A/N: Here it is. The last chapter of A Rival Romance. Let's skip the talking and get right down to it! Enjoy!

Chapter 18 - We can dance if we want to

There were few moments during high school that would be remembered by those who attended, no matter where or when they did, sometimes for years or even decades later. Judy knew for a fact that her father sometimes dwelled on accidentally calling a teacher 'mom' during his sophomore year and that her mother had been caught by the principal getting overly pawsy with a buck at the winter festival as a freshmam. Tonight was when Judy would be making a memory that she knew she would remember forever. There was only one thing standing between her and that dream.

"Urgh! Why…won't…this…thing…ZIP?!"

For several minutes Judy had been hopping around her room in a fit of frustration. Back at the mall, barely a week ago, her beautiful dress had slipped on so perfectly and the zipper had glided smoothly along it's channel. Now though it acted as if it had been superglued in place. It didn't help matters that the zipper was along her back and hidden beneath a fold of fabric. That alone made the task more difficult. But for some reason, even though she had checked it in the mirror and found it clean and not bound up in the dress itself, the zipper refused to move.

"Of course," she muttered while slowing down and reluctantly sitting on her bed. "The perfect dress for a perfect night with my perfect fox and the darn thing won't even zip up."

When a low chuckle reached her ear, she turned towards the door to see her younger sister Sarah leaning up against the opening. Judy sent a glare her way causing Sarah to outright giggle. "Problems?"

"Uh, ya think?" Clutching the top of her dress, Judy stood and spun around facing away from the door. "Little help?" she pointed over her shoulder to the still stuck zipper hanging just above her tail.

Still chuckling, Sarah entered the room and grasped the small tab. It started to move upwards but stopped after only an inch. "Wow, you really got this stuck, huh?" She brought it down slightly to examine the teeth for any bends.

"I don't know how. I haven't put this on since I got it home from the store." Sarah worked it back and forth a few times. "So why aren't you dressed yet?" Judy had noted the yellow tank top and green skirt her sister was wearing. "Not going to the dance?"

"Nah." The multi-colored doe kept working at the zipper finding herself getting a bit frustrated herself at it's refusal to move. "Heading down to Manta Bay for the weekend. THERE!" With one last tug the tab slipped past whatever barrier had been keeping it stuck and slid the rest of the way up Judy's dress.

"Oh thank goodness!" Judy sighed in relief. She had been very worried that her beautiful dress would have to sit in the closet rather than her getting to show it off to Nick at the dance. Straightening the neckline, Judy admired herself in the mirror. "So," she said while meeting her sister's gaze in the reflection. "Heading to Manta Bay, huh?" The knowing grin had Sarah looking away, trying and failing to hide a blush. "Any special reason?"

"Ummm… change of scenery?" she offered lamely.

"Uh-huh. I bet," Judy smirked, knowing exactly who was waiting for the multi-colored doe at the train station.

"Enough about my plans. Let's talk about yours tonight!" Sarah grinned gleefully having overheard Judy and Nick the night before. What they had in mind was almost scandalous by high school standards and if not for the fact she was going to meet her own doe she would no doubt be there to witness it.


While Judy was spending most of her time chatting with her sister, Nick was fretting over his appearance in the mirror. He had gone through his closet twice trying to find something decent to wear only to come to the conclusion that he had to lower his expectations. Any other day any of his dress shirts would be acceptable, however that night was about dressing to impress his unofficial 'date' of the evening.

Eventually he kept coming back to the same two shirts. A light green button-up that was reminiscent of his Pawaiin ones and a rather dark violet that contrasted nicely with his fur. Deciding that his bunny had seen enough of him in green, he laid out the purple one and moved to his slacks. That was an easier choice as he really only had two pairs of dress pants and the black went better with the purple than the light khaki. A bright pink tie finished off the ensemble and Nick headed for the shower.

As per the norm for most mammals, the hot water running over the Tod's fur started his mind wandering. Expectedly it flashed back to nearly a week ago when a certain rabbit had shown up to…have a chat.

Though he was only slightly larger than half of Nick's height, the buck sitting in front of him made him feel like a tiny kit again getting ready to be chastised. Stu Hopps projected an authority that only a father with decades of experience could manage where size mattered little. The fact that Nick was dating his daughter only added to the trepidation the fox was feeling.

The silence in the room had persisted for several minutes with Nick waiting for Stu to break it. When they had first sat down, the fox felt prepared for the onslaught. His shoulders were squared and his emotions were locked down. He knew he loved Judy and that she loved him, and nothing their parents tried to do would keep them apart.

