she walked down the stairs.
We proceeded along the path to the main gate, then turned to face each other.
"Farewell, Shimako. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Good day, onee-sama."
She bowed to me and I lifted a hand to wave, then we turned our separate directions and walked away.
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