“And thus, with their final kiss, the vampire disappeared into dust in the maiden’s arms, leaving behind only the rose. From that moment, she promised that she would search for her love, no matter how long of an eternity, believing that the warmth she felt from that the scar on her neck was a symbol of their love.”
The woman closed the book she was reading before wiping a tear from her eye. She placed the book back on the shelf and slowly walked out of her study. Her feet clicked as she trotted down the long hallway. She hummed a melody that had long been forgotten, her soft voice and contrasting footsteps echoing off the walls.
It was then that she noticed a figure walking the opposite direction, heading towards her with her hands delicately holding a letter.
“Sayaka..?” she called out, making her look up.
Without saying a word, she handed the letter to the shorter woman and allowed her to read the contents.
“I thought so… So it’s time.”
“I didn’t think it’d be so soon.”
“Minami,” Sayaka cupped her cheek, the two locking gazes both filled with seriousness. “We must.”
Minami simply nodded before folding up the letter.
“We should get ready then.”
“Maria, my love…”
“Ruka… I will always love you… as long as I live.. I will…”
*Beep beep beep*
“...nn… noisy…” Yuki turned in her bed, covering her ears with her pillow.
She blindly reached for her alarm clock and shut it off, filling the room with silence. She sighed and started drifting back into her slumberland…
“Yuki-chan, wake up,” her mother’s voice could be heard behind the door. “You don’t wanna be late for your first day of school.”
Yuki yawned and sat up from her bed, rubbing her sleepy eyes.
“Right.. School…” The girl then gasped as she realized what her mother just said. “School?!”
She hurried to get ready, rushing to brush her teeth and fix her bed head. After that was done, she grabbed her uniform and rushed to put it on. After successfully changing, she went downstairs and saw her mother already laying out breakfast.
“Oh my… You look beautiful, Yuki,” her mother exclaimed. “That uniform really does look great on you.”
Yuki blushed at her mother’s comment before feeling her father pat her head.
“My little girl, all grown up,” he chuckled. “You excited for your first day at a new school?”
“You could say that.”
“I’m sure you’ll have a great time.”
“Speaking of, you better hurry and eat breakfast so you won’t be late.”
Yuki sat down at the table, beginning to eat her breakfast quickly. After finishing her meal, she grabbed her bag and she and her brother exited the house.
“Itekimasu~” she said, rushing out the door.
Yuki walked down a path where the students were all heading towards the conjoined school buildings. Yuki looked around at the students as they chatted idely. She stood at the entrance to the high school building, taking a deep breath before stepping forward beyond the open gates.
“Let’s do this.”
As she was walking, she didn’t notice a pair of eyes staring down at her from one of the building’s windows. Minami watched as the girl entered the gates of the school, a kind smile on her as she politely greeted those who passed her by.
“She’s here,” she said to Sayaka, who was looking over some papers with a pair of glasses gently propped against her nose.
Minami sighed heavily as she leaned against the wall.
“Are you afraid?” Sayaka asked.
“N-no, it’s not that…”
“Then, what? Are you feeling uneasy because it’s finally time?”
“Well.. I just want to succeed. If we don’t reunite them, then we’ll--” Minami was silenced when Sayaka stepped in front of her, holding her face. “S-Sayaka..!”
“I understand your fear. I feel the same way. But let’s not let our fear take hold of us,” she said reassuringly. “We’ll get through this.”
She kissed her forehead gently, a small gasp escaping her lips. Minami looked up and saw a kind smile from the taller woman.
“It’ll be okay.”
Minami smiled back, “Okay.”
Minami left her room and started walking down the stairs as she took a deep breath. She went down to the main office and saw Yuki talking to the woman at the front desk.
“Kashiwagi-san?” she spoke up, catching her attention. “You’re the transfer student who’s joining Class 2-B, Kashiwagi-san, right?”
“I’m Takahashi Minami, the school counselor. I was asked to guide you to your classroom.”
“Oh. Thank you, Takahashi-san,” Yuki bowed in respect, making the woman giggle.
“Just call me Takamina. Everyone does.”
The two giggled again.
“Follow me,” Takamina said as she lead the girl upstairs to where her classroom was.
