Chapter 15:

Volume 2 ❀ Chapter 0: Star Shaped Locked Heart ~ Music Fantasia


December 22, 2012 ❀
Oboronishi, Gifu Prefecture
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Beneath a layer of greyscaled colours, the view Yuiko Tsukiame received once she opened her light orange eyes, was what you would call winter blues if that terminology even existed. Each hue was darker and richer than before as the days became colder and colder due to the lowering temperatures. You could see the leftovers of last night's blizzard lingering on her window pane, snowflakes looking as frozen hibiscus and lilies as if in an old autumn scrapbook. Though the real flowers are dormant and coiling their roots under the soil, a small smile was drawn upon the light lavender coloured fluffy-haired girl.

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For as much as she loved every season, rejoicing in the arms of the lovely summer sun, the aroma of never-ending spring and the colourful autumn, she knew winter had its own charm as well.
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This Saturday marked the end of everything she knew, after all.Bookmark here

Pulling her head from under a double-layered quilt, her breath came out as if it were a weak, sweaty smoke that carried a particularly pleasant smell. Yet, she considered her own body sweat a more imminent concern, she did not like how her pyjamas were sticking to her body, showing her perfectly shaped body. She didn't like it one bit, not at all. That was why she decided to uncover from every bit of layer that protected her from the cold to keep her warm at night, however, to her dismay, it was the worst mistake she could've done during the whole month of December when her feet touched the ground.Bookmark here

A huge miss on her part.Bookmark here

"Why is the floor so cold? Ohmigosh, it's freezing in here..." muttering, Yuiko hugged herself while warming up her arms. "Is the air conditioner broken? It should be with the heater option turned on... Where could the remote control for it be?"Bookmark here

She kept repeating 'where, where' while exploring her room, being oblivious by believing it would be lying there waiting to be found. It couldn't be that easy, after all.Bookmark here

Yet, she opened her drawer and there it was under all sort of knickknacks she collected such as hairbands, scrunchies, ribbons, phone straps and even some soft stickers that were rare to find nowadays.Bookmark here

"What are you doing here, little guy?" Yuiko wondered out loud, containing a yawn. "Strange for you to be here of all places... But at least I'll be able to turn on the heater right away instead of going on a wild goose chase in the living room!"Bookmark here

And so, she dramatically pushed the "ON" button.... just for the function to be ultimately ignored or, better said, not working.Bookmark here

"Is it broken?" The fourteen-year-old girl sighed, pushing it again trying her luck just to be in distraught. "Why is this happening...? I just want some warmth... I need to hurry up since today is the Closing Ceremony!"Bookmark here

After attempt number one hundred, the girl sighed in defeat... Until a small thought made its way through her mind: "What if...?"Bookmark here

She turned the remote the other way around, heartbeat fast while opening the battery slot just to find it empty... Yet, there was a small note that screamed suspicious in every sense. That was why Yuiko left the object on top of her study desk and unfolded the strangely placed paper. Much to her surprise, it was a note with her brother's handwriting.Bookmark here

'Happy Fool's Day!'Bookmark here

"...That was in April..." Yuiko turned around the piece of paper, just to notice another small detail which said: 'And no, my dear little sister. I mean the South American Fool's Day!'Bookmark here

Yuiko Tsukiame felt something.Bookmark here

"That was in November."Bookmark here

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You see, from outside, the Tsukiame Estate seemed to be quite the quaint place. Not a big, extravagant house from the outside as you would expect from a renowned classical painter's family yet, at the same time, on the inside was completely different but still kept that 'sweet, sweet home' ambience. It had its pompous decorations scattered here and there but, at the end of the day, it was just an ordinary place where a classical married couple with two children lived in.Bookmark here

The living room would be the cosiest of them all, with two sofas laying against the cream coloured walls covered with paintings that were not by Yuiko's father. Just your typical decorative items to make the place be brighter and livelier. However, you could see that they were not the only items hanging against the walls. Pictures and certificates could be seen, mostly belonging to the girl's older brother Yukio. At first glance, any person would think that there is a preference between both siblings. Truth be told, there was no one in the first place. Yuiko always rathered keep those things under her personal watch, instead of being trophies of all her over excelling achievements plastered against some layer of concrete.Bookmark here

