"Mistress," Sakuya whispered, suddenly behind Remilia's soft armchair. She came in front of it, still holding her silver tray, and curtsied.
"Have you fed her?" Remilia asked, eyes downcast into the folds of her novel.
Sakuya nodded, but realized Remilia still wasn't looking at her. "She absolutely demolished the calf I had bought her. And I even told her to try and save room for tea, but she wouldn't listen."
There was a long silence, until Remilia heard her head maid sigh. "Mistress…"
"What is it, Sakuya?" Remilia murmured, marking her page and closing the book. "Is she still hungry? Well, bring her some cake or something. I'm busy."
"Reading romance novels is not busy, Mistress," Sakuya chuckled, but she quickly closed her mouth. She paused, before bursting, "Mistress, she's old enough to feed properly. Like you and the rest of your kind do. Do you understand?"
"She's not old enough," Remilia said doggedly, shaking her head. "And even if she was, she can barely handle her playthings without destroying them. You even say yourself every time you buy her something a person like myself would use for five or six meals that she annihilates it in minutes. She is not ready to go out on her own."
"She's just growing -- her appetite is greater than ever." Sighing, Sakuya continued, "She needs someone to teach her, Mistress. Are you trying to say you learned all by yourself?"
"Of course I did. I had no one to teach me how to feed on my own. I had to learn on my own: I had to catch everything for myself. Flandre should be grateful she doesn't have to grow up as quickly as I did. She gets to grow up in luxury --"
"Yes, luxury. Locked in the basement. With no one to talk to her! Remil --"
Remilia cleared her throat and shot her a glare.
"Mistress," Sakuya corrected herself. "You seem to expect her to grow into this on her own, which is impossible when she is alone every single day of every week of every year. Her only contact with others is with me when I bring her food, and she's afraid of me."
"That's because you tried to kill her when she mistook you for food and tried to 'kyu' you, or whatever she says before she destroys something."
"She wouldn't mistake allies for enemies if she had someone to guide her," Sakuya pointed out. "You're her sister, Mistress. Please at least visit her. Talk to her. She'll grow so much faster and easier if she had her big sister around more often."
Standing up suddenly and tucking her book under her arm, Remilia cast Sakuya an angry glance before striding towards the door leading out of her bedroom.
"Big sister!" Flandre shrieked upon seeing Remilia stroll down the stairs into the basement. "Big -- big sister! Big sister! B-big sister, big sister, big --"
"Yes, yes," Remilia muttered, bored and annoyed with her task. "Big sister is here. We are all aware of it now." She moved to settle her novel down onto a table and stopped, noticing it was covered in fresh calf's blood and a few stray pieces of flesh, and kept the book in hand.
"Remi," Flandre cried, coming to hug her sister. "Remi, Re-Remi! I missed you, big sister. I missed you lots, Remi. Will you stay this time? What's this? Is it a book? Can I read it?"
With a sigh Remilia allowed her younger sister to take the romance novel from her hands and flip through it. Flandre's eyes squinted in the dim light and she moved closer to the pages, reading, "And then he ripped away my clothes and put his fingers into my wet --"
"That's enough!" Remilia exclaimed, yanking away the book and hugging it to her chest. "No more reading. I-I'll get you some children's books if you'd like."
"For true, big sister? For true?"
Flandre's hopeful expression was indeed annoyingly sweet, and Remilia grudgingly patted her sister on the head. "For true. I guess. But for now let's --" She stopped abruptly, hearing the door leading upstairs squeak.
"Who is it?" she called, turning sharply.
"Uh," came a voice. "No one."
"Show yourself," Remilia commanded, her wings unfolding as she leapt into the air.
"Move and I'll shoot!" shouted the voice. "Wait, wait -- I messed up. I mean, shoot and I'll move. In a flash."
Out from the shadows emerged a young woman dressed in all black-and-white. Remilia didn't recognize her, and asked wearily, "What are you doing here? Didn't China keep you out?"
"That joke? I took care of her in no time. I came to borrow some stuff from Patchouli. You that Scarlet Devil I hear so much about? Remilia, is it? I'm --"
"That's 'Mistress Remilia' to you," Remilia said, voice sharp. "And I suppose you're that Marisa girl Patchouli always complains about."
"Complains! Why, I'll have to have a word with her. Right now. Seriously, I'm not going to shoot, so you should totally just let me --"
"Wait!" Remilia dove forward towards the door of the basement, blocking Marisa's way and leaving Flandre alone in the dark corner. She shoved her book into Marisa's arms. "My sister is going to destroy this if it stays here. Take it back to Patchouli for me -- if I leave Flandre now, there will be hell to pay for all of us. After that, ah -- how long would it take you to make it to the human village?"
