Jun. 13th, 2009 08:38 am
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[personal profile] symbolism_egg
Summary: Ohtori is a haven for its students, and none but Anthy realizes what this means.
Disclaimer: The Shoujo Kakumei Utena series and characters do not belong to me.
Prompt: 3. Oasis
Warnings: PG-13 for morbid imagery.

Utena twisted past the boy blocking her and landed a clean shot through the basketball hoop. The watching crowds of girls cheered, their voices ringing out over the outdoor court and hiding the groans of the losing team. Anthy cheered with them, her thin voice drowned out, but Utena met her eyes and knew, and smiled.

A girl snatched a red water-bottle from Anthy’s unresisting hands and carried her prize to Utena. Utena laughed, took it with a word of thanks. She moved through the crowd, graceful as they parted for her, and returned to Anthy’s side.

“Good job, Utena-sama,” Anthy said.

“Oh, come on, the other team was hardly trying!” said Utena. Sweat gleamed on her face and shoulders. She splashed water over her face. As the water streamed down, she opened her mouth and drank.

Unnoticed again among the dispersing crowd, they walked away from the basketball court. Utena had her boy’s uniform jacket over her shoulder. She swung the capped water-bottle, sending droplets flying to catch the sunlight as she swirled the water around.

“You know,” she said thoughtfully, “the water here at Ohtori sure tastes better than any other water I’ve ever drank.”

“Does it?” asked Anthy, with her smile on.

They walked past a cool, clear fountain. It was spring, and a cloud of lilac petals bent over the eastern side of the fountain. In the center of the fountain a curvaceous woman held an urn whose dry rim was down-tilted towards the fountain’s water. Weather had worn at the statue just enough that the curve of her mouth could have been a frown or a smile. Utena looked at none of this—the flowers, water, or statue; the smile or frown—accustomed as she was to her surroundings.

“Yes,” she answered Anthy after a moment’s reflection. “But maybe that’s because I like it here so much. I feel like—I don’t know, like I belong here.”

She stopped by the outdoor tap to refill her bottle.

Ohtori Academy was a haven for its students. No matter their life outside its bounds, they were safe within. Vibrant, loud with young voices and quick with eager life, the school was a pleasant place for them to pass their adolescent days.

Who knew what could happen outside the school? There were no rules there, and fewer certainties. Parent’s voices raised in anger, or a cat lying still by the roadside, or the lingering smell of illness, or (worst of all) a funeral—but inside the school, they could rest.

A breeze blew through the school grounds, sending a few leaves dancing down from the spring-green trees. Water flowed down the channels flanking the stairs that led to the darkness of the forest, its earth scent carried to anyone who dared approach.

A stronger wind rattled the panes of Anthy’s greenhouse, but the roses within were undisturbed. Her golden watering can lay in the dirt beneath a bush of white buds as if carelessly dropped to the side.

Outside, the students passed laughing and happy. An oasis, Ohtori Academy had taken them in. With its air and water it nurtured them.

The water flowing through its fountains and taps was the school’s lifeblood.

And the students flourished.

The air cooled with dusk. Utena complained over homework left until the last minute, but triumphantly finished writing in the last of her math problems before the clock struck ten. She raised her pencil and snapped her book shut. “Anthy, would you like help with the answers?” she asked despite knowing that she’d likely gotten half of them wrong.

Anthy was writing away in silence across from her. “No thank you, Utena-sama.”

“All right.” Utena stood from the low table and went to brush her teeth.

Soon they were sleeping in their bunks, Utena safe and cozy in her sheets. Anthy’s eyes opened.

When she felt the moon rise higher, she slipped from the room and walked the school’s silent paths. Anthy could feel the water all around her, pulsing.

Lilac petals fell onto the taut surface of the fountain, pale purplish smudges against thick, rich red. The waters glistened darkly beneath the moon.

Gushing through the channels, circling the fountain, flowing beneath the school, the prince’s blood throbbed in her ears and echoed beneath her skin. As she climbed the ancient stairs leading to the forest (its darkness complete before her), it spilled in great gouts on either side. She felt it fall. She shared the prince’s blood, after all.

This was what sustained the children of Ohtori. His blood was all around them. When the rain fell past the castle suspended among the clouds, it brushed him, and each droplet was stained with red.

How long had he nourished them? Since long ago, and still their thirsty lips drank. Anthy knew. She could feel it in her veins, for since the prince had slept her blood now fed them too. Roses bloomed in wild profusion where she let the drops fall. (And how uncaringly the duelists sent each other’s petals flying.) Surrounded by the roses in her greenhouse, or crowds of students in the corridors, she could feel herself dying—though she could never truly die. Now faded and now bright, she stood unseen at the center. With the prince to whom she was linked.

Step by step she climbed to the top of the stairs. The gate stood open for her, a stone rose unfolded. She was absorbed into the forest.

Anthy picked up an amphora from beneath an oak and continued through the lightless forest until she came to a pool. Half-moon in shape, it reflected a patch of deep blue-black sky and stars through the break in the trees. Anthy could feel the weight of the castle hanging over her. The prince slept, and bled.

Anthy dipped the vessel into the pond, and drew it out filled with blood.

Utena woke from a dream of drowning. Her mouth was filled with the gritty taste of river water. She propped herself on her elbow, found she was sweaty and tangled in her sheets.

There was a figure by her bed. An ominous shadow. Its hair flowed out wildly behind it, and when it reached for Utena’s head its hand was as quick as a snake.

That was the moment when Utena was still half in her dream. She blinked, and in the faintest of moonlight from the window she recognized Anthy. She gave a smile of relief. “Anthy. What were you doing? Where were you?”

“I went out, Utena-sama. I forgot my watering can,” said Anthy. The Anthy-shadow tilted her head, sending more hair in waves about her shoulders, as she cleared a lock of hair stuck to Utena’s sweaty forehead with cool fingers. Shall I get you anything while I’m up?”

Utena wet her dry lips. “I’m thirsty.”

In the darkness, Utena couldn’t tell if Anthy’s lips were curved in a smile or a frown.


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