Slowly that strength had been sapped away. After the first minute with Stu's eyes boring into his, Nick felt himself start to fidget under the emotionless stare. For someone who was always described as overly emotional, Stu was unusually stone-faced. Nick could not get a read on anything happening in the buck's mind and that alone caused him to start to worry more and more. After five minutes of increasing anxiety, Nick could no longer take it.

"Sir," he began, "I want you to know that I love your daughter very much."

Stu remained expressionless and unmoving.

"I, uh, I care about her a great deal, so you don't need to worry about that. Sir."

Still nothing.

"I will never hurt your daughter, sir." Now feeling desperate, Nick fell back on his humor to try and defuse the situation. "Well, unless you count the nipping when we make out," he chuckled.

Stu's eyes narrowed.

'Shit! Why?! Why would you do that, you moron!' he mentally slapped himself. 'Quick! Apologize profusely and make an excuse and GET OUT OF HERE!'

"Sir, I-" Stu put up a paw bringing him up cold.

"Let's just stop right there, son. Before you embarrass yourself any further." Nick nodded in agreement, wisely deciding to keep his mouth shut for the time being.

Stu took a moment to consider the mammal before him. He did not know much about foxes or their behavior considering he had only been near a very small few of them in his lifetime, but he certainly did not seem the vicious type to him. Instead he seemed to be cowering slightly under the rabbit's gaze, trying desperately to meet the older mammal's eyes without flinching. 'I suppose what Bonnie said might be true after all.'

"Nicholas I'm going to be frank with you-"

"Hi Frank!" Nick joked, immediately dropping his head when faced with a stern and disapproving look from Stu.

"Don't do that."

"Yes, sir."

"The reason I am here is to meet you and see if I approve of you dating my daughter."

'Approve?' Stu's words did not sit kindly with the tod. In fox culture any couple that feels they should be together ultimately would be. Parental permission was not needed. As such the very idea that he would need to gain the approval of Judy's parents was upsetting. Sure he wanted the buck to like him, but he would not beg to be accepted.

"With all due respect, sir," Nick's voice had hardened. "We do not need your permission to continue seeing each other. Both of us will be eighteen by the end of the school year."

"Oh, I know you don't." This effectively ended Nick's indignation and instead catapulted him right into confusion. Stu chuckled at the expression on the fox's muzzle. "I didn't come over to tell you whether or not you could see my daughter. Approving of does not mean choosing. I can no more choose Judy's boyfriend than I can her career. And while you do not need my permission, it is nicer when the whole family can get along, right?"

"Uh, right?" Nick wasn't sure exactly what was going on at that point but so far he had not been stabbed with a pitchfork so he must be doing alright.

"I will admit you are not exactly the type of mammal I envisioned Judy dating," Nick's heart plummeted into his stomach, "but you certainly are an honorable one." The Tod's heart stopped partway down it's plummet. "I cannot tell you how many boys and girls I've had to chase out of the burrow in the middle of the night. Though I'm fairly certain if I had known you were in my house, in my daughter's room, I would have been chasing you out too."

"Mr. Hopps, I promise that nothing ever hap-"

"Yeah, I know that part." Stu grimaced slightly. He didn't enjoy discussing anything about his kits sex lives unlike his wife. He wasn't a prude, after all he had two hundred and seventy six children, but he was one of those rare bunnies who preferred to not know everything that went on in their rooms, just which ones he had to remove unwelcome guests from. "Bonnie and your mother both have explained that aspect of your culture. And while that certainly makes me feel more comfortable with having you around the burrow, I'd prefer if we kept the midnight rendezvous to a minimum. Can you do that for me, son?"

"I-…I can certainly try. But Mr. Hopps, you have to understand, it's normally the vixen in fox relationships that decide things like that. They tend to take charge."

Stu looked at him blankly before a chuckle escaped his lips. "Well Nicholas, I can tell you one thing. If there was any bunny out there that could fit that part of a vixen's role, it would be my Jude."

It wasn't altogether the best conversation he could have had with his girlfriend's father but it did not turn out as bad as he had expected. It didn't last too much longer with Stu shaking Nick's paw before getting a hug from Vivienne which caused the buck's ears to turn red before heading home for the night.

Done his shower, Nick let the fur dryer do it's work while dragging a comb through his ruffled coat. He wasn't going to show up to a dance looking like a bedraggled fox, at least not again anyways. Once he was satisfied with his grooming and that his breath had been made more pleasant with a thorough brushing, Nick moved into the bedroom to get dressed, all the while running through 'The Plan' in his mind.

