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Maria-sama ga Miteru Novel 22, Bara no Mille-Feuille, Intro & Pt. 1

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  • atheniag
    Introduction and Part 1 Rei: I realize parts of this translation will sound stilted or exist only as frozen language, and I apologize. On at least one
    Message 1 of 10 , Aug 12, 2009
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      Introduction and Part 1

      Rei: I realize parts of this translation will sound stilted or exist only as frozen language, and I apologize. On at least one occasion I have been called, "too rigid" and this is due to the method I use to translate. Having studied translation to some extent in college, I tend to approach my work much as a linguist might: by diagramming and rearranging sentence components again and again until the square peg of Japanese can reasonably fit into the round hole of English (this analogy is something an understatement). That being said, I am not afraid to adapt or interpret the original's content in translation as long as I feel I have done as much as I can to be true to the intent of the piece. Japanese writing, since its inception, has manifested itself on a multiplicity of interlocking layers of form and meaningâ€"the most notorious of which is poetry. Some of those layers cannot be expressed in English, while others can only be explained through translation notes. In this case we have a short novel, written ostensibly for young adults, published in 2005. Many elements are modern and the sentence construction is generally familiar to most Japanese readers. Nevertheless, I all too often feel thwarted by this silent foe that sits there mocking me. My epitaph should probably be: "Murdered by Yoshino."

      Sukoshi: I have to start the intro with a sincere apology. I started college this year, and well, I didn't do any translating. I barely kept up semi-daily Japanese studies and watched anime to keep my skills up and I feel bad. I really think that the reason for the slow progress on the book was my inability to translate during the school year and I'm sorry. I've started on the next book early this time around so that you the fan get a faster product!

      I have to thank the awesome team of Rei and Erica. Rei's insight let me decipher some just *incidental* dialog from Yoshino. Since Rei had to do almost all of Yoshino's dialog, well, I hope he had a suitable deathwish. Heh. Rei and Erica make great partners in #marimite_spoilers on rizon on IRC talking about inane Marimite related stuffs. Oh yeah, and Talking Slowly is Preferred there. Really. You can go hours without an answer from us, so if you have a question just wait around please. Erica as always guides us and lets us grumble about how crappy Yoshino is being, or how 3 whole sections of Shiritori that needs to be rendered into English just blows. Thanks, both of ya!

      For that matter, Rei and I have decided to do the next two novels separately. Our styles were different, and we didn't want the reader to have to deal with different styles in one book, so I'll be taking the next book Blank Map of the Future (which is handily Touko's book) and Rei will take the one after The Other Side of the Frosty Glass.

      I hope you enjoy the novel and the hard work Rei, Erica, and I put into getting it all out for you guys. It's been a great experience, and keep the Marimite love going around!


      Erica: Of course, the very first thing I need to say is thank you thank you to Rei and Sukoshi for their hard work on this translation! This was a really hard novel; parts of it rendered me helpless when I read it. I do not envy Sukoshi having to deal with Sachiko's crazy Shiritori and of course, Yoshino. Poor Rei lol

      I have done my best to edit it, but I want to remind you that typos will escape even the eyes of 5 proofreaders. Also, although I have edited it, I have not "adapted" it, which is the step that changes raw translation into fluent English. I do this for several reasons. The most important of which is that I really want you to understand the complexity of the sentences, the difficulty of the Japanese dependence on "passive" voice and the sheer bloodiness of trying to translate a light novel.

      The last thing I need to say is, please do not forget to thank Sukoshi and Rei for their hard work. They did this for you out of the kindness of their hearts. The very least you can do is thank them heartily. :-) Starting right now. Thank you Sukoshi and Rei!

      ***


      Bara no Mille-Feuille

      "Good day."

      "Good day." The crisp morning greeting echoes clearly through the blue sky. Today too, the maidens who gather in Maria-sama's garden with angelic and pure smiles will pass under the tall gate. They possess both innocent minds and bodies, wrapped in a deep-colored uniform. In order that the pleats in their skirts have not been tossed into disarray, and their white sailor-collars have not been blown back, walking slowly with grace is the way here. Of course, there are no students who would shame themselves by running so as to make it in the nick of time.

      This is Lillian Private Academy for Girls.

      Originally established in the thirty-fourth year of the Meiji era, it is said this school was for daughters of noblemen and still exists for young women in the traditional Catholic system.

      In downtown Tokyo, amid Musashino, a district where a lot of greenery can still be found, watched by God from infancy through college, this integrated elevator school is able to nurture a garden of maidens.

      The name of the era has changed three times, but even on this day in the Heisei era, after eighteen years of a pure culture that a sheltered upbringing allows these women, they who seem to have been kept in a box are ready to be shipped out. Such a structure yet remains in this precious academy.


      Mille-Feuille (A French layered pastry)

      Without going into too much detail, the mille-feuille is a well-known pie composed of thin layers of cream or jam or fruit.

      If you stab it squarely with a fork, it's crispy and collapses like a building. It is meant to be shocking, but after you softly knock it down, it's still all right to eat.

      By the way, in its original language the name of the pie is spelled
      m i l l e f e u i l l e. When you pronounce it, it's all right in Japanese to say "mirufuuyu." But the closest pronunciation to the French for mille-feuille by far is "mirufeeyu". When written, the meaning conveyed is "a thousand women".

      However, in this instance… far from a thousand people, these are just the stories of the young ladies of three classes.

      PART I (Note: Part numbers have been created by translator for readability based on feedback from the last book)

      Yellow Rose Panic

      The result of 100 battles?


      Chapter 1

      Yes, of course.

      "This coming Sunday I should be free." Having reached the midway point through the week, she had heard this come out of Rei-chan's mouth. She certainly had heard it. She wasn't making this up; she'd heard it. Why was she blaming her? She had already bowed and said, "It was my fault." Yoshino guessed she just couldn't let it go there. It was staring her in the face; it wasn't good enough to just turn a blind eye to it.

      At that time (in other words, the time Rei-chan had been talking about going out on Sunday) Yoshino, unluckily interpreted this as "the way I WANT to spend my Sunday". In this way, she suitably ignored her and missed an essential part of Rei-chan's story.

      She had been listening properly at first. Yanaka-san (previously Yoshino had only seen his face in passing) hadn't visited her Uncle's (that is, Rei-chan's father's) dojo for a long time. Rei-chan and her father had received an invitation to lunch together with him. She thought that was the story anyhow.

      Yanaka-san is a gentle person who is never disagreeable, but an old man is a old man. Even if she'd heard that Rei-chan was eating dinner with Yanaka-ojiisan, Yoshino didn't particularly envy her at all. She may have also mentioned that the lunch was going to be a Japanese style meal at a hotel restaurant. But that was largely her imagination. In saying that all three people would be present, in the end it probably amounted to nothing more than an enforced kendo lecture.

      And then, "Making friends is important. It would be good if you could come." It seemed like that was what she was saying. The rest of the story from this point on, Yoshino had ignored. It seemed like Rei-chan had continued on with a more detailed account, but she'd given up on listening and the information hadn't stayed in her head at all.

      Yoshino's plans? What should she say if she's asked? Having absentmindedly listened to only half the conversation was the cause of her nervousness.

      This coming Sunday, Yoshino had made plans in secret from Rei-chan. Yeah… a secret. If discovered, somehow this secret would give her a bad reputation. She supposed it was enough to just not tell Rei-chan about it. But even if she did that, what sort of verbal deflection could she use? Something that wouldn't necessarily be untrue…

      The truth is… Yoshino had promised to spend the day out and about with Arima Nana next Sunday.


      Chapter 2

      Yoshino had been the first to wage war.

      Given that Yumi-san wasn't simply a classmate, but also her best friend, she was able to tell her, "If I become a third-year and haven't been able to get a little sister at that point, I'll make Nana my sister." With that proclamation, Arima Nana, who was in middle school, who hadn't even been a blip on the radar, leapt up to be Yoshino's tentative top little sister candidate. Emphasis on "tentative". None of the candidates from immediately following the tea party remained. The fact that at present there was no second place winner was a sad state of affairs. Apart from that… since the Interhigh school kendo match, she had been more and more interested in Nana, but there was no helping it.

