Under the scarlet sky
Chapter Ten

'Deep sea girl'


She shouldn't be crying. It's pathetic, disgraceful- especially for a real witch like her. Witches aren't meant to cry; they're emotionless monsters that always play the villain. Witches aren't meant to have feelings, right? Isn't crying breaking some kind of universal rule established in the earliest of fairytales?

Bernkastel doesn't much care about 'fairytales'. They're only stories. Stupid stories told by stupid humans who can never hope to comprehend the workings of the universe as she does- the witch of miracles who has visited many kakera.

Bernkastel has seen amazing things.

Her knowledge surpasses that of any humans' by about ten or eleven times. Even if human beings lived for thousands of years, they could never hope to hold a candle to her.

Bernkastel isn't human enough to cry.

Crying doesn't help anything.

And yet, despite this… her eyes are stinging, her throat burns and she can hardly breathe. It feels like she's going to choke- she is choking, she can hardly breathe- and the hot tears continue to course down her damp cheeks like rain down a window pane. Her blue hair mats against her wet skin; clinging to her like pond weed.

She can't stop.

It won't stop.

She has accumulated the knowledge of thousands of kakera over a thousand years- and yet Lambdadelta can still reduce her to tears like a stupid human.

How unseemly.

How… disgusting.

Bernkastel digs her fingernails into her arm, trying to distract herself with pain. Maybe this will halt the steady trickle of tears. She chants a mantra in her head, over and over again, her voice harsh; stop it stop it stop it...

But… she can't.

A cruel voice giggles inside the confines of her skull.

Kyahahaha. You're really no better than those humans you look down upon, are you?~ Where are your airs and graces nowww?~~

They're gone.

Scattered.

And her façade is broken.

Her whole body trembles like a leaf in the wind; fragile and delicate. Lambda has taken hold of her frozen heart and poked holes in it with her fingertips.

The pain of being betrayed; the pain of being nothing more than a 'piece'; the pain of being cold and lonely like a broken junked doll; the pain of trying to rid her heart of all emotion so she would never have to feel pain at all, ever again...

A thousand years of crippling agony washes through her body like a wave. It twists her heart and claws through her blood stream, her bones, her whole body, until trying to stop herself trembling seems as fruitless as telling the sun to stop rising or the wind to stop howling.

How can you keep standing when you've been crushed?

It hurts to breathe…

She can't draw breath between her tears; and still, they continue to fall. Maybe she will drown in a pool of her tears- a fitting end for a lost, lonely little girl who wore the skin of a witch for one thousand years.

Was her existence based on a lie?

Is she a lie?

"Bern..."

Lambda's voice is soft, but the feeling of her fingertips brushing Bern's pale skin, wiping tears before they can fall, is even softer. Lambdadelta's face is filled with worry... or is it pity?

Bernkastel doesn't want pity. She is the witch of miracles, the cruelest witch to ever live, and all cower from her in fear. She doesn't need friends. She only needs people who fear and revere her; because the world runs on fear and pain, doesn't it?

Bernkastel is empty, emotionless; a doll on a pedestal, removed from the feelings that afflict humanity. Bernkastel does not feel happiness or care or compassion. She does not feel grief. She cannot cry.

She cannot fall in love.

She threw those feelings away a long time ago.

…Didn't she?

Or did she merely pretend to, so the fear of being hurt by another- just like her Master did- doesn't return?

Lambdadelta's hands cup Bern's face tenderly. Her fingertips are stained with Bern's tears. The tears shimmer like snail tracks or shooting stars, but Lambda doesn't move away.

She would never move away.

She promised.

People break promises all the time- 'I'll come back for you', look how well that turned out and, w-well, Bernkastel would laugh (she has laughed) but now it doesn't feel all that funny. Now, it's just depressing.

Empty.

"I-I..." Bern's voice is quiet, like a fast-fading echo; the twentieth reverberated 'plink' of a stone thrown into a well. It's a shadow of her usual voice; not emotionless nor gleefully sadistic. Instead, it's broken.

She is broken.

...How hackneyed. How clichéd.

But those clichés don't apply to witches; never to witches. They have no human kindness about them, no pity in their hearts. The epiphanies and revelations are always left to the heroes and heroines because they have emotions. Nobody cares about what happens to the witch.

