Chapter 5

Painful Love

The bells rang, signaling the end of school. After the requisite bow to the teacher, the classroom suddenly exploded into a flurry of activity. Some students swiftly gathered up their bags, some met up to coordinate their after-school plans, and some simply started chatting.

Only Utena continued to sit just as she had during class, staring out the window. She’d been in that kind of mood that all day.

It was all because of the double date the day before. After Saionji and Wakaba had met up with her and Touga, they’d all ridden back out the forest without any more conversation. There, Touga had suggested parting ways, and the date had ended there.

       I wasn’t able to get a straight answer out of him…

She’d been brooding over that since yesterday.

Was Kiryuu Touga her prince, or not? Yet another chance to ask him directly had slipped through her fingers.

Of course, at the time, she hadn't wanted to ask. But now that she hadn't, she wanted to after all. Which didn't change the fact that she couldn't bring herself to do it when they were face-to-face.

       I just can't do it...

When it came to her prince, Utena immediately became just like anyone else. She lost her courage, and became another timid, nervous girl.

"What's wrong, Utena?"

Wakaba's voice pulled Utena back to reality.

"Oh, class is over?"

"Well, duh! It's been done for a while!" Wakaba responded, looking amazed.

Now that she looked around, Utena saw that there were only a few students left in the classroom. Everyone else must have already left.

"Geez, Utena... you're acting really weird today!"

"I am?"


Just hearing that didn't return Utena to her usual energetic self, though. And though she normally welcomed hearing Wakaba's lively voice, today it seemed less fun and more just plain loud.

"I've just got something on my mind. It's nothing major."

"Yeah?" Wakaba asked. But she didn't press the matter further.

Honestly, she wanted to grill Utena about what had happened yesterday with the Student Council President. However, with the mood Utena was in today, it seemed like any such efforts would be futile.

"Well, if you have any problems, come to your super best bud Wakaba for advice, okay? See you later!" 

Wakaba clapped Utena on the back, then left the classroom in a flash. Utena stared after her for a moment, absentmindedly.

"Wakaba seems kind of happy today, don't you think?"

"Yes. She's been like that all day," replied Anthy, who had been standing silently near Utena for some time. "Something good must've happened to her."

Utena and Anthy

"Hmmm..." Utena looked back to Anthy. It was unusual for her to pay much attention to Wakaba. Maybe Wakaba was just in such a good mood, it was hard not to notice.

       Geez, and I couldn't even tell... I'm so out of it today. Nothing, it seemed, could lift Utena out of her funk.

***   ***

Wakaba ran, clutching her bag with both hands. Inside was a boxed lunch that she'd stayed up until almost midnight making. Of course, it was for Saionji.

She'd made light foods, suitable for eating right after practice: a sandwich and a few small side dishes. Wakaba didn't usually cook much, and even those were a bit of a stretch for her.

       I wonder if Saionji will eat them...

Her sandwiches didn't taste bad, but nobody would call them pretty. Still, she thought the wieners cut into the shapes of little octopi were pretty well-done.

       It'll be fine. They taste good, anyway. And I poured my feelings into them! ...oh, what am I saying? <3

That's what was going through her mind as she split away from the main school buildings and drew near the kendo hall. Any number of girls with eyes for Saionji were already camped around the windows, peering in. Every Saionji fan knew that he'd get upset if you actually entered the building. All you could do was peer in and hope you caught a glimpse of him.

       I used to just be one of the crowd, too...

Seeing the other girls, Wakaba briefly indulged a warm feeling of superiority. Today, she was different. She didn't have to peek any more.

Not slackening her pace, Wakaba entered the kendo hall.

The girls gathered around the windows were split between two reactions. Some felt pity for this foolish, idiotic girl. Others were filled with schadenfreude, gleefully anticipating Saionji-sama's rage.

But a moment later, they all fell into shock and despair.


"Oh, it's you. What is it?"

Saionji appeared suspicious at Wakaba's sudden appearance, certainly. But to the surprise of all the onlookers, he didn't immediately throw her out.