      She'd checked in to her background and family situations, etc., thoroughly without Nana having noticed. Though she seemed to have rammed into her in the corridor under the civic gymnasium, with agility Nana had been able to immediately dodge. And when she'd made the request of her accomplice to uphold the lie that she hadn't just then met her, the girl had been able to carry the burden. Even though the ribbon of her uniform under her sweater had come loose, she'd been oblivious. It had only been peeking out a smidgen. There's no way she would have noticed.

      But, this wasn't enough to go on. Yoshino thought that she would need to know more about Nana. It was something someone of the past used to say: "Know your enemy and know yourself, only then can you be victorious in battle" (TL Rei: That was Sun-Tsu in "The Art of War"). In this case, Nana probably wasn't her enemy. Operation code name: Get a Little Sister, for Yoshino, had already completely broken out into war. Her favorite phrase was, "victory goes to the one who makes the first move." For Yoshino it was always, green light means GO! In work, waiting was her number one weakness. Although it is also said, "be immovable like a mountain," this probably the slogan of someone who has great endurance. (TL Rei: see the Afterword note on "ugokazaru koto")

      And, now, halfway through the week, Yoshino decided to go observe Nana for the moment. However, a high school student grandly visiting a middle school classroom would be overly conspicuous. Thus, the strategy was to wait in ambush at the entranceway amongst the many comings and goings in the morning.

      She gave a suitable excuse to Rei-chan and went to school a little earlier than usual. She held the stakeout nearby the student entrance to the middle school, and waited for about fifteen minutes. Gradually, the game of playing detective was growing tiresome when finally Nana came into sight.

      Of course, she wasn't wearing the pink sweatshirt of the other day. She wore a school coat over her uniform. She had been crowded into a mass of middle school students, but beyond all expectations, she had been easy to find.

      Yoshino moved toward Nana, walking slowly head on. First she would say, "Good day." Then she would give a beaming smile. "Thanks for the other day." She had already decided on this course of action.

      Nana's face became honest and straightforward. Yes, now. "Go…" But Nana… about 1.5 meters short of Yoshino, pivoted and changed direction. Just like that she was sucked in to the school entrance. "W-wait." In confusion, Yoshino chased after her. Yet, this was the peak time for girls to enter the schoolâ€"chatting and greeting each other, they flitted about. All the voices ran into each and commingled like mixed juice. In this state, it wouldn't be easy to identify anyone by the sound of their voice. (In that case…)

      Yoshino put her fingers in her ears and shouted forcefully, "Tanaka-san!" A moment later a middle school student moving on the periphery stopped. (Was it magic?) It didn't seem to be. She removed her fingers from her ears. The area was engulfed in silence. Simultaneously, many students turned their attention toward her. Somehow Yoshino had managed to emit a cry on par with an emergency alert.

      "I-I'm sorry. I made a disturbance." Is this what Yumi-san had meant when she said, "To burn with embarrassment"? At any rate it had resulted in a terrible effect. She should come back here and start over later in the day. Since she had only momentarily called out, "Tanaka-san", blessedly, Nana might not have noticed. Yet, when she tried to turn away…

      "…Actually, it's Arima." The person in question had quite definitely noticed. It was no longer a matter of gracefully bowing out. Where is the reset button for this situation?

      As they'd be a bother standing around talking while students were trying to change their shoes, the two of them stepped outside for a moment. "Umm… Hasekura Rei-sama's…" Nana paused. They continued moving away until they were out of the flow of students. "…honored little sister, Shimazu Yoshino. It seems you've already forgotten my name."

      Yoshino was able to keep her composure for the time being. Yet after having been seen in that blunder, she was not able to manufacture anything beyond that of a considerably ill-fitting upperclassman. "But I remembered yours. The incident of nearly colliding in the gymnasium, and the beautiful rosary that you dropped."

      "…" What is with that way of remembering it, Yoshino thought. Nana remembered her, because she'd continued in the habit of screwing things up with this latest episode. And then even though she couldn't see it, she recalled the rosary before she recalled the owner.

      "I was worried about it for a while. Afterwards, were you been able to tell Torii Eriko-sama anything?"

      "You know Torii Eriko-sama's name."

      "Of course."

      "Of course."

      She tried her best to put on a smile. Nana hadn't known her name, but she had known Eriko-sama's. As for being called "Hasekura Rei-sama's honored little sister", she was not amused. Despite the fact that this person might become her little sister someday, in truth, she wasn't showing a great deal of interest in Yoshino.

      She must try and suppress this feeling. She… must… suppress it. Acting violently would leave a bad impression. That episode earlier really didn't leave a good impression. (Because she was Yoshino, Nana was only seeing her at her most ungraceful.) If she displayed any odd behavior this time, even if for only a moment, the negative image portrayed would be as upright and straight as the rolls in a hilly road.

      "More importantly, was I of any help?" Nana asked. Even if she had been worried, she hadn't thought to come and ask Yoshino about it.

      "I haven't thanked you enough for last week. I'm thinking I should tell you the story behind that."

      "You don't need to thank me; it's fine." Nana had only to make sure their stories agreed after all.

      "But it's been bugging me. So, if you can make it, this coming Sunday, won't you meet me somewhere? I'll treat to you a cake set or something." (TL Rei: a popular snack in Japan: cake with tea or coffee.) For a girl, a cake set is like the Mito Koumon's seal. (TL Rei: Television comedy set in the Edo-period. In every episode, at the climactic moment, they'd flash his seal and he'd reveal himself.) With this she could settle the debt, Yoshino thought. But as to coming out to meet Nana at 8:45, she could only make a half-hearted laugh. Just as with prostrating oneself on the bare earth before an irate magistrate, it was hardly an easy thing to do.

      She bowed her head for a moment as a gesture of thinking it over. "Yeah." (No way. Did she object to the cake set?) If she insisted on a high-class dinner in a restaurant… it would be totally impossible for her purse. But if she didn't make this effort, how could she realistically meet up with a middle school girl? Who in the world is this? If this was the Edo Period, she would have been a much sought-after courtesan. She shook off such a strange idea.

      Yoshino asked, "Or, is Sunday inconvenient?" If there was a genuine reason for her hesitation, it probably wasn't that she had a problem with the size of the gift.

      "No, not really."

      "Then, how about we say at the ticket gate on the first floor of K station at half-past ten?" Nana still hadn't come out and said either, "I'll go," or "I won't go," but Yoshino forcibly hastened the conversation. If she seemed indecisive, it was all the more possible to push and push and keep pushing to the end. Nana raised her head.

      "Umm… Shimada-sama,"

      "…Actually, it's Shimazu." It looked as if she'd broken down in the middle of a bout, but desperately recovered.

      "I'm sorry, Shimazu-sama."

      "If it's all right, please call me by first name, Yoshino."

      "Yoshino-sama? Is it spelled the same as the Yoshino cherry tree?" (TL Rei: Prunus yedoensis, a kind of cherry tree.) It's okay if this girl says she really truly doesn't know her. Yet, Yoshino was emotionally a bit moved. You could call it intense self-consciousness. Inside the high school, there was no mistake that Yoshino fell under the heading "wonderful famous person". Yet, this girl didn't know her. Her head felt numb.

      "'Yoshi' is the same as the second kanji in freedom, 'no' is the same as the 'no' in Wakanohana." (TL Rei: apparently the name of a short sumo wrestler.)

      When they had met in the gym, she had been called "Hasekura Rei-sama's honored little sister", so it seemed like she had only vaguely known who she was. But then, could it be that she doesn't yet know that the two of them are cousins by blood? What a pleasant surprise then. But then, she didn't know all that much about Nana, or her relations.