Yuki couldn’t help but smile a bit at the woman’s cute, short stature, and the long hair that flowed past her shoulders in an almost auburn color. When she first saw her, she looked like a student! She was surprised at her young appearance.
As the two were walking, a group of third years happened to see the transfer student.
“Hm? Who’s that?” one of the boys asked.
“A transfer student?”
“She seems cute.”
One girl in particular held a curious gaze on the girl, even after she had left her sight.
“Miyazawa?” One boy caught her attention, chuckling. “What’s the matter? You’re staring into space.”
“Could it be, you took a liking to her already?”
“Mou, quit the teasing you guys,” she said back before they started walking to class. Sae looked back on the girl’s path before turning around. “But she really is pretty…”
“Kashiwagi Yuki desu! It’s nice to meet all of you.”
The class applauded at her introduction, Yuki giving a shy smile at the praise.
“Hai~ it’s an honor to have you in our class, Kashiwagi-san,” the teacher said in a sweet tone. “But, my, Takamina-san, she’s a pretty one, isn’t she~?”
“Eh? Ahh, yes, I’d say so.”
“Uh-oh, Rena-sensei’s at it again,” one of the girls whispered, earning some low chuckles.
“Kizaki-san, did you say something?”
“Oh! No, nothing, Rena-sensei~”
“Well, I’ll be off,” Takamina said with a bow. “Kashiwagi-san, if you need anything, or if you just wanna talk, you can come see me.”
“Okay. Thank you.”
After Takamina left, Yuki took her seat beside a cute, pigtailed girl. The two met gazes for a bit before they gave each other a smile.
“Nice to meet you, Kashiwagi-san,” the girl whispered.
“Alright, everyone~ For today’s class, we’ll be looking over Chapter 5. While all of you work in your books, I’m going to enjoy a snack~” the teacher giggled as she pulled out a loaf of melonpan. “Everyone, take your time and don’t rush. That’s the key to success.”
Yuki blinked at Rena’s very carefree behaviour. She seemed to live in her own little world.
“If you’re worried about Rena-sensei’s behaviour, don’t be,” another girl said. “This is how she always acts.”
“I’m Takayanagi Akane, by the way. And the girl who greeted you earlier is Mayuyu. If you have any trouble, you can count on both of us.”
“Kashiwagi-san~” Rena called out, making the girl jump for a moment. “Everyone in this class is very friendly, so I want you to make lots of friends while you’re here, kay~?”
“Ah.. yes, ma’am.”
After class, Yuki started chatting with her fellow classmates, getting to know everyone better. Mayu was an otaku who loved manga, Akane was the president of the photography club and also a huge bird lover, and Yuria was known for being athletic but also bad at studying.
“So, Yuki-chan~ Do you have a crush on anyone?” Yuria asked curiously.
“E-Eh? Well, no, not really. I mean, I don’t really know anyone here yet, so…”
“Yuria-chan, it’s still too early for questions like that,” Akane said.
“Still, I think she might take a liking to one of the 3rd years. Specifically, one of the three princes.”
Yuki raised a eyebrow. “Princes?”
“The three most popular boys in the third year classes. Suda-kun from Class 3-A, Azuma-kun from Class 3-B, and Furuhata-kun from Class 3-C.”
“And if you want to count it, Miyazawa-senpai is also pretty popular,” Mayu mentioned.
“Hey, she’s a girl. How can she be considered a ‘prince’?”
“Well, she is kind of a tomboy.”
“The princes, huh…” Yuki pondered over the thought of them. “What are they like?”
“Suda-kun is part of the cheerleading team and the acrobatics club. He’s also a really good dancer.”
“It’s that flexible body of his,” Yuria exclaimed. “It’s like jelly!”
“If I remember correctly, it’s his soft plates in his hips.”
“On the other hand, both Azuma-kun and Furuhata-kun have experience in the school band. Furuhata-kun is in the brass instruments club, and Azuma-kun takes regular piano lessons.”
“Furuhata-kun’s also been part of the drama club! He’s such a good actor!”
“And an amazing singer, too. His performance in last year’s musical was outstanding~”
Hearing her classmates’ praise of the third year “princes”, Yuki couldn’t help but feel curious. She wondered what kind of personalities each of the boys had. She was also curious on who “Miyazawa-senpai” was.