"It's about time for your break." Holding her bag, Wakaba smiled broadly.

***   ***

       Out on the hill that stretched across the school grounds -

Utena leaned back against a gently sloping patch of grass, and stared up at the sky.  She did this sometimes when she wanted to think... and sometimes when she wanted to zone out and not think about anything at all.

"My prince..." Utena murmured, still skygazing.

Anthy, who was usually glued to her side, wasn't around. Utena, feeling that she wanted to be alone for a while, had told her to go on ahead.

"He told me to come here, so it makes sense that he's a student..."

Utena rolled over onto her side. As she did so, she noticed something pressing into the side of her leg. Reaching down, she pulled the offending item out of her pocket. It was a white, shell-shaped compact... the matching one that Wakaba had bought for her.

       A compact, huh...?

Skillfully, Utena popped it open with one hand. As it opened, the light from the sun reflected off the mirror inside, bathing Utena's face. Utena tilted it away to avoid the glare.

It was her first compact. The mirror reflected Utena's face sharply and clearly, so much so that Utena felt a little embarrassed.

       What am I doing...? Utena sighed, staring at herself in the mirror. She didn't think she was especially ugly. But the role of a princess pining for a prince didn't feel right to her.

       Going on dates with a boyfriend or whatever isn't my thing, I guess.

As Utena was lost in self-reflection, she heard a voice from above.

"How unusual – seeing you with a compact."

It was a familiar voice. Straining her neck to see, Utena saw Juri standing over her.

"Are you switching over from dressing as a prince to being a princess?"

Hearing Juri's words, Utena pulled herself up to a sitting position, looking discouraged.

"It doesn't suit me, right?"

"I didn't say that. On the contrary, I think it suits you surprisingly well."


"Could it be that this side of you is more real?" Juri's tone was unusually kind. It reassured Utena, who would ordinarily have objected violently to those words.

"Are you in love with Touga?" Juri suddenly asked, bluntly. There was no ambiguity to the question – Utena had no choice but to face it.


Was she? That was the question that Utena had been struggling with since yesterday... no, since the day she first met Touga.

The playboy who had stolen her first kiss.

The young man who had stared up at the castle in the sky.

The one who'd told her not to lose her strength and nobility – words that only Utena and her prince should know.

The one who might be her prince... Touga Kiryuu.

"I don't know," was Utena's answer to Juri's question. "I don't know. I'm not even sure what that means..." Maybe that was the question that had been bothering her all day, if she was being honest with herself.

"It's okay to fall in love with someone." Juri wasn't looking at Utena. She was staring at the sky – no, staring into space. "But if you fall in love too deeply, it will hurt you. That's just how it is."

Utena looked up at Juri, surprised at her words.

Juri, still staring off into the distance, looked completely different than the girl Utena knew: the one they called 'the Leopardess.'

       If you fall in love too deeply... it will hurt...

Utena didn't know whether that was true. But it sounded right. So, turning it over in her heart, she didn't ask any more questions, and just stared up at the sky alongside Juri. Juri didn't say anything more, either.

       If you fall in love too deeply, it will hurt...

They stayed like that, for a while.

***   ***

"What are you doing, Wakaba?"

It was night. Wakaba was in the kitchen, and the one who spoke was her dormmate, Yamamura Keiko. It was rare to see Wakaba here – working with ingredients was not one of her strengths.

"Oh, uh... nothing much."

"Weren't you rummaging around in here last night, too? What's up?"

"Well, I thought I'd, like, make a bento lunch."

"You? Did something happen!?" Keiko asked, with exaggerated surprise. "You must have a fever or something. Or you got such a bad score on a test, it scrambled your brain."

"Hey, it's nothing like that!" Wakaba protested, pouting. "I'm just kinda in a tough spot financially this month. I thought I'd cook some more to, like, save on expenses."

"Oh, that makes sense." Hearing Wakaba's explanation, Keiko abruptly lost interest. "But you're such a terrible cook, you're going to mess up and waste a lot of ingredients. It'll probably cost you even more in the end."

