When Himeko opened her eyes, it was dark.
It should have been light; every image of Hope’s Peak Academy she’d summoned, both in reality and in her head, had been bright, welcoming; a pinnacle of hope.
But here, in this room, it’s dark, and it’s cold, and her head hurts she doesn’t know where she is and the first delirious, dizzy thought that rises to her head before she drifts back into darkness again is a plain and simple ‘I never should have left’.
She only passes out again for another minute or two, before her headache reluctantly drags her into consciousness again and, after a few seconds of fervent hope, forces her to open her eyes.
It’s still dark. It’s still cold. She’s still somewhere she shouldn’t be – and, worse still, not alone.
The presence of another next to her catches her notice suddenly, and her breath catches haltingly in her throat; wide eyes scan the other with a terrified urgency as she draws her hands inward to her chest, clasping her hands together instinctively, so hard her knuckles go white.
A girl? A girl. Asleep? Maybe, maybe not. Himeko thinks her clothes might be traditional (save for, perhaps, the cloak), but she can’t tell. It’s too dark, it’s too cold, and then a drop of water falls on her nose and she lets out an involuntary sound; a quiet whimper of fear.
This is a nightmare. It has to be. So she has to wake up. And that’s not going to happen if she stays here. With a rustle of petticoats and another frightened sound (because she could have sworn something, Oh God, ran over her foot) she rises from the poor excuse to a bed she found herself on and tries the bars to her cell.
They open, much to her surprise, with a little force; she chooses to interpret this as a good thing, despite the fact that no nightmare would make it that easy to escape your prison. From her cell, it’s only a short jaunt left past some others (and she isn’t going to think about that, if she sees their faces too closely it might make it more real) to another gate, and this one–
…Doesn’t open. Oh. Oh, dear.
At a loss for anything else to do, Himeko tentatively grips the bars, and gives them a half-hearted shake; but not for long, not when she hears footsteps exiting a cell and approaching in her direction, and her heart seizes and she whirls round, backing up against the locked gate keeping her here. Eyes lock on the stranger in front of her, and they could be anyone, and she tries to say something and can’t, opening her mouth and getting only a high, tremulous gasp, becoming aware her hands are shaking.
A nightmare, a nightmare. Eyes closed. “It’s– it’s only a nightmare." Hands clasped tighter, voice addressing more herself than her company. "Only a nightmare– a nightmare, a nightmare–”
Yet when she opens her eyes, the other person – other people, really – are still there, and she’s still here, and her terrified gaze takes on a tinge of defeat. Unable to deny it any longer, Himeko falls silent, her wary eyes fixated on the person across from her as if they’ll turn into a demon before her very eyes if she lets them leave again.
This is a nightmare, yes, she wasn’t wrong – but she’s very much awake.