Two stooges, a vampire, and an elegant maid are in a bathroom. Sound like a setup for a joke? It is.
I've come to the conclusion that Cirno makes even the most mundane tasks funny.
Step Three: Keeping it Together
Remilia grumbled audibly as she tossed and turned in her king sized bed. She was making full use of its size this day as she was determined to explore every square inch of the bed until she found the perfect comfortable spot to fall asleep on. Unfortunately for her, the sun had already risen to its highest point in the sky, and she was beginning to think that sleep would not be coming to her that day.
It was her own fault, Remilia had to admit.
She was excited… too excited to even think about sleep. Yet, she had tried. In spite of the adrenaline pumping through her veins, Remilia had foolishly sought out the elusive comforts of a good day's sleep. Regardless, even with the assistance of a pitch black room, the most comfortable western styled bed she could buy, and her secret full body pillow which existence was known to only her head made aside from herself, sleep did not come to her no matter how hard she tried.
At least she had her thoughts to keep her from the monotony of lying in her bed doing nothing for hours on end, which, in hindsight, probably wasn't helping her in her search for unconsciousness, but it made the lack thereof certainly more bearable.
Remilia's mind dreamed, though unfortunately not literally, of what was to come. It had been merely one day… one solitary day since she took her first steps in obtaining what she so desired, and already she was becoming anxious. Her mind was filled with the end result she was working so carefully towards. Barely a day since realizing her own feelings and they had already consumed her.
She wanted Reimu… needed Reimu, and she needed her soon. Remilia wanted the miko's warm smile to be the first thing she saw every evening and the last thing she saw every morning. She wanted Reimu to belong to her as she would belong to the shrine maiden, but that possibility still felt so painfully far away.
Remilia's will was breaking. She knew that. Yet, she had to stay focused. No matter how badly she wanted Reimu, she couldn't simply take her on a whim without a second thought. Oh, but she wanted to. She desperately wanted to. How nice it would be if Reimu were hers right now, if the shrine maiden were in her arms instead of the pillow she held tightly. Just thinking about it forced an uncharacteristic bush to creep onto the blue haired girl's cheeks as she buried her head into the softness of the pillow, wishing that the softness came from Reimu's hair instead.
This wasn't like her at all, Remilia mused. She was vexed… Reimu had vexed her beyond salvation. Her nobility, her pride, her wealth, all would be readily cast aside if but for a taste of a certain red-white clad shrine maiden's love. Such inclinations were unbefitting the mistress of the Scarlet Devil Mansion, she knew, but she would not… could not deny her true feelings now that she had come to acknowledge them.
It had been easier the previous day, Remilia remembered. These feelings had not attacked her that night, instead sleep came swiftly as her desire to forget the kiss Yukari forced upon her Reimu overcame her. But now that plan had been put in motion and her goal just that much close to being within reach, these feelings assaulted her relentlessly without any hint to an end. Now that she was set on achieving her goal, it was all that plagued her mind. During the night, her thoughts were of the plan, and her necessary duties to carry it out. Yet now, during the day when she had naught to do but sleep, her mind would not release her. She felt the pain of longing as she hugged her pillow close to her chest and impatience grew. Yet, she reminded herself not to allow her impatience to cause her judgment to falter.
The plan was set, and Act II of their play was to begin justly. All that remained was for the final actress to take her true place as the lead.
And yet, a question echoed through the noble vampire's mind as she fought off her own anxiousness. From now until her dreams became reality, would every day be as sleepless as this one? How long would it be until Reimu was at her side to fell her newfound torment?
Hopefully not long, indeed.
Remilia let out an angry groan as she rolled onto her back, finally letting go of her full body pillow. Several hours had passed, and still sleep eluded her. She was certain now that nothing would come of the daylight, at least nothing that involved sleep. She felt tired, groggy, and irritable, yet still her heart beat as if in the midst of battle as her mind thought of her precious Reimu. It seemed her thoughts were permanently colored red and white.
"I feel like I've wasted an entire day," Remilia spoke out loud to her empty room before letting out a long sigh. "But I suppose sleeping, in itself, would be only slightly more productive than this." The blue haired girl glanced towards her window, praying to see moonlight, or at least traces of a setting sun.
It seemed her own fate, ironically, enjoyed laughing in her face. From what little of the sun Remilia could see through her new, thick curtains, she estimated that the time was roughly still three in the afternoon.
Remilia frowned deeply as she bit her lip. She wasn't an expert in the sun, mind you, but she had been told, though she could not remember by whom, how to at least estimate the time by it. Even if her prediction was off, it still did not change the fact that sunset was still hours away.