"Keiko. Remember that I'm holding a kitchen knife." Wakaba brandished the object in question.

"Just kidding, just kidding! Wakaba, you have what it takes to create the ultimate lunch. Give it your all."

Keiko fled the room. She knew Wakaba had been joking herself, of course – she was grinning as she left.

"Jeez, that was rude. I guess I have a reputation."

Wakaba looked down at her completed octopus-shaped wieners. Saionji had looked kind of embarrassed, but he'd told her that they tasted good. And he'd eaten the sandwich and drank all the tea, too. Of course, after he'd eaten, he'd gone straight back to practicing kendo, but it still made Wakaba unbelievably happy.

And to think that she'd once given up on him!

Her prince - cold and kind of misogynistic, but kind, deep inside.

Wakaba was conscious that she was falling for Saionji even more deeply than before. And at the same time, he felt more within reach than ever.

       Before, I thought it was just a hopeless crush...

She thought back to the days when she'd watched Saionji from afar, alongside the rest of the girls. 

She remembered the tears she'd shed, the day he'd posted her love letter in the hall.

And the moment she'd unthinkingly slapped his face.

She saw herself in her various reminiscences, floating up and then fading away again. It was like a montage of flashbacks in a movie. Indeed, Wakaba felt like she'd become a movie protagonist, herself.

A perfectly ordinary girl, one of countless others. Lacking any particular worth, she lives a barely-noticeable existence. But by complete accident, she meets the most popular person on campus, and they fall in love.

It was the sort of situation she used to read about a lot in girls' comics. When she was young, she'd believed that something like that would happen to her some day. But as she'd gotten a little older, she'd realized that that sort of thing wasn't real – it was nothing more than a fantasy. That's why it was in fiction.  Comics and TV dramas presented a slanted view of the world.

And yet...

       Maybe dreams really do come true sometimes. Maybe princes really do appear before ordinary girls. Maybe... maybe it's happening to me...

Were her dreams really becoming reality, or was this nothing more than a very realistic dream? Her heart trembled.

***   ***

       In the middle of the night -

The moonlight bathed the inside of the kendo hall faintly.

Two men holding shinai faced off against each other.

"It's quite an honor for you to have invited me here, my dearest friend," Touga smiled.

But the response he got from his good friend Saionji was cold.

"Don't misunderstand me. It's just that you're the only one who can give me a good fight."

Saionji's skill was unmatched in the prefecture. Even students in college sports clubs couldn't stand up to him. Since they were young, Touga had been his only equal in swordsmanship.

"It makes me remember our middle school days."

"Yes... we used to fight every day, back then."

"Because I was the only one who could give you a good fight?"

"Yes. But that wasn't the only reason."

Saionji dropped his sword to gedan, the  stance where the sword was in its lowest position. That was unusual for him – his specialty was jodan, a stance where the sword was raised above the head.

"You changed," Saionji spat out, like it was a surprise attack. "Ever since you received the letter with the rose seal, you were different."

"I am who I am. I didn't particularly plan to change."

"Hmph. Well, I don't intend to engage in a debate with you."

Saionji's eyes narrowed slightly, and he inched his left foot forward just a touch. He was preparing to strike, Touga knew. The signs were almost imperceptible, and he only recognized them because he had had matches with Saionji countless times before.

Touga lowered his own shinai to match Saionji's. In such an exchange, he had the slight edge.

Measuring the distance between himself and his opponent, he waited for Saionji's attack.

"Let's go!" Saioni bellowed, with ridiculous earnestness. As he did so, he lunged forward to attack.

Touga let a small smile play about his lips, as he raised his shinai to block Saionji's. Saionji's weapon, in turn, was aimed for Touga's throat.

Touga deftly deflected his attack, simultaneously striking Saionji's gauntlet... or so he had intended. However...

Somehow Saionji's shinai slipped past his. No, it was just that Saionji had moved more quickly than him.