For nearly all of the Hopps children, taking the bus to school was a privilege. With only so many seats available there was a rotation chart inside the burrow that determined exactly who would be riding and who would be walking, although there was the rare occurrence when one of the older rabbits would take a few in their personal cars on the way to work or college. As energetic as bunnies were, walking several miles to school was more like a brisk workout than it was a punishment and many, like Judy, would often jog for exercise.

Judy herself had only taken the bus twice in her entire time at high school since she never passed up a chance to get in some personal endurance training. Once when she sprained her ankle and another when her brother was being bullied. One bus ride later the few mammals that had been picking on her sibling had ultimately changed their ways and never went after another kit again. There was also the rare carpool in with an older sibling if she found herself running late, something that was rare in and of itself but now unheard of. This night however was an exception to the rule.

With so many high schoolers headed for the homecoming dance and none of them wanting to ruin their dresses or suits, Stu and Bonnie had rented several large passenger vans to ferry the children to and from the school. It wasn't cheap considering how many families were trying to do the same, but Stu knew the extra profits from the harvest festival would cover the expense. It wasn't an unfamiliar routine considering how many times they had done this over the years but it never failed to mess up somehow.

"Everyone! Everyone line up over here!" Stu's shouts went barely noticed over the chaotic noise of several dozen conversations all at once. "I need everyone to focus over here! Hello?" The buck turned and shrugged at his wife nearby. Bonnie rolled her eyes in exasperation.


Bonnie's method went over much better than her husband's which wasn't altogether shocking. She was the matron of the house and often needed to rein the children in. Stu gave her a sheepish glance of appreciation and turned back to the now silent group.

"Alright, we are going to do this neatly and quietly, yes?" Several nods were what he got in response while others simply pulled out their phones but that was good enough for him at this point. "Okay. Kits A through G will be in van number one." Normally all litters were named the same letter. A litter, B litter, and so on. Bonnie had never been one to follow tradition, but they still needed some form of organization so they had adopted an A-Z style in other ways. "That's Alice, Amanda, Aaron, Arnold, Abigail, Bethany, Bridget, Billy, Bernadette, Carol, Cameron, Cecile, Charlie, Diane, Dean, Derek, Eric, Ethan, Emma, Faith, Felicity, Fiona, Frank, George, Gabby, Gloria, and Gregory. Van One, thank you." The named kits filed in and began filling up the large vehicle. It was lucky for the Hopps's to manage three wolf sized vans that year since it lowered the number of them from six to three.

"Okay, H through P in van number two. Heather, Harold,…" Judy tuned her father out after that. She knew she would be in Van Two so she didn't feel she needed to bother with hearing everyones names called out. She had long ago memorized all of her two-hundred and seventy five siblings.

I just hope I don't get put next to Jessica. Her sister had started talking more and more to Sharla about the conspiracy about her sister and Nick and she had started pestering Judy more and more as the weeks went on. Glancing over out of curiosity, she saw that Jessica was in fact looking at her with a look of glee. She inwardly groaned knowing she was most likely going to be stuck next to her littermate and loath the twenty minutes it took to reach the school.

Hearing the last name called, Judy shuffled forward while keeping the hem clear of the grass in case any stray dirt felt the need to try and ruin her dress. She had almost made it to the back of the queue when a paw landed on her shoulder.

"I'm going to take Judy, okay hon?" The voice of her mother behind her started a small murmur to pass over the assembled crowd. To get a ride from a parent usually meant one of two things. Either they were going to work the stand that day, or that they were in so much trouble that they needed to address it alone. Stu glanced at his wife and nodded with an understanding look before bringing his attention to the rest of his children.

Judy could not contain her nervousness as she was steered away from the rest of her siblings and led towards her mother's personal vehicle. It was a rather large, though still bunny-sized SUV. She was hoping to hop into the back rows to potentially narrow the focus her mother seemed to want to send her way but her plan was immediately ruined when Bonnie gestured her towards the front.

Since they did not need to wait for the rest of the kits to settle in, the two does headed out as soon as they had a cleared area in the driveway. Knowing how short a drive it would potentially be, Judy expected her mother to bring up whatever she had to say fairly quickly, a theory quickly proven as they had barely cleared the mailbox before Bonnie spoke up.

"So I heard from a little birdie that tonight is going to be a big night for you, Bun-Bun." The matron's tone was very casual, but the underlying message came through very clearly to the younger bunny.

"I'm not sure what you mean," Judy replied with a noncommittal shrug. If her mother was going to try and get something from her, she was going to force her to be more direct.

