This is a static copy of In the Rose Garden, which existed as the center of the western Utena fandom for years. Enjoy. :)

#1 | Back to Top10-04-2009 12:59:13 AM

Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416

[fanfiction] Thorns Wither (Anthy/Utena, sequel to Roses Grow)

Thorns Wither
by sharnii

This is the sequel to Roses Grow, [find that here:] (a Revolutionary Girl Utena fanfic set post-series from Utena’s POV). It takes place directly after Roses Grow leaves off, and is told from Anthy’s POV. Once again the focus is Utena/Anthy, but with plenty of input from Ohtori’s other denizens, including some faces from the past…
The genre is the same combo of drama/romance/angst/humor/symbolic-wtf. This will be another novel, and comments and constructive criticism are more than welcome. As are fans of Utena raving about the fandom…as are fanfic-artworks which I drool over!
I reply to all reviews and will include complete Author’s Notes at the very end.

* * *

There is no such thing as part freedom.
~Nelson Mandela~

Chapter 1: Home is a Garden

I remember falling.

Utena asked me about that the other day, if I remember falling. I do. I remember my hand slipping from hers, and desperation fairly screaming from her big blue eyes. I remember falling away from her, and crying out, and losing her in the moment I had found her (and found myself).

Naturally I avoided answering. I don’t want to remember, to think of it in waking life when I have to linger upon it in nightmares. I don’t want to talk about it and awaken the pain of her own memories, so thinly buried beneath her guileless smile. No, Utena has more than enough pain now, and I am the cause. I won’t allow her to shoulder any more.

I remember searching.

I remember five long years that seemed longer than the last five millennia. Five years awake and in possession of my soul, five years awake to the pain of being separated from my meddlesome hero. The only thing that got me through (that stopped my well-beaten path back to him) was her hope. Yes, her hope blazed within me, setting my heart on fire that had never burned before. I knew I would find her.
I had to find her.
I would die before I didn’t find her.

When I did find her we would be together. We would have our happy someday together. It would happen. It had to happen. It was all that there was for me, all I wanted. All I had ever even known how to want.

I remember the hospital room.

I remember staring like a dead woman resurrected at its achingly familiar occupant. Utena-sama, no…Utena, lying sprawled on the bed. I didn’t know how I got to that room, to that bed. Not until much, much later.

Back then (the first time), it simply didn’t matter. All that mattered was my lost prince, found. I’ve always been good at focusing on what counts, or what can’t be changed. Leaning over Utena, pressing my hand to her breastbone, I whispered her name. The taste of it on my tongue was sweet after all the waiting.

“Utena-sama? Utena-sama, can you hear me?”

Slowly she opened her eyes, blinking sleepily up at me. I watched her closely, drinking in every expression, every beloved feature. Slowly recognition blossomed in those innocent eyes. My heart blossomed in answer.

“Utena-sama?” I whispered again, leaning closer. “Can you hear me?”

“Himemiya?” she gasped.

My smile filled my face, activating muscles I didn’t know I possessed.

“Utena,” I murmured and my eyes filled with tears.

The second time I knew how I’d gotten there, but it mattered even less. That time is my favorite because of what happened next. Utena’s shaking hand rose to brush at my tears. Her other hand reached to crush me to her and willingly I went.

“A…Anthy,” she gasped. “What happened? This already…”

“Shhh,” I said, because it didn’t matter, all that mattered was the fervor she held me with and the way my heart ignited. I leaned in to press my lips to hers.

It was only what I should have done five years earlier, instead of sending her out with flowers. It was only what I should have done in the planetarium, as we ate so-called poisoned cookies and drank so-called poisoned tea. Or the correct course of action on the windy balcony, as I sobbed in her embrace. Or what I should have done as we rode the elevator to the last duel.

But I’d never done it then (despite wanting to), never believed there was a point. So I did it now.

Because now I believed.

* * *

We were having breakfast with Juri and Miki, a breakfast which had been Utena’s idea and at her cheerful invitation. Unfortunately there had been no avoiding it.

“More tea?” I asked Juri, hiding behind a sunny smile.

“Thank you, I will,” she said coldly, and I could tell it pained her not to refuse me outright. No doubt she was determined to tolerate me civilly, courtesy of her friendship with Utena. Well, I understood toleration. I’d been tolerating arrogant pre-adults for the better part of my tortured existence.

“This tea is really good,” Utena said from where she knelt beside me. She flashed her trademark grin and briefly touched my thigh under the table. My heart thawed and Juri faded from my vision. For all intents and purposes Utena was the only one in the room. I smiled back and sipped my tea. The way that Utena’s lips met her teacup’s rim was absorbing. Vaguely I heard the conversation still going on around us.

“So what do you think of our idea?” Juri was asking.

“I think it’s great,” said Utena, digging into her ranmen. I assumed this strange breakfast menu was a nod to another breakfast they’d shared together, else I couldn’t imagine why we were eating such a thing.

“What do you think?” Utena asked me, the hand without her chopsticks back on my thigh.

I hesitated. The truth was I wasn’t in the least bit interested in seeing Juri on a daily basis, not that I would mind seeing Miki so much. Their plan (if you could call it that) involved setting up an investigative agency that could continue what Miki termed Utena’s princely duties. As far as I could tell it meant that Juri and Miki would bring their skills (and more importantly Juri’s funding) to the table, and help Utena save poor unfortunates.

