Story: Blue-Haired Gray Eyes, Blue-Haired Brown Ones (all chapters)

Authors: bleeding.blade

Back to chapter list

Chapter 1

[Author's notes:

PREFACE: I wrote this story out of a fundamental dislike for tragedy and an abiding obsession with aesthetic justice. After watching the entire Strawberry Panic series, I felt violated by the idea that two of the noblest, if not quite most loveable, characters in the series - Suzumi Tamao and Rokujō Miyuki - would have to live the rest of their lives in an agony of unrequited love and unremitting loneliness. Hence, it seemed like a good idea to devote my first (and probably not my last fan fiction, given that unrequited love is a common theme in shoujo-ai anime) to remedy the situation. However, what was intended to be a brief exercise quickly morphed into an extended storyline. While I'd begun with the intention of keeping the story short and sweet, I quickly discovered that the nature of Miyuki's and Tamao's characters, and the nature of Miyuki's specific circumstances, resisted quick and easy resolutions. Characters need to develop significantly if they are to alter the otherwise immutable trajectories of their personal tragedies. What made this a challenging and prolonged exercise was having to stick to the basic personalities and situations of the characters as they were found at the end of the anime series, and then finding the authentic seeds for their own healing from there. The result, I hope, fulfills your own expectations of aesthetic justice as it did mine.

WARNINGS: The story takes place after the events of the anime series, so spoilers do abound. More specifically, the story happens in winter, shortly after the Etoile selection (either late November or early December in my estimation), and runs until spring of the following year (early to late April).

NOTES: The honorifics and forms of address used in the story are largely based on the anime series. As for the eye colors of the various characters, I have used approximations. For instance, Tamao's eyes appear to be slate (bluish to purplish gray) while Miyuki's appear to be hazel (yellowish to golden brown). For the sake of simplicity, I have colored their eyes just gray and brown respectively.

DISCLAIMER: The characters of Strawberry Panic are the creations of Sakurako Kimino and various associated publishers and producers and are therefore not my property.


Suzumi Tamao leans back against a tree, pen and paper in one hand, forehead in another. Words fail her today, as they have every day since the Etoile selection. Once again she is disappointed, but hardly surprised. She has only ever used her gift to express lightness and love. She has never learned - nor needed - to express anything else, until now. But her inner voice remains silent, mute and bewildered in the face of her private pain. Suzumi Tamao sighs and shakes her head. For her own sake, she needs to grieve. For Nagisa's sake, she cannot grieve too much. And now, even her ability to write poetry has abandoned her. She closes her eyes and breathes slowly, the momentary stillness giving her the respite her lost talent cannot. And then, behind her, a quiet voice calls her name.



Rokujō Miyuki looks silently at the dejected form by the tree. She knows something of Tamao's feelings, having witnessed them countless times in her six years in Strawberry House. It's inevitable, she thinks dispassionately. Put the most beautiful, intelligent and accomplished girls in the country together and force them to live in close proximity, and it's impossible for hearts not to get broken. She absently touches her neck, fingers instinctively groping for a key not long ago returned. The gesture jolts her from her reverie. Rokujō Miyuki sighs and shakes her head. Inevitable or not, no one deserved a broken heart. Stepping forward, she calls to the girl by the tree.

"Tamao-san. I was wondering if you could be of assistance to me about something."


"How can I help you, Rokujō-sama?"

The two women are having tea at the lounge area of Strawberry House. Apart from being slightly more reserved than usual, Tamao appears as earnest and focused as ever. It is a strength that Miyuki can respect and admire, though never acknowledge. She lowers her cup and regards Tamao steadily.

"Tamao-san, I imposed on you once by forcing you to run for the position of Etoile with Nagisa-san. I honestly believe you could have both won, had circumstances not changed...suddenly. Now Amane-san and Hikari-san occupy the position of Etoile, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for your skills and talents. Tamao-san, I would like you to run for the position of Miator Student Council President."

Tamao is startled by the request. For the past few weeks, training for the position of Etoile is all that has occupied her mind. She has forgotten that other roles exist, and that the women filling them currently are graduating soon. Sensing the younger woman's hesitation, Miyuki decides to press her case.

"The fact that you qualified for the position of Etoile means that you are more than qualified for the position of Student Council President, Tamao-san. Your are intelligent and reliable and well-liked by your peers and elders. Obviously, Miator has a lot to gain from you being in this position, but there are things you can gain as well. You have great leadership potential, Tamao-san, but it hasn't had much opportunity to develop. I would consider it a privilege to be able to teach you what I've learned."

This time, the surprise on Tamao's face is unmistakable. Her cheeks redden slightly and she bows her head towards Miyuki.

"You are too kind Rokujō-sama. I'm sure I would be a burden for you to teach."

Miyuki's face relaxes into a small smile.

"You have never been and likely never will be a burden to anyone, Tamao-san. Please think about my request. If you don't mind, I would like an answer by tomorrow."

Nodding her head at the younger girl, Miyuki stands up and leaves. Tamao sits for a little while longer, contemplating the blank sheet of paper at her side. After all, she muses, without Nagisa-chan's company or my poetry, I really have too much time on my hands. She picks up her cup and sips absently at the lukewarm tea.


"Tamao-chan!!! I'm sorry I got back so late!"

Nagisa barrels into the room, breathless from her sprint through the halls. Tamao smiles at her friend and chides her gently.

"Nagisa-chan, it's okay to come in late as long as it's before lights-out. I don't mind."

The last statement is a lie and they both know it. They both also know they cannot ever speak of it. Since the day of the Etoile selection, they have carefully borne the suddenly fragile raft of their friendship on the perilous eddies of silence and evasion. It pains them both tremendously, but they are young and love each other too much and know no other way. Nagisa looks helplessly at Tamao. The blue-haired girl smiles through too-bright eyes and propels her friend towards the bathroom.

"You should hurry up and get ready for bed. Sister Hamasaka might be doing the rounds again tonight."


In bed later that night, Tamao speaks quietly across the room to Nagisa.

"Nagisa-chan, Rokujō-sama has asked me to run for the position of Student Council President."

Nagisa's form shifts slightly on her bed. A few moments pass by in silence.

"I think you would be a wonderful President, Tamao-chan. I honestly can't think of anyone else who'd be a better replacement for Rokujō-sama."

"Thank you, Nagisa-chan. That means a lot to me."

Turning in their beds, one sighs and the other cries silently to sleep. They have both taken steps away from each other, have both begun to abandon their little craft. Dawn, when it comes, brings little relief.