Back to the living room itself, it was a grand space, to say the least. The huge mahogany table took up most of the vast space the room offered, left without a tablecloth and daring guests to ruin the perfectly varnished shine with their fingerprints. Two tall, silver candelabras commanded attention from the centre of the table, holding smooth white candles whose wax never dripped.Bookmark here

Wearing her black coloured dress school uniform, the three small white ribbons that decorated it moved with grace while she tiptoed towards the kitchen where a freshly made lunchbox waited for her.Bookmark here

"Good morning, dear."Bookmark here

An endearing voice made echoes inside the kitchen absorbing Yuiko's undevoted attention.Bookmark here

"Are you ready to go to school?"Bookmark here

A woman that seemed young of age was standing right behind her, the lavender-haired girl unable to know when she exited her bedroom.Bookmark here

"Yes, mother." Yuiko nodded as a reply, not knowing what else to say.Bookmark here

"Excellent answer. I will wait for you outside while I turn on the car, okay?"Bookmark here

"Okay."Bookmark here

And with that, she was instantly gone with a simple clang of the door, just like the way she appeared.Bookmark here

The girl sighed, taking her lunchbox and placing it inside her classic blue school bag you see in schools all over the country. However, while she did such mundane action, she recalled her mother's sudden appearance.Bookmark here

Her face was not quite as round as Yuiko's, but her vibrant, indigo hair is of the same hue. For as long as she could recollect her hair has always been short, but if it were not then it would be long, soft, wavy as the girl. The most outstanding similarity, nevertheless, was her mother's eyes. They both have the same unmistakable oval-shaped, clear orange eyes. Barely visible through wisps of her bangs are defining eyebrows that accent her striking, vivid eyes.Bookmark here

Being brutally blunt, you could say that there was something unusual in their relationship. Yet, this was the way it had always been between her, Yuiko and her big brother Yukio. Distant and callous, but at the same time loving and caring. Yūko Tsukiame was indeed a particular case of a person. However, the siblings never minded it much since their mother had never done them any harm whatsoever. It was as if their love was from a distance just as if your lover was far away and you cherished them though in this scenario Mother and Daughter were close to each other.Bookmark here

Still, Yuiko did her best not to think about this subject anymore even if it didn't pain her at all. It was just the way things had always been and will always be. Every family has it's particular quirks, and in her case, her mother was the biggest of them all. That's why she took a deep breath and opened the door to the outside, where her mother waited for her inside their black SUV, ready to ride her to school.Bookmark here

Once inside the car, she could feel the air conditioner set to a warm temperature, acting as a heater while the driver began to accelerate slowly due to being in a residential area. Luckily, her school was not that far away, just a fifteen-minute drive by taking the highway. No buses passed through there, so she definitely needed someone to take her every day. Walking was out of the question as well. Living far away from school was something she endured and counted as a blessing, given her previous experience.Bookmark here

Shaking her head, she turned on the radio without asking for permission. The silence was excruciating and her thoughts agonising.Bookmark here

The ending of a calming song soothed her, surprisingly.Bookmark here

"The song you just listened to was Dreambreaker Blues by Vallende Ster, the newest solo celebrity everyone's talking about," said a women announcer's voice, followed by a lively jingle which was overtaken by a peppy male voice. "Vivid! Morning Station! It is currently 7:20 AM, which means we have our fortune-telling corner with Mister Tooru Iwatsu. Please, tell us what our listener's personal forecast will be for today!"Bookmark here

"Oh, Gifu Chan was on," Yuiko mentions in surprise. "You usually only listen to music, not talk shows."Bookmark here

"Most likely your brother forgot to change the station after he used the car last week." Her mother smiles sweetly, without losing focus on the road. "You can keep on listening, I don't mind."Bookmark here

The girl turned her face to look at her, absorbing her words carefully and wondering why her mother had dressed the way she did.Bookmark here

