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Chapter Text

There was someone standing in the middle of Shinobu’s butterfly garden. 

The haori he wore had two different sides. One was a solid maroon, while the other displayed a geometrical pattern of green, orange, and yellow. His back was facing towards you so you couldn’t get a clear look at his face, but there was something familiar about...

Tomioka Giyuu.

Right. The Water Pillar.

You didn’t really question it at first. Since Shinobu’s estate wasn’t too far from the main headquarters, it wouldn’t be unusual for a Pillar to drop by here and there. They’re probably here to conduct demon-slaying business, so it would be best to not get involved with the higher-ups.

But this was Tomioka Giyuu.

You recalled Shinobu mentioning how much of an airhead he was—very much like you—but was that really true? Maybe you could find out.

With a carefree smile, you approached him, purposely letting your sandals crunch on the garden’s rocks loud enough for him to be alerted of your presence.

“Excuse me?” you called out softly. “Tomioka-san, may I help you?” 

He didn’t even turn. You walked around him to stand in his view at a respectful distance.

“Tomioka-san?”

He’s staring at the butterflies.

You didn’t blame him. They were very beautiful this time of year after all. Their pastel colors shimmered vividly in the sunlight, fluttering about in the air with a gentle grace you could never hope to have. 

Enraptured by their dance, you forget about the Water Pillar. Only the chirps of birds could be heard. Then…

“Do you like me?”

“Hm?” You turned to face Giyuu. “Do I like you?”

He nodded, and you tilted your head thoughtfully. He hadn’t done anything to make you immediately dislike him upon first impression. From the few minutes you spent standing near him, you thought that he was a calm individual of a few words. And if he, a very busy demon slayer, could spend some time appreciating nature, then perhaps he was likable?

“Yes." You nodded sincerely, smiling. “I like you.”

 


 

“Do you like me?”

“Hm? Do I like you?”

Giyuu nodded, and carefully watched her reaction.

She tilted her head.

Ever since he came back from the mission on Mt. Natagumo and finished his meeting with Oyakata and the other pillars, he finally had time to spare for himself. But as luck would have it, Shinobu’s sharp words came hurtling back to slap him across the face. 

“No one likes you, you know,” she had said so casually.

She might as well slapped him while she was at it.

A part of him desperately wanted to prove Shinobu wrong, that he was certainly not unlikeable. To prove his theory, he needed to know how he came off as to a passing stranger, and then tell the Insect Pillar—if the outcome was favorable—that he was likable.

So when her servant smiled, her eyes crinkling with genuine kindness as she revealed her answer, it was like the sun cleared the heavy rain cloud above his head.

He was likable.

Take that, Shinobu.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Kochou Shinobu was a busy woman. 

When not slaying demons left and right, her daily schedule consisted of creating mixtures of wisteria poison in her private lab and watching over Kanao’s training. While tending to the injured is also important, she depended on Aoi and the other girls to look after them with their capable hands. They were especially needed since the mission on Mt. Natagumo left them with demon slayers in critical condition. The next couple of weeks will be busy, as Kochou Shinobu was a busy woman.

So when she slid open her door that morning and saw who was standing right in front of her, she felt that her day was already wasted.

“I am likable.”

“Tomioka-san, it’s very creepy to stand outside of a woman’s room and not announce yourself.”

Giyuu wasn’t deterred. “I am li—“

“I heard you the first time, Tomioka-san,” she said calmly. “Now, what brought on that silly thought, hm?”

“Back on Mt. Natagumo, you said that no one liked me.”

“And you’re still sulking about that? I’m hardly surprised you didn’t know, since your social skills are so terrible.”

If it had been anyone else, no one would have noticed the slight frown on his face. But Shinobu had been his partner long enough to (sometimes) see the minuscule expressions he was able to make. 

“Yesterday, I asked a woman if she liked me,” is all he said and suddenly it’s so quiet and did she hear him right?

Apparently, Giyuu thought she didn’t and repeated, “Yesterday, I asked a woman if she li—“

“I heard you the first time,” Shinobu repeated, still flabbergasted. His communication skills were worse than she thought. The mental image of him walking up to a woman and bluntly asking if she liked him was almost too much. “And what did this woman say?”

