Hello, everyone. It's me again! Sick of me already? Tsk tsk tsk.
Anyway, here's the much longer story that I'm working on. This would be the first installment, I'm not sure how many I'm going to write, but hopefully it's going to be a lot longer than my last attempt. Only my second fic! Ai! Random note: I generally avoid Japanese honorifics when writing in English, but 'Sa-chan' and 'Onee-sama' were two that I just couldn't avoid. However, the inversion of the first and last names common in Japan was kept intact. Just so you know.
Again, I humbly beg for any kind of criticism or comments to try and improve my storytelling, I want this fic to get better with every chapter.
Disclaimer: Only in my mind.
Well, happy reading, everyone!
With The Mind
It was a beautiful night.
The stars twinkled merrily in the night sky, seeming to congratulate Ogasawara Sachiko on the important milestone she had just achieved. She had just finished dinner with her parents, Suguru, and Suguru's parents, and had found a moment to escape to her balcony to take in the light of the stars. Another pompous, pretentious affair that Sachiko smiled through, uncomplaining as usual. Suguru would be back, she was sure, to tease her, like he loved to do.
Ogasawara Sachiko was now a graduate, an alumnus of Lillian High School. No longer a student, no longer Rosa Chinensis, because that title belonged to her beloved Yumi now. She had matured so well as the Rosa Chinensis en bouton, and she would now capably carry on the Yamayurikai, with Shimako and Yoshino by her side.
Sachiko couldn't have been more proud, or more emotional, as Yumi gave a tearful and emotional goodbye speech in front of her class. She remembered when she gave her own speech in front of Youko's class, how she broke down on stage. Rei had been there to help her, but Yumi managed to get through her speech, tears and all. Sachiko had tears brimming in her eyes the whole speech. Yumi's broken voice, sparkling eyes, but determined posture all stuck out in Sachiko's mind throughout the whole day, even into dinner. It broke Sachiko's heart.
Because no matter how she denied it, Yumi had come to overtake her heart. The care and respect that had slowly grown between them their first year as soeurs had blossomed into something more by the time Sachiko's grandmother had died.
At first, Sachiko refused to notice it, even though she could have read it in Yumi's eyes every time she was close to the girl. And Sachiko found that she went out of her way to be near the bubbly, innocent girl, fixing her scarf, messing with her hair, wiping tears or dirt from her petite soeur's adoring face.
Soon, every time her fingers touched Yumi's warm, smooth skin, Sachiko felt a little lightening bolt in the center of her chest, as opposed to the feeling of the dread that would appear when Suguru tried to touch her. And Sachiko began to notice the look in Yumi's eyes every time they came in physical contact, and fought back the blush that threatened to mirror Yumi's. Sachiko could still remember the feeling of her fingers on Yumi's cheek, the electric sensation of Yumi's lips on her own fingers.
I love you.
Sachiko meant it when she uttered the phrase to Yumi, and when Yumi whispered it back to her, she felt her heart leap with joy and relief. Yet, she could only say it once, right then, at that moment. It hurt too much to say it again, although she wanted to so badly every time they talked since that day.
What would her Onee-sama say? She understood her feelings for Yumi, just as Sachiko understood Youko's feelings for Sei, but she regrettably didn't speak to her beloved Onee-sama as often as she wanted. She missed her guidance, just as Yumi missed Sei's teasing and kind words.
At nights, she pondered her feelings for Yumi, remembered her voice, her laugh, her smile. She was often overwrought with guilt at the depth and strength of her love for Yumi, voices in her head from her upbringing reminded her that her romantic love for her former petite soeur was not right. She had come so close to kissing Yumi the day she told her that she loved her, but faltered. She wrestled with her sexuality in the dark, Yumi's face in her mind as she imagined what passion would feel like, how it felt to be touched so intimately by another, only to cry herself to sleep in frustration and longing. Her only comfort had been her grandmother's identical situation with her Lillian friend Yumiko, whom she reconciled with on the day of her death.
She was always afraid that someone would see right through her, straight into her heart, where they would see Sachiko's desperate love for Yumi. Only a few of the members of the Yamayurikai and Suguru seemed to come close.
She still couldn't understand it. Suguru always watched the two of them as if he knew what she was feeling, and she supposed that he did. Sachiko had to resign to the fact that he knew her dirty little secret, probably before she herself even knew about it. His smart little smirk, his playboy attitude, it was all still hard to handle at times, and this was only multiplied by his discovery of Sachiko's desperate longing for her petite soeur.
Despite her love for her cousin, her despise for him was even greater. Why? It wasn't his fault just as much as it wasn't hers. In fact, his problem seemed to be quite similar to those of hers in the illicit nature of those he loved.
He couldn't love her. And he would be content to use her, and find his own happiness somewhere else, just like her father, and her grandfather had done. He would love someone else.
