Juri and Anthy have a conversation in the garden.
"You don't need to wear your mask, Anthy. I don't care and you know it." The tone was sardonic and mocking. The figure at the door turned inwards, a painfully beautiful girl-woman with long, carefully formed red-gold curls and bleak green eyes. "Just tell me the truth."
"I...Juri-sempai." She lowered her eyes and dropped her fingers to trail in the dead leaves littering the floor. A single red rose petal drifted down to settle in her violet hair. "I...I'm not certain what you're asking me for. I don't belong to you. Saionji-sama-"
"-is a churlish fool. You know that, too. Why do you bother?" Juri's eyes lit from within, gleaming like a wildcat's. "Why do you let him think he owns you? Why-?"
"Those are the rules to the game, Juri-sempai."
"And you are merely the prize. Don't make me laugh. I've seen you looking at him when he thinks you're not. You look at him like a pet. You might like him if he weren't such an idiot, but as it is..." Anthy didn't look up, but picked the petal off her head and began rubbing it gently.
"If you think so, why don't you challenge him?" Her voice was soft, nearly solicitous, but penetrating. Juri laughed at her, tossing her head back and setting her curls to swinging.
"Perhaps I'll do that, indeed. That would give him a pause, wouldn't it? But why? Can you grant me my heart's desire? Are you truly the holder of the key to Revolution? I suppose there is only one way to find out, isn't there? Shall I defeat him? Should I make you mine?"
She stalked the sitting girl like a tiger, like a leopard, circling, standing still, then--pounce--! She dropped like lightning and forced Anthy's chin up to stare unblinking into her eyes. Running one fingernail down her smooth dark cheek, Juri drew closer, until they were nearly sharing a breath. Anthy gazed back, apparently unperturbed.
The truth was that it was Juri's heart that trembled. Her outward manner was stony, icy, frozen in time and space until she was near shattering. Where else does one acquire such a reputation for danger?
Juri clipped her hand together so sharply her manicured fingernails clicked just past the point of Anthy's nose.
"You don't care at all. Whatever I do, you don't care. It's all the same to you. How..." Her options were limited; she could either let that faint irritation ("How could she see no difference between me and-") overwhelm her, or she could let it pass. "...How uninteresting."
Wrong choice. Anthy looked away, pushed off the ground and stood, looking down sweetly at Juri.
"I really must be going, Juri-sempai. Saionji-sama requested that I prepare his evening meal."
Juri remained kneeling there as Anthy brushed off her skirt and left, played for a fool by one who she considered a true master of the art. Only one before her had ever made her more of a laughingstock, and that one...
She wiped the memory from her mind before it had fully formed, but her hand nevertheless drifted to her collarbone, then slightly below. The small lump beneath her jacket both shamed and calmed her, and she rose to her feet. Her decision, it seemed, has been made for her. Her honor, her pride had been offended, and she must respond. The thought of Dueling Saionji was extremely unappealing, but the corresponding thought, that Anthy could be allowed to win, was even more so. She started from the garden, heading for her lonely apartment. A gust of wind tossed her hair in front of her eyes, startling her.
Why did the breeze seem chill suddenly, as though autumn might be approaching? It was never autumn, and never winter, not here. Not in this frozen place where girls stared at you with the eyes of ancient crones; not in this land of eternal youth and eternal death.