“She said she liked me back.”

“Are you talking about Mitsuri-chan? It’s almost rude not to say her name.”

He shook his head. “Not her.”

Shinobu stared. Not… Mitsuri? She was certain it was her because Mitsuri managed to like someone like Giyuu. Mitsuri liked everyone, actually.

“Are you sure you didn’t imagine this woman?”

“No.”

“Then what’s her name?” she implored.

Giyuu opened his mouth.

Shinobu waited.

Giyuu closed his mouth and stared at nothing.

“You don’t know her name, do you.”

“I forgot to ask.”

“You really are hopeless,” she sighed. “Is there anything else you want to say? I have things to do and talking to you isn’t helping in the slightest.”

Giyuu seemed to shrink a little at the realization of not knowing someone’s name and slinked away without a word. Shinobu let out a laugh at this action before making her way to her lab. As she opened jars of fresh wisteria, she found herself thinking about the ‘mysterious woman’. What if the woman said it out of pity? That’s probably what happened. Poor Giyuu. Yes, no woman was insane enough to like him back, except for maybe—

Shinobu stilled. The jar she was opening nearly slipped from her hands.

Of course, it’d be—

She didn’t know whether to laugh or to put her face in her hands when she realized that you, a fellow airhead, would say that.

 

 

Chapter Text

When Zenitsu came to, there was an angel hovering above him.

Well, this confirmed the fact that he was officially dead. He knew his luck was always pretty crappy, given the countless rejections he received from girls all over, but it finally bought the dreaded price of death. He got bitten by a stupid, ugly spider demon and that was the end of Agatsuma Zenitsu. 

He had things he wanted to do! Like go on a date with Nezuko!

He wondered if Tanjirou and Boar Boy made it out alive. He wondered if they knew he was dead. They probably didn’t even notice.

But when the angel above smiled at him, suddenly his luck wasn’t so crappy after all. She was pretty!

“I’m in heaven!” he weakly cried, tears dribbling down his cheeks with joy. “An angel’s come to take care of me! An angel!”

“Oh, come now,” you chirped brightly, setting the medical supplies on the nightstand to wipe his tears with a handkerchief, “I’m no angel, only a simple servant of the Butterfly Estate! You were very brave to go through the mission at that awful mountain, but you can rest easy now! After all, your recovery will be a long one. Let’s start by treating that cut on your cheek, okay?”

“Huh?” Zenitsu quickly sat up and realized he was in a hospital wing of sorts. “I’m not dead? I’m alive?”

“You’re very much alive, Zenitsu-san!” you exclaimed as you eased a fluffy pillow behind him. “You wouldn’t be talking to me otherwise, right? My name is [Name]. I’ll do my very best to take care of your injuries. Now, please hold still while I…”

”You’re so nice!” the blond shrieked, reaching forward to grab ahold of your clothes in gratitude… only to notice his limbs weren’t as long as he remembered. They stopped halfway in his mint-colored sleeves, not poking out as they should. 

“M-m-m-m-my arms! My legs!” 

“I’m very sorry about them,” you offered softly, taking the chance to disinfect his cut. “Your limbs were shortened considerably as a result of the poison from the spider demon, Zenitsu-san, but—”

He blubbered.

“—luckily, Shinobu-sama’s medicine will fix you right up! Oh, Kiyo-chan, good timing. You can set up the medicine on the nightstand. And could you get an extra pillow for Inosuke-san?”

The mention of Inosuke shut Zenitsu up. “Boar Boy’s here?” he blurted. “Where?”

“He’s right behind me,” you informed kindly, moving aside for him to see a bedridden Inosuke. Zenitsu dumbly watched as a little girl with pink bows fluffed up the new pillow and neatly slipped it under him, careful not to disturb his mask. He was so quiet and still that Zenitsu almost thought he was dead. It was a strange sight to see the feral boy… not acting feral. It was unnatural, just like Boar Boy having a super girly face that didn’t match his body.

“From what I’ve heard, his throat was nearly crushed. And unfortunately, he yelled after that, which will make his recovery a bit longer. He can’t talk well at the moment, so please forgive him.”

