Disclaimer: I do not own Mai-HiME – in this universe. There might be some parallel universe out there in which I do, in which case I apologize for not making Shizuru and Natsuki's relationship explicitly canon. But you can trust my word; it is.

Author's Note: I'm writing this note as a special birthday request for kheprinmatu, the sister of famed ShizNat writer centauri2002, also my beta recently and a very dear friend of mine. She requested something nice and fluffy, and this was the first idea to come to me. I'm not sure if this is exactly what you had in mind, khepri, but hopefully you'll enjoy it.

This story, unlike my other birthday fic coming out today, does take place within the timeline of my other fics (What Dreams May Come and Perchance to Dream), though many years in the future. Reading those isn't necessary for this one, but you'll appreciate a few of the elements here more if you have. For those of you that are following along with Perchance to Dream, you can consider this a peak into the far future, to see where things will eventually end up. No big surprises, though, just hints and things you'd expect anyways. I doubt anyone seriously expected me to break them up or something. ;)

A minor warning: It didn't feel right to ask khepri to beta her birthday fic, so I just looked over this one myself. I'm a bit more likely to miss some mistakes this way, so I apologize in advance.

Title: Proposal

Rating: T (borderline M, but not nearly as explicit as my other fics)

Natsuki parked her bike in the garage and made her way to the door. The last beam of sunlight disappeared from the window as she walked, and she mentally grumbled to herself. Damn you, Fumi-temee. I'm supposed to be able to go home when the kids do. Monitoring detention is even worse than serving it, as I didn't even do anything wrong. And yet I still get stuck in there with nothing to do far too late.

As her fingers reached the doorknob, Natsuki's worries started to leave her. She was just a door away from Shizuru, knowing her wife. The woman must usually listen for the sounds of the garage door opening, and then run to the doorway that connected the garage to the house every day, just so she could embrace Natsuki the moment she stepped through. It was a bit silly when Natsuki thought of all Shizuru must have had to do to pull this off, but her silliest moments were some of her sweetest.

And I could really use some of her silliness right now, Natsuki thought as she opened the door. She stepped through with her eyes blissfully closed as she waited for Shizuru to pounce on her. She'd long ago given up on trying to anticipate the direction of the woman's attacks, so leaving her eyes closed as she entered was a subtle gesture of surrender. Not that it isn't fun surrendering myself to her from time to time, Natsuki thought with a chuckle. Shizuru could be quite creative when Natsuki gave her full lease, and she never failed to please.

But quite frustratingly, Shizuru's hugs weren't coming now. Was she just playing around to get Natsuki wanting it more? It couldn't be a way to punish her, as Natsuki had been sure to call ahead and warn her she'd be held up at work. Hesitantly, Natsuki called out, "Shizuru? You there?" No reply was forthcoming, so Natsuki hesitantly opened her eyes, hoping Shizuru wouldn't see her and "punish" her for it.

As her eyes opened fully, Natsuki was taken aback by the dim lighting. It wasn't simply that the lights were off that surprised her, but that a small amount of illumination was being provided by a candle nearby. Down the hallway, she could see a couple other candles set up. Shizuru was trying to set a romantic mood, apparently, and she was definitely succeeding. It wasn't the setup itself that did it for Natsuki, but the memories. This was exactly the way she'd up the house for Shizuru on the day she'd proposed. It was one her happiest memories, though she never could decide on a good ranking of that night and some other very special moments with Shizuru.

With a sigh of relief, Natsuki dropped her briefcase to the ground and rolled her shoulders to try to loosen them out. Shizuru's magic hands normally made short work of her daily stresses, but it looked like she'd have to do without for at least a few minutes today. Once she was loosened up, she let her gaze drift down to the candle that was positioned near the doorway, finding a handwritten note from Shizuru.

When Natsuki had set up the house like this to propose to Shizuru, she'd left various letters she'd written for Shizuru over their years together near each of the candles. The first was the letter she'd written while trying to figure out her feelings for Shizuru, which she'd slipped into Shizuru's bag as she was going home the morning after they'd first made love. At each candle on the way to the bedroom, she'd left a letter that she'd written and given to Shizuru a bit later in their relationship.

