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[X] Bother Mistress Flandre.
[X] Pick something up from the puppeteer.
With that decision settled, he dressed himself with flair, finished the rest of his morning routine, and determined to see the other vampire.
On the Mansion’s highest floor, the Scarlet Devil slept where she could most comfortably watch the moon. Although this was her reason, and she was indeed nocturnal, she often slept through the night rather than the day.
On the Mansion’s lowest floor, her little sister slept where she could most comfortably forget everything. And, although she too was nocturnal, she rarely possessed a proper sense of time, only hardly defining days by the meals she received.
Flandre Scarlet was a particularly dangerous vampire, and she could surely rampage even worse than her elder sister if left to do however she pleased. That would be trouble in today’s Gensokyo, and that was the present reason why the other residents had taken many measures to seal her within the Mansion’s basement. It was not, however, why she stayed.
Mistress Remilia was whimsical, Mistress Flandre was a layabout.
Very rare were the occasions Mistress Flandre became curious about something, or wanted the company of others. A few days after Gen had passed into fantasy, she became curious about humans after a pair of them launched an assault on the Mansion. This was despite living over five centuries and never seeing one alive or dead aside from Miss Sakuya (unless they were “dead, and their blood processed as agreeable-looking food or drink”). And despite earning playmates after Marisa defeated her, she still remained inside now, and made no bids for guests.
Mistress Flandre spent most of her time in her room, and otherwise she’d wander the halls without any particular reason behind doing so. Gen was not sure why the girl preferred reticence, but he was curious to know why. He had realized that whenever he saw the little sister his thoughts over her were quick to become worried ones, and not only over his life. Beyond that he would frequently speculate on her situation and relationships (mainly, between herself and the Mistress). He was sincerely driven to know.
So, he liked to tease her.
He wanted to know whether her quiet and distant ways were the result of personality or something greater, and prodding at her tended to be revealing. She wasn’t likely to just open up or naturally show what might be her true colors, given how detached she tended to be. With that in mind on this winter’s day, Gen proceeded to her room.
At the end of an extensive, vaguely meandering, and red (of course) corridor quite a ways below the earth was the door to that room. It was an almost suspiciously normal door for the Mansion: not large and ostentatious like the doors to the Library, just four-sided, wooden, gilded fancily, and bearing a carving of some fantastic mural like most of the doors here. It was also standard in size, and aside from its queer location the only way to tell this was a distinct door was seeing that it was marked with one of his Master’s seals. The seal was one done to negate physical and magical damage, but ever since Mistress Flandre’s actions a few days after the Scarlet Mist Incident (where she’d escaped by destroying the doorknob and had just... pushed the door open), Master Patchouli had kept the seal deliberately broken (though it could easily be redone). When he’d first come to introduce himself to the younger Mistress, the seal had reminded him of why he hadn’t introduced himself yet. Even now he still feared this vampire; he was just able to steel himself better in her presence after getting more used to it.
Gen took a breath, and assured himself. He threw the door open, strode inside while closing it behind him, and announced “Mistress Flandre!” Then, he moved his head about six centimeters to his left.
“I have come for your hand in marriage!”
[ ♫: http://listenonrepeat.com/watch/?v=2Bx4sgOhA9w ]
He spoke with definite, confident boldness; one hand over his heart and the other straight out before him. Stuck in the wood of the door behind him and wobbling was a chisel which had been flung to where his head was just previously. Within the dark room and sitting atop a pile of bright sheets was Mistress Flandre, who also had her hand extended. She was surrounded by pillows thrown all over, and her bed was bare. She was still in her nightclothes, and she was not amused.
Gen looked at the tool beside his face and observed, “A chisel.”
“What?” asked Flandre, and from her tone he knew she was asking what he was doing there, rather than asking what problem there’d be with her using a chisel.
“To be wed, Mistress Flandre,” he repeated with a solemn, western bow.
Mistress Flandre folded her legs, put her hands around her calves, and slouched, staring at the man in her room and still unamused. She spread out her wings, and Gen’s teasing veneer faltered under the sight.
The younger Mistress did not have wings like her sister. They extended from her back with as much overwhelming and unanticipated span, but they – or rather, the parts of them connected with her back – looked like black bone and warped shadow rather than the membranous sort that he imagined must be common for vampires. And that was just it: they weren’t “wings” in any common sense at all. They were JUST the “upper” part of an ordinary wing, and made of very unordinary stuff. This alone gave Mistress Flandre a distinctly horrific impression, like thin Eldritch fingers were growing out her shoulders, but the rest of her wing structure was simply... terribly eerie.
