Gosick I – Epilogue 1

epilogue — the promise

[1]

“…And after the spirits of the past carried out their revenge, the ghost ship Queen Berry once again sank to the bottom of the dark sea.”

On a clear morning, behind the main building of St. Marguerite’s School, two children sat on a three-tiered landing overlooking a lush flower garden, speaking to each other in hushed tones.

The scenery was filled with vibrantly blooming flowers, bathed by the sun in intense light. A sweet floral scent assailed their noses. In the background, they heard the faint voices of other students walking along the paths that wound between the gardens. But this landing happened to be nestled out of the way, and there were no other children but the two who sat here, engrossed in their conversation. This was a cozy spot, an empty pocket of air in the bustling campus.

One student was a slight, solemn-faced young Asian boy, and the other was a slim European girl with short blond hair, ruffled by the wind.

The girl—Avril Bradley, a foreign student from England—listened to the boy’s story, her large eyes as wide as saucers.

Kazuya Kujou kept a close eye on her expression, feeling secretly triumphant. Here we go. Judging by how quiet she’s being, she must be impressed. After all, Avril can only tell ghost stories, but my story is the real thing! He nodded in satisfaction, savoring the taste of victory. I win. Hooray!

Avril suddenly burst out laughing.

“Huh?”

“Oh, my gosh, oh, my gosh, Kujou! Bwa-ha-ha!”

Much to Kazuya’s confusion, Avril began to laugh uproariously, beating her long legs against the ground. Her skirt flapped in the wind, allowing her lithe, slender legs to gleam in the sunlight.

“What’s so funny?”

“I mean, come on! There’s no way any of that’s true!” Avril wiped away tears of laughter with the back of her hand. “Oh, Kujou!”

“But it is true!”

“Really, now! You can give up trying to convince me, because there’s no way I’m going to believe any of that.” Avril wagged her finger in front of Kazuya’s face. “No, sir!”

Kazuya’s eyes followed the waving finger back and forth until they crossed. I wonder why she won’t believe me? he silently fretted.

“I mean, do you really expect me to believe that this delinquent kid Victorique is actually a girl, and incredibly beautiful, and what’s more, she’s even a brilliant detective?”

“…B-but it’s true! If you want proof, come with me to the top of the library. She really does exist!”

“Ha! I’m not falling for that!” Avril screwed her face up in an annoyed expression and stuck her tongue out at Kazuya. Her smile was adorable and lit up her face. Kazuya fell silent.

“I’d never climb up that huge staircase in a million years anyway. I can’t believe there’s anyone in the world willing to do that.”

Victorique had said the same thing to him before…. Kazuya’s shoulders slumped.

Then Avril lowered her voice, as if she was about to tell another one of her ghost stories. “Speaking of which, I know a story about that library. ‘The golden fairy inhabits the top of the labyrinth of stairs’…. Aaaaaaaah!”

“Aaaah!”

“Ha, ha, ha, you fell for it again! You screamed from fright! Kujou’s a scaredy-cat!”

“…I’m not! It’s just that you startled me. I already told you that I’m not a scaredy-cat. Besides, that story is actually true. Well, she may be human and not a fairy, but she’s so different from an ordinary person that you could almost call her one. Anyway, Victorique is—”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever you say. You can stop showing off now.” Avril snapped her fingers at him.

“…Sorry,” said Kazuya automatically. Once again, he found himself apologizing. It felt like ever since he had come to this country, he spent his time constantly apologizing to girls his age even when he had done nothing wrong. It could just be his imagination, though.

Avril grinned. “For one thing, I don’t know what possessed you to think it was a good idea to come up with that detective story. I already know where you got it from. I read today’s paper too, you know.”

“…Today’s paper?”

“Ta-dah! See, right here. Come on, I know you’ve already read it!”

Kazuya narrowed his eyes at the newspaper page where Avril was triumphantly pointing. Then he suddenly emitted a series of queer moans, causing Avril to jump. Her charmingly ruddy face peeked out at him from around the newspaper.

“…What’s wrong, Kujou?”

“H-h-he did it again.”

“Huh?”

The headline was written as follows:

{Another victory for Inspector de Blois!
Mystery of the ghost ship Queen Berry solved!}

Kazuya stood up, the newspaper still clenched in his hands.

Avril stared up at him blankly. “K-Kujou? What’s the matter?”

“…I have a bit of an emergency. See you later, Avril!” Kazuya ran off, leaving a bewildered Avril alone in the garden.

At the same time, a petite woman with shoulder-length brunette hair happened to be walking on the narrow path that led from the garden. Large round glasses magnified eyes that drooped like a puppy’s, set among baby-faced features. It was their homeroom teacher, Miss Cécile.

Spotting Kazuya, she smiled at him. “Oh, Kujou, just in time.”

“Uh, Miss Cécile … I’m kind of in a hurry….”

“On your way to the library, right?”

“No… Hmm? Yes, that’s right. …How did you know?”

Cécile chuckled. “There’s only one reason why you’d be in that much of a rush. Here you go. Please give these to Miss Victorique.” She handed Kazuya notes from that day’s classes, as she had done so many times before.

Kazuya accepted them, wondering to himself, What does she mean by that? Then he took off running again.

Avril came walking along a few moments later, her gaze following Kazuya running farther away into the distance. “Well. So he’s going to visit Victorique. Huh.”

Cécile smiled and nodded. “Yes. They’re very close.”

“What kind of boy is he, Miss Cécile?”

Cécile blinked in surprise behind her round glasses, then waved her index finger at Avril. “Oh, no, Miss Avril. Miss Victorique is a girl.”

“What?!” Avril screeched. “Well, what do you know. So she really is a girl. And with that name of hers…. What if Kujou’s story was actually….” She cocked her head in contemplation, then shook it disbelievingly. “Couldn’t be. He had to be making that up,” she murmured.

A warm breeze ushering in the start of spring gently ruffled their hair and the hems of their skirts. If the clear blue sky was any indication, today would be another fine day.

“So, Victorique is a girl. Hmm….” Avril pursed her lips petulantly. “Now I feel kind of jealous.”

Another warm spring breeze blew past, fluttering her skirt and her blond hair. The colorful flowers blooming in the garden shivered as if in response.

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