      "If you have any contact information you could exchange, please go ahead. Maybe something like your class… or home number…" On her memoranda pad in her student notebook, Yoshino wrote down her name, class and home telephone number. She carefully tore it off and handed it to Nana.

      "Ahh. The "no" is like the "no" in General Nogi…" (TL Rei: General Nogi Maresuke, a prominent figure in the Russo-Japanese war) The Wakanohara reference didn't ring any bells for Nana. It appears she's not very knowledgeable about Sumo Wrestling. Though, how did she come up with General Nogi? For a middle school student, she had an aura of refinement.

      "Well then," their business was finished. Just looking at each other silently for a time felt somewhat strange. Yoshino decided to turn back toward the high school entrance.

      The public's gaze was also tense. While it may be true that she had been talking with Yoshino, no way was a middle school student being considered for Rosa Foetida en bouton. In reality, there probably wasn't anyone with that good of an intuition. Even though she was able to take one step forward with effort, it wouldn't do to have such a strange rumor come to nothing. Besides, in only having overstayed her visit a little, she had given Nana the opportunity to change her mind. If Sunday's appointment (which she took great pains to create) is refused, it will all have been for nothing.

      "I look forward to it." While saying this, Nana did not have the face of one so expectant. Yet, just before Yoshino turned on her heel, a small right hand waved to her. It was unexpectedly cute. (Ahh. With this, the secrets kept from Rei-chan are multiplying).

      While walking back, Yoshino reflected. She hadn't spoken to Rei-chan about Nana at all. For that matter, she didn't even know the character "na" in Nana's name. (TL Rei: the character means "vegetables", which is followed by the character "repeat")

      Although I understand this is bad, I don't know how best to confess. On this matter she'd been silent for a long time. No, she couldn't have spoken up. She wasn't sure if Rei-chan had learned of it. If so, had it come from Eriko-sama or Yumi-san? (That's…)

      Before it was allowed to come to such a state, she definitely decided that report would come from her own mouth. When you consider the shock that Rei-chan will surely receive… The sooner she's able to confess about Nana, the better. But, how on Earth was she going to describe her? This third-year in middle school was able to make their stories agree and deceived Eriko-sama. However in order to explain that, she must first explain all the particulars about what had transpired with Eriko-sama.

      She was the little sister of Tanaka (the eldest daughter) and Tanaka (the second daughter) whom Rei-chan had competed against in the inter-high school match last year and again this year. Though, for some unspecified reason her last name was Arima. Since for some reason it's a nerve-wrecking situation, next year Yoshino might make this girl her little sister. Nevertheless, this girl seemed wholly indifferent about Yoshino. Even if it was something that was easy to explain, what could she really say? Her information in regards to Nana was sloppy at best. Even for herself, Yoshino couldn't put these things in order. If for no other reason than this, she wanted another meeting between the two of them. And then, when she herself had a reasonably enough grasp on it, she'd be able to convey her feelings to Rei-chan.

      No matter if she could continue to make progress as is, or was forced to start over anew, it would still be better than the current foggy situation.


      It had been the night before that Rei-chan had asked if she wanted to join them for lunch with Yanaka-san on Sunday. Yet, because of all that, Yoshino had completely ignored the finer points of Rei-chan's story.



      PART II

      Panic Attack!


      Chapter 1

      Sunday morning: a bit before 10 o'clock. Yoshino, who had almost completed her preparations for going, heard the sound of a car pulling up in front of her home. (Is that a package delivery service?) But given that it wasn't a truck she'd heard… When she casually looked outside through the second story window, a black limousine was stopped there. (Ugh. What is this?)

      In the blink of an eye, the driver had gotten out of the car and pushed the intercom button. DING-DONG. Although it rang a ways off, she could still hear it; that intercom didn't go to the Shimazu residence. The driver had business elsewhere. Simply put, this was a duplex house. In addition to the Shimazu family, at this time, the Hasekura household shared this building.

      "Father, Mother. That was Rei-chan's house just now…" Yoshino said while noisily descending the stairs. Her parents were relaxing in the living room. As she observed this, she tried to convey to them what she had just seen.

      "Ah, that's right. As expected, Yanaka-san is definitely being considerate," her mother said while sipping tea. She nodded understanding.

      "What? Sending a limousine is being considerate?" At which point, her father looked up from the Sunday edition of the newspaper and said something totally irrelevant.

      "Maybe Yoshino doesn't know but, Yanaka-ojiisan is considered to be wealthy. He was probably able to call in a favor for the hired car." So it seems. Indeed, since she hadn't met Yanaka-san before, she didn't realize he was rich. In appearance he was a non-descript ordinary old man. Ignoring this for the time being…

      "Mother, did you say he was being considerate to her just now?" Letting the matter of Father's judgment go unsettled, Yoshino decided to instead focus on Mother's question.

      "Yes, I did."

      "Why is Yanaka-ojiisan is attending to Rei-chan and Uncle like that?"

      "He's going to ask Rei-chan for a big favor… probably."

      "A big favor… huh? Like what?" Why was she avoiding the real issue? Yoshino shook her mother's shoulders.

      "Hey! Settle down. You haven't heard? Why did you wait until this late hour?" Her mother asked while being severely shaken.

      "I haven't heard, what?" Yoshino let go of her mother's shoulders and asked. What's going on?

      "Rei-chan told you about her plans for today. That was probably on Wednesday or Thursday night." Her poor daughter's shaking her in order to make her remember, had caused her mother to lose her memory. With all her might, she tried to explain.

      "You sat next to Rei-chan in this sofa. I was walking back and forth, in and out of the room, so I missed some parts. But even still, I understood her perfectly."

      "It's a relief that you were able to remember." Yoshino showed the palms of her hands to her mother, making an "it's all right" gesture. She had been sitting next to Rei-chan on this sofa. And then, Rei-chan had spoken… This Sunday, Yanaka-san was going to be treating her to lunch. That was as much as she'd heard.

      From there, how had a black limo come to be involved? That had definitely not been covered. And this point about "asking Rei-chan for a big favor"…? When asked if she wanted to join them in eating lunch together, had she said it would be impossible? When Yanaka-ojiisan got into a deep conversation, it would drag on indefinitely. And anyway, at the time it had seemed like that person would be eating lunch at Rei-chan's house. Still, if he was a close relation, then dining out was harmless, right?

      Would this favor keep Rei-chan absent home from school? She remembered that it meant Rei-chan had been forced to cancel a previous appointment. Though she hadn't heard about any specific arrangements.

      Given that he had been the one to make the invitation, likely Yanaka-san would be footing the bill. Why in the world hadn't Rei-chan's refused?

      "…Yoshino." Her mother and father exchanged glances. Then they looked at Yoshino dubiously.

      "Is it true that you really don't know, or…"

      "I really don't know." Rather, she had failed to hear it. It seemed that only the essential keywords had been completely missed. While staring at their only daughter with an expression of pity, the Shimazu parents spoke.

      "Today Rei-chan is having an Omiai…" was stated. (Editor Erica: "O-miai" is a formally arranged marriage meeting brokered between two families by an intermediary.)



      Chapter 2

      "O-Omiai?!" With the cry of a single word, she chose that moment to dash out of the house. Too late, Rei-chan and Uncle had already boarded the limousine. The driver had already started the engine and the car was pulling away.

      "Rei-chan." She tried to make the signal for them to wait. Although she ran up to the car window, waving both hands, somehow misunderstanding, Rei-chan smiled and waved her hand in return. Without any hesitation, she mouthed "I'm off" and left.

      "No way…" The driver put on the blinker and the car made a left turn at the street corner. A dumbfounded Yoshino saw them off. A person softly touched her shoulder from behind.

      "Yoshino-chan, were you seeing them off? Thank you." When she turned back, Rei-chan's mother was standing there.

      "Aunt, is it true?"

      "What?"

      "Rei-chan, having an Omiai…" Catching up with Rei-chan and Uncle and being able to ask them about it had failed. At this point she had no choice but to ask this person. To say that these were two people who lived together and who set out together as a family, even though they were intimately close, she was really only one of Yoshino's relatives.

