Notes and Disclaimers: Maria-sama ga Miteru, the Yamayurikai and Lillian Academy are the creation of Konno Oyuki, and the property of Konno Oyuki, Shueisha and Geneon Entertainment. All the characters in this story are creations of E. Friedman, 2005.
This is yet another "stupid little twiddles" I have written about Marimite, because I wanted to. It is quite possibly the fanfic-iest thing I've writen so far, because unless you've seen or read this series there is now way on *earth* you're going to be able to follow it. Oh well.
If you enjoy it, please let me know! Positive feedback always makes my day.Really. I never get tired of hearing how much you enjoyed my work. ;-)
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It wasn't anybody's fault, everyone agreed upon that. It was really just a series of bizarre coincidences - everyone agreed upon that, too. But what to do about it, it seemed no one could agree upon that at all. It was....
The Year Without a Yamiyurikai
No one really thought about it at first. There were three Rosas heading up the Yamayurikai, as always. It was true that only one had a soeur, but everyone knew the reasons. Nanohara Yukiko, Rosa Chinensis, after all, was a genuine candidate for the Japanese Olympic swimming team - she was extremely busy training and was frequently away from school for long periods of time. She had her hands full just balancing school, her Council duties and training, and hardly had a chance to meet any of the lower classmen, much less take one as a soeur. Everyone understood this, and student support for Yukiko-sama was high, even though her council duties suffered the most. She was so cool everyone was very tolerant about it. And when, at the end of her last pre-Olympic trial meet, she had shouted "Hello Lillian Jogakuen!" on national television, her popularity rating shot through the roof - according to the school newspaper. That Yukiko-sama had done so after breaking the Japanese national record for 100-meter backstroke had just made it all the more exciting.
And then there was Kamakawa Kei, Rosa Foetida. She was...difficult. But everyone was careful to qualify that with "in a good way, of course" immediately, as if she might be listening. The truth was that she was really an incredible Rosa...the de facto Council president, and doing more than her share of the work - maybe even more than her's and Yukiko-sama's share. Her family was a business powerhouse; unlike so many of the powerful, old company families with daughters at Lillian Academy, her family required their female offspring to be equally active in the family industry. Rumors said that when Rosa Foetida graduated college (there was no doubt that she would go to the best school in the country, for she was intimidatingly brilliant) she would be moving into a position high up in one of her father's foreign divisions (because, of course, she spoke 5 languages...fluently.) But as a price for this competence, Kamakawa-sama was intolerant of mistakes - and that meant, of other people. It was commonly thought that she wouldn't ask anyone to be her soeur simply because no one would ever say yes, but that was not at all true. (A very few people knew that there were other, much more compelling reasons. The other Rosas, and one other girl at the school knew, but no one said anything until much, much later.) In the meantime, she never considered bringing in anyone to assist the Yamayurikai on a permanent basis - and rarely needed to, because of Rosa Gigantea.
Only Aoishi Reika, Rosa Gigantea, had a soeur. Rosa Gigantea had a garrulous, talk-show personality. She was very accessible and could often be seen surrounded by groups of classmates and underclassmen, all laughing at some story she was telling. Reika-sama's fan rating was always high, and even though she was exceptionally generous and willing to give it to anyone who asked, her autograph was still a prized possession. She had been popular since she had transferred in for junior high, and only the sourest and unhappiest of students had anything unkind to say about her. Because of Reika-sama's popularity, she was a very effective council member. The joke was that she was Lillian's "volunteer coordinator." It was almost guaranteed that if Rosa Gigantea asked, hordes of students would rush to assist. The cultural festival that year was, by every account, the most successful ever, in great part because Rosa Gigantea was involved with so much of it.
Her soeur was a quiet, serious second-year named Fujimura Juri. She didn't have the outgoing personality of her onee-sama, but would, if approached, deal with the underclassmen in the same generous and gracious manner. Her nickname among the first-years was the "Rose Princess" for her impeccable manners and graceful charm. Juri-sama was an aspiring artist, and her paintings frequently won awards - and always took top honors at school festivals.
It seemed a perfectly fine thing, everyone thought. Three Rosas, all was well. When winter came, elections were held to fill the remaining two positions. Rosa Gigantea en bouton became Rosa Gigantea, as was proper and expected, and two of the more ambitious and popular club leaders took the positions of Rosas Chinensis and Foetida. Once again a sports star had joined the Yamayurikai, this time as Rosa Foetida. The captain of the Lillian judo team, Ishida Mariko, had many fans and proven leadership skills. She brought with her a soeur, a second-year about whom almost no one knew anything. Rosa Foetida en bouton, Yoshida Chika, was intensely loyal to her onee-sama, and that was good enough for the student body.
The new Chinensis was a different kind of "star" among the students. Not quite a genius, the president of the Astronomy club, Tomimura Nobuko, was universally considered to be the overall most beautiful and intelligent student on campus. Voted two years in a row as "Miss Lillian," the new Rosa Chinensis was directly responsible for the increase in scores on science exams. Chinensis had developed a program of science and math mentors, to encourage the students to move into scientific careers.
In general, at the end of the year ceremony, as the former Rosas took their leave and the new Rosas gave their speeches, the feeling was of hopeful anticipation. It was true that only Rosa Foetida had a soeur already, but that would not be a problem. Or so everyone thought.
And then it all began to unravel.
For reasons known to only the officials who schedule such things, there was one last judo match after the end of term ceremony. It was meant to be an exhibition, no more, a friendly match between Lillian and St. Theresa's Academy. In a freak accident, Rosa Foetida, Mariko-sama, broke her hip and was going to be out of school for a long time.
