Maria-sama ga Miteru:Volume2 Chapter2
The Returned Rosary
Her prediction came true faster than she expected.
"The Rosa Foetida en bouton sisters broke up."
Yumi heard this for the first time during cleaning, which, being after classes, was like the conclusion to a day.
Katsura-san, who was in charge of cleaning elsewhere, rushed back into the room and began whispering to other students. Yumi, who was washing the blackboard with a wet rag, heard it then.
"Is that true!?"
Jumping down from the platform in an outrageous, unladylike, and certainly not very flattering pose, Yumi leapt at Katsura-san.
"W, wait,Yumi-san. Calm down."
But how could she? Yumi grabbed Katsura-san's arm with both hands, dragged her to the side of the classroom, and repeated her question.
"W, well, to start with, could you at least spare my uniform the rag?"
Katsura-san appealed with a near-shrieking tone. Yumi finally noticed that the dark green cloth of her uniform was stained even darker around her arm.
Yumi quickly pulled her hand away. She was so surprised that she never let go of the rag.
"Well it's alright, it'll dry on its own, anyways."
But more important, she seemed to want to say, Katsura-san began speaking about what she had just found out. As always, she heard news quickly.
"It happened just after the sixth period class, so it just happened."
According to her.
Yoshino-san, on her second day of returning to class, skipped out on home room to go home, so that she could go to the hospital. She had a note from her doctor, and her home room teacher was more than willing to let her return home quickly, so as to not push a person who'd just recovered from an illness.
"For the Chrysanthemum class students, it probably was like touching a swollen area, you know? They probably felt more comfortable if she just went home, rather than force herself to clean duty."
"Because Yoshino-san-. Wait, Yumi-san, you've never been in the same class as Yoshino-san?"
When Yumi nodded, Katsura-san was surprised, "You've both attended this school since Kindergarten, and there's a class change every two years, so that's incredible," but carried on, knowing there was no choice but to explain in more detail.
"Because you've never been in the same class, you might not know what's wrong with her, then?"
"She has a weak body, I thought?"
"Well, that's true, too, but here."
Katsura-san pointed at Yumi's breast with her index finger.
"Idiot. Her heart."
She wasn't actually joking, but nonetheless, Katsura-san quickly smacked Yumi's head.
"Anyone who's been in the same class as her would have seen it at least once."
"Her, fit, I guess you would call it. I think it's even worse for the people who watch it, because the heart's so directly linked to living."
Apparently, every now and then, Yoshino-san runs out of breath and has to sit down and hold her breast down. The earlier reference to touching a swollen area was a reference to that kind of body.
"That's why she sits out of marathons, doesn't go to camping trips, and sits out during physical education. Plus, she misses a lot of school, so she's kind of an enigma."
That's why she had trouble making friends. Possibly because of that, her cousin, Rei-sama, ends up needing to take care of her even more than you might expect. And then because of that, it becomes even harder for classmates to get close to her, so she never ends up making friends.
Yumi spurred her on.
"Oh, where did I get to? I went on a digression, so I forget where I was."
Katsura-san was pondering deeply with the facial expression of a grandmother, so Yumi lent a hand, without any hesitation.
"Yoshino-san left early, for a doctor's appointment."
"Ah, that's right."
Katsura-san clapped the bottom of her fist with her palm.
"Apparently Rei-sama came along when Yoshino-san left early. Obviously that means Rei-sama also skipped out on homeroom, right? So Yoshino-san refused to let her escort her. A taxi was coming to the main gate, and she was feeling fine, so she said she could go alone."
"At that point it was just a light conversation. So it was just a trading of 'I'll go with you,' 'Don't come.' Anyways, the taxi was coming, so they walked to the main gate together."
"… But Yoshino-san finally snapped?"
"What was the direct reason?"
"Rei-sama received permission from her homeroom teacher to leave early. That angered Yoshino-san enough to give her rosary back. With the audacity of doing it in front of Maria-sama!"
Wow, Yoshino-san, you really are something. She was wondering what Yoshino-san would do, but to give the rosary back-.
"So, what happens when you give the rosary back?"