      "Nah, calling it an "Omiai" would be an exaggeration."


      Her aunt burst into laughter. "It's only, Yanaka-san's son likes Rei so they're going to talk. Tanaka-san wants to introduce Rei's father so they can become acquainted as well. That's what it seems like he said. And then, it turned into a meal and a talk. That son, he will be busy for a while next week, so it was suddenly decided that they would do it today."

      There was no question: this wasn't being called an Omiai. Yoshino clenched her fist and strained. "I wonder what he liked specifically about Rei?" Even though, outwardly she looks like a boy. While she was speaking, Aunt had the expression of not being as dissatisfied as she would have Yoshino believe.

      "But that means… Where has he seen her before? And what was it he liked about her?" while gnashing her molars, Yoshino was able to ask. For the moment, meltdown was averted. For the time being, she must try and calmly collect information.

      "It seems he came and saw the inter-high school tournament the other day. That was when he noticed."

      "But you know, Yanaka's son: wouldn't he and Rei-chan be separated in age? It's okay, isn't it, Aunt? He and Rei-chan wouldn't be marrying, right?"

      "Calm down, Yoshino-chan. They're just meeting; we're not talking about marriage this soon, really. Though, due to circumstances, they had said they wanted to meet soon." Circumstances? I don't know what those circumstances are but… Still, for Rei-chan who is a high school student, they were having a talk like an Omiai. Yanaka-ojiisan is still an old guy. This son… must be entreating his relatives to mediate for him because he's a spoiled child. Surely he's a selfish young man from a well-to-do family who knows nothing of the world.

      "…How many?" Grind-Grind-Grind. Her molars resounded like a musical instrument.

      "Huh?"

      "The person she's going to meet. How many years old is he?" Yoshino pressed on her aunt, but…

      "I'm sorry. I haven't heard." Why hasn't she heard? Yoshino hung her head. She would probably have heard the age of the person her daughter was going to meet in an Omiai. That is, if she had been a normal mother. Even though she was exhausted, there was no helping it. She changed the direction her questioning.

      "Then, have you seen a picture? Oh, never mind. I don't want to hear about it." But that person she's going to meet, if he had left a favorable impression on her, it felt somehow regrettable. Though she tried to block her ears momentarily, it came in just under the wire.

      "It was just a snapshot, but I've seen one. He had refined features. His breeding is clear in his facial expression." (TL Rei: I should probably take this moment to mention that Omiai are often preceded by ritualized exchange of photographs of the young potentials. These would definitely not be snapshots, but you can see where Yoshino would be confused)

      Just as she suspected. The foremost thing that comes to mind when you see his face is that he's a young man from a well-to-do family who knows nothing of the world. Somehow she was getting a bad feeling about this. Naturally, the image that came to mind was Kashiwagi-san, Sachiko-sama's cousin.

      "Rather than Yanaka-san, he takes after Yanaka-san's wife." Recalling the photograph, Aunt muttered heartily.

      "Aunt, do you know what Yanaka-ojiisan's wife's face looks like?"

      "Yes, because they appear together in the photograph. She was with her grandson."

      "She appears with him in the photograph?" This furthered the image of a selfish young man from a well-to-do family who knows nothing of the world. Did he have a complex for his mother? His negative qualities were stacking up; she couldn't permit this. Rei-chan was too good for this guy. I don't want to be asked, 'what kind of man would be good?' In that case, I would be hard-pressed to come up with an answer.

      "Is he Single?"

      "Of course he's single. There's no mistake. It seems that he loves doing sports and reading books at home, but Rei-chan is the first girl he has shown any interest in, Yanaka-ojiisan was saying."

      "Ah, is that so?" Nevertheless some middle-aged person for who this was his first love, and who might have an Oedipus complex, can he be a good partner for Rei-chan? He might be handsome, might be clever, might be gentle, might even be sexy. She was adamantly opposed to this story.

      "Aunt, where's the hotel they're going to?" In Yoshino's chest, a bluish-white fire began to spark and burn.

      "From way back when Rei and Yoshino-chan called it the 'The Hotel in the Forest'. But wait, Yoshino-chan? Why? Are you planning on going?"

      "No way." There is no way that could happen. She laughed.

      "I only thought about it for a moment. Today I have a promise to keep with a friend." Though her aunt only panicked momentarily, listening to Yoshino's words, she took a breath and relaxed, feeling relieved.

      "Is that right. You could say this is dressing up for you. That color, is it called a peacock green, I wonder? It's a lovely ensemble. It really suits Yoshino-chan."

      "It's not really dressing up." When she said it like that, shouldn't it be Rei-chan's who was dressing up, she thought to herself. Though she wasn't wearing, as one might suspect, a kimono. She had been wearing a light brown suit with a little bit of rouge. Certainly underneath she wasn't wearing pants but a tight long skirt with a slit in the back. These were considerably womanly clothes for Rei-chan.

      "I can't delay any longer." All the things that had needed to be heard, had been heard. Yoshino finished up her conversation.

      "What time were you planning to meet? Since they're fewer buses on Sunday, to be on the safe side, you better check and see."

      "K Station at 10:30… Ah!" Crap, it'd already turned ten o'clock.

      "I'm off." For a moment, Yoshino returned to the entryway for her bag. She changed her shoes and once more rushed outside. After putting on her sandals, she realized being empty-handed was out of the question. And speaking of being out of the question, if she, the person who made such a coercive promise, ended up being late, that would be. Such a thing would be shameful.

      Running to the bus stop, she caught the bus she was scheduled to get on by merely a hair's breadth. Inside, the bus was rattling. Yoshino sat alone in a two-person seat. Almost immediately afterward, she began stamping her feet, discreetly, in impatience.

      "Ugh." Taking a breath, she remembered about Rei-chan, and became disgustingly angry again.

      "What is with that?" She had told her aunt she was meeting with a friend. Although she had no intention of breaking her promise with Nana, if granted permission, she wanted to run after Rei-chan at once.

      When Rei-chan had told her about today, why hadn't she been listening properly? Although it was too late to change anything, she regretted it nevertheless.



      Chapter 3

      At this time on a Sunday, there was a gap between buses on the route so they moved briskly. Yoshino arrived at K Station seven minutes before the appointed time. Though this shuttle bus is constantly in use, today's run was a new record for time. At the aforementioned ticket gate, the figure of Nana could already been seen waiting. She wore jeans with a cream-colored sweater and a light-brown duffle coat. Somehow, this was a very Yumi-esque appearance.

      "I'm sorry for making you wait."

      "Good day." During the less than twenty-minute jolting bus ride, her breath, which had fallen into disarray while running, had settled down. She showed little sign of her earlier surge of anger and concern about the story of Rei-chan's Omiai. Although, there is a tendency for concerns to grow as time passes.

      However, that sort of thing has nothing to do with Nana. Losing her temper over Rei-chan would be seen plainly. As she had to yet to decide if Yoshino was a wonderful upper classman, Yoshino squashed it as much as possible, acting brightly and cheerfully.

      Nevertheless, Nana said, "Is something wrong?"

      "Huh?"

      "Oh, nothing. It must have been my imagination."

      "So it was written all over my face, huh?" Yoshino smiled wryly. Does Nana have a sharp intuition? Was she acting like a daikon radish? (Editor Erica: Similar to being dumb as a potato.)

      "That's why, I…"

      "It's not your imagination. I'm sorry. I'm useless today. Probably, even though I'm here with you my head's in the clouds. I think it's probably just something trivial."

      Since their initial exchanging of greeting, they hadn't moved as much as one step from the appointed place. Only their conversation itself had proceeded.

      "Is something bothering you?"

      "Well… yeah."

      "Is it something that ended badly? Or is it a progressive problem?"

      "Progressive. That's why I'm being distracted." No matter what she looked like, she'd decided to think about Rei-chan after all. In such a state, even if she talked about it, she couldn't be in the here and now. Even her cake wouldn't taste good. It would be impolite to enjoy Nana's company like this.

