Author's note: Okay. I want to make this clear: this is not going to be a nice story. When I rate a story 'M' (and the rating will go up once it becomes necessary, which it will) and use the 'Horror' category, I am not joking. Orihime is going to screw up, and those failures will have consequences. Very nasty consequences, in some cases. You have been warned.
Orihime opened her eyes in her own bed at home. Normally, this would not be remarkable. Normally, she would not have thought twice about circumstances like this. Normally, however, circumstances like this actually were as unremarkable as they seem to be from this description, which fails to take into account previous events.
To be specific, this description fails to take into account that when Orihime last closed her eyes, she had been dying.
Unsurprisingly, she panicked. "Shun'o! Ayame! Baigon! Hinagiku! Lily! Tsubaki! What happened? Why am I at home? Is everyone else okay?" Orihime sat up and, to her surprise, short hair brushed against her jaw. "Why is my-"
Since she was most sincerely not expecting that, she glanced over herself once, quickly, to check for any more surprises. What she found was... not what she expected.
Somehow, she had regressed six years in age. Orihime was nine again, or at least looked it.
"What... happened to me...?" She was understandably terrified. After all, Orihime didn't understand what was happening. She didn't know why she was here, how she had survived, or what had, for lack of a better word, shrunk her.
And then... something smacked her on the head?
Tsubaki's shouting was almost comforting. At least it was familiar. At least she hadn't just dreamed the last six years.
"Isn't this what you wanted? You said it! 'I wish I could turn back time and fix everything.' That's what you said, isn't it? Don't waste the chance we gave you! If you just sit here and cry, everything will turn out just like that!"
"Ah-" Orihime interrupted him, "does that mean what I saw was real?"
"It happened, if that's what you mean. Just like the injuries you heal still happened. That future will still exist if you make the same choices that led to it originally, but if you change things the future will also change. No one else remembers because no one else was involved when you turned back time, so their actions will most likely stay the same unless you influence them in some way. Understand?" Shun'o raised her voice to explain over Tsubaki's lecture.
"Yes, I think I understand." Orihime nodded and got out of bed. "...my hairpins are missing."
Shun'o paused, "...you haven't been given them yet. Sora currently has them."
Orihime's eyes widened, "Sora's still alive? Can I save him?"
"It's not impossible, but it will be hard. And since you don't have our vessel or the reiki to use it, we can't help you."
"He'll give me the pins the day he's supposed to die. Can I build up my reiki before then? What day is it?" Orihime was wearing an uncharacteristically serious face. It was vaguely disconcerting to see an expression like that on a nine-year-old.
"I don't know. I'm sorry, Orihime, but this is uncharted territory. Even we didn't expect anything like this to happen." Shun'o shook her head. "The best way to find out is probably to just ask or find a calendar somewhere. I'm not sure about your reiki, but if we got Urahara-san involved..." She trailed off, thinking.
Orihime nodded. "It's not much, but it's a plan. I'll find Urahara-san and tell him what happened. He'll probably be able to help."
Orihime's first loop was a disaster. Urahara didn't believe her until her predictions started coming true. By that time, Sora was already dead, despite Orihime's efforts to the contrary. Her reiki didn't evolve much faster than it had in the original timeline, and though she managed to help Rukia keep order in Karakura, Ichigo never became a Shinigami for some reason, and her other classmates either never awakened (Sado), weren't much help (Ishida), or were dead (Rukia). Aizen steamrolled right over the city without much resistance. After Aizen's victory, Orihime reset the world with a heavy heart.
It took a few loops for Orihime to reach the conclusion she did. ' Nothing changes unless I change it.'
It took longer for her to realize what it meant. ' I'm on my own. Nobody else can remember the futures I erase. And nobody will believe me just on my word, and convincing them always takes too long. If I want things to be different I have to make those changes myself.' (The second conclusion required no small amount of prompting from Tsubaki.)
It took another loop for her to get over the mental breakdown from that revelation. Still, Orihime was a fairly resilient girl, all things considered, and, while 'she got over it' is really not the way to describe the end of that event at all, she managed to at least get back to 'functional'.
And so Orihime woke once again in her own bed, in her own home, right back where- and when- she started. It is at this point that the story proper begins.