Something nearly incoherent buzzed from the mentioned demon slayer. “Sorry I’m… so weak,” Inosuke rasped. “It’s all… my fault.”

“I don’t think you’re weak at all!” you claimed. Kiyo quickly nodded in agreement.

Seeing Boar Boy looking so uncharacteristically tame made Zenitsu sink back into the pillows and laugh. You and Kiyo gave him curious looks, but he’s busy relishing joy from this predicament. 

“Oh, I almost forgot!” As you reached over to grab the medicine, Zenitsu caught a whiff of something sweet from your clothes. It smelled like apples. “This medicine is very important for your recovery. Make sure to take this five times a day, once after each meal and once in between, for three months. If you can’t remember, please tell me and I’ll gladly remind you!”

Your bright smile sent Zenitsu into shock with appreciation. “A real angel,” he nearly sobbed. “A real, kind angel sent from heaven…”

“Oh, I’m no angel,” you hummed as you unwrapped a pill. It was dark green, looked oddly fuzzy, and the size of a tack. “My duty is to help those who risk their lives to protect us. It’s the least I can do.” You held the pill and a cup of water in front of his face. “This will be the first pill for today, and then I’ll help feed you your meal afterward, okay? Say ah~”

Zenitsu happily opened his mouth. You were going to feed him! You, an angel! “Ah~”

The pill sent his tongue into a bitter overdrive. His gag reflex threatened to spit it out, but your hand reacted quicker than he could, clamping a hand over his mouth and nose which forced him to swallow the pill. He could definitely feel the fuzzy parts now. It itched and he coughed, to which you released your grip and tilted the cup of water into his waiting throat with an apologetic look.

“It’s so bitter!” he wailed. 

“I’m very sorry,” you admitted guiltily, not meeting his eyes. “I didn’t want to mention how bitter it was because I was afraid you wouldn’t take it…”

Zenitsu could not get mad at that face.

“Has he taken the pill yet?” Another girl walked into the room, sharp blue eyes zeroing in on Zenitsu. 

“Oh, Aoi-san,” you greeted, setting the cup down. “I just gave him the first one, as well as the instructions.”

“Good,” Aoi said curtly. “Listen up, demon slayer. I could hear your whining on my way here. Get used to it, because you’re taking this stuff for three months. Kochou-sama’s orders.”

“THREE MONTHS!” Zenitsu hollered, causing Kiyo to jump at the sudden volume. “Three! Months! Am I gonna die if I miss a day? I will, won’t I?”

“Shut up!” Aoi snapped. “There are others who are further along in their spider transformations. Don’t think you’re the only one suffering.” She turned to you, an exasperated look crossing her features. “[Name], you’re being too easy on this guy.”

“Aoi-san, they just came back from a dangerous mission,” you inputted gently. “I believe patience and care should be in order.”

Zenitsu started bawling again. You’re too much of a saint. Too good for this cruel world.

Aoi had the same thought. “You’re too nice,” she huffed. “Anyway, I heard there’s another injured demon slayer coming over from a pillar meeting. I’ll be outside waiting for them if you need me.” 

“A pillar meeting?” 

Zenitsu’s sharp ears picked up your quiet murmuring.

“I just had a pleasant talk with a pillar this morning,” you whispered to yourself. “For him to stay and talk after such an important meeting... he really is kind!”

But Zenitsu is brought back to Aoi when she barked again with a scowl. “And you!” She pointed a crude finger at Zenitsu, and he wished he could sink further into his pillows from the ferocity of her glare. “Stop crying and take your medicine!”

“Stop yelling at meee!”

Aoi sent one last glare to shut him up.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Tanjirou had yet to deliver Nezuko into the guest room that she was allowed to stay in. 

Though, he had to wait on the bed since he was finally being treated. Joints ached in protest every time he moved. The multiple cuts on his face burned. He felt his lungs wheeze whenever he inhaled, trembling from the extra damage the Snake Pillar gave him.

All of these injuries reminded Tanjirou that he narrowly escaped death from the recent mission, as well as death from the Demon Slayer Corps. He was lucky. So lucky to have Tomioka and Urokodaki vouch for him and Nezuko. All four of their lives were on the line, and he and Nezuko were responsible for them.