But maybe Bernkastel isn't a witch after all.

Isn't she, in the end… a lonely, lost child?

Maybe she's not so dissimilar from Beatrice after all.

"Bern, what's wrong?" Lambdadelta asks. Her words are fraught with worry.

Maybe Lambda doesn't pity Bernkastel, then- which is good. If it was pity in her voice, not worry, then Bern would press those hard candies Lambda likes so much into her red eyes until the sockets fall out and are replaced with sweets. Bernkastel is too proud to be pitied.

Even when she's crying like a useless, clumsy, inelegant human, she's still proud.

If she throws away her pride, what would she have left?

Bernkastel doesn't know why she leans against Lambda's touch, and she doesn't know why her once-frozen heart catches in her chest, and she doesn't know why she begins to talk.

She's lost.

Completely confused.

But Lambdadelta will always remain by her side, regardless. She will... never be alone.

She doesn't want to be alone.

Maybe that's why she starts talking.

Bernkastel would like to say she 'knows' Lambdadelta won't leave her, but... she can't trust that. Lambda might be the witch of 'certainty', but surely not even she keeps all of her promises. Bernkastel made the mistake of trusting Auaurora- and look how that turned out. Then again, it was probably a mistake to believe in the promise of an old, ancient witch who can barely remember her own name. Why would the fickle Auaurora remember a few fleeting words she gave to her miko as they drank umeboshi tea, twenty yen a packet, and reveled in the scent of old books and tea that perforated the dusty air?

Bernkastel doesn't want Lambda to leave- and though she hates to admit that (she's being so weak) she knows it's true. If she talks, there is a greater chance Lambda will stay by her side.

Maybe that's why the words spill from her mouth; a downpour, like torrential rain.

Or maybe she's talking because these words have been building up inside her a long time. She has been pondering this for one thousand years. That is, if you measure it in 'Earth' terms. Time passes strangely here, and six years of human heartbreak can be equivalent to one thousand- but Bernkastel is sure she's been here, in this world of white and golden butterflies, for longer than that.

Bernkastel needs to talk. She has to.

Despite the tears that still stick to her cheeks- gumming hair to her skin in a most undignified manner- her voice is calm and hollow when she speaks. It's a little disconcerting; a huge contrast to the maelstrom of emotion swarming inside her head.

Even when all her barriers have been broken, she still can't talk in anything other than a monotone calm.

"I thought I would feel... triumphant... if I discovered the truth behind that stupid child's 'love story'," says Bern. "No… I knew from the beginning the truth behind that child's existence. I just wanted everybody else to realize how pitiful her dreams of love were. But, even though I uncovered it… I don't feel any different. I don't feel like I've won. I just feel... empty."

Fingers run through Bern's hair, and Bernkastel leans into the warm touch because it's all she has left. Lambdadelta is the only person left who cares.

That's just a little bit depressing.

Her life can't really be that barren and desolate, can it...?

Bernkastel runs through a quick mental inventory of all the people she knows who would possibly offer her friendship and warmth and kindness- but there is only one name on that list, and it's the blonde-haired witch stood before her. Bernkastel pushed everybody else away…

But Lambdadelta is still here.

"I don't want to feel empty," Bernkastel says, her voice barely a whisper. It's a shameful secret; an admission of weakness... But it's true. "If I'm going to feel nothing then... is there any point to being alive? If I can't even gloat about my victories, then... It's pointless. All of it. I-it's-"

"Shh."

Lambdadelta presses a finger against Bern's lips.

Bernkastel swallows her words. Swallows her pride. She wants somebody to talk to; she needs somebody to respond. That makes her words seem more meaningful- because somebody cares.

"It's okay. I understand that you don't want to rely on anybody, but... mm. Well. Maybe other people make your live worth living? If you're all alone then you can't share your thoughts and feelings- and maybe that makes them worthless. But you don't have to feel worthless, Bern~ I'm here, riiight? I'll always be here. Kukuku~" Lambdadelta giggles. "Until you're sick of me and want me dead. But I'm not going to leave youuuu~ Not now, not ever!~ You're mine~ Fufufu~"

Bernkastel's eyes widen slightly. The tears have stopped now, but her heart still trembles in her chest like the rapidly beating wings of a butterfly. She's never felt like this before…

Or maybe she has, and she tried to blot it out.

