Just The Way You Are
Chapter Eight

"Oh dear..."

Somehow, those words felt horribly inadequate. That was most likely because they were. Publius Maro Virgilia was a finite witch who had been alive longer than any human could possibly hope to imagine, but not even she had the required vocabulary to put her feelings into words.

It was almost impossible.

As soon as Battler left, everything went to hell.

The insane grin slipped from Beato's face entirely. She fell back in her chair, both hands pressed over her face… and she started to cry.

Beato tried to hide it, being far too stubborn to plainly display her emotions- even to her Teacher. She wasn't always that proud; not when she was a child, who had openly sobbed over mere trifles such as breaking vases. Beato was older, now, though… and far more difficult to console.

This wasn't like the broken vase.

But, just because Beato was older, it didn't necessarily mean she had grown up. She was still a young child. She still wasn't very good at dealing with her own feelings… but now, she tried to hide them all to herself.

Virgilia knew enough about that troublesome child to guess why she was so upset, though.

Beato was getting tired of this murder mystery game. She didn't want to be the culprit anymore.

In fact… she had never wanted to play the culprit to begin with.

She had never wanted Battler to hate her.

She only wanted him to remember.

If Beato was crying, it must've been because of something Bernkastel or Lambdadelta had said during their 'pleasant' tea party earlier. And, as Beato was upset,Virgilia knew it was her duty, as Beato's Teacher, to dry her tears, and try to make her smile again.

But at least Beato tried to hide her tears.

Ronove hadn't even been able to do that.

It was hard to believe the slumped girl on the floor, hair disordered and blood smearing their tear-stained face, was the 27th highest ranking demon in hell at all. Ronove typically acted in such a composed manner, with those enigmatic smiles, light laughter and expressions that were impossible to interpret, that seeing such a sudden breakdown in that mask was shocking even to Virgilia.

It was even more shocking to Lucifer.

She hadn't known Ronove nearly as long as Virgilia had, and had only ever seen him as a strong demon she aspired to be like. She had never seen a softer, decidedly more vulnerable side to his character. Perhaps she never even imagined it existed.

Lucifer represented the sin of pride. Naturally, her appearance and the manner she conducted herself were vastly important to her. She held herself to very high standards, and though the continuous taunting from her sisters did sometimes reduce her to angry tears, she always felt embarrassed with herself for being so weak.

She liked seeing others break down; especially when it wasn't her. It always made her feel better about herself.

It made her forget just how weak she could be.

Seeing a demon like Ronove, with a split lip and tear stained cheeks, looking so vulnerable it was impossible to distinguish him from a normal human, was- sadly to say- cathartic for her.

Therefore… worry wasn't evident on her face when she looked at Ronove.

She grimaced, as though looking at something disgusting; maybe a squished animal on the road, or a filthy insect. If Ronove hadn't been a demon of hell who outranked her, Lucifer might even have laughed openly at him.

Although she was able to hold back laughter, she couldn't quite do the same thing with her sharp words.

"I don't understand it. Ushiromiya Battler is only one human. You should have been able to deflect that punch easily. I've suffered far greater injuries than that in battle, and I always tried to remain professional about it," she said airily, flipping strands of black hair over one shoulder. "Isn't this a little embarrassing? I'm embarrassed just looking at you."

Slowly, very slowly, Lucifer's grimace turned into a cruel smile.

Shaming others like this… really was fun. It was even more fun, even more satisfying, than piercing helpless pieces with the tip of her stake. You could hurt people with words just as much with physical violence, imagine that? Haha~

No wonder her sisters always ganged up on her and bullied her mercilessly.

Lucifer hated it… but she could understand that mentality perfectly.

Aah, but Lucifer had never imagined she'd see furniture like Ronove all curled up on the floor in a heap like this~

How pathetic, how sad.

Aaah, it was so sad, Lucifer could have cried with laughter.

Ronove didn't answer. But he had heard all of Lucifer's words.