That was a thought to store away for later. His current priority was to get Nezuko, who slept in her box a foot away from his bed, into her room. 

“Excuse me,” Tanjirou began hesitantly, nervous from your close proximity. He understood you had to be right in front of him in order to treat his cuts, but he was able to get a clear view of your eyes scrutinizing his face and neck. Every now and then, they would shift to a different part of his face, making that particular area warmer than it should be. He was hyper-aware of your soft fingers on the curve of his cheek and chin, carefully angling his head to have easier access to wipe a new cut with a cool towel. Occasionally, you had to brush a strand of his hair out of his brow. 

What really drew him in was the alluring scents that emitted from you. One was the aroma of sweet fruits—specifically fresh, ripe apples. It came in a bundle of love, care, and concern. There was also a foreign scent he didn’t know, but it smelled earthy and sweet and spicy-hot. Perhaps it was a perfume of some sort.

Upon hearing his voice, you leaned away, breaking him out of his trance. You rewetted the towels—which were tinged pink with his blood—into the bucket that sat at the foot of your stool. “Am I hurting you, Tanjirou-san?” you whispered, not wanting to wake up Zenitsu and Inosuke. They’d fallen asleep not too long ago, although it took Zenitsu a while since he was being difficult with his prescription. “Sitting up must be straining your body…”

“No, not at all!” he quickly assured. “I didn’t mean to interrupt you, but um, could I move my sister into the unoccupied room?”

Twisting a towel, you perked up in interest. “Your sister? Is she a demon slayer as well?”

“No,” Tanjirou said. “Nezuko is a demon.”

It wasn’t until your face slowly molded into a blank expression that he wondered if you were aware of the situation and immediately started forming a plan on how he was going to convince you that Nezuko was a good demon, that she would never eat humans! But oddly enough, you brightened considerably.

You’re the demon slayer who’s traveling with a demon!” you exclaimed in surprise, before lowering your voice with wide eyes, glancing to the other two patients. “Oh my. Too loud.” You turned back to him, smiling. “But I finally have a name to match your description.”

“So may I…?” Tanjirou trailed off eagerly. You didn’t show any fear at the mention of a demon, nor did he smell it. 

Your smile faded slightly. “Tanjirou-san,” you urged softly, “I’m afraid now isn’t a good time. Your condition is critical as it is.“

“Please,” Tanjirou pleaded helplessly, no longer keeping his voice low. The sun was about to start setting, and he didn’t think he would be able to wait any longer. “I’m able to walk. I’d like to see her settle in as soon as I can!”

There was a pause.

“Oh, alright,” you relented, “I don’t think I can say no to such a determined boy who really cares for his sister. But!” You held up a finger. “You can go after I bandage all of your cuts.”

Tanjirou let out a sigh of relief. That was something he could work with. “Thank you very mu—“

“And!” You held up another finger. “I’m going with you. You say you can walk, but I’ll be by your side to support you in case you collapse.”

That was also something he could work with. “Thank you very much!” he nearly shouted.

“Inside voice, please. Your friends are sleeping.”

“Sorry!”

After you wrapped the last tape of gauze around his arm, you gave him permission to get up. Tanjirou nearly jumped out of bed, but the pain came kicking him back nearly ten-fold. Seeing him wince, you rushed to steady him by his shoulders.

“Slow,” you said gently, releasing your grip. 

“Slow,” he repeated with determination, taking careful measures in placing his feet on the floor. He picked up Nezuko’s box by the straps, the strain burning his fingers.

“Your sister is in there?” you pondered in fascination. “I didn’t even notice!”

“It’s to protect her from the sunlight,” Tanjirou explained. 

“I see.” You quickly nodded in understanding. “But let me carry that for you.”

“It’s okay, you don’t have to—ow!” Another bout of pain flared up his legs, and his buckling knees plopped him back onto the bed. The weight in his hands suddenly vanished and he saw the box in your grip.

“Tanjirou-san,” you scolded, slipping your arms through the straps. “You’re in critical condition, so please use me as a crutch.”