Love makes you weak.

But...

"Hey, you know~" says Lambda thoughtfully, "without love it cannot be seen~ Weren't those the arc words in Beato's game? And maybe there's some truth in that... Even for witches like you and me~"

"Are you trying to be philosophical?" asks Bern, her voice deadpan despite the rapid beat-beat-beat of her heart. "It's tiresome."

"Well, if you're back to insulting me I'm suuure you'll be fine~" says Lambda, giggling. "But, mm, well... To everybody else, I guess you look like a cruel, sadistic monster. But I care about you. I've always cared about you. Annnd..." A smile. "I always thought you were more than that. Even though you do a crazy-awesome job of convincing me otherwise sometimes~ Fufufufu~"

"L-lambda..." Bern tries to speak, but now there are no words. Instead, she can only stutter- her cool, collected voice dissipating, her vocabulary fleeing from underneath her fingertips so she can hardly give her feelings definitions inside her head, let alone with her tongue.

But Lambdadelta only smiles… and maybe that's enough.

"It's a good job I like you, Bern, or I would've left you for dead aggeessss ago."

"M-my life would have been more peaceful that way, certainly..."

Lambdadelta kisses Bern's cheek gently, brushing strands of blue hair aside.

"And more boring, I bet."

Well, that's certainly true.

Bernkastel can hardly imagine a life without Lambdadelta in it.

Not anymore.


Bernkastel gasps as Lambda's mouth presses against hers. It's not urgent or insistent like the previous times- and that's a little frightening.

Bernkastel used to disengage her mind whenever this happened; her thoughts drifting off into the clouds whilst Lambda's fingers scuttled over her like spiders' legs. Bernkastel's body and her head would almost become two separate entities; her body responding to Lambda's touch, whilst her mind remained far above such a depraved human ritual.

Bernkastel felt in control. She felt powerful. Even though Lambda's fingers would find their way inside her body and her mouth would fill with the taste of Lambda's tongue, Bernkastel would remain aloof.

Unreachable.

Even to the one person who claimed to love her.

However, this is... different. It's tender; not merely an animalistic act or a parody of softer emotions, but... there's something warm in Lambda's eyes, something genuinely caring- something that was there all along, but Bernkastel never saw it.

She didn't want to see it.

Now Bernkastel's eyes are opened. She's no longer blind. The love filled in Lambda's eyes is so thick- like syrup- that it almost drives her breath straight from her body.

Without love it cannot be seen.

How disgusting, how sentimental, how human... Bernkastel remembers the smell of blood; a sickle digging into Clair's torso with the same noise a split grapefruit makes; and she leaked the same color of a split grapefruit, too. Humans are filled with disgusting, glistening meat lathered in red blood- and they dare to pretend their ideas of 'love' are beautiful and profound and perfect when they're bipedal mammals made of flesh and bone?

There's nothing amazing about 'love' at all. It's a mating ritual tailored so people can have children, and 'love' is a flimsy excuse tacked onto this act of nature to make it seem somehow beautiful.

It's not beautiful.

It's ugly- and it's hilarious when people try to delude themselves otherwise.

Humans aren't perfect. When you cut them they bleed. What happens to their notions of 'love' then? It leaves their bodies with the trails of crimson; running down the drain.

How ridiculous

Bernkastel is above that, she's better than that, she-

S-she...

But Lambda's fingers against her skin are so comforting; drawing nonsensical patterns against flesh and pushing at Bernkastel's clothes whilst their lips press together in soft, unhurried kisses.

Bernkastel can hardly give her feelings a name- but she doesn't want Lambdadelta to leave. Not now.

She doesn't want to be alone anymore.

Bernkastel can't disengage her mind from what Lambdadelta is doing. She feels pinned, helpless; her legs curled up with Lambda's as the blonde witch kisses her. They're too close together- much too close. Bernkastel can feel, under the fabric of Lambda's pink dress, the warmth of her skin and the delicate bones underneath. It would be easy to push Lambda away- to shatter her jaw, to break her teeth, to crunch her face under the heels of her shoes...

So why does Bernkastel feel so trapped?

She's not merely enraptured by Lambda's fingertips.

Lambdadelta holds her heart in her hands, too- something Bernkastel never let her do before. But now it feels as though Bern's feelings don't even belong to her, inside her chest.