That was evident when he flinched- and his cheeks turned a shade or two redder.

"My, my," Lucifer continued coldly. Once she'd started, she wasn't able to stop. "I thought you were head furniture to the Golden Witch. This really is a shameful display, huh? Why don't you just give up and die? Why don't you just-"


Instantly, Lucifer froze.

It felt as if her blood had turned into ice.

Virgilia did not sound happy… a-and her eyes were actually open, too. T-that never boded well… The glare she shot Lucifer was enough to make the oldest stake tremble.

"A-aah, um... S-sorry, L-lady Virgilia!"

"As you should be. There's nothing more disgusting than taunting somebody unable to defend themselves. I realize you represent the stake of Pride, but you shouldn't let that cloud your abilities to be a decent person."

Lucifer mumbled, "U-um… Y-yes… Miss Virgilia…", and hung her head.

Her face was flushed with shame.

No wonder a fearsome person like Beato still called Virgilia 'Teacher'. Virgilia really was a scary person.

"Now, go. You're not helping," said Virgilia sharply.

Lucifer bowed, face still flushed.


"And don't tell your sisters about what happened here," Virgilia called after her sternly. "They'd only interfere, and everything would become problematic. This is a private matter; do you understand, Lucifer?"

"Y-yes, Miss Virgilia! I understand perfectly! I-I won't tell anybody, I promise!"

And with that, Lucifer backed away hesitantly, and scattered her own body into golden butterflies.

She felt incredibly lucky Virgilia hadn't run her through with a divine spear.

That left Virgilia to deal with Ronove and Beatrice... and Battler, too, really. Virgilia needed to speak to him at some point as well. But that could come later.

Who needed her help more?

Virgilia winced, pressing her fingertips against her temples, trying to ward off a headache.

It wasn't particularly effective.

To borrow Battler's catchphrase, this was useless; it really was all useless.

She needed some help.

She needed-

"Liaaa~ Did you call me? I missed you tooo!~"


Virgilia turned about in surprise. A pair of arms had, all of a sudden, wound themselves wound her middle- crushing her body in a tight hug that nearly made Virgilia topple over.

Of course, there was only one person who would be quite that forward.

Virgilia ground her teeth together.

And there was only one person who dared call her 'Lia', too.

It was that annoying demon with the stupid hair and even stupider 'clothes'- which could hardly even be called 'clothes', the rational side of Virgilia's mind shouted angrily, because they didn't cover anything, so what was the point?

It was Gaap.

"You like it?~" asked Gaap, smiling, as she turned about before Virgilia. The skirts of her red dress swirled about her thighs, and Virgilia had to look away demurely, embarrassed on Gaap's behalf at how little flesh it covered.

Gaap was actually wearing something weirder and more revealing than she had been the last time Virgilia saw her- and Virgilia hadn't even thought that was possible. She wasn't sure whether to be impressed or horrified.

Maybe both.

That was how Virgilia generally felt around Gaap.

Well… at least Gaap had stopped wearing her hair in those childish pigtails, with the blue ribbons. But… how on earth could she manage all those curls? Her hair wasn't naturally like that; it wasn't at all.

How long did all that take to style?

Virgilia's mind hurt just thinking about it.

"Do you like my dress, do you, Lia, do you?" Gaap continued to coo; pestering Virgilia, as she pulled at her sleeve. "It's called Jack the Ripper, Christmas Blood by Devilish Pretty! You don't wanna know what I had to do to get this!~ Stylin' my lovely hair- which, by the way, took three hours- was a cinch in comparison. Ohhh, but I guess you didn't summon me here so we could talk about clothes and hair, right?"

"T-three hours? Really? … …Why?"

Virgilia frequently had to ask that question when in Gaap's company- but the response was always something like 'because it's hot!', so asking was pretty much useless anyway.

It was the same response Gaap gave then, too; with a cute peace sign to accompany it.

Virgilia sighed.

She should have known not to bother.

"So, what's wrong?" asked Gaap, still bright and cheerful.

