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written by the victors

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On good days, Fumi can say she’s content. Happy, even.

There are days where Fumi can relax. Breathe. The thoughts on her head drift by like clouds, visible and present, but a faraway thought. She can think of them and feel little more than mild melancholy. Sometimes she’ll even think of them with joy.

This is not a good day. This is not a good week.

The last time Fumi skipped classes was back Before (it’s too hard to say what it is, so she doesn’t). She curls up on her couch and plays something on her TV and while it doesn’t give her peace, it does distract from Something.

She doesn’t like to think about Something. It doesn’t let her rest. It’s never let her rest. Once, she considered it a blessing, but now Fumi wants nothing more than to rest. She used to be able to keep it at bay, but with her and Ichie’s recent… altercation— (you were given mercy, really. A chance by the Sun to regain yourself again. Your wings have returned to you, and you have to tread carefully between the ocean you were used to drown in and the sunlight that scorched you and led you to your doom in the first place. Temperance is your role, after all, despite how wrong it feels—) Something has been on the forefront of your mind, an endless reminder of regrets and what if’s and wishes never meant to be fulfilled.

Ichie gives her a look when they practice. Ever since their revue, Fumi’s been withdrawn. Her practice slows. She can’t tell if she’s spending more or less time with Something. Is she getting better? She thought she was. 

Thankfully, Ichie’s there to ground her most days. A shining beacon of light to guide her way. After all, a commoner who knows nothing can rationalize that the sun is a gift from some god or higher being. A coveted being that only wants what’s best for others.

Rui, if you can believe it, looks at her with something akin to disappointment. Or maybe the lack of expectations is getting to her. Rui’s grown. She’s looked at Fumi as an equal. At Ichie. At Tamao. Fumi doesn’t know how to feel about that, but Something jumps for joy at how far the other girl’s come.

A reprise is due soon. Onikage, Kurenai, Raven, all coveted roles. A mystery casting that will be revealed only after the actors have played their roles.

Yuyuko is a kindred spirit, usually. Their pessimism compliment each other. Yuyuko’s brighter than Fumi’s ever seen her, despite placing herself in a secondary role. Something thinks she’d name a great Saphir. Fumi almost wants to slam her head against a wall. She instead ignores the messages from the rest of Rinmeikan.

It doesn’t help that Michiru might be something of a mentor to Yuyuko. Life really hated Fumi.

…A sigh.

Everything’s her fault.

The next time Fumi returns to self awareness (self awareness not in the sense of being conscious of oneself, but the self awareness that comes with knowing one’s own self loathing is irrational and, after that recognition, follows attempts to ease it), she finds herself in front of her mirror. Something’s behind her, watching. The rose hairpin is a bright red. Her eyes are a bright blue. They mirror Fumi’s, whose eyes are red and puffy. Something’s is not.

Fumi wallows in self-loathing with mint green chocolate chip ice cream. She puts ponzu on everything. It’s a joke, and Fumi’s fully aware of it, but she wonders regardless. Maybe she’ll get sick. Wouldn’t it be a wonder if she could stay in her apartment forever.

She’d probably get antsy before a week’s ended, though.

There’s knocking on her door. Something tells her to open. 

Fumi keeps the door locked. She holds her breath. Voices. Yachiyo’s.

“Don’t worry, I won’t be here too long,” she says, soothing Fumi’s nerves. It’s only Yachiyo. Not that she doesn’t trust the others, but Rinmeikan are worrywarts and talkers and the edels are too. Yachiyo knows to stick her nose in her own business. “Just wanted to leave this package for you. You left a couple things behind, and since we recently reorganized everything, we found some of your old stuff. I think it’s tedious, but you might find some calm in reorganizing your own space.”

To Fumi’s annoyance two days later, Yachiyo was right. Her old book are added to her shelf, some photos of herself and Shiori or herself and the edels or her in her costume as the wind goddess, her old headphones too, and—

A beige jacket, fit for a student of Siegfeld. Fit for an edel.