Marisa shrugged, absentmindedly flipping through the novel. "I dunno, maybe fifteen --" She suddenly burst out laughing. "You read this garbage?"
"Just -- just get to the human village for me. Buy some children's books and toys for my sister, will you?" She reached into her pocket for money, and Marisa shook her head, mounting her broom.
"Don't worry about that -- I don't need money. I'll be back in a flash." Tucking the book under her arm, she set off toward the nearest opened window.
Remilia let out a sigh through her nose, watching after Marisa, and felt someone behind her tug at the hem of her dress.
"Remi, who was that? Was she -- was -- can I --" She held out one hand and began, "Kyuuu --"
"No!" Remilia cried, slapping her sister's hand. "No kyu! No -- what does that even mean?"
Flandre shrugged helplessly. "Dunno, big sister. I just -- I -- I have to say it. I think. When I kyu things, I have to say --" She looked down at her open hand and slowly began to close it. "Kyuuu!"
Without warning all the windows in the hallway cracked and shattered open, leaving shards of red glass littering the floor. Eyes wide, Remilia stared out at the mess and watched as dozens of maids, led by Sakuya, came to clean everything up. Without a word she ushered her sister back down into the basement.
"Can't you control yourself?" Remilia asked, sitting her sister down onto a blood-encrusted sofa. She lit a candle next to it for light enough to properly see her sister. Remilia's eyes widened suddenly: there were jeweled rods of iron jutting out from Flandre's back.
"Flan, what are those? I don't remember seeing them last time I came down here."
"They're my wings, big sister!" She jumped to stand with a grin and closed her eyes, seeming to be focusing very hard. "Are they flapping yet?"
The iron rods didn't budge, but wiggled a little whenever Flandre moved her arms. Remilia took her sister's shoulder and turned her around: sure enough, the back of Flandre's shirt seemed to have been ripped away, and dried blood covered the holes from which the "wings" came out.
"Well, it usually works," Flandre said, shrugging. The jeweled irons wiggled with her movements. "See, see, someday I can fly like my big sister! Remi, R-Remi, can I see you fly? Please?"
At a loss, Remilia let her batlike wings free and she floated into the air a little, her wings working up a small windstorm around them. She averted her eyes upon seeing such an excited look on her sister's face, and slowly dropped back onto the ground.
"Oh, Remi!" Flandre cried, hugging her tight. "Remi, Remi, how wonderful. Can I fly someday? Can -- why can't I fly now, Remi? How come? Where are my wings? How come I had to make them? It hurt, Remi. Did it hurt for you? But you've always had wings. Why haven't I always had wings?"
Wordlessly her arms drew themselves up around Flandre's shoulders and she looked straight ahead, not sure what to say. Flandre was too young to remember. When they had first realized her power, Remilia was jealous. She was older -- why wasn't she stronger? She had cut off Flandre's wings out of spite.
Wanting to know more about Flandre's current wing-situation, Remilia smiled weakly: "How -- how did you make these wings, Flan?"
"Oh, oh --" Flandre began, looking excited again. "I asked that white-hair lady, you know, that one who bringed me the baby cow, that one -- I asked her for some metals and I made them look like wings! And -- and then -- the purple girl in the library, she gave me the pretty gems for it! I didn't have any feathers, so the girl, she said that the gems were shaped like feathers so they would do."
"Let me look at them a little," Remilia whispered, stooping to meet the height of the wings. She took a light pink jewel in her hand and examined it: Patchouli must have given Flandre the jewels out of pity. They seemed to have some power to them -- maybe they had already been anointed with magic before Flandre had got a hold of them. Patchouli had a habit of enchanting things and forgetting about it as she became engrossed in a new book. Either way, Flandre's power was probably amplified with these jewels.
"Hey, Flan," Remilia began, but she quickly cut herself off. She couldn't do it. She couldn't take Flandre's wings away, even if they were making her more powerful. Flandre made those wings herself, and what was more, she somehow managed to put them through her own skin, through her own muscle, until they jutted out of her like a real appendage. Remilia couldn't take all that work away from her.
"Hey what?" Flandre replied cheerily, fingers idly playing with a blue jewel on her right wing. She showed it to her sister: "The blue one's my favorite! Isn't it pretty?"
Smiling a little, Remilia nodded softly. "Very pretty, Flan."
