Miyoko no Naku Koro ni
Betrayal Chapter (2nd arc)
Episode 2: Their Plan
“And they all lived happily ever after!” Fumie declared energetically.
She was just finishing a colorful, spirited reading of a short storybook. Sayuri, Miyo, and Eriko clapped their hands together gently for applause. They all had to be careful not to be too loud, or they would get yelled at or hit by whoever was patrolling the halls. Like most days, today the girls would be forced to pass the time locked in their shared room, using whatever they collected in advance for entertainment. It was a great pity, since outside was warm and sunny.
“You’re really good at performing and that sort of thing,” Miyo observed of Fumie.
“She always has been,” Eriko nodded, giving Miyo a friendly clap on the back. “Since I’ve known her anyway. The things she used to get in trouble for the most were hyperactivity and talking too loudly. She was a wild-child. Yet, she’s so refined and ladylike, too.”
Fumie blushed lightly, hearing those words. “It’s not as if I require your praises,” she stated, tying her long, black hair into a ponytail. Then she looked at Sayuri. “I’d rather here what the little mouse has to say about my reading. Come now, Sayu-chan. If you don’t speak regularly, you’ll get out of practice again.”
Sayuri, the quietest and youngest girl who had strawberry-blond hair, fidgeted with her hands for a few seconds, staring at the floor. Finally she mustered her courage, looked right into Fumie’s eyes, and said, “I love it when you read stories. I just worry that you’ll get too loud. Your voice is really pretty.”
This time Fumie blushed deeper, and while Miyo didn’t know why, Eriko chuckled.
“I know what we can do next,” announced Eriko, standing up while Fumie sat down and snuggled up close to Sayuri. “Miyo, help me bring over those four big books. Be careful, they’re heavy, and I’m only borrowing them from Ebina-san. Don’t be rough with them.”
“Are we going to read something out of all these fat, giant books?” asked Miyo skeptically.
“No, it’s not that,” Eriko said smilingly. “We’re just going to check on our pressed flowers from a few weeks ago, and put some new ones in to dry and press. Fumi-san? Did you manage to grab any fresh flowers before they locked us all in?”
“Indeed.” Fumie went to her corner of the room and took a light cloth off the jar where the flowers had been hidden. They were in water, and thus, relatively unwilted. “I’ll pass them around. I found a daffodil near the edge of the property. It’s for you, Eriko. For myself, I got a hydrangea blossom from the main garden out front. And from our little bulb garden, red and yellow tulips. Sayuri gets red. Miyo can have the yellow ones.”
“You’re awfully particular about how you give out flowers,” Miyo said, puzzled.
“Oh, we didn’t tell you, did we?” Eriko realized. “See, the three of us like to play around with Hanakotoba, the language of flowers. But we only have whatever is around here to work with, so we have to make some adjustments to the meanings.”
“I don’t know any flower meanings,” Miyo admitted. She was more interested in the science of how plants and flowers grew, so she had never pursued an interest as romantic in nature as the language of flowers. But she thought it would be enjoyable to learn about it.
Eriko poked Sayuri gently. “Sayu-chan here is the one who taught us about Hanakotoba.”
“Yes, every flower has a meaning,” Sayuri explained, sounding more confident than usual. “Daffodil symbolizes respect. Fumi-senpai is saying that Eriko makes a good leader. For Hydrangea, let’s see. I think it means a proud and energetic girl. There are a lot of meanings for that one, so I might be forgetting a few. Tulips in general refer to trust and friendship. Is that enough? Can I stop now?” She sounded tired.
“There’s just one other thing I want to add,” said Eriko. “Sometimes, since we can’t find roses, we pretend the tulips have the meaning of roses. Did you know? Yellow roses mean jealousy or envy. Red roses mean ‘I love you.’ Isn’t that something? I wonder why Fumi-san gave—”
“That’s enough pointless speculation,” Fumie interrupted, pouting. “There’s no meaning behind these tulips except friendship.”
Eriko chuckled, and Miyo started to understand why as Fumie and Sayuri worked together to press their flowers.
That evening, Fumie was taken to see Ebina, and the reason for it was not disclosed to the other three girls. It was worrying and frustrating. However, after only a short time, Fumie returned, and without a single (new) scratch on her. She hadn’t been punished. Even more mysteriously, she wouldn’t say exactly what she and Ebina talked about. Eriko asked about it nonstop until Fumie lost her temper and slapped the girl. Eriko knew enough was enough, so she and the rest of the girls headed to bed.
Long after Fumie and Sayuri fell asleep, Miyo lay staring up at the ceiling, wondering about all she had been through and learned, and the people she had met, in only a week. Thinking about her parents made her want to cry again, so Miyo tried to think of anything but them. What came to her mind was the image of that strange girl in her mid-teens with the long, purplish-blue hair and straight-cut bangs.
“What are you thinking about?” Eriko’s voice came in a whisper.
“A Witch,” Miyo replied automatically.
“You believe in witches?” asked the other girl.
At first Miyo felt embarrassed, but then she decided to just roll with it. Something was strange about this night and she felt like she could be completely honest. “Well, I’m starting to think I believe in just one witch,” she said. “The one who came to my yard a few hours before my parents died. I don’t remember all of what she said clearly, but it was like… she knew my parents were going to die. She told me to go with them if I wanted to avoid pain.”
“That witch sounds really messed up,” Eriko said in answer. “If she knew, why not try to stop your parents’ deaths? And it’s wrong to say that you can avoid pain by dying. Whoever she is, it sounds like that witch had it out for you.”
“I think so, too. I think she might be the cause of all this. And it’s especially a shame because… even though I only talked to her for a few minutes… I liked her, and wanted to close to her. I have no idea why I felt that way.”
“Well, I’m not sure either,” Eriko rejoined, “but do you think we can come back to the witch story in a minute? It seems like you trust me, so I want to show I trust you too, and tell you something very important. It’s best to tell you now. We won’t get a better chance than this.”
“What’s it about?” Miyo inquired, sitting up a little.
“You see,” answered Eriko, “we have an escape plan.” She spent the next few minutes giving Miyo the details in a careful whisper.
Frederica Bernkastel appeared to Kashima when he was alone in the tiny chapel. “I have a special task for you, my Piece,” she said.
“Oh?” asked Kashima, tilting his head to one side in one of his overdone gestures. “You want me to interfere at this stage of the game? But my M.O. is gone. Nobody disrespected Ebina-sama this time, and nobody has attempted escape yet.”
“You don’t need to kill anyone. I just need you to stir up Hosoda at a few key points. Things are going too well for Miyoko. She might manage to escape. So I feel there is no choice but to add some interference.”
“As you wish,” said Kashima.
To Be Continued
Betrayal Chapter (2nd Arc)
Episode 1: Companions