      "So, what does Yoshino-sama want to do?" After she thought a bit, Nana asked.

      "What?"

      "Even though you had something bothering you, you still came here because you had a previous appointment with me?"

      "Well… yeah." That was it, exactly. Though, when it's pointed out by the company she'd made the arrangement with, wasn't that more or less like an admission of guilt? It was complicated.

      "Therefore, if you broke off the engagement, and Yoshino-sama hadn't come here, where on earth would you be right now?" Yoshino inwardly repeated Nana's question. (If I broke the engagement, where on earth would I be right now…")

      "I think I probably would have gone to that place, but…" When she was true to her feelings, sure enough, she wanted to chase after Rei-chan. In Yoshino's having gone, probably nothing would have changed. Yet, if she had been hesitant, she would have wanted to go to that other place quickly and learn what had happened.

      "That place… what's there? The place where your worries fester, it's not at home, is it?"

      "It's a certain hotel in the metro area." To this, Nana nodded.

      "I understand. Let's go."

      "Wha-?" In this hasty decision, Yoshino was bewildered.

      "But that's where Yoshino-sama wants to go, right?"

      "That's true, I want to go, but, Nana… you'll come?" Please come. Or rather, let's go. Even still, when she put it like that… I can't ask that.

      "Of course, I'm offering. Or, would it be an intrusion?"

      "No… It's not that." But, is necessary that she accompany her? She needed to confirm this.

      "Umm… even if I cancel the engagement with you and you come along to the hotel, it does seem like I need to accept your hospitality in coming." That Yoshino would feel a great deal of concern about Rei-chan's Omiai, there was no helping it. Though, putting off worrying about until she got to the hotel is sound logic. In this case, wouldn't Nana be a complete outsider? Or wouldn't she also be opposed to Rei-chan's Omiai? No, Yoshino hadn't given a detailed enough account yet.

      "Perhaps Yoshino-sama is teasing to me?" Nana's eyes became cloudy.

      "Why do you think that?"

      "Or… is this a kind of hazing?"

      "That's… Hello, Earth to Arima Nana-san. I have no idea what you're going on about."

      She hadn't explained in a way Yoshino could understand. Is it popular for students in middle school to talk like they're speaking in riddles?

      "To be stirred up like this, I feel left out of the loop. But you're speaking like you're rejecting me, it's awful."

      "What? Stirred up?"

      "Can't you see?"

      "See what?" Though she might say, "Can you see?" Or "Can't you see it?" if she could only answer by selection an option, "I can't see." would get her vote.

      "Anyway, I'm not going home. I've decided to spend the day with Yoshino-sama. No matter where we go, we're sticking together."

      No matter where we go, we're sticking together. If with this she could be resolved in choosing a cute little sister to be in her life, how happy she would be. But, in reality… Nana was still an underclassman she was just getting acquainted with.

      "Even though you don't know what's going on, you'll still go?"

      "I'll ask you about it on the way. Anyway, let's buy our tickets." Nana took Yoshino's arm and turned to face the ticket vending machines. It seemed like she was gradually powering-up.

      "Umm… tickets…" Although she opened the mouth of her purse for the moment, how much would she need to deposit, and which button did she need to press? She didn't immediately have a way to discern that. But, there's no helping that, is there? Until just now she had thought her feelings about wanting to go impertinent. Previously she hadn't even been able consider it. However, she was rapidly putting those thoughts asideâ€"here was a person who had made her wish of going there concrete.

      "Come on, hold it together. To go to that hotel, which tickets do we need to buy to get to which station?" This was quite an unexpected development.



      PART III

      The Bout's Whereabouts


      Chapter 1

      They had to change trains twice to get to the "Hotel in the Forest". Although in actuality it had a proper title. As both the Hasekura and Shimazu households habitually used this hotel, their infant daughters, from its outward appearance, gave it the familiar name "Hotel in the Forest". Having been built inside a very wooded area, the building reminds you of a deep forest.

      When they arrived at the nearest station, Yoshino hesitated. Though she'd made the decision to come without giving it anymore thought, right from the start, the route seemed vague. Hadn't it been around this area, near the station? It was somewhere nearby.

      When one is lost, isn't it best to ask a kind soul for directions? In truth, Yoshino still couldn't recall the official name of the hotel. It was on the tip of her tongue, but she just couldn't remember. What in the world was the name of the "Hotel in the Forest"?

      "I think it's probably across from the station." Exiting the ticket gates at the station, she spun in a circle and surveyed her surroundings. Even though she had remembered this station vividly, the hotel was completely missing from the vicinity. More often she had come by way of a private car, but when she had come by train, she'd definitely got off here.

      She'd got off… and then what? She couldn't remember if she'd walked or road the rest of the way when she'd come with her parents. For Yoshino, who'd been constantly sick, when on the go there hadn't been the opportunity for her to take a close look at her surroundings, or the place she was staying.

      "That's right. It seemed like we took a taxi." Yoshino caught sight of a payphone and rushed over. Seizing the telephone book, she flipped to the hotel page. If she checked the names one-by-one, eventually she'd arrive at the correct one. However, in a word, there were MANY hotels. At the very least, could she remember the first character? Generally it's fairly easy once you know which district to look in.

      "You said you took a taxi. About how far did you ride?"

      "I don't remember exactly but, about ten minutes maybe."

      "Ten minutes… I understand. Please continue your investigation." After saying this, she was silent. Around three minutes later, she looked over her shoulder, "What are you doing?" Yoshino asked, but Nana wasn't standing there. Nana seemed to have vanished without a trace. Just then she returnedâ€"she felt her there somewhere, walking toward her.

      "At that bus stop, there'll be a shuttle bus that passes nearby to the hotel. Let's take it."

      "How did you find out?"

      "I looked it up. It's somewhere you can get to from this station by car in around ten minutes. And it appears to be a hotel in a forest. My search was successful. A praiseworthy act if I do say so myself."

      "Where did you find such a convenient device?!"

      "That person." Nana pointed at the police box in front of the station. When their eyes met the policeman saluted. It was a fairly analog device, and because of that, it was all the more trustworthy.

      After waiting about five minutes, they boarded the bus that appeared. By the time they got off the bus at the stop in front of the hotel, it was already 11:45.

      "Now then, where to?" Naturally, it's a shuttle bus on a route, not a courtesy busâ€"it doesn't transport you through the hotel premises.

      "Probably this way." From the forest-like area, simply because she could, Nana walked rapidly. "For a restaurant lunch, public seating… probably opens around noon? Until then you would meet in the lobby. If it was early enough, you would tea in the lounge and soon enough the shops would open. Now what was the restaurant's name… of course."

      "What? Of course I don't know."

      "Probably not. You didn't even know the name of the hotel."

      "Little by little, your manner of speech is starting to irritate me."

      "Oh, I'm sorry."

      "No, it's okay." It seems she didn't mean any harm by it.

      When they'd walked for about two minutes, as Nana had anticipated, the hotel entrance came into view. No mistake; it was the "Hotel in the Forest".

      "Because it's Ojiisan's pick, I think they're probably having a Japanese meal."

      "Shall we inquire?" They entered. In the lobby, they seized a hotel employee and asked where the Japanese cuisine restaurant was. After this she would steel herself. To think that she would be able to rescue Rei-chan, she had foolishly allowed herself to feel elated. However…

      "Wha-?" Listening to the words of the hotel employee, Yoshino became speechless. Not hearing, Nana asked again.

      "Are there a lot?" That's right. She had underestimated when she thought the hotel would have one or two Japanese restaurants, because it wouldn't be effective to have three or four. As she didn't count them out on her fingers, the exact number was uncertain but, roughly judging from the names recited, there were seven or eight in this hotel. Additionally, these were only the Japanese selections among the Western as well as Chinese restaurants.

      Furthermore, not all were centrally located. Rather, they were distributed throughout the hotel. She took great pains to peek into and check every shop interior one-by-one.