Sprouting from the stick-like and burnt-seeming bone of one wing were seven shards of colorful glass, mirroring seven on the other. They weren’t a rainbow, either, and at least the first and last color – faded blue – repeated. When Gen had first seen these shards (or were they crystals?) his immediate impression was to be stunned by the unusual beauty. However, during his time in the mansion, he had discovered that he found Flandre Scarlet’s wings very unsettling. Every color—that clear blue to green, yellow, orange, rose, violet, and a darker blue before the clear variety came again, last—was cold. It was similar to a notorious ice fairy that could often be found by the Lake, but Flandre’s were cold on... well, it seemed to be an “emotional” level as well. He often wondered if her wings had some sort of constant, overpowering effect on humans just from seeing their frigid brilliance. They curved, at once looking like the prettiest ornaments and the most wicked of knives, and whenever she moved they bent in a way that inexplicably reminded him of teeth shifting within gums. They shifted, and when Flandre spread her wings like she was doing now, to stand or kneel before them always made him think she was a second away from swallowing him whole with her entire being.
The little sister lifted her right hand. He winced, feeling a bead of sweat crawl down the side of his face.
But, to his relief, she beckoned him next like she would a dog. “Come here,” she said, gesturing.
And although he was relieved, Gen quickly shook his head and answered, “No.”
“Get over here.”
“I’d rather not.”
“Come on,” ordered Flandre as she brought her wings back down and revealed a fang with a coquettish simper, “you’re proposing? Where’s your ring?”
Gen stared at her, still bowed. After a moment, he swallowed, and slowly straightened his back.
“If I reveal it, you won’t crush its eye?” he asked.
“I won’t~,” she sang, the lie obvious on her tongue.
He sighed, bringing his hand into one of his pockets to remove a small velvet box. Resting it on his palm he looked at it, and it burst into nothingness, like it was never even there.
The little sister gave a shout of “KABOOM!”, and he saw that her lifted hand was now squeezed tight into a fist.
“It was empty,” he informed her.
“This human is gutless and a kid,” the girl observed.
“One day...” Gen began, tracing over where the box had been in his hand with a finger, “... I’m going to have a real ring in one of these: then I’m going to have to demand you compensate me, Mistress Flandre.”
She dismissed his statement with a sullen “Whatever...” and leaned her back into her bedside, staring at the ceiling.
“Good morning, Mistress Flandre,” he said, finally greeting her properly.
“Morning, mroring, moaning, mumumu...” she muttered
“You look beautiful as ever,” he complimented.
“May I come in?”
“There’s an order to these things, fool.”
Flandre slouched forward again, but was looking at things other than him while she answered, “Fine, fine, come in.”
He bowed again like a gentlemen and stepped forward.
Mistress Flandre’s room was often a mess, though the maids tidied it every day. This morning it was a mess as well, but it wasn’t destroyed furniture, tossed clothes, and dolls with bursting stuffing where heads should be as it was usually. Aside from the fortress of pillows at the center of which she sat watchman, she had what seemed to be many large books, left everywhere.
She’s been... reading with a chisel? Something seemed amiss. He reached for one of the tomes.
“Oi, don’t look!” came a shout, and he saw that Flandre was diving at him.
Although he’d gotten rather good at rapid invocations, no vampire-warding spell he knew could stop her so quickly. He could only put out his arm and hope.
The little blond girl fell onto his hand, keeping afloat and reaching for him. His hand was on her chest, and his eyes moved and squinted with shock and surprise.
“H-Hey!” he yelled, “Mistress Flandre, my hand!”
He fell onto his rear, as, indeed, his feeble human strength was nothing against a vampire’s supernatural kind. He was only thankful she merely seemed angry rather than furious as he covered his face and pushed his palm against her, hoping not to feel anything particular through her thin clothes.
“Don’t... look!” she growled, and he felt her grasping at his forearm. He peaked through his left hand’s digits to see that she was bringing his right hand toward her mouth with teeth bared. She opened up, and chomped down on his fingers.
“Oww!” he roared, “I won’t look! I won’t look, listen to me!”
The little sister continued to bite, and again he was thankful. She wasn’t trying to bite them off, just hurt him. She naturally licked at his fingertips messily while grinding, and Gen cursed his heart for beating over reasons other than fear.
“Damn... it...!” he cried. “Mistress Flandre, can’t you just...! Agh! S-Stop...! Your tongue...! Shit!”
