Looks like you found the caching mechanism. From perlguts
w PERL_MAGIC_utf8 vtbl_utf8 UTF-8 length+offset cac
As for keeping bytes... meh, my attachment to the bytes pragma extended only to that use case, as the efficiency of CORE::length() with SVf_UTF8 scalars is a bummer. I'm not even going to bother posting to p5p now that my concern has been addressed another way.
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