"Well," Bonnie fidgeted in her seat slightly, "it's a big deal for you tonight, yes?"

"It's the Homecoming Dance. It's a 'big deal' for just about everyone, mom." Judy was trying to hide a smile knowing her dancing around the issue was slowly driving her mother crazy.

"Oh boiled cabbages, you know what I mean Bun-Bun. This 'plan' of yours."

"Considering only three mammals know about this and I know neither Nick or I have told you anything, I'm gonna guess Sarah blabbed." Judy really couldn't be angry with her sister. When their mother wanted to learn something from her children, she would inevitably find a way.

"It's not all that bad, honey. I'm your mother, we can talk about this sort of thing. I may be no spring chicken but I still remember what high school was like." Judy cast her mother a dubious look.

"Oh? I missed the part where you were hiding a secret relationship from two hundred and seventy-four siblings, not to mention a few thousand classmates and several very close friends."

Bonnie adopted a sheepish look at the truth being sent her way. She and her husband had been very open with their relationship throughout their school years, getting into trouble for being caught in compromising positions more than a few dozen times in junior year alone.

"Well no. But I'm still your mother and one of the very select few who know the truth about you and Nicholas. You don't have to talk to me, but I figured I would offer it."

Judy tilted her head as she pondered that. She knew that Sarah would never reveal the full plan to her mother, especially as Judy hadn't told her sister the full plan anyway. She figured that it wouldn't hurt to discuss it a bit with her mother as long as she left out some of the details. 'Mom might be good at keeping secrets but somehow things are always found out.'

"It's a little complicated but…"

If ever there was a mammal more impatient and high strung than a bunny, it was Sharla Lamberton. Though she had only been at the dance for roughly ten minutes, to the ewe it felt as if she had been standing by the doors for days. There was no was no way she was going to miss her best friend walking through the entrance, not after spending weeks preparing for that night.

It was part amusing and part irritating that after all she had done to put her plan into motion it had all ended up being for nothing. Nick and Judy were voted for Homecoming King and Queen by a near landslide without the Juniper Twins having to do anything at all. She couldn't be all mad though. If it hadn't been for the agreement with Sally and Hally, she might never have mustered up the courage to approach Gideon and ask him to the dance. And she would never regret that, not in a million years. The past couple of weeks with her fox had been the happiest she could remember feeling. Four years of pining and desiring culminating in a frenzy of emotions being poured out.

Prying her eyes away from the door for a moment, Sharla looked across the gym to see her tod standing at the refreshment table. It may have been cliche, but Gideon had wanted to go get her some punch. She figured he had seen a few too many high school dances on tv to think it was expected of him. She couldn't help but smile at the poor fox who seemed to be in a perpetual state of awkwardness.'He looks nice though.' The red and white fox had ditched his signatures overalls for a light blue dress shirt and a pair of corduroy pants. 'Can't get the farm completely outta him,' she thought fondly.

Unbeknownst to her, during the time she had spent looking at her boyfriend, the object of her true obsession had entered the gymnasium and was standing directly behind the black ewe. Stretching up high, Judy got her lips as close to Sharla's ears as she was able. "Boo!"

Unsurprisingly the larger mammal let out a strained squeak and leapt several feet off the ground, even higher than Judy herself. The adrenaline rush lasted only a few seconds so it was with shaky hooves that she turned towards the laughing bunny and gave her a stern glare.

"Jude! You- dammit Jude I coulda torn my dress!" Now that the shock was wearing off the ewe's mind flashed to another concern and quickly began examining her outfit for any popped seams.

"You deserve it for playing 'Guard Duty' over here instead of dancing with Gideon. Waiting for me to arrive rather than getting cozy with your boyfriend? Mammals will start to talk," she said with a wink causing the sheep's cheeks to tinge red, barely visible beneath the wool.

"Oh hush. He's over there getting me a drink." Sharla turned back towards the fox who was patiently waiting his turn to use the punch bowl. She couldn't help but smile lovingly, something which did not go unnoticed by Judy. In just a week's time she had seen such a change come over her friend. A little bit of the awkwardness had left her though that was partly due to the fact she no longer was hiding her feelings from Gideon and had embraced them thoroughly.

'Having someone in your life certainly will do that to you.' Judy's thoughts were of her own tod who was no doubt only minutes behind her. The plan had been for them to enter at different times to throw off suspicion.

"So how have you two been doing? I know it's new territory for you both." While Sharla had briefly gone out with a few rams over the past couple of years, Gideon had never expressed interest in any girl whatsoever. To those who were not the clueless couple themselves it was quite clear why, but neither mammal had ever given up hope that the one they wanted would be the one they got.

