Chapter Five

It was not something she was going to admit. Hikari sat, patiently and quietly, listening to the presidents of the three schools explain and discuss issues regarding Astraea. But she was terribly bored, and the meager bento lunches that had been provided had not managed to completely fill her. From the corner of her eye she could see Amane; the other girl, however, was not secretive in her boredom – it instead gleamed fairly clearly on her face. But it did not seem that the presidents cared.

On the other three sides of the table sat the presidents: Chikaru, Moriyama Mami, and Kitagawa Yurika. Mami and Yurika were bickering bitterly, their shrill voices seeming to expand infinitely in the damp air while Chikaru remained mostly silent, an amused smirk on her face. Mami and Yurika were happily carrying on the traditional rivalry between Miator and Spica.

“Well, I think that this year Miator should be permitted to host the combined sports’ festival! I can’t think of the last time anyone other than Spica got to do so!”

“You’re kidding, right?” Yurika laughed sarcastically, “Why would anyone other than Spica do it? Spica excels in sports – Miator is more for the quiet academics – don’t you have your own little cultural festival to be concerned with?”

“Cultural festival? You know full well that le Rim has that this year! Miator doesn’t have a single festival scheduled yet!”

“So figure out your own festival! You can’t just go around stealing ours, can’t you guys think of anything? I thought you were supposed to be smart – isn’t that what Miator is all about?”

“Cultural festival, sports’ festival… what on earth is left after that?! I wish someone would tell me why our cultural festival got taken away in the first place!”

“Now, now…” Chikaru interrupted with a smile, “Unfortunately, the festivals were decided by the dearly departed Miyuki and Shion, so at this point it is a bit impossible to alter them. Moriyama, there is still the early summer festival, no one is doing that yet, and I personally would be happy to have Miator do that one – would you like to?”

Mami looked sulkily towards Chikaru, pausing before finally admitting a grudging, “Yes.”

At the other side of the table, Yurika preened, her smile altogether too-full of teeth.

“Well,” Chikaru clapped her hands together, “Now that that is straightened away, I think we should leave further discussion until next meeting – we have run a bit over, and I’m sure Hikari and Amane have other things to attend to.” She turned to the Etoile, “Correct?”

Amane seemed relieved as she answer, “Yes, we have to get over to the green house before dark.” She stood, taking Hikari’s hand as she did so, “Good evening.”

Hikari inclined her head before departing, “I hope you have a good evening.”

Past the door, Amane let her arm fall lightly on Hikari’s shoulders, bringing the younger girl closer to herself. Hikari smiled in the sunset colors, leaning her head against Amane’s arm. After all that had happened the previous year, she felt lucky, walking there as the Etoile with Amane all to herself. Amane had been an idol. Hikari had fallen for her even not knowing this, and that she had been the one to end up happily ever after in the end made her consider herself to be blessed. She had great friends, and a wonderful girlfriend – was there any more she could ask for?

Her face darkened very slightly, and they passed outside into the cooling night air. She could ask that her room-mate would seem less strained when she was around. Yaya cared. And maybe that was exactly the problem, after all. She cared a lot.

Hikari certainly appreciated Yaya’s affection. Yaya had reached out her hand to her room-mate in the beginning, the lonely beginning at St. Spica. She had been so upset after her mistake during the choir concert, but Yaya had cheered her up and stood there for her. And whenever Hikari had been shy, Yaya had made up for it by being extra-loud. Yaya had never been anything but wonderful.

Yet… Hikari did not forget the kiss. It had shocked her, and had imprinted itself upon her, searing a permanent placement in her memory. She felt that the repair of their friendship had been, in the end, superficial at best, even if it had been an emotional one. Yaya had not attended the Etoile ceremony.

But, truly, what could she do? She loved Yaya, yes, but she loved Yaya as a dear friend, not the love she was beginning to feel develop for Amane. She wanted to grow old with Amane – and she wanted to always be able to call up Yaya and just speak with her. It was entirely different.

So, the friendship remained in a somewhat strained state. And it made her sad, but she could only sincerely wish it would pass. She knew it would be nearly impossible to simply talk it out with Yaya – Hikari knew that she herself find it to difficult to even summon the topic, and she also knew Yaya would not be willing to stay around to discuss it. So things stayed the same.

“You look a bit sad.”

Hikari realized with a start that they were outside the greenhouse, and that they had come to a halt, the broad doors closed before them. She smiled, somewhat painfully, “Ah, I’m just thinking it’ll be sad when the lilies die – the season for them is almost over.”

Amane patted her head slightly, a kind smile upon her face, “Don’t worry – they’ll come around again. And there are the roses – they’ll be coming into bloom as soon as those lilies fade.” She opened the door to the greenhouse, gesturing for Hikari to step inside, “I think you worry too much.”

In the greenhouse, Hikari smiled watched Amane come in, “You’re probably right.”

Amane slipped her arms around Hikari, wrapping the blonde girl in an embrace, and lowered her face. Hikari met her half-way and murmured, “You’re probably right…”

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