Saionji's weapon impacted against his body. Touga fell backwards, turning it into a somersault. The blow had missed any vital points, but struck his collar hard. A dull, throbbing pain remained in his shoulder.

"Tomorrow night, I will challenge Tenjou Utena," Saionji bluntly declared, the moonlight at his back. "Touga, I'll never hand over the Power to Revolutionize the World to you." His tone was firm.

Watching him, Touga's expression hardened.

***   ***

"Is love painful?" Utena suddenly murmured.

She'd been turning Juri's words over and over in her heart, until suddenly they spilled out. That's why they had been so soft – only Wakaba, who was right next to her, heard them at all.

"What did you say, Utena?"

However, she still hadn't been able to pick out the contents. Relieved, Utena decided to dodge the question.

"No, I didn't say anything."

"You didn't?"

"Yeah, you must be hearing things."

It was the next day. Utena was still feeling out of sorts after her meeting with Touga.

She'd been acting absentminded, making mistakes not just on homework but in her specialty, sports. Even her homeroom teacher had noticed, and suggested that she go to the nurse's office.

       Does love... hurt?

Now, on top of wondering whether Touga was her prince, she had what Juri had said to grapple with. "Love hurts." She wasn't sure she completely understood it, but the words remained with her.

       I guess I'm still working out my feelings since yesterday. Am I feeling love? Is it just hard to tell because of the pain that comes with it?

       Thinking of Touga does make my heart race. Is that love? Or is it just because I think he might be my prince...?

       I'm just not sure. No matter how much I think about it...

"Hey, Utena. Are you okay?"

Utena's contemplation was interrupted. She realized that Wakaba was looking at her with concern.

"Oh, sorry. Just thinking about something."

"You've been acting weird since yesterday, Utena."

"You think so?"

"Absolutely." Wakaba replied firmly.

       Yeah... I guess this is pretty unlike me, huh?

"Hey, Wakaba. You have any plans later?"


"Wanna go see a movie or something? Whatever you want to see is cool with me."

It was unusual for Utena to invite her out like that. Ordinarily, Wakaba would have agreed in a heartbeat.

But today...

"...what about Anthy?" Wakaba asked, uncharacteristically.

"She's not around. She has some errand or something that she does on Fridays."

"Oh..." Wakaba was not usually known for her concern about Anthy.

"I mean, if you don't have any other plans..."

"Um... I'm sorry, Utena. I kind of promised to meet up with Keiko." She meant Yamamura Keiko, another student in the South Dorm.

"Keiko, huh...? You know, I haven't hung out with her lately either. Ever since I got moved to the East Dorm, I hardly see the South Dorm folks." It felt like a long time ago, but until just a month ago, Utena had lived in the same dorm as Wakaba. "Hey, Wakaba, you mind if I tag along with..."

"I'm sorry, Utena! I've gotta go." Wakaba ran off, almost fleeing.

Utena cocked her head quizzically, but decided not to think too deeply about it. She looked around the room for something to distract herself other than a movie.

Utena was so caught up in herself, she still hadn't noticed the changes in Wakaba...

***   ***

       I'm sorry, Utena... Wakaba inwardly apologized to Utena, as she headed towards the kendo hall.

Her appointment with Keiko was, of course, a lie. Actually, like the day before, she was going to bring Saionji a boxed meal.

Usually, she would have been happy to go to a movie with Utena, but today she'd had to pass. Saionji was more important to her than Utena right now.

       Female friendship is fickle, I guess... she thought to herself as she ran, smiling and clutching the bag that contained the bento box.

Today, it again included a sandwich and an arrangement of side dishes. She'd even prepared slices of apple cut to look like rabbits for desert.

       I wonder if Saionji-san will like it...

She imagined his pleased reaction at seeing the apple slices.

"Oh ho. Last time was octopi, and now rabbits. You're quite good with your hands."

"Oh, it was nothing! Any girl could do something like that."

"Not at all. Your culinary abilities are exceptional. You're going to make your husband very happy some day."

