Maria-sama ga Miteru:Volume5 Chapter6 1
 18:50, Eriko
Torii Eriko, also known as Rosa Foetida, was in her own room, in her own house, troubled.
In front of her was a paper box, the ones you saw in Western confectionary stores, the ones where when you folded it up, it'd present to you a handle. It was around half the size of the box she'd been given last Christmas, when she'd been given low-heel shoes. But it was half as wide, not half as long, resulting in a very thin, long rectangular solid.
"So it's probably not truffles…"
That opinion wouldn't change whether you look at it from outside or inside. Well, no, the moment you opened it, you'd know its contents. But she wanted to try to figure it out without going that far. No deep reason.
It was handed to her just ten minutes ago by her sœur, Hasekura Rei, as a Valentine's Day gift. She'd ridden her bicycle here even though it was snowing outside.
Rei might have been feeling guilty about not being able to hand it to her during school. Not that Eriko minded.
After all, she'd been missing school of late for exam studies. Rei probably didn't know if she would show up. It was better to leave a delicate food like chocolate at home, in the refrigerator, than to carry it about. Plus, Rei's home was just a few minutes' walk from school.
Of course, she'd be lying if she said when Rei showed no hints of handing her chocolate because of the treasure hunt she didn't worry. But Rei had chased her to the main gates and whispered to her asking if she could "visit her house later that night," so she'd stopped worrying then.
She wanted to invite Rei into the house for tea, but she seemed in a hurry to leave, so she decided against forcing her to stay. Rei said she was going to Shimazu Yoshino's house afterwards.
Yoshino-chan's house was next to Rei's. She could have gone to the closer person first, but maybe she'd wanted to prioritize the senior. How very like Rei, with her athletics-based discipline and conscientiousness. And that was not a bad thing at all.
Rei had brought it, so it was doubtlessly a present from Rei. And it was handmade. There was no problem there. The problem-.
"Is this really for me?"
Eriko had mumbled that nine times in the last ten minutes. So this was the commemorative tenth time. She'd probably not noticed it herself, but she was mumbling it once every minute.
"What if she made a mistake."
She knew Rei changed the contents of her present based on the person she was gifting. Because she made things based on their tastes. So the chocolate truffles last year was delicious. The sweetness was a bit suppressed by bitterness, giving it a distinctly mature taste. She was so astonished at how good it was – she'd never eaten something that good before – that she expressed great admiration to Rei on the spot… and Rei replied happily, "If you're that pleased with it, I'll happily make it again next year." Or maybe she suggested making it again next year. She didn't remember exactly how it was, but it didn't matter, there wasn't too much of a difference. Eriko believed without a doubt she'd get truffles again this year.
"So this looks more like Yoshino-chan's dominion."
But she wasn't sure. If there was at least a message card…
She heard Rei made Yoshino-chan a cake filled with chocolate cream last year. Quantity over quality for children. Well, considering Rei was making it, there'd be no drop-off in quality.
"But, you wouldn't usually mix it up, considering how different the box sizes are."
But it was Rei. She seemed reliable, but she had a tendency to miss things. Usually she was so dependable, but at certain times she'd become completely useless. She was the headlong charge type, so if one thing occupied her attention, everything else ended up being pushed out of her mind. Though, as her big sister, Eriko found that part of Rei cute.
Maybe Rei'd made a large quantity of truffles, because Eriko'd been so pleased by them, and there were so many she'd ended up needing this sort of box. And then she'd accidentally put Yoshino-chan's one into hers. How was that? Good reasoning, perhaps?
She looked at the clock.
Five minutes before seven.
Rei had come at six forty, so it'd been fifteen minutes since then. In five minutes, Rei would arrive home. And if she were to notice, it'd be after that, before she went to deliver the present to the Shimazu household. Even if Rei herself didn't notice, Yoshino-chan would notice, pointing it out when she opened her box. –Right, if the contents of that box were truffles.
She found herself with nothing immediate to do. Well, it wasn't like she was going to start studying now, so it wasn't really something she needed to mind.
She wanted to phone Rei to make sure, but she would be perplexed if Rei were to ask her why she thought there might have been a mistake. Because frankly it's because she was expecting truffles. And then it'd sound like she was a narrow-minded person who'd accept nothing other than truffles.
That wasn't true. Anything Rei made was lovely. But if Rei had indeed mixed things up, she needed to tell her, right?
Hello, did you hand me the right chocolate? -No, no. There must be a smarter way to do it.
"Eriko-chan, it's dinner time."
Her mother's voice came through the interphone.
"Okay. Coming." Well, no sense pondering it now. She left the present, and her thoughts, in her room and stepped out. Rei might come calling at some point.
She could smell demi-glace sauce wafting up from the kitchen. Beef stew tonight.
Eriko stopped descending the stairs and hurried back to her room.
She dug out the paper bags hidden in her closet. For her beloved, sly father and her strange brothers.
The men of the Torii household had come home early tonight in eager anticipation of chocolate from the only daughter.
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