Someday My Prince
Someday... someday, the two of us.
Those were the last words I heard you speak. They still ring in my head, despite my brother's interruption just now.
"I am counting on you, Anthy," he tells me.
I almost laugh. How long has it been since I did laugh? Not since before I became the Rose Bride. Not since I was cursed for loving him. Not since the Dios I loved died, leaving this stranger in his place.
"You don't know what happened, do you?" I ask him.
"What?" He looks at me, startled. It is true. He didn't even see it. Why, then, does he imagine I am no longer trapped in that forest of blades?
"It's all right now," I assure him, with condescension that leaves him open-mouthed. "Please, go on playing make-believe 'Prince' in this comfortable little coffin forever. But I must go."
Now he is stunned. "Go?" he repeats blankly. "To where?"
I smile at him. A real smile, not the mask of the Rose Bride. "She hasn't vanished. She has merely left your world," I explain gently.
"What are you talking about?" he demands.
But I have done with explanations. And with him. He has not been the brother I loved in a long, long time.
And now, once again, I have a prince I can believe in.
I pick up my suitcase and prove that my meddlesome hero succeeded in revolutionizing the world by the simple act of turning around and walking to the door.
"W-wait a minute! Anthy!" he cries, alarmed now. I wonder, distantly, how he will manage his games without me to offer as a prize. "Anthy!"
"Farewell," I tell him, and close the door behind me.
Now it is my turn to go to you, Utena-sama. No matter where you are, I will find you.
I had long ceased to dream of rescue when you appeared. I could only be saved by a prince I could believe in, but I had lost the capacity to believe. Or so I thought. Certainly my brother's dueling game was calculated to destroy any lingering faith in princes I might have had. It attracted no heroes on white horses, only a series of adventurers bent on possessing me and the power to revolutionize the world.
But you had no desire to revolutionize the world. You challenged the champion to avenge your friend's honor. And when he struck me, you ran to my aid and determined to put a stop to it. Always you were so fiercely protective, always ready to leap into the fray. You challenged the whole world with your male attire and your impetuous nobility and your quest to be a prince who rescued princesses.
I can still see you straightening and stalking away from me, your carriage proud with purpose. "I don't know what's going on here, but I just have to beat him, right?" you tossed over your shoulder, nonchalant. You marched to battle Saionji-senpai with a wooden practice sword like Don Quixote tilting at windmills.
I was too disbelieving to reply. That was when I knew that you were different. And I think it was the first moment that the tiniest, most timid flicker of hope awakened in my heart.
It must have been then, because I had hope enough to be disappointed when you said that you intended to lose the next duel. But a hero's heart is not so easily stifled, my champion. You won almost against your own will.
"I didn't do it for you," you said later, not looking at me. "If Saionji won, he'd just tease Chu-chu." And you scratched Chu-chu's round ears as if to prove your words.
Why were you so evasive? Did you suspect, even then, that your feelings might be more than you were ready to imagine? Or did you just believe that modesty was proper etiquette for a hero?
At the time, I was merely relieved to have a champion who was kind to me and my pets. And I had had too many champions to imagine that it would be long before someone unseated you and I belonged to a new duelist.
But already you were dragging me out of my shell. You were so confident, basking in the adulation of all those middle school girls who adored you. Cheerfully you accepted it as your due. You never minded their crushes on you, even their extravagant declarations of love to you, because it was an innocent game of children to you all. But what was it you were playing with then? Were you cautiously approaching your own true desires, or was it merely a game to you?
You never could understand that it was not as easy for everyone as it was for you, with your charisma and your easy confidence. "If you'd just open your heart and talk to them, anyone would like you!" you assured me earnestly, adding, "I'll help you!" My innocent knight. You genuinely believed it could be that easy. But I adored your innocence.
You dragged me to that dance, shortly after your second duel. You even made the sacrifice of wearing a frilly dress for my sake. Can you even begin to understand the terror such occasions have for someone like me? Those crowds pressing in about one, the feeling that at any moment they will pounce and strike . No. You don't know the meaning of fear, my brash young knight in shining armor. Certainly not fear of a room full of your own classmates.
