Disclaimer: I own neither My-HiME nor any of the characters within it.
Author's note: A few random things to say, so I'll just get it all out of the way before getting onto the fic. First of all, translation convention: All Japanese (including Shizuru's Kyoto-ben) is translated into English except a few things which don't translate well (such as honorifics). Also, be warned that this chapter is un-betaed, though I've proofread it a bit myself.
Many Shiznat stories have been written, and I thank everyone who's written one. This fic of my own is in part my way of thanking you. I hope you'll all enjoy it. Just a bit of an opener right now, though. I felt that I had to write down the events of Ep. 25 and 26 between Shizuru and Natsuki, as it was one of the most heart-wrenching/heart-warming scenes I've ever seen, and one of the reasons I love this couple so much.
Warning: This fic contains shoujo-ai (girl-girl love). Don't like? Don't read.
Title: What Dreams May Come
Rating: T (though there's a chance it'll rise to M later on)
Chapter 1: Waking from a Nightmare
Maybe it should have hurt her more to see the pain on Natsuki's face, but Shizuru had gone too far to regret what she had to do now. All that passed through her mind was that she finally had Natsuki. Maybe Natsuki wouldn't return her feelings now, maybe she even hated Shizuru for what she'd done, but it didn't matter.
Shizuru gave a vicious tug on her naginata, pulling Natsuki to her as the cord retracted. Dropping the weapon to the ground, she pulled her love into an embrace. Natsuki was limp in her arms. She may not have wanted this, but it seemed that she'd resigned herself to it. If only you'd give us a chance, Natsuki. It would be so good…
Natsuki moved in Shizuru's arms, but she didn't seem to be trying to escape so much as just turning to face Shizuru. You may have your say, Natsuki, Shizuru said silently as she loosened her grasp and turned to face her captive. She knew the words that were coming. Even broken, Natsuki would need to get in one last word and make sure Shizuru knew just how much she was hated.
She was ready for a profession of hatred. She knew she had it coming, and knew she deserved it. What she wasn't ready for was a kiss. It didn't make any sense. She'd dreamed of Natsuki kissing her like this, but she knew it would never happen. She would always have to be the one to initiate contact, and returns would come with reluctance, if at all.
Her mind raced to try to find an explanation for this action. Was she dreaming? But it felt so real… more real than anything than anything she'd felt since… since the last time they'd kissed, and Shizuru was caught by Haruka. Shizuru's eyes widened in horror as her mind's eye wandered back to that time and saw what she'd done. She'd killed Haruka, and might as well have killed Yukino in the process. And then she'd done the same thing with Nao and her mother.
It wasn't a dream now, but Shizuru had been acting out a nightmare up until this moment. Tears threatened to break from her eyes, and she made no effort to hold them in. It didn't matter anymore. But as Natsuki turned the kiss into a hug—just as loving as the one Shizuru had given her moments ago—Shizuru froze, too stunned by these developments to even cry. It was impossible, how Natsuki feel anything but hate for her after what she'd done? And yet… Shizuru felt love in Natsuki's gestures.
"Shizuru," Natsuki said, the words piercing through Shizuru's scrambled mind. "You were the first one to come to me when I was unable to believe in anyone."
I thought you'd hate me for that… knowing all I did in the guise of that friendship… Shizuru couldn't bring herself to speak the words, but they didn't need to be said. Natsuki knew it all anyways.
"But, I can't have the feeling you wish I did." Natsuki's voice was filled with regret.
I know, Natsuki. I don't deserve your love. I don't even deserve your friendship.
"Even so, I'm still happy that you loved me."
Shizuru's thoughts drifted back to when Natsuki had summoned Duran. She'd explained then that the Child grew with the HiME's affection for her most important person. Shizuru had thought it was from hate, but if Natsuki didn't hate her… Did Natsuki care for Shizuru as much as she did for Natsuki? Impossible… for her to like me at all now, much less like me that much… Am I truly not beyond forgiveness?
Natsuki pulled back from the hug and gazed directly into Shizuru's eyes. "I also love you, Shizuru." Shizuru could almost delude herself into believing that the love she saw in those brilliant green irises was the same type as her own. It looked so much like it, but she couldn't let herself fall down that path again. Even just friendly love was too much for her, but she could hardly turn it down. As she accepted this offering, she felt a blush forming on her cheeks. Natsuki had finally gotten the better of her.
Shizuru wanted this moment to last forever. Even though she knew she didn't deserve it, she was still shocked at what Natsuki decided to do. "So… Duran! Load Silver Cartridge!"
Shizuru watched in horror as Natsuki's gigantic Child aimed its cannons directly at Kiyohime and fired massive shards of ice into its belly. Kiyohime, contracted on Natsuki's life and its fate entwined with hers, was no more.
Natsuki was going to die.
Shizuru saw the explosion tear through Duran as well, dooming her to the same fate, but that didn't matter. She knew that she deserved to die after what she'd done, but Natsuki didn't. And yet, she was willing to sacrifice herself… but why must she?
No, she knew. She hadn't been willing to admit it to herself, and the subconscious knowledge had helped drive her to insanity over the impossibilities. The HiME Carnival could only end if a single HiME was left standing. And yet, she and Natsuki were tied together. If either were defeated, they would both vanish. But if this never happened, the HiME star could never be stopped, and they would die anyways.
But Natsuki understood this, and was willing to sacrifice her own life so that Mai would be alive alone to end the Carnival. She didn't have to heal Shizuru to do this, though. She could have easily had Duran destroy Kiyohime earlier on. But she'd chosen to save and forgive her friend.
I won't have to die a monster, and I'll even get to die in the arms of my love…
"I'm fulfilled," she whispered to Natsuki.
I'm ready to die, she decided as she felt her body start to fade. With her last thought, she concentrated on the angel who'd saved her soul, even if her life was forfeit. Natsuki…
"The time has come. Awaken, HiMEs. It is time to put an end to the long battle and remove the yolk of cursed fate…"
What? I'm… alive?
Shizuru opened her eyes. She was still locked in her embrace with Natsuki, but this was wrong. She tore herself away and backed off.
No… no! I was supposed to die. I deserved to die, I should have died. For all I did, only my death could even the scales.
The tears which had been locked behind her eyes prior to her death finally broke free. Shizuru buried her face in her hands. She would have never let anyone see her like this before, but maintaining her mask no longer mattered. If she couldn't offer her life for her crimes, she had nothing.
She heard the sounds of her love rising to her feet, and she let her pleas flow out, "Forgive… forgive me, Natsuki. I'm…"
"It's alright now, Shizuru. It's alright." The words were soft, laced with Natsuki's love, and they managed to break through Shizuru's tears.
Shizuru dropped her hands and gazed into Natsuki's eyes. If you say it's alright, Natsuki, then maybe it is. There's still so much I need to atone for, but for you, I'll try to live and face my demons. Shizuru felt a genuine smile cross her face, one saved just for Natsuki.
Natsuki gazed back her, perhaps silently understanding. As with before, however, she was the one who broke the moment to do what needed to be done. It wasn't over yet, and Mai needed them now. "Let's go," Natsuki said.
Thank you, Natsuki. When this is all over, I'm yours, however you want me.