      At which point, Nana said, "Pardon me for saying so, but if it's an Omiai is there the possibility that it's being held in a private room? And, of course, such a private room wouldn't be visible…"

      "Yeah."

      "We should think about this. For example, since they're accompanying an elderly person, might they have gone to a tempura shop or some such? But to avoid splattering soup on her Western-style dress, she would probably avoid going to a soba shop, wouldn't she?"

      "Even using those criteria, it's very difficult to narrow it down to just one."

      "That's true. Should we give up?"

      "No way."

      "Well, let's keep going until we find the right one."



      "Pursue!" She continued to drag Nana around. Unyielding Yoshino, who hated to lose, provoked in the end by sayings like, "It can't be done…" or "It's probably impossible," had completely transformed their day into a non-stop roller coaster ride.

      Oh. This personality is harmful. How many times had she failed with it before now? When you think about it, Eriko-sama's unreasonable demands gave her the chance to become acquainted with Nana. Given that it had become something of a historic pattern, wasn't it now acceptable? Those were the kind of things Yoshino was thinking back on while searching.

      "I grabbed a leaflet from that restaurant," Nana said, finishing her task. What would you call it? This girl was nimble.

      "Let's sit in those chairs for a moment and rethink our strategy." Hey, wait! Since when had Nana taken the leadership role?

      "Yoshino-sama?"

      "Ah, yes." Her idea so far hadn't panned out, so Nana's plan might be worth investigating. For the moment she'd pointed to a chair and decided to sit down.

      "Let's look at our original plan. First we exclude any non-Japanese-style restaurants, and from there, skipping any tempura or soba shops…" Nana crossed these off the list with a ballpoint pen, one by one. She referenced the photographs or takeout menus. With the exception of the tempura and soba shops, "These don't feel like the kinds of places you'd go for an Omiai." She eliminated them with a single stroke. So then, the remaining candidates were…

      "…These three."

      "Three." The two of them looked at each other. Taking one store to a person, there weren't enough people to stakeout all the entrances and exits to those shops.

      "What should we do?" Throwing one out, the stakes were 2 out of 3 in their favor. Or…

      "For the moment, let's go out in front of the shops," Yoshino made this determination. It was necessary for her to appear the senior, if only a little.

      "Together?" Nana inquired.

      "Together." She wasn't carrying a cell phone. In case they got separated, contacting one another would be problematic. As they were going out in front of these shops on the main thorough-fair amid the comings and goings of many guests in a spacious hotel, if such a thing should occur, the results wouldn't be rosy.

      As they WERE Japanese cuisine restaurants in a hotel, occasionally the figure of a guest would block their view. For an Omiai, the shop one might visit would probably be the one that seems the most formal. As that's the one that always has a maitre d' standing at a reception desk, when a guest would mistakenly draw too near "Welcome" would be announced. Indeed, even for a noontime meal, it would be difficult to approach that shop for anyone other than a child. Speaking of which, when she considered the contents of her purse, there was no way in hell that they would admitted. (TL Rei: Yoshino's phrasing was on the vulgar side.)

      "Lunch is probably ending in about an hour. Even if we were to grab them on their way out, we should still have time," Nana said, while checking the clock. Yoshino also looked at her wristwatch. 12:32. For argument's sake, let's say mealtime runs for one hour. There shouldn't be a change in the status quo for another thirty minutes.

      "Well then, let's go to the lounge."

      "Huh?"

      "There's no way this is going to be a traditional Japanese meal brought in courses, but I'll treat you to a sandwich." Yoshino proposed, in appreciation of their stepping out. Actually, they had been taking turns for a while now: their stomachs ringing with a growl. As a matter of courtesy, they both behaved as if they didn't notice.

      "This is only on my discretion; you don't need to be rewarded." After this obstinate report from Yoshino, Nana declined.

      "Well," and she continued, "Please treat me to cake."

      "Huh?" a sandwich was unnecessary, but she wants cake? When Yoshino starred at her in wonder, Nana laughed.

      "You promised to treat me to cake today."

      "I did, didn't I?" Yoshino also laughed. Whatever, it was a meal.




      Chapter 2

      Although the lounge was somewhat crowded during lunchtime, since they were only a party of two they were somehow able to be seated.

      For cake there was a choice among three varieties on the "Today's Cake" menu. Yoshino asked for the crème brulee, Nana asked for the strawberry mille-feuille. There wasn't a cake set, so they added on their drinks, and this rounded out their order. Seeing as Nana had selected herbal tea, Yoshino also ordered it. Why did she do that? In analysis, she thought it makes you look more grownup to order herbal tea rather than milk tea. "Grownup" was above their actual age, and it wasn't necessary to put on airs, but she noticed nevertheless. All this was after the order had been communicated.

      Were these people attending a wedding ceremony? A group dressed in dark formal embroidered kimono (TL Rei: called tomesode) and long-sleeved showy kimono (TL Rei: called furisode), passed along the side of the lounge. Today was Sundayâ€"any number of wedding receptions might be held today. While she was thinking this, their cake and herbal tea arrived.

      "Was Hasekura Rei-sama wearing a kimono?"

      "No, a suit."

      "Oh really? That's good." What about it did she think was good? Yoshino poured the herbal tea from a pot into cups. It was a mint and some other leaf combination. A tooth paste-like smell hit her nostrils sharply for a moment. After taking a deep breath, Yoshino nodded.

      "It's good, isn't it?" Somehow or other, she thought it had been the right choice to request herbal tea. Nana skillfully and beautifully ate her mille-feuille with a fork. Because she was so dexterous at eating, Yoshino inadvertently watched her admiringly.

      "Yes?" The glance had been noticed and Nana looked up.

      "Ahh. Rei-chan loves mille-feuille or pie. And because she loves it, she innocently asks, 'should we have some'. The crispy crust gets stuck in her clothes and in her hair without her noticing. And then, I don't tell her about it right away. Afterwards, she walks through town without ever noticing. When you take your time like this, there's no cause for panic." Yoshino suddenly noticed she'd been chatting away up until that point. In no time she had become comfortable with Nana. As with Rei-chan, Nana was made to listen endlessly to pointless babble.

      "Oh, I'm sorry." In order to smooth it over, she poked the toffee surface of the crème brulee with a spoon. When she had told this story to Tanuma Chisato before, it hadn't been a criticism of Rei-chan.(TL Rei: not sure why Yoshino doesn't use an honorific here for Tanuma-san, probably a typo. Editor Erica: Because she doesn't *like* Chisato and often refers to her this way in her thoughts, since it's slightly insulting.)

      "No, it's fine." Nana really hadn't minded. However, Yoshino was thinking a tendency to babble isn't necessarily that great. In the example of Tanuma Chisato… that person had been irritating, but she couldn't say her pulse had been raised.

      "You're really close as sisters, aren't you?"

      "We were both the only child in our families. Naturally we grew to be like real sisters.

      Nana nodded and said, "I see."

      Yoshino tried asking, "What is it like to have a real sister?"

      "Ah, well. For me, since I don't have a female cousin, I can't articulate the difference. My family situation is a little bit unique." Although Nana was the fourth daughter born to the Tanaka family, as she had become the adopted daughter of the grandfather who lived with them, she was now known as Arima-san. One could say this was unique, and it definitely was but, the environment she'd lived in since she was an infant hadn't changed. "Even in a house with brothers, I don't think you'd call this the norm. There's a one-on-one relationship between the various personalities, so our method of sparring is also quite different. I have three real older sisters and we each behave differently towards each other."

      "Is that so?"

      "Yes."

      After that Nana described the personalities of her elder sisters one-by-one. She had recently met with the second and third daughters of the Tanaka family in the inter-high school match, so she was reminded of them. "Ah, that person," she thought; it was interesting. Listening to Nana's description of her elder sisters was fun. Perhaps Nana was also able to feel this way when she had listened to Yoshino talk of Rei-chan and herself.

      In the midst of their charged conversation, a young waiter drew up to their table and spoke. "Excuse me. Is either of you, Oota-sama?" Of course, as they were Shimazu and Arima, they shook their heads.

