Maria-sama ga Miteru:Volume34 Chapter7
Little Horrors IV
Yoshino-sama's voice shook. She was feeling uneasy, as intended.
"Today's club activities. You acted like you were going, but you never intended to, did you?"
If it was just Yoshino-sama and Nana, she probably would have tried to shrug it off, saying, "So what?" But since she was being judged in front of Yumi-sama, she'd have to take a different approach.
"I don't recall ever saying that I'd attend, so I didn't actually tell a lie."
If Yoshino-sama had admitted her fault and apologized, Nana thought that she would have happily let the conversation drop. But since she'd turned defiant, Nana couldn't back down either.
"You said, "It won't take long today because it's just a meeting not a practice session, so let's go to the Rose Mansion when it's over." Based on that, anyone would think we'd go together."
Nana looked at the Red Rose soeurs for confirmation and they both nodded their heads.
"When the meeting started and you were nowhere to be seen, I felt like I'd been bamboozled. Everyone was there except you, onee-sama – all the second and third-years, as well as all the new members. That's how important today's meeting was. All the seniors kept asking me, "Where's Yoshino-san?" To the point where I wanted to ask what happened too."
Nana started to tear up just remembering it. Her onee-sama had been the only one not to attend the meeting, and she hadn't even bothered to tell her why. Naturally, she'd feel pathetic.
"So what happened then?"
Yumi-sama prodded her to continue.
"I wasn't about to lie, so I answered with, "I don't know." Although I did add that I thought you were probably still at school."
Yoshino-sama may not have said she was going to the kendo club meeting, but she had said that they should go to the Rose Mansion. So Nana thought she probably wouldn't have gone home yet. This kept alive the slim possibility that she might show up at the third-year chrysanthemum classroom at some point.
"Because of that, the seniors told me to go out and find my onee-sama and bring her back."
Yumi-sama nodded, then turned to Yoshino-sama. Yoshino-sama pretended not to notice this, and instead moved over to Nana and squatted down beside her.
"Nana. Hey, Nana-chan? You saw what happened, right? I was holding onto the water pipe, to protect the Rose Mansion from a leak. So I couldn't have attended the kendo club meeting even if I wanted to. You get that, right?"
This was the first time Nana had heard Yoshino-sama talk in such a soft, coaxing manner. Her voice coiled around Nana, who was still unable to move. Frankly, Nana wished she's stop, since she couldn't get away.
"B-but, in that case, why didn't you go to the kendo club meeting as soon as you'd finished cleaning? You were talking about going to the Rose Mansion afterwards, right?"
"Because of … um. A premonition?"
Yoshino-sama placed an index finger on her cheek and looked up. She was probably aiming for a playful look, but was completely unable to pull this off and ended up looking ridiculous.
" – Lame."
It was such a lame excuse. If she was going to lie, couldn't she have come up with something more impressive, or at least funnier?
"What's that, you've gone lame? Maybe you should stop holding the water pipe and go to the nurse's office then."
Just how long could she keep up this sort of teasing? Nana's arm holding the water pipe trembled. This was no good, no good at all. If she didn't keep it at this awkward angle, the room could get flooded out. At the very least, Nana was glad that the water pipe wasn't a kendo shinai.
"One question. What does this have to do with ghosts?"
Yumi-sama raised her hand and asked.
"One of the seniors said that my onee-sama had to attend today or she'd become a ghost."
"Ah, a ghost member."
Touko-sama mumbled. Needless to say, a ghost member was someone that was signed up to a club, but never actually attended any club activities.
"Which senior was this?"
Yoshino-sama stood up, with her arms folded across her chest, trying to look imposing.
"Ha, of course she'd say something like that."
Yoshino-sama was trying to protect her position by blaming an enemy that wasn't present. Her way of thinking was far too transparent.
Yumi-sama appeared concerned about something as she stood in front of Yoshino-sama.
