Chapter Seventeen

"Hold it; why didn't you recognize Baron from the start, if you knew about his fiancé?" Lune questioned Naoko over slices of strawberry Jell-O cake, covered with whipped cream. The toads had long been transported to a nice park, and Baron had dragged Haru off for a private chat, leaving the red-haired woman to explain what had happened.

"I didn't know my favorite doll had a partner, although it does explain why her arm was bent at a funny angle."

"Why funny?" The small kitten in Yuki's arms started cooing, and she rocked it gently.

"Like she was supposed to have something in it; probably Baron's arm. I used to put tiny flowers in it so it would look normal. Back to the question, Mom never told me about Baron; I had to read her journals to find out anything. She and her boyfriend had spotted Baron in a café and wanted to buy him. The owner didn't want to do it, since Louise was getting repairs at the time, but they won on the condition that my mom would buy Louise when she came back from the repair shop. Her boyfriend returned to Japan, but promised to come back to Germany for her. It was really romantic, them promising to reunite when Baron and Louise did, but then World War II happened."

Muta took a huge bite before asking the next question.

"So they weren't able to find each other after the war?"

"That's what Mom wanted me to think, but her journal told a different tale. After the war, Mom came to Japan to look for her boyfriend. She looked for ten years, and when she finally found him, he was married to someone else, and had a kid."

"Ouch." Toto and Hiromi were feeding each other slices of cake while listening to the story.

"No kidding. She was so heart-broken that she wouldn't even return Louise to Baron, because she didn't want to ruin the ex-boyfriend's happiness, and they wouldn't be together if she had returned the doll anyway."

"Can't really blame her then, for not telling you." Muta placed a still-human hand over hers, and she smiled sadly at him.

"Louise was given to me when I turned twelve, and Mom made it clear that I had to be extremely careful with her. I was torn up when I couldn't find her one morning, and then my boyfriend stopped seeing me for no reason that he was willing to tell me. Jeth did seem a little too pleased with himself when he was comforting me."

"Wonder if we could hunt down those toads," Lune muttered darkly, rubbing his child's cheek.

"What's the point? He won't be bothering us anymore." Naoko looked fondly around the pavilion. "I suppose this means that we can go back to the human world, but to be honest, I like it fine right here."

"Good thing too, since you won't be able to pry Baron off of your daughter, even if she wanted to leave." Muta helped himself to another slice.

"Any idea when they're planning on joining us?" Hiromi was answered by a loud shout from behind the Bureau.


Just like before, Haru came running into the pavilion, a sinister snicker on her face, and Baron in hot pursuit. Both are still in cat form.

"You can't say something like that and expect to get away!"

She called back to him, an evil smile still in place.

"You'll have to catch me before you can do anything about it!"

"With pleasure!"

The small group of humans and cats watched with amusement as the two figurines ran around the pavilion, the girl one laughing as they laced in between chairs and Toto's pedestal. Eventually, the orange one caught up to the white one, sweeping her into his arms and kissing her fiercely. The captive cat wrapped her arms around his neck in case he tried to end the kiss too quickly or something.

"Does this count as caught?" Baron asked Haru as she giggled and snuggled close to him.

"It does, and my answer is yes."

A look of sheer ecstasy swallowed Baron, and he squeezed the slim girl closer while she purred contentedly.

"Ahem." Naoko pointedly coughed, making the pair look over at their audience. Grinning broadly, the orange cat released the girl enough to link arms with her.

"Ms. Yoshioka, do I have permission to marry your daughter?"

"Why do you think I told you to start calling me Mom?" Naoko beamed as she embraced her daughter's fiancé.

"I thought you two were already engaged!"

Haru smiled brightly at Yuki.

"Actually, we were made to be engaged, and never be anything more."

Muta grinned.

"I see. You've just barely agreed to marry him instead of staying engaged!"

"That's right."

"What did you say earlier, to get him to chase you around like that?" Hiromi couldn't help but wonder. Haru grinned evilly.

"I told him I'd think about it."


"I know, but you should have seen the look on his face!" Louise started laughing again as Baron sneaked behind her to sweep her into his arms again.

"That was pretty evil of you, Love."

"Wasn't it though?" She cuddled against him again. "And just think; you just signed up for a lifetime of it!"

"But where are you two going to have the ceremony?" Her mother asked. The cat couple locked eyes.

"Good question. One human, one cat?" Haru asked. Her fiancé nodded.

"That should cover any objections on the legality of our union."

"Hold it; we're still celebrating your birthdays, and you want two more parties?" Toto was still recovering from this one. Baron shrugged.

"Why not? We could use a week or so to get everything in order."

"Isn't that a bit quick?"

Haru mock-glared at the ex-cat.

"Muta, we've been engaged for seventy-five years, three months, and eighteen


He nodded, stunned.

"Good point."

"Yuki and I will arrange the cat ceremony. You'll both want it small and simple, right?"

"That sounds wonderful, our thanks, Lune."

"One more thing." Haru slipped out of Baron's arms to approach Muta and Toto. "It's obvious that you two having relationships with my best friend and mother is going to get tricky, so I'm changing you both into shape-shifters. This way, the two of you won't have to come running to me every time you want to flirt."

Muta just grinned and gripped Naoko's hand.

"Thanks, Chicky, but I'm good with this form."

The red-haired woman blushed, but smiled happily. Toto stepped forward.

"I'm not quite ready to give up my feathers, so I'll take the offer."

Haru placed one hand on his shoulder, and his body glowed blue once more. After the cat-woman withdrew her hand, the dark youth shifted into his crow form. He then bowed low before the blushing blonde.

"Do you still want to know what it's like to fly?"

Hiromi nodded enthusiastically before climbing onto his back. He sailed around the refuge once before leaving for the open sky above mortals.

"Think they'll come down?"

Haru faced her fiancé, another grin slipping over their faces as they thought about the future.


Baron held her close again, drinking in her presence. As they watched the crow fly higher into the sky, he suddenly remembered something.

"Just out of curiosity, Louise; what does crashing on your couch mean?"


Lots of love for; Watersoul the Head Star Walker, Rebel of my Destiny, Wolfinson, Sayrika, SweetRebekah, Drifting One, Astrianna, whitefang4ever, fairyMei33, Thundercat, Mily, and EarthGurdian for their reviews. I really appreciate all the feedback.