      "No."

      "Neither of us."

      "I'm sorry for disturbing your conversation." The waiter politely bowed and left.

      "What was that about?" she cocked her head in confusion. He immediately went to the seat of the woman behind them and made the same inquiry.

      "Excuse me. Are you Oota-sama by chance?"

      "Ah, yes that's me." And just that quickly, Oota-san was found. That question was solved for the moment. Yoshino and Nana suspended their conversation and pricked up their ears.

      "You have a telephone call." When the nature of the urgency was revealed, there was nothing to it. He wanted the "Oota-san" who was in the lounge to take a telephone call. Though, he had come from outside. Perhaps that person had given a vague description in asking for "Oota-san, a young woman". The waiter escorted Oota-san, who was a college-aged woman, out on foot.

      While watching the figure, the two of them simultaneously exclaimed, "Ah!" "If you called looking for someone, how would you know whether or not they were in this shop? It isn't that obvious."

      "That's right. Why didn't we realize that before?" Yoshino grasped her fork in vexation. As the fork was not at fault, she got her just desserts by injuring the palm of her hand.

      "Have you eaten your cake yet? Let's go." As if they were abruptly bringing a lesson to a close in class, the two of them stood up. All at once a decision had been reached regarding the three remaining shops listed in the leaflet.


      Chapter 3

      Even though she didn't specifically make a phone call, it was the same idea. And then, even if they couldn't try all three shops, it was easy to reach a decision on the first one. Surely she would hit bingo.

      However, her luck really ran out.

      "Yanaka-sama has already departed a short while ago." Though it wasn't vocalized, Yoshino was taken aback with an "ugh." While of course Nana managed the news calmly…

      "Do you know about how long ago they left?"

      "Please wait a moment." The maitre d' temporarily withdrew into the interior of the shop.

      "If we'd noticed a little bit sooner…" But saying that at this point was meaninglessâ€"it had been unavoidable. Nevertheless, she couldn't stop herself from saying so. They had passed in front of this shop a little while ago. At that time, Rei-chan had still been inside. Until they went off to have cake, they could still have made it in time.

      But, if you thought about it, in that they had entered the lounge to finish eating their cake and remained there, they had been able to be present at the site of where Oota-san had been called. In so doing, they had been given a hint. They recognized how basic and rudimentary it was to simply ask the host of the shop to intercede.

      The shop host returned with a copy of the sales receipt, which Yoshino could not immediately understand. "The time of payment is printed as 1:03. So that was about seven or eight minutes ago. But why do you ask?"

      "I have some urgent business with the person who was with Yanaka-san. It's okay. We'll try looking around." Even if they were to hang around this place, it's not likely they'd be able to obtain any new information. The two of them excused themselves and left the shop. In their hesitation, a minute or two had already passed. The distance they might have traveled in seven or eight minutes should still be within the area they could catch up to. At least there was the likelihood that they would still be in the hotel. The meal had ended; it didn't seem likely they would have stood around nosily saying their goodbyes.

      "'There are other young people here…,'" Nana muttered. "Except there aren't."

      "That's what I was thinking!" Yoshino had also thought of that, but hadn't voiced the opinion. The go-between always uses that same worn-out closing pitch.

      "They were probably already done talking when they went into shop a little while ago."

      "But, if they had gone a little more slowly…"

      "That's true. This hotel also has a beautiful garden, so maybe after leaving the shop they went for a stroll, or…"

      "Just the two of them?!" That is not permitted. Yoshino flipped her lid. She wrested the leaflet that Nana held in her hand away from her.

      "Let me see that map for a second. How do you exit to the garden?"

      "Wait a second. Even if you declare our destination in a word to be "the garden", this hotel is really huge. Besides, seeing as it's a Sunday, there might be areas that have been reserved. Randomly dashing out there would be absurd. First of all, we should go to the reception desk, and ask which areas an ordinary guest can stroll through."

      "'Where would be a suitable place to have a stroll for an Omiai?' Is that what you want to ask?" What a disgrace. How did it come to this?

      "If it's unpleasant, I'll ask," Nana hotly informed Yoshino and walked on ahead.

      "Please wait, Nana!" (TL Rei: Yoshino first refers to Nana without an honorific here) She chased after Nana who quickly vanished around a corner. Yoshino ran off in that direction.

      How has it already come to this? Even though she was two years Nana's senior, why was she chasing her around like she couldn't live without her? Was she already her younger sister? If Nana is to become her little sister when she enters high school, should she let everyday pass in this state until then?

      She was against that sort of thing. Yoshino had wanted to be the one who walked in front. Her destiny lay in an enlightened world. She was free; where would life take her? Standing at that fulcrum, she wanted to approach life straight on and make decisions for herself.

      So then, what's this? In order to chase Nana around this turning point, she must learn to bend. Nana's attitude fell in line behind Rei-chan's. Furthermore, despite her best efforts she always ended up behind. If she were a little bit quicker… She felt something like regret compound things. Yoshino's surge of anger had been building towards a peak.

      That's why she thought she should move slowly through this turning point. Also an opportunity hadn't presented itself.

      She mustn't run in the corridor. You shouldn't think of this as a rule for only on school grounds.

      "Yoshino-sama, stop!" From the place where she had just turned the corner, Nana's voice rang out. Reflexively she threw on the brakes. Of course, her feet which had been vigorously pumping, stopped in panic.

      However…

      "Look out!" Sailing along with Nana's voice, a small body leapt into her path and Yoshino collided with it. In the impact, Yoshino overcompensated and fell over backwards. The other party leapt in the opposite direction of Yoshino.

      It was a child, she realized at that moment. What should she do? Even though she didn't have a license, she'd caused an accident resulting in personal injury or death. Even though her hands and her butt hit the floor and she was struck soundly, all the while Yoshino was thinking about this. The child probably was injured from the impact. If he or she had died, what would she do?

      Yet the child seemed to have suffered much less damage than Yoshino had thought. This was because Nana had caught the flying child. Having depleted her power reserves, Nana also fell on her butt. Nana became pinned under the child, who had sustained almost no injury.

      "Are you all right?!" coming to her senses, Yoshino rushed over.

      "I'm so sorry. I was in a hurry." In order to relieve the pressure on Nana, the boy stood up. He likely had been taken by surprise. For a moment, he bowed his head slightly in apology while holding his heart. One would guess him to be probably a third or fourth grader in elementary school. Was he one of the wedding attendees? He wore a very adult two-piece suit: the top independent from the bottom. He possessed the air of a small gentleman.

      "No, it's okay. It was also my fault. Sorry," Yoshino said while brushing the dust off the boy's jacket.

      "Even if we're both at fault, it seems like only you two ladies were hurt. That is most unfair," the boy muttered apologetically to Yoshino and Nana. Although at present, no blood had been spilled, both of them were rubbing their palms and their butts.

      "It's fine. We'll be happy as long as you are able to keep safety in mind." Those were her true feelings. Though based on his age, could you really say he was at fault? If she'd said it was, for someone smaller and weaker than her, it would be damaging. Emotionally, it would be too severe.

      "But girls need protection, right? That's what Father and Mother say." He said so with such a serious look, that Yoshino and Nana both laughed instinctively.

      "When you say protection, you really only mean support, don't you?" Nana asked. At this the young boy nodded greatly.

      "I see. It's various things." It was honest and cute. The boy rearranged his shirt sleeves and cuffs on his own. After that, Yoshino was stared at.

      "What?"

      "Haven't I met you somewhere?"

      "Really? I'm sorry, I don't really remember." If he had been ten years older, this might have been a bad pickup line.

      "It must be my imagination. Usually I'd be telling you how I know you, but I only have a hunch we've met somewhere. I just can't recall." When you meet such a cute child, you're not likely to forget. Could it have been that they occasionally passed each other at their favorite shop? …But, sharing a favorite store with an elementary student, what in the world kind of place was that?

