This is a fanfiction by Doughnut Gunso.
Everyone stared at Isumi as if she had just told a very horrible joke. However, she looked so determined and serious that, you would know she wasn’t kidding.
Hinagiku turned to her. “What do you mean, I will die, Saginomiya-san?” she asked.
“Do you remember the mural we saw in the underground labyrinth in Mykonos, Student Council President?”
Hinagiku racked her brain. “Yes, I do. There are words on the mural as well.”
Isumi nodded. “‘At the forest of Abraxis’ pillars, carry the sword of justice. If you do that, the path will open.’ These are the words on the mural.”
Hinagiku suddenly thought of something. “The sword of justice… could it be…?”
“Yes, it is the Shirosakura sword,” said Isumi. “Now it seems that the bad people have found out where the forest of Abraxis’ pillars is, so they want you to open the path for them.”
“And where is this forest?” asked Hayate.
“The Student Council Room, on top of the Garden Gate – the Clock Tower,” said Isumi. “We have only figured this out very recently.”
“Where does this path lead to?” asked Hinagiku.
“The Royal Garden!” exclaimed Athena, her voice slightly shaking. “Of course, the Garden Gate leads to the Royal Garden!”
“What?” asked Hayate, who was shocked by the revelation of Athena. “The Royal Garden? Are you sure about it, A-tan?”
“No, I am not,” admitted Athena. “But what else would Sanzen’in Mikado be so interested in?”
“Emm… excuse me,” began Hinagiku. “What is this Royal Garden about?”
“The Royal Garden…” began Hayate, but he did not know if he should tell Hinagiku anything about it. He turned to Athena, who nodded. “… was the place I lived with A-tan when we were small.”
“Ah, you told me about living with Athena,” said Hinagiku. She could never forget the conversation they had in Athens, when she wanted to confess to him, but instead he confessed to her… about his love to Athena. She felt her heart ached. “So you two lived together in the Royal Garden?” She asked, ignoring her pain.
“Yes, we did,” admitted Athena, who was surprised that Hayate had told so much to Hinagiku. Could this guy not hide anything from this girl? “There used to be a certain Power of Royalty in the Garden. Many people want this Power of Royalty, including Sanzen’in Mikado and myself.”
“So this is why Director Sanzen’in wants to go to this Garden?” asked Hinagiku, trying to keep up. “He wants to get the Power from the Garden?”
“I think so,” said Athena. “Unfortunately, the Power has already been stolen, so I think he would find nothing. Nevertheless, I can understand why he still wants a try.”
“So why does it concern me?” asked Hinagiku. “Why would I die if I give the sword to him?”
“If you agree to give him the sword, he will then force you to open the path for him,” said Isumi reasonably. “And there is a consequence to suffer if you open the path.”
“And the consequence is… my death?”
Isumi considered for a moment. “Well, the exact wordings on the mural are: ‘At the forest of Abraxis’ pillars, carry the sword of justice. If you do that, the path will open, but gone is your current life as a sacrifice.’ I don’t know it means death, but I am quite sure that, if you open the path, you will never return to us, Student Council President.”
There was a long moment of silence. Everyone look at Hinagiku, who had gone quite pale. The fact that Hinagiku, a young girl at 16 years old, could die in a few days was very hard to accept.
“So,” said Hinagiku finally, as she forced herself to put up a very weak smile. “It’s still okay, isn’t it? I mean, if by giving my life, I can save my parents, it’s still worth it, right?”
“No, it is not, Hinagiku-san!” said Hayate very loudly, as he grabbed Hinagiku by her shoulders. “How could you say things like that? How could you choose to give up your life so easily?”
“It – it is not easy!” said Hinagiku, equally loudly. “But I want to save my parents, Hayate-kun! They are more important than my own life! If what it takes to save them is my life, so be it! What is wrong with that?”
“You are wrong because you are thinking of abandoning us!” shouted Hayate. “Do you have any idea how heartbroken would your parents be?”
“I am not abandoning them!” said Hinagiku, who was shocked by his accusation, but she was not backing off.
“What about your foster parents?”
“I say, I am not – ”
“Hayate-kun, I – ”
“The Student Council members?”
“I – ”
“Don’t – ”
“Don’t make me feel so guilty, Hayate-kun!” shouted Hinagiku, as tears quickly filled her eyes again. “I know, I know! I don’t want to leave you all, but I have no choice!” She could control herself no more, and she cried again. “What do I do, Hayate-kun? What do I do?”
