Maria-sama ga Miteru:Volume34 Chapter9
Little Horrors V
One Lillian, two Lillian, three Lillian girls ♪
Four Lillian, five Lillian, and then stop ♪
(Hmm-hu-hu, Hmm-hu-hu, Hmm-hu-hu, Hu-hu-hmm)
Fi~ve Lillian Girls ♪
Initially, her compatriots had steadily increased like this.
This was in reference to the time after she left the kendo club meeting.
She'd been on her own when she climbed the stairs in the Rose Mansion. But there were two girls when she descended the staircase, because Noriko-sama had followed her.
When they reached the school building, their numbers had increased to three girls, with Touko-sama joining them.
The three girls went to the Rose Mansion and peeked into the room on the ground floor, at which point the group swelled to five girls. Since Yoshino-sama and Yumi-sama were holding on to a water pipe, unable to move.
That was the apex. After that point, their numbers had started to steadily decline.
First, Noriko-sama had disappeared. Then Yoshino-sama had departed. So that, now, there were only three girls remaining.
That old melody floated into her mind.
(Five Lillian, four Lillian, three Lillian girls ♪)
A part of her mind was singing this song parody of its own volition.
In the original song, the ten Indian boys were reduced to just one.
There were three of them now. But if they kept leaving one by one, eventually they'd be reduced to one Lillian girl, wouldn't they?
(And then there'd be no-one left.)
Nana gave a small shake of her head. That was foolish. What was she thinking?
Five had become three – that was all it was. Why was she trying to make it out to be more than that?
There was no meaning behind it, it was just a coincidence.
Somebody had to go and tell the teachers about the broken water pipe. And that somebody just happened to be Noriko-sama.
Nana herself had been the one to tell Yoshino-sama to go to the kendo club meeting.
This wasn't some malevolent force at work.
It must have been because of the poor light. There was no doubting that the light produced by the flashlight, like a thick candle, made for an indescribable feeling of despair.
"What time do you think it is?"
Nana murmured. She wanted to look at her watch, but couldn't move her arm. Touko-sama, beside her, shrugged and said, "I don't know."
"Let's see. It looks like it's a bit after four."
Yumi-sama said, holding her left wrist over the flashlight.
"How long ago would you say Noriko-sama left here?"
"Ah – I forgot to check when she left. Five minutes ago maybe?"
"No, it must have been more than that."
If it was only five minutes, then Yoshino-sama would have left before her.
"Ah, that's right. Noriko-chan left first and then Yoshino-san went after her."
Then, ten minutes. No, maybe fifteen. If she was just going to the staff room and then coming straight back, that should take about ten minutes.
"Now that you mention it, Noriko's taking her time, isn't she?"
Touko-sama said, as though reading Nana's mind.
Everything was fine. At the very least, Touko-sama wouldn't disappear, since she was also holding on to the water pipe. There was no way Nana would end up left here on her own.
She would be better off paying attention to Yumi-sama's actions. If someone else were to leave, it would have to be Yumi-sama.
But, contrary to expectations, Touko-sama was the first one to move.
Yumi-sama was filling in time by tracing her finger along the wooden floorboards when Touko-sama suddenly called to her with, "Onee-sama."
"What is it?"
Yumi-sama looked up, as did Nana.
"Sorry, but can you change places with me for a little bit? Over here."
Since she couldn't move her hand to point, Touko-sama motioned at the water pipe with her head.
"Sure. Are you getting tired?"
Yumi-sama stood up and moved over to Touko-sama.
Hearing this answer left Nana wondering, "Then what is it?"
"I need to go to the toilet."
Since they were going to swap places, that obviously meant that Yumi-sama was going to take her spot at the water pipe.
"Are you ready? On one, two, three."
Like a reverse of their earlier exchange, the grip on the water pipe changed from Touko-sama to Yumi-sama.
"I'll run there and back, then we can swap again."
"It's okay, take your time."
While Nana was still silently freaking out, they became the final two.
Biological processes were an irresistible force. She'd like to think they were unrelated to any "malevolent force."
At any rate, now that it had come to this, she and Yumi-sama had a shared destiny. It seemed impossible that either of them would be left alone.
But, her kindred spirit said something quite unexpected.
"Do you need to go to the toilet too, Nana-chan?"
"Let me know if you need to go. I'm sure I can manage on my own for a little while."
What was she saying? Yumi-sama simulated the actions as she said, "See, if I hold on here with my left hand, I can reach out over there and hold that with my right hand too." Panicked, Nana shook her head.
"Ah, no, I'm fine."
If Yumi-sama would be fine on her own, then that opened up the possibility that it could all be entrusted to Nana too. She started to worry that Yumi-sama might say, "Well, in that case – " but, thankfully, she didn't.
Yumi-sama's interest shifted from the restroom to another place.
"Nana-chan, why didn't you go with Yoshino-san?"
To the kendo club meeting. She had said she understood that Nana didn't want to go, but apparently that wasn't the end of it.
"If everyone's supposed to attend, shouldn't you be there too?"
Indeed. Logically speaking, that was true.
"Today's meeting is to decide the club officers, right?"
"That's right. You're quite perceptive, Yumi-sama."
"Well, that's the only reason to have a classroom meeting with everyone in April, right? Plus, Yoshino-san's been running around from place to place. But no-one's going to make her the club president, are they?"
Rosa Foetida was busy at the best of times, so to add the club president's duties on top of that would be completely impossible.
"No, they're not. From what I'm told, the club president is the one role that's usually chosen towards the end of the previous year."