Honestly, she might as well just get out of bet now. It wasn't as if she were going to get any sort of sleep any time soon, and even if she did manage to fall asleep, she would only be able to enjoy a few mere hours before Sakuya came to wake her. That was barely enough time to dream of which she longed for, let alone reenergize herself. Yes, unfortunately she had passed the point where sleep became viable and entered into a point where it was but a pipe dream.
What a cruel world Gensokyo was.
With one final groan, Remilia gathered up what she could of her energy and reluctantly rolled out of bed…
…and onto the floor, apparently. Obviously the blue haired girl was more tired than she thought. But this floor… Remilia rubbed her cheek against the plush carpet and sighed. The floor was quite comfortable in its own right. Perhaps she could…
No! No. Remilia mentally slapped herself before pushing herself off of the floor abruptly. Even as lovesick as she was, she still had her dignity… at least for now. Sleeping on the floor was far too unbecoming of her, and she refused to stoop so low. Besides, she had already gone over the fact that there was not enough time remaining in the day for her to enjoy a proper day's sleep. She was better off starting her night now, even if the sun still floated there… mocking her.
"You're lucky Reimu likes you," Remilia groggily grumbled towards the window. "You wouldn't be so fortunate if it were up to me."
Oh dear, lack of sleep had jumbled her mind and she was now talking to inanimate objects. What she needed was a nice, long bath then a cup…. many cups of coffee. Sakuya's talk about healthiness be damned.
"Harder Cirno," a muffled voice panted heavily. "We're almost there."
Remilia stood outside the mansion's bathroom with her jaw hanging agape as her hand hovered over the doorknob frozen in place. Had… she just heard correctly or was her lack of sleep causing her to become delusional as well. Though neither was preferable, she desperately hoped it was the latter.
"I'm… ugh," Cirno's muffed voice called out from within the bathroom. "I'm trying as hard as I can. Isn't there something you can guys can do?"
"I'm… sorry Cirno," another voice panted, this one causing Remilia's hand to jerk away from the door. That voice belonged to Sakuya. "I'm afraid we won't be much help from this position."
"Just keep trying," reassured the original voice, which Remilia now placed as Hong Meiling's. "We're getting close. I can tell."
Oh god… What was going on in there?
"Shut up!" Cirno spat. "I'm the one doing all the work here. Here I am working my tail off while you two just have to relax and stay put."
"Relax?!?" Meiling scoffed. "I think my hands are frozen to this thing!"
"Quit whining and hold on," Cirno yelled angrily. "I've almost got this thing secure."
Oh… so they weren't… Yes, she was definitely far too tired for her own good if she had thought those three were doing that. But… what were they doing in there, anyway? With curiosity getting the better of her, Remilia reached out and pushed open the door.
"Got it!" Cirno cheered from the ceiling as she slowly floated backwards to admire her work. "You guys are lucky I'm awesome. No one else could have done something this cool."
"Yea, cool," Meiling grumbled, panicking slightly. "That explains why I can't let go of this thing. I think I'm stuck!"
Remilia let out a loud sigh of relief at the sight before her.
A lavish, seemingly golden chandelier now hung from the bathroom ceiling, reflecting enough light to give the room a golden hue. Remilia was so awe struck by the new addition that she barely noticed that her three servants were all hovering in the air around the fixture as well. Well… Sakuya and Cirno were the ones hovering. Meiling seemed to be hanging helplessly from the chandelier by her hands, which seemed to be frozen directly to the fixture.
Wait a minute. She was frozen?
"Is that ice?" Remilia couldn't help but wonder out loud, finally alerting the servant trio to her presence.
"My lady!" Sakuya let out a small gasp as her eyes shot downward to the doorway, not expecting the vampire to be awake so early. In the blink of an eye, she flew downward, landing at her mistress's side, assuming something to be the matter. "Is there something amiss, Mistress Remilia?"
"I'm feeling fairly amiss, myself, right about now," Meiling cried from above.
"What's going on?" Remilia questioned, her own curiosity outweighing any concern for the helpless gate guard at the moment.
"We made ice!" Cirno posed with her hands on her hips and she boasted proudly. "It works just like you asked. Do you like it?"
Just like she asked? Now that the ice fairy mentioned it, Remilia suddenly felt rather cool. It was a nice cool, a comfortable cool. It was a pleasant contrast to the far too warm Gensokyo spring. As the noble vampire glanced around the room in awe, she began to notice several other ice formations hanging from the ceiling and along the walls.
They looked more like decorations rather than ice. In fact, some even seemed to disappear if she didn't look directly at them.
How marvelous. Remilia had been dreading hanging icicles, but these… these frozen additions looked as if they belonged.
"They're magnificent," Remilia allowed a genuine smile as she glanced between Sakuya and Cirno. "How did you manage to give the ice such color?"
"Still hanging here."