"It's been interesting. A good interesting," she clarified. "We don't share any classes really so seeing each other during school is pretty much restricted to rotating lunch periods. Most of our time together has been on dates after school or just hanging out at the park. Gid loves sunsets so we usually are there until dusk."

Judy was ecstatic for her friend. It had taken them many years but finally they were together and it seemed to be going well. Judy was about to ask where he was taking her that weekend when suddenly Sharla stiffened up and began to vibrate with unbridled excitement.

"He's here! Oh Jude, look at that hunk of red and black over there." Judy turned to where Sharla was pointing with her hoof and caught sight of the mammal she had been waiting for.

Nick had entered the gymnasium with an almost graceful lope, one of a predator on the prowl. There were several girls that swooned as he walked by and Judy even caught one her sister's fanning themselves after Nick sent her a wink. Sharla was more interested though in watching Judy's reaction.

A smile. A raised brow. Maybe a lick of her lips would have given Sharla something to go on. But there was nothing. Judy seemed to be uninterested in the fox now heading up the aisle near them on his way towards the snack area. Sharla couldn't help but feel a bit disappointed. She was so certain something would have happened. If she had been inside Judy's head it would have been a far different story.

'Oh my god, oh my god. He's here and he looks absolutely gorgeous.' It took every ounce of willpower the bunny had not to start panting at how downright hot her fox looked. The dark purple button-up was a stark contrast to his usual pale green and did nothing to hide how fit he was. Nick may have been a leaner version of a red vulpine but his muscles were toned just enough to be noticeable even across the room, the result of many hours spent on the soccer field every day.

Nick meanwhile was experiencing much the same issue. He had only briefly caught Judy's appearance as he entered since Sharla had been standing right next to her. He didn't want to give anything away but the sight of his bunny in that dress was more than just tempting to look at, it was downright painful to not.

Spotting Gideon over at the punchbowl he headed over to meet up with him. The other tod had already spooned a couple of cups worth but Nick managed to catch up with him before he headed away. "Gid! How ya doin'?"

"Nick! Hey, that's a nice getup ya got there. I like tha' purple. Be'er than those god awful green ones ya always runnin' 'round in." Nick arched a brow but chose not to say anything. It wasn't the right time to bring up the other fox's choice of overalls every day. 'Monday,' Nick thought. 'Fair game then.'

"Here with Sharla, I take it?" Nick asked while getting his own drink. He used the time to cast a glance towards the door making sure to look at Sharla directly but keeping Judy in the corner of his eye. He marveled at how the dress clung to her so perfectly and how he couldn't wait to hold her in it.

"Yep! Hard ta believe ain' it?" His voice turned a bit shaky as he kept his eyes on the sheep. "Seriously though, Nick. I'm findin' it hard ta believe it's real, ya know? I mean, I ain' 'xactly the most good lookin' fella out there. Why would she wan' ta be here with me?"

Nick felt for the canid. He'd experienced some trepidation when he had first gotten together with Judy. While she thought the world of him he wasn't all that fond of himself. His past wasn't exactly perfect. More than once he had gotten into a scrap at school and, though nothing serious, he always looked down on himself for it. It had taken a while but eventually he was able to get past his doubts and just embraced the love she had for him.

"Look, Gid. There are two things I know about Sharla. One, she is the biggest gossip and fastest talker I have ever met." Gideon chuckled at the truth of that statement. "And two. That sheep had been in love with you since long before I even came to this school."

Gideon's eyes widened, surprised at Nick's words. He had never once seen any hint that Sharla had ever been interested in him, though if he was being true to himself, he tended to look the other way so he wouldn't give away how he felt and possibly embarrass himself and her over his feelings.

"Well I'll be a darned fool." Perking up a bit, Gideon straightened his tie and grabbed the two cups of punch. "'Scuse me, Nick. Gotta gal waitin' for me o'er there." Nick chuckled himself before ladling another cup for himself.

Gideon paused a few feet away and turned back towards the other fox. "Hey, Nick?"


"Look. Ain' none o' ma business if there's anythin' goin' on between you and Miss Judy," Nick arched a brow at the possible insinuation there. "You say there ain' and I can believe ya, but Sharla seems a mighty bit obsessed with you two and if you's a couple or not. Think she might try to do somethin' here at the dance. I don' know what, but ma gut is rarely wrong."

Nick forced a concerned look on his face before giving the vulpine a nod. "Thanks, Gid. I'll keep my eyes open." Gideon nodded back before turning towards the ewe and heading away.