"It's a catastrophe. What have you been listening to?"
Katsura-san sighed with an exasperated look.
"Rosa Foetida en bouton having her rosary returned by her little sister, this is an unprecedented major incident!"
"Catastrophe… like, a break-up?"
When Yumi asked, Katsura-san lifted her index finger and waved it side to side; tsk tsk tsk.
"More like a divorce."
The second wave of astonishment was coming. For the elder sister to have her rosary returned by a little sister she took entirely for granted was like having your obedient wife suddenly bring out divorce papers. No, maybe it's even worse. Because it's unprecedented.
"But why does Katsura-san know so much?"
"I heard from Rei-sama."
"She's been wandering around the school like a ghost, so when I asked her what was wrong, she mumbled all of this to me."
Katsura-san had concluded all of this by piecing things together.
"I thought about helping her back to her classroom, but it was like she was sleepwalking. I've never seen Rei-sama like that before."
"Say that sooner!"
Yumi pushed the rag she still held into Katsura-san's hands and flew out the classroom with an unheard of travelling posture. Katsura-san said she saw Rei-sama on campus, so she hurried down the stairs and jumped out through the nearest door.
Although she got outside, the Lillian facility was huge. She should have asked Katsura-san for more details, she thought, but it was too late for that.
"Whatever, I'll just guess."
She spoke those lines, which she'd heard before in a drama, and ran northward. Piecing the story together, she decided Rei-sama had to have been in a deep shock. When people are stunned, they either want to be alone, or they want to talk to someone. For whatever reason, she felt it was the former. In that case, she might be in an isolated place.
When she peeked inside the greenhouse, where she and Sachiko-sama had escaped the day before the school festival, she did indeed see Rei-sama. Rei-sama was so lifeless that for a moment she almost thought she was looking at the wrong person.
One boy, or rather, one girl, was standing immobile in the middle of the greenhouse, not even bothering to sit down on one of the benches. It was plausible that she didn't even realize where she was.
She called out to that handsome face, but she could offer no more words. She'd just realized she didn't know why she tracked down Rei-sama.
Hearing about Rei-sama wandering about the school, she jumped out, not able to restrain herself. But what could, or should she do, now that she found her? There wasn't much she could do for Rei-sama.
Maybe she was just a nuisance? Rei-sama might have chosen this place to be alone.
When Rei-sama looked at Yumi, she laughed weakly. That smile was painful to see. Her left hand gripped the rosary with the dark green jewel. That was probably the rosary Yoshino-san returned.
Why, did Yoshino-san return the rosary. Like she wanted someone to explain to her. But, as expected, it was more like she was mumbling to herself, and she sighed.
"Yumi-chan, do you ever want to return Sachiko's rosary?"
"Eh? Ah? … No, not yet."
To be honest, that hadn't even remotely crossed her mind. But that was probably true for Rei-sama too. For sisters who'd exchanged vows, it was a mind-boggling proposition.
"Sorry. You've only been together for a week, it's impossible."
Even if it were to be possible, it was difficult to imagine herself in Rei-sama's place. Plus, in the case of Yumi, even if Sachiko-sama were to propose a divorce at some point, Yumi herself would never even think about returning the rosary.
"Ahh, I feel like I'm dying."
With that sudden exclamation, Rei-sama sank to the floor, covering her head with her hands. Saying "I feel like I'm dying" rather than "I want to die" seemed oddly fitting for Rei-sama. –Just as Yumi thought that.
"Hey, please do not go spontaneously dying."
An icy voice sounded from behind her.
When she turned around, she saw Ogasawara Sachiko herself, standing in the doorway.
"Stand up, Rei."
Sachiko-sama walked past Yumi, stood over Rei-sama, and, first, roared.
She nailed her line with such masterful precision it was vexing. This commanding tone probably could be imitated by no one else.
"Rosa Foetida en bouton easily dying like this is unacceptable. Now, stand up!"
As Yumi thought, "Ah, how wonderful onee-sama is," and stared transfixed, Sachiko-sama grabbed the lifeless Rei-sama's wrist and began walking.
"Ah, where to?"
When she asked, Sachiko-sama responded, to the Rose Mansion.