"It's fairly simple, my lady," Sakuya bowed, though it seemed to Remilia that her bow consisted of a great deal more pride than merely the amount she took in serving her. "I asked Cirno to demonstrate her abilities so that I could better understand how she manages to create ice seemingly out of nothing."
"The little brat wanted to show off to Sakuya by fighting me again," Meiling laughed, in spite of her situation. "I kicked her ass. Trounced her, I tell ya!"
"Shut up you stupid hangman," Cirno kicked the helpless gate guard in the back as hard as she could, which was fairly light by most standards.
"What part of me is a man?!?"
"At any rate," Sakuya continued, "I was confused at how Cirno could create ice without the use of a water medium at first, but after observing her powers for some time, I came to the conclusion that she manages to gather and freeze the moisture in the air to create ice rather than freeze liquid itself. From there, I decided to provide her with a liquid medium containing large amounts of colored dye to see if she could freeze it."
"And this is the result?" Remilia asked.
Sakuya frowned slightly before leaned in closely to her Mistress and whispering so that only she could hear. "After a few hours of attempts, yes. It seems as if Cirno possessed no prior knowledge of exactly how her powers worked. Rather, she used them entirely on instinct. Her first attempts at freezing a large portion of water met with distressing failure. Cirno even proclaimed the task impossible at first. From this, I have come to believe that she houses a great deal more potential than even she realizes. If she is taught, she can become an asset to you."
"I will leave that decision to you," Remilia nodded, earning the same from her head maid. "Though, if you do undergo such a task, I would suggest working on her attitude first, rather than her intellect. It would be troublesome if she became too much of an uncontrolled variable in the future."
"As you wish, my lady."
"Ack!" Meiling cried. "It's starting to feel like I'm about to lose the skin on my palms."
"Hmm…" Sakuya broke away from Remilia and floated up towards the chandelier. As Meiling continued to kick the air beneath her wildly, Sakuya examined the gate guard's hands as she rubbed her chin inquisitively. "I find it quite odd that you've managed to get yourself into this predicament," the head maid observed. "Certainly when we both held the fixture in place it felt cold, but not enough freeze flesh in place like this. Perhaps your side was simply colder than mine."
"Oh that's rich," Meiling shot back sarcastically. "You're telling me this giant thing, something entirely made of ice mind you, has one side colder than the other? I don't believe it. Not unless someone did it on pu-" The gate guards lips pursed suddenly as her eye began to twitch in irritation. Slowly, she glanced back over her shoulder towards a certain mischievous fairy.
Cirno was floating with her hands behind her head as she whistled an innocent tune to herself.
"Oh you think you're funny, don't you," Meiling spat angrily. "Just wait until I get down from here!"
"Looks like you can't dodge now, can you?" Cirno laughed. "I think I'm feeling up for another round of danmaku right about now. What do ya say? The strongest always beats the cheaters in the end, after all!"
Remilia supposed she should step in to defuse the situation, as tedious of a task as that sounded. As impressed with their work as the noble vampire was, she couldn't very well take a bath with them in the room. Though she had to admit, the ice fairy had outdone herself with these ice decorations, and she obviously deserved to have a little fun. However, her own desires came first. She needed them out.
"Cirno," Remilia called out with forced patience, "do you think you could let her down, now? I'm sure she's already spent enough time away from her post at the front gate, wouldn't you agree?"
"Fine," Cirno crossed her arms and pouted cutely. However, a devilish grin suddenly appeared on the fairy face and she held up one hand mischievously. Without warning, she snapped her fingers suddenly, and sent the unaware gate guard tumbling to the floor.
"Gahumph!" Meiling groaned as she lay flat on the hard, tiled floor.
"Hah ha!" Cirno snickered, clutching her sides tightly. "I can't believe you fell. Idiot. Idiot! Don't you remember how to fly?"
Meiling's eyes shot open and she glared daggers up at the impish fairy. "You know I'm going to k-" She stopped suddenly before tilting her head to the side with a humorous smirk. "Are those blue, snowflake panties?" The gate guard laughed, causing Cirno to blush vibrant red as her hands shot down, clutching her dress tightly to her in a feeble attempt to hide her undergarments from view. Realizing that Meiling's laughter only intensified the more she failed to cover herself, Cirno allowed herself to quickly drop to the floor with an angry scowl.
"Pervert," Cirno spat.
"Twerp!" Meiling countered as she made her way to her feet. "But seriously," she continued with her previous glare after having risen from the floor, "you know I'm going to kill you, right?"
"He he… he," Cirno laughed nervously as she eyed the very angry gate guard. "About that… gotta go!" She yelled behind her as she hurriedly flew out the door and down the hallway.
"Come back here, brat!" Meiling yelled out as she quickly gave chase, leaving Remilia and Sakuya alone in the bathroom.
