It’s been a few days now, and Futaba was quickly coming to the realization of what just is inflicting her. She feels like she had an inkling when it first began, but it wasn’t possible. I mean, that’s just stuff you read in manga, right? However, as Futaba began to cough up more cherry blossom petals, she began to accept just what was happening.
One cherry petal, two cherry petals, three cherry petals.
Futaba sighs as she sits up on her bed, looking over to a sleeping Kaoruko. The other was facing Futaba as she slept, her messy blue hair getting on her face. Futaba’s heart skips a beat. Their beds were around 5 feet apart, yet she felt all the closer. She’s losing her mind. Futaba for the last few days has kept a good job hiding this from the others, but as her symptoms worsen, she wonders if she can keep avoiding the conversation they’re bound to have when Kao finds out.
Reluctantly, she gets out of bed. It was still early to begin the day, so she figured she might as well have a snack in the kitchen. Besides, if she eats this early, she won’t have to run into anyone else. She slips on her fuzzy slippers, and begins to walk towards the kitchen. It was cold. That familiar cold of a fall morning, the one you feel when you just get out of bed and leave the comfort of your covers and blankets.
As she walked into the kitchen, she sat down at the table, wrapping her arms around herself to make herself a bit warmer, as she pondered on what to eat. Her eyes turned to the clock on the wall. 6:25 A.M. She sighs, even for her this was quite an early hour to be wide awake. She had trouble sleeping through the night thanks to her symptoms, but luckily Kaoruko didn’t wake up.
“Okay, what should I eat for hanahaki…”
“Hanahaki..?” A familiar voice rang from behind her.
Hanahaki kept repeating in Futaba’s head as she started to shiver. She slowly turned around to see none other than everyone’s favorite French girl, Saijo Claudine. Fear set in her eyes as she looked up to meet Claudine’s gaze.
Claudine, confused as ever, looked down at the other. “Hanahaki? C'est quoi?”
There was a sense of relief overcoming Futaba, thankfully Claudine wasn’t too knowledgeable on the subject. “Ah, it’s nothing! Nothing to worry about, okay?” She tried to smile before she had the urge to vomit again, rushing to the sink.
“Isurugi-san?!” Claudine hurried to Futaba’s side, as she gently placed her hand on her back. “Are you okay?” For some reason, Claudine’s attention was drawn to the sink. Expecting to see a mess of indescribable fluids, she saw… cherry blossom petals? “Erm, Isurugi-san. Did you vomit up these flowers?”
Futaba, wiping some of the petals from her mouth, softly nods. She’s defeated. Now she’ll have to explain why this is happening. She stands straight, and takes a deep sigh. “I’ll tell you, Claudine, but promise to not tell a single soul…”
Claudine, visibly intrigued by this, simply nods and smiles. She leads Futaba to the table, gently setting her down. “Well, before we begin, I think we should get you some tea first…” With this, Claudine is fetching some tea making supplies before she makes a nice bitter green tea.
The kettle begins to whistle, as Claudine picks it up to pour a mug for Futaba, before pouring one for herself. “So uh, what’s this whole hanahaki thing?” She asks as she takes a sip of her tea. Hot and bitter.
Futaba sighs, as she does the same. There is a visible reaction to the bitterness from Futaba’s end. “W-well you see…” She gulps.
“Basically, hanahaki is when you uh. It’s when you have romantic feelings, and those feelings are unrequited, therefore you get this disease called hanahaki. You throw up some flowers or something. Oh, and you get some fevers and chills.”
Claudine blinked. She actually was contemplating bursting out in laughter, but decided not to. This does seem to be affecting Futaba, after all. She clears her throat before taking another sip. “Let me guess, Hanayagi-san?”
Futaba whimpers as she nods. “I know it’s obvious to everybody else, I’m sure even Kaoruko knows… I just can’t bring myself to tell her, especially the hanahaki disease.”
“Well, you have to be honest with her. She might be worried sick if this disease gets worse, I’m sure she’ll do anything to help your condition…” Side eyes. “Besides, how bad does this disease get?”
“I can die from it.”
Claudine spits out her drink, as one would naturally do in this situation. “Oh, this won’t do, Isurugi-san! Non! You’re going to wake her up and confess now!” Claudine stands up to escort Futaba to her room. Futaba reluctantly accepts her fate, as she's practically being carried back to her own room. Along the way, she starts to cough up more petals.
And so, Futaba is once again back to her dorm. Kaoruko is sleeping ever so graciously in her own bed. The red-haired girl slowly walks to the side of Kaoruko’s bed.
“Oy, Kao-chan…” She slightly shakes the sleeping maiden.