“Miyazawa-senpai, huh…” She then asked her classmates. “What’s Miyazawa-senpai like?”
“Oh, she’s nice! You’ll love her,” Yuria said.
“Yeah, she’s easy to get along with.”
“Hey, she has basketball practice after school, right? We should go see her!”
“Ooh, let’s do that!” The other girls agreed, voicing their excitement.
“Kashiwagi-san, I guarantee by the time you see her, you’ll be a Sae-senpai fangirl, too.”
Yuki just chuckled as her classmates continued their conversation. Her thoughts on the four senpai her fellow classmates admired was stirring wildly in her head. Her image of each of them was solidifying as kind, talented students admired by everyone.
“They must be… like the idols of the school.”
As the after school chimes rung throughout the school, Sayaka peeked into one of the classrooms and saw Sae gathering her things for practice. She smiled and knocked against the door, catching the girl’s attention.
“Sayaka!” She smiled brightly as she walked towards the woman.
“Heading to practice?”
“Yup. I was just about to head that way.”
“Good,” she gave a kind smile. Before Sae left, Sayaka then asked, “Sae… has anything come back to you yet?”
Sae stopped and turned around to see a sincere look on the woman’s face. She gave her a sad smile in return.
“No… I kinda feel bad about it. Everyone’s been working so hard to help me, but…”
“Don’t feel bad. Sometimes, that’s just how it is.”
“Yeah, but still…”
Sayaka pat the girl’s head reassuringly.
“It’s alright, Sae. You’re still you.”
The girl nodded and headed her way to practice. Sayaka took out a small notebook and began writing in it.
“Date: 2015, April 3rd. No progress has been seen yet with Miyazawa. Only 2 months until the spring production.”
She closed her book, putting away the pen.
“Go! Fight! Win!” The cheers from the group of cheerleaders could be heard as Sae entered the gym. Having changed into her uniform, she stretched her arms as she joined her teammates.
The second year students happened to enter just in time to see Sae joining practice. Yuki looked down and saw several other students watching, squealing at the players as they scored a goal.
“Kashiwagi-san, over there!” Yuria pointed at the cheerleading team to one of the boys. “That’s Suda-kun!”
Yuki saw a young boy practicing along with the cheerleading team. She saw the boy lift up his leg and stand in a letter Y position.
“And that,” Yuria then pointed to one of the girls playing basketball, “is Miyazawa-senpai.”
Yuki saw a boyish girl playing with her team mates, a charming smile curving her lips.
One of the girls passed the ball to Sae, who shot the ball and scored a three-pointer. The students cheered and Sae turned around, smiling back to her fans with a victory pose. It was then that her eyes met Yuki’s.
Once their eyes locked, Sae seemed to freeze where she was staring, a look of awe painted on her face. Yuki gave a shy wave to the girl, who only waved back with a bright smile.
“Sae, look out!”
“Eh?” Sae turned around to look who was calling to her, but instead came face-to-face with a basketball, hitting her right in the forehead. “Ow!”
The students gasped as Sae fell to the ground, holding her forehead. Her teammates and Suda-kun ran to Sae’s side, Yuki looking down at the girl with worry.
“Ouch, that looked painful,” Akane said.
Yuki saw Suda-kun help Sae back to her feet, conversing for a moment before the two walked out of the gym.
“Um, I’ll be right back,” Yuki said, leaving her classmates.
She walked out of the gym and saw the two walking down the hall. Suda looked back and saw Yuki standing there.
“Ah… Kashiwagi-san, was it?” he asked, also catching Sae’s attention as she noticed her standing there.
“Uh, yes. Is Miyazawa-senpai okay?”
“Oh, I’m fine,” Sae said. “We’re heading to the infirmary.”
“You worried about Sae-chan here?”
“A little bit.”
“Hey, it’s okay. I’m really--” Sae said, flinching a bit as she held her forehead. “Ugh… this is definitely gonna leave a bruise.”
The two started heading that way, with Yuki following sure behind them. She didn’t really know why she kept following them. She knew Sae would be alright, it wasn’t a major injury, but something pushed her to go with them.
Once they got to the infirmary, Suda-kun proceeded to search for the bandages. The boyish girl was sitting on the edge of the bed. She looked over to her, the two sharing a silent exchange as Yuki walked in.