“There must be a way! There must be a way!” said Hayate, who felt that his eyes had become watery. “Let’s figure it out together, Hinagiku-san!” He took Hinagiku by both her hands, and looked straight into her eyes. “In exchange, please don’t say stupid things like giving your life away, okay?”
“Hayate-kun…” began Hinagiku, but she did not have the composure to finish whatever she wanted to say. Instead, she collapsed completely and began crying very hard in Hayate’s shoulder. “I am sorry, Hayate-kun! I am so sorry!”
Athena and Isumi watched them as if watching a soap opera.
“I never thought that the Student Council President could be this frail,” said Isumi.
“Everybody has their weak spot,” said Athena wisely. “It just happens that the weak spot for Hinagiku is her love for the others. In fact, this is what Sanzen’in Mikado is aiming at.”
“Should we help her to get rid of her weak spot?”
Athena considered her words for a moment. “No, we shouldn’t,” she said. “It is because such a weak spot is also the source of her powers, and we need her powers… especially if – I mean, if – Sanzen’in Mikado managed to find the Power of Royalty in the Royal Garden.”
Hinagiku returned home quietly. Athena had suggested her to take her time before giving Kyosuke her reply (“Do not forget that he is probably more desperate to get this done than you, Hinagiku.”), and had discharged all of her Student Council duties for the day. Although Hinagiku complained that Athena was looking down on her, she was actually quite grateful of it. She just couldn’t concentrate on her work at the moment.
Usually, upon returning home, Hinagiku would stay in her own room for homework and studies, but today she laughed at this idea – Athena did not send her home for studies. Instead, she stayed in the living room, doing housework with Mrs. Katsura.
“What’s the matter today, Hina-chan?” asked Mrs. Katsura while doing the dish with Hinagiku. “It is not your housework time yet.”
“Well, isn’t it good, mom?” said Hinagiku, who had no intention yet to tell what had happened this day – or these few days. “I mean, I always lock myself up in the room, so we spend too little time together.” She sighed. “Sometimes I think I do not act like a Katsura.”
Mrs. Katsura laughed. “Is it the old ‘I am not Katsura! I am Kazami!’ argument?”
“Well, it’s not like that, mom,” said Hinagiku, laughing weakly. “I accept that you are my mother… from the bottom of my heart,” she said the last few words in a whisper.
“Then, what is it?” asked Mrs. Katsura, pursuing the subject.
“It’s more like… responsibility,” said Hinagiku. “I took up the responsibility as a Katsura when I took up the surname, but at the same time I am not discharged of the responsibility of a Kazami, mom.” She turned to look at Mrs. Katsura. “I don’t know what I should do if my responsibilities are in a conflict, mom.”
“Well, Hina-chan, it is not an easy question,” said Mrs. Katsura. “However, family responsibility is not something assigned to you to take on your own. If we are family, we share the responsibility. If the burden is too heavy on your shoulders, we can share it with you.”
“But…” began Hinagiku, who began to think it might be better to state her concerns more clearly. “What if I have to devote my life to help my parents? What if I cannot be a Katsura anymore? What if I cannot see you anymore?” she said the last few words in a very small voice.
Mrs. Katsura placed a hand on Hinagiku’s head, patting her. “Hina-chan, family is not something you would lose simply because you don’t see them. We might depart someday, either because you are married to your husband, or because we pass away.”
“Mom!” said Hinagiku, quite scared that her mother used the words “pass away”.
“We came together on one day, and we surely will leave each other on another day. There is nothing we can do about it. However, as long as you love us, and vice versa, we will always be family.”
Mrs. Katsura took Hinagiku’s hands. “Yes, Hina-chan. You have suffered a lot because your parents left you, so this is something you might not understand: Departure doesn’t always mean abandonment. The most important thing is to make sure if there is love between you and your family.”
“Mom,” Hinagiku was touched. She didn’t want to cry for the third time on the same day, but she had been so vulnerable these days she couldn’t control herself. Tears began running down her cheeks, and she began sobbing.
Mrs. Katsura hugged Hinagiku. “As for me, I am very sure that I love you, so if you love me too, I will always be your mother. No matter you are Kazami or Katsura, no matter you are with me or not, you are still my Hina-chan.” She looked at Hinagiku, and Hinagiku could see that there were tears in her mother’s eyes as well. “So, the question is: Do you love me, Hina-chan?”
Hinagiku looked at Mrs. Katsura. She had only confessed her love to her own parents who had abandoned, so she was so afraid of confessing her love to anyone in person. When facing Mrs. Katsura’s question, however, Hinagiku found that she could not hide or lie. She could only give her very honest answer.
“Yes, I do. I love you, mom.”