"Rokujō-sama, I have considered your request, and...I would be deeply honored to fulfill it. Please take me under your care."

Miyuki considers the bowed figure before her, and allows herself a small smile. She has never entertained the possibility of Tamao refusing her request. Different people dealt with heartbreak in different ways, but Miyuki has always believed that like herself, Tamao would choose to find solace in work and responsibility.

"Thank you, Tamao-san. I'll be seeing you every day after school then. There is much to explain and not much time, so I hope you understand the urgency."

"Of course, Rokujō-sama. My time is at your disposal."

With that, the younger girl bows again and leaves the room. Miyuki watches the retreating figure and sighs. She would prefer to show more compassion, but knows it would be crossing a line. More intimately than most, she is aware of how dignity can oftentimes be the only refuge left to the despairing. She will not rob Tamao of any refuge the younger girl can find.

[End notes: I had to invent the occasion of a Miator Student Council election given the absence of any references to it in the series. The idea seemed plausible to me given the fact that the position of Etoile is achieved via election as well. It also seemed reasonable to assume that Tamao, an incoming fifth-year student, would be qualified to run for the position given that Lulim's president, Minamoto Chikaru, had only been in her fifth year when she had occupied the post. In this story, I have set the Student Council elections in early January.]

Chapter 2

"Besides representing Miator to the other schools within Astraea Hill, the Miator Student Council President also represents the school's student body to all external stakeholders, including parents, teachers and visitors from other schools..."

Miyuki and Tamao are in the Student Council Room of Miator: Miyuki at the blackboard chalking key words and phrases, Tamao at the Council table taking notes. They have been meeting after school for several days now, with Miyuki explaining the various roles and responsibilities of the Student Council. Their regular interactions have only served to reinforce their mutual respect. Tamao suspects that Miyuki has not only carried out her many duties as Student Council President, but has discreetly performed several of the former Etoile's duties as well. On her part, Miyuki finds herself impressed time and again by Tamao's intelligence and insight: the younger woman had a photographic memory for facts that was surprisingly complemented by a keen understanding of politics. Today, feeling especially pleased with her pupil's progress, Miyuki decides to call for an uncharacteristic break.

"Tamao-san, why don't we go out for a walk? The weather looks exceptionally fine today."

Tamao glances up from her notes, surprised by her mentor's spontaneous good cheer. She has grown accustomed to Miyuki's seriousness and reserve, and is therefore pleasantly surprised to see this unexpected side to the older woman. Also, she misses the Astraean scenery. Since Nagisa and Shizuma have started going out together, she has lost a favorite walking companion and has abandoned the pastime altogether. For the first time in a long while, a genuine smile of pleasure lights up the younger girl's face.

"That would be lovely, Rokujō-sama."


They walk in silence for a good while, simply enjoying the weather, the landscape, and the undemanding presence of the other. Tamao pauses on occasion to admire bits of scenery: an icicle, a snowflake, the remains of a snowman.

Miyuki marvels at the younger girl's quiet pleasure, a fact made more touching by her awareness of Tamao's private grief. It is this quality, Miyuki decides, that Tamao has in common with Nagisa. Both girls had the uncanny ability to delight in the simplest things despite the most painful circumstances - and to transmit that joy to others. Such a contrast, Miyuki muses, to how she and Shizumi had dealt with their own tragedies in the past or continued to deal with them in the present...

A sudden stinging sensation on her right shoulder jolts Miyuki out of her thoughts. Startled, she looks around and finds Tamao staring intently at a bush on the far side of the path, drops of melted snow clinging to her right glove. Miyuki's eyes narrow...


"Rokujō-sama!" Tamao gives a yelp of surprise and rubs the side of her head. "You didn't have to hit me back on the head!"

To her own surprise, Miyuki finds herself laughing openly at Tamao's shock. "Punishment for insubordinate behavior, Tamao-san. And, yes, I have a really good aim with snowballs."

In that one careless moment, with Miyuki's guard down and a smile on her face, Tamao thinks to herself with surprise, Why, Rokujō-sama, you're beautiful.


They are strolling by the woods, their breaths steaming in the wintry air. Their afternoon lectures have slowly given way to afternoon walks. Miyuki still talks occasionally about the Student Council, to explain odd bits of fact or procedure. Tamao has noticed that whenever the older woman mentions the former Etoile, her hand reaches for her neck in what appears to be an unconscious gesture.

They are near the edge of the woods when they first hear the voices: the first a low, musical drawl; the second a bright, chirpy staccato. They look involuntarily at each other, and turn away just as quickly. Neither has anticipated the look of concern and sympathy on the other's face. By the time Shizuma and Nagisa come into view, they are both preoccupied with other thoughts.

"Tamao-chan! Rojukō-sama!" Nagisa waves cheerfully at her best friend. It does not escape Miyuki's notice that the red-haired girl has moved slightly away from Shizuma's figure upon seeing Tamao.

Tamao smiles warmly at her closest friend and bows slightly towards the former Etoile. "Nagisa-chan, Shizuma-sama. Have you been busy at the greenhouse?"

Nagisa nods and shakes her head ruefully. "Amane-san and Hikari-san aren't used to caring for flowers, so we've been helping them out a bit."

Miyuki lifts an eyebrow at Shizuma. "You didn't use to be so helpful, Shizuma. It must be Nagisa-san's influence."

Shizuma gives a lazy grin. "I can be diligent when properly motivated, Miyuki."

The tension between the two older women does not escape their younger charges. Tamao hesitates, then speaks.

"I'm sure you and Nagisa-chan are eager to clean up after your work, Shizuma-sama, so we won't keep you any longer."

Tamao bows again to the silver-haired woman, gives Nagisa a small smile and continues down the path. To her relief, Miyuki has followed her lead. The older woman has a brooding expression on her face, and once again her hand is at her neck.  


It is nearly midnight but Miyuki cannot sleep. She stands by her window, her right hand absently rubbing the space below her collarbone. She remembers the key she carried for two years. I gave her back her heart after carrying it all these years - and she didn't even have the decency to give me back mine. But tonight, for some reason, she cannot muster her anger or her hate. She tries to recall all the times when Shizuma had twisted the knife-like edge of pain into her heart. But the only image that comes to mind is the look of concern on a blue-haired girl's face. Sighing, Miyuki goes to bed and closes her eyes. Dawn is a long way from coming.

Chapter 3


Miyuki looks up in surprise. It is only lunch so she is not expecting to find Tamao in the Student Council Room.

"I know you're busy, Rokujō-sama, but I was wondering if I could bother you with something..."