She was wearing a deep brown nylon blouse with ivory dots; the slick material shines and reflects the light in its creases and wrinkles. It had a plain dress collar that was 'v' cut and undersized sleeves. Her bland brown dress pants complimented her blouse properly and did not draw attention away from her natural beauty. She was wearing a solitary silver chain around her neck and her wedding ring on her left hand.Bookmark here

Perhaps she has a meeting today.Bookmark here

"And now, I will present Capricorn's destiny. Especially for those born under the year of the tiger." Yuiko's interest perks up.Bookmark here

She was never one of those girls that faithfully believed in fortune-telling, nevertheless, today was a special day. It marked the end of everything she knew after all. That was why she decided to listen devotedly to the man speaking on the radio.Bookmark here

"For their present, we have the Six of Pentacles. It seems that your current time calls for wealth, financial success and material prosperity that comes thanks to you and you get only as much as you deserve. It shows as well that charity, generosity and patronage can be given towards you. In this case, you can receive gratuitous help, a bonus at work, patronage, or a promotion in your career."Bookmark here

"I'm not a grown-up so I don't really care about those..." a nervous smile escaped Yuiko's lips.Bookmark here

"Still, it does show that when you reach that day, you might have those blessings." Her mother added.Bookmark here

"I suppose..."Bookmark here

"In their near or imminent future, the Knight of Sword makes an appearance. This card shows abrupt changes for you, my dear Capricorn Tiger. It may indicate the occurrence of unforeseen or important events. Possible new acquaintances and new often indicates conflicts, but they will be solved quickly. I can also see in your future a young person, an ally, protector and partner, energetic and determined. With the support of this person, you will able to get the advantage in any confrontation or conflict and as a result, protect your interests and exit difficult situations as a winner."Bookmark here

Huh...Bookmark here

"Now for your more distant future,"Bookmark here

The radio was turned off.Bookmark here

"Here we are, just in time." The girl's mother spoke with serenity, opening the automatic locks.Bookmark here

The short-haired woman had parked the car one block away from the school, students walking towards the gates alongside the designated pavement. Fluttery black dresses which were the uniform danced with the wind, running towards their circle of friends highly excited for the closing ceremony of today.Bookmark here

Yuiko got off, her school bag in hand and waving goodbye to her mother who in a couple of minutes was out of sight.Bookmark here

The building was as white as the same light, irradiating a pure girl's innocent maiden heart. It was not just a single intricate piece of concrete, it had as well two different small towers which resembled a church, alongside a dial clock that moved its hands every passing second. The adjacent tennis courts had girls doing their last morning club practice, running through the green concrete with sweat dripping from their necks.Bookmark here

Yuiko Tsukiame quietly made her way from the entrance gate towards the hallways, keeping her head down and alongside her gaze on the floor. She knew exactly which path to take. A path that would take her towards the only place she considered a safe haven in the school. A place where, even if it had a rough beginning, brought her happiness and a sense of belonging.Bookmark here

Investigative Literature ClubBookmark here

First of all, you may wonder, what is an Investigative Literature club. That was a question not even Yuiko could even fathom to answer. Do the members do activities pertaining to literature? You could say so. Did they do investigative work? Of course. Yet, no one even knew how to properly explain what their club activities were, not even their own members. During the last club funding meet-up, they found a hard time coming up with something in order to get the necessary money for activities.Bookmark here

In the end, we managed to and we created so many lovely memories.Bookmark here

Opening the door, what greeted her first was the tied silver bell chime on its frame. A wonderful, soothing sound that echoed in her ears, reminiscing a sudden spring breeze instead of the looming gloomy winter outside. White rays shine through the opened window and the madder checkered curtain flows, rays of brightness casting squares onto the glossy grey floor, reflecting onto several objects in the room which decorated its otherwise simplicity. Yuiko blinked a few times, in an attempt to help her eyes adjust to the illumination directed right at her.Bookmark here

