Notes and Disclaimers: These characters and the setting of Lillian Jogakuen and the Rose Mansion are the property of Konno Oyuki, Shueisha and Geneon. This story is an homage to Konno’s brilliance and to her charming characters.
The completes the True Confessions series. The “Yumi side” is comprised of The Truth About Yoshino ,Too Much Information and The Problem With Sachiko. The “Sachiko side” which began with What About Yumi and continued with Never Enough, finishes here. And there is nothing Sean can say to make me write another one in the series. :-)
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Lastly, my eternal thanks to the Fanfic Revolution for reading and editing my stories and articles and anything else I throw at them.
All of a Sudden
It wasn’t all of a sudden, she knew.
It had been building over time; sometimes in little ways, sometimes in great, huge, overwhelming leaps that left her feeling breathless.
There was the time, for instance, when Yumi had found her in the greenhouse and held her while she had cried. It had been a long, long time since someone had done that for her. Her mother would have gladly done so, but she could hardly have explained the reason for her misery to her. (Dearest Mother, I am utterly forlorn at the prospect of marrying a man who not only does not love me, but who cannot love a woman.)
No, that would never do. If her words did not cause a terrible fuss in the family – and they would – her mother be tempted to suggest that her life with Suguru would, at least, not present the problem that she herself endured, that of other women in her husband’s life.
But Yumi had just held her, and let her cry and had not tried to fix anything inside Sachiko. Her only offer, to accept the rosary, had torn at Sachiko making her more determined to win Yumi’s affection fairly.
That was the first time, she thought, that the idea had occurred to her. Not suddenly. It had come gradually, naturally. The briefest thought that passed by, gone almost before she had thought it.
It had been totally different from, say, that time at her family’s summer home, when Yumi had stood up bravely to the derisive laughter at Great-Grandmother’s party. In a shaky, uneven, and unbelievably beautiful voice, Yumi’s song had penetrated even the coldest heart in the room. Sachiko’s own heart had flown. On the way back to the house, the thought had come once more – hardly a “sudden” thing – as they walked arm in arm through the forest on that warm summer night.
You could hardly call it sudden, as Rei gooped around the Rose Mansion, high with the newness of her romantic relationship with Yoshino-chan. When her fellow council members had giggled at her, she had withstood it stoically. Of course, she would think it – who wouldn’t when the conversation was so monothematic? When Rei had asked her, point blank, “What about Yumi?” it simply could not be seen as “sudden” that she thought of it then.
Maybe not sudden to her, but certainly, the idea seemed sudden to Noriko-chan, when she had admitted to having thought it at all. The look on the younger girl’s face had been a little satisfying, but also a little wearisome. Because, although it was not a sudden thought to her, it would obviously be to everyone else. It exhausted her to even think of it.
Which brought her to today. Exams were over, and she and Rei had returned to the Rose Mansion once again after a long absence. They were completing some last-minute council paperwork, while the younger members of the Yamayurikai worked on homework. (It was never mentioned, but it was certainly expected, that Yamayurikai members provide strong roles models for the other school students. Sachiko knew that this was a hardship on her own soeur, as Yumi was not particularly distinguished in any one subject, but hard work and perseverance go a long way to providing suitable rewards.)
It was quiet around the table; the only noises the scratching of pen and pencil against paper, the shifting of a chair, the clink of a cup against saucer.
Sachiko looked around at her fellow council members, tapping her mechanical pencil lightly against her lower lip. Rei was seemingly intent upon her work, but when she lifted her head, she turned quickly to catch a meaningful glance from her soeur. Yoshino-chan, whose head had risen a second earlier than Rei’s must have made some kind of signal, tapped her foot perhaps? Sachiko let her gaze move off to allow them privacy.
Noriko-chan’s face was still, as usual. So unlike the distraught girl Sachiko had counseled the other day. Shimako stared off into the middle distance, facing the window. One of the things Sachiko had always envied about both of them was their ability to hide what they felt. No one who didn’t know – and surely everyone in this room knew – would be able to tell from their actions how close they were. She was not a voyeur, but for a short time after her encounter with Noriko-chan, Sachiko had watched them a little more closely. Either they had resolved their issues and put their physical relationship aside or, more likely, they simply were giving nothing away. Sachiko allowed herself a moment of jealousy – her own emotional nature would never be that cool.
Then she turned just slightly to her right.
Yumi’s hair was, as ever, pulled back into two pigtails, wrapped today by bright blue ribbon, with a thin, white, center stripe. It brought a little color into this otherwise drab day. Her eyes were apparently fixed on the text in front of her, but Sachiko hid a smile as she observed the “notes” her soeur was inscribing in the margin of her notebook. History rarely had the words “jet coaster” and “cotton candy” associated with it, she was sure.
Sachiko must have made a noise; perhaps the cough that covered her laugh had been too obvious? Because Yumi looked up at her, and one second later blushed at having been caught – once again – daydreaming.
And that’s when it hit.
All of a sudden.
Sachiko quickly stood, putting the papers in order and putting her own things away in her book bag. Turning back to Yumi, she put out a hand.
“I have to leave, my parents are expecting me. Yumi?” And she willed, with all her might, that Yumi would take the hint and not ask her why she was leaving so suddenly.
Yumi blushed again, deeper this time, but rose quickly and tidied her things. When she realized that Sachiko’s hand was still outstretched, hesitating only a little, she took it in her own.
They made their farewells, Sachiko pulling Yumi down the stairs and onto the first floor urgently, before the moment passed.
Setting Yumi squarely in front of her, Sachiko could barely stand it any more.
“I’ve been thinking,” she began, perhaps the biggest understatement of her entire life.
When had she *not* been thinking about it…about this?
And yet, for all the many times she had thought it, all of a sudden, she desperately wanted to kiss Yumi.
So she did.
Leaning down and a little forward, Sachiko pressed her lips onto Yumi’s, worried for a moment that the younger woman would pull away. But Yumi’s lips, which were cool and a little dry, softened, and Sachiko knew that for Yumi, this wasn’t any more “sudden” than it was for her.
When the applause broke into her reverie, Sachiko pulled away quickly. She faced the other council members, all of whom stood boldly along the second-floor railing, beaming at them.
“It’s about time,” Rei joked, as Yoshino shot a victory sign at Yumi.
Sachiko put her arm around Yumi and drew her closer. “Really?” she countered coolly. “It was just something that came into my head all of a sudden.”
(Seriously. No matter how many other ideas Sean suggests, this series is over.)