Warning. This fic contains shojo-ai, meaning two women in a romantic pairing with each other - You know, lesbianism. Also, there's references to heterosexuality, but none happens on screen, so never fear. If yuri/shojo-ai isn't your bag, don't fucking read this. I don't feel like I can be clear enough. Megumi and Kaoru and in a lesbian relationship, here. So, as long as we're clear on that, let's continue.

Further warning: There is vague talk of heterosexual sex. None of it happens on-screen (nor is there any homosexual sex in this story), but there is mention of it. *And* - Kenshin is not exactly a hero, in this story. Mind, he's not a villain, either, so I'd rather not hear stuff like, "Hey, Kenshin's good in bed, you bitch." Because, if I hear that, I may be forced to beg the question, "How would you know?"

Also . . . Feedback is always appreciated, as long as you've read and understood the above notes.

So, without further ado, my first RK yuri fic.

Ces Fleurs Fragiles

The clinic is dark, heavy with shadows. The sound of my bare feet slapping the wood floor echoes dully, barely audible under the noise of the rain. I reach the entryway, and lean forward to open the door a little. One can never be too careful, even in the Meiji era, after all. But the person standing there is no enemy.

I open the door all the way, and Kaoru flies forward, wrapping her arms around my hips. She nuzzles her wet head against my stomach, sobbing quietly.

I say, putting one of my arms around her trembling shoulders. I stroke her cold hair, wondering what has drawn her out into the rainy night. Shhh . . .

Cold wind gusts in through the open door. Outside, the muddy street is quiet, lightless. He . . . He finally . . . Kaoru mumbles against my yukata. She sniffles, then breaks into a new round of tears.

Releasing my hold on Kaoru's shoulders, I pull away from her and look at her face. Come on, come inside. Take off your shoes - That's it. I help the girl up, onto the floor, and reach past her to shut the door. That done, I put my arm around her shoulder again, and lead her through the clinic, to the bedroom. Once there, I settle her on the floor and light a lamp. As soon as she's wearing some dry clothes, I'll unroll the spare futon for her.

The lamp casts deep shadows over the walls, and, drafty as the old clinic is, a faint breeze pushes the flame back and forth. I retrieve a clean yukata, and sit down beside Kaoru to help her change her clothes. She is still crying, softly, and I have a sinking feeling that I know why.

As I untie Kaoru's damp haori and set it aside, I am directing terrible thoughts at Ken-san. God knows the man loves Kaoru, but it seems that whether he's denying her affections or returning them, he does little more than hurt her. Kaoru's narrow obi is hard to undo, the knot wet and cold, but I take my time, and work it apart, folding the cloth once I've drawn it away from her body. She is dressed for bed, and this confirms my fears. I ease the the cloth off her shoulders, baring her flesh to the chilly air. Her skin is already covered with goose flesh, so I waste little time settling my own yukata back around her body.

Her hair is loose, not tied back in a braid as it often is when she sleeps. I pull her damp hair out from under the yukata, and let it go. It falls, and sticks to her back. She shivers, and sniffles. I release her, and she turns to look at me.

Megumi . . . ? she says, pitifully. It's most disheartening, what that man can reduce her to.

I'll be right back, I reply gently. I stand, and go to retrieve my comb. I sit down again, behind her, this time, and starts to brush out her hair. Kaoru's hair is thin, finer than mine, and tangles easily. Gently, I work the snarls out of her wet hair, and let it hang over her shoulder.

When I'm done, she shifts away, and lies down with her head in my lap. I feel the wetness seep into the cloth that is spread over my thighs, but it doesn't really bother me. Kaoru needs me here right now, and that's enough to keep me right where I am.

So tell me, I say, running my hand over her hair, mapping the curve of her skull. What's the matter . . . ?

Kaoru sniffles again, truly miserable. She nuzzles her head against my leg, trying to get closer, it seems. He . . . We- She chokes a little on the word, and lets out a long breath. He - did it.

I sigh - I can't help it. It hurts, to hear this. Because he hurt her, and . . . Because I feel just a little alone now. And . . . ?

She chokes again. Oh -! It was terrible! He - he - She stops, and starts crying again, curling up more tightly around herself.

I murmur. You can tell me . . . It's all right . . . I continue stroking her hair, smoothing it under my palm. Her skin is flushed, but her hair is damp . . . Her cheeks are slightly pink, as well.

After swallowing once, she continues, her voice soft. He . . . didn't even take off my clothes. She sniffles again. He just undid the obi and pushed the cloth all away . . . And he's - he's not a good kisser! It was like he didn't even- She breaks off again, and starts crying quietly. It wasn't nice at all, she moans.

He was probably nervous, Kaoru, I say. Weren't you?

she cries. And it hurt! He didn't stop, and it hurt, because I was so nervous! It - got all clenched up.

What did? I ask delicately.

She sniffs again, and looks up at me, plaintive. My - you know.

I let out a sorry breath. Mmm, yes, I say. My fingertips trace the curve of her cheek. It's all right.

Her eyes shift, and she won't look at me now. I . . . She draws in a little breath. I don't want to do that again with him.

And there it is. Part of me - the jealous part, I think - has been hoping all along that, when this time finally came, she would way that. Some other part of me feels very sorry for Kaoru, that she doesn't know how good making love to a man can be, and that she might very well let this one experience scare her away from Kenshin for good. I stand in a funny place, between the two of them, torn, wanting both of them . . . and wanting them both to be happy.

I never thought I would feel anything for Kaoru. She's obnoxious, too dependent on others, like the way she hangs on Kenshin. This trait, I've come to realize, is most likely born of spending too much time on her own. She relied on herself for some time after her father's death, and I certainly know that's a lonely way to live. Once I understood, I couldn't fault her for wanting to lean on Kenshin. She's too young for me, as well, more than five years younger. Then again, she's far too young for Kenshin, and it certainly hasn't stopped him.