Yoshino-sama looked a bit frightened when Yumi-sama grabbed her by both shoulders.
"Go and visit the chrysanthemum classroom."
"Huh, but, see – "
"Just go. Nana-chan came here to fetch you, right?"
"But Nana – "
Yoshino-sama looked over at Nana.
"I'm sure you told me that today's club meeting was just for new members. If I knew that it was for all members, I would have insisted you attend, no matter what."
"That's … my mistake."
"Skipping out on an important club meeting to come to the Rose Mansion. How will Shimako-san and I be able to face the kendo club members?"
"But you're not to blame here."
"We didn't know, but that's no excuse. Which is why lies are so problematic."
Indeed, when she put it like that, it was quite persuasive. It was much better than just saying, "Don't lie," or, "Why did you lie?" without listening to the other person.
Yumi-sama pressed the silent Yoshino-sama for an answer.
"Alright. I'll go. I should go, anyway. Come on, Nana."
Hearing her name called, Nana looked up. It was at that point that she finally realized that when she'd been told to find Yoshino-sama and bring her back, it meant that she'd have to return to the third-year chrysanthemum classroom too. But.
"I'm not going."
Why on earth had Nana said that? Telling her onee-sama to go on her own.
"Wh-what did you say?"
Reining in Yoshino-sama's raised voice, Yumi-sama squatted down beside Nana.
"Nana-chan, if you're worried about the water pipe, I can swap places with you."
Which would allow her to go. Nana looked up towards this gentle voice and found a warm, smiling face awaiting her.
"No, that's not it."
It wasn't because she had to stay and see this task she'd been given through to completion.
"Then what is it?"
Yoshino-sama asked coldly.
"I don't really know, but I think you should go by yourself, onee-sama."
"If I'm on my own, I might not go to the meeting. Are you okay with that?"
Nana met this provocation with a smile.
"No, you'll go, onee-sama. So you don't need someone to escort you there."
"… You seem awfully confident."
In truth, Nana wasn't sure how much she should trust her. If anything, her feelings were closer to, "I want you to go," than they were to, "I believe you will go." Plus, she was somewhat resigned to the fact that if Yoshino-sama wanted to run away, there was little she could do to stop her.
"I understand. Nana-chan will stay here and you'll go to the kendo club meeting, Yoshino-san."
Yumi-sama spun Yoshino-sama around by the shoulder, pointing her towards the exit.
"What on earth do you understand, Yumi-san? Nana said she doesn't understand it herself."
Yoshino-sama said, looking back over her shoulder.
"I understand that Nana-chan doesn't want to go, and I support her in that. Now, run along. I'll look after everything here."
Getting pushed along from behind, Yoshino-sama reluctantly left the room.
"Nana-chan, this is what you wanted, right?"
Yumi-sama asked when she returned, and Nana nodded.
With Yoshino-sama gone, that left Yumi-sama, Touko-sama and Nana in the room.
"It's like we're reaching the end of a game of cards, with people dropping out all around us."
Yumi-sama said as silence was descending on the room again.
"Ah, I see."
Nana nodded. There had been five of them a short while ago, but first one and then another left, so they were down to three. But, should she be happy about staying or not? Different card games have different rules, but Nana had the strong impression it was better to run out of cards early than to be left in until the end.
"Speaking of cards."
"We started out with a full house."
A full house? Nana tilted her head in confusion. Yumi-sama asked Touko-sama:
"Full house … that's a poker term, isn't it?"
"Yeah. It's when you have three of one card and two of another. Like, if you had three 8s and two Jacks."
So a full house could be an 8 of hearts, an 8 of diamonds, an 8 of spades, a Jack of hearts and a Jack of clubs.
"Since we started out with three boutons and two Roses."
Then Noriko-sama left, leaving them with two pairs: the Yellow Rose soeurs and the Red Rose soeurs.
"But now, with Yoshino-sama gone."
All they were left with was one pair.
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