NARRATOR: "One flight of stairs up and I run into problems. The second floor hallway is a carbon copy of the third floor one. Wide, of course; and plain, like only hallways can be. The problem is that the library's whereabouts are not as easily determined as one would think. The classrooms are marked with signs stating which class they belong to, but then there is a plethora of other, unmarked rooms. Is the library one of them? Or is it just somewhere down the hallway? I bet on the latter and choose my direction at random.

NARRATOR: "After I turn around the corner, an unmarked door draws my attention because it's not closed. It's not open either though, just barely ajar so that I can see it's open and nothing else. It would make sense for the library door to be invitingly open, and while this one is not quite that, it's good enough. At the very least it means that someone is inside and I can ask for directions no matter how embarrassing that is. I gingerly push on the center of the door with my fingertips, every muscle in my arm ready to pull back at a moment's notice. The feeling of being an outsider to this school can't be shaken from my mind, so much so that I instinctively fear doing something wrong by entering."

NARRATOR: "The door slowly creaks as if groaning from a deep sleep, though is much easier to open than I'd anticipated. Leaning over and poking my head ever further inside to gain sight of the room as fast as possible, the meek 'Hello...?' on my lips is quickly snatched away."

Lilly tearoom


NARRATOR: "This is... not as I was expecting. I mindlessly let the door open to its full extent, taking in the sight of the solitary figure taking center stage in the otherwise abandoned room. The situation steals my voice, leaving me standing at the doorway staring at the beautiful girl. Evidently having taken her time to assess the situation, the girl gently puts down her teacup and opens her eyes, but doesn't look at me."

Lilly tearoom open

LILLY: "Hello there. May I help you?"

NARRATOR: "Staring directly in front of herself, the movements of her lips seem to break the silence rather than the words. However it's the soft, measured voice that reminds me she's a being separate from the room itself. Not only is she likely the tallest girl I've ever laid eyes on, but even among the foreigners I've met she's strikingly distinct."

Lilly Encounter 2

HISAO: "Uh, hi. Sorry for intruding, I was just... kind of lost."

NARRATOR: "She takes a moment to formulate a response before speaking. Every action she takes feels as if it's carefully choreographed beforehand."

LILLY: "Care to take a seat?"

NARRATOR: "...unexpected, considering that I'm intruding upon her."

HISAO: "Ummm... thanks."

NARRATOR: "I slowly step towards another seat opposite her, the girl resting the teacup and saucer on the wooden table inbetween. The way she doesn't track my movements with her head is telling... that, and the slight cloudiness to her eyes means she must be at least partially blind, like Kenji. Come to think of it, her voice doesn't have any detectable accent either. I guess she must be half-Japanese. As I take my seat, her composure takes me slightly off-guard. Her air of relaxed confidence makes the silence entirely comfortable. The calming atmosphere is so very different from the student council office."

LILLY: "I take it you're a new student to Yamaku?"

HISAO: "Ah, yeah. I just transferred in yesterday."

NARRATOR: "I get the distinct feeling my speech patterns don't match the formality of hers, accentuated by her restrained bow of greeting. One which I hasten to match, before realizing the futility of the action."

LILLY: "I'm Lilly Satou. Pleased to meet you..."

HISAO: "Hisao. Hisao Nakai."

NARRATOR: "She gives a nod before gesturing roughly in the direction of her teacup."

LILLY: "Would you care for a drink?"

HISAO: "Sure."

NARRATOR: "As much as it pains me, I can't keep step with her formality in the proceedings. She gives a kind nod, taking the request in stride. Without another word, she steps off the chair and prepares a second cup of tea from a collection of supplies laid out along a shelf. A brush here, a brush there, her left hand often lightly touching the side of whichever container she's pouring into... it seems to be a process she's followed dozens of times before. As I lean sideways to see around her back, she seems to use her long, dainty finger to measure the right amount of water in the cup."

NARRATOR: "It's one thing to see the different disabilities the students in my class have, but it's quite another to see how everyone seems to adapt. Shizune and Misha have no problem working together to communicate to me, and Lilly herself seems to have workarounds for problems I'd never thought of. While I feel slightly guilty about her doing the work, she seems pleased to be following the “correct” process of the offerer preparing the drink."

LILLY: "So,"

NARRATOR: "Her soft voice brings me out of my silent observance."

LILLY: "Which room were you looking for? It's not often this classroom is visited after school."

HISAO: "The school library. Shizune and Mi— I mean, some classmates, told me it was on this floor."

NARRATOR: "She finishes pouring water into the teacup as she nods, a small metallic tapping coming from the teacup indicating it being stirred."

LILLY: "I'm aware of Miss Hakamichi, as are most students. To be with them means you're in class 3-3, no?"