Miyuki tilts her head to the side. She and Tamao have grown considerably more comfortable with each other over the past weeks, so she finds the younger girl's sudden shyness intriguing.

"Of course, Tamao-san. You know that I would be glad to help you with anything."

"Well..." The younger girl hesitates. "It's just that I haven't been able to write poetry...lately, so I've tried my hand at something else. I really admired the critique you did of my adaptation of Carmen, so I was wondering if I could impose on you to do more of the same with this new work I'm trying..."

Miyuki looks at the slim notebook in Tamao's outstretched hands and accepts it with a smile.

"I would be honored, Tamao-san. I know how highly regarded your literary work is in Astraea Hill. Are you sure you'd want to risk the originality of your work by paying attention to editorial criticisms from me?"

Tamao answers simply and candidly.

"Rokujō-sama, I would consider my work incomplete without your comments. Please feel free to be as harsh as necessary. I would greatly appreciate your honest opinion."

With that, Tamao bows and leaves the room. Miyuki is left staring at the bound volume in her hands. With some anticipation, she turns the first page.


I knew, someday, it would come to this. I'd only hoped it would come much later. She was mine for too short a time. But I deceive myself. She was never mine. She was another's the moment another claimed her with a kiss.  Everything else that's happened since then has only delayed the inevitable. Now the inevitable has happened. But I find no consolation in my foresight, just an immense sense of loss and desolation. If friendship means desiring the happiness of the other, then I want no part of friendship. I have only ever known the pain of loving, never the joy. Of what use are my gifts to me, when she only loves another?

Pain twists Miyuki's heart as she turns the pages of Tamao's notebook. Tamao had written an elegy. For herself, and for Miyuki, whether she had intended the latter or not.  Grief overcomes the older woman as Tamao's retelling of her loss forces her to relive hers. Miyuki closes her eyes and thinks with despair. It never ends. Not in Strawberry House.


It had been inevitable really, her falling for Shizuma. Shizuma exercised a near terminal attraction on nearly everyone who encountered her. She was wild, beautiful, headstrong and free - a feral creature turned loose in the bland domesticity of Strawberry House. As for Miyuki, she had been a delicate and withdrawn child, raised with rigor but no affection. And so when both girls had been assigned the same room in their first year in Astraea Hill, the stage was set for a tragedy so obvious it was nearly comic. It would take years for Miyuki to learn to even construct a haphazard defense for her battered psyche. Faced with filial and romantic rejection, she learned to find solace in the one thing she could control: the fulfillment of duty. If a side of her ever existed that craved for love and affection, no visible trace of it remained. At least on the surface.



Tamao shades her eyes and blinks up at the figure before her. Despite the cold, she is seated on the ground, leaning against her favorite tree, the requisite pen and paper in hand. She no longer expects her poetry to come to her these days, but finds the ritual oddly comforting.


The older woman hesitates, then asks.

"May I join you here, or am I disturbing you?"

It is Tamao's turn to be surprised by her mentor's hesitation. She shakes her head in answer and shifts slightly to make room for Miyuki by the tree.

"Not at all, Rokujō-sama. I'm always glad to have your company."

This statement of affection, said so artlessly and seriously, brings a smile to Miyuki's face. She gazes at the younger girl and speaks without thinking.

"You're very sweet, Tamao-san. I'm really glad that we got the chance to know each other better."

Tamao looks away, embarrassed. The warmth on her cheeks tells her that she is blushing. When she looks back at the older woman, Miyuki is gazing out into the frozen lake, fingers tracing an outline on her neck in the by-now-familiar gesture.

"Forgive me, Tamao-san. But I don't think I can give you a proper critique of the work you lent me the other day."

Tamao does not conceal her disappointment.

"But why Rokujō-sama? Is it that bad? Or perhaps your duties don't leave you much free time?"

Miyuki shakes her head to silence the other girl.

"It's not those things, Tamao-san. It's just that what you've written..." Miyuki hesitates, then tries again. "Perhaps the best way to put it is to say that I don't have the required aesthetic distance."

This time, when they look at each other, neither turns away. Gray eyes meet brown ones in a look of shared pain and compassion. Tamao nods, deeply touched by the older woman's admission of what is obviously an intensely private grief.

"I understand, Rokujō-sama."

They continue sitting by the lake until early evening.

Chapter 4

Tamao leans back against her favorite tree, pen in one hand, paper in the other.  Beside her, Miyuki sleeps quietly, head slightly resting on Tamao's shoulder. The older woman had been busy the last several days, preparing for the Student Council's upcoming transition to a new set of leaders. It was a sign of her exhaustion that she had let her guard down enough to actually doze off while sitting with Tamao by the lake. They had been discussing one of Tamao's older poems.

Glancing at the older woman's sleeping face, Tamao feels an odd pang of tenderness and affection. Asleep and bereft of her usual severity, Miyuki looked years younger, her vulnerability exposed. After weeks of close company with her mentor, Tamao knows that the older woman's aloofness is merely a front for her fragile psyche. She has caught enough glimpses of a smiling, laughing Miyuki to believe otherwise.

I suppose it was inevitable, Tamao thinks sadly. Not even happy, carefree Nagisa had been able to withstand the violent onslaught of Shizuma's presence. For a time, the red-haired girl had retreated into gloom and melancholy; and even then she had only known Shizuma for less than a year. How much more for delicate, withdrawn Miyuki, who had endured Shizuma's careless and platonic indifference for six?  

I've really had it much easier, Tamao sighs. Whatever her burden had been, at least Nagisa had done her best to lighten it. Tamao suspects that Shizuma has not done the same for Miyuki. The silver-haired girl was a force of nature, bringing pain and joy in equal measure. It was up to the victims - her collateral damage - to heal themselves.


Miyuki awakens with a start. She is startled to find her head leaning on Tamao's slender shoulder, and even more startled by how comfortable it feels. She leans up suddenly, her instinctive reaction to berate herself for showing a weakness like exhaustion. But something else nags at her, diverting her attention from her self-dismay.

"Are you feeling better now, Rokujō-sama?"

Miyuki glances at the younger girl, mouth open with an automatic apology, when the look of gentle understanding and concern in Tamao's eyes cuts her off. After a moment, she nods instead and smiles gratefully.

"Much better, Tamao-san."

Tamao's heart skips a beat when she sees the smile playing on Miyuki's lips. Once again, it occurs to the younger woman that her mentor is a beautiful woman - what most people would consider a delicate Japanese beauty. She wonders if Miyuki is aware of it, or if she has ever had the chance to be aware of it. The thought causes a strange ache in her chest. For the first time in weeks, words come unbidden to her mind.  Wondering gray eyes look into wondering brown ones. After an oddly long moment, Miyuki speaks.