Suddenly the door to the basement flew open and Marisa came zooming down on her broom, a potato sack slung over her shoulder. She threw it onto the ground and dismounted, looking proud.
Without asking Flandre dove at the bag and dug through it, eyes bright. "These are toys!" she exclaimed, taking out a doll. "Are they for me?"
"I guess," Marisa replied, shrugging. She held out a hand: "I'll take that money now. I didn't think I'd need it but I wanted to buy some candy. You know, normally I'd just go for it, but the guy there knows me and watches carefully whenever I'm around."
As Remilia sighed and withdrew a few coins for her, Marisa laughed: "I might also throw a few into Reimu's donation box. It gets her all excited and it's funny for me to watch." She counted the coins before dropping them into her pocket. Mounting her broom again, she kicked off into the air and called, "Thanks much!" before zipping up the stairs and out one of the broken windows.
"They're for me, Remi?" Flandre asked breathlessly, having laid everything out for her to look at properly. There were books, dolls, a teddy bear, and --
"Is that a rabbit?" Remilia gasped, pointing at a little furry, bleeding thing next to Flandre's knee. "Sweet Devil in Hell, Flan, you sure didn't waste time to kill the poor thing."
"I was hungry," Flandre replied defensively, taking up the dead rabbit and petting it. Seeing it was still bleeding, she lifted its neck to her lips and drank.
"Flan," Remilia laughed a little. "Don't eat rabbits. They're from the moon -- they'll curse you."
"I'm already cursed."
Remilia knew she meant it as a joke, but it still made her very sad all of a sudden. Without warning she knelt down beside her sister and brushed the rabbit's corpse away before hugging her.
"What's wrong, Remi?" Flandre asked, surprised by the sudden show of affection. Nonetheless she hugged her sister back with a contented sigh.
"I'm sorry, Flan," Remilia whispered, not knowing what else to say.
"For --" She paused, thinking. She couldn't tell her sister for what. She felt incredibly sorry all of a sudden that Flandre had to be kept downstairs, but… If Flandre knew that she was being imprisoned; if Flandre knew what she was missing -- She didn't know what would happen, but it would not be good for any of them.
"For not bringing you toys sooner," Remilia finished.
"Oh, that's okay!" Flandre cried, seeming relieved. "White-hair lady brings me toys sometimes. But she gets mad 'cause sometimes I break them. I always say sorry but she gets mad. She says I 'frustrate' her or something. I forget exactly."
"Well," Remilia muttered. "I guess I'll have to have a talk with her."
Smiling blithely and not realizing that she had caused Sakuya to be in trouble, Flandre exclaimed, "Mmkay!" Her voice lowered suddenly and she backed out of the hug, poking her sister's stomach. "Hey -- hey! Re-Remi, um -- Your voice -- You seem like -- Are you going away now?"
After a few moments of thought, Remilia asked, "Well… do you want me to leave?"
"Oh, no, of course not! I -- I just -- I thought you sounded like -- I'm sorry." Flandre gave her best frown and Remilia smiled a little, patting her on the head.
"Don't be sorry, Flan. I --" She looked around at the disgusting basement. Dried blood was everywhere and she shuddered to see it all go to waste as wall-paint. "Can you control yourself before you 'kyu' something?"
"Oh yes," Flandre answered, clasping her hands together as if excited that she would be asked about her powers. "See, everything has an eye, right? It's like the center. I think."
"Right, right," Remilia murmured, knowing vaguely what her sister meant.
"And then, like, I take their eye! It's in my hand, and I say 'kyuuu --'" A nearby toy exploded. "Oh! Sorry. But, but, I say 'kyu' and then it goes 'kaboom!'" She threw her arms into the air for emphasis.
"I see," Remilia replied, thinking furiously. "Hey Flan… Do you want to have a sleepover?"
"What's sleepover?" she asked, looking confused by the new concept.
"It's when -- it's when people sleep in someone else's room for the night and they have a party. I… I can invite Patchouli as well, and we can stay up all day and drink tea and, well, whatever else people do at sleepovers."
Suddenly her smile widened into a grin and Flandre jumped up and down a few times, taking Remilia's hands in hers. "Really, Remi? Really? You'll come sleep with me in here?"
Shaking her head patiently, Remilia smiled: "No, Flan. We're going to go up to my room for the sleepover. I'll have Sakuya make us that candied blood tea you like so much."
"Oh, Remi, big sister!" Flandre shouted, still jumping up and down. "Oh Remi! I'm so happy! I -- I --" Her hands opened and she shrieked happily, "Kyuuu!"
Just then every toy Marisa had brought them exploded.