It was a charming notion, if a tad naive. Classic prince fare, I suppose. But whatever Utena wanted to do with her time was fine with me, as long as we shared our time together. At the same time I suspected Juri and Miki of suffering a bad case of hero-worship: thus their poorly concealed attempt to live with their idol. It was a regrettable development dating from just before the Duel called Revolution, involving a game of squash.

Sometimes I wished that Utena didn’t play squash.

“Whatever you think, Utena,” I settled on finally, watching ChuChu deliberate over which bowl of food to steal from first. He was poised in the center of the table, utterly unable to express a preference. Utena glanced at ChuChu, frowned, and turned back to try and catch my eye.

“But what do you think?” she pressed, nibbling at her lower lip. I sighed. I hated to worry her, and I knew she had a phobia of behavior she considered to be rose-bride-like. At the same time I didn’t see how to gracefully get out of this agency business, and it was easier to just go along in life. I’d make do, as long as I had Utena. Making do was what I did.

“It sounds fine,” I told her, nudging my bowl closer to ChuChu, so that he would come and steal from it first. With a chirrup of relief he did. Utena was still frowning, but an exultant Miki started bombarding her with set-up strategies. Luckily she was easily distracted. Across the table Juri scowled at me. With a small smile I raised my teacup to her. Her scowl deepened. I felt a little like giggling but that would never do. Quashing the desire I shifted closer to Utena, pressing our thighs together. Her eyes were on Miki, but I could see the slightest flush bloom in her cheek.

I smiled again. This was going to be a good day. Any day with Utena was.

* * *

The next week we moved in with Juri and Miki.

Juri had used her negotiating skills to obtain bottom price for a veritable mansion that was supposedly haunted. For my part I was relieved the property came with a wildly overgrown garden, which was largely because Utena had pressed for there to be a garden. I proceeded to show her how grateful I was in what was left of the broken-down gazebo.

“This is spooky,” she protested, screwing up her nose as I drew her inside and pressed her down on the wrought iron bench. It already hosted a tangled vine of largish purple flowers.

“It’s perfect,” I corrected, sitting on her lap and weaving my fingers through her hair. Her eyes unfocused with pleasure and she made a humming sound. Half-amused I leaned down and kissed her. The moan she stifled against my lips satisfied me that I’d lost none of my lauded technique. We exchanged more kisses, soft, then passionate, then gentle again. I drew her head against my neck and enjoyed the brush of her lips against my throat.

“Thank you for my garden,” I told her, also enjoying the blush tinting her fair skin as her eyes rose to meet mine.

“Oh well, y’know, it was Juri who bought it,” she said all flustered. I giggled, resting my hands on her shoulders.

“Yes, how silly of me. Arisugawa-san is a most considerate host.”

Utena winced a little. I smiled down at her. Of course I knew that she’d insisted on the addition for my sake; she still seemed to have an aversion to gardens, and especially to roses. I understood why, while regretting that it was so. Gardens were my freedom before I met Utena, but for her they were a thorny reminder of a schoolgirl treated like a slave.

She had never seen things the way I did. She never would if I had any say in the matter.

“Do you miss our old place?” she asked me worriedly. “I mean, you decorated it so beautifully, and now we just up and leave it…”

“You liked the decorations?” I cut in, pressing a kiss to her nose. She had the decency to blush.


“We can both decorate this place,” I teased. “I know you want to put up your tasteless sporting trophies.”

Her mouth dropped. I couldn’t help myself: I kissed her. It took awhile for her to extricate herself enough to answer.

“They’re not as bad as your spooky chessboard. Do you even play chess?”

I traced her cheekbone.

“Who would I play it with?” I gazed at her meaningfully and she shifted beneath me, a motion which I think we both found pleasurable. Her cheeks flamed.

“Uh…I don’t know…”

“Let me teach you,” I purred, stroking the back of her neck persuasively.

“You haven’t answered me,” she said, eyes half-closed with pleasure and far more seductive than she knew.

“No,” I murmured. “I don’t miss it. I lived there far too long without you.”

She nodded and bit her lip.

“Home is you,” I told her, “wherever you are.”

“Yeah,” she whispered taking my face in her hands and studying me intently. “I know. But I just wanted to make sure you were okay with this.” My hands stilled on her neck and I smiled at her warmly.

“I am.”

“Okay. Okay then, that’s good.” She sounded relieved. My hands slid up to tangle in her hair and we went back to kissing. After a satisfying interlude we caught our breath, my forehead resting against hers.

“I feel bad,” she told me out of the blue. I sat back.

“That Arisugawa-san spent money on us,” I guessed correctly. Utena nodded, looking faintly surprised.

“Yeah. It’s not like we can repay her.”

“We can.” I shrugged. “If you would like.” It didn’t matter to me one way or the other.

Utena looked at me for long moments, her hands fiddling where they rested on my hips. Her eyes were so guileless, so easy to read. I could see practically every thought she had telegraphed in them. First she was surprised, then she realized I had money even though she didn’t, then she wondered where I’d gotten it from. Next she fretted about what I might have had to do to get it, which tangented into wondering if it was right that she accept money from me as though it was hers (which was silly. Money meant nothing to me. And everything I had was hers). Finally she stopped to realize that I hadn’t offered Juri anything so far and was perfectly aware she was buying a house to double as the agency and communal home.

“Do you mind living here, with them?” she asked, choosing not to speak her thoughts. This was something new about Utena, something I still wasn’t used to. It seemed to be connected to the