Indeed, the room was quite simple. A few works hanged around in portraits, with a huge classic school table in the middle with four chairs. One of them had a pleated cushion, while the others were just your common seats. However, at the same time, you could spot in a single glance that both sides of the room were divided by the objects the cabinets contained. On the far right, you could find all kinds of books dedicated to journalism, investigative writing, psychology and human behaviour while, on the far left, everything pertaining to literature was there such as famous novels either by Japanese or international authors, alongside books that helped you improve your writing and comprehension skills plus some poetry.Bookmark here

The dust particles flew by, intersecting with the light, similarly to the waves of an uneven, shimmering ocean.Bookmark here

"Ah, you're here. About time!"Bookmark here

Stealing her attention, a voice Yuiko recognized perfectly well called out to her towards that small maroon used sofa against the far off corner of the room. A place where anyone could hide and have their presence unnoted since the door covered it up as soon as it was opened, hence why the lavender-haired girl failed to notice that the leader of her club was right there all along, leisurely reading the latest edition of her favourite manga series: Macaron Honey Beats.Bookmark here

Her hair was auburn, melting with the clear light against a face so pale as to be striking. The strands flow down her back, stopping in a line around her hips. As she leans forward to take a stance in front of Yuiko, her hair moves with her, hiding her face until she straightens and flicks it back over her black dress school uniform. A beret of the same colour was lying on top of her head, complementing the two braids tied with ribbons that fell symmetrically by her oval-shaped face.Bookmark here

The petite-statured girl blinked her crystal onyx coloured eyes, inspecting Yuiko. The girl, which now felt her whole personal space being invaded, dropped her school bag.Bookmark here

"G-Good morning, upperclassman. Is everything okay?" Yuiko raised her palms, doing her best to avoid the small girl from getting any closer. However, after hearing her words she retreated and crossed both arms. "Upperclassman?"Bookmark here

"Is everything okay? Is that all you have to say? You've disappointed me, underclassman Tsukiame!" pointing her pink coloured nailed covered with fake heart jewellery, she raised her high pitched voice. "Is that all!?"Bookmark here

"Eep!" Yuiko retreated a step, her back going against the worn-out table. "W-What am I supposed to say...?"Bookmark here

"Forget it!" Turning her back, the small girl was still with both of her arms crossed, clearly pissed off.Bookmark here

"Where are the others? I thought we were all going together to the auditorium for the ceremony." Picking-up her school bag, Yuiko left it on the table, sighing.Bookmark here

"Beats me," crossing her legs, the petite beauty sat down on the sofa to keep on reading, disregarding proper etiquette. Thankfully, right under the dress, she was wearing her P.E shorts. Grabbing the manga she had left unattended, she resumed her reading. "I'll go once I finish this volume."Bookmark here

"But the ceremony is going to start soon!" Closing her eyes, Yuiko catches a breath, smiling. "Let's go get the others!"Bookmark here

"Eeeh..." with a disapproving tone, the unnamed girl remained annoyed. "Go get them yourself. I'm reading the climax and I cannot be bothered."Bookmark here

"But...!"Bookmark here

"If I hear another but coming out of your mouth I'll kick you out."Bookmark here

"That was a bit rude... I think?" Yuiko was still smiling, with a hint of nervousness on her lips.Bookmark here

Something about that statement had caused something to stir. However, she quickly disregarded it.Bookmark here

"I am the club president and if a member is being annoying I can give them a timeout outside the room." Sighing, the girl lowered the manga book from her face and looked at Yuiko straight in her pastel orange irises. "The music idiot should be on the Light Music Clubroom, giving her awful sense of time."Bookmark here

"You're right! I should have thought of that!" Nodding, the lavender-haired girl was about to leave the place, just to stop midway outside the door, a question lingering in her mind. "And what about...?"Bookmark here

"Don't even summon her. I'm finally being able to catch up with MacaBeats in peace!" Her pale face turned purple, Yuiko not understanding why.Bookmark here

"But you two always come to school together and are inseparable!" Yuiko clasped her hands endearingly. "I don't understand."Bookmark here

"Just go!!! And if she asks for me, I'm not here, okay!? I had a hard time escaping from that maid!!" And standing up, the petite girl pushed Yuiko through the door, closing it behind her.Bookmark here