Gaap hadn't witnessed the earlier scene like Virgilia had, so her light-hearted banter was somehow able to clear away the heavy atmosphere. Beatrice's shoulders stopped shaking when Gaap dredged herself up out of the floor, and a rather bitter smile spread across her face.

"Oh, God," said Beatrice, with some of her usual blunt 'charms'. "Not you."

"Yes, me!" said Gaap cheerfully. "I missed ya too, Riiche!~ I know you love your big sis really! Come and give me a hug!"

"I-I'm fine! Kyaaah- get off me!"

"Nooo way~ I'm going to kiss alll your tears away!"

"Kyah!" Beato squeaked- now sounding a lot more like her usual self. Summoning her pipe in a burst of butterflies, she began to hit Gaap upside the head with it. "S-sisters don't kiss each other like that! Get off, get off, get off!"

"Uuugu?~ You're such a pruuude."

"No I'm not; I just have a sense of self-respect!"

Ronove's tears, too, ceased at Gaap's sudden appearance. It was almost impossible to remain unhappy whilst Gaap was running around in her ridiculous outfit, annoying everybody.

Even so, Ronove was still unable to repair his typical mask of calm. At the moment, that was quite beyond him. His eyes were still rimmed with red, and he couldn't help but sniff slightly, wiping his eyes inelegantly with the back of his arm.

That small sound (coupled with Beatrice trying to poke out her eye with her pipe) was enough to make Gaap turn her head, blonde curls bouncing.

She had prepared to greet Ronove with a similar bright, cheerful words- perhaps even an exuberant 'haisaaaai!~', if she wanted to do it Okinawan style. It'd be a tribute to the Chinsuko she'd been eating before Virgilia suddenly, but not unwelcome-ly, summoned her. However... the moment Gaap's eyes met Ronove's, her greeting died.

Her smile faded.

Her bright blue eyes softened.

"Well, if this doesn't give me a vague sense of déjà vu..."

"Mm. I-I feel... quite the same... Pu ku ku."

"Aww, hell. Why on earth did you decide to use that form again?" Gaap demanded, placing her hands on her hips. "I thought you decided you were never going to do that again- not even if I begged and pleaded because I wanted to use you as a model. You promised you wouldn't mess around with that kind of magic anymore. I made you promise!"

"Aha… It's complicated."

Gaap glared sourly, and folded her arms. She was trying to look serious- but it was a little difficult for her do so, given those gravity-defying blonde curls, that dress, and the small bump on her forehead where Beato had struck her.

Even so, Gaap was trying.

"I don't care how complicated it is- this is ridiculous," she said. "Are you trying to psychologically scar yourself? I know people say I have a weird hobby, what with my lovely collection of beautiful but unappreciated fashions, but at least I don't deliberately set out trying to make myself relive some of the most painful-"

"Gaap, please don't discuss that in front of Beato. It's a private matter," said Virgilia firmly.

"Don't discuss what? What're you talking about...?" Beato's eyes narrowed. "Are you hiding something from me?"

"Oh, nothing! It's just adult things; really boring stuff, like bills, and taxes, and signing on the dotted lines when we complete the Great Court of Heaven censuses every century so they don't send any members of Eiserne Jungfrau to come and take us away. Apparently, it's just as boring for the Eiserne Jungfrau girls to stamp all those census forms as it for us to fill 'em in, though, so it makes me feel better about it, kekeke~" said Gaap, grinning. "It's not even hot, so don't worry your pretty little head about it, okaaay?"

Beato glared. "Gaap-"

"Beato," Virgilia interjected, resting a hand on Beatrice's shoulder. "You and I are going to have a little conversation about your earlier behavior, alright? And I'm interested in what Lady Bernkastel and Lady Lambdadelta were talking to you about."

Beatrice deflated slightly at this, a dark cloud passing across her face. She didn't want to talk to Teacher about Bern and Lambda; nuh-uh, no way.

Teacher would just make a big deal out of it, and then everything would get complicated.