"Her milling around like this is a bother to us, too."
This was it. There was no replacing it. She yelled at Rei-sama, then forcefully pulled her away to her group of friends. Sachiko-sama quickly executed the answer Yumi was looking for. And to think that she had come out here worried about Rei-sama, but rather than showing it, she would fire venom, saying it was a "bother."
Truth be told, leading Rei-sama to the Rose Mansion was a good answer. At this time, Rei-sama's older sister, Rosa Foetida, might be there, too. And even if Rosa Foetida were not present, one of the third-years might do something about it.
Maybe the Roses would intercede and force reconciliation. At the very least, they'd have to breathe some semblance of life into Rei-sama.
As she thought that and left the greenhouse with Sachiko-sama and Rei-sama, she noticed a familiar figure wobbling to the back gate.
The reason why she wasn't able to believe it completely was because that person seemed to be projecting someone else's aura. Or rather, she didn't seem like her usual self.
(Maybe it's someone else?)
Because they were all girls wearing the same uniform, it wasn't very difficult to mistake people.
"What are you doing, Yumi, hurry up."
Sachiko-sama called out to Yumi, having noticed her lagging.
"Please don't be trouble, I'm fine dealing with one person, but two is beyond me."
Given no choice by those words, but at the same time ecstatic that Sachiko-sama was fretting over her, Yumi ran to Sachiko-sama's side. She would know if the person she saw was indeed who she thought it was when she got to the Rose Mansion.
"You don't need to run."
But, she wanted to be with onee-sama as much as possible. Onee-sama was such a presence that Yumi felt satisfaction just being in the same space.
In that sense, how could Yoshino-san return her rosary?
Rei-sama was always so sharp and kind, but now she was an absolute mess from the shock. Their relationship was supposed to be that close, so why-.
Understanding the actions of other people was extremely difficult. Yumi, finally, at the age of sixteen, found that out.
"Don't expect too much."
Rosa Chinensis cautioned, before saying anything else.
"Yumi-chan looks like she wants to say, 'I entrust everything to you,' so I thought it would be prudent to remind you."
"Right, right. Even if we're third-years, we're still high school girls, so you're completely mistaken if you think we're like Superman."
Rosa Gigantea and Rosa Chinensis both spoke, and then took a seat, saying, "If that's enough, we'll listen."
The second floor of the Rose Mansion. Fortunately, Rosa Chinensis and Rosa Gigantea had both been drinking tea when the three of them strolled in. Yumi probably had that "fortunately" emotion written all over her face. So the Roses warned her.
"Onee-sama, is that not cold? It's almost as if you're saying you don't care what happens to Rei."
Sachiko-sama complained, while seating Rei-sama.
"We're not saying anything about not caring, right?"
"Right. … So, if we don't do anything, Rei and Yoshino-chan are going to be in corporal danger?"
The two Roses glanced at each other, then resumed sipping their tea elegantly.
"The onee-sama are going to leave this distraught Rei alone?"
"Sachiko's on fire today."
Rosa Gigantea spoke coolly, then laughed.
"You and Yumi-chan are free to become agitated over this, but the most important thing is how Rei feels, right?"
Everyone looked at Rei-sama. And she, in turn, looked away twice or thrice, uncomfortable in the spotlight.
"Do think about it. What if you and I…, no, Yumi-chan's better. If Sachiko and Yumi-chan were to have an argument?"
Rosa Chinensis walked to Sachiko-sama's side, then softly stroked her black hair. In this situation, it was fascinating how Sachiko-sama suddenly looked very young. Ah, everyone becomes a "little sister" in front of their "onee-sama."
"If? What are you saying, onee-sama."
"Would you want someone to intercede? Even if you did want someone to help, wouldn't you dislike it if Rei were to be proactive and move before you asked?"
"That's my point. Of course, if that were the case, I'd come knocking on your door anyways, before you even asked."
"And why is that?"
Sachiko-sama asked, dubious. Of course. She wanted to know why it was different for Rei-sama and Sachiko-sama.
But, Rosa Chinensis.
"Because I'm your onee-sama."
