Disclaimer: Nothing is mine; just an idea floating around in my head. After all, don't we all have deep contemplations about the meaning of our lives while taking a bath?

"Ohohoho, I see you've managed to get yourself dirty," chuckled Kumasawa as Beato came into the bathroom, her elegant dress stained with grass and dirt, as were her hands and face.

"I...I was hoping that if baking father cookies didn't work, then maybe I could pick flowers for him," said Beato meekly. "Would he like flowers better than cookies?"

Kumasawa sighed and shook her head. "I'm afraid that if your efforts so far have not worked, then all we can do is hope that Master Battler will come around to see the errors of his ways. In the mean time, you need to clean yourself off. Why don't I draw you a nice bath since we're here right now?"

She walked over to the tub and began to draw a bath. She checked to make sure the water was at the right temperature—not too hot, not too cold—laid out a vanilla-scented bar of soap, and reached for a bottle. "You used to love bubble baths when you were young," she said. "You still did as an adult. Hopefully, you'll love them just as much now. And do you know what's in these bubbles?"

Beato shook her head, fascinated as the liquid that poured out of the bottle began to form bubbles in the water, wondering how such a miracle could occur.

Kumasawa grinned. "These bubbles contain essence of mackerel, ohoho!"

Beato's eyes widened. "Oh now, I'm only kidding," chuckled Kumasawa. "All these bubbles contain is soap. Pop as many as you like. Play the role of Santa Clause with a pile of them if you want to."

Within a few minutes, the tub was full, and Kumasawa turned off the tap. She dipped a finger into the water and said, "That should be just about the right temperature. I'll leave and give you your privacy."

She left the room and closed the door behind her, leaving Beato to stand and blink in curiosity. She was not quite sure what the appeal in a bubble bath was, but it looked like it might be fun. Curious, she took off her shoes, lifted up her dress, and dipped one toe in the water. It felt warm enough for her to dip her entire leg in. She took her other leg and also dipped it in before sitting down, and a huge gush of water overflowed and spilled on the floor.

"Now that's no way to take a bath!" scolded a familiar voice.

"B—big sister?" called out Beato, looking around the bathroom. In a burst of gold, her elder counterpart showed up and scolded, "The Golden Witch Beatrice does not bathe with her clothes on and get them all wet! This won't do at all?"

"Eh? B—but, I'm supposed to clean myself up for father, and…" Beato's voice faltered.

Her elder self said, "It's the servants' job to wash your clothes. You are supposed to wash yourself."

"Huh?" Beato blinked, wondering just where her sister was getting at.

With an exasperated sigh, the elder Beato said, "You have to be naked to bathe."

"W-what?" stammered Beato, feeling her face heat up. "But I can't! That would be too improper for—AAHH!" she cried out as the elder Beato yanked at the sleeves of her dress and attempted to pull it over her head. "N—no! Stop it!" she protested, but to no avail.

"Just—stand—still!" grunted the elder Beato, who had now managed to get the dress at least halfway off. Now, it was just a matter of lifting the rest off her head and—

"UWAAHH!" cried out the elder Beato as she slipped on a puddle and fell into the tub. "Big sister!" cried out Beato. She could not see a thing with the dress over her head, so she slipped it off. "Big sister, I am so, so sorry!" she pleaded as the elder Beato sat up in the tub, soaking.

"Look at that," said the elder Beato with a smirk. "All that's left is your underwear."

"Ah…" Beato felt her face grow warmer. "Is this really, um, necessary?"

"Of course, of course," said the elder Beato with a wave of her hand.

Beato hesitated, and the elder Beato said, "You know, we're sisters, right? In Japan, many young siblings bathe together, and often with their families—it's not that unusual."

"But are we in Japan?" asked Beato.

The elder Beato laughed, "We're on Rokkenjima! That's an island off the coast of Japan!"

"Oh…so…then it's okay…" said Beato slowly. "Um…okay. But don't look."

She bit her lip and got it over with by quickly slipping off the undergarments she wore and flinging them over the edge of the tub. Feeling quite exposed, she curled her knees up to her chest and said, "I guess it's okay now."

The elder Beato turned back and said, "If you like, I could make you feel more comfortable by also getting undressed—"

"No!" said Beato sharply.

"All right," sighed the elder Beato.

Beato looked away from her elder sister and examined the bubbles. Curious, she tried to pick them up with one hand but only a small handful remained on her palm. She blew, and they soared through the air before disappearing too quickly for her to see.

"I wish I could make father happy," sighed Beato, trying to pick up more of the fluff floating on the water. "But he's always so angry and sad. Why won't he smile for me? If I wasn't born to make him happy, then…" She gulped. "Then what am I living for?"

"Listen to yourself," said the elder Beato, pushing the mountain of bubbles aside. "Beatrice had more to live for than just a man, and so should you."

"But if mother lived for a thousand years," said Beato, twirling a finger in the soapy water, "then what did she have to live for?"

"Magic," said the elder Beato. "Magic is the key to happiness."

"So…would these bubbles be magic?" said Beato, scooping up a handful.

"Hmm, well, there's no anti-magic toxin in them," said the elder Beato. "Yet humans also seem to enjoy them."

"Do they?" Beato blinked and stared at the fluff. Then, she tried spreading some across her chin, but only a few clung to her skin. The rest fell and dissolved in the water. With a sigh, she said, "What can I do to make father happy? Everything I do just makes him angrier."

"Just show him the meaning of magic and love," said the elder Beato. She blew a mountain of bubbles across the tub. "Prove to him how much he means to you. When he sees how devoted you are to his love, then he'll accept you."

"And then, will he love me back?" asked Beato, her bottom lip quivering.

"Maybe," shrugged the elder Beato. She turned her head at the sound of footsteps. "Ah, I'd better leave before he comes back. Don't forget what I told you."

She disappeared and Beato was left alone to sit up and listen closely. "Father?" she called out.

The footsteps stopped and Beato stood up. That just had to be father, she knew it!


Yes! Beato called out, "I'm coming, father! Just give me a minute!"

"Okay," sighed Battler on the other side of the door.

She eagerly stepped out of the tub and ran towards the door, forgetting that she wasn't wearing anything at all. She burst the door open and cheerfully quipped, "Father! I'm so glad to see you!"

To her great disappointment, Battler let out a small cry and covered his face with his cape. "So, sorry!" he gasped. "I'm sorry, just…I won't mention this again…"

The smile on Beato's face melted and she said, "But father, I just want to make you happy."

"And, um…yeah, you know what? Let's talk about this later, okay?" said Battler, taking a few steps back.

Beato rushed towards Battler and insisted, "But father, I must make it up to you! Please tell me how I can make you happy!" She tugged on his arm and said, "I'm sorry if I made you upset! If you hate cookies, I won't make them anymore, so—ah!" she cried out as her wet foot slipped beneath the floor. She grabbed onto the arm and pulled Battler down, him falling on top of her.

"Um…uh…" Battler's face felt so warm against her cheek. And she felt something…odd…against her leg.

"Father?" said Beato. "I feel something—"

"It's nothing!" cried out Battler as he shot up to his feet and wrapped his cape around himself, specifically around his pants. "I'm going! Bye!"

He ran off in the other direction in time for Kumasawa to come around the corner and chuckle, "Ohohoho, what's this? I was just about to come in and bring you these blankets to dry yourself off with. Here, take one."

Beato took one of the blankets and wrapped it around herself until only her head was poking out. She blinked and said:

"Does this mean my bath is over?"

The end