"Oh, Saionji-sama, stop it!"

That was the conversation that leapt into her mind.

Soon, she drew near the kendo hall, and went straight into the dojo. The girls assembled outside the window broke out in unfriendly whispers, but Wakaba paid them no heed.

"Hello! Is Saionji-san here?" she asked cheerfully as she entered. 

The uniformed club members looked up, confused.

"The captain isn't here yet." one offered, looking uncomfortable.

"Oh... he's not?" Indeed, she didn't spy him anywhere. "Does he have the day off?"

"No, it's nothing like that..."

"I'll bet he's in the rose garden, like always," suggested one boy, who was wearing glasses. He stood out from the rest of the crowd, since he wasn't wearing a kendo uniform. He was probably the manager.

"Hey now..."

"Oh, it's okay to tell her, don't you think?"

"I don't know..."

"Um, what are you talking about?" Wakaba cut in without thinking. The conversation was feeling kind of awkward.

"The club president always goes to the rose garden around this time on Friday."

"The rose garden...?"

"Yeah. If you want to catch up with him, you should head over there."

       Saionji-san in the rose garden...? The word "rose" made Wakaba feel strangely uneasy.

       The rose garden... Saionji-san?

Saionji and Anthy

"Anthy, I know how much you must have suffered until now. But it ends today." Saionji passionately declared.

In contrast, Anthy listened passively. It wasn't even clear she'd heard him.

"Tonight, I will challenge Tenjou Utena to a duel. I am sure to be the victor. Our engagement will be restored, and you will become mine again." His voice was full of confidence. Apparently, as far as he was concerned, the result was a foregone conclusion.

"In order to regain you, I have undergone intense special training for the last month. Tenjou is no match for me anymore."

Since Saionji had lost his duel to Utena, he'd been coming to see Anthy in the rose garden every week: a fleeting reunion between two star-crossed lovers.

Anthy didn't react to Saionji's obvious passion. She kept coming to the rose garden on Fridays as usual, and one couldn't be sure whether she looked forward to seeing him, or whether she was just there to water the flowers.

There was no doubt in Saionji's mind, of course.

"Anthy, you are my Rose Bride. A flower that belongs to no-one else." 

At those words, the door of the rose garden, where only Student Council members where supposed to be, shook softly.

***   ***

"You are my flower, my Rose Bride."

When she heard those words, Wakaba had accidentally shaken the door. She'd been holding it half open so she could hear Saionji, eavesdropping on the two out of curiosity.

       His Rose Bride... That phrase rang alarm bells in Wakaba's head.

       Rose Bride... Anthy is the Rose Bride... 

She dredged up her memories of the day she'd slapped Saionji...

"On the day we were engaged, you swore to me..."

"Shut up! The Rose Bride belongs to me!"

"We were engaged! I am Anthy's true..."


The Rose Bride.


To Saionji.

She felt like she was starting to put together the scattered pieces of the puzzle.

       Anthy is the Rose Bride...? That's what she is...?

"She has some errand or something that she does on Fridays."

"The club president always goes to the rose garden around this time on Friday."

Utena's and the kendo boy's words matched up.

       On Fridays, Saionji meets with Anthy. The two of them are surrounded by the scent of flowers. "Don't get involved with the Rose Bride" – that's what he told me. He meant Anthy?

       Why? Why Anthy? What kind of relationship do the two of them have!?

       I don't get it. That girl... and Saionji-san...?

       That Anthy girl... Anthy...

Her mind a blur, Wakaba fled the scene.

***   ***

Himemiya Anthy.

A second-year middle-school student at Ohtori Academy.

A girl.

Enrolled in C Class.

Staying in the East Dorm, same as Utena.

She was Utena's friend – she didn't seem to have any others.

And she was the Rose Bride...

Even though they'd been in the same class since they were first-years, Wakaba knew surprisingly little about her. Where she was from, what her family was like, her hobbies, her club activities... nothing.

       What kind of a person is she...?