'Gid, my friend. You have no idea what's about to happen.'

To those mammals looking on bunny culture from the outside, what they saw was the epitome of cute. A small prey species with overly soft fur, meek personalities, and who were easily terrified. Bred to be farmers, nurses, and the occasional tax auditor. Harmless. Placid. Predictable.

For those inside of rabbit culture, it was as far from that image as it could be, something Nick Wilde learned early on when he first arrived in the Burrows. His first night to a school dance had opened his eyes to a side of bunnies he never knew, nor did his wildest imaginations, including the one time he and Finnick had snuck one of the fennec's older brother's 'cigars' and found out the hard way that it wasn't tobacco in the wrapper.

School dances in the Burrows were saturated in dark lighting, flooded with loud music, and heavy in colorful strobe lights. Everything that went against common beliefs about rabbits seemed to be present at these events. The low lighting that was supposed to leave rabbits practically blind was in fact the perfect level for them to see. The amped up volume from the DJ booth should have caused many bunnies to simply keel over in fright since their hearts were too fragile to withstand such a shock to their system, however with the way the volume was raised slowly from the beginning cushioned them until they could rival even outdoor concerts. And the flashing lights, which was always thought to cause a panicked instinct to flee in lagomorphs, merely served to pump up the excitement and keep them hopping around for hours.

Nick preferred to stay back as much as possible having been accidentally caught up in the crowd his first dance at the high school and had a feeling tonight would be more of the same. Less than an hour into the party that turned out to be a smart plan as the fox watched the rapidly growing group turn into a massive fluffle mosh pit, though he couldn't help but feel a pull from the black-tipped ears of the gray bunny doe he had been thinking about all night. Watching Judy dance was almost infectious and he was silently pleading for the night to go by faster.

Up on-stage Bobby Catmull pumped his fist to the music, raising the volume another few decibels while a horde of bunnies surged together, Judy becoming swept along with them, Sharla trapped right alongside her.

A few times Nick's eyes caught the sight of Judy's glancing his way from the group of hopping bunnies. With everyone so distracted it allowed them to fully enjoy how the other looked that evening. With the fox acting more of a wallflower, Judy got the better of the show since she was more or less swallowed up by the crowd in-between hops. Certainly did not stop Nick from enjoying his own view since every now and again he caught sight of his doe's little tail puff wiggling in excitement a she shook her hips to a new song from 'Gazelle', the latest pop-sensation Nick was certain would fade out soon, though if it kept his bunny dancing like that he wouldn't mind if she didn't.

It took several more songs before most of the gathered rabbits began to lose steam and the mosh pit started breaking up in favor of chairs and a good amount of ice water being consumed. Sharla had already collapsed next to Gideon at a nearby table and Judy soon joined her, still jumping around in unbridled energy.

Leaning her dark head on the fox's shoulder, Sharla just stared at her friend with a look of envy. "I swear you are really some sort of battery powered bunny-bot, Jude. You just keep going and going and going." Judy laughed heartily, bouncing up onto the chair next to the ewe as if to prove her statement as true.

"I can't help it! Gazelle just gets me so pumped up!" Several resounding cheers from other does went up around the gymnasium echoing the sentiment. Judy suspected there would be a huge uptick in Gazelle sales and downloads that night once everyone got home. The bandwidth of Bunnyburrow was going to be slow as death for a few hours.

"Uh-oh." Sharla's voice caught Judy's wandering attention and snapped her back to focus on the black sheep. "Looks like Nick isn't having such a fun night."

More than a little concerned, Judy swiveled her head towards where she had last seen her fox and where Sharla's eyes were now. Seeing his gaze aimed off at nothing in particular and looking pensive, she cocked her head slightly in confusion while looking back to her friend. "Doesn't look like he's having a bad night either. More just kind of…thinking. Odd thing to do at a dance, huh?" she tittered making Sharla smirk alongside.

"Wonder what he's thinking about."

"Oh probably about why he couldn't land himself a date or something," she remarked casually while taking another drink of water from her chilled glass.

"You didn't either," Sharla pointed out with a light push to her friend's shoulder.

"Hey, I chose to come here alone. You know I don't ask guys out. Or girls, so I guess there goes your shot," she teased making Sharla splutter. Gideon ended up chuckling as well which ended with him getting a swift poke in the belly from his flustered date.

"Well I don' reckon I know much more'n y'all do about Nick comin' 'thout a date, but I do think it's a might shame he ain' got no one to dance with." The tod looked over at his friend with a hint of sadness in his voice.