"Ah, I see. Who is it?"
Nana understood why Yumi-sama was a little surprised. Chisato-sama was a third-year, but she'd only joined the kendo club towards the end of her first year so she only had about a year of kendo practice, making her a bit inexperienced. Naturally, there were a fair few second-years that were more skilled than her.
"But the president doesn't have to be the strongest person in the club. Chisato-san seems perfectly suited to that role."
Nana nodded at Yumi-sama's words. The club president should be someone that could bring the whole club together.
"Then, Chisato-sama was going to make my onee-sama the vice-president."
"Ohh. Wouldn't that be something."
Unlike the secretary or treasurer, the vice-president didn't really have any defined duties. At most, they were like the president's assistant. They didn't get much time in the spotlight, unless something happened to the president – so much so that some of the clubs didn't bother with having a vice-president. Of course, the opposite was true too, and plenty of clubs made great use of their vice-presidents.
"To be the vice-president when she hardly ever shows up to club activities. Yoshino-san wouldn't like that."
"So Chisato-san was worried that if things kept going like they were, Yoshino-san would become a ghost member. Why would that be?"
Yumi-sama pondered. When Yoshino-sama was a second-year, she'd attended kendo club practices as often as possible while still doing her student council work. Yoshino-sama's onee-sama, Hasekura Rei-sama, hadn't stopped attending club activities when she became Rosa Foetida. So then why –
"Don't tell me she's quitting now that Rei-sama's left."
Yumi-sama laughed – she'd probably intended that as a joke. It seemed to catch her by surprise when Nana didn't join in, and she turned to look at the younger girl's face.
"You don't think it's because you joined the club, do you, Nana-chan?"
Obviously her non-response would be taken as confirmation. The first thing Nana had thought when she heard that Yoshino-sama hadn't attended club activities since April was that it was because Nana had joined the kendo club, not because Yoshino-sama was busy with Yamayurikai work.
"Plenty of soeurs meet through a club, but it can be difficult when a pair become soeurs and then join the same club. Which reminds me, Yoshino-san and Rei-sama quarreled back when Yoshino-san joined the kendo club."
"Is that so?"
This was the first Nana had heard of this. As one would expect of a classmate, Yumi-sama had witnessed parts of Yoshino-sama's history that Nana didn't know about.
"Why did they disagree?"
"I don't know. Yoshino-san said that Rei-sama opposed the idea without listening to her, but … "
That may have been how she explained it to others, but Yumi-sama's eyes seemed to indicate that there had been more to that disagreement than what had shown on the surface. Nana thought so too.
But in the end, they'd overcome that tempest and Rei-sama and Yoshino-sama had settled down into a good state. How could she and Yoshino-sama do something similar, and find a path that worked for both of them?
"Well, Rei-sama and Yoshino-san, and you and Yoshino-san, are two different cases. So I don't think it would help you much to know the particulars of their fight."
"I don't really know much about kendo, but Yoshino-san probably wouldn't be able to beat you no matter how hard she tried. Is that what you're worried about, Nana-chan?"
There was no such thing as a 100% certain victory, but the difference in skill between Nana, who had been wielding a shinai for as long as she could remember, and Yoshino-sama, who had only been learning kendo for a year, made it a foregone conclusion.
Yoshino-sama had been under the impression that Nana would join the kendo club since the start of the school year, no, since even before that, since they'd talked about it directly. Consequently, Nana had submitted her form to join the club as a matter of course. She had a dojo at home, so it didn't really bother her either way. But it seemed like that was what her onee-sama wanted, which was a gentle push in the back. Plus she wanted to see how skilled they were outside her local area.
But what had Yoshino-sama been feeling? Her seniority in their soeur relationship crumbled during club activities. They'd never faced off against each other yet, but the day would probably come when they crossed shinai. What would become of them then?
In a competitive bout, she might destroy her onee-sama. If that happened, would Yoshino-sama's spirit also crumple? Having said that, would it wound Yoshino-sama's pride even more if Nana took it easy on her?
Maybe they'd never be at ease when they were together in the club. If that was the case, then Nana thought that she should be the one to remove herself.
That was why she hadn't returned to the kendo club meeting with Yoshino-sama. She hadn't understood it earlier, but now she was able to analyze her actions.
"You know, Yoshino-san once said she didn't want a petite soeur that was better than her at kendo."
Yumi-sama said, after a bit of a lull. When she heard this, Nana thought, "I knew it." Of course she'd hate that. Yoshino-sama probably wouldn't enjoy having a petite soeur that was better than her at anything.
According to Yumi-sama, Yoshino-sama had said this last fall, around the time of the Yamayurikai sponsored tea-party – so before they had met.
"But in the end, she chose you, Nana-chan. Do you know what that means?"
Nana responded honestly, by shaking her head. She didn't know what could cause Yoshino-sama to change her mind and take someone superior to her in kendo as her petite soeur, nor did she understand why Yumi-sama would tell her that story.
"It means she treasures you so much that that doesn't matter to her."
Nana was so surprised that she instinctively let go of the water pipe. But she quickly thought, "Oh no," and hastily put her hand back. Yumi-sama smiled when she saw Nana do this out of the corner of her eye.
"It's because she likes you. You did a lot for her just by becoming her petite soeur, don't you think?"
Ahh, back then. Nana looked reproachfully at the girl beside her.
"For someone truly important to you, it's enough just to have them by your side."
How was it that she could say such a killer line so smoothly?
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