Unfortunately, there was no way around it. Not when Virgilia got that kind of expression on her face.

Demurely, the Golden Witch said, "Y-yes, Teacher..."

"Good. And Gaap."

"Yes, m'am?"

"Please... talk to Ronove. Just make sure everything's okay. I'm trusting you with this, okay?"

"Yes." Ronove smiled slightly- but it was a slightly self-deprecating smile. Those red-rimmed eyes only made that smile look more pitiable. "Miss Virgilia is entrusting me with you... because, obviously, I am unable to take care of myself."

Virgilia winced.

Gaap, however, was not swayed. Instead, she said, sighing, "Hey, come on. Childish comments like that are my thing, not yours'. They really don't suit you. You should be all mature about the whole thing, like… um… um, let's see…"

"I apologize for troubling you with my own problems?" Ronove suggested- now, a more genuine smile on his face.

"Um, no, no, that's a little too… depressing. But, I guess it's better than before." Gaap sighed- then smiled. "You know Lia's only acting like this 'cause she's a total worrywart and she loves you. And you might feel better if you talk this over with me, right?"

There was a small pause.

Then, slowly... Ronove nodded.

"I know. And... I really am very sorry. I'll try to compose myself. I've been acting in a humiliating manner truly unfitting for furniture. I apologize, Milady."

Beatrice, obviously confused, could only blink at Ronove.


"Come on, Ronove~" said Gaap, resting a hand on his shoulder. "Let's leave this naughty child with her teacher and have an adult conversation, okay?"

"I-I'm not a child!"

"Ahaha~ Getting defensive about it is proof that you are!" Gaap shot back, stabbing an accusatory finger in Beatrice's finger. "Can you deny it?"

Beatrice pulled a face and folded her arms, puffing out her cheeks.

Gaap began to giggle... and, well, the look on Beato's face was so unapologetically babyish even Virgilia began to laugh. It even raised a real smile to Ronove's lips.

"Eeeehhh? I-I don't believe that!"

"It's true. I swear it's true, upon my name of Lucifer, the Stake of Pride."

"B-but..." Asmodeus stuttered, anxiously fretting at one of her pigtails. She was frowning. "To think, that Battler would do something so mean... I-I thought he always seemed really friendly! He always played around with Beelze and me!"

"Non, non," said Mammon (for some reason speaking in French), as she patted Asmodeus condescendingly on the head. "The problem isn't that Battler flipped his lid. I'm not really surprised by the first bit."

"B-but Battler... was so nice... ...?"

"Milady has been very cruel," said Belphegor softly, finally deigning to speak up- if only to clarify a point for Asmodeus. Belphegor didn't really like involving herself in talks between the seven sisters, but she felt none of the others would tactfully be able to describe Battler's feelings. "She has been forcing Battler to take part in a gruesome murder mystery game using his own family members as victims. So... Under those circumstances, I think it's only natural he'd become emotionally unstable. When people suffer from grief, violence isn't an unusual outburst. That's why so many murders and outbreaks of violence are done on the spur of the moment, without any preparation. They're the result of extreme emotions, not pre-planning or malicious thoughts."

And, in so saying her lengthy analysis on the human mind, the Stake of Sloth hung her head and clammed up inside her shell of shyness once more.

"Nicely put, Belphie," said Mammon, smiling, as she gave her sister a thumbs up. "You're pretty good at talking when you want, you know. How'd you get so smart, anyway? I wanna covet all that knowledge aaaall for myself, ahaha~"

Belphegor flushed and muttered a few scattered words of thanks.

"W-woah..." Asmodeus' eyes widened slightly. "I... I-I didn't even try to think of it from Battler's perspective... I-I didn't think of it like that at all..."

"Demons typically don't," said Satan, shrugging. "People have weird emotions. Not our problem. We only deal with the stabbing part- not the emotional fallout after. 'Least, not usually. Grr." She gritted her teeth together, eyes narrowing. "To think Battler would be insolent enough to attack Milady's furniture, though! There's no respect! That pisses me off!"

