A flurry of blonde zipped up the pathway to the Hakurei Shrine, the youkai lost in thought as her large eyes closed in contemplation.
Rumia had been warned on more than one occasion by Reimu about speeding and not watching where she was going.
But she couldn't help it as another tug of a memory formed in her mind while she mumbled to herself, trying to make sense of what she had seen.
The flashes of the images in her mind barely held any significance on their own.
Glimpses of two women and a small girl, their faces blurred out as the child swung between them whilst holding a hand each.
They all seemed familiar.
As did the two words accompanying the vision.
"Osana Reimu.." she mumbled, "Maybe Reimu will know what it means. Reimu knows everything!" Rumia then grinned.
In her musings, the youkai's awareness of her surroundings became obsolete.
Along with the obstacles in her way.
Rumia winced as she glanced up at the offending bark that had dared to cross her path.
Or, she'd accidentally managed to fly into.
The direct hit had caused her to plummet back down with a resounding thud, the injury on her head leaving her disorientated.
So she sat up and rubbed her forehead, only to find something sticky clinging onto her small fingers. The scent of blood was a giveaway at first but she hadn't thought anything of it.
It wasn't the first tree she'd stumbled into and it certainly wouldn't be the last.
Granted, it had been some time since a collision had caused her to bleed out.
Rumia's eagerness to get to the shrine had gotten the better of her as she sailed through the air without a care or doubt in the world.
All she wanted to do was see her favourite priestess.
Reimu's grouchy yet obviously gentle expression when Rumia dropped by brought the youkai much joy.
But now she was unsure of what to do as the bleeding seemed to be profuse and a whirlwind of dizziness set in.
One bark became two, and then three.
A soft voice strummed through the bushes, one which Rumia recognised instantly.
She flipped her head to the side to see Alice walking to her, a basket in her hand and Shanghai perched on her shoulder.
"Oh, hi Alice!" Rumia greeted with as much gusto as she could manage considering her injury.
Alice's cerulean eyes widened in shock at the state of the youkai. She quickly closed the distance between them and crouched down, placing her hand behind Rumia's back with the other reaching for the wound.
Touching it wouldn't be wise at the moment considering the trail of blood going down the side of the blonde's head.
"What happened?" she questioned lightly whilst taking a cloth from the basket and pressed it against the youkai's wound gently.
"I think the trees in Gensokyo grow really fast" Rumia grinned, "Those weren't there before, right?".
There was only one tree in the way, though it was enough to deduce what had occurred.
"Yeah, those three trees..oh wait, everything is spinning, so are you" the girl suddenly informed before collapsing into Alice's arms.
The sounds of Alice's pleading voice was the last thing Rumia recalled as a blanket of darkness covered her senses.
When Rumia came to, her crimson eyes fluttered for a brief duration as her head felt like a taiko drum. The unusual pain made them slam close again when she brought a hand up to figure out what was placed on the corner of her forehead.
A hand gently wrapped around her wrist, "Don't touch that, you'll start bleeding again".
Reimu's chiding tone brought Rumia back to her senses and she realised the surface beneath her was somewhat soft.
"Well, she remembers my name. I'd be annoyed if you forgot me just by bumping into a tree" Reimu smirked.
Alice chuckled as she brushed a few strands of blonde hair from Rumia's face, "I have a feeling it would take a lot more to forget you. How are you feeling, Rumia?".
"Alice? I, I'm okay I guess. What happened?" she asked, "I was heading to the shrine, but then a tree got in the way and I saw Alice..".
She looked up at the two woman whilst nestling comfortably in Reimu's lap. Alice was pressed up behind the brunette and Shanghai peered over at Rumia, giving the youkai a wave.
The scent of freshly brewed tea and an array of sweet snacks filtered into the small blonde's nose, the atmosphere feeling cosy and warm.
Two things associated with Reimu and the shrine now.
Even more so after Alice & Reimu's relationship flourished.
It helped to ease the dull wave of pain coursing through her head, her mind opting to focus on the more pleasant ongoing.
"That pretty much sums up what happened" Reimu said, "I told you to stop rushing around so much".
"But I wanted to come and see you!".
Rumia's pout and persistence was endearing, "I think Reimu would prefer it if she could see you without you getting hurt" Alice smiled".
"Exactly. If you were flying any faster, I'm sure the tree would have snapped in half with you going right through it".
Rumia opened her mouth to rebuke the statement but she knew the priestess wasn't wrong.
Instead, she clutched at Reimu's top with her hands, her eyes oozing an apologetic stance, "I know, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to".
"It's fine" Reimu said and smiled, "Just be careful, okay. We aren't going anywhere so there is no need to rush".