Gen grit his teeth while Flan grit hers over his fingers. He thought over this predicament, decided, and looked into her face. He declared: “I’m gonna look.”
Flandre’s face seemed to darken, and within that instant her wings flared open, riddling him with chills and making him reflexively shrink into himself. Mist began to pour out of her, and her expression told him nothing, which in turn told him she was now prepared to simply kill him. She forced him onto his back.
“Ha ha...!” he laughed, not finding any humor in this situation, “You’re embarrassed, Mistress!? Now I’m really curio—! Huh?”
He paused, noticing something was tickling his ear. When he looked up, he saw that it was a curl of shaved wood. In fact, there were quite a few shavings on the floor.
Something came to mind.
Gen began an invocation, and when it was ready he used his own spirit to cast sunlight sparks from his left fingertips that danced up his right arm. When they met with Flandre’s hands, she immediately withdrew, palms smoking. She also stopped biting him, and he took the chance to get out from under her. Barely.
Flandre had made to grab for his collar and only ripped the sleeve of his left arm instead. She looked at the cloth strips dangling from her claws, and then looked at him. She was slouched, and the mists coming out of her twisted and billowed such that she appeared to be a wraith, or Death.
“GEN...!” she started, her voice bellowing, “What do you think you’re DOING!?”
“You invited me in, did you not?” he asked calmly,
“Haaahh?” she hissed, “Are you a vampire too? Not that we need invitations!”
“Well, I do have a vampire’s blood,” he answered cheekily. He looked for the nearest of Flandre’s books.
“I didn’t invite you to look through my drawers,”
“I-I’m not looking through your drawers! What!?”
She summoned bullets: a ring of them, diamond-reds, encircling her and ready to launch.
“I didn’t invite you to look at those, either!”
“Hold it! Time out!” he shouted, stopping his hand over one of the tomes before he could grab it. He brought that same hand up to gesture Flandre pause rather than fire. “Won’t you mess up your room!?”
He was fully aware of the dumbness of implying Flan cared. She spoke to him in steps.
“I’ll mess up you first,
then the room,
then the mansion.
I’ll just break you all.”
And so, mists still swirling around her, she began to attack.
Gen dove for the book he’d been reaching for earlier, the first volley of red bullets screaming over his head and pounding into a wall. With the tome in hand he realized what he’d expected: these things were not books, they were albums.
“S-Stop it already~!” Flandre whined while balling her fists, and clusters of the bullets from before began to fill the space of the room. Gen, still on the floor, looked on in awe at the danmaku. Rather than, a bullet curtain, this was more of a bullet storm. He ran.
Every bullet in the room was aimed, and aimed horribly true. When Gen ran, they chased, and he saw that the younger sister chased as well. He tested the storm by moving serpentine and found that the bullets would continue on forward if they missed the target, but then round back, which was really quite horrible if you wanted to dodge. It was definitely something that would never be used in a spell card duel. Rounding the room (which, he realized, was astoundingly large), Gen eventually came to Flandre’s bed. He leapt onto it, or rather dropped, his socks pushing into the mattress while he fell flat and watched scarlet blur over his head. He quickly opened the album in his hands and put it, pictures-out, over his face. As he’d expected, the bullets all stopped. He glanced from behind the album’s covers and saw Flandre floating over him with a frustrated look in her eyes and on her lips.
Gen grinned with self-satisfaction and boasted: “I knew it! I knew it! You’re using references to carve something, aren’t you, Mistress!?”
“Gu... nh...” the little sister grumbled. Gen turned the album so he could see the photographs within it, and again what he expected was what was. These were all pictures of Mistress Remilia, and some of Mistress Flandre.
Thinking, How warm, Gen sat up onto Flandre’s bed, bringing his legs cross. The danmaku disintegrated into sparkling dust, and the younger Mistress descended to her bed, eyebrows knotted, lips turned into a pout, and exuding a sense of shame. Gen addressed her in her sulking.
“You can sculpt, Mistress?” he asked.
“It’s carving isn’t it?” the girl mumbled, gazing downward, “You just said carving, too.”
He was still looking through the album, now seeking out any photos of the two sisters together (and finding none), when he said: “Show me what you’ve got done so far or I’ll tell Mistress Remilia you were looking at her pictures.”
He lifted the album over his head, allowing Flandre to pounce on him without hitting the booklet. She growled again.
The young Mistress sure is slender, he absently remarked in his thoughts as Flandre tried to climb over him to get the album.
“How about I just kill you, Gen!? Then you won’t say anything!”