She would be miserable in their marriage. Suguru seemed more resigned to the situation than she was, but then again, he'd experienced the determination of the Ogasawara group much more often than she had, and he had made several attempts to put their engagement on civil, agreeable terms. We should be grateful, he told her. We should thank them for what they've done. Sachiko could never thank her father or grandfather. She hated them even more than she hated Suguru, for pushing, for pulling away, for acting cold towards her, for expecting so much of her. They were once in the same position, but still Sachiko couldn't shake her disgust for all of the Ogasawara men. Sachiko clasped her hands in front of her with a small sigh, craning her neck upward to take in more of the natural beauty of the sky.
Sachiko finally heard the plodding footsteps of Suguru behind her.
He didn't walk like Yumi did, her steps were always lighter, and they always sped up when she got closer to her once Onee-sama. His steps were even, heavy, methodical, and Sachiko lowered her head when she heard them stop a few feet from her. She turned to face her fiancé with steely resolve.
Suguru's eyes were narrow, watching her face intently, trying to read her. "Are you okay out here by yourself, Sa-chan?"
Sachiko nodded as bile rose in her throat, grateful that she was trained to be graceful, unemotional, like a proper lady. "Yes, thank you, Suguru."
She remembered, oddly enough, how Satou Sei had always stood up to Suguru for her sake, how she had defended her during the Cinderella affair, and argued with him during the New Year's party at her house. Not out of any romantic or physical attraction, but simply because she admired Sachiko and wanted to defend her, in a chivalrous manner. Although Sachiko had at first been extremely jealous of Sei's apparent liking for Yumi, Youko calmed her down and she saw that Sei had no interest in Yumi romantically. Oddly enough, Youko herself had dormant feelings for Sei. It had been awhile since she'd seen Sei, though she knew Yumi saw her frequently, and they were both going to attend Lillian University after the break.
"I've got to go, my parents are leaving." He waited for a response, but Sachiko stood tall and silent, refusing to meet his playful stare.
He paused a moment before he added, "Your beloved little Yumi called for you earlier when we were eating dinner."
Sachiko felt her eyes grow wide, and she unwittingly emitted a small gasp, before she was able to get her emotions back under control. Suguru seemed pleased with himself that he'd caught her little emotional outburst.
Sachiko clenched her fists in front of her tightly, and dipped her head in a little bow to Suguru.
"Thank you for coming tonight, Suguru. I will retire to my room now." She kept her head down and tried to walk past him quickly, but he caught her arm.
"Sachiko." He rarely called her by her full first name. Sachiko felt the dread in her chest begin to deepen and widen. Suguru sighed.
"I wish you could be honest with me. I would we could talk this out. I know we could make it work if we wished it to, and I know we could have an amiable partnership." He paused, looking for the right words. "I'd let you be your own person, like you are with your friends."
Suguru stopped for another long pause. "Like you are with Yumi."
Yumi's name on Suguru's lips struck a nerve inside Sachiko, and she quickly averted her gaze from his. Concern filled his voice, and the dread and desperation in Sachiko grew even bigger.
"Please think about it, Sa-chan. I don't like to see you suffer, because we can find a solution. I want you be happy, the looks you have when you're around Yumi."
Of course Yumi made her feel happy. And nervous. And safe. And dirty. And loved. And guilty.
I love you, Yumi.
"Goodnight, Suguru." Sachiko kept a hard edge to her voice, one she hoped that her fiancé would heed.
Suguru sighed deeply and withdrew his hand from Sachiko's arm. "Okay, Sa-chan." He turned to leave.
Suguru turned back towards Sachiko with an inquisitive look on his face.
"What did Yumi say?" Sachiko kept her voice barely above a whisper.
Suguru shrugged. "Something about a letter. And that she misses you." He brows furrowed, trying to recall what the butler had told him. "Ah yes. Forget the letter, Onee-sama. I'm going to miss you, something like that."
A letter? What letter? Sachiko couldn't keep her head from spinning a little, and she took a moment to recover herself before she replied, "I see."
Suguru waited a moment longer, trying to catch Sachiko's eyes, but she refused to look up. "Goodnight," he offered awkwardly, trying to keep his voice soft to avoid upsetting Sachiko more. He didn't want to see his cousin suffer, but he could never love her the way she wanted to be loved.
A long moment passed before he turned and walked towards her door. Sachiko watched him go, a flurry of unanswered questions spinning in her head. Yumi had written her a letter? When? Why hadn't she received it? Her questions were put on hold as her mother appeared in the doorway, exchanging a few words of farewell with Suguru as he passed by. Sachiko inclined her head in a small bow to greet her mother.
A good lady respects her elders.
A good lady knows when to speak, and when to be silent.
A good lady never loses her temper.
