Sakuya awoke. She was aware of a light, dull pain in the side of her throat, but she found that less annoying than the haze filling her head. Groaning in discomfort, Sakuya laboriously sat herself up.
From the shade of a tall winged armchair a pair of blood-red eyes grinned at Sakuya over the top of a book. "My, my, still abed at this hour? And in such a state too. Anyone would think you'd fallen prey to the demon drink last night."
Sakuya's vision was a little blurred, but even a half-blind man could've seen the massive grin Remilia was sporting. Her teeth practically gleamed in what little of the afternoon sun filtered through the curtains.
"What a maid does in her own time is no concern of mine, but allowing it to affect your work in such a manner is highly remiss. I've half a mind to dock your pay, or perhaps give you a more... imaginative punishment," Remilia added, her grin taking on a devilish aspect.
Sakuya stared at her lady for a few seconds. It's difficult to summon an expression of arch indifference so soon after a rough awakening, but Sakuya had had a lot of prior experience. "Good morning to you too, young mistress." She bowed stiffly in bed, as if afraid that leaning too far forward would pitch her over the side.
"Aw, such a spoilsport," said Remilia in mock sulking tones, casually tossing her book onto the side table. The china tea set thereon rattled, as did Sakuya's nerves. "You weren't so cold when last we talked." Remilia pretended to look away wistfully, resting her chin on her propped arm, but her sly sideways glance back at Sakuya was about as subtle as a mallet upside the head.
Sakuya grimaced, in equal parts at Remilia's sport and her own muzziness. "Whatever I may have said under the effects of your venom in no way represents my actual thoughts."
"Oh, don't be so scared, you didn't say anything to displease me... quite the opposite, in fact." Remilia smiled catlike at Sakuya, stretching her slender arms and wings.
Sakuya coughed into her fist. "Mistress Remilia, may I ask you a straightforward question?"
"The more forward the better," said Remilia, leaning forward on her arched fingers.
"Why do you choose to be so childish?"
The question lingered in the air for a while, buzzing awkwardly in the ears like a fly that refused to land. Remilia's smile did not flicker even once.
"I assume you mean my appearance."
"And your manner," Sakuya replied bluntly. "You are far older than I will ever live to be and no doubt far wiser too, and yet you choose to make a play of your immature side."
"Who said that my jest is born of immaturity?" Remilia leaned back into her armchair, her grin fading from devilish to merely content. "From my perspective, it seems as though your manner is the one redolent of youthful uncertainty."
Sakuya's cheeks coloured with heat. "Whatever do you mean? I have always been very responsible in the execution of my duties."
"For which I am thankful. However, I do sometimes find myself yearning for the days when responsibility was not your strong suit."
Sakuya blinked. "You mean... when I was a child?"
Remilia nodded serenely. "Strange, isn't it, how a child, though lacking in the wisdom of years, has such a strong grasp on the greatest wisdom of all: smiles and laughter blow away the dust from these halls so much faster than even you can, Sakuya."
Sakuya momentarily found herself stumped for a response. "It isn't as if I never smile or laugh anymore, mistress."
Remilia nodded – sideways. "Perhaps, but... Never mind: I'm being childish again." She smiled lazily. Although she looked directly at Sakuya, there were no barbs in her face or voice. Nonetheless, the remorse in Sakuya's was evident: she looked down at the bedcovers, averting her eyes from her mistress's.
"If I may be allowed to rephrase my question... what I really wanted to ask was why don't you act more like the lady that you are? Mistress Flandre I can understand being a young girl, but you..."
"Oh?" Remilia stood and walked towards Sakuya as though advancing down a catwalk, a toothy grin of amused interest on her lips. "Do my innocent, virginal features not delight you? Are you lamenting my lack of a fuller, rounder body?"
A vein on Sakuya's forehead twitched in the manner that usually preceded Meiling getting knifed. "No, mistress," she replied flatly. "Sometimes, I just wish that you would..." Sakuya trailed off, looking aside and biting her lip in frustration. Remilia's steps halted for a second, her smile disappearing. "I apologise. Perhaps I am the childish one here, making such selfish demands of the one I claim to serve."
There was a slight pause. When that pause ended, Remilia's smile came back with a vengeance. "Then allow me to be selfish too."
Sakuya jumped back against the headboard – it was that or get a faceful of her mistress. With her impish grin no more than an inch from her maid's shocked countenance, Remilia said "Kiss me, Sakuya."
Remilia had the privilege of being front row centre as Sakuya's face went through a wide spectrum of expressions, encompassing every one of the elements of surprise. "...What? What? WHAAAT?" A bright bloom of red flourished across Sakuya's face like a field of lillies turning into roses.
"You blushed!" Remilia cried triumphantly, bearing up on her knees and jabbing a finely-manicured finger at Sakuya, her other hand on her hip. "That was the blush of a true maiden if I ever saw one! I think I've proven beyond any doubt who is the immature one here." Remilia crossed her arms and grinned, her entire demeanour a picture-perfect study in the art of self-satisfaction.
If Sakuya's face had been as red as a field of roses before, those roses were now on fire. "But you can't say that! I mean, anyone would've blushed at... I bet you haven't... even..."
Remilia arched a single eyebrow, all but saying 'lay on, Macduff'.
"As you wish, milady," said Remilia, copying Sakuya's professional manner to a tee – save for the relentless grin – even bowing slightly as she lifted herself off Sakuya's bed, her wings wafting her aloft. "I'll send one of the other maids to see to you."
Sakuya glared furiously at anywhere but Remilia's current position as she left the room. Some seconds after the door had clicked shut, Sakuya muttered "AND she left the book and tea set behind. Typical."