SLAM.Bookmark here

"There was no need to push me out that way..." Deflated, Yuiko stretched her back and looked through the left side of the hallway, towards some stairs. "Time to go to the Light Music Club."Bookmark here

The hallway that Yuiko traversed was made of black marble floor and white walls, pristine materials to reflect every girl's pure soul. The doors of the classrooms were of a glossy black as well, with silver globe-shaped handles. However, even if everything gave a refined atmosphere, student's had placed their own decorations as well onto the walls or, in fact, posters for activities or club related messages such as hanging posters in primary colours, yet the overall impression the school itself gave was classy.Bookmark here

Laughter sounds along the halls joined with exciting conversations and shouts. Small groups of girls gathering just like social butterflies, perched onto undying popularity while Yuiko hurriedly made her way past them, doing her very best to ignore their gossips about her. Even if two whole semesters had gone by, word-of-mouth never died even if everything told about her were made-up lies. Yet, she now felt less afflicted by them in comparison to how she did when she transferred here.Bookmark here

Quickening up her pace, she noticed she only had around fifteen minutes left before the closing ceremony begins. That was why she hurried upstairs and managed to reach the door towards the Light Music Club. What she could hear from behind were some low beat noises.Bookmark here

Her heart fluttered, skipping thousands of beat while each chord slowly caressed the owner of such beautiful sounds fingertips. Such passion and love poured over a single instrument reached her ears, making Yuiko forget everything that was going to happen in a few more minutes, how she won't hear again such wonderful notes, a lovely voice that greeted her each morning making her life more bearable and the warmth of her small, happy place in the clubroom downstairs.Bookmark here

Opening the door, an array of colours and sounds greeted her surrounding a tall figure who shine brightly while delicately enjoying the raspy feeling of her bass' strings fluttering inside her very deep core.Bookmark here

Reflected through the winter's sun rays, the girl who was the centre solo musical piece spectacle moved alongside the beats she solely produces with gleaming passion. Her long, evenly cut blue platinum hair resembled a recently lit flame with the graceful movements she did, completely immerse into her solo piece. The evenly short cut bangs complemented her wide forehead, sweat dripping from the girl's dancing while holding a red coloured bass covered with rabbit stickers.Bookmark here

Shaking her head, a colourful array of small feathery flowers decorations hit against each other by being her hairpin accessories going from the deepest green to the lightest of azures decorated with miniature red coloured ribbons. Her black dress uniform made all these wild combinations shine as brightly as her, being the Sun's most fierce competitor.Bookmark here

She opens her bright pink diamond eyes indicating the end of her rehearsal with a loud bang from her bass.Bookmark here

Yuiko claps in amazement, smiling as brightly as she always does whenever she hears the girl's music from the heart.Bookmark here

Taken aback, the mysterious beauty lifts her head noticing who was the owner of such passionate sound just to see the lavender-haired girl standing in the entrance of the clubroom. Leaving her bass on top of a pile of baskets filled with an array of tuning implements, she leapt towards Yuiko enthusiastically.Bookmark here

"Yui!!!" hugging her neck, the girl made Yuiko spin in order to avoid both of them falling towards the floor. "What brings ya here? Weren't we all meeting up downstairs???"Bookmark here

"Well..." Yuiko scratched her cheek in nervousness.Bookmark here

"Hm???" The platinum blue-haired girl turned around after letting go of her friend and looked around the place. The clock right above a cloth poster of a certain music band marked the time. "Ohmigosh, I'm late aren't I?"Bookmark here

"That's why I'm here to pick you up!" Happily, Yuiko entered to stand beside the girl. "We'll all go together."Bookmark here

"Hard to believe everything that happened these past semesters. I wouldn't believe myself if I told little old me all this!" crossing her arms while nodding, the pink-eyed girl stared at the cloth poster. "Distance won't matter between us!"Bookmark here