"We should be getting back, Tamao-san. It seems to have gotten quite late."

Tamao smiles and nods. Their steps, when they walk back home, seem strangely lighter.


Later that night, Miyuki finally recognizes the unnamed and mostly unfamiliar emotion that has plagued her since waking up beside Tamao.

Safe. She makes me feel safe. Before drifting off to sleep, she has one final thought. So that's what it feels like...


On a different floor in Strawberry House, Nagisa comes in to find Tamao asleep at her desk, a smile on her face. Around her are the littered sheets of a budding poem. Nagisa smiles a strange smile of pain and relief, and covers the sleeping form of her friend with a blanket.

Chapter 5

Tamao quickly grows accustomed to showing her work to Miyuki. After the initial catharsis, her darker essays have given way to lighter sketches. However, she still does not show her senpai her new poetry. Miyuki's comments are insightful, perceptive and unerring. Her literary sensitivity is so honed, that one day, over lunch, Tamao exclaims.

"Honestly, Rokujō-sama, you should try writing yourself. You're wasting your talents by writing mere commentary!"

Miyuki laughs at Tamao's outburst.

"Being a skilled editor doesn't necessarily make one a gifted writer, Tamao-san. But thank you for thinking so highly of my talents."

Tamao shakes her head, refusing to submit.

"You'll never know until you try, Rokujō-sama."

Miyuki laughs again. Around them, in the lounge, heads turn in their direction. Few people on Astraea Hill have ever seen Rokujō Miyuki laugh. Glancing at her suddenly smiling profile, it occurs to them with a shock that she is a breathtakingly beautiful woman. They begin to wonder why they have never noticed it before.

Miyuki looks with open affection at the younger woman before her. She has noticed the change in tone in Tamao's writing, and though she has never passed comment on it, is genuinely relieved to see that the other woman seems to be healing. Since that afternoon by the tree, their relationship has evolved from a simple senpai-kouhai connection to the more level bond of genuine friendship. For Miyuki, who has only ever known distance in her relationships - whether the distance of an unrequited love or the distance of an elected position - Tamao's unreserved and undemanding affection has had the effect of a gentle rain after a severe and prolonged drought.

On her part, Tamao enjoys the furtively admiring glances that her fellow students have been increasingly aiming at her senpai. It would be wonderful, she thinks, if Rokujō-sama finds out just how much she is loved and admired before she graduates. The thought of Miyuki graduating causes a hollow ache in Tamao's chest, but she lets the tremor pass without comment. She and Miyuki have gone through too much pain and have only recently begun to recover. She does not wish to endanger their fragile and newfound peace with recently tumultuous feelings. But looking at the suddenly dangerously attractive older woman, Tamao wonders how long she can keep the tumult at bay.


"I haven't seen you smile like that in a long time."

Miyuki looks up and finds Shizuma staring at her intently. The former Etoile has a strange expression on her face.

Miyuki's instinctive reaction is to offer a scathing or sarcastic response. For a long time now, she and Shizuma have baited and barbed each other with mockeries and taunts, their earlier attachment strangled by the grip of too many unattained and unattainable desires. But it had not been that way in the beginning. And with the end drawing near with their impending graduation, Miyuki no longer sees the point. More importantly, she no longer feels the need.

"Really?" Miyuki smiles at her erstwhile roommate instead. "I hadn't noticed. That I'd ever stopped smiling, I mean."

Shizuma responds with a small smile of her own. "I did. That's why I'm glad to see you smiling again."


I did. That's why I'm glad to see you smiling again. The hypocrisy of her own words does not escape Shizuma. It was only fitting that she had noticed the end of Miyuki's happiness; she had been responsible for it after all. I accused her of being a crybaby all these years...when I never gave her a reason to laugh. But today she had seen Miyuki laugh. For all that Miyuki had loved her, she had never brought Miyuki joy. But today, someone else had. And in an unknown corner of her heart, Shizuma feels jealousy...and pain.

[End notes: The reader may wonder if my treatment of Shizuma in the last section of the chapter is in keeping with her character. After all, after having remained largely indifferent to Miyuki's love for her for six years, why would Shizuma start feeling jealousy or pain now? My answer, based on personal experience, is that over time people tend to perceive their admirers as personal possessions whether they reciprocate their admirers' feelings or not. So when these same admirers begin to find other objects of affection, people can nevertheless feel jealous or betrayed. In other words, I argue that Shizuma's emotions can be considered a normal egotistical reaction.]

Chapter 6

They are leaning against Tamao's tree, debating the relative merits of their favorite writers. Tamao treasures these spirited discussions. As much as she and Nagisa had shared common interests, Nagisa had never been her intellectual equal. Miyuki, however, is more than her equal, and she relishes the fact that she can talk about anything in the world with the older woman. It made her relationship with Miyuki, as far as connections on Astraea Hill went, decidedly unique.

Miyuki listens with a smile as Tamao punctuates her points with decisive gestures. A month had passed since the younger woman had been elected Student Council President. No one had contested. Tamao had been the natural candidate in everyone's eyes - which was why Miyuki had gone confidently ahead in mentoring the younger woman to begin with. In that relatively short span of time, Tamao had grown considerably. Leadership had activated her latent charisma. She was less reserved, less diffident, and more comfortable taking center stage. She was still Tamao, nonetheless, and sometimes still acted like a child in Miyuki's presence. Like now for instance.

"I have another love letter for you, Rokujō-sama." Tamao waves the letter in her senpai's face with a mischievous grin.

Miyuki tries to hide her embarrassment with a half-angry response.

"Honestly, why are they giving them to me only now? Where have I been these last six years?"

She tries to grab the letter from Tamao, but the younger girl is enjoying the older woman's discomfiture too much and bats her hand away. They tussle this way for a few moments until a miscalculated grab on Miyuki's part sends her crashing down against the younger woman. Lying against Tamao, Miyuki realizes somewhat belatedly just how much her protégé has matured - physically. The wide gray eyes are narrower, the cheekbones leaner, the breasts fuller, the waist slimmer, the legs longer. And the liquid desire in those newly narrow gray eyes is decidedly grown-up. Startled brown eyes look into smoldering gray ones.

"Tamao-san..." Miyuki breathes uncertainly.

In response, Tamao tugs on Miyuki's tie and kisses her mentor with sensuous abandon. Somewhere above, below, around or beyond them, a piece of paper rustles in the wind.