While Wakaba was turning this around in her head, she ended up at the reference library. This was where materials relating to the school, including student registries, were stored. Information about students' families and hometowns should be included in the registers as well.


       She's not here...?

Her name wasn't listed with the rest of second-year, Class C. Wakaba's name was, as was Utena's; Anthy's was the only name missing.

       What does that mean? Who is she? Is her name really even Himemiya Anthy?

Wakaba looked over the other class lists, just to be sure. But she didn't see Anthy's name on any of them.

       Himemiya Anthy... that girl is seriously weird.

Glancing around the room, Wakaba spied a door across from the desks and bookshelves, labeled "For Student Council Use."

       Maybe in there...

Standing, Wakaba slowly drew closer to the door.

       A gloomy girl who only talks about roses... before she got involved with Utena, that's all I thought of her as.

       But now that I think about it, that rose garden is also only supposed to be for the Student Council. Why is Anthy allowed inside, I wonder...? Is she also a council member? But...

       You know, how are the Student Council members chosen, anyway? I never thought to question it before, but I don't remember hearing about elections or nominations or anything.

       "For Student Council Use." I'll bet that in there...

Wakaba reached out and took the doorknob...

And turned.


It turned without difficulty. It was unlocked!

       There's gotta be something in here. About Anthy, and the Student Council, and the Rose Bride...

       It'll be okay. Nobody ever comes to the reference library. If I'm fast, nobody will ever know I was here...

       Anthy, this is all your fault. Utena, and Saionji, and me... you mess things up for everyone.

But just as Wakaba was about to open the door...

"And what are you doing?"

A voice rang out from behind Wakaba, freezing her in place.

       I've been caught!?

"That room is prohibited to everyone but members of the Student Council. It would be a problem if you just entered freely."

       What should I do... I'm in real trouble. Should I run? I don't think they've seen my face yet...

       But it sounds like this is a guy. If I ran, he'd probably be able to catch up to me, and then there's no way I could make an excuse...

As she was hesitating, the boy behind her put his hand on her shoulder.

"That's a middle-school uniform, isn't it? Here, look at me."

       Well... I guess I have to.

Resignedly, Wakaba turned around.

"Oh? Aren't you Tenjou Utena's...?"

Standing before her was Kiryuu Touga.

At least it was somebody who knew her. Wakaba managed to regain a small measure of her composure.

"I'm sorry... I didn't see what was written there." Wakaba looked down hurriedly. Touga's gaze felt like it was piercing through her, down to her soul.

"Looking for something? Can I lend a hand?"

"Uh, no, it's okay. I already found it."  Lowering her gaze again, Wakaba scurried off to one side of Touga. She was too distracted to notice that she had left the student directory that she'd been looking through open on the table...

***   ***

"Tenjou's friend... her name was Wakaba, I believe." Touga said to himself, gazing after Wakaba.

Obviously, she hadn't overlooked the sign. The question was, why was she trying to go in there?

"Well, well."

Touga spied the open student register. There was no doubt that Wakaba had used it.

It was turned to middle school, second-year, Class C. The class that Tenjou Utena and Himemiya Anthy where in.

"Ah, of course. What a little trouble-maker."

Looking at the section where Anthy should have been, Touga smiled a thin, vicious smile.

***   ***

       Utena's gotta know more about Anthy...

After fleeing the reference library, that had been Wakaba's next thought.

As far as Wakaba could tell, Anthy was close to Utena. They lived together in the East Hall, and they were always together on campus.

Sure, she'd never seen them talk that much, but still, Utena had to know something about Anthy. If she didn't, Wakaba was completely out of ideas. Nobody else voluntarily talked to her.

But even more than that, Utena was the friend Wakaba could most depend on. Whenever she was sad or troubled, she could always talk to Utena.

So, Wakaba ran straight for the East Hall. To Wakaba's knowledge, Utena wasn't helping out any teams or anything today. She had probably headed straight back to her dorm room.