Fumi tosses it in the wash with her other dirty clothes. When was the last time she wore it? 

She gets a call from Akira, of all people. 

You idiot.

Fumi gives a small smile. She can’t face the others yet, but she feels better than she did when she started her self imposed isolation. She saves the voicemail to listen to again later.

Out of all of the things. She could’ve been a chef. She’s always been good at cooking. Or maybe she could’ve been a doctor. She did consider it before when her condition was worse. Become a doctor, help people, help others like her who had their childhoods robbed by worry for family members or from the illness themselves, help make it so the path ahead was as clear as possible. As clear a path as life can be, at least.

But no, she just had to be a fucking stage girl, didn’t she? Fucking Elysion. Best and worst thing that’s ever happened to her.

She finally musters up the energy to check her phone. 

That is a lot of fucking messages.

Ignoring the spam (she’s still seething at that ponzu raffle prank even though it was entirely her fault, and isn’t that so like her, getting angry at something of her own doing, okay that’s enough, stop self deprecating with ponzu), but she leaves a small reaction at the ones who wish her well and tell them she’s doing fine. Still sick, though. They probably know she’s lying, but they won’t push. Rinmeikan is kind, always kind to her like that.

Akira gives a thumbs up emoji and a question mark. Fumi manages to laugh, feeling weightless momentarily. She returns the thumbs up, along with an OK.

The unopened message from her grounds her. Fumi takes a deep breath, giving a reply to it as well.

She must’ve ruined so many of Michiru’s plans, Fumi thinks. She finds some sort of amusement in it, if only because she admires how Michiru’s pushed on without her. She’s strong. She’s a good Frau Saphir. 

She wouldn’t have been eligible for a position yet. Maybe. Would there have been a chance for them? Or was she always destined to fail? Or maybe they both failed.

Fumi thinks of a world in which she becomes Frau Platin, and Shiori becomes Frau Saphir. You think about the lines that don’t fit Michiru at all, lines of I cry because I'm overcome with sorrow, it’s so lonely being here by myself, this loneliness brings tears to my eyes and all you can think about is the seemingly endless night Shiori endured alone in a sterile, unholy room with only a plushie for company.

Maybe it’s better this way. If only to spare Shiori the pain of reliving those memories.

(You know Shiori doesn’t do that, doesn’t act like the way you do, not fully, the way you consume everything about a role and reforge it into yourself, etch it in your heart and veins until it’s become a part of you, bound in red string. 

You just want to become a martyr. The One Who Left With Good Intentions, Who Left For The Better.) 

The TV turns to an idol group. One of them turns to the camera and waves, calling out to her sister.

Fumi shuts off the TV.

Fumi’s stomach growls. She hasn’t eaten anything all day.

Deep breath. Phone. A few seconds later…

I don’t have anything to eat.


Fumi-senpai !! I hope you’re alright …

She’s Fumi senpai lol she’s fine

We could come by with some food right now? Or you could come over and eat with us.

We made hot pot !! And with ponzu~~~

Not u bribing Fumi senpai with ponzu lmaoooo

I mean if it works it works :P

Be there in 10.

Maybe if she were stronger, she would be able to find herself. To let herself be helped less superficially (not to imply that food is superficial, but more in being helped in the way that she refuses to be because of her stupid, stubborn pride). As it stands right now, she’s weak. Today, at least. She hopes that’ll change soon.

Maybe tomorrow. Next week. Month. Year. Decade. Lifetime. Who knows. Shutting them out won’t work, though. As terrible as the comparison is in this specific scenario, the irony not being lost of her, it’s fitting: A Frau Platin cannot stand on stage without the support of her edels, and in a similar sense Fumi cannot stand on stage without the support of Rinmeikan. But she refuses to treat them like edels.

She’s done that enough.

Fumi can’t claim she’s happy, but she’s not sad. Neutral is too clinical. Content? Satisfied? It implies something was satiated. 

She just is. And that, in and of itself, is a reason to keep moving.