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Bara no Scarlet

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        It had been three years since Anshii Himemiya had stepped outside of Othori's campus. Three long years of searching day and night for her Prince.

        Himemiya had failed to find her.

        She'd never intended to return, but a small parcel had caught up with her in her search. When she opened it, she found that it contained a silver Rose Signet and a note.
        The handwriting had been Akio's. "I told you that you couldn’t find her."

        For a long time, she'd ignored the unwritten command to return.

        She'd put the ring on a silver chain and worn it around her neck to remind her. But that morning, just that morning, the ring had caught her eye in the mirror.
        The dent. That tiny little dent where Touga's sword had caught Utena's ring.
        And so she had returned to Othori.

        To find out how Akio had gotten the ring.
 
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            Ohtori campus was still very much as Anshii remembered it. The same rose carvings on the walls, the same iron roses on the gates. Even the trees of the old dueling forest remained in the distance behind the school.

            But what she wasn’t prepared for was the change in staff.

 

            She had walked into the office to find a redheaded man sitting at a desk. However, in her opinion, perhaps sitting was too structured a term. He was leaned back in the chair, feet propped up on the desk as he spoke to someone on the phone in a gentle yet cajoling tone. To Anshii, it sounded like a personal phone call with a girl. Being that she was looking at Touga Kiryuu, she was certain of it.

            Anshii cleared her throat politely and waited for him to notice her. When he didn’t, she cleared her throat again. When he still didn’t notice her, she reached out and picked up a book from his desk, lifting it several inches off of the surface and then dropping it loudly back on the desk with a resounding thud.

            By the time Touga had regained his composure and looked to her, Anshii was smiling at him, hands folded politely in front of her, as if she had never reached out and touched the book.

            He blinked several times before stammering something about calling the person back into the phone and hanging it up. Rising to his feet, he looked to her in surprise. “Himemiya! You’re back…! When did you return? Why?”

            Anshii almost laughed at his awkward reaction to her. She knew that with her hair down and without her glasses she was a far cry from how he remembered her, but this was almost too funny. “I arrived today.”

            “Have you seen anyone else? Did anyone know that you were coming?” He said, walking around the desk and over to her. She absently noted that he was looking at her as if seeing a memory, and not the reality in front of her. But then… Touga hadn’t ever had too firm a grasp on reality.

            Anshii shook her head, considering her words and settling on the simple truth. No need to involve them all over again. “No, and truthfully, until two days ago, I wasn’t ever coming back.”

            Touga motioned to the door, raising his hand to lightly touch her back and lead her towards the door.. “Then come with me, please. There are some who will be most pleased to see you.”

            Anshii paused for a moment, but then decided to humor him. She had time before she went to confront Akio. Why not see who it was that Touga wanted her to see?

 

            The first person Touga took her to see was a very startled Miki. For a moment, his fingers had been caught on the piano keyboard, an open chord holding in the air until the moment was broken by her gentle hello.

            He moved from the piano to her quickly, smiling in great surprise. “Himemiya! I hardly recognized you!” He stood there, looking at her, and for a moment, Anshii could see her past self reflected in his eyes. How easy it would be to just slip back into that role… She caught herself up mentally, reminding herself that she was there to find out what was going on, not to return to the past.

            Anshii smiled faintly, looking over Miki’s shoulder into the darkness of the room beyond. “You might say that someone taught me how to break the shell…”

            Surprise turned into shock within Miki and Touga’s eyes, and they both looked at her. “She did it, then.” Touga replied quietly. “But the Revolution…”

            Anshii looked to them both. But before she could answer, another voice, a woman’s came from the door. “Did you find her, then, Himemiya?”

            Juri stood in the doorway, looking at the trio quietly, eyes unreadable. Long golden curls cascaded over her shoulders, tumbling down her back, the curls even longer than Anshii had remembered them being.

            Anshii looked away, unable to hold her composure with the eyes of a woman whose fire and anger burned deep within the icy blue depths. “No.”

            “She didn’t win,” Miki said, looking to Anshii, sadly as he shook his head. “She didn’t revolutionize the world.”

            Anshii looked to Miki in confusion. “What? But… I’m no longer the Rose Bride…”

            “They’re still dueling. There’s a new Rose Bride.”

            After Miki’s words came a silence as thick as the sudden cloying scent of roses that crashed through the room. Anshii vaguely recognized the scent, and in that silence, she drew on her old powers, those that had once gotten her named as a witch, and ran from the room, anger building a cold fire within her.

            Juri looked quietly to Miki and Touga. “So. It starts again.”