Wakaba remembered an incident from a few days ago. There had been something on Utena's schedule that she hadn't known about, but that Anthy had.

       Could she have anything else going on today...?

       Wait, no way. Just earlier, she invited me to go to see a movie. Yeah, and I'm the one she asked. Not Anthy, me. I'm her best friend.

       She'll totally be there for me. And she'll listen to what I have to say...

The East Dorm drew into sight. It hadn't been used for more than ten years, and people said it was haunted – but that's where Utena and Anthy were currently living.

Only a month ago, Utena had been Wakaba's roommate. But when she became engaged to the Rose Bride, Anthy, she'd moved to the East Dorm.

Wakaba, of course, didn't know the reason. She just thought it was coincidence that the two had been roomed together.

       This is the East Hall...?

Wakaba finally came to a stop before the front door.

       Seeing it up close, it looks like it's in pretty good condition. It looks so old and creaky from far away...

People stayed away because of the rumors about ghosts, but like the other buildings at Ohtori Academy, it had originally been both stylish and elegant. It was hard to tell because the outside was so covered with ivy,  but the pillars and window-frames were decorated in a way you didn't often see with more subdued, modern architecture.

       I should have come to visit sooner, Wakaba thought, as she took the beautifully-engraved doorknob.

       Is the inside going to actually be pretty too?

Wakaba slowly opened the door. There didn't seem to be anything like a doorbell near the entrance.

"Utena, are you here?" she called in, with the door still only half-open.

She heard no response. The East Dorm was silent.

"Utena, where are you?"

No way around it – this time, she raised her voice.

"It's Wakaba! I'm coming in, okay!?"

But just as she was about to step inside...

"Oh, Wakaba-san." The nearest door opened, and Anthy stepped out.

       Anthy! She's back already!?

"Utena-sama hasn't returned yet."

"Oh, um... do you know where she is?"

"I'm afraid I didn't ask."

Wakaba felt a little relieved by her answer. Anthy didn't know where Utena was, same as herself.

"Well, I guess I'll just wait for her here...?"

"Of course. Utena-sama's room is on the second floor." Anthy turned and pointed up the stairs to show the direction. As she did so, Wakaba got a look at the back of her head.


Anthy was wearing the leaf-shaped hair clip – the one that Wakaba and Saionji had picked out together. The one that Saionji had said was a present for his little sister.

       Why!? Why do you have that? That was... that was the present that we chose together. He sent it to his sister...

The memory of that fun afternoon with Saionji now racked Wakaba with pain. The laughs they had shared together felt like they were mocking her. The meal she had spent all night preparing made her go numb, like it was poison.

       And I thought my dreams were coming true... that I was becoming a princess for real... that things were changing...

       This girl!

"The room number, 21, is written on the door... hmm?" When Anthy turned back around, Wakaba was gone.

"What's wrong, Wakaba-san? Did you prefer to wait in the kitchen?"

***   ***

The sounds of steel ringing on steel, and of quick footsteps, reverberated throughout the gym. If your eyes had been closed, you probably would have thought that ten or more combatants were having matches.

In fact, there were only two people moving – Juri and Miki. Their swords were just meeting many times as quickly as in your average fencing match.

Juri and Miki

The other club members, who were nominally supposed to be practicing, were instead just staring wide-eyed at their fierce battle.

"Those two are amazing."

"Seriously. The captain's always been that good, but Mickey's really changed recently."

"Yeah... like, he's fighting more aggressively, or rougher, or something?"

The hubbub around them didn't penetrate the duelists' ears. Their nerves were sharp, but focused solely on the opponent in front of them.

However, though the fight may have been a work of art, it was time for it to conclude.


Caught by a feint and another quick thrust, Miki was disarmed. His sabre went clattering to the ground.

"Again!" Miki picked up his sabre and stood again. But Juri had already lowered her own blade. "Juri-san?"

"Let's take a short break. You too, Miki."

"No, I can keep going."


Juri's tone was strict. There was nothing more Miki could say. But he looked rather displeased.