"Congratulations, Sachiko," her mother offered a warm smile, stepping into her room gracefully and reaching out for her hand. As Sachiko held her mother's hand, she wondered if her mother had ever felt the way she did. Did she love someone else, like her grandmother did? Or did she shut herself down for the sake of the family, for the sake of tradition, for the sake of the money? Sachiko was unsure of what to say, other than a simple "thank you".
"You're all grown up now, my little Sachiko. I'm so proud of you."
Proud of what, mother? That I have sat back and taken this burden, that I suffer under it daily, that I'm afraid to love anyone? Sachiko knew that she shouldn't be so bitter towards her mother, even in private, but tonight she was feeling stretched especially thin.
"Thank you, mother. I've had a long day, so I'll go to bed early." Sachiko attempted a sweet smile, but wasn't sure if the corners of her mouth turned up like they were supposed to. Her mother, thankfully, didn't notice her daughter's particularly melancholy mood, and kissed her forehead softly.
Sachiko left her balcony door open partially as she prepared for bed, enjoying the cool night air on her bare skin and the slim beam of moonlight that was cast into her room. She wanted to hear Yumi's voice so badly, but now that she knew of her call, it was much too late to return it. Yumi was probably in bed, so were her parents. Her parents were genuinely nice people, kind, warm, loving towards their children. They were a real family, something that Sachiko couldn't say she had ever experienced.
And what of the letter? Nerves began to build in the pit of Sachiko's gut. In her heart, Yumi probably knew that their love was nearly impossible, but yet she still stayed by Sachiko's side. During the end of their soeur relationship, when Sachiko was under increasing amounts of stress from the family and tests, it had been Yumi comforting Sachiko, not the other way around. Yumi had become, in essence, the grande soeur, offering a warm hug and comforting words when Sachiko felt overwhelmed with her circumstances. In her arms, Sachiko felt like Yumi could save her. But when she was alone in her room, surrounded by the reality of her circumstances, she didn't feel so optimistic. She always fell in love with the wrong people.
There was a quote that her teacher had wrote on the board in her literature class one day that had struck Sachiko's heartstrings. She had written it down, and now she fumbled in her bag for the notebook it was in. "Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind/ And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind". It was Shakespeare.
Sachiko sighed as the read the words over and over. But as she was about to close the notebook, a slight bulge at the front caught her eye.
Giving the notebook a good shake, Sachiko saw a sealed envelope slip out from between the pages, landing on the floor softly. Sachiko picked up the envelope slowly. A plain, ordinary envelope, that had her name written clearly in Yumi's handwriting on the front, and was sealed at the back. She touched the seal with a finger, running it over the seal carefully, feeling the obtrusive edge that indicated the edge was licked. Had Yumi's mouth been here? Sachiko silently berated herself for the thought.
Did she want to open it? Sachiko was deathly afraid of what was on the inside of the envelope. She held it to her chest as her breathing sped up. The envelope still smelled like Yumi. With fumbling fingers and a thumping heart, Sachiko broke the seal of the envelope, and opened the tear-stained piece of notebook paper to read the words Yumi had written.
Is it alright if I call you that now? We aren't officially soeurs anymore, after all. I'm crying as I write this because I don't want to see you go. Soon, you'll be graduated, at college, even married to Kashiwagi, and I'll be here, wanting you back with me. I know that I'm a little bit selfish, wanting you all to myself, even when I knew that I could never have you. You've been the best onee-sama I could have ever had dreamed of, and for that I want to thank you. All the letters in the world couldn't really say how much I'm going to miss you, Sachiko, and I would be lying if I said I was going to be alright. I promise to take care of Touko, and try to be as good of a grande soeur that you were to me. And I know that it might be wrong to say this, Sachiko, but you need to know before I never see you again. I love you. I love you so much that I'd do anything for you. And that day after your grandmother died, I wanted to kiss you so bad, but I was only brave enough to kiss your hand. Silly, isn't it? And if you never felt the same way, and if you think my feelings are wrong, I'm sorry. And I'm sorry I wasn't brave enough to say it in person, but it seems that we have a history of not saying things to each other until its almost too late. I know that it's already too late for this, but I needed you to know anyway. I love you. I always will.
Love always and the best possible happiness,
The letter fluttered to the floor in slow motion.
All the tears and frustration that Sachiko had been hiding for weeks came out in a strangled sob. Sachiko collapsed on her bed, and let the tears come pouring out of her, letting her heart ache and cry for Yumi. Yet another night that Sachiko cried herself to sleep.
To be continued...
Oh no! So sad! But that's just the first part. I think I'll write the next part from Yumi's point of view, though nothing's been decided yet. Please please please tell me if you think that it's any good, or else I'll abandon the project altogether and try another anime series.
Another note: Though the title may seem odd, the Shakespeare quote I used was the inspiration. Love looks with the mind, love is blind, and all that. Hope it makes sense.