She gave a simple, clear answer that was almost embarrassing to hear. When said with such confidence, no one could complain about partiality.
"Then we should discuss Rei with Rosa Foetida?"
Sachiko-sama's forehead quivered.
"Well, that would be the norm, I'd say. In turn, I would prefer not to have Rosa Gigantea and Rosa Foetida say anything about Sachiko."
"Oh, really? I actually don't mind if Shimako relies on someone else."
Rosa Chinensis and Rosa Giganta were rather laid back. Even Yumi, who was relatively new to the group, felt that she couldn't leave Rei like this.
"But we're here because that Rosa Foetida isn't around…!" Finally, Sachiko-sama shouted and banged the table with her hand. But the third years, being like sly, old foxes, weren't to be moved by such a show.
"It's not something that's life-or-death, is it?"
Um. But that's a whole different level, Rosa Chinensis.
"It's common courtesy to not interfere with strife in other peoples' households."
Even Rosa Gigantea. Sheesh, the Roses were merciless. However, they weren't cruel enough to not reach out.
"But. If Rei wishes, we'll listen."
"Right. We won't push anything upon people. So how is it, Rei? Is there anything we can do?"
Like that. If they had said that in the beginning, Rei-sama probably wouldn't have answered.
But while they were bickering over outsiders being this or that, Rei-sama seemed to have gathered her wits, so she shook her head and answered, no.
"If the time comes, I will bring the matter up. At the moment, even I'm still in confusion."
If she could be that clear, it was looking better, Yumi though. She didn't look that confused.
I'll think about it, Rei-sama said. Why it turned out this way, why Yoshino-san wanted to break things up, if there was fault in herself, what that was, all of those, little by little.
Indeed, without understanding those fundamental matters, even the Roses being intermediates wouldn't solve anything. And even if things were brushed under the carpet now, there was no guarantee it wouldn't happen again.
"Then we were just a bother."
Sachiko-sama said, miffed. Running around finding Rei-sama, then shouting at her, then dragging her to the Rose Mansion was simply a lot of effort for no gain.
"Friends are there to perform these thankless jobs."
Rosa Chinensis' follow-up could be taken as either nice, or teasing. Nonetheless, the message was clear. Sachiko-sama wasn't wanting anything out of it, anyways, so even if it would have been clear nothing would have come of her actions, she probably would have still done the same. Simply propelled by the inability to just sit and watch, she would act, oblivious to any advantages or disadvantages from actions. And that's what friends are about.
"Well, bringing Rei here was probably the right decision by Sachiko and Yumi-chan. From what I heard, Rei was bumbling about, talking to anyone and everyone about it."
"But I didn't-"
Do that, she seemed to want to say, but Rei-sama's voice faded out. At the very edges of her memory, she seemed to remember what she did.
"Right. You were doing that."
Rosa Gigantea lowered her eyebrows.
"If you were talking without knowing it, this is pretty serious."
Yumi agreed with Sachiko-sama's opinion. Because at the very least, Rei-sama had spoken to Katsura-san. Thinking about when Sachiko-sama appeared at the greenhouse, it was easy to assume that rumors had spread using a route different from Katsura-san. That means it was more than possible that Rei-sama had wandered around darkly, and spoken about Yoshino-san returning the rosary to every person who asked if she was alright. And if that was subconsciously done, it was scary.
"I've just returned."
Shimako-san arrived. Well, as she'd apparently been to the Rose Mansion before Yumi, returned was probably more accurate.
"I'm afraid to say, Rosa Foetida had already returned home."
(Then, that meant…) The Roses had already grasped the nuances of what had transpired, and thus had sent Shimako-san to find Rosa Foetida. But Rosa Foetida was already gone.
And then Yumi thought, "Ah." Then the person she saw near the greenhouse was Rosa Foetida, after all.
"That's a shame. She's been a bit off as of late, so I had a suspicion she wouldn't show up at the Rose Mansion."
"So we tried to call her, but we were just a bit late."
So they had turned every stone anyways. This is why the Roses are treated like Superman.
"What good fortune, Rosa Foetida has no idea how serious this is. … So, Shimako, how are things outside?"