"Be patient," Juri admonished. She'd told him the same thing during their morning practice.

Since the day before yesterday, Juri and Miki had been practicing on their own in the mornings. However, Juri refused to go beyond the training schedule that she'd devised. Anything more would be too much of a strain.

After their morning session, Miki had said that he still intended to practice normally that evening. That's when Juri had first told him to be patient. It was no good to overwork your body.

On the other hand, she understood that there was no point in doing training that didn't inflict some measure of strain. Miki had wanted harsh training; he reminded her of herself when she was younger.

       Back then, I swung my sword day after day, until it seemed like my body would break. If some well-meaning person had told me to slow down, I probably would have made a face just like his... I wasn't satisfied unless I was pushing myself to my very limit.

"Juri-sempai, I..."

       Unless pushing to my very limit...

"Take a break, Miki. If you don't, we won't be able to keep going this evening."

"Well, alright..."

In response, Juri just gave a sorry, no way around it smile.

       Unless pushing to the very limit... Juri thought again, looking at Miki's pleased face. And...

"You can't forget some things unless you cry until your tears run out," she spoke quietly, inside her fencing mask. Miki didn't hear her.

***   ***

"You can't forget some things unless you cry until your tears run out." Perhaps Wakaba somehow heard Juri's words instead. After all, she was huddled in the corner of her room, clutching her legs to her body, crying her heart out.

The classroom. The gym. The library. The field off to the side of the school building. The cafeteria. The courtyard. And even the rose garden...

Wakaba had looked everywhere for Utena but couldn't find her anywhere. Maybe she had gone into town. Anyway, Wakaba didn't know where Utena was. She wasn't there for her.

       Himemiya Anthy... it's all her fault. Wakaba said that over and over to herself, like a curse.

       Since Utena started living with her, she's changed... she's started saying things about duels and Rose Brides and weird stuff like that.

       And hanging out with Student Council members. Last month, she didn't even know Saionji-san or Mickey's names! What's up with that?

       Anthy... she's so weird. All she does is care for the rose garden.

       But that's not all. She's also the Rose Bride.

       And Saionji-san's... lover...?

She felt another sharp stab of pain in her chest. In a way, she was punishing herself by thinking about this. As if attacking her own shame and regret, she kept repeating those painful words to herself.

As if washing her emotions clean, Wakaba's tears flowed ceaselessly.

How long this continued, she wasn't sure. The sun sank and moonlight began to creep into the room.

       It's night...

Finally out of tears, she looked out the window at the moon...

"Wakaba, you have a package!" one of her dorm friends called from outside her door. "Can I come in?"

She opened the door. The lights weren't on, and when she saw Wakaba squatting in the corner, she was speechless.

"Oh... Wakaba...?" she asked, then faltered.

"Um... I'll just leave the package over here, okay?" she asked, and after doing so, hurried out of the room and shut the door.

Her friend's attitude made Wakaba feel neither lonely nor grateful. She just stared after her, at the small dimly-lit package by the side of the door.

       A package...?

Wakaba sluggishly crawled over to it, and picked it up. It was rather large, but for its size, surprisingly light. The name of the sender wasn't written on it.

       There's a letter.

An envelope was stuck to the side of the box. It had a rose in the style of the Ohtori emblem on it. Wakaba didn't know it, but it looked the same as the letters that contained a Rose Signet.

Inside was a single page of rose-scented stationary. Wakaba held the letter up to the moonlight to read it. Immediately, the words 'the Rose Bride' jumped out at her.


That's what was written on it.

       Dressed as Utena...?

There was a little more written in the letter after that, but before reading on, Wakaba looked in the box. Inside was Utena's school uniform and a wig.

As well as a sword.

From the hilt to the blade, an exact replica of the Sword of Dios...



Cover & Translation Notes
Chapter 1 * Chapter 2 * Chapter 3 * Chapter 4 * Chapter 5 * Chapter 6



Translated by Dallbun, coded by Giovanna, and hosted on Empty Movement.