I like to imagine what you would have done, if Nanami-san had dared to play her prank with the dissoluble dress on you. I can see you standing with your long legs planted apart, clutching the shreds of the dress about you to preserve your modesty, your spine indignantly straight, your eyes blazing with ice-blue fire, shouting Nanami-san down with your unvarnished opinion of her conduct.
Not being a warrior myself, I could only sink to the floor, wrapping my arms around myself and hanging my head, wishing the earth would be merciful and swallow me up. I was too humiliated to even move. And my dear classmates were so helpful I might have stayed there forever, for all the aid they offered. Have you heard the story of Lady Godiva, forced as punishment for some imagined crime to ride naked through the village? The villagers respected her so that they all barred themselves inside their homes and closed the shutters, not looking upon her shame. I don't believe the students of Ohtori Academy have heard this story.
But you you saw my distress. I heard you call my name, and timorously dared to raise my eyes.
You did not swing from the chandelier, but you might as well have. Back in your boy's uniform, gallant as ever, you leapt over the handrail, crashing into the center of a table piled with daintily arranged delicacies. Only a second later there you were before me. Your smile was so radiant that it seemed to transmit some of your own confidence into me.
"Let's dance!" you invited, in a ringing voice that all the ballroom heard. Before I could protest, you had swept a cloth from a nearby table, heedless of the crystal goblets you sent crashing to the floor, and artfully draped me in it with a flourish, making me into a Phryne in reverse. The result not only covered me decently, but was far more attractive than Nanami-san's dress before it dissolved. Dior himself could have done no better.
That was the moment I fell in love with you.
Then you took my hand, drew me to my feet, and swept me into a waltz. The message you gave our classmates could have been no clearer: She is mine. Harm her and you will have me to contend with.
Surely my feelings must have been clear on my face. I know I gazed into your eyes as dreamily as any bride. That dance was the happiest moment of my entire life.
That night I waited for you to come to me. After that dance, I was certain you understood now. I was still too much the passive Rose Bride to offer myself, but I lay awake, quivering with anticipation for the first time in my life, waiting for you to appear beside my bed, for the touch of your hand. Waiting for you to claim what was yours by every right imaginable.
From this day, I belong to you. From this day, I am your flower.
I had spent so long as a doll with no heart. I could not allow myself to be more. No matter what befell my body, my heart would not feel the pain.
Then the dueling game began. One after another, I surrendered to the champion of the moment and whatever they wished to do with me. Saionji-senpai needed to dominate my soul as well as my body. No degree of submission was ever sufficient for him. Touga-senpai was kinder, at least. He needed to believe that I enjoyed being used by him. I let him believe it. He was the least troublesome of all the champions. After he had had me once, he left me in peace as he pursued new toys like the spoiled child he was. Juri-senpai grimly claimed her right, indulging herself as if it were a penance, and hated me for every moment of pleasure she got from me.
Now, at last, I belonged to someone different. After submitting so many times because I had no choice, now came a champion whom I would gladly have chosen. One who was awakening my soul. One to whom I would joyfully yield my heart as well as my body. My heart beating rapidly as the fluttering of bird's wings, I waited for you.
You never came. You slept alone that night. And every night thereafter.
Did you ever dream of how cruel you were being to me, Utena-sama? Of how deeply it cut that you refused to take advantage of me? Of how it stung to be rejected and protected at one and the same time? I doubt it. Such things would never occur to an innocent like yourself.
You were the only one who was ever concerned for me, and yet you caused me pain too. I was not content with your protection or your friendship, I wanted you to love me. But you, heedless, ignored my hesitant attempts to tell you how I felt. Did you know what I meant to say, and fear it, or did you simply not understand?
"Wakaba said a while ago that there's no such thing as a 'wrong' love. That love wasn't something you can control," you said once. "But there really are people you mustn't fall in love with, aren't there?"