Sharla lifted her hoof to her mouth in order to hide one of the biggest grins she had ever had in her life. A quick twirl of her hoof caused two does near the stage to leap to their feet and head back behind the stage curtain without being noticed by Judy or anyone else for that matter.

"I don't think we'll have to worry too much about that," she remarked casually though not without a hint of mischief. Judy started to ask what she meant when a very familiar set of voices rang out over the speakers.

"Can we-"

"-have your attention-"

"-please? Eyes up-"

"-here everybody!"

Nearly a thousand heads turned at once making the gym gain a sort of ripple effect for a moment that would probably make a giraffe motion sick if one had been looming over the crowd. The sight of two bunnies crowding the lone microphone caused a few groans to sweep through the collected mammals as they recognized the Juniper twins up on stage. The cadence of the twins could cause some headaches on a regular day but when they got hold of a microphone the chances of gritting teeth skyrocketed.

"Thank you. Now it's-"

"-time for the announcement of-"

"-the Homecoming King and-"


Sharla, who already knew the outcome of the voting made sure to pay close attention to Judy to see her reaction, unaware that her friend was prepared for the announcement and had steeled herself in order to hide her genuine feelings.

"This year's King-"


The room waited with bated breath, a few of the more popular bucks smoothing their ears back in hope they would get to wear the crown.



With the amount of noise echoing off the walls it was amazing that no rabbits went deaf from the cheering. Nick pushed himself off the wall and headed for the stage, offering a few 'royal' waves to the room, his smug grin plastered wide on his muzzle. His confident acceptance came off more towards his not inconsiderable ego rather than having any knowledge of the outcome beforehand.

Sharla, who had trained her eyes on her bunny friend, was unable to discern any real hint of shock, pleasure, or admiration coming from her. Instead she was treated to a light smattering of clapping from small gray paws.

"Good for him I suppose."

"You don't seem all that surprised."

"Well," Judy leaned back adopting a look of nonchalance, "it's no secret that he's popular, is it? The fact that a lot of students voted for him isn't coming out of left field. Bet half my sisters put his name in the box."

"Hmph." Sharla was more than a little frustrated by that answer since it did nothing to reveal any of Judy's thoughts on the matter. "Who do you think will be announced Queen?"

I know exactly who it is, you scheming sheep, she thought while grinning inwardly. You bad ewe, you. "No idea. Though they are gonna be stuck dancing with that arrogant tod which will be funny to see."

Up on stage Nick had bowed down and accepted the crown being placed on his head. It was more suited for the size of a buck so it fit between his ears rather than around them but it sat well enough. He had claimed his spray-painted metal chair as his 'throne' and sat with a regal air around him.

The Juniper twins moved back into place around the microphone stand and made a great show of opening an envelope.

"This year's Queen-"


This time it was a much larger amount of bunnies that leaned in hopefully. It was no surprise that so many does wanted the chance to be up on stage with the handsome vulpine and Judy noted with amusement that at least a dozen of her own siblings were among the group.

"JUDY HOPPS!" They cried out together.

Though her childhood acting had been rather miserable, Judy had made sure to practice her reaction in the mirror in case she was being scrutinized by her friend sitting next to her, which was a smart move considering that ended up being the case. Her look of shock seemed extremely genuine and she added to the effect by shrinking back into her chair.

"Me?!" she squeaked out. Sharla, ecstatic that her plan had gone through without a hitch, promptly pulled her friend out of the chair and gave her a shove towards the stage. The noise for her was just as loud as it had been for Nick though she couldn't help but see several glares from her sisters as they politely applauded.

Nervously, at least it seemed to everyone else, Judy approached the stairs leading up to the stage where two identical does waited with a thin crown in their paws. As tradition dictated, the gray bunny went and stood in front of her own 'throne' before bowing to accept the circlet over her ears. Expecting something plastic it was with an actual jump of surprise when she felt cold metal on her fur. Darn. Never realized how heavy this thing actually was. Taking her seat, she kept her eyes on the crowd before her rather than look towards her fox. She had a feeling she would not be able to contain her excitement if she did.

"Give it up for-"

"-your King-"

"-and Queen!"

Loud and rapid thumps could be heard and felt across the gymnasium as hundreds rabbits drummed their hind paws on the floor. Gideon had been smart and pulled his paws off the wood beneath his feet. The year before he felt as if his teeth were going to rattle right out of his head. Sharla would have done the same but was too excited to remember and was treated to her hooves clacking around and legs starting to tingle before she too yanked them up.