“Are you sure?“ he asked worriedly.

“I want to!” you said firmly, waving him off. “She is a small child, yes? I’m stronger than I look, so don’t worry about me. What matters most is your health and comfort.”

As you helped him get up again, a part of his mind scolded himself for letting you do the lifting. He reluctantly watched as you took his right arm to lay it around the back of your neck, coiling your left around his waist. The two of you slowly moved out of the room, his hand gripping yours for balance.

“I’m sorry for making you do this…”

“Now, that’s enough of that!” you said cheerfully, looking up to the ceiling in thought. “Let’s see, which room is it… oh, it must be that one.” You turned to him. “Please let me know if you’re uncomfortable, okay?”

Tanjirou nodded. There was a comfortable silence aside from your shuffling footsteps down the hallway. The both of you passed by multiple rooms of partially transformed demon slayers. Tanjirou thought he saw Murata in one of them. 

“Um, [Name]-san, right? Is it okay if I call you that?”

“Of course.” You smiled at him. “What is it?”

“How come you’re not afraid of demons?”

“About that, I—oh, we’ve arrived.” You released your grip on Tanjirou’s waist to open the door. Tanjirou politely removed himself and found his balance as you handed him Nezuko’s box. Thanking you, he placed it in the shadows where the setting sunlight couldn’t reach. He was closing the curtains when you spoke up.

“Tanjirou-san?”

He paused. “Yes?” 

“I have a request,” you said, and although your voice still clung to its cheerful tone, there was a note of seriousness he’s never heard from you.

“What is it?” 

“Please, don’t hesitate to turn me down when I ask you this. May I see Nezuko?”

Tanjirou was glad he had just sat on the bed because he was sure he would have stumbled in surprise. “Huh?”

“I wouldn’t even think about hurting her,” you added earnestly. “I’m just rather curious if she looked like you.”

While he knew you were telling the truth, he could sense that there was something more personal to your words. Perhaps another time.

You suddenly looked bashful. “Perhaps I shouldn’t have asked.”

“Wait.” Turning to the box, he beckoned, “Nezuko, it’s safe. You can come out now.” 

There was a brief pause before the box’s door creaked open. Tiny Nezuko crawled out on all fours, eliciting a small gasp of surprise from you. Her pink eyes peered up at him, before meeting yours in curiosity. 

Tanjirou watched your reaction. You sat down in a position where your legs were tucked neatly to your right side, a look of awe and anticipation crossing your face. Your hand slowly, bravely, reached out in a greeting, a foot away from Nezuko. “Hello Nezuko,” you greeted with delight. “I’m [Name]. It is nice to meet you. I hope you will find comfort in your stay here.”

Nezuko’s gaze shifted down to your outstretched hand. She inched forward, leaning down to fit her cheek into your fingers and nuzzled them. Tanjiro let out a laugh at both Nezuko’s greeting and your budding scent of excitement.

“She also likes headpats,” he added.

“She’s so cute!” you almost squealed, heeding Tanjirou’s words. You used your other hand to pet her head; Nezuko closed her eyes in content. “Almost like a baby! Oh, but demons are usually older than they appear, right?”

“She’s fourteen,” Tanjiro supplied with a swell of pride at your compliment. He couldn’t help but brag, “She was also the beauty of our hometown!” 

“And were you the beau?”

Tanjirou’s head tilted at the foreign word. “Beau?”

“Like a beauty, but a boy. Were you the handsome one in your hometown?”

Tanjirou’s face reddened. “Um.”

“I think you were!”

Tanjirou’s face burned. You smiled, turning your attention back to Nezuko and started humming.

Another comfortable silence ensued, but Tanjirou was only happy to see someone else accept Nezuko with open arms. It was like a breath of fresh air since the pillars weren’t so welcoming. He was lucky to have met such a kind-hearted person like you.

Nezuko was sleeping. She splayed about on her back, her head on your lap like it was a pillow. Her fists lightly gripped your fabric, as if intending to pull them over herself like a blanket. You were gently running your fingers through her hair, starting from the scalp to the ends of the orange tips. 

The humming abruptly stopped when you addressed him again. “Tanjirou-san.” 