I chose my words carefully. "I don't know much about that. But I think that, just as Wakaba-san said, there is a part of love that you cannot control."
"You really think so? Come to think of it, do you have anybody you love?" you asked.
"Yes, I do," I said softly. "My Prince."
But still you did not understand.
With unthinking generosity, you offered me your wholehearted friendship at once. What had I done to merit such a gift? But that was simply your nature, that openhanded benevolence available to anyone who did not demonstrate themselves unworthy. You could not imagine what a marvel you are to me, who has known only grasping demands and ulterior motives.
So even as I yearned with painful intensity for your love, I found myself beginning to understand your concept of friendship. "No matter what, we'll help each other. That's the kind of friends I want us to be," you said in your candid way. And shortly afterwards, the Sword of Dios vanished in your grasp in the midst of a duel. You might have been defeated at last and I packed off to another champion, had you not already inculcated me with your vision of what it meant to have a friend. That was what made it possible for me to move to your side with an initiative I had all but forgotten how to muster.
"Himemiya?" you blurted, surprised.
"Utena-sama," I urged, "let's do this together."
And just as you had drawn the Sword of Dios from my heart so many times already, this time I drew a sword from your heart, and with it you triumphed over Saionji yet again.
And after that, things changed for us. From that day forth, you were not simply my defender and I was not simply your prize. After that, we were a team, and we faced our challengers as such. When we set out for the Dueling Ground for the last time, we clasped hands and did so as partners.
It has always been my place to accompany the Champion. Where he or she went, I followed, usually mute and patient. But with you, my diamond in the rough, doing so became a pleasure. I could fill my eyes with your shimmering pink hair, your jaunty, cocksure swagger, your willingness to fight, your ready generosity. I was proud to be seen at your side.
Only once did anyone defeat you, my duelist. When Touga-senpai took me away, I hoped at least that you would miss me. Perhaps you would realize you loved me, even if it was too late for you to claim me.
When you challenged him again, my heart leapt with joy and hope. But when you declared that you were not trying to win me back, you were taking back your own princely identity for one moment, I almost wished that you would lose.
"Look, despite appearances, I'm a totally normal girl! I don't want a bride!" you told me once, oblivious to what your words did to me. "All I want is a normal boy!"
My lying hero. You never had any use for the normal boys who threw themselves at your feet. You would settle for nothing less than a prince.
Yet even as you searched for the prince you met in your girlhood, still you quested for princesses in need of rescuing.
And I had to watch you seek him. When I saw you give Touga-senpai that searching glance, I wished that I could challenge him to a duel. With my heart in a vise, I dwelled on a fantasy of you looking at me that way. And your bosom friend Wakaba-san poured salt on the wounds by saying the words I wished I could: "Don't touch my Utena!" she commanded him. While all I could do was stand aside and watch.
I had observed our classmates at the Academy. I had learned a few things from them.
You cannot make someone love you.
There is no power in the world not even, I am certain, the power that will revolutionize the world that will make someone love you. I watched my classmates strive to win the love of others. They slew dragons for them. Heaped treasure at their feet. Signed over their souls. Schemed. Fought for them. Groveled. Endured every kind of abuse. (When I surrendered to my brother, did I hope it would make him become the prince I loved again?) Some even attempted to destroy those who had distracted their idols. And together, they shed enough tears to create an ocean.
And not one of them succeeded. Their idols remained indifferent, tolerant at best. People will not love you just because you deserve it. Nor because you love them. Nor because you need them. They will or they won't, and there is no sense or reason to it.
Because of this, I did not break my own heart trying to make you love me. All I did was wish.
At least your illusions about Touga-senpai could not survive long. But when you found a new possible prince, that was worse.
My brother was not pleased with the effect you were having on me. The Rose Bride was reviving from her waking sleep. I was still trapped behind the wall of thorns and roses my prince had not yet given me the kiss I needed to end my sleep for good yet I was coming alive at your encouragement. I was speaking my mind for the first time in years. I was feeling things again. My expression was not eternally the serene mask of the Rose Bride.