HISAO: "That's right. In the science room with Mutou."

NARRATOR: "She gives a small giggle before setting down the teaspoon and slowly walking towards the table, teacup and saucer in hand."

LILLY: "He's quite a character. I imagine you'll come to like him; most do."

NARRATOR: "As she sets down the tea, I gently take it and have a sip. I'm really more of a coffee person, but this seems like a rather bad moment to bring it up. Nonetheless, the smell's quite nice. I hardly think it'd be hard to choke down."

HISAO: "Thanks, Satou. It tastes really nice."

NARRATOR: "She smiles and quickly waves her hand in front of her face."

LILLY: "Lilly, please. There's no need to be too formal."

NARRATOR: "She says this in spite of her exceedingly well-bred speech. Oh well. I guess I should try and ask her about herself, as it really does seem as if she's catering to me."

HISAO: "So which class are you from? I imagine it's one of the third-year classes."

LILLY: "Correct, I'm in class 3-2; which is on the third floor, same as yours. It's taught by Miyagi, and is specifically for both blind and partially blind students."

HISAO: "I see. Ah, I mean, uh, s-sorry..."

NARRATOR: "I feel like slapping myself for the faux-pas. Looking at her face, though, she doesn't seem in the least bit put off by it."

LILLY: "My my, there's no need to change your speech on my account."

HISAO: "Ah, sure. Sorry, I guess I'm really showing my newness here."

LILLY: "An environment like this would be a big change, so I can't fault you for it. While the same can't be said for everyone, many have come to terms with their conditions."

NARRATOR: "A category which would include her, it seems. All too ready to jump ship from this particular topic, I segue into another."

HISAO: "Do you come here to drink tea often? It's a really nice place."

NARRATOR: "Thinking on it, this might be her version of the place behind my school that I liked to have lunch at."

LILLY: "I come here fairly often during lunch times. My duties as class representative don't leave enough time for an 'official' club, so a friend and I use this room for having tea."

NARRATOR: "Class representative, huh? Compared to Shizune, her mannerisms seem to be almost completely opposite. While Shizune's blunt and fiercely driven, Lilly seems relaxed and calm, almost aloof. Come to think of it, she might be useful for a less biased view of the school's clubs."

HISAO: "What kinds of clubs are there to join?"

LILLY: "Hmm... the more popular ones are the track and field club, which uses the field near the school during lunchtimes, the baseball club, and the book club in a room near the library. There are also numerous small ones too, though, such as the art and music clubs."

NARRATOR: "At a time when I'm just wanting to get on my feet, rushing into a club right away seems slightly unappealing. I wonder if this school shares the same rule as my old one..."

HISAO: "Is it compulsory to join a club?"

LILLY: "It isn't, though it is encouraged."

HISAO: "Ah, good. That's a relief."

NARRATOR: "I've really let down my guard around this girl to let such a thing slip out. The fact seems to slightly amuse her. Not wanting my tea to get cold, I finally start drinking it as Lilly does the same. As I look over to the window over her shoulder, I notice the light coming into the room has a distinctly orange tint. Even here, time doesn't stand still."

HISAO: "Huh, the time's gone quickly."

LILLY: "Sorry?"

NARRATOR: "Right. She's blind. Of course she can't see the sun setting."

HISAO: "It just looks like the sun's starting to set."

NARRATOR: "It seems to come as a surprise for her. I guess she must have lost track of the time."

LILLY: "Sorry, Hisao. I didn't mean to keep you from the library for so long."

NARRATOR: "I quickly move to allay her concern."

HISAO: "Ah, no, it's okay. The library's still open, isn't it?"

NARRATOR: "She pauses, and takes a moment to think on it. It's probably something I should've asked Shizune when I had the chance, but Lilly seems likely to know in any case."

LILLY: "True. It's open until six-thirty during weekdays."

NARRATOR: "A quick glance at my watch confirms I have well enough time to get there."

HISAO: "Hmm, I might get going in that case. It's been nice talking with you, Lilly."

NARRATOR: "She smiles and gives a deep nod, her hands still neatly folded on the table in front of her."

LILLY: "It was my pleasure. Oh, come to think of it... shall I show you to where the library is?"

HISAO: "I couldn't possibly ask for more help. I should be able to find it all right."

NARRATOR: "Well, unless my navigational skills fail me.{w} Which they seem to have a habit of doing."

LILLY: "It's all right, I was going to be talking to the librarian there in any case. I could introduce you."

NARRATOR: "This gets better and better. It's pretty hard to deny her offer."

HISAO: "If you're sure, then that'd be great. Thanks."