Lambdadelta has hold of them- and she can do with them what she wishes.

Bern's skin feels overly sensitive and the shivers at the slightest touch. The kisses that trail, from her lips to her cheek, her neck, against her collarbone and against her exposed breasts, are like fire. It burns- she can hardly breathe, and it's… painful…

Is it meant to be painful?

It never was before.

Bernkastel's not in control anymore. Her mind is rooted painfully inside her skull and it cackles at her whilst Lambda's fingers skitter across her exposed flesh.

She has never been this close to Lambdadelta before.

Bernkastel doesn't know if this is terrifying or comforting. She doesn't feel alone- not at all, with hands against her skin and Lambda's heartbeat in synch with hers. It reminds Bern she's still alive, even more than the pain did. It hurts, but Bernkastel doesn't know whether this pain is in her head (or in her heart) because Lambda's lips and tongue and teeth aren't biting enough to draw blood, although it will probably leave a mark...

What is she doing?

She's going to drown in feeling until she hardly remembers who she is. She'll become delusional like Auaurora... or maybe she's already gone insane. Why is she letting this happen?

She wants to push Lambdadelta away.

Lambdadelta makes her feel weak.

Vulnerable.

Human.

And yet, at the same time, Lambdadelta makes her feel wanted. Needed. She's not alone- she doesn't want to be alone- and Bernkastel's mind fights between two extremes of emotion as her fingers alternately push Lambda away and pull her closer.

Love is stupid, laughable- and yet, at the same time, it feels incredibly precious.

I'm becoming a sentimental idiot.

Her heartbeat speeds in up her chest, skipping a beat- skipping haphazardly all over the place until Bern feels it will rise out of her throat and choke her. She can't breathe- but that's okay, because Lambdadelta's looking a little flushed too, despite her playful smile.

"L-lambda…" Bern's voice breaks up like shattered glass. "I... I-I..."

Lambda's lips draw away from Bern's pale skin. Bernkastel feels strangely relieved (too close; she'll eat you alive and spit out only the bones and blue hair) and, at the same time... she feels bereft. When Lambdadelta presses close against her like that, threatening to consume her like she eats her favorite candies, Bernkastel doesn't know what to feel.

Thinking has never hurt so much.

Letting other people close ensures you that you're still alive and you can still feel. And yet, at the same time, inviting them to press lips against flesh in such an intimate way, when there are real feelings behind the actions, seems foolish.

As Bernkastel lies there, her chest heaving and mouth parted, she's inviting Lambdadelta to take everything; take her very being and twist it all under the guise of 'love'.

This was far easier to understand when Bernkastel believed every word that came from Lambda's lips were false. If Bernkastel fell in love she... would only get hurt.

She can't trust people.

They'll only betray her.

"Am I hurting you?" Lambda asks softly, her fingers- black gloves are gone, the pale digits look exposed, easily breakable- brushing Bern's cheek. "I-if you like I'll stop..."

"N-no."

Before she's given it any thought Bernkastel takes hold of Lambda's wrist; pressing her hands against her cheek so the blonde witch can't leave.

Don't leave me.

Lambda blinks at Bern in confusion- though she's beginning to smile. "B-bern... You don't want me to go? This is interestinggg~"

"No. I... I can't explain it," says Bernkastel. She doesn't want to look at Lambda's face because something in her eyes seems gloating, victorious- and Lambda hasn't 'won', not at all. Then again, Bernkastel doesn't feel too much like a victor herself, her heart thumping and her chest tight. "I... I-it's... I-it's..."

"Are you scared?"

Bernkastel doesn't respond- but her silence is all the answer Lambda needs.

Then, holding her gently as though she's made of glass, Lambdadelta's fingers cup Bern's face; bringing their eyes together. Lambdadelta doesn't look so triumphant- so maybe Bernkastel was being paranoid. Instead, she looks strangely understanding.

"Don't be scared. I won't hurt you. I promise I won't hurt you."

"You've been making a lot of promises lately."

"Ah, but I'm not a reckless, stupid human~" Lambda says, voice sing-song, as she bumps their foreheads together. She smiles. "As the witch of certainty, I declare that I would never, ever want to make you cry. It's not a pretty sight~"

"That's quite rude."