“I have to admit from your perspective there’s no downside to that.”
“Then—” she began ominously, raising her left hand with the palm up.
“Why are you so embarrassed about this!?” he shouted in a panic. “You were like this when I found you painting, too!”
“If I wanted someone to find me I wouldn’t do it in my room, idiot! Idiot! Stupid! Dumb, idiot human!” she began beating on his chest, and he looked down on her with his eyes wide. His expression became severe, and he grabbed one of her wrists as it went for his breast, keeping the album aloft with one hand. He addressed her:
“Lady Flandre,” he said, “you don’t have to worry, I’m not going to tell anyone about this. Not Master, the Mistress, or anyone. I honestly just wanted to see what you were up to. If I really did make you upset, I apologize.”
She continued fuming to herself in silence, but didn’t move to attack him again. After a while, he let go her wrist, and waited for her to speak.
“... I think I’m going to be the one who kills you, Gen,” she told him.
“That seems more and more likely by the day,” he agreed.
“Unless you marry me.”
He clicked his tongue before asking, “Come again?”
“Unless you marry me, I said.”
“You want me to marry you, Mistress Flandre?”
“I don’t,” she admitted, “but if you married me that would mean I married you, so we’d be in love. I wouldn’t kill you then.”
Moments like this reminded him that Mistress Flandre’s total innocence didn’t only apply to her unbound, remorseless destruction. He brought the album back down and found that he was focused on the side tail tied to the right of Mistress Flandre’s hair from his perspective. He wanted to brush it aside, and when he realized that, blinked harshly.
What the hell was he thinking?
Not even flustered like he often was around Youmu, but simply, largely, deeply confounded, Gen politely backed himself away from Flandre and set the album down between them. He let out a sigh, smirked at the girl, and asked now rather than demanding:
“Can I see what you’ve whipped up today?”
Flandre was touching her hair. She glanced at Gen while pinching it, before answering “Fine, I’ll show you.”
Something he’d discovered about Flandre Scarlet was that she was extremely talented, but practiced few things. During his half year at the mansion he’d found her playing a piano beautifully, creating immense structures with impeccable balance (often cards, sometimes chess pieces), stitching together lovely hats, painting life or imagination, and unicycling. Furthermore, piano besides, she could play the violin, viola, cello, harp, and several kinds of horns, all at a professional level. She seemed to participate in these activities with little interest, and wasn’t engaging them out of whim but rather boredom. Whenever he asked her what she was doing during these undertakings, she would almost always answer “Wasting time”. She rarely played the same instrument twice, and if she was crafting something it was never the same something. Now she had been wood carving. Moving to her pillow fort and going under the bed from there, she withdrew her latest work, and showed it to Gen with a terse “Here”.
Gen’s eyes shined upon another Flandre marvel: a striking bust of her sister in wood, still rough due to his interruption, but the skill and beauty of the carving was nonetheless evident. It was a figure of Remilia Scarlet looking askance as wind swept over her hair. Her cheeks and other features were noticeably angular, but Flandre had taken the most effort in capturing her older sister’s daring, loving, charming smile: only almost slight, clearly pleased, and with a fang peeking down from the upper lip.
“How do you even do this, Mistress Flandre?” Gen asked as Flandre passed the carving over to him for his closer examination.
“I think about what to do, then my hands do it,” she explained. “It’s like walking.”
“Some way to say you’re talented...” he remarked, feeling over the wood-Remilia’s sculpted hair. The attention to detail the little sister had been going for was bewildering. “I think something like this is beyond talent, though.”
“I wanted to—...” Flandre only began her statement, and Gen had a feeling how she’d intended to finish it.
“Were you going to put it beside your bed and have Master Patchouli provide lighting for it?”
Flandre’s mouth hung slightly open, exposing her fangs, and she blushed from cheek to cheek and ear to ear, entirely scarlet-faced. She was looking off to nowhere as usual, and twisting her eyebrows.
“These albums smell like the Library,” he explained, “and I recognize this as wood Miss Sakuya procured for Master recently. So, the Mistress keeps her family albums in the Library, huh...?” He looked at Remilia’s face in his hands and smiled a smile to reflect it when thinking of this.
Then, he suddenly frowned. Weren’t vampires unable to be reflected in mirrors? Wasn’t reflection at least a part of how photos worked? Then again, the Mistresses didn’t seem to entirely fit the myths. For instance, Mistress Remilia kept crucifixes and crosses around and used their image in danmaku almost as if to mock the idea that she could be harmed by them. And, just earlier, Mistress Flandre had told him they did not need invitations to enter homes. Accepting the nonsense, he looked up to address her again.
