Chapter One: Introductions
Sakura turned around to see her friend Yumi running up to her. Sakura stopped and waited for Yumi to catch up to her.
“Geeze, Sakura-chan,” Yumi complained once she had caught up and the two girls started walking to school together. “You didn’t wait for me today!” She said, turning accusingly to Sakura, her dark mocha eyes filled with annoyance and her pigtails swaying as she turned her head.
“Ah! Sorry.” Sakura immediately apologized, realizing what Yumi had said was true. She always waited for Yumi outside Yumi’s house, but today Sakura had been so lost in thought that she had walked right by it.
Yumi looked into Sakura’s ocean-blue eyes, framed by her waist-length, blonde hair and said: “Geeze, you never change Sakura-chan.”
Yumi and Sakura had known each other almost their entire lives as they were next door neighbors. Sakura’s apartment that she shared with her older sister Mizuki was right beside Yumi’s house, and Sakura had always been notorious for ignoring everything around her when she was thinking about something else. “So what were you thinking about this morning?” Yumi asked, as they walked through the front gates of their school called Lillian, and all-girls catholic school.
“You actually.” Sakura replied, slowing her pace once they entered the school grounds, walking slowly was preferred here at Lilliam. “You, and the fact that you don’t have a grande soeur yet.”
“That again?” Yumi asked, looking exasperatedly at her friend who was like a sister to her. "You worry too much Sakura-chan, and what about you?” Yumi asked as Sakura shrugged her shoulders at the ‘worry too much’ comment. “You don’t have a grande soeur either.”
“I’m different.” Sakura stated as they neared the statue of Maria-Sama. “I don’t want a grande soeur and don’t have one which suits me just fine. You, on the other hand, want one and don’t have one. Besides,” she continued before Yumi had the chance to reply. “Aren’t you the one who is always complaining that you don’t have one yet?”
“Yes, Sakura.” Yumi agreed sheepishly, dropping the honorific and showing how close she and Sakura were.
“Told you so.” Sakura said, grinning at Yumi’s lack of the honorific. At that moment the two of them reached Maria-Sama’s statue. They put their hands together and prayed, standing side by side.
“Let’s go Yumi-chan.” Sakura suggested once they were finished.
“Yes.” Yumi said enthusiastically, happy that she and Sakura were in the same class together this year. As the two girls walked away they heard a voice yelling after them.
“Wait a moment!”
The two girls turned around simultaneously to see none other than Ogasawara Sachiko walking, quickly but gracefully, up to them.
“Good morning, senpai, were you talking to us?” Sakura asked respectfully as Sachiko came up to them.
“Seeing as I came up to and am talking to you now, I would say that I was.” Sachiko replied in her cool, guarded voice. “Specifically I was talking to you.” She continued, turning to Yumi.
“Ah,” Sakura said. “I’ll leave you two alone then. See you in class Yumi.” With that Sakura bowed to Sachiko, waved at Yumi, turned around and kept walking towards the school and her homeroom class.
“So Yumi,” Sakura asked, leaning against Yumi’s desk which was, coincidentally, in front of Sakura’s. “What did Sachiko-sama want with you this morning?”
“Eh? Oh, she just wanted to straighten my collar.” Yumi said, looking up at Sakura, who seemed more distant than she had been this morning.
“I see.” Sakura said, looking at Yumi. “I should have guessed. Sachiko-sama is always picky about the uniforms of other students. She saw your collar was crooked, fixed it and warned you not to let it happen again right?”
“Yeah, that's right.” Yumi replied, thinking that Sakura’s tone had changed slightly when she found out all Sachiko wanted was to fix Yumi’s uniform.
“And I got the whole thing in one magnificent shot!” Tsutako exclaimed, appearing out of nowhere and waving a printed photo in Yumi and Sakura’s faces.
“What?” Yumi looked at the picture and back to Tsutako with an incredulous look on her face.
“Let’s see.” Sakura reached over and took the picture from Yumi. “Hey, this is really good Tsutako-chan, it makes it look like Yumi-chan and Sachiko-sama are soeurs.”
“WHAT?” Yumi exclaimed, blushing a deep red. “That’s not...”
“I know it’s not.” Tsutako said, cutting Yumi off and taking the picture back from Sakura. “That’s not the reason I showed it to you. I wanted to get your permission to use this photo in the display for the photography club. Of course, I’ll have to get the permission of Sachiko-sama as well, but since I found you first I thought I would get your permission before hers. So can I?” She asked, leaning in to Yumi with an expectant glint in her eye.
“Y-yeah, sure you can.” Yumi gave permission as she and Sakura sweat-dropped at Tsutako’s insistence.
“Great!” Tsutako exclaimed. “Now we just have to find and get permission from Sachiko-sama.” Before Sakura could ask what Tsutako meant by ‘we’ the class started and the three of them had to take their seats.
“Yumi!” Sakura called. It was after school and Sakura had waited an extra hour by the statue of Maria-Sama for Yumi to show up so they could walk home together like they always did, but today, Yumi didn’t show up. “Yumi!” Sakura called again, walking through the school grounds and starting to get worried, she couldn’t find Yumi anywhere. “Geeze, where could she be?” Sakura asked herself as she stopped and stood under a tree in the middle of a clearing a few kilometres away from the Rose Mansion. “Oh well, no helping it.” Sakura sighed as she prepared herself for what she was going to do next. She inhaled and exhaled three times before inhaling for the last time. “YUMI!” Sakura bellowed, putting all her energy and force into making herself as loud as she possibly could, which, for some reason, was pretty loud. “YUMI!” She bellowed again. “WHERE ARE YOU!?”