Nevertheless, we've had our brief interlude, Kaoru and I. It isn't . . . a love affair, really, because she is very much in love with Kenshin, even if the thought of sleeping with him again frightens her. Her loyalty is entirely with him, and I have known that from the beginning. It makes our relationship safe, in a way. I can hold her, for the moment, because I knew that, in a year or two, she will be happily married and I will pose no threat. No strings attached.

It's funny, though, the way my affection for her lingers. The sweetness I discovered in her has not hidden itself, now that she has slept with Kenshin. It doesn't work like that. I'm sure that I will always love Kaoru, just a little, until the day I die. And the best I can hope for is that she will still think fondly of me, too, when she is old and grey.

You will, I say quietly. It's not always so bad.

She sniffles again. He was just - pushing at me, like it was for only him. I didn't like it. Kaoru is a stubborn girl, if nothing else. But she can always be convinced.

Not this time, no. But next time, you'll just have to tell him.

Her eyelids lift, and she looks up at me.

For goodness' sake, Kaoru . . . Men are thick - They may not think enough for your tastes. So tell him. If it hurts, you tell him to stop.

But . . .

He'll stop. Ken-san isn't a monster, you know. I run my fingers through her bangs. He'll listen - if you say something. He cares for you, Kaoru. Why am I saying these things? Why am I encouraging her to go to him. If I wanted to, I could most likely keep her away from him forever, breed a fear in her that would leave them both alone. And then I could have my pick . . . But what would the point be? I don't think I could stand to make them both so miserable. I'd like to think I'm not that cruel. After all, even though the love between Kaoru and I will pass, my friendship with Kaoru, with Kenshin, is no passing fancy.

You think so . . . ?

I nod. He loves you, you stupid girl, I murmur, staring at nothing in particular, finding it hard to look at her.

There is a silence, and then the weight on my lap shifts, and disappears. I refocus my attention, and see that Kaoru is sitting up.

Is it all right with you, Megumi? she asks. A pause. That Kenshin and I are . . . ?

I sigh. When it comes down to it . . . It's harder than I want it to be.

Again, I nod. I always knew I'd have to let you go eventually. At least the competition is worthy.

Slowly, she smiles, and leans forward to embrace me. I return the gesture, wrapping my arms around her shoulders. She tucks her head in the crook of my neck and presses her lips to my skin. Thank you, she mumbles.

I find I can say nothing in return, and so, instead, I just hold her for as long as I can.


Why the pretentious French title? Well, probably because I was feel pretentious. I definitely came up with the title on the fly. Anyhow - It means, These fragile flowers. God only knows why. Brownie points if you caught the yuri reference. Hugs and kisses if you got excited because there was a yuri reference.

::Grumble.:: Why can't I remember what the gauze-lined sleeping kimono are called? Blah.

OK, so, here comes my angry rant. Women don't talk about sex enough. Historically, women have never talked about sex. Like, for example, the scene in Memoirs of a Geisha where sex is explained' to Sayuri, and it's just the metaphor of a man's snake.' I wanted Kaoru's experience with Kenshin to be - not so happy - because sex isn't always all harlequin romance-y. (Clarus - I stole that from you.) I'm not one of those bitter women who hates men - No, no, no. I just think it sucks that people assume that sex - especially someone's first time (and let's not forget that the play Kenshin's had is probably pretty small, too, considering) - is gonna be great. I'm not saying men are bad, or that heterosexual sex is bad, or anything like that. Chrissake, I'm not stupid. It's just that it fucking pisses me off how romanticized the KnK sex is in fanfiction. If you want a real wake-up call, read some traditional Japanese literature. It's unbelievably weird, to the modern reader, how very rape-like a lot of the sex scenes are in stories like Tale of Genji and others of its ilk. So - gals. Talk about sex, get educated about it, have fun with talking about sex (Clitoris, clitoris, clitoris, clitoris, clitoris.), don't use degrading slang, and don't take whatever you can get because you only deserve the best.

Oh - Also. People complain that, in the yuri genre, lesbian relationships are often used as substitutes for heterosexual ones. And I generally agree with that. So why does this story adhere to that stereotype? Because it works. And, also, historically, it's very fitting. Take, for example, Sappho, the Greek poet. She had lesbian relationships with many of her students, who later went on the marry. (A lot of her poems are odes to her students in honor of their impending marriage.) People have the tendency to justify' homosexuality by saying, Oh, well, he/she will get married eventually. As if it were a phase. And that's not the case. It just isn't. It's true that some people experiment' when they're young and move on to marry later, and it's true that people may be bisexual - But the predominance of this homosexuality as a phase mentality is just wrong. Get a clue, folks. You don't get over being gay like you get over the flu. Bleh. In any case - That Kaoru will eventually marry Kenshin doesn't mean she isn't attracted to women any more, just that she loves Kenshin.

As an added bonus, or maybe just because I feel like it, I'm including a translation of one of Sappho's poems. I have no idea how literal the translation is, or how literary, just that it has some elements that I feel are echoed in my story, especially in this translation, which, by the way, is by Mary Barnard and is reused entirely without permission.

He is more than a hero

He is a god in my eyes--
the man who is allowed
to sit beside you--he

who listens intimately
to the sweet murmur of
your voice, the enticing

laughter that makes my own
heart beat fast. If I meet
you suddenly, I can't

speak--my tongue is broken;
a thin flame runs under
my skin; seeing nothing,

hearing only my own ears
drumming, I drip with sweat;
trembling shakes my body

and I turn paler than
dry grass. At such times
death isn't far from me

I have spoken. All depart.

! SnM