Remilia stared at the now empty doorway, failing miserably to hide her smirk. "How odd." That duo was proving to be most entertaining together. Perhaps if she were ever to feel the need for some comic relief, she could assign Cirno as an assistant gate guard for a day. That situation was bound to provide results. Nevertheless, comic relief was not what she had come here for. Shrugging her shoulders, Remilia repressed her smile and turned to face her elegant maid.
"Run me a bath, will you Sakuya."
"Certainly, my lady."
Remilia let out a low moan as she stretched while soaking in her warm bath, enjoying the soft tingle of the added bathing salts at work. This was exactly what she needed.
Aside from days when she was blessed with the opportunity to have tea alone with Reimu, bathing was the vampire's absolute favorite time of day. Today was especially pleasant, the noble vampire noted. The contrast between the steamy water, the tingling salts, and the cooled air combined to form what she considered her new personal paradise.
It was the simple irony of the action that Remilia enjoyed the most, though. Some cultures still foolishly believed water to be a vampire's weakness, and here she was soaking herself in it with the only adverse effect it appeared to have on her was her pruned fingertips. Perhaps she should have Sakuya cook a dish using garlic this evening so that she could savor it using her collection of silver tableware. That would be the icing on the cake.
Humans could be so ridiculous at times when it came to their unconditional fear of those stronger than them, though Reimu had been different. Whether she had simply been unaware of the various myths revolving around a vampire's weakness or simply didn't believe them in the first place, the shrine maiden hadn't hesitated to serve her tea or offer her various snacks that contained garlic.
Then again, it was entirely possible that Reimu had intentionally been trying to kill her when she first starting visiting her shrine. Though, such an underhanded tactic was unlikely coming from the miko. She possessed power greater than her own, so covert methods were unnecessary. If the she wanted her dead, she could simply do so herself. Reimu was obviously not afraid to get her hands dirty, not after not showing any inkling of hesitation of jumping into the fray whenever an incident occurred.
Remilia frowned slightly, both from the rather unpleasant train of thought and from the realization that the soothing tingle of the bathing salts Sakuya had added had begun to subside substantially. "Have I really been in here that long?" She wondered out loud. Surely if her pruned fingertips were any indication, she had, though it hadn't felt like it. Perhaps she had merely been so relaxed that she lost track of the time. She certainly no longer felt as tired and irritated as she had earlier that day, though the bath itself was most likely responsible for that.
Regardless, the noble vampire did not feel ready to get out of the comforting waters just yet. However, if she was going to remain submerged in the bath, she was going to need more bathing salts.
"Now, where does Sakuya keep those salts?" Remilia wondered to herself as her eyes scanned the large bathroom until they landed on a medium white cylinder on top of a counter. "There you are." The blue haired girl smiled to herself briefly before her expressed changed to a small frown. Sakuya had placed the bathing salts on the counter all the way across the room.
So close and yet so far… Not worth the effort, Remilia mentally shrugged.
True, she could simply get out of the bath and walk across the room to reach the item, but… that would require getting out of the bath. Waning bathing salts or not, Remilia was much too comfortable to even consider such an action.
"I suppose I can do without them," Remilia mumbled to herself as she turned over on her side and nuzzled into the cold, metal brim of the bath. This was nearly as comfortable as the carpet in her room, she thought. She could almost fall asleep right here.
A gentle knock at the door prevented the vampire from testing her theory, though. "Lady Remilia," Sakuya's muffled voice echoed from behind the hardwood door. "Are you still in there?
"I am," Remilia sighed. She supposed she really had been in the bath for longer than she thought if Sakuya were checking up on her.
"May I come in?"
"Of course," the noble vampire shrugged nonchalantly before stretching herself out in the bath once again. She held no qualms about Sakuya seeing her in her current state of undress. The situation might have been embarrassing for her if it was anyone other that Sakuya, though. She trusted very few people in Gensokyo as much as she did her head maid.
Wordlessly and as if it were the most natural thing in the world, Sakuya quickly let herself in and strode swiftly over to her naked Mistress's side. "I've brought you a towel and a change of clothes," she spoke softly as she placed the items on top of a nearby counter. "It seems you neglected to collect either as you left your room."
"I was tired," Remilia admitted truthfully. "I wasn't able to get any sleep today."
"It's important to always find time for a good day's rest, no matter how anxious you might feel about what is to come," the elegant, silver haired woman smiled knowingly.
"I know, I know," Remilia crossed her arms over her chest and turned away with a huff. "Is there anything else?"
"May I wash your hair, Mistress?" Sakuya asked, already kneeling down and reaching for the shampoo.
"You may," the vampire relented knowing Sakuya would start with or without her consent.