"Indeed it will not, I will make sure of it."Bookmark here

"That's what I like to hear from ya, my cutesy little Yui!"Bookmark here

Bowing against the poster cloth, the beautiful girl gave a word of thanks towards it. Yuiko could see a woman that could be around sixteen or eighteen years old, with orange wavy hair wearing a black short dress while holding a microphone, singing with all her might surrounded by another four girls whose appearances could barely be made out but you could clearly see the instruments they played: drums, guitar, bass and piano.Bookmark here

"Good job during practice today!!" The girl said with a big spurt of energy to then rise up. "I will keep on doing my best!"Bookmark here

"You always thank them, don't you?" Yuiko smiled sweetly.Bookmark here

"Of course I do, they're my favourite band after all!! Even if they have gone their separate ways years ago and aren't a thing anymore, I will play as long as I live until I form my own band and meet up with the leader!"Bookmark here

"That's such a wonderful dream, Hatsuka."Bookmark here

Nodding, the girl placed both hands on her hips affirming her aspiration.Bookmark here

"Now, now! Let's go!!" Yelling, Hatsuka pushed Yuiko outside while closing the clubroom.Bookmark here

"Where were the others?" Yuiko suddenly asked.Bookmark here

"Oh, they left already. Ya know how I can be a pushover about personal practice! No one came but it's all good! We aren't even a band nor anything, we're just a couple of gals playing the instruments we like. That's all I reckon!" Smiling brightly, Hatsuka took Yuiko's hand and both calmly walked downstairs towards the Investigative Literature Club.Bookmark here

"Say, Yui... Tell me more about this premonition ya have!" making small talk, Hatsuka's eyes sparkled with interest towards her best friend.Bookmark here

"It is not even a premonition... it's just... something I feel?" Even Yuiko was confused.Bookmark here

"That's what a premonition is called!" Halting, Hatsuka pointed towards Yuiko with her index finger. "That feeling when ya heart beats insanely fast and whatchamacallit... goes bang bang."Bookmark here

A nervous smiled escaped the orange-eyed girl.Bookmark here

"Honestly... I don't know how to explain it. I feel... something warm and light. As if... I were about to see someone I haven't seen for a very, very long time and my heart aches..."Bookmark here

"That's sounds so romantic!! Maybe a cute gal?? Or a handsome boy!! Although I would prefer a girl, I want to marry all of them!" Hatsuka's train of thought stopped, holding Yuiko's hand. "Of course, you're the one who stole my heart so I'll marry you first!"Bookmark here

Yuiko thought her cheeks lit up.Bookmark here

"Neeways, our small upperclassman must be fuming with my delay, let's hurry up!!"Bookmark here

Guiding her, both girls ran towards that one special place inside the monochrome school.Bookmark here

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"My, my, Mistress! How come the clubroom is a mess? It is clear... I cannot take my eyes off you not even for a second. By doing so, I have failed one of the first duties of a Misato Trained Full-fledged maid. If this keeps up, I'll be a disgrace and tarnish the prestigious Misato-Manfredi Association! This time, swearing on my pride as one of the handmaids of your lineage I will be by your side even more than twenty-four hours a day the seven days of the week! I swear I will or Shioriko Misato is not my name!"Bookmark here

Pulling out of a small leather compartment she had right on her hip, a short dark chestnut-haired girl with emerald eyes took out a white maid apron from it, wearing it right on top of her black dress school uniform with a determined look on her face.Bookmark here

Yuiko and Hatsuka were received by an everyday scene once they opened the clubroom's door.Bookmark here

Apparently, the petite girl had made a mess while trying to store her favourite manga away after catching up with the latest volume and tripped over a tower of books, hitting the shelf and many of them came tumbling down. She was right on the floor, clearly pissed off while the self-proclaimed student-maid made a fuzz out of it, immediately tidying up the place.Bookmark here

"You cannot make that up, it's impossible to make a day have more than twenty-four hours..." grumbling under her breath, the auburn-haired girl stood up.Bookmark here

"Hm? Doesn't my Mistress know that specialized Misato trained maids have time-manipulating abilities?"Bookmark here