It is later in the afternoon; they are sitting quietly by Tamao's tree. The dusk is chilly, but the memory of their first kiss keeps them warm...and flushed. After they had pulled apart (after eons, it seemed), they had both been too startled to say anything: Tamao, by her own audacity, and Miyuki by her own blatantly passionate response. They both have a million questions to ask themselves, as well as the other, but their mutual confusion keeps them silent. Several moments pass. Then, unexpectedly, Miyuki begins to chuckle. Tamao looks at her mentor with surprise. Out of the many responses she has been anxiously anticipating from the older woman, she has not expected laughter. Miyuki smiles at the younger woman.

"You have to admit, Tamao...-chan, it is a little funny. Neither of us expected things to turn out this way, did we?"

Tamao looks at her mentor's face, searching for - and dreading to find - traces of irony, guilt, regret or disgust. But what she finds instead is tenderness, affection, amusement, and just the slightest hint of residual desire.

"Oh, I don't know about you...Miyuki-sama." Tamao responds nonchalantly. "But I've always suspected something since you hit me with that snowball."

Tamao scrambles away just in time, laughing, to avoid a missile thrown by a half-heartedly irate Miyuki.

"You've gotten too cocky for your own good, Tamao-chan." The older woman's grin belies the severity of her words.

Tamao replies demurely, "I learned from the best, Miyuki-sama."

They tease each other all the way back to Strawberry House.


It is nearly midnight; a nervous Tamao knocks on Miyuki's door. They both know they will find the other alone tonight. For the last several weeks, Shizuma and Nagisa have taken to sleeping in Kaori's old room. For the last few weeks, they have grown accustomed to their nocturnal solitude. Tonight, they positively relish it.

Miyuki answers the door, dressed only in a man's nightshirt. It is the first time she has seen Tamao with her hair down and with her arms and legs bare. Although she is dressed more warmly than the younger girl, she shivers.

Tamao enters silently and Miyuki locks the door behind her. They stare at each other silently, desire slowly building in the hush, until one of them, they can't remember later which one, makes the first move.

Their first kisses are violent and tender; soft and brutal. Tamao feels Miyuki's lips, tongue and teeth on her mouth, her neck, her shoulder, her collarbone. Miyuki half tears the younger woman's negligee away, her mouth fastening on a delicate nipple. Using her tongue and her teeth, she nips, grazes and teases the engorged bud. Tamao whimpers, her back arching. Miyuki's left hand cups her other breast; the other removes the last of her clothing. A hand slips in between the younger girl's thighs, fingers slipping easily between the damp folds. Tamao moans and begins to move her hips rhythmically. Slowly, Miyuki's mouth and tongue abandon her breasts, and inch their way across her belly and thighs. Tamao begins to beg.


The brazen intimacy of hearing Tamao say her name without the honorific snaps the last of Miyuki's restraint. Her tongue flickers lightly at the juncture of Tamao's thighs causing the younger girl to gasp and moan. With bolder strokes, she tongues the younger girl, sucking, licking and biting gently in turns. Then she slowly inserts a finger into the girl, timing the thrusts with the motions of her tongue. She can feel the younger girl's virgin tightness clenching around her finger, and inserts another. By this time, Tamao is thrashing helplessly, wildly, bucking against Miyuki's mouth and hand and moaning Miyuki's name. Her body clenches one last time, then releases itself in a long, spasmodic shudder. When she comes to, seconds or eons later, she can't tell which, she hears Miyuki's throaty chuckle in her ear.

"Punishment for insubordinate behavior, Tamao-chan. And it seems I'm not just good with snowballs."

Tamao pushes the older woman onto her back, gray eyes glinting with mischief.

"You forget, Miyuki-senpai, how good a pupil I am."

They hardly sleep at all that night.


Miyuki awakens to the sensation of lips and tongue slowly working their way down her belly. As she stirs, Tamao stops her ministrations long enough to greet her a mischievous good morning.

"Miyuki-chan. I'm just about to have breakfast in bed." Miyuki closes her eyes and moans as Tamao's tongue and fingers disappear between her legs. It is going to be a gloriously long Saturday morning.

Chapter 7

They lean back against their favorite tree, looking for all the world like a devoted senpai-kouhai couple. Tamao is reading one of her latest fictional works, a play. She still has not shown Miyuki any of her new poetry. If the older woman has noticed the omission, she has refrained from passing comment. Miyuki's eyes are closed, following the drift of Tamao's work through her voice. Once in a while, she asks a question. Tamao has grown so rapidly as a writer that there is little useful criticism that Miyuki can offer these days. Nonetheless, the roles of writer and private reader/editor suit them perfectly. It is one more intimacy they share in a growing list of intimacies. It also serves as a useful public foil to the true nature of their relationship, which they have chosen to conceal. It is not embarrassment that keeps them silent - just a desire for privacy. By this point, they have become such public figures in Astraea Hill that any trivial act or word on their part leads to blatant speculation.

And for a while there had been a great deal of conjecture. Both women had previously spent most of their time in Strawberry House either alone or with their respective roommates, so their sudden intimacy with each other over the last several weeks had sparked rumors. But the absence of any public displays of overt affection, coupled with frequent demonstrations of what was so obviously a mentor-protégé relationship, had eventually quelled all speculation. And then finally, and not least importantly, both women had a growing body of ardent admirers who fervently asserted their apparent if somewhat aloof availability.

Miyuki, in particular, had been puzzled by her sudden popularity. Years of living in Shizuma's shadow, dazzled and out-dazzled by her magnetic friend, had rendered her permanently incapable of appreciating her own charms. Yet freed from the shackles of her attachment to Shizuma with its attendant pain and grief, and secure in the knowledge that she was loved, Miyuki shone with a luminescence all her own - a brilliance further enhanced by her own obliviousness to her appeal. It was, Tamao had decided, one of the things she loved most about the older woman.

As for Tamao herself, her growing independence from Nagisa coupled with the demands of the presidency had molded her into a quietly confident and assertive young woman. In the frequent absence of the roommate who had been her most vocal and ardent supporter, Tamao had eventually learned to fight her own battles. The submissive and diffident creature had grown into a poised and self-assured young woman. She would, Miyuki had once thought with regret, have made a splendid Etoile, even all by herself. 


The disruption, when it comes, comes in the form of a letter. Tamao has been searching for Miyuki, and finds her mentor inside her room. The older woman is holding a sheet, and passes it wordlessly to Tamao with a pale and shaking hand.

It is the draft of an invitation to Miyuki's wedding.