A slight frown began to form on Sakuya's lips as she massaged the shampoo onto her mistress's scalp. "When is the last time you washed your hair, my lady? It is rather tangled and unkempt."
Remilia scoffed silently. Of course she would notice.
"Not long ago," the noble vampire lied.
"I see," Sakuya nodded, though it was clear from her tone that she was well aware of her employer's lie.
In truth, Remilia hated tending to her hair. It was just such a hassle when compared to the otherwise leisurely experience of a normal bath. She had relatively short hair, unlike her maid, so one wouldn't normally think the act would take that much effort, but the noble girl hated it nonetheless. The last time her hair had been washed like this was… well… Sakuya had done it over a week ago.
"You really should take better care of your hair, mistress," Sakuya gently chided. "Someone other than yourself might want to enjoy feel it one of these days."
Remilia blushed at the implication and averted her gaze, though noting her maid's valid point nonetheless. Out of the corner of her eye, Remilia could just make out the objects Sakuya had brought into the room with her; perfume and…
"That's not my usual attire," the blue haired girl observed with slightly narrowed eyes. Something was going on.
"I thought you might wish to dress more formally tonight, considering the circumstances," Sakuya explained.
Formally? That meant a long, black dress with a deep, red coat. And perfume?
"Circumstances?" Remilia questioned curiously.
"Lady Marisa arrived a few moments ago," Sakuya explained as she scrubbed the back of Remilia's scalp thoroughly. "Aside from this main bathroom, we have only been able to make use of Cirno's abilities in a few other rooms thus far. The dining room has not been altered as of yet, so I served the guests tea in the lounge instead."
"Guests?" Remilia smiled pleasantly. She was beginning to understand Sakuya's choice in clothing. "I see."
"Yes, my lady." Sakuya nodded as she filled a bucket with water. "There are two. Lady Marisa is here to see Flandre once again, though I informed her that she should wait and seek your permission to wake your sister before doing so rashly."
"I would be surprised if she hadn't taken the liberty of doing so already," Remilia smirked.
"As would I," the head maid agreed, "but I thought it best to properly instruct her in hopes that she would nevertheless comply, though the likelihood is slim."
"And the other one?" Remilia inquired, though she was certain now that she knew the answer.
"The other one," Sakuya said as she dumped the bucket of warm water over her mistress's head, washing away the shampoo suds, "is someone I believe you have been expecting."
As the water cascaded down her drenched hair and over her face, Remilia allowed her existing grin to widen significantly.
"Thank you for tending to my hair, Sakuya. I believe I can wash the rest of myself from here," Remilia said, earning a nod from her maid as she stood to her feet. "I believe your time would be better spent with our guests," she continued. "Make them feel at home until I arrive. I won't be long."
"As you wish, Mistress," Sakuya bowed before turning to leave.
As her maid exited the room, Remilia reached over and grasped the bottle of shampoo Sakuya had used on her just moments before.
Considering the circumstances, once more couldn't hurt.
Remilia stood hesitantly in front of the large double doors that led to her lounge. As she brushed the wrinkles out of her long, black dress, she couldn't help but suddenly feel self-conscious about her appearance. She certainly did not wear such formal attire often, considering how limited her movements felt while wearing it. As a vampire, Remilia knew how swiftly battle could erupt. Feeling so vulnerable as she did now was not a feeling she was accustomed to.
"The Mistress should be arriving shortly," she heard Sakuya explain from beyond the doors.
She was beginning to feel slightly voyeuristic with how often she found herself listening in from behind the safety of a door these days. With the situation occurring once yesterday and twice so far today, she just hoped the pattern did not continue further. Her head maid would never approve such a bad habit, after all
"Hope she gets here soon, ze," the familiar, rude voice of Marisa grumbled. "I'm getting tired of waiting for that lazy vOUCH! Where do you keep those things?!" The witch cried, undoubtedly nursing her side. "I knew I should have left while you were gone," Remilia barely heard her mumble.
"You have no one to blame but yourself," an… utterly angelic voice rang from the other side of the doors. Oh, Remilia was feeling even more self-conscious now that there was no question as to who was awaiting her. She wished she had more time to properly dry her hair. "It was your idea to come so early."
"Hey! She said I could," Marisa countered. "She told me I could come whenever I wanted."
"That I did," Remilia called out after thrusting open the large, double doors. Self-conscious or not, the noble vampire couldn't resist a perfectly timed entrance. It was just so… her. "An early good evening to both of you," she smiled warmly at her guests.
"Nice threads, ze," Marisa grinned as she raised a hand in greeting, still half cautiously eyeing Sakuya, trying to see where exactly she was putting away that knife.
"Good evening, Remilia," Reimu gave a stolid smile as she sipped her tea, which the silver haired maid most likely provided beforehand. "I like what you've done with the place."