“Yes?”

“You asked me why I’m not afraid of demons?”

He nearly forgot about that. “I did.”

“Then will you listen to my story?”

“...yes.” He could now smell sorrow emitting from you and it didn’t suit you at all.

“I’m afraid it’s not a very happy one.” You smiled sadly. “To put it simply, my parents’ lives were taken by demons. I suppose you can empathize with that, yes?” 

He mutely nodded. His family’s faces flashed in his mind every day.

You continued. “My family and I lived a few miles away from the closest town, on the outskirts because… well, maybe I can tell you another time. Since the town was far away, sometimes it was difficult to have proper access to buy materials. Despite the hardships, I did have a wonderful time with my parents! But since my father was a traveler, I grew especially close with my mother. She taught me many things, like her recipes of a foreign land, and that life should be treasured. That’s why I fuss over my patients a lot! It’s in my nature to worry about them.” 

Tanjirou noticed a half-done braid in Nezuko’s hair. Your fingers expertly wove thick strands and it was slowly matching the braid in your own hair, where an orange butterfly pin kept it in place.

“Then that night came. I was devastated. The precious lives I loved and grew up with were gone. But then I remembered my mother saying that because life is precious, it does all that it can to live. And in order to live, that demon had to take away lives, including my parents, unfortunately. It’s a cruel, fascinating cycle.”

With one hand, you reached up to pluck the ornament from your head, which causing your braid to loosen and fall down past your shoulders. 

“So Tanjirou-san, to answer your question, I’m not afraid of demons themselves, but rather on what they’re able to do. It’s terrifying.”

And with that, you pinned the ornament into Nezuko’s newly done braid.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Because of Zenitsu’s constant crying, you learned to have some handkerchiefs ready to be pulled out of your pockets.

“Please, no! I don’t wanna drink this gross stuff anymore! Noooo!”

“Zenitsu, you’re being a bother to her! Inosuke, please cheer up; remember, you’re amazing!”

“I can't. Not again. I’m not… strong enough.”

Drying Zenitsu’s soaked cheeks, you glanced worriedly at the sole gloomy patient. It was only the first night of the recovery process, so you understood why Inosuke gave short, dry responses to you and his friends. His larynx and vocal cords were internally bruised from heavy pressure, after all, but it was still concerning to hear how depressed he sounded. Both Tanjirou and Zenitsu had been giving him encouragement, which warmed your heart to see how caring the two boys were for their friend. You briefly wondered if you could do the same for Inosuke because you really did care about his happiness. Perhaps by telling him how cheering up could actually help?

“Inosuke-san,” you began warmly, giving Zenitsu a fond headpat before putting away the handkerchief, “happiness can actually help in the recovery process by reducing stress and improving your immune system. When you cheer up, you’ll get better much faster.”

“Really?” Tanjirou asked, fascinated. “I had no idea!”

“If you’d like, Tanjirou-san, I could teach you the things I know in my spare time.” 

“Oh, I’d feel bad if I took up—“

“I wanna be in your spare time!” Zenitsu shrieked, leaning away from the pill in your hand.

“How about all three of you learn from me?” you suggested kindly as Zenitsu nearly sunk into his bed. “I’ll do my best to help you learn new things during your stay here. And don’t worry; I have fun teaching what I know! So, Inosuke-san, happiness is a good key to have a good recovery. Cheer up, okay?”

“...no point,” Inosuke grumbled.

“There is a point!” you exclaimed loudly. Zenitsu shouted in surprise at your sudden outburst, and you saw the opportunity to casually slip the fifth and last pill of the day into his mouth. 

Tanjirou’s eyes bugged.

“I’m really sorry, but that medicine is very important,” you murmured guiltily as the blonde flimsily grasped at the cup of water you were holding for him. You apologetically bowed your head, taking back the cup to set it on the nightstand. Zenitsu coughed and cried again, so you took out a fresh handkerchief to wipe his face. “I know it’s hard, but that’s because it’s only the first day. You’ll get used to it in no time!”

Tanjirou’s eyes were still bugged even when you pulled up a stool to sit on between his bed and Inosuke’s.