“When did this happen?” Sachiko, who was sitting in a chair in the Yamayurikai meeting room at the Rose Mansion and looking at the picture from that morning that Tsutako had just presented to her, asked with a confused look on her face.
*Does she not remember?* Yumi thought to herself as she sat in the room with the whole of the Yamayurikai, still shocked that Sachiko had asked Yumi to be her petite soeur.
“Wow,” Satou Sei, also known as Rosa Gigantea, said in disbelief, ignoring Sachiko’s question. “This really does make the two of you look like soeurs.” The rest of the Yamayurikai nodded in agreement.
Before Yumi could say anything to these claims, Tsutako’s head shot up, a confused look on her face. “Did you hear that?” She asked, straining to catch the sound again.
“Hear what?” Yoshino, a first year and the petit soeur of Rosa Foetida en Bouton asked.
The room fell silent and you could hear someone shouting at the top of their lungs: “YUMI! WHERE ARE YOU!?” Yumi and Tsutako sweat-dropped as they recognized the voice calling Yumi’s name.
“Yumi-chan?” Tsutako asked, turning to her friend. “Did you tell Sakura-chan that you were going to be here after school today?”
“Umm...” Yumi thought back to all the conversations she had with Sakura that day. “No, I don’t think I did.” She concluded sheepishly.
“I thought so.” Tsutako nodded her head. “I should call her then.” Before anyone could ask what she was doing, she whipped out her cell-phone and hit speed dial. “Hey Sakura-chan,” she began talking to the other, hysterical girl. “Yes, Yumi-chan’s with me, no, she’s fine, yes, she forgot to tell you that she would be staying after school for a little bit.” A short pause. “We’re at the Rose Mansion.” Another pause. “Okay, see you soon.” Yumi sweat-dropped again at the number of questions Sakura had asked about her.
“What was that about?” Youko, Rosa Chinensis, asked Tsutako as soon as she had hung up.
“That was Yumi-chan’s friend and neighbour, Sakura-chan, going frantic cause Yumi-chan forgot to tell her that she was staying after school for a little bit today.”
“It sounds like Sakura-san worries about you a lot Yumi-san.” Shimako, a first year and Rosa Gigantea en Bouton, said.
“Tell me about it.” Yumi sighed. “She’s always freaking out over the smallest things when it comes to me. Honestly, it’s more like she’s my older sister instead of my best friend.”
“So where is she?” Sachiko asked as she turned to Tsutako.
“She’s on her way.” Tsutako replied. No sooner were the words out of her mouth then there was a loud, frantic, knock at the door.
“I’ll get it.” Sei said as she stood up and walked over to the door. As soon as the door opened, with an exclamation of “Yumi!”, Sakura burst into the room, immediately tripping over her own two feet and crashing directly into Sei, which sent them both sprawling onto the floor.
“Ouch...” Sakura, who had been temporarily knocked out because of the force of the fall, came to, only to find her ocean-blue eyes staring into Sei’s light brown ones.
“My, my,” Sei said, giving Sakura a mischievous smile. “You’re very forward aren’t you?” she asked as a look of utter shock and mortification crossed Sakura’s face.
“Th-th-that’s not...I mean...I'm so sorry!” Sakura said, leaping off of Sei, her face bright red and the look of shock and mortification still on her face.
“Oh, leave her alone Sei,” Youko cut in before Sei could say anything that might either embarrass or scar Sakura even more. “She was just worried about Yumi-san, right?” Youko asked, turning to Sakura who, looking at the floor, just nodded her head, too embarrassed to say anything.
“Geeze,” Sei said, getting up off the floor. “Way to ruin my fun Youko.” This statement made Sakura’s face turn an even brighter shade of red, if that was even possible.
“I-I-I'm sorry.” Sakura said again, still staring at the floor.
“Don’t worry about it Sa-chan.” Tsutako said, using the nickname Sakura’s friends had given her when they were in middle school at Lillian.
“Yea we, well most of us, all know how you get when you freak out and panic.” Yumi said, surprised that Sakura somewhat flinched at her nickname, the first time she ever had as far as Yumi knew.
“Um...” Sakura said, lifting her head up enough for everyone to see her fading red face, except for her eyes which she kept hidden beneath her bangs. “Yumi-san,” Yumi started at the tone, and honorific, Sakura used to address her with. “If you’re not done here yet...um...I’ll just...go home then...see you later.” With that, Sakura turned and ran from the room, jumped over the banister, not bothering to run down all the stairs, out the door and away from the Rose Mansion
“Does she do that all the time? Jumping over banisters to skip running down stairs, I mean.” Sei asked, rubbing the back of her head in confusion.
“No she doesn’t.” Yumi answered, still confused as to why Sakura used -san instead of -chan which she normally used as an honorific, if she used one at all.
“Usually she slides down the hand railing.” Tsutako added as everyone in the room sweat-dropped, except for Sachiko who, for some reason, still had the same cold, if not colder than usual, expression she had had since Sakura burst into the room.
“I wonder what’s bothering her.” Yumi said to herself as she turned her attention back to the current, problematic situation of being asked to be Sachiko’s petite soeur.