"Yea," the white-black clad witch added. "I like all these new decorations you've got going on in here, but how do you have it feeling so nice?"
"Oh?" Remilia raised an eyebrow humorously. "I don't believe I've ever shown you this lounge, Marisa. I wonder how you're so keenly aware of the difference."
"Ah… So about Flan," the witch changed the topic swiftly. "I hope she doesn't mind me showing up with a black eye still," she pointed at the bruised patch of skin around her right eye. "Reimu didn't let me stop by Eirin's place to snatch something for it."
"One of you has to be responsible," Remilia chuckled. "But I don't believe Flandre will have a problem with it. I'm sure she'll simply be elated that you're even here again. I'm afraid she wasn't in the best of emotional states when she left for bed earlier this morning. We convinced her not to blame herself, but she might be a bit distressed when you appear before her still missing your trademark hat," the noble vampire pointed at Marisa's unencumbered head.
"Yea," Marisa sighed. "Alice said she'd try to fix it soon, but she's been obsessing over Medicine lately. Medicine's not too keen on her yet, but Alice is a firm believer in 'persistence pays off.' It'll probably be a few days before she gets around to it, ze."
"That is a shame," Reimu spoke, looking down at her tea instead of at her friend. "Perhaps you should learn to watch where you're going more closely from now on, especially when you play with the little sister."
"Yea, yea," Marisa brushed off. "Sorry to have worried you, Mom."
"You're hopeless," Reimu scoffed quietly.
"Nah. You just worry too much," the blonde haired magic user teased before turning back to their hostess. "Mind if I head out and track down little Flan? I just can't sit in one place for too long."
"Of course," Remilia nodded. "Sakuya, would you mind escorting Marisa to the basement?"
"Not at all, my lady," the head maid bowed elegantly.
"I don't need an escort, ze," Marisa objected as she stood to her feet.
"I believe the mistress is well aware of how expertly acquainted with this mansion's layout you are," Sakuya explained as she pulled out her knife once again. "I am merely accompanying you to make sure you arrive at the basement safely and not some… other… destination by mistake."
"Ah… I see," Marisa laughed nervously. "So… I guess we should head out, then."
"After you, Lady Marisa," Sakuya bowed, clutching the knife mischievously.
Remilia chuckled softly to herself as she watched Sakuya usher out the evidently disappointed witch. It seemed Marisa had opted to arrive early in hopes of stopping by the library before Flandre woke. How disappointed she must be right about now. Patchouli would be happy to note that Sakuya was making it a priority to keep Marisa in line as best she could.
"You didn't tell me you asked Marisa to spend time with Flandre," Reimu stated flatly, interrupting the blue haired girl's thoughts. The miko did not look up at her hostess, but instead continued to stare at her half empty cup of tea. "Imagine my surprise when she came by the shrine this morning sporting a black eye and sans her trademark hat."
Oh dear. As expected, she was angry. Any good friend would be in this situation, Remilia admitted. Yet, she was well aware of this possibility, and was confident that she could overcome such a disadvantage. If she worked carefully, she could even turn it into an advantage.
"I assume Marisa has already explained to you why I asked her to spend more quality time with my sister from now on," the noble vampire stated questioningly.
"She did," the shrine maiden nodded, "right after she explained just how exactly she got hurt."
Remilia sighed as she examined the obviously angry miko. It was necessary to take a step backwards in order to continue moving forwards. She only wished it needn't be, though.
"I am sorry that you had to find out this way," Remilia apologized as she took her seat in an adjacent chair. "And I see that you are upset that Marisa was hurt while helping on my own behest, and for that, I apologize as well."
"As you should," Reimu nodded sternly.
"However, I cannot apologize for requesting her assistance in the first place," Remilia stood firm. "Flandre is the most receptive to Marisa aside from myself, and I needed someone else here to help calm my sister down if things get out of hand."
"And I wouldn't be a good choice for that?"
"No, you would, normally," Remilia sighed. "It's just that Marisa has spent more time with Flandre since the incident with the mist. You've never played with her aside from the one time you fought her. Yes, you would be up for the task, but Flandre trusts Marisa more, and Marisa knows the progress my sister has made since your first encounter with her."
"I am aware of that," Reimu leaned back in her chair and stared at the ceiling. "Marisa talks about her all the time when she's freeloading off of me."
"Then, I hope you can understand-"
"I do understand," Reimu frowned as she lowered her head to look at the vampire next to her. "I just don't understand why you didn't tell me. I thought we were closer than this. Why didn't you tell me?"