"Everything pisses you off~" said Beelzebub softly, voice singsong.

"And this still isn't the correct problem, everyone," said Mammon, placing her hands on her hips.

"What do you mean?" asked Leviathan, frowning. "D-do you know something about Battler we don't? I-if you know something, then you should tell us! It's not fair if you keep information to yourself like that! I wanna know too!"

"Why are you so interested in Battler?" asked Mammon, raising a brow. She smirked. "You got a cruuu~uuush?"

Leviathan flushed. "N-no!"

"Was it because he said those nice things to you and said you had big booobs, huh?"

"N-no it wasn't! T-that has nothing to do with this, y-you... y-you idiot!"

"I don't think Levia's boobs are any nicer than mine," said Beelzebub, looking down at her chest. "I think they're pretty much the same. Maybe mine are a little bigger."

"Y-you wish!"

"No, I think they are... Maybe it's cause I eat more. I don't put on any weight around my thighs or stomach, but it all goes right to my chest! Come and look, Levia!"

"I-I don't wanna look!"

"But it's really interesting! Look, they're all squishy!" Beelzebub giggled, and grabbed hold of Leviathan's hand. "Don't you wanna have a feel?"

Leviathan's face turned scarlet. "Y-you're such a pervert! Stop it, get off!"

"Nobody's interested in your scraggly body, Beelze!" snapped Satan.

"We're getting off topic, guys!" said Mammon, clapping her hands together sharply. "You didn't hear the rest of my amazing reasoning."

"Oh, I'm very sorry," said Beelzebub, rolling her eyes. "What is it, great Detective Mammon?"

"I'm glad you asked," said Mammon, with a smirk.

Even if Beelzebub's words had been drenched in even more sarcasm than the honey she ladled on her pancakes, Mammon did like being the centre of attention.

"It's obvious Battler would be angry. But under normal circumstances, Ronove certainly wouldn't have let Battler get within an inch of his face; Ronove's way too powerful to be overpowered by a single punch from a stupid human. And he certainly wouldn't cry about it after, even if Battler did get lucky. There's something very, very odd about that situation!"

"T-that's right!" said Asmodeus, nodding eagerly. Her pigtails bounced slightly. "Ronove is really strong! He has far more strength than I do- s-so I'm a little in awe of him! I-I can't believe that Battler would be stronger than that... even if Battler is really cool~ Hehe~"

"Oui, oui," Mammon agreed, still talking in French for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Mammon was the only one who would have known the reason for that- and probably she didn't, either. "And there's also another strange part."

"Stranger than that?" asked Asmodeus, tilting her head to one side.

"Mm. I understand why Battler would be angry- as Belphe so nicely summarized the evidence for us. But... doesn't it seem more likely he'd direct that anger at Milady? Why'd he go for Ronove? I can't really understand the reasoning there. Luci, you say that Ronove said a pretty mean comment about Battler's family?"

Lucifer nodded- though, secretly, she wondered when she'd become a witness in a trial. "That's right."

"But the things Milady said were worse?"

"They were."

"Well... Why'd Ronove get beaten up then? That doesn't really make sense... Unless..."

"Unless? Unless what? What about Battler?" asked Leviathan.

Mammon smirked.

Then, in a manner she had seen Battler do so many times with Beato, she turned about... and stabbed a finger in the air.

"This is my theory! The nature of Ushiromiya Battler and Ronove's relationship has definitely changed! That is what resulted in this completely bizarre, unexpected turn of events!"

There was a small silence.

Then, Leviathan said, "What do you mean, it changed...? How? What does that even mean?"

"A suddenly deepening of a relationship... between a human and a demon. Oooh..." Asmodeus' mouth fell open in a small 'o'- and then, face flushed, she clapped her hands together. "That sounds just like something from a fairytale! Forbidden love! I-it's... i-it's so cute! As the stake of Lust, I definitely support this sudden plot twist!"