It was a shock, of course. But it wasn't insurmountable. There were two other Rosas, and they promised, or so rumor said, that they would take soeur at the earliest opportunity. Rosa Foetida en bouton stepped up bravely to the position of acting Rosa Foetida. And so school started with three Rosas.
The first week passed well. The three Rosas greeted the new first-years, the second-years jockeyed for the open (and badly needed) soeur positions. And then the second tragedy struck.
Walking home from church on a Sunday, Juri-sama, Rosa Gigantea, was hit by a car. Her injuries weren't fatal but, the news was tearfully reported, she would be out of school for the rest of the year.
So concerned was everyone for the girl herself, no one even considered that she had yet to take a soeur. The Yamayurikai was back down to two.
Not three days later, Rosa Foetida en bouton, the acting Rosa Foetida, reported to the Principal's office that her father was being transferred at the request of a foreign division of the company he worked for. As abrupt and poorly timed as it was, there was nothing for it - he had to go, and he was taking his family with him. So, in a very few days, she was relocating, perhaps forever, to Brazil. She left the school quietly, with few words to anyone, and was never seen again.
That left Rosa Chinensis. The newspaper reporters hounded Nobuko-sama, following her every step, her every word, her every action. It was early yet, there was little to do, but she could be forgiven for becoming a little twitchy and secretive, as the newspaper club asked her, almost daily, about choosing a soeur.
And then the matter was decided for her. She had been feeling poorly since the beginning of term, but after her mother insisted she had gone to see a doctor. He confidently pronounced that her nightly astronomical outings had taken its toll - she had pneumonia. There would be no school for her for a few weeks, and after that, no extra activities - and especially activities that might cause her to become exhausted.
It was the second week of school. Friday morning opened with an announcement in all homerooms - the Yamayurikai positions were all empty.
The buzz was immediate. Almost at the same time, the sound of incredulity and consternation sounded throughout the school.
On Saturday after school, a special meeting was called to decide on a course of action. It was decided, after a few short speeches, that a special election would be held to fill the empty positions. Nominations were taken (the debate club president acting as moderator) and a date for the vote was set by consensus. The Maria-sai was pushed back a week until the new council could be determined.
Sunday, all the students came to school for a special election. Three of the club presidents where chosen with acclaim, and some relief, by the student body to act as the Yamayurikai.
On Monday morning, only two reported to school. The erstwhile Rosa Chinensis had returned home to find that she had been transferred to another school by a father who "disapproved of all this soeur nonsense."
The remaining third-years (and their soeur, as that had been one of the major qualifications for the position,) quickly organized the annual Maria-sai, using volunteers from their clubs to get the thing done. Several of the smaller clubs suspended activities to assist with the event.
Students left class on Saturday with a sigh of relief; the first-years clutching their new medals, the second-years breathing heavily from shouldering the burden of the volunteer work and the third-years searching among themselves for a third Rosa.
The next to disappear was the interim Rosa Gigantea and her soeur. It came out later that they had run away together, grande and petite soeur, to escape abusive family situations.
In a panic, Rosa Foetida resigned. She and her soeur had arrived at the Rose Mansion on Monday afternoon, waited for three hours for her peers to join her, and had left, affixing their resignations to the door.
The next day a rumor began to circulate that the Yamayurikai was cursed. The third-years tried to squelch the rumor, but they looked worried and whispered among themselves. Club activities had practically ceased, and the club presidents that remained claimed club duties and upcoming college entrance examinations took precedence over anything else.
Lillian had simply run out of willing candidates.
The Rose Mansion stood empty. One of the first-year classes volunteered to clean it as part of their duties. But no one, despite pleading articles about a school in crisis that ran daily in the newspaper, would step up and take the positions.
It wasn't as if the clubs themselves couldn't organize their own activities. As the summer moved on into autumn, and ideas were being formulated for the cultural festival, everyone realized that there was really no one to tell what they were doing. Clubs sent out notices about various activities and entertainment ideas. Everyone did their best to organize, but in the end, there were three cafes, two soba booths, several musical performances...and no play. The play, long a Yamayurikai prerogative, had no director or actors, and therefore the stage crew, the handicrafts club, the costume club, the dance club and art clubs were all left somewhat adrift. Everyone did their best to put a brave face on it, but the general opinion was that it wasn't the best festival ever.
A strange side effect was noticed as a result of all the disorganization, the newspaper club reported gloomily. Fewer upperclassmen were taking soeur, burdened as they were by extra duties. With no one to steer the ship, the crew was simply falling apart.
The term staggered to an end, and it was with profound relief that all students looked forward to the break. Elections were held almost as an afterthought, and votes were cast in desperation. The end of term ceremony came, and the students stumbled with relief into the auditorium.
That was the first day I stepped up to the microphone as the newest in a long line of Rosa Chinensis. My soeur stood beside me, healthy and pink-cheeked, and my fellow Rosas, and their soeur stood on the stage with me. We nodded at each other, firm in our desire to pull the school back together
I gazed out at the sea of faces, noting the exhaustion, the relief, the desperation and even hunger in the faces and made my first speech as a member of the Yamayurikai. I finished my prepared words, took a deep breath and said,
"On behalf of my fellow Yamayurikai members, I just want to reassure you all that, when the next term begins, we will all still be here for you."
I was later informed that an end-of-term speech had never before received a standing ovation.
I am pleased to report to you that my third year concluded safely without mishap. My soeur has been voted in as the next Rosa Chinensis, and her soeur will become en bouton.
But my last act before I leave will be to add this entry to the official records of the Yamayurikai, so that, perhaps, no one will ever forget the terrible Year Without A Yamayurikai.
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