"That… was a mistake," Remilia admitted. "I am sorry. I was only thinking of Flandre's sake, and admittedly I overlooked the most important detail," she partially lied. The majority of it had been for this very conversation. She had overlooked nothing. In fact, she had counted on Reimu showing up like this. It was all to get her here in this very room, in that very seat, drinking that very tea, saying those very things. Now, she just had to find a way to get the miko to stay. "If you're uncertain or if you're worried, you're more than welcome to come with Marisa from now on and watch over the two of them. I know you must be hurt, Reimu, but for Flandre's sake, please forgive me."
Reimu let out a long sigh as she once again leaned back in her chair and began to stare at the new ornaments hanging from the ceiling again. "Is that Cirno's work?"
"Reimu…" Remilia said tentatively. "Forgive me."
"It feels like Cirno's doing, but it looks like you got her to do it on purpose. No wonder it felt so nice and cool in here."
"It's alright. It's alright. I forgive you," Reimu threw her hands up into the air in defeat before glancing at the vampire apologetically.
"I'm the one who should be sorry. I… I don't even know why I'm acting like this. I knew you didn't have any bad intentions, and it's not like I can't trust you and Marisa to handle things on your own. I just… I've just been so frustrated all day."
No… No, this wasn't how things were supposed to go, Remilia began to inwardly panic. The plan… the plan was to have Marisa spend time with Flandre until she inevitably got hurt. There was no avoiding that. It was bound to happen, especially since Marisa was here for Flandre's sake, the witch would end up holding back. Marisa being hurt would prompt Reimu to make her grand appearance. Remilia would then convince Reimu to forgive her and also talk her into coming to the mansion more often to make sure nothing went out of hand. Cirno's ice was extra incentive to make "more often" change into "every day" in order for Reimu to have an excuse to get out of the hot sun.
That was the plan! Reimu forgiving her so easily wasn't the plan. It… felt nice, sure, but that wasn't the point. If… If Reimu didn't feel like there was anything wrong, then there would be no reason for her to stay. That… that wasn't what she wanted. Remilia's mind began to move swiftly as her eyes darted back and fort erratically. She had to figure out a way to salvage this.
Reimu let out another sigh before continuing. "Before Marisa arrived this morning, Yukari woke me up to talk."
Damn that old hag! What did she do? This was her fault!
"She's been adamant about…" The miko began rubbing her arms together bashfully. "Well she's been telling me that she… Oh for crying out loud. Everyone in Gensokyo is gay, aren't they?" She yelled, tossing her hands into the air once again.
Remilia blinked… then blinked again. What?
"I… uh," the blue haired vampire stuttered. "I suppose that is the case, for the most part."
"Yukari kissed me the other day," Reimu explained, not noticing how Remilia's grip on the arm of her chair tightened at its mention. "Ever since then, I haven't been able to get it out of my head."
"So…" Oh god. Remilia felt like she was about to bite her tongue. "Do you like Yukari?" She was going to vomit.
"No!" The shrine maiden hastily replied. "At least I don't think so."
Oh thank god.
"I've never actually looked at her like that, or anyone for that matter, man or woman. I don't know if I even like girls."
You will when I'm through with you, Remilia thought as she slowed her breathing to its normal rate. She was calming down now. She just had to keep her cool and reply carefully. All was not lost quite yet. In fact, this might actually be better.
"But now that it's on my mind," Reimu continued, "I can't stop noticing it everywhere. The youkai… they're all gay, aren't they?"
Remilia barely managed to nod.
"I… guess it should have been obvious," Reimu gulped down the remainder of her tea in a vain attempt to soothe her own nerves. "They're all girls after all. The closest guy around is Rinnosuke, and when you consider that… well… I suppose it's not a far fetched idea… being gay."
Remilia would have laughed at that if she were not in such a pragmatic state. Poor Rinnosuke. If he were any other guy, Gensokyo would be paradise. Even being a half youkai didn't win him any favor, though.
"I suppose you have a point," Remilia allowed a small smirk, though it took most of her effort to not outwardly show her current state of distress.
"I mean, now that I look back on it," Reimu thought aloud, "it makes a whole lot of sense. That would explain why Youmu is so devoted to Yuyuko, or how unconditionally devoted Eirin is to Kaguya."
Okay. Remilia took a deep breath. At least it seemed Reimu didn't have a problem with such relationships. She could work with this.
"Or how Sakuya is so devoted to you."
What? No… NO… NO!
"NO!" Remilia practically yelled in protest. "We're not like that! She's my servant!"
"You mean you're not gay?" Reimu questioned with slight disbelief. "I suppose that makes sense, too. You're not originally from Gensokyo, after all."
"No! I am! I mean…" Remilia sighed as she buried her face in her hands. She had lost control. She had to stop. She needed a break. She could still regain control, though, but she needed to breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
The noble vampire took a series of long, deep breaths, ignoring the concerned look on the shrine maiden's face. Calm down… calm down… calm down.