“Inosuke-san,” you said, checking if he had enough blankets, “everyone has their moments of weaknesses. It’s just important that you overcome it, however long that may be. You’re welcome to take as long as you like, and don’t hesitate to rely on me and your friends.”

When you saw the steady rise and fall of his chest, you realized he’s sleeping. He probably didn’t hear what you just said, but that’s okay.

“Forgive me, I didn’t realize how late it was getting,” you chirped, standing up to face Tanjirou. “Is there anything else I could get you before I leave for the night? Blankets? Pillows?”

“No, but…” Tanjirou smiled. “You’re very kind, [Name]-san.”

“As are you,” you replied, smiling back. You went back to Zenitsu, but he’s already fast asleep, snoozing peacefully. “I’m glad it worked.”

Tanjirou tilted his head at your remark. “What do you mean?”

“The water Zenitsu-san just drank had a harmless drug that makes one fall asleep in mere minutes,” you informed as your made your way to the exit. “I didn’t let him know because I was afraid it would take a bit longer for him to settle down. He has a lot of restless energy, after all. I will tell him eventually!”

Tanjirou’s eyes bugged.  

“I wish you a good night.” You bowed. “I’ll see you all in the early morning!”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Back when you were barely starting to find your place at the Butterfly Estate, you met Naho, Kiyo, and Sumi for the first time.

It had been a day of clear skies, perfect to do the laundry. Damp sheets were taken out of a wicker basket and thrown over bamboo planks to dry in the sun. Clips held the sheets together to prevent them from flying away. You had a steady rhythm going, evenly spacing sheets apart until your elbow knocked the small box of clips off the stool, scattering them across the dirt. 

You winced, but silently accepted your carelessness. Just as you crouched down to reach for one, a small hand grabbed it in your stead. You looked up, startled.

A little girl with pink butterfly clips in her hair—perhaps about nine years old—placed the clip into the box. “I can put it in here, right?” she asked shyly.

You blinked. “Y-yes! Thank you so much.” You bowed your head, but from the corner of your eye, two more girls peeked at you from behind the building. Were they all triplets? They seemed to be the same age and looked very similar. “Hello there...”

As soon as you called them out, they shuffled forward. The girl with blue butterfly clips held a tray of tea while the girl with green butterfly clips followed closely behind. They stopped next to the first girl who stood up. 

“Um,” the one holding the tray piped, “this is for you!”

You stood up and accepted the warm cup with a grateful smile. “Thank you. And you are…?”

“I’m Sumi!”

“My name is Naho!”

“Kiyo!”

You quickly memorized their names as they began to pick up the rest of the clips. Despite your weak protest, a part of you was happy to have such warm company. Shinobu didn’t have the time to spare for you no matter how much you secretly wanted it. She had done so much to welcome you here when she had her duties as a pillar; it would be selfish of you to take her away from them. 

“Can we help you with your chores? We finished ours already.”

At this, you tilted your head. “Are you sure?”

They eagerly nodded. 

“Well... we could start by hanging the rest of the sheets. Then… we pin them! Oh, I’ll be sure to make something tasty afterward! What are your favorite fruits?”

After you and the girls completed the tasks and parted ways with your promise of delicious pastries, you decided to finish up your tea when Shinobu herself materialized next to you. “That was very nice of you,” she said, giggling as you harshly gulped. She sat down, leaning close to your face and taking pleasure at your startled look.

“Shinobu-sama, I didn’t see you…” you trailed off.

“Of course you didn’t! I was on the roof watching you.”

You nodded dutifully, letting her statement go without a reply because it must be normal for her to walk on her own roof? Was that right?

“Their parents were killed by demons,” Shinobu suddenly informed, facing front. “Those girls have been through a lot. Just like you and me.”

“Just like you and me,” you repeated quietly. 

“I can’t always be there. You’ll certainly care for them, yes?” 

“I’d never wish for anyone to be lonely.”

And now, when you look at the girls cuddling with their blankets on their futons, you couldn’t be happier. They were your newfound bundles of joy, people to wake up to every day. 

“Make sure you get plenty of rest,” you reminded, settling into your own futon. “Today was only the beginning, and it’ll be much busier from here!”