There were rumours about their club. A few months earlier those rumours would have been about 3:1, but Noriko didn't care.
Urufu ran the planning for both of their events until Kuri returned to school a few days later. Kyoko and Yukio were still absent though. An accident they were told by their teacher, but in the eyes of Urufu she could read that something disgusting had happened. Especially as he refused to return her looks.
It didn't take a genius to understand that it was all connected to his war with Red Rose though. That scared her, but worse it hurt. It hurt that he didn't trust her, and it hurt that the boy she still loved didn't want to look at her even as a friend.
Planning and working with the cultural festival was supposed to be fun, but with Urufu at the helm it turned into work. He was efficient, and the club members got a lot more individual responsibility than the members of any other club, but it wasn't fun. Not once did his face flash into that wolfish grin that made her heart lurch.
Whenever she wondered if she wasn't imagining things she only had to watch Urufu's face reflected in Ryu's to know it wasn't just a bad dream. Her brother knew something, but he refused to share with her, and In Yukio's absence he turned into Urufu's wingman without a single thought of his own status.
Idiot bro, I don't want to see you grow into a man this way, she once thought, and she evens started to miss his inane antics. The brother she had learned to love to hate rapidly vanished and was replaced by someone harder, and with nowhere to turn Noriko silently assumed Kyoko's duty as Kuri's wingman.
It wasn't lost on anyone in the club.
Where she had assumed summer's break to be the end of something the start of their autumn term signalled a more important end. One she refused to accept. When they started school in April she was the most mature of the six of them, but now she wondered if she wasn't the only child remaining.
She overheard a whispered conversation between Kuri and Urufu and learned how Kuri had been attacked at her own home. Knowing that four of the six of them were being dragged back into her old nightmare made her sick with fear.
Then a final insanity occurred that made her force the issue. There were transfers. A small class of transfers. Three weeks into the term class 9:1 suddenly came into existence. Twenty five new students and all from Red Rose Academy. Another ten were rumoured to still be in the process of transferring.
Still, there were rumours about their club. Of the transferees half a dozen immediately applied for membership and were accepted within minutes after Kuri entered their club room. Not a single one was of Japanese origin and all of them wore silent faces telling tales of a school they despised.
With close to thirty members in the club Noriko finally had a reason to go to the student council. Formally to apply for an increased budget, but in reality she was hell-bent on finding out what was going on.
She stormed into the office and was surprised to find the entire student council there in a conversation with Principal Nakagawa and a third year student she only vaguely recognised.
“We'll increase security, but you'll have to report any outsiders on school grounds.”
Principal Nakagawa looked in her direction as the door slid shut behind her. “I'm aware that… Girl, we knock before we enter. Oh, it's you.”
There were several more pairs of eyes turned in her direction now.
“Did you need anything?” the council president asked.
Noriko looked back at her. She could just as well have said: 'Please leave'. “I'll need increased funding with six more embers joining the club,” Noriko said, stating her official errand.
“We'll handle that later.”
This time Noriko turned directly to Principal Nakagawa. “I'll also need directives concerning how the club is to handle the current confrontation with Red Rose Academy,” she said.
Principal Nakagawa frowned back at her, but he didn't say anything.
“I have one member hospitalised and another who won't come to school. Our president was assaulted at her own home. That counts as a problem for me.”
“Girl, this is none of your business,” Principal Nakagawa said.
Noriko hadn't expected to see him here, but it made things a lot easier for her. She would force his hand by dropping a bomb. “My club members being targeted by the same people who paid for raping me isn't my problem?”
Well, that got the attention of the student council. Try to keep the lid down on this one old goat!
“My office, now!”
Noriko followed her principal through the corridor. She tried to look properly abashed, but this was a fight she had already won. She'd be scolded and there would be some kind of punishment, but the real battle was won.
She knew that not all battles would be this easy. There were grown-ups involved in some kind of power game, and she had neither the experience nor the clout to fight them toe to toe. But she could help Urufu and Kuri with the fight. They did have the experience if not the ability to pull rank.
I just can't figure out how to help them, but I'm good at figuring things out sooner or later. Bro got all the charms, but brains is my department.