"In most fairytales, I think the demons and witches usually die- so a romance between a human and a demon would be very unlikely," said Belphegor softly, once more giving the others the benefit of her knowledge. "For instance, in the Tinder Box the witch was murdered by the main character solely because she was a witch, even though she helped the main character several times and blessed him with a large amount of gold."

Leviathan pulled a face. "T-that's terrible! I-I guess that was an unhappy ending, was it?"

Belphegor shook her head slowly. "The main character lived happily ever after."

Both Asmodeus and Leviathan squeaked at this grossly unfair miscarriage of justice.

"A-and anyway..." Face flushed, Leviathan glared at Asmodeus. "Ronove isn't going to die- that's just a stupid fairytale! A-and it doesn't matter anyway! Battler definitely doesn't like guys; h-he can't! Not when he said so many flattering things about me!"

"That may be the case," said Mammon, grinning, "but Ronove doesn't look like a guy anymore, does he? Maybe Battler just got confused~ I mean, I'd get confused too. Ronove makes a very pretty girl, haha~"

Leviathan bit her lower lip and folded her arms. Not even she could argue against that.

"So, this is what I've concluded," said the super sleuth Mammon. "It is a fact Battler and Ronove have developed a close friendship in the past few days, yes?"

"Yes! I can vouch for it!" said Beelzebub. "They've been together aaall the time whenever I go into the kitchen! It's not fair! I was Ronove's friend first! Bleeeh!"

"Therefore, it's safe to say they have a friendly relationship," Mammon continued. "And when two people become friends, they naturally begin to trust each other. hasn't made many friends in the meta world either, so forming an alliance with Ronove would probably have been quite important to him- even if he didn't want to admit it to himself."

"I-I'm Battler's friend too, aren't I?" asked Asmodeus.

Mammon rolled her eyes. "Little sis, you're adorable, and most of the time you're about as mean as a sea sponge, but you kept staking Battler to death. Of course he's not your friend!"

Asmodeus winced, looking down at the floor. "B-but I was just doing my job!"

"Yeah, I know. But, even if Battler's nice enough to put that behind him, I doubt he trusts you. We're not on good relations with him," explained Mammon. "Neither is Milady. I guess Battler gets along with Virgilia, too- but he's been talking to Ronove longer now, so they have a stronger relationship."

"And? What about it?" asked Satan, folding her arms.

"Well... This is just a theory, but I imagine the truth is something like this. Battler grew to expect Ronove would be his ally against Milady, given he must trust him a whole load. However, when Milady announced the commencement of the third game, and Ronove did not defend Battler... but, rather, poked fun at him... That would be upsetting to Battler. And when people are upset... they do some unpleasant things... And Battler would already be feeling really confused and upset about the deaths of his family and the fact we kept killing him…Oh, and he got chewed up by goats in the last game. That would lead to a lot of pent-up anger."

Mammon had been smirking up until this point, as though she were a master detective who had solved a major case. However, that look began to fade when she finished her deduction.

Mammon began to rub her arms gently, as though she expected her skin to turn into crystal and break away. Her eyes were downcast.

Of course, Mammon was remembering that time...

She couldn't help but remember that time.

All of the other sisters were surely remembering it, too.

The feeling of being denied by Ange's toxin, all because they had been her friends... and they hadn't been able to protect her from those horrible bullies who ruined her whole life. They were her friends- but they had let her down. So Ange had denied they ever been her friends to begin with, and she had hurt them.

She tried to kill them.

Disappointment, pain, misery... it could do a lot of strange things to the human mind, just as Belphegor had said.

"Yeah..." said Mammon bitterly, digging her fingernails into her arm. "Friendship is a pretty harsh thing, isn't it? You make one mistake, and everything goes to hell. The more you trust somebody, the more you hate them when they betray your trust. Hahaha... How sad, how sad. And... to think this would happen again." Mammon laughed harshly. "I guess forcing anger on people that were supposed to be your 'friends' is something that runs in the Ushiromiya family. Battler would be so happy if he learnt his little sister grew up to be just like him. But she went one step further. She didn't just try and punch me in the face. She ki-"

"N-no!" Asmodeus squeaked, putting her hands over her ears. "D-don't say that!"