"I've lived a long time, Reimu," Remilia explained having lifted her face from the protection of her hands. "I've learned that the heart might not grow fond of merely the opposite gender. However, Sakuya and I are not fond of each other in that way."
"But you two seem so close," Reimu frowned.
"We are close," Remilia explained, desperately hoping she could correctly convey the right thoughts to the miko. "I trust her as much as I trust you. Not a day goes by when I don't appreciate everything she's done for me. However, appreciation does not equate to that type of affection. I am fond of her, yes, but only as a friend."
"So, you only see her as a friend?"
"Yes," Remilia nodded, thankful that she had been able to smoothly deal with such a severe misunderstanding. That could have ruined everything.
"What if she were to tell you that she liked you?" Reimu questioned as she hugged her legs to her chest solemnly. "What if she kissed you? What if she told you she loved you?"
Remilia saw where this was going. This… yes, she could work with this.
"I would feel awkward," Remilia answered truthfully. "If I didn't feel the same, it would be difficult to look past it, especially since we see each other every day."
"And what if she was persistent? What if she kept pushing the issue even when you refused her?"
"Then I would repeat myself," Remilia stated matter-of-factly. "Over and over again, as many times as it took. However, I would work equally as hard to maintain our friendship. I care about it far too greatly to see it fall."
She wasn't about to tell the poor girl to stop being friends with Yukari. It was a cherished friendship, and this conversation had made her realize that the comparison hit rather close to home. Friends Remilia could deal with, but she wasn't about to give Reimu to Yukari as a lover.
"I see," Reimu leaned back to stare at the ceiling again as she rocked back and forth. "Yukari likes me."
"But you don't like her," Remilia stated.
"No," Reimu sighed, "I don't want to lose her as a friend, but she keeps forcing the subject. She even kissed me again, today."
That bitch, Remilia thought as her eyes narrowed dangerously. She was glad Reimu wasn't looking at her to notice.
"I told her I didn't see her that way, but she kissed me anyway," Reimu frowned.
Perhaps that had been her fault, Remilia pondered. It was possible that her declaration of war had drove Yukari to act out of desperation. It was regrettable that now Yukari had two kisses in her favor, but considering Reimu's reaction, perhaps she could use the situation to her advantage as she initially intended.
"I don't think she's going to give up that easily. It'd," the shrine maiden sighed again as her frown deepened. "It'd be easier if I actually did like her, I think. She's nice… most of the time, and I enjoy being around her. I just think everything would be better if I liked her back."
"But you don't like her," Remilia stated plainly. She'd never allow Yukari to talk Reimu into a relationship, and she damn well wasn't about to let the girl talk herself into one.
"I know… But-"
"Have you eaten, dear?" Remilia asked, changing the subject. In truth, her mind was drawing a blank as to how to properly deal with this situation.
"No… I don't think I have today," Reimu's stomach let out a sudden, audible grumble.
"I think your body's saying you definitely haven't," Remilia chuckled, trying to cheer up the miko, if only a little. "Come along, Reimu," the noble vampire stood to her feet and extended a hand to the still seated girl. "Let's head to the kitchen and see if we can't find you something to eat."
Reimu looked up at the vampire with solemn eyes before reaching out an accepting her hand. "Okay," she said softly before allowing her hostess to pull her to her feet. As she was led out of the room, however, she called out barely above a whisper.
"I'm glad… that I can rely on you."
Remilia clutched at her heart with her free hand. "So am I, dear. So am I."
How was she going to deal with this? The noble vampire mentally sighed as she led the distraught maiden towards her kitchen. She honestly had no idea. One thing was for certain, though.
She needed a new plan.
So, I start every chapter by writing out an outline of what I want to get done, then I rewrite the outline to include more detail and smaller tidbits that I'd like to add. After that, I begin writing the actual chapter. This, however, is absolutely nothing like the outline I laid out. I started writing, and this is what came out. For better or for worse, I stuck with it. It seems I wanted to write Remilia in a slightly better light this time around. It's going to make connecting it to what I have planned for the rest of the story an interesting task, to say the least.
I kinda poked fun at Rinnosuke a bit in this chapter. Admittedly, I know very little about him, but I figure it's okay to express a bit of creative freedom regarding him since this is a fanfic. I thought it'd be funny if all the youkai turned gay because he was their only option, and they collectively said "no thanks."
Also, I have to get this out. It's freaking hard to write interaction between two characters whose names both start with Re. It's far too easy to get them mixed up, especially when they also both have an m and an i in their name. Remi and Reim. Dear god, kill me now. I would not be shocked if you told me I've already mixed them up at one point so far in the fic, though I've managed to catch a lot of my mistakes.