The difference between a girl and a woman is that a woman is mature... Megumi character sketch.
The difference between a girl and a woman is that a woman is worldly. A woman knows better. The word 'woman' suggests strength and maturity. Love. Devotion. Wisdom. Someone to confide in. A pillar in the corner, smooth and flawless as marble.
A girl is flighty. A girl is sweet and naive. Girls are for giggling. The word 'girl' is soft and curvy. Rounded and unblemished, a smooth ball. She appears flawless, but she will bounce and roll away. You cannot stand on a ball.
Most girls become women. Sometimes the change is slow and gradual; slowly, the people around her realize that she has become worldly and wise. Slowly, she stops daydreaming and becomes practical. The handsome man in the village becomes an airhead. The nice boy next-door might be more successful, and she likes him better, anyway. Things have meaning; they are no longer status symbols.
Other times, it is sudden. A shock. Something strikes the girl, grounds her flights of fancy, and plants a block before her giggling, rolling ball. She crashes. Her innocence, her girlhood, and her illusion of the life she has lived up to that point shatter like a glass sphere.
Her dreams to reunite with her parents and brothers become just that: dreams.
The quiet moments in her chamber, wondering what makes the handsome, obviously skilled Shinomori Aoshi work for someone he so plainly dislikes, what makes his eyes so cold, what keeps him from ever smiling, become fruitless hours wasted. Time that could have been spent doing something worthwhile.
The days of being happily oblivious, blissfully ignorant are gone. Dead. Coldly shattered, and the fragments locked in her memory, along with those happier days of work and playing with family. Before the war.
People could die. People have died. People will die. People are dying.
Loyal assistant to the wise and wonderful doctor she was, comforted by the familiarity of the field. Of course, when Kanryuu accidentally killed him, she would help. She could almost understand Kanryuu's cruel act: why had the doctor refused to give up the formula, the secret to making the medicine?
Medicine is for everyone, her family taught. Who was she to refuse to make it? Perhaps, her hopeful, girlish mind thought, someone will carry the word of my medicine and deeds to my mother and brothers and they will find me. We will be happy and reunited in Aizu again.
But the camouflage Kanryuu relied on, the haze he knew the girlish mind could produce, the wall of fancy and delight, of dewdrops and innocence, that neatly separates a girl's fantasy and a woman's reality worked perfectly. Never did she suspect. Never did she question. Never did she wonder; of course she was saving lives. What other way could there be?
But most girls must become women, some way or another.
Vividly, everyone recalled the rage on Shinomori Aoshi's face. A member of his Oniwabanshuu, stooping to not only petty theft, but indulging in opium? Vividly, she remembered the thunder in his voice, and fearfully imagined how his icy eyes became ablaze. She hid. Silently. Too afraid to move, lest the Okashira spot her.
But the key word reached her. The hammer to shatter her smooth sphere. The wind to blow away her girlish haze. The wrench in the machine of her fantasy.
Lies. Not a doctor, a murderer.
She grasped for the fragments of her glass ball, dreamed and wished and prayed for her happy musings, but shards cut and fantasies fade. All at once, the sunset engulfed her world. The period of grace between the Aizu War and the discovery of the true nature of her work died. The girl hovered in that trap that ensnares females, who rightly should grow up, but become petulant and cling to a parody of being a girl forever. But maturity broke free, and the ball stopped bouncing and rolling. The smooth pillar was erected. Strength overpowered comfort.
Maturity dictates that one must right one's wrongs. The woman must correct what she missed while locked in her dreams. She knew she had to fix things or pay the price.
There was no way to fix things.
So Megumi decided to pay the price.