Notes and Disclaimers: The characters of Kasuga Seiko and Saori, and all other concepts taken from Maria-sama ga Miteru are the property of Konno Oyuki, Cobalt Shueisha and Geneon Entertainment. .
This story is the third and last in a trilogy of short stories. You do not have to read them in any order, but I do hope you’ll read them all. You can find the first in the series, Until We Meet Again:1, and Until We Meet Again:2 on the Marimite Fanfic Page already. Like the second part, this story deals with situations and characters from Ibara no Mori: Forest of Thorns. If you do not remember or recognize the characters, feel free to check out my notes on the novel on my yuri blog, Okazu.
If you enjoy this, or any of my stories, please think about buying my original novel Shoujoai ni Bouken: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko. If you can’t do that, then a nice email telling me you like my work would be nice. :-)
Until We Meet Again 3
She thanked the young woman pleasantly and assured her that she would be fine. The young woman – ironically, the one young woman at this school who interested her a great deal – offered her assistance after her meeting if it was needed or desired, and gracefully took herself away.
She watched as the young woman walked down the hall, smiling and greeting the other students, and being greeted in return. “Good day, Rosa Gigantea!” they said, and she pleasantly wished them a Merry Christmas.
Kasuga Seiko turned towards the door, which was marked with a brass plate. “Principal’s Office” it read in solid black characters. She lifted her hand to knock, but paused, her fist resting gently on the wooden door. It looked the same as when she had been a student here, all those many, many years ago. She knocked.
“Please come in.” The voice was clear and strong. Seiko could hear footsteps, and the slightest creak of the hinges. The door was opened. “Please, come in,” Saori…no, the Principal of Lillian Girls High School, said, gesturing her into the office.
Seiko entered far enough to allow the door to be closed behind her. Her mind raced, searching for just the right thing to say – for anything to say, after all this time.
In her life, she had faced so very many crises. There was the time she had watched the doctor’s face as he struggled to find a way to tell her that her child had died. There was the day when her business, having had one too many setbacks, had to lay off several employees – a few of them with young families to support. Then there was the moment when she reached into her heart for words that could comfort her daughter, when her heart was broken for the first time. In all these, she had had to find the best words to say to make a terrible thing into something that a person could survive.
Today she had no such words.
The Principal walked past Seiko, gesturing her into a chair, while she herself took a seat opposite her in the little reception area.
Seiko wondered if her face was pale or red. She put her hands to her cheeks and found them warm. Red, then. Saori’s cheeks were pale, her face composed.
Saori was the first to speak. “I was so surprised to hear that you were the author of Ibara no Mori.” She pinched her lips lightly together, obviously berating herself for the inanity.
“I think we need to assume that everything we utter will reach incredible heights of irony, don’t you?” Seiko found herself saying. “Saori.”
“It’s good to see you again, Seiko.” The other woman’s face relaxed, color flooding her cheeks.
There was a knock on the door, and one of the sisters entered, carrying a tray with tea. The saucers and cups were laid, tea was poured and the assistant left them alone once again.
“I was surprised too,” Seiko continued the conversation. “Of all places – of all things…” she gestured at Saori’s habit. “I could never have guessed.” No she never could have guessed, because she had been told that Saori was dead. Dead girls do not become nuns, nor do they become school principals.
Saori took a sip of tea. “You heard about the scandal you caused here at the school because of your book?” Her lips lifted in a gentle smile. There was no reproach in her words.
“Yes,” Seiko smiled in return. “I was delighted to have been escorted to this office by your Satou Sei-san, in fact.”
“Really? Now there is a coincidence.” Saori put her tea down. “That girl…last year, she fell in love with one of the first year students. They were going to run away together.” Saori shot the other woman a look, “But the girl, Kubo Shiori-san, was staying with me, if you can believe it. She transferred to another school.”
“So…no…suicide then, for them?”
“No.” Saori did not answer the implied comment. “Although there were some difficulties of course. Satou-san’s parents were upset, Kubo-san’s guardian was very unhappy. But no….nothing drastic.”
“Does Satou-san know?” Seiko’s smile never left her lips, but her voice became tight.
“About the book? No. Well – I should say, I don’t know. I don’t think so.” She sighed. “I tried to talk to her honestly when she was in the middle of the thing. But whether she could hear me is a different story. I think she may have felt that I understood her – but that might be my own conceit talking. Certainly, she could not know about you…me…us.”
They fell silent, each lost in their own thoughts. The irony of past and present being so similar, pulling them into one another’s lives once again. And in the center of this coincidence, a girl with the same feelings, the same pain, the same name, as herself.
It was so long ago, Seiko thought. She could barely feel the echoes of the feelings she had had that long ago, but she could remember the experiences so clearly.
“Should I apologize, I wonder?” Saori continued suddenly, her voice surprisingly shy. “I suppose I owe you that. It was my idea, after all…”
“No apologies, please. I beg you.”
“I spent many years wondering if it happened at all. When I awoke, they told me it was a miracle that I was alive. And somehow, I believed it. I thought that maybe God had given me a second chance.”
Seiko made a face at that. “When I woke up, I was angry, bitter that I had been rescued, when you had gone to God, as we had intended. And here you are, closer to God than ever.” Her face softened. “I’m very glad that you’re happy.”
“And I you.”
Silence fell between them again. There they were, excited and pleased to be in the presence of a friend thought long gone and, at the same time, conscious of the sin they had committed against themselves, their families and their God.
“Do you regret the choice we made then?”
“No. But I think – I believe – from the bottom of my heart, that it was the wrong choice.” Standing, the nun smoothed her habit with a few quick strokes. “Love is a gift.” She walked to the window, and stood staring out at the campus for the longest time. “It doesn’t come without trial – even God’s love comes with those. But any love that leaves a person that lonely – that hopeless…” She sighed. “I told Satou-san that it’s a lonely thing to get that caught up in another person.”
“But how do you know?” Seiko stood and joined her at the window. “You never gave your love to another human. Why? Why that choice, of all things?”
Saori wouldn’t answer.
“Because you couldn’t ever love another person that way again? Don’t you think that that is an even lonelier path to follow?” Seiko pulled away, shaking her head. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I have no right to question you on your choice.”
Turning away from the window, Saori shook her head slowly. “No – you’re right.” She stepped up to Seiko, taking her hands in a tight clasp. “It’s a sin I can’t commit ever again. But you’re right, I took this path at least partially because I knew in my heart that I could never love that way again. I don’t regret that choice, either.”
Seiko gripped Saori’s hands tightly, then pulled away. “I don’t want to take all your time – I know you must be busy.” She moved back to the chair, where she gathered her purse and coat. Draping her cane over her wrist she stood, facing Saori. “May I come back and visit again?”
It took a moment for the Principal of Lillian Girls High School to recover. But after a short time, she nodded sharply. “Yes, of course. Please come back whenever you can. I know that you are busy too, these days, as a company president – and as a famous author.” Saori stared out of the Principal’s eyes, and smiled with her mouth.
Kasuga Seiko bowed deeply. “Until we meet again, then.”
“Until we meet again.”