Somehow, in the hermetic joy and peace of their past few weeks, they had both forgotten one salient fact: that Miyuki was engaged to be married shortly after graduation. Tamao had heard of it from the older students, but she and Miyuki had never discussed it.

If only they had.

Now, anguished brown eyes look into tormented gray ones. Without a word, they reach for each other. For once, neither finds solace at the prospect of fulfilling their duty. 

[End notes: The choice of allowing Miyuki to "conveniently" forget her impending marriage is admittedly the weakest logical point in my entire story. To the skeptical reader, I beg forgiveness on the following grounds: yes, it is improbable, but not impossible. The poor girl has finally found genuine happiness for the first time in six years. Kindly grant her a few weeks of selective memory loss.]

Chapter 8


Tamao turns around to find a pair of concerned-looking maroon eyes trained on her.

"Oh, hi, Nagisa-chan..."

"Tamao-chan..." Nagisa sits down next to her friend and looks at her worriedly. "Please tell me what's wrong."

Tamao's depression the last few days had alarmed Nagisa. She had never seen her best friend succumb to melancholy. Even after those first few difficult weeks when she had started going out with Shizuma, Tamao had been energetically, if somewhat painfully, determined to be happy for Nagisa's sake. It had relieved Nagisa later on when Tamao had become Miyuki's protégé (and she suspected, something more besides) and eventually Miator Student Council President - though the relief had been tempered by sadness and more than a little jealousy. While she had been happy that Tamao had found a way to move on, she had nevertheless been pained by the fact that they no longer had much time to spend with each other.

But now, suddenly, Tamao had become withdrawn and listless. And, Nagisa had observed, she had not spent much time with Miyuki the last few days.


Tamao sighs and turns to smile sadly at her best friend.

"Nagisa-chan...Have you and Shizuma-sama ever wondered how things will be once she graduates?"

Nagisa is startled by the question. She does not see how it can be related to Tamao's depression, but wants to help her friend in any way she can.

"Well..." The red-haired girl hesitates. "I did worry about it a lot at first, but you know Shizuma-sama...She's not one to let concerns about the future bother her too much. But when she saw that it was making me really anxious, she told me not to worry, that we would still be together."

"How?" Tamao looks at Nagisa, the expression in her eyes telling the red-haired girl that she is somehow counting a lot on the response.

Nagisa pauses a moment, unsure about the kind of response Tamao is expecting. "She said that she would work for her family's firm for a few months while preparing for university exams. Both the family company and the university she wants to enter are close enough to Astraea Hill that she can visit me on weekends. It'll be...difficult not seeing her everyday, but this is honestly the best way for us to still be together."

While Nagisa had been speaking, a tiny spark of an idea had begun to glow in Tamao's mind. Gray eyes widen with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. Tamao thinks, It's not a foolproof plan, but it's the only chance Miyuki-sama and I have! Jumping up, she impulsively grabs Nagisa and hugs the red-haired girl hard. Looking fiercely into her best friend's startled eyes, she says:

"I love you, Nagisa-chan. And I really, really owe you for this one."

With that, the blue-haired girl walks away, leaving a somewhat bewildered but nonetheless happy Nagisa.

"Not at all, Tamao-chan." She says softly towards the retreating back. "Not at all."


"To what do I owe the privilege of a visit from our Miator Student Council President?"

Tamao is standing quietly in the greenhouse. In front of her, former Etoile Hanazono Shizuma is watering a few potted roses, a sardonic gleam in her cat-like green eyes. Just a few months back, Tamao would have quailed at the prospect of a private interview with the older woman. Today, to her own surprise, she finds herself unfazed by Shizuma's mocking air.

"My sincerest apologies for not calling on you sooner, Shizuma-sama, but we have both been preoccupied with...more important things."

Shizuma raises an eyebrow at Tamao's smooth response. A tinge of respect softens the amused glint in her eyes. The older woman nods slowly at the blue-haired girl.

"I can see why Nagisa-san loves you so much, Tamao-san, and why Miyuki chose you personally as her...protégé. Despite your delicate appearance, you have a formidable character. But I don't suppose you came here to listen to a discussion of your many admirable traits."

"No indeed, Shizuma-sama." Tamao responds evenly. "And if I did, I'm sure the discussion wouldn't take longer than a minute. I'm here, Shizuma-sama, to ask for your help in a matter relating to Rokujō-sama."

Shizuma resumes watering her roses. "Miyuki is not the type to send others in order to ask for help."

"Rokujō-sama does not believe she can be helped, so she is not the one doing the asking."

"In that case, Tamao-san, does Miyuki know that she is about to be...assisted?"

"Not yet, Shizuma-sama. I would prefer telling her when and only when the plans have a little more certainty in their outcome."

The silver-haired beauty looks away briefly, a faraway gaze in her eyes.

"An arranged marriage is not a thing to be taken lightly or meddled with easily, Tamao-san. Miyuki comes from a very old and very distinguished family."

"So do you, Shizuma-sama, yet you are free. Wouldn't you wish the same for Rokujō-sama?"

Resolute gray eyes look into considering green ones. Moments pass, then the former Etoile gives her answer.

"Miyuki deserves the best that life can give her, Tamao-san. If there were any way I could help give that to her, I would do it."


Shizuma listens to the fading sound of Tamao's footsteps, then puts her watering can down with a sigh. She had once believed that she had felt all the violent emotions life was capable of inducing in the brief span of her eighteen years, but today is the first time she has felt...shame. She had known for years that Miyuki resented her arranged marriage, at the same time that she had known how desperately Miyuki had loved her. Her initial reaction had been a studied ignorance; after Kaori's death, it had become a scornful apathy. Shizuma compares her past indifference with Tamao's current determination, and winces inwardly. Still, she has a few weeks left to make up for the past six years. She hopes it will be enough.

[End notes:

The idea for Shizuma's proposed future following her high school graduation is based on an admittedly creative interpretation of her family back-story. In one episode (the number of which I can no longer recall), it is established that both Shizuma and Miyuki come from old and distinguished families. In Episode 12 of the series, both girls are shown to have remained at Strawberry House through all six of their holidays at the dormitory. Based on those two details, I decided that Shizuma was probably a rich orphan raised by a largely indifferent legal guardian. This interpretation allows for Shizuma's considerably greater freedom compared to Miyuki. (Miyuki's reason for not going home for the holidays is, I assume, because her parents - cold, proud beings that they are - don't really care whether their daughter is home or not.)