Beelzebub, eyes teary, grabbed hold of Asmodeus and pulled her into a tight hug. "I-I don't want to hear it, either!"

"I-I'd be happier… i-if… you didn't mention that… …" muttered Belphegor, face pale.

All of the sisters looked uncomfortable at this sudden change in atmosphere. Leviathan was trembling slightly. Even Lucifer made a small choked noise of pain.

She had been the first one Ange killed, after all. That pain... surely had stayed with her.

This sudden memory of long again agony only made Lucifer feel even crueller for taunting Ronove.

"I guess Ronove didn't fight back because he knew he could easily crush Battler, and he valued their friendship significantly more than Battler did. Buuut." Mammon shrugged. "I don't know why he'd cry. I didn't think that far ahead. You know Ronove the best, Beelze. You ever see him look that sad before?"

"No, never! We have a very warm and loving friendship, so we've never upset each other that much!" Beelzebub giggled cutely, coiling a strand of blonde hair round one finger. "Plus, if I punched Ronove in the face, he'd never make me any of those delicious sugar cookies anymore. I'd lose my reason for being alive if I upset him!"

"...You really are simple-minded, aren't you?" said Satan, lip curling in disgust.

"Yes, I am!"

Beelzebub nodded in affirmation, not a trace of irritation on her face at that insult.

"Truly, this is a very interesting case," Mammon said, placing her fingers under her chin in a thinking pose. "I definitely think we need to intervene."

"What do you mean, 'intervene'?" asked Lucifer. "Miss Virgilia told me we couldn't talk to Battler."

"Yeah, she might've said that, but... What Lia doesn't know won't hurt her, right?"

"M-mammon, you can't!"

"Hey, don't look at me. If you didn't want us to do something about it, you wouldn't have told us this very important thing Miss Virgilia strictly told you not to tell us, would you?"

Lucifer made a pained noise, and folded her arms.

There… was some truth in that…

Argh, w-why hadn't she kept her mouth shut? Virgilia was going to spear her for sure…

This was a secret Lucifer shouldn't have shared with her sisters, wasn't it?

"Aww~ You scared of Lia, Luci?" asked Mammon teasingly.

"N-no, that's not even... n-ngh... I-I'm not scared of anyone!"

"Then you don't mind breaking this little rule, right?"

"I-I do mind it! It'll make me look irresponsible, if I ignore the orders of a well-respected witch like Virgilia! I-I have my pride as the oldest sister to think of! It's alright for you; you can mess around all you like, but whatever you do makes ME look bad in the end and I'll get punished if you misbehave! I-I don't even know why you're so desperate to talk to Battler anyway, or why you're so obsessed with his argument with Ronove! I don't know why I brought it up!"

"Yeah, it was pretty dumb of you, Luci. You should've known we'd be interested," said Beelzebub cheerfully. "Interesting stuff like that doesn't happen 'round here too often. I guess that's why you told us, too? You were secretly really intrigued too, right? You wanted to reason out why it happened as well, huh?"

Lucifer opened her mouth to retort, but... annoyingly enough, she had nothing.

Beelzebub was right.

She could only content herself with glaring at the floor.

There was a small silence, broken only by Belphegor flipping the pages of her book in the background. However, during that time... a rather painful look spread across Mammon's face. It looked a little like she had a toothache.

Asmodeus, being the kind and considerate sister, noticed at once.

"Hey, big sis. Are you... okay?"

"Hm? Oh, yeah. I'm fine. It's just..." Mammon's eyes narrowed. "I can't stand bullying in any way, shape or form. I hate it. And hurting a person until they cry... I definitely can't forgive that! That's all! That's why I want us to talk to Battler, right now. I don't want anybody to get hurt because of a sudden outburst of emotion. 'Cause we've all been there before. And it sucks. So I wanna stop it."