"Yes, well, you know me~ I'm so very charming! Kukuku~~"

"...You're an idiot," says Bernkastel, after a pause. She sighs.

Lambdadelta only smiles. Then- moving quickly- she ducks her head, and places a light kiss on the tip of Bernkastel's nose.

"But I'm your idiot."

Bernkastel's cheeks flush a very, very light pink. "…Moron. I feel like I'm losing brain cells merely having this conversation."

"Think of how lonely you'd be if this moron wasn't here with you to comfort you when you're sad," Lambda says, giggling. "Aww, you look so cute when you turn reedddd. I guess even you have a cute side too, right, Bernnn? I think this type of defrosting ice princess character is very popular right now! Kikiki~"

"Your voice is giving me a headache. Shut up."

"Make me."

"…I will."

And with those words Bernkastel- though her heart is hammering, her breath catching in her throat- presses her lips against Lambdadelta's in a gentle kiss. It might be the first time Bernkastel initiated any kind of affection between the two, but if Lambda asks about it later (which she will; she definitely will) Bernkastel will just repeat what she said previously.

Her voice was annoying and Bernkastel didn't want to talk.

That was it.

There was no emotion behind that kiss- certainly not.

So…

Why is Bernkastel's heart fluttering?

Of course, Lambdadelta will see through that flimsy excuse in an instant, but for now Bernkastel doesn't care. Her cat tail coils round Lambda's body, twitching of its own accord even though Bernkastel's face remains impassive, and her body trembles under Lambdadelta's touch as more of her dress is pushed off her shoulders- pooling in folds of dark purple fabric.

Bernkastel feels like a stupid princess in a fairy story. Lambdadelta has… what? Climbed the tall tower, given her kiss of life and swept her off her feet? How stupid. Wasn't Bernkastel meant to be the witch?

…It appears her role in the story has changed somewhat.

Bernkastel is still afraid- but she's not sure what she's scared of anymore.

Being alone.

Or being loved.

Maybe even being in...

But she won't say that.

That would just be embarrassing.

Lips press against lips; fingers roam; one of Lambda's hands press against Bernkastel's breasts whilst the other inches up her thigh. Bernkastel's lips are swollen with kisses, her mouth saturated with the taste of candy, her socks unrolled and her clothes rumpled and her heart beats faster and faster.

She doesn't feel like a witch anymore.

Maybe she's becoming human.


When Lambdadelta cuddles up beside Bern that night, her skin soft and warm across an array of delicate, brittle bones Bernkastel could snap in an instant (they're both fragile; both of them- it's not just her), Bernkastel doesn't feel quite as empty anymore. Lambda's eyes are half-lidded and sleepy, her breaths coming out in shallow gasps and- whilst Bernkastel would never admit it- she's... almost endearing. Lambda's skin smells of candy and her lips are sugary sweet as she presses lazy kisses against Bern's mouth- sometimes missing her lips and catching her cheek instead, but Bern doesn't mind.

It's warm and soft and completely removed from anything else Bernkastel has ever known. It's frightening. But... she feels... safe.

"Muu~ Bernnn~" Lambda mumbles, her lips pressed against Bernkastel's neck.

"What do you want?"

"Will you be angry at me if I've left any marks on youuu?~"

Bernkastel pauses. Then, she sighs. "Why, of all the things to say, did you ask that?"

Lambda shrugs. "Dunno. It just came into my head. I'm curious."

"Curiosity killed the cat."

"Huh, yeah. There is that, I guess. Don't kill me, Bern."

"I will make great efforts not to. You should stop being so annoying, though."

"Hauu~ M'not annoyin'… Not me… Certainly nottt. It's part of my charm."

"What charm?"

"O-ouch… t-hat was mean… humph." Lambda frowns. "M'not talkin' to you anymore."

"Go right ahead."

There's a small silence. Bernkastel wonders whether Lambda really will begin talking again, as the atmosphere in her bedroom seems… heavy… without Lambda's light-hearted banter to ease it. Without Lambdadelta all Bernkastel has left are her memories.

She doesn't want to spend too much time inside her own mind. It's depressing.

Lambdadelta always cheers her up, though. Lambdadelta's voice is the ray of sunshine that sparks across the ocean; a sign of hope that the girl buried under fathoms of her own despair will, one day, break through the waves once more.