"DANCE!" Sharla's bellow quickly caught on leading to the whole student body to begin chanting "DANCE DANCE DANCE DANCE DANCE!"

"Sounds like-"

"-the masses have-"

"-spoken! Bobby, if you-"


Giving the twins a mock salute, Bobby Catmull stepped back up to his DJ table and selected the song planned for the evening. It had been a rather amusing choice he thought to himself but when Sharla got an idea in her head it was best to go along with it and she had been quite adamant that this one was to be played.

A lone russet paw with large shades of black appeared before the bunny, palm up and beckoning for her to take it. A lump in her throat began to form but Judy bravely pushed past it and grasped her fox's paw and stood. Nary a sound was heard as the two mammals made their way down from the stage, the center of the floor lit with a spotlight aimed just so. All around the couple, students formed the customary ring keeping everyone's attention focused solely on them. It seemed a strange sight to see two mammals with such a difference striding side by side. Nick towered over Judy, standing nearly twice her height, yet there was no awkwardness between the two of them.

Judy did her best to keep her expression neutral though it was one of the hardest things she had ever had to do. Anticipation was eating away at her as the two of them reached the spotlight. Nick took the lead and reached down to grasp her paws in his own. Because of their size difference he knew that a traditional stance would not be possible without looking ridiculous and potentially causing them to fall over. So instead he pulled her close enough that she could place her feet on top of his. It only raised her up a little but it would be enough for them to dance together.

Bobby cued the music and sat back with a grin of his own.

["Love will find a way" - Lion King 2]

The fox and bunny paused for a moment and looked at each other. Judy shook her head as they both whispered "Sharla" with a small chuckle escaping Nick's maw and Judy tittering in response.

Letting her ears fall down along her back and leaning into her fox, Judy relished the feel of being close to him once more. The faint scent of his musk drew her in further and soon she was resting her head on his chest, her small arms circling around his back as much as she could reach. There was no possibility that it looked anything less than intimate but she really did not care. She was there to dance with her Nicholas and that was the only thing on her mind.

Nick's own arms wrapped closely around her shoulders and let his paws hang down her back. He too was also enjoying his partner's scent, his muzzle laying along the top of her head as they swayed together. All too soon the end of the song neared and their dance began to slow.

"I'm so done with this," she whispered. To anyone who heard her it seemed more that she was finished with dancing and wanted the fox to let her go. Nick however knew what her true intention was.

"I think we both are. Are you sure, Fluff?" He wanted to make absolutely certain there was no doubt in her mind. He needn't have worried though as her head lifted and violet eyes burned into his with a passion.

Instead of answering, Judy coiled her legs and leapt up into the air, bringing them face to face. Nick reflexively caught her with both paws under her rear as two strong legs wrapped around his chest. A moment that could have been as long as a day passed between them before Judy pressed her lips to the fox's own and kissed him hard.

Where the room had been quiet before, silence fell completely. Even the music, as if it were aware of what was happening, ended in that moment. Dozens of jaws fell open and hundreds of eyes widened. One mammal though was gleeful beyond all imagination.

Pushing her way towards the front, Sharla emerged to watch as the couple kissed passionately. She felt the urge to leap into the air and cry in success when something caught her eye. The way the two held each other. How there was no hesitation between the two of them and how their muzzles met in a way that was neither awkward nor new which, given their differences should be impossible. Something that only familiarity would accomplish. A realization swept over her and nearly caused her knees to buckle.

As Nick and Judy separated and looked at one another, they felt eyes on them from every direction. Ignoring them all, they looked towards the sheep who stumbled into the circle and stood directly next to them.

"You-…you two…" she stammered, unable to get the words out.

"You okay, Sharla?" Judy asked sweetly.

"You two! Are you already a thing?!" Both Judy and Nick glanced at each other before turning back to the ewe. Judy nodded happily making the sheep rock backwards. "How long?!" she demanded to know.

Judy stared at her friend with an almost mischievous grin on her lips. "Before last summer."

Sharla froze. All of her theories and the hints she had seen over the past few months had been true. "I FUCKING KNEW IT!"

Post A/N: And that's a wrap! I really hope everyone enjoyed the story and the ending was worth waiting for. (Damn college. Writing fanfic should be an offered elective so I have time to do this). It's been a hell of a ride and such a wonderful story of fluff that I wish it never ended, but all things must and I feel this was a perfect time. Thank you all for taking the trip with me.

Future News: I have another AU story in progress that I think everyone will like. No release date yet but hopefully it will be in the next few weeks. TTFN. Ta-Ta For Now!