“There we are,” Suda-kun got out the bandages and gently placed one on Sae’s forehead. “Need an ice pack?”
“Alright,” the boy started searching and found there was no ice in the freezer. “Uh, you guys hang tight in here. I’m gonna find some ice.”
After he left, the two girls sat silent for a moment before Sae started chuckling a bit.
“What’s so funny?”
“I don’t know… This whole situation, I guess,” she said in between giggles. “We probably wouldn’t be here if I didn’t get plastered in the face.”
Yuki also laughed a bit, making the other girl smile more.
“Sorry if I made a bad first impression for you, miss transfer.”
“No, it’s fine. Besides, I did get to see your basketball skills before you got ‘plastered’.” The two chuckled again. “You sure you’re okay?”
“Yeah. I’m a strong girl,” she said, flexing her arm muscle to make the girl laugh. “So, miss transfer, what should I call you?”
“Hmmm… Yuki is fine. Or, my friends at my previous school used to call me Yukirin.”
“Alright then, Yukirin! You can call me Sae.”
“Okay, Sae-senpai. Tell me about yourself,” Yuki said curiously. “What’s interesting about you that you’d like me to know?”
“Mm…” Sae then gave a very glum look. “Well… I don’t know if I can tell you much.”
“Eh? Why not?”
“A few months ago, I was in an accident. I recovered from the injuries pretty quickly, but.. I got amnesia because of the incident.”
Yuki’s eyes widened. “Oh… So, you don’t remember what you used to be like.”
“I have an idea about it, since my friends told me how I used to act. I know that I like sports and I also really enjoy theatre and music. I’m actually participating in this year’s spring musical.”
“The school’s doing a musical?”
“Yeah! The drama club always does one around this time. Actually, it was the drama club advisor, Sayaka, who suggested I joined. I’m glad she did.”
“Is that so?”
Sae then got an idea. “Yukirin! You should join, too!”
“Eh?! You think I should?”
“Sure, why not? I bet you’d be great! I’ll ask Sayaka to give you a special audition!”
“Would she really do that?” Yuki asked with a wide smile.
“Of course! Sayaka is super nice and considerate. Plus, it’d be great for the drama club to have new members!”
“Mou, just Sae is fine.”
The two’s laughs could be heard as Sayaka leaned against the wall, where she couldn’t be seen by the two. She started walking towards Minami’s office, writing down something else in her notebook.
“Sae and Kashiwagi-san are starting to get along nicely. Also, Yuki will be having a special audition to join the drama club.”
Once she got to Minami’s office, she saw the woman was also writing in her own notebook, not noticing her come in. She silently glanced over at what she wrote.
“Yuki-chan seems to have settled in with her class very well. She’s getting along with the students and is generally enjoying classes.”
Sayaka tapped her shoulder, making her jump a bit. The tall woman chuckled.
“You seemed so focused, I didn’t want to disturb you.”
“Don’t worry. I only just got here.” Sayaka took a seat beside the girl. “So, how is Kashiwagi-san?”
“I think she’s really liking things here. Rena-sensei’s also taking a liking to her.”
“She really does seem fond of students like her, huh?” The two chuckled.
“And how’s Sae? Has she talked to her yet?”
“Actually, yes. They’re spending some quality time in the infirmary as we speak.”
Minami blushed slightly. “Oh my! Just thinking about it is making my heart race!”
After a few light chuckles, the two fell into silence. Minami closed her notebook, laying it down on the counter in front of the two, before heaving out a sigh. She propped her head on Sayaka’s shoulder with a look of relief.
“We made it through day 1… How much time do we have left?”
“Two months. The day when the musical is first performed.”
“Do you think they’ll be able to remember who they are by then?”
“Surely, they will. The play we’re doing after all is about their love.” Sayaka wrapped her arm around Minami’s shoulder. “They will surely be able to remember.”
“I hope so…”
Sae had been having strange dreams since the accident. Dreams of what seemed like another world, in another time. Or something out of a book or movie. Each night, it was different, but she always felt as if she was part of that world.
Tonight was no different. She found herself in an elegant ballroom, with men and women in fancy dresses and suits, their eyes covered by masks. It was a masquerade ball, Sae quickly realized. She looked around and saw someone in a beautiful gold dress. Her feet moved on their own as she walked up the stairs towards the girl.