"Don't be stupid, that's silly. I have enough with your swords obsession pulling them out of your apron out of nowhere. Seriously, where do you even store them?"Bookmark here

"My, Mistress Camellia, that's a secret!"Bookmark here

"You truly do piss me off..." sitting down on the sofa, she gave a deep sigh.Bookmark here

"It seems Miss Tsukiame and Miss Hanyū have arrived just in time. It is a pleasure seeing you this fine morning." Bowing down, the personal maid of their upperclassman salutes them both.Bookmark here

"Finally you're both here. Now we can leave and end this school formality," the girl stood up and went outside.Bookmark here

"Wait, Mistress!!" rushing after her, Shioriko quickened her pace.Bookmark here

"Natsume sure is one interesting gal." Sheepishly smiling, Hatsuka mentioned Camellia.Bookmark here

"She isn't a long lost descendant of Souseki Natsume for nothing," Yuiko added.Bookmark here

"Or so she says. Yet she has such a cute maid so it must be true!"Bookmark here

A sudden silence enveloped both girls, the early morning birds chirping away the stillness that formed between the two. The silence that hung in the air like the suspended moment before a falling glass shatters on the ground. The silence was like a gaping void, needing to be filled with sounds, words, anything. It was eerily unnatural, given that anywhere Yuiko went alongside Hatsuka, bright sounds could be heard similarly to beautiful music. Silence seeped into Yuiko's every pore, like a poison slowly paralyzing her from either speech or movement.Bookmark here

Why does it hurt?Bookmark here

It lingered in the air, thick and heavy, like a blanket.Bookmark here

There was absolute stillness. No air stirred the grass from the outside or leaves. No clouds drifted in the sky of blue above. No water dripped or flowed. Not a sound could be heard either close at hand or in the far off distance. Even her own breath seemed to die as soon as it left her mouth. It was an eerie sort of tranquillity, so instead of being soothed her senses became heightened.Bookmark here

In those frozen seconds, she felt her world completely stopped.Bookmark here

"Say, Yuiko..."Bookmark here

Strange. It's so strange for Hatsuka to call me Yuiko. Why do I fathom the inevitable?Bookmark here

"I hope you find what you're looking for. I hope that premonition you have becomes true, so you can finally feel what happiness feels like."Bookmark here

She gazed into her soul; her eyes of diamond pink scrutinizing things inside of which Yuiko could only dream of seeing in herself.Bookmark here

The sun poured down on them, showering the girls with beams of light.Bookmark here

“You are like a fruitless flower that will achieve purity.”Bookmark here

Hatsuka smiled coyly, but then again, Yuiko had only ever seen her true, genuine smile only once. The way she looked at someone was very observant. As if she was studying every single bit of them until she had a picture of them wherever she went. She had a photographic memory. Never forgetting a single thing.Bookmark here

That was why Hatsuka knew Yuiko perfectly well, even more than Yuiko herself.Bookmark here

Yuiko knew something was missing. That something was wrong with her.Bookmark here

However, she was unable to know what it was.Bookmark here

Hatsuka knew but swore to never tell her until the day finally comes when she realizes it all by herself.Bookmark here

"I hope that the lock to your heart finds the key that will open it."Bookmark here

"Hatsuka..." Yuiko clenched her hands on her chest.Bookmark here

Looking inside her pocket, the platinum blue-haired girl took out a small bunny made out of cloth. Taking Yuiko's hands, she gave it to her, closing her palms.Bookmark here

"Take this. That way, I'll always be with ya!"Bookmark here

The white cloth was pristine, the marbled black dot eyes of the rabbit sparkling alongside the aquamarine coloured dress it wore. Behind it's back, it had a small loop which meant the bunny could be used as a scrunchie.Bookmark here

"Thank you, Hatsuka. I will treasure it for as long as I live."Bookmark here

"Now, let us go and mark the newest chapter of your life!"Bookmark here

Taking Yuiko out of her cocoon, Hatsuka broke the walls and pulled her towards the Closing Ceremony. A Closing Ceremony that opened a new path for Yuiko Tsukiame.Bookmark here

A path of new encounters.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.