      Although the two of them were mulling it over, neither one could come up with anything. Nana couldn't stand it anymore and spoke to the boy.

      "Hey, is this all right? Weren't you in a hurry to get someplace?"

      "That's right. <br/><br/>(Message over 64 KB, truncated)
    • twadli3400
      ... Thanks in advanced for the translation. I look forward to reading when I have some downtime. :)
      Message 2 of 10 , Aug 12, 2009
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        --- In Yuricon@yahoogroups.com, "atheniag" <anilesbocon01@...> wrote:
        >
        > Introduction and Part 1

        Thanks in advanced for the translation. I look forward to reading when I have some downtime. :)
      • catchperfect
        WOW. What a treat - thank you all for making this translation happen and getting it out to us even with busy schedules, school, etc. It s much appreciated and
        Message 3 of 10 , Aug 12, 2009
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          WOW. What a treat - thank you all for making this translation happen and getting it out to us even with busy schedules, school, etc. It's much appreciated and I thank you.

          Cheers,
          Grace

          --- On Wed, 8/12/09, twadli3400 <twadli3400@...> wrote:

          From: twadli3400 <twadli3400@...>
          Subject: [Yuricon] Re: Maria-sama ga Miteru Novel 22, Bara no Mille-Feuille, Intro & Pt. 1
          To: Yuricon@yahoogroups.com
          Date: Wednesday, August 12, 2009, 8:48 PM

           

          --- In Yuricon@yahoogroups .com, "atheniag" <anilesbocon01@ ...> wrote:
          >
          > Introduction and Part 1

          Thanks in advanced for the translation. I look forward to reading when I have some downtime. :)


        • rwslaugh
          Thanks for this weekends reading assignment! Nice work, all three of you! Regards, Bob
          Message 4 of 10 , Aug 12, 2009
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            Thanks for this weekends' reading assignment! Nice work, all three of you!

            Regards,

            Bob


            --- In Yuricon@yahoogroups.com, "atheniag" <anilesbocon01@...> wrote:
            >
            > Introduction and Part 1
            >
          • Adam Jones
            ... Heh. Close, but not quite. A thousand girls would be mille filles ; mille feuilles is a thousand sheets or layers. The pronunciations are pretty
            Message 5 of 10 , Aug 13, 2009
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              On 13-Aug-2009 00:43 -0000, atheniag wrote:

              > By the way, in its original language the name of the pie is spelled
              > m i l l e f e u i l l e. When you pronounce it, it's all right in Japanese to say "mirufuuyu." But the closest pronunciation to the French for mille-feuille by far is "mirufeeyu". When written, the meaning conveyed is "a thousand women".

              Heh. Close, but not quite. A thousand girls would be "mille filles";
              "mille feuilles" is a thousand sheets or layers. The pronunciations are
              pretty similar, though (I'm *very* rusty, but I'd hazard it as being
              "milfeey" versus "milfoey" to a zeroth approximation...).

              Anyway, thank you very much to Rei, Sukoshi and Erica for all your hard
              work on this translation. :)
              --
              Adam Jones (adam@...)(http://www.yggdrasl.demon.co.uk/)
              .oO("automatically WhIpE yo hard drive" )
              PGP public key: http://www.yggdrasl.demon.co.uk/pubkey.asc
            • Joseph Wagner
              You ll have to inform Konno-sensei--I didn t write this book. ... -- How much sand will the hand hold? ~Jessica, mother of Muad Dib
              Message 6 of 10 , Aug 13, 2009
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                You'll have to inform Konno-sensei--I didn't write this book.

                On Thu, Aug 13, 2009 at 3:56 AM, Adam Jones <adam@...> wrote:
                 

                On 13-Aug-2009 00:43 -0000, atheniag wrote:

                > By the way, in its original language the name of the pie is spelled
                > m i l l e f e u i l l e. When you pronounce it, it's all right in Japanese to say "mirufuuyu." But the closest pronunciation to the French for mille-feuille by far is "mirufeeyu". When written, the meaning conveyed is "a thousand women".

                Heh. Close, but not quite. A thousand girls would be "mille filles";
                "mille feuilles" is a thousand sheets or layers. The pronunciations are
                pretty similar, though (I'm *very* rusty, but I'd hazard it as being
                "milfeey" versus "milfoey" to a zeroth approximation...).

                Anyway, thank you very much to Rei, Sukoshi and Erica for all your hard
                work on this translation. :)
                --
                Adam Jones (adam@...)(http://www.yggdrasl.demon.co.uk/)
                .oO("automatically WhIpE yo hard drive" )
                PGP public key: http://www.yggdrasl.demon.co.uk/pubkey.asc



                --
                "How much sand will the hand hold?" ~Jessica, mother of Muad'Dib
              • Adam Jones
                ... I wasn t sure if that was part of the original or not, which is why I didn t say who I was nitpicking. But I figured the three of you wouldn t have made
                Message 7 of 10 , Aug 13, 2009
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                  On 13-Aug-2009 08:03 -0400, Joseph Wagner wrote:
                  > You'll have to inform Konno-sensei--I didn't write this book.

                  I wasn't sure if that was part of the original or not, which is why I
                  didn't say who I was nitpicking. But I figured the three of you
                  wouldn't have made that particular mistake. :)
                  --
                  Adam Jones (adam@...)(http://www.yggdrasl.demon.co.uk/)
                  .oO("Be proud you're idiot! We need the idiots!" )
                  PGP public key: http://www.yggdrasl.demon.co.uk/pubkey.asc
                • sandman guy
                  I too wish to thank everyone who worked on this. I love reading these and seeing the little things that were missed in the anime version. Plus there just a
                  Message 8 of 10 , Aug 13, 2009
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                    I too wish to thank everyone who worked on this.

                    I love reading these and seeing the little things that were missed in the anime version. Plus there just a great read.

                    Thanks again.

                    Sandman7


                    Yahoo! Canada Toolbar : Search from anywhere on the web and bookmark your favourite sites. Download it now!

                  • Erica Friedman
                    ... As Rei says, we didn t make that up, it s the Intro of the book. If it doesn t have one of our names on it, you ll have to take it up with Konno-sensei.
                    Message 9 of 10 , Aug 13, 2009
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                      > To: Yuricon@yahoogroups.com
                      > From: adam@...
                      > Date: Thu, 13 Aug 2009 13:13:49 +0100
                      > Subject: Re: [Yuricon] Maria-sama ga Miteru Novel 22, Bara no Mille-Feuille, Intro & Pt. 1
                      >
                      > On 13-Aug-2009 08:03 -0400, Joseph Wagner wrote:
                      > > You'll have to inform Konno-sensei--I didn't write this book.
                      >
                      > I wasn't sure if that was part of the original or not, which is why I
                      > didn't say who I was nitpicking. But I figured the three of you
                      > wouldn't have made that particular mistake. :)


                      As Rei says, we didn't make that up, it's the Intro of the book. If it doesn't have one of our names on it, you'll have to take it up with Konno-sensei.  :-)


                      Cheers, 

                      Erica 

                      Yuricon - "For real women who like their women...animated." http://www.yuricon.org 

                      Hungry for Yuri? Have some Okazu: http://okazu.blogspot.com 

                      "World Shaking" Fanfic - http://www.worldshaking.net 

                      The Fanfic Revolution - fanficrevolution.blogspot.com 


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                    • yurrihyun
                      Wow. This completely made my day. Yoshino and Nana are pure win. Loved that Nana is channeling the Torii Eriko spirit of interesting things. And the guest
                      Message 10 of 10 , Aug 13, 2009
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                        Wow. This completely made my day. Yoshino and Nana are pure win. Loved that Nana is channeling the Torii Eriko spirit of "interesting things."

                        And the guest star of the white rose family was also pure fun.

                        Really enjoyed this (i'm at work and had to hide the laughter) and only wish more of this could have been animated. Rei, Sukoshi, and Erica thank you very much for all your hard work! This fan's heart is going boom, boom, boom for you all!
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