“A rose…” she spoke, making the girl turn around.
“You are.. As beautiful as a rose.”
The girl gave a shy smile. “My, I didn’t expect to receive such words from a gentleman such as yourself.”
“‘Gentleman’... So, I’m a boy again,” Sae thought. In her dreams, she was always male. She pondered why this could be many nights, but came to the simple conclusion that it was because the students who admired her considered her a prince.
“Believe me, there is no man who wouldn’t be drawn to such beauty as yours. Pray, tell me, why are you here all alone? Your eyes give a glimmer of loneliness.”
“It’s my first time being at this sort of celebration. My family and friends were all enjoying the festivities and forgot about me, so I decided to spend some time for myself.”
Sae chuckled. “A lady as yourself shouldn’t be alone in a place like this.”
She then offered the girl a hand, flashing one of her charming smiles.
“Care for a dance?”
The girl smiled back, taking Sae’s hand.
The two walked down and started dancing together in the ballroom. The two were completely immersed in each other’s gazes, dancing in a world that was completely separated from the environment around them. There was no word to describe it; it was simply a connection they shared in that moment.
After dancing, they spent the whole night talking, tasting the various sweets and treats served, and roaming around the palace the ball took place. They felt rebellious, sneaking away to one of the gardens so they could be in private. They only had each other and the stars above to witness them.
“I must say,” the girl spoke, “In all my life, I don’t think I’ve ever been this… adventurous.”
“You never once thought of sneaking out into the night in search of adventure?”
“I’ve thought of doing such, but never acted on it. My parents would punish me if I ever acted so rambunctious. They raised me to be a proper girl.”
“I understand. I was raised by certain standards myself… However, I was also born with a spirit free as a bird. Not even my father, who raised me to follow his example, could stop the boisterous rebel within me.”
The girl’s eyes widened behind her mask. “Does he know you’re here?”
Sae said nothing. Just giving a smirk to the girl, who gasped in response.
“Are you certain it’s safe for you to be here? If he finds out you snuck away without telling--”
“Don’t fret,” she said, silencing the girl. “I’m light on my feet and quick to adapt. Even if he were to notice I were gone for a short time, I could get by with him being none the wiser.”
“My… you really are quite the rebel.”
“It’s in my nature. Just as it is yours,” she stared deeply into the princess-like girl’s eyes, pulling her in. “Every human has a rebellious spirit, a desire to act freely with no remorse. You feel that thrill of acting by your own wishes and being spontaneous. And it felt good, didn’t it?”
“Well… y-yes. It did. For once, I wasn’t worried of what my parents would think if they realized I was missing. I was.. Enjoying myself. I enjoyed every moment of it.”
“And no regrets?”
The girl shook her head.
“No. Tonight was fun. I really loved it!”
Sae smiled back, seeing joy and excitement twinkling in the girl’s eyes. She suddenly felt a new urge. One she couldn’t fight any longer.
“If it is no trouble to you… would you mind if I removed your mask?”
The girl seemed surprised for a moment. But she soon smiled again and gave Sae a nod, allowing her to slowly untie the string wrapped around her and remove the mask from her face. Sae felt her heart skip a beat, before realizing something oddly familiar about the girl in front of her.
“May I remove yours, as well?” the girl resembling Yuki asked.
Sae soon returned to her senses, flashing a smile. “Oh… of course.”
She felt the girl untie her mask and remove it from her face. The two stared at each other longingly, both in awe at each other’s beauty.
“My lady… your eyes are lovely,” Sae said.
“And you, young sir… you really are quite charming.”
“If I may ask,” Sae held the girl’s hands, looking in her eyes. “May I ask what your name is?”
She saw her smile, and her lips moved to form a single name.
Sae suddenly jolted awake, sitting up in her bed. She stared at the wall for a few seconds before letting out a sigh. Now wide awake, she opened up the window above her bed and stared out into the night.
“Maria…” she repeated the name, laying her chin on her arms. “Why did she look so much like Yukirin?”
As she thought of this, all she could do was stare up at the moon and trace the stars before slowly being lulled back into slumber and collapsing onto her bed, returning to her dreamland of dancing in that same elegant ballroom… with Maria.