Something in Rumia's heart thought otherwise, the remnant of a broken promise to the same eyes she was staring up at coming through.
Not knowing what the feeling was, Rumia let it slip her mind as she brought up a pinkie finger, "Promise? Cirno said that if we do this, you're making a super secret promise that you will keep true. So, p-promise you will always be here, Reimu".
Taking a glance at Alice, Reimu felt the magician's hand rest on the small of her back in comfort. Though she knew the promise was something she absolutely couldn't adhere to, she would do her utmost best to stay around for as long as possible.
She'd made the same assurance to her lover, knowing full well that there was an abundance of hindrances in the way.
Still, a slumbering lie was sometimes better than the bitter truth.
Something Alice had come to accept as well.
Reimu nodded before facing Rumia again and intertwined their pinkie fingers, "I promise, Rumia".
The small youkai beamed whilst nuzzling against Reimu's stomach, contentment overtaking the last remnants of discomfort she felt in her head.
Each word was wrapped around a soft yawn as the solace surrounding Rumia settled in.
Alice's slender fingers running through her hair helped to aid the youkai into sleep as she rested her chin on Reimu's shoulder.
The magician had always wondered about the depth of Reimu's care for Rumia.
Her observant nature noticed how the ribbons they both wore were identical. It was a type that no other in Gensokyo had and yet, a youkai and a priestess shared the same one.
Like the material formed the bond they had.
Despite the protests of treating Rumia like she did anyone else, or the spiel of Hakurei priestesses upholding their notion of equality and so on, it was plain as day for Alice to see the emotions etched on her lover's face when it came to the small youkai in her lap.
The motherly affection was charming, leaving Alice staring at the two fondly as they engaged in whatever mess they found themselves in.
"Reimu gives me happiness..".
The brunette repeated the words softly as she took in Rumia's sleeping face.
"Hey, are you okay?" Alice asked, increasing her hold around Reimu's waist with her arm.
"Yeah, it sounded familiar. Like I'd heard it before".
The brunette sighed, "I don't really know. Sometimes she will say or do things that take me back to a different time. It's weird, I know".
"Not at all" Alice reassured, "There usually are reasons for such a thing to happen. Memories, alternate worlds, past lives. The unfortunate fact is that it is hard to pinpoint the why. Perhaps your connection to Rumia has more meaning behind it".
"You think?" Reimu wondered, "A youkai of the dark and a Hakurei priestess would have the strangest friendship".
"Yes, almost as strange as her relationship with a human turned youkai".
Reimu nudged Alice lightly when the magician chuckled, "So not the same thing. But..I get where you are coming from".
"More so since your affiliation to youkai is much more different than it should be. You care, Reimu, no matter who or what they are".
Alice's serious yet compassionate admittance warmed the priestess up significantly. Regardless of how much she played it down, she never thought of youkai as the enemy per se.
Certainly not the tiny one snoozing against her with such a genial smile on her face.
"I don't think I could ever truly hate youkai. For some reason, I've always thought that. Somewhere in my brain, the idea of..resenting them without reason just seems silly, you know? I think my mother was the same. Though I'm sure Yukari had a lot to do with it too".
"Then they both did a remarkable job of raising you" Alice hummed after kissing the brunette's blushing cheek, "Which makes you special".
"Or insane, since Yukari took the reigns after" Reimu laughed softly before relaxing against the blonde, "Maybe. All I know is that Rumia has always been here. Even if I can't remember why, I just, I'm happy she is with us".
With the warmth of the shrine floating around them, Reimu and Alice soaked into the tender moment.
Rumia's presence at the shrine had been cemented long ago, a presence Reimu couldn't ignore, nor did she want to.
It served as a frequent reminder, along with Alice, that kindness and home didn't necessarily rest within humans itself.
A lesson she had learned so harshly and in the cruellest of ways.
Whereas Reimu had been spared of being able to recount the dark day, there was one other who hadn't.
Yukari watched the peaceful scene from a gap, a fond smile forming on the corner of her lips.
Her violet eyes shimmered against the glistening lights of her home which enhanced how desperately she was trying to contain the unshed tears.
The memories were raw in her mind.
Reimu's mother, Rumia in her true form, entangled in each other's arms as the Hakurei priestess perished in sacrifice to save Rumia.
Reimu didn't deserve the scale of anguish to know of the fates of the two women she adored.
Instead, Yukari gained reprieve in knowing that Reimu had a chance to live a better and more fulfilling life.
A factor which both Reimu's mother and Rumia wanted more than anything in the world.
So witnessing Reimu smiling vividly at something Alice had said, the magician poking her chest teasingly whilst Rumia slept soundly in the brunette's arms was much more closer to replicating the past than Yukari was comfortable with.
Life had a twisted sense of humour that way.