All the sisters turned to look at Mammon after that impassioned speech. She'd been talking in such a light-hearted manner before it had been impossible to tell- but it looked like she had a real sense of justice... and she had been truly affected by what had happened.

She had been Ange's best friend, after all.

And she had been hit the hardest when Ange betrayed her.

Maybe Mammon could sympathize with Ronove a little because of that- even though she didn't really understand his relationship with Battler at all.

"Battler doesn't have many friends in the meta world. If we wait around too long, I'm kinda worried his relationship with Ronove will fall apart, too. So we can't wait for Virgilia to talk to him," said Mammon. "We have to act. We have to."

"B-but even so... I understand your point, but Miss Virgilia said-"

"Yeah, yeah. She said we shouldn't talk to Battler. And you passed on that message, like a good girl, and you never spoke to Battler. But..."

"Ohh." Beelzebub's eyes widened in realization. "But your naughty little sisters didn't necessarily listen to you."

"Y-yes! I-if something goes wrong, it'll be our fault, not yours', Luci!" said Asmodeus earnestly. "We went to go pester Battler, and we learnt the truth from him! You never told us a thing!"

"But when you misbehave, I always get blamed," said Lucifer through gritted teeth.

"Then, I'll just make sure you don't this time!" said Asmodeus. "I-I think it's really unfair when Luci gets punished because of the bad things we do!"

"I don't," said Beelzebub, with a mean smile. "But… I agree with Mammon. This is important. So, maybe we should talk to Battler. Besides, fufu~ If Ronove is sad, his cooking's going to go to hell, and I'll go hungry. We need to resolve this issue at once."

"Shut up about food already! Think of somebody other than your fat little self!" Satan snapped, hitting Beelzebub over the head.

Lucifer frowned. She was beginning to get a headache. She, too, understand and empathized with Mammon's argument, but... But...

"Won't it seem like a bit much, if all six of you go and attack poor Battler at once? I think that will only make things worse."

"It's simple," said Mammon. "Only two of us will go. That's a nice and manageable number."

"I-I-I'm not interested," said Belphegor softly, hiding behind her hair. "I wouldn't be good talking with Battler about his feelings... I-I don't like talking very much… … N-not to strangers… …"

"And Satan would probably just scare him," said Beelzebub.

"What was that, you runt?"

"Kyaah! See, see? She won't be any good for the job!"

"Well, you're always talking in that annoying high-pitched voice and being really irritating, so I don't think you could talk to him either!" snapped Satan.

"It's alright. I already know who should talk to him," said Mammon firmly.

"Who?" chorused the sisters.

They all expected Mammon to nominate herself. She was greedy, so she always wanted the spotlight- and she was the one who felt most strongly about the matter. However... her eventual decision was a surprise for everyone.

Mammon turned about...

And then she pointed, in turn, at Asmodeus, and Leviathan.

"These two. You can talk to Battler. You're both girls it'd be easy to open your heart to. And Battler already talked to Levia, so it'll work out well."

"B-but..." Asmodeus looked at Mammon in surprise. "W-what about you...?"

Mammon smiled bitterly and shook her head.

"Nah. Not such a good idea."

"W-why not?"

"Because I'd probably get pissed off and slice off one of Battler's arms." Mammon's eyes narrowed. "I don't care who they are; I don't want to let anybody cry like Ange did ever again. Even if it's somebody who should be able to take care of themselves. I want to help Ronove. And that's a promise."

a/n: I'm glad I finally got this one done, aha XD I had to rewrite parts of it cause it sounded awful, and I was kind of stuck on it, but I hope it turned out okay-ish…?
The next chapter should hopefully be up by, um… Friday, or thereabouts. I'll try and get this story finished quickly, cause it's more than halfway done already XP

The seven sisters are so much fun to write altogether, though ^_^;

~renahhchen xoxo