As an additional note, the reader may have been surprised to encounter Shizuma at the greenhouse yet again in this chapter, given that she is no longer the Etoile. Suffice it to say that Amane, and by extension Hikari, have a far greater interest in horses than flowers, and willingly and somewhat gratefully allow the former Etoile to go about her former gardening duties. As for Shizuma, she simply likes caring for the flowers. They remind her of several good memories with Nagisa.

As a final note, the reader may wonder if the treatment of Shizuma at the final section is again in keeping with her character. To which I respond - Shizuma's character deserves the right to develop as well. Given the fact that Nagisa has helped her overcome her extremely prolonged grief over Kaori, the emotional breathing room resulting from the removal of all that baggage can only allow her to reflect on her behavior towards Miyuki for the past several years. I assume that the only possible outcome from such a reflection would be a feeling of shame.


Chapter 9


Shizuma stands outside Miyuki's room. For the past few days, the former Student Council President had not been seen in class. The irony of standing outside Miyuki's locked door, for a change, does not escape the former Etoile.

"Go away, Shizuma."

Judging by the quality of the sound, Shizuma guesses, accurately, that Miyuki is sitting on the floor, on the door's other side. The silver-haired woman sighs and seats herself by the door as well.

"I never thought we would ever swap places. Especially this close to graduation."

"It hardly matters now whether I graduate or not. My future is assured." All of Miyuki's bitterness comes out in the way she says the word "assured".

Shizuma sighs again. Long moments of silence pass. Then finally, Miyuki's quiet voice carries through the door.



A short pause ensues.

"Will you...Will you write and tell me what it's like? Life in university I mean?" From the other side of the door comes the sound of deep, heart-rending sobs.

"Oh, Miyuki..." Shizuma listens in pain as her roommate, her only friend in the world, weeps alone. This time, she cannot bring herself to call Miyuki a crybaby. Instead, she makes soothing noises through the door - and hopes fervently that Tamao's plan works.


A few more days pass. Miyuki is attending her classes again. The pain she had seen in Tamao's eyes when Tamao had seen her sorry condition had given her strength enough to rally. The younger girl was going through tremendous grief as well. Miyuki had no intention of adding to her burden by allowing her to witness her own lover's self-pity. But the sheer effort of pretending that nothing was amiss had been simply exhausting.

That first night after attending class, she had collapsed into bed, into Tamao's comforting arms. She had looked up into the younger girl's gray eyes - those eyes that had only ever looked at her with respect, admiration, affection and love. She had reached out and stroked the younger girl's cheek, and in a voice brimming with pain, softly asked:

"Will you forgive me, Tamao-chan?"

Tamao had smiled at her ever so gently, eyes bright with unshed tears.

"Whatever for, Miyuki-sama?"

"For...falling in love with you. For letting you fall in love with me. I had no right, being promised to another..." Miyuki had begun to cry then.

Tamao had held her close then, had stroked her hair, had kissed her eyes.

"Miyuki-sama, I'd do it all over again if I had to."

They had held each other that way until dawn.

Chapter 10

It had been Tamao's idea to organize a surprise farewell party for Miyuki two weeks before graduation.

"She's done a tremendous number of things not just for Miator, but for all of Astraea Hill as well. I believe it's only fitting we recognize her in our own small way."

Her suggestion had been met with much enthusiasm. Even the former president of Spica and Miyuki's erstwhile rival Tōmori Shion had happily agreed with the proposal. However, the incumbent Council had also made it clear that it was up to Tamao to figure out a way to get Miyuki to the party's venue.

"Honestly!" Tamao had thrown up her hands in exasperation. "Do I need to get everything done around here?"

The subsequent snickers around the table had told her that the answer was a resounding yes.


In the end, Tamao decides that the simplest excuse to give Miyuki is a half-version of the truth.

"Amane-sama and Hikari-san want to give a surprise farewell party for Shizuma-sama at the greenhouse tonight. Sort of like a new Etoile says goodbye to a former Etoile, kind of thing."

Miyuki nods, but looks at Tamao wistfully.

"I understand...but I was hoping to spend the time alone with you. There's so little time left..."

The sadness in Miyuki's eyes knifes through Tamao's heart. Tamao takes the older woman's hand and cradles it to her cheek.

"Then we won't stay long, I promise."


The first thing to surprise Miyuki is the sight of Shizuma, the supposed party celebrant, standing in the crowd in front of her and grinning like a Cheshire cat. The second-third-fourth-and-fifth things to surprise her are the yells of "Surprise, Rokujō-sama", the dozens of flickering candles, the tables of tea and biscuits, and the entire party committee. All of them - Shizuma, Nagisa, Hitome, Mizuho, Shion, Momomi, Kaname, Amane, Hikari, Yaya, Chikaru, Kizuna, Remon and the incumbent student council members of all three schools - are grinning at her like idiots. And standing slightly behind her, with the biggest grin of all, is Tamao.

Shizuma is the first to break the post-greeting silence.

"Honestly, Miyuki, you should just see the look on your face. It's priceless!"


The surprise party goes even better than Tamao had hoped. The guests make genuinely touching speeches about Miyuki, with the most eloquent coming, surprisingly, from Shion. Although an undercurrent of sadness runs through the room (felt especially by the soon-to-depart sixth years), the atmosphere remains jovial for the most part. Eventually, however, the guests leave one by one, until finally only Shizuma, Nagisa, Tamao and Miyuki are left. The four women spend half an hour in companionable silence, gathering up the trays and tea things. Then Shizuma turns to Tamao and hands her the greenhouse keys.

"Would you mind doing the locking up with Miyuki, Tamao-san? Nagisa-san and I will be going on ahead with the other things."

Tamao nods. For a brief moment, grateful gray eyes look into smiling green ones. Then Tamao notices the small note attached to the keys. Good luck...and thank you. By the time she looks up, Shizuma and Nagisa have disappeared down the path to Strawberry House.

Tamao and Miyuki go about extinguishing the candles in the room. Miyuki is about to put the last ones out, when Tamao calls out softly behind her.

"Don't blow them out yet, Miyuki-sama. There's one more surprise left."

Miyuki turns to find Tamao holding out a large brown enveloped tied with a red ribbon. She gives it to Miyuki with a hopeful yet apprehensive smile, then turns around to leave.

"When you're done, Miyuki-sama, I'll be waiting outside by the steps."

Chapter 11

Miyuki unties the envelope with nervous anticipation. The first thing she retrieves is a card with an unsigned poem. The dedication reads, To my beloved Miyuki-sama. Miyuki guesses, quite accurately and with growing emotion, that the poem in her hand is the first that Tamao has written since she had claimed to have stopped writing poetry altogether.