No response, it seems like Kaoruko is even deeper in her slumber.
“Oy, Kao-chan! I’m dying here!” Futaba says, as she has another coughing fit.
This time, there is some sort of reaction from Kaoruko. A simple eyebrow raised. The sleeping maiden ever so gracefully awakes from her slumber, sitting up. “Hey now, that’s a morbid way of getting me up…” Kaoruko seemed hurt by that.
“I’m partially kidding.” It was no use, Futaba couldn’t tell Kaoruko what was happening. She tried to pass it off as a joke with a small giggle.
“Hmph, a bad jokester you are!” Kaoruko was about to hop out of bed until she saw a mess of petals around Futaba’s bed. “Futaba-han?” Kaoruko gazed around the room as she saw how far the mess expanded.
“I-it’s nothing.” Futaba stepped back slowly. There was a look of dread in her eyes, as if she’s scared of the next few minutes. The dread you feel when you have to face the music, or when you know what you’ll say next will change the rest of your life. The dread that feels so suffocating, you just want to escape your own body.
“Futaba-han. I’ve noticed you’ve been feeling not that great, but this…” Kaoruko crushes a petal as she sets her feet down on the ground. The crunch sensation sent a tingling down her spine. As she raised her foot, she saw just how real the petals were.
Kaoruko shivered. She didn’t know what exactly she was feeling. Was it fear? Sadness? Confusion? Or perhaps, the most prominent suspect of all, jealousy. Kaoruko felt as if her stomach was waging a losing war, so she did the only thing she could think of at that moment: run away.
“K-kao!” Futaba hurried behind Kaoruko, following wherever Kao was going. Kaoruko rushed to the bathroom. She felt like she needed to throw up, she felt like she needed to take a cold shower. Something to rub off these feelings. As she was about to enter, Futaba grabbed her by the hand.
“K-Kaoruko! Why are you running?” Futaba asked with a disgruntled expression on her face. Seeing Kaoruko running away, it always did a number on her.
“Hanahaki, huh? Funny that you of all people would get that.” Kaoruko stood in place, her hand slightly against the bathroom door as her other hand was being held by Futaba. Without even thinking, tears began rolling down her tears. They were warm. They contrasted the coldness of that morning. “Just tell me who.” I’m tired.
Futaba stood silently for a moment. She didn’t want to answer it. She knew Kaoruko didn’t have those kinds of feelings for her. She knew she was way out of Kaoruko’s league. She thought she knew, but she was wrong.
For so long, Kaoruko has longed for Futaba’s romantic companionship. She’s realized so long ago that she’s not content with Futaba being her friend. She wanted Futaba to be hers, and hers only. She wanted to share her own special world with Futaba, a world that only the two of them could see. The memories that she shared with Futaba, she’ll cherish them forever. She wants to make more memories that’ll make the past seem so insignificant to the ones they’ll make as a couple.
“Please. I just want to know who.” Tears kept rolling down, as she was bracing for an answer. To be honest, she didn’t want to know. She also knew Futaba would never have those kinds of feelings for her.
“Do you remember? That morning I called you? I was scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me. At that time, all I wanted was to hear your voice.” Kaoruko smiled at that memory, it feels so distant now. It feels warmer now, instead of terrifying as it was when it occurred.
“Kaoruko… It’s you.” Futaba gulped, she felt as her heartbeat was going at the speed of sound. She felt her heartbeat in her ears.
“...Eh?” Kaoruko felt a cold rush spread across her body. A cold rush of relief. It felt so good. The tears she was shedding turned from sad to happy, as her stomach began to calm down. “It’s me..?” The blue-haired turned to face Futaba. “Are you sure?”
Futaba, despite melting in anxiety and nervousness, couldn’t help but to chuckle at that. “Of course I’m sure, dummy.” She was averting eye contact.
“Well, if that’s the case,” Kaoruko dried off her tears with Futaba’s hand. “This will be pretty easy to cure, won't it?’ Kaoruko moved her tear-soken face closer to Futaba, as the red-haired was absolutely going to melt. “K-kaoruko?”
“Wasn’t it obvious? I’ve always loved you, Futaba.” She pressed her lips against Futaba’s, melting into the kiss as she wrapped her arms around her.
Futaba, let herself melt into the kiss as well. Suddenly, the worries of the past few days were slowly disappearing from her mind. It was all making sense now.
Claudine, returning from the kitchen, saw this unfold before her very own eyes. She hid herself so as not to be caught by the other two. “Ah, young love. C’est la vie!” She giggled to herself, as in much to her very dismay, she coughed out a flower petal.
As for Futaba, her symptoms disappeared throughout the day as she went to the aquarium with Kaoruko.