NARRATOR: "As she stands up to follow me, she takes hold of a straight, retractable cane that had been slipped in the handle of her bag on the floor. Compared to the cane the boy in my class had, Lilly's looks much thinner and longer. His must be for support, whereas Lilly's is for navigation. Together we leave the peaceful room and enter the empty hallway on the way to the library."

NARRATOR: "Side by side, my pace carefully slowed to match hers, we slowly walk through the hallway. It doesn't take long for us to arrive at the door to the warm-looking room, apparently situated in the center of the floor rather than either wing."

HISAO: "Ladies first."

NARRATOR: "She gives an appreciative smile at the gesture, taking the lead as we file in. To the left is the wooden library counter, with the library proper being on the right. It easily dwarfs my old school's library, with the distinct smell of old books giving the place an almost old-world air. There don't seem to be a lot of students here. Considering the time, it isn't a big surprise; everyone's probably either in the school grounds or the dorms."

LILLY: "Yuuko, are you here?"

NARRATOR: "She says it to thin air since the librarian doesn't seem to be present and of course Lilly can't see this. What's unexpected is that it draws a reaction. Something from under the counter thuds against it, followed by a quiet wail. The origin, apparently the librarian, quickly crawls out and bounces up to extremely rigid attention."

YUUKO "Hi, Lilly. How can I help you?"

NARRATOR: "Her voice is strained in a failing attempt to sound casual and she's rubbing the back of her head."

LILLY: "Good afternoon. What happened just now? I heard a strange sound."

YUUKO: "It's nothing, I just hit my head. See, I dropped an eraser under my desk and while I was looking for it a pencil dropped and when I was looking for both of them you came and surprised me..."

LILLY: "Are you all right? I'm sorry, I couldn't know—"

YUUKO: "It's okay! It's okay, sorry for making you worry."

YUUKO: "This is nothing, I've had worse happen to me."

NARRATOR: "She's quick to reverse Lilly's apologies, almost frantically trying to push aside the possibility that she could be in any way inconvenienced by bashing her head on the counter."

YUUKO: "Yes... worse things have happened, hehehe..."

NARRATOR: "The girl fidgets with her fingers as Lilly doesn't seem to drop her concerned expression, and then she shuffles some papers around the counter for no reason. A little shorter than Lilly, replete with glasses, freckles and a very troubled look, she seems to fit a library perfectly."

YUUKO: "Ah, Lilly! Did you get my message?"

LILLY: "Message... hmm... Oh, the two imported books that arrived?"

YUUKO: "Right! Right! They finally came! I can't believe it took so long, but—"

NARRATOR: "Amidst her celebrations, partially for managing to change the topic I'm sure, she notices me from the corner of her eye and freezes on the spot when she does."

YUUKO: "Oh no, I'm sorry for not noticing you before! Did you need to check out a book? Or return one? I'm sorry! I'm sorry!"

NARRATOR: "The way she can so quickly shift between moods is a little unsettling."

LILLY: "He's with me. Yuuko, this is Hisao, a new student. Hisao, this is Yuuko, the school librarian."

HISAO: "Pleased to meet you."

YUUKO: "Hisao. Right. Hisao. Pleased to meet you, too. Hisao."

NARRATOR: "For a second she visibly attempts to engrave the name on her mind so she won't forget."

LILLY: "Yuuko often arranges to import foreign books in Braille for me. Would you like to tell Hisao a little something about the library?"

NARRATOR: "Lilly's innocent suggestion is met with an expression of abject terror."

YUUKO: "I... Please Lilly, I can't. I don't know what he could be interested in. This is too much responsibility.

NARRATOR: "How it's any responsibility at all I don't get, but her objection is so sincere I don't doubt for a second that she would rather disembowel herself on the spot than tell me where the light novels are."

LILLY: "But..."

HISAO: "So, there are a lot of books in Braille here?"

NARRATOR: "I attempt to save the day by asking the first thing that pops into my head. It seems to work at least partially, as Yuuko seems to... not exactly relax, but at least look slightly less tense."

YUUKO: "Well... I think about a third or a fourth of Yamaku's library is either in Braille or audio."

NARRATOR: "Makes sense, given all the blind students that'd be here."

HISAO: "If it's only that, how come this library is so big in the first place?"

YUUKO: "Ummm, well, we get a lot of new books regularly because the library is adequately endowed. That's probably why. They spend more on new books than on my salary, and then I have to organize and shelve all of them. It's so troublesome and they weigh so much, I wish I could quit this job. ..."

NARRATOR: "A very awkward silence follows this revelation of too much information."

HISAO: "Umm, I'll go check the aisles then, if you don't mind."

NARRATOR: "It's probably best for all of us if she doesn't keep talking to me."

LILLY: "Very well. Meanwhile, Yuuko, I would have those books if it's all right with you."

Next Scene: Shared Library