Rainbow's End

I waited in the rain

For a rainbow that never came

Never came for me

Though I waited

Though I knew its colors

Though I searched its end

(Do rainbows end?)

But then I found you

While waiting in the rain

And if that rainbow ever came

I may know its colors

I may have searched its end

But I already have you

My love, my rainbow's end

Behind the card, Miyuki finds three sheets, a brochure and a pamphlet. Each sheet contains an invitation for a job interview from three of the most prestigious publishing companies in Japan. The brochure belongs to a nearby private university. The pamphlet contains details on scholarship applications. At the very bottom of the pile, Miyuki finds a small note in Tamao's hand that reads: Be free, Miyuki-sama. Be free and live. It is only when the teardrops mar the note's ink that Miyuki realizes that she is crying. But for the first time in her life, they are not tears of pain.


Tamao sits quietly outside the greenhouse, waiting for Miyuki's response. She honestly does not know how the older woman will react. She knows that neither she nor Shizuma have given Miyuki a real solution - only a possible way out. It will still be up to Miyuki to apply for the jobs, to apply for the university, to apply for the scholarship, and most importantly, to refuse her arranged marriage and to risk being disowned by her family. Tamao knows how difficult the choice will be for the older woman. And that is why she waits, hardly hoping, hardly daring to hope. It is Miyuki's only chance. It is their only chance.



Tamao hears Miyuki's soft voice behind her. She turns around, almost frightened by what she will find. But what she finds, on Miyuki's face, is an expression of indescribable love and tenderness. Tamao sobs, a small strangled cry of relief, and throws herself into the older woman's arms. Miyuki buries her face in the younger girl's hair. She asks quietly:

"You did all of that...for me?"

Tamao sighs her response into Miyuki's neck.

"I had some help. But I would do it all over again if I had to."

Then Tamao draws back and looks Miyuki searchingly, and somewhat nervously, in the eye.

"Are you...absolutely sure, Miyuki-sama? You'll probably be disowned...You'll only have yourself to depend on."

Miyuki smiles gently.

"It will be the hardest thing I'll have ever done in my life. But you're wrong, Tamao-chan. I don't just have me. I have you."

This time, when the dawn finds them in each other's arms, there are no tears.

[End notes:

The poem Rainbow's End here is a reference to the Rainbow poem written and recited by Tamao in Episode 2 of the series. When I reviewed Rainbow for the purpose of having a literary reference for a new poem, it seemed to me that Tamao was using the idea of a "rainbow" to refer to Nagisa. Rainbow also seemed to contain hints of Tamao's foreknowledge that her crush on Nagisa would not necessarily end happily, though the poem also contains hints of her willingness to take that risk. ("Rainbow, you are an illusion...Is the ocean of tears just several paths ahead? Or is it at the edge of the ravaged earth? Despite that I do not lament. And within that cold winter light, I try to die in that freezing place...). I wrote Rainbow's End with the intention of sustaining Tamao's literary voice and symbolism. Hopefully, that attempt succeeded.

Regarding the job interview offers that Miyuki finds in the envelope, it was in order to obtain these that Tamao approached Shizuma for help in Chapter 8 of the story. Tamao needed Shizuma's family connections to wrangle job interview offers from three prestigious firms in a highly expedited fashion.  The choice of finding a career for Miyuki in the publishing world has been foreshadowed in the story through previous episodes that highlight Miyuki's editorial skills. As for the university and scholarship applications, Miyuki can choose to apply for either the September or April terms, depending on how well her preparations for the university exams go.

As a final note, I took liberties on the concept of "disownment" in this chapter, given my absolute lack of knowledge on how it actually happens in Japan. In the context of this story, I use the idea of disownment to refer to a child being no longer recognized as a member of his or her family, with the withdrawal of complete familial and financial support. Poor Miyuki does face tough times, but lest the reader forget, she likely possesses an extremely impressive academic record that should help open educational or professional doors (Episode 9 implies that she is a diligent student, and there is the rather obvious fact that she was the Student Council President).


Chapter 12

It is early spring on Astraea Hill. The graduation ceremony for the departing sixth year students had taken place a week ago. 

Tamao is sitting by her favorite tree - her head nestled comfortably on Miyuki's shoulder. At this point, they hardly care about possible speculation. In any case, Miyuki's rumored cancellation of her long-standing engagement had only served to increase her belated popularity.

Tamao is reading her latest poem to Miyuki. She calls it Miyuki's off-the-job training, Miyuki having easily obtained offers from all three publishing companies Shizuma had gotten her interviews for. In a week's time, she would start work as an editor at the literary division of one of the three firms. She had accepted this particular company's offer because they were the most accommodating of her university exam preparation requirements - and they had also expressed a willingness to hire her after university if she maintained her exemplary academic record. As for her living arrangements, Shizuma had pointed out that since they had been roommates throughout high school anyway, it seemed pointless not to continue the arrangement throughout university.

On the family side, things were expectedly not as rosy. Miyuki's parents had threatened - and continued to threaten - to cut her off. It had greatly distressed Miyuki at first - far more than the prospect of being disowned, she had been dismayed by her parents' accusations of her being an ungrateful, undutiful child. As usual, Tamao had seen her through that crisis. The only upshot to the entire episode had been the fact that her former fiancé had been so impressed with her determination, that he had offered to marry her after university. Miyuki had gently made it clear to him at that point that were other reasons (just one blue-haired, gray-eyed reason, actually) that she wouldn't marry him ever, university or no university.

After they finish discussing Tamao's poem, the younger girl pauses a moment and retrieves a box from her pocket.  With a hint of her old shyness, she extends the box to Miyuki and explains.

"It's my graduation present to you, Miyuki-sama...I'm sorry it's late, but it took a while for the shop to get me exactly what I wanted."

Miyuki opens the box...and retrieves a locket on a delicate silver chain. Tamao hastens to explain.

"For some reason, I just thought that you're the sort of person who would look really good with a necklace on."

Miyuki opens the locket and smiles at what she finds inside.

"I love it, Tamao-chan. It's a beautiful present. Here, you can help me put it on."

Tamao kneels in front of the older woman and fastens the chain around her neck. Loving brown eyes look into loving gray ones, then eyes close as lips touch in an exquisitely tender kiss.

Inside the locket are twin locks of blue hair.

[End notes: That's it, that's the end of this story. I would absolutely love to hear what you think about it, and would greatly appreciate your reviews and feedback. I only viewed the series once, so if there are any discrepancies or errors of fact, please don't hesitate to bring them up. Thanks once again for reading this, and I sincerely hope you enjoyed it!]

Back to chapter list