"It might be because it's after-school, the rumors have not spread too much, yet."
After listening to Shimako-san's report, Yumi stood up and peeked out the curtain. There were a number of students outside the Rose Mansion who'd probably heard the rumors and come to see if anything would happen. Yumi thought there might have been more people than there were when she'd come.
They didn't have the courage to open the door and ask directly. Rather, like wild horses, they'd gathered, to satisfy their curiosity, that was all.
"Ooh. I recognize some of them. How lively, how lively!"
Rosa Gigantea slid over and giggled, peeking out over Yumi's head.
The familiar face was probably the newspaper club leader. Yumi'd been chased before, so she recognized the face, too. The newspaper club members had fast ears, and along with their fast ears, they wrote articles quickly.
"Rei. Where's Yoshino-chan?"
Yumi heard Rosa Chinensis ask Rei-sama behind her.
"She was taken to the hospital by taxi."
"Oh, well that's good."
Until the masses settled down, they seemed to feel it would be a good idea to keep Yoshino-san out of view. In these cases, the proactive person usually became vilified.
"Even if the masses today settles down, won't the masses tomorrow be excited?"
When Yumi asked outloud, Sachiko-sama nodded, "True." Yoshino-san's heart was weak, as it was, so everyone felt it would be best to shield her from this uproar.
It was a bit hypocritical, because Yoshino-san was the one that caused all of this. But everyone still felt Yoshino-san was an associate. No one knew what the future beheld, but everyone seemed to agree that this should be settled as amicably as possible. Of course, that meant Yoshino-san becoming Rei-sama's sœur again.
"Well, there's no mistaking this is going to become a bit of a scandal. Maybe even more troublesome than Sachiko's scandal."
Rosa Gigantea said, as nonchalantly as if speaking of the weather.
Tomorrow might have a pinch of rain. The temperature will be a bit lower than yesterday. Something like that.
But, in retrospect, it wouldn't be something as soft as rain. Even if it were to be rain, it would be accompanied with a large-scale hurricane. And at that moment, it was northbound toward Lillian at an unimaginable speed.
Returning home, Rei walked through her garden and opened the door, connected to her neighbor's house.
"Oh, Rei-chan, welcome home."
Rei's aunt, or Yoshino's mother, wiped her hands on her apron and appeared at the foyer. The scent of well-boiled potatoes traveled with her. It was probably Yoshino's favorite tonight, meat and potato stew.
"Has Yoshino returned from the hospital?"
"Yes, about thirty minutes ago. She's sleeping upstairs right now, they took a lot of blood samples from her."
Her aunt spoke as she glanced upstairs. Her expression implied that even though Yoshino was sleeping, there was nothing worth worrying about. Yoshino always went to sleep after an examination.
"Shall I take a message?"
"No, it's okay. I couldn't go to the hospital with her, so I wanted to make sure she got home safely."
She confirmed her entering the taxi, but she didn't know about anything that happened afterward. After giving the rosary back, Yoshino took off for the main gate, in an attempt to leave Rei behind, so Rei was worried that she might have had a seizure.
When she turned around to leave, her aunt stopped her.
"Did something happen between you and Yoshino?"
Her heart beat.
"Why? Did Yoshino say something?"
Rei turned back around and asked.
"She never says anything. Just my instincts, you know."
Her aunt was Yoshino's mother, after all. Yoshino never says anything, even if something happened. So, her mother seemed to take it upon herself to keep a watchful eye.
"We just had a little fight. Don't worry, we'll make up soon enough, there's nothing to worry about."
She hadn't sorted out her feelings yet, either, so discussing it with her aunt was a bit tough. In honesty, she should steel herself and ask Yoshino about it directly.
When she turned around again, her aunt stopped her, again.
But she couldn't seem to formulate her thoughts into words.
She was scared for a moment, thinking there was something wrong with Yoshino, but apparently she was simply thinking too deep. Rei was exhausted by her aunt's words.
"Meat and potato stew, I made too much, so could you tell your mother that I'll bring some over later?"
Her aunt's meat and potato stew was a bit sweeter than the Hasekura household's usual seasoning.
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