He knew that I loved you. Worse, he knew that you had unwittingly spurned my love. "Were you lonely this week?" he asked one evening with ingenuous malice as I came through the door.
"Yes," I admitted quietly as I set my glasses on the table. I might have been coming back to life, but I did not yet have the strength to defy him.
"I'll comfort you tonight," he promised, and I shuddered, and surrendered.
His barbs never stopped. "I hope you'll find your own prince soon, Anthy," he said to me once, right in front of you, as if he did not know I had already found you and was only waiting for you to notice that you'd been found.
And he was always ready to interrupt us. So many times, you seemed to be on the brink of realizing what we were intended to be to each other. Remember that day in the greenhouse? You were thoughtful that day, the details of your childhood vow beginning to emerge from the mists of your memory. "I don't know for sure, but I feel like I promised somebody something important," you murmured, and I caught my breath. "Hey, Himemiya show me your face," you said then. I did, almost afraid of what I had so longed for now that it seemed the moment was imminent.
And you were looking at me that way, the searching look you had given to Touga-senpai and my brother when you believed they might be the prince of your childhood.
I did not dare to speak. I could only hold your gaze, and pray.
After a few eternities, you said, slowly, in a low voice, "Could it be, you and I. "
"Yes?" I whispered, my pulse quickening.
But before you could finish, my brother came in and whisked you away.
And I could only watch the two of you leave me, and hope that the scales would fall from your eyes.
When you knew about me and my brother, the very next day you asked him for a date. I could scarcely believe it, my valiant Utena-sama giggling like Wakaba-san or one of Touga-senpai's conquests over a man. But then I realized even that was not too great a sacrifice for you to make, my love. You were willing to do even so much to protect me, to interpose yourself between me and him.
But had you asked me, I would have told you not to do it. So many have had their way with my body, what matter another night or two? But that he should have had you, my love would that I could have stopped it!
I laid alone that night while you were with him, wondering. Wondering how you would be. Not smug and self-possessed, like Touga-senpai, or desperate, like Saionji-senpai. To you, the rite of love would not be some fantasy of mastery, as it was to my brother, or a form of self-punishment, as it was to Juri-senpai. No, to you it would be a sacrament. A cosmic event. You would give yourself up to it completely, and your purity would purify me.
What did you want, in your heart? To have a prince, or to be a prince?
I can only say, when you had to choose, you chose to be a prince.
At last you found the prince who had so inspired you. He offered to take you to his castle. And you, my incomparable Utena-sama, you asked him, "What will happen to Himemiya?" And when he told you, you turned your back on him and all he offered to rescue me.
And I proved myself completely undeserving. No challenger could defeat you, but you never expected the blade to be wielded by your princess, did you, my prince? And after I ran you through, I closed my eyes against my tears and embraced you like Judas betraying with a kiss.
In that moment, I earned all of my years of suffering as the Rose Bride.
You did not reproach me. You only gasped, "Why why ?"
Just like you, always so innocent, to assume that there was a sensible reason.
But there wasn't. Only my own craven revenge for my failure to win more than friendship from you.
"You remind me of the Dios I once loved," I admitted. And then I spoke with venomous double meaning for the first time since becoming the Rose Bride. "But you can't become my Prince, can you? Because you're a girl," I murmured, reminding you of all the times you had rejected my adoration. "My meddlesome hero. Thank you for a small taste of what you call 'friendship'." Friendship, when I had wanted so much more.
I want to ask if you can ever forgive me. But I know that you already have.
Barely able to stand from the wound I myself inflicted upon you, still you forced yourself to your feet and broke the Rose Seal. And then you reached for me. "Hurry! Hurry up and take my hand! Someday... someday, the two of us. "
No matter where you are, I will find you. And when I do .
I want to be your friend. And someday, with me.
Someday, with you?