…When did Bernkastel begin needing Lambdadelta?

Maybe she always needed her- and she just didn't realize.

Bernkastel's thoughts drift. Without Lambdadelta to anchor her, Bernkastel loses herself in a pool of memory; of Auaurora and her dimly-lit room that smelt of books and paper and umeboshi tea that they would drink together like friends, like equals. She used to respect Auaurora. Maybe even love her, as an enfettered child would look up to a kindly adult or their mother.

Her Master was so kind…

Her Master betrayed her.

B-but Lambdadelta wouldn't do that, would she?

Would she?

"Bernnn~"

Bernkastel's body stiffens slightly at this question. She thought Lambdadelta was asleep, counting sheep or cows or any number of farmyard animals inside her confusing little mind- but apparently not.

Secretly, Bernkastel's grateful for it- though she would never admit it out loud.

Lambdadelta is always there when she needs her.

"What do you want now?"

There's a pause.

And then...

"Bernnn... I love you~"

Bernkastel feels something warm well up in her chest. Pain might have been a good measure to ensure you were still alive- but this feeling that, tentatively, begins to blossom inside Bern's is completely different. Pain ensured her that her body was still fully functional- but she could just as easily have been a cold, empty corpse dragged back to life. This feeling right here... it's different from the pain- although it still hurts, just a little, so maybe it's bittersweet; like eating sugary candy whilst drinking black tea.

This feeling is more than ensuring the body can still work and the eyelids can still blink and the head can keep thinking. This feeling is not cold or clinical. Bernkastel can't dissect it or pull it apart or feast on the innards- because this feeling doesn't make sense. It's... ridiculous; it's dangerous; it can hurt even more than nails on exposed skin or the blade of a knife.

But it's comforting.

It's a sign that her heart is still beating.

It's a sign she's not just alive- but that she is human.

Bernkastel wore the skin of a witch, a demon, for so long- but that was an act. A lie. It was an attempt to run away from something she didn't understand- but maybe she does, now.

Maybe she is... human, too.

Witches can't have happy endings.

But humans can.

And perhaps no true 'witches' exist in the world- or in any of the worlds Bernkastel has ever seen- because nobody is truly heartless. Everybody has some fondness buried inside them. It just takes the right person to reach inside your heart and find it.

But that all depends on whether you let them get that close.

Bernkastel feels disgusted with herself for thinking of such hackneyed phrases. She's beginning to sound like those two irritating, overly theatrical demons, with their cyan eyes and dramatic gestures; 'love is everything! Gyahahaha!' If she could, Bernkastel would laugh at herself- and a voice inside her head does, cackling at her stupidity.

Do you really think this will last forever?

But it is a chance Bernkastel will have to take.

She doesn't want to be alone anymore.

Pain isn't enough. Pride isn't enough.

But this...

Maybe this is enough.

It takes two people to create a universe.

Maybe this is what Bernkastel has always been searching for, as she flitted through distant kakeras searching for something to make her feel less empty. But she's not empty anymore.

For the first time in her life she feels...

Happy.

Bernkastel eyelids flicker shut; black lashes against a pale white background.

She doesn't say it aloud- but she doesn't need to.

It's written plainly across her face.

I love you, too.


When she falls asleep, for the first time in one thousand years…

There are no more nightmares.


The End


a/n: I enjoy finishing things. It gives me a sense of satisfaction XD
Um... I hope you enjoyed the ending ^_^; I'm glad that people read this fic, even if you didn't necessarily review, and I'm very grateful to you all ^_^ I know this fic might have some deviations from Umineko canon because Lambda and Bern aren't really given all that much back story, and they act like much hated enemies when they are first introduced even though they like each other really XD Their characters are a little difficult to pin down because Bernkastel acts cold and aloof but has that horrible sadistic streak to her, and Lambda acts very childish a lot of the time but seems to be a true neutral who genuinely supports Bahhtlerrr... so their characters might not be entirely accurate, or their motives, or... blaaaa :/
But I do try XD

Um, once again, thank you, I'm happy if you stuck through with this until the end ^_^;

Oh, and in case you didn't know... all the chapter titles are vocaloid songs XD The songs are relevant to the chapters, so you might want to listen to them if you are so inclined XD Especially Deep Sea Girl. I really like that song XP

~renahhchen xoxoxo