“So, you wanted to keep it a secret from Mistress Remilia and only told Lady Patchouli about it? Couldn’t trust Sakuya?”
“God couldn’t trust Sakuya with secrets,” she told him plainly.
“That’s true,” he agreed, handing the bust back to Flan, “but it’s a shame Mistress Remilia doesn’t know how much you care.”
Flandre recoiled in horror, “C-Care!?” she uttered, baffled, “About that girl?”
He determined she wasn’t simply in denial, so Gen asked his next question seriously.
“Why else would you want her watching over you while you sleep?”
“”I don’t care about her, I love my elder sister! Caring is thinking about someone or something forever, and love is just, like, you know!”
Flan moved with great motions while frantically explaining herself, moving the partial statue of her sister this way and that. Eventually she glared at it, then rushed over the side of the mattress to put it back under her bed. She returned to him and emphatically stated: “It’s love!”
Gen was surprised.
He understood her distinction.
Remaining unexcited in his tone, he acknowledged “I see. You love Lady Remilia.”
“She’s my older sister!” she declared this as an answer.
“Well I think the Mistress would like hearing that—”
For the third time, Flandre launched herself at him, and with this instance put him in a terrible place. The younger Mistress had locked him down in possibly the worst way she could.
Her arms were outstretched to grab a hold of his, and put them down behind his head.
She leaned in very close, perhaps unintentionally, from positioning herself like this.
And finally, she was straddling his stomach.
Her side length of hair fell down over his shoulder. He kept his gaze on her eyes.
“Gen,” said the younger Mistress, “you’re very something, aren’t you?”
“Clarify?” he requested.
“Something... clever?” he wagered.
“Not really,” she admitted, and he grimaced. “How old were you? Twenty?”
“A bit over that.”
“I’ve been alive for over five hundred years. I’m not a child.”
For a moment his eyes wandered to the place where she was sitting, and he quickly returned to meet her stare. She continued.
“You’re something... something ‘bold’, maybe. ‘Foolish’ maybe.”
“Not the first time I’ve been called these things,” he confessed, and realized his voice had begun to waver just a bit.
“I really mean it,” she said, and she squeezed into his wrists. He winced as bone pushed against bone. “How does a human get this stupid in just half a year? You were always stupid, but now you stupidly think you can tell me how I should live, or how my sister should live, or anybody. When did you get so bold? Is it Patchouli’s doing? Elder sister’s friend?”
“I’m afraid it’s simply just a bad habit, Lady Flandre,” he admitted, smirking. She frowned at him and glowered, and he realized he was too close to her. Her cold touch, proximity, fragrance, and loose gown were getting to him wrongly. While he didn’t want to, reason told him to retreat.
“Kill your habit before it gets you killed. Maybe today, now...” she began to lean down closer to him, pressing her body into his. Sirens went off in his head, but before he could shout at the girl she continued with a dangerous statement: “You know,” she began, whispering beside his ear, “I’ve never drunk blood before. I’m kind of... feeling like it right now.”
At moments in life where a mortal realizes that their situation is unique, helpless, and yet they are still fully physically and mentally capable, profundity comes upon them. They don’t comically think “oh, I’m going to die” or coolly think “this moment will mean my life is changing course”, they think in white noise and can hear their heart beating in their ears. Their sensations all increase, seemingly in some attempt from the mind and body to give them all means to escape whatever is barreling ahead, and sensible retrospect is granted on everything they’ve ever done.
So Gen faced this, body cold with sweat, and he understood that if he let Flan bite him, he could very probably die. However... he was so lucid through the adrenaline and panic coursing through him now that he also understood.
This was intimate.
Mistress Flandre had drunk blood before, she just didn’t know it. Miss Sakuya always gave her tea and cakes and other things with human blood within them. She did not know humans. She hadn’t consciously bit into one’s neck and sucked from them. Gen would be the first. He wasn’t dumb to metaphors.
The mind-numbing thing about all this was that, undoubtedly, he wanted her fangs in his neck. He also really, really didn’t. While he sweat frigid with the fear and anticipation of imitate demise, parts of him were heated. Flandre put her cool cheek to his to get better access, and he grew hotter.
Through the white noise of his mind he thought only a single, crystal clear word:
Flandre opened her mouth over his neck, and he could strongly feel his heartbeat. Terrified, anxious, disordered, and aroused he
 refused Flandre’s bite with all his power.
 allowed Flandre to bite him.