The final candle, just inside the doorway to their bedroom, had a new letter resting at its base, where Natsuki explained all the thoughts that were going through her mind when she finally made the decision to propose. The position of it allowed her to watch from the bedroom as Shizuru read. Her lover was in tears by the time she was finished reading, and Natsuki took that moment to walk up to Shizuru and embrace her.

She allowed herself to indulge in a passionate kiss for a couple minutes before she pulled her face back so she could look into Shizuru's eyes. The flickering candlelight made Shizuru's crimson eyes appear as if a fire were burning within them, which Natsuki imagined as her passionate love. It was with their eyes locked like that that Natsuki whispered a question she was already positive of the answer to.

Natsuki shook herself out of the memory as tears threatened to break out of her eyes. There'd be plenty of time for tears later, whatever Shizuru was planning, but she'd have to hold herself together a little longer. With a steadying breath, she unfolded Shizuru's note and started to read it by the light of the nearby candle.

Ara, Natsuki, I'm so sorry I asked Fumi-san to keep you after school today, but I needed some time to set everything up just perfectly. You did the same thing with my father when you proposed, so no complaining! Though if you feel like being "punished" a little, you can feel free to complain a bit later, and I'll happily oblige.

As you've probably guessed, I have something very special planned for tonight. If you answer the way I think you will, judging by a couple things you've told me, this night will be just as special as the one where you proposed to me. I just wanted to take the chance to be on the other side this time and give you the same romantic experience you gave me.

Your soul-mate,


What could Shizuru be planning? What was there beyond marriage that she might be proposing? It wasn't their anniversary, so it couldn't be a simple celebration of that. Did Shizuru want to try something new sexually? No, Shizuru had always brought up new suggestions in much less elaborate circumstances, so it couldn't be that either. Maybe a renewal of their wedding vows? That was a bit more likely, given the setup, but it seemed far too early in their marriage to think about that.

With a sigh, Natsuki resigned herself to remaining in the dark until Shizuru revealed her plans. Placing the letter back on the stand by the candle, she strolled to the next candle, just down the hallway, to see what Shizuru might have left for her there. A small box lay on the stand there, with a label on top that simply read, "Your delight."

Quirking an eyebrow as she wondered what the note might mean, Natsuki opened up the box. Inside, she found a small bottle of mayonnaise, and Shizuru's meaning immediately became clear. Chuckling at her wife's thought, she picked the bottle up and squeezed out a dollop onto her finger. She brought it to her mouth and licked it off, moaning in pleasure. Just as she'd suspected, it was Shizuru's special blend. She'd somehow managed to mix in the flavor of tea leaves to mayonnaise, so that Natsuki would always think of her when she tasted it. Shizuru had never revealed the secret to making it, but she had always made enough to keep Natsuki more than satisfied.

Natsuki wanted to stick around and finish up the bottle, but Shizuru had browbeaten restraint into her. She certainly wouldn't be pleased to see Natsuki forgetting about that now. For all she knew, it might even be some sort of test. In that case, it would be a horribly bad idea to consume even one more drop. There was no telling what punishment Shizuru might enact. Okay, maybe not that bad an idea, Natsuki thought with a blush creeping to her cheeks. But it'll probably be better if I'm nice and obedient. She's probably looking for things to be sweet tonight. I can be naughty tomorrow.

Reluctantly leaving the mayonnaise behind, Natsuki approached the next candle down the hallway. Another box was set up below it, a bit larger than the last one. The label on this one read, "Your Protector." It wasn't any more enlightening than the previous box's label was, so Natsuki opened up the box to figure it out. She let out a squeal of delight when the contents came into view. "Duran-chan!"

Natsuki quickly plucked the stuffed blue puppy out of the box and nuzzled up against its soft and adorable face. Shizuru had given it to her the same day she'd first given Natsuki some of her special mayonnaise, and Natsuki had reacted by bonding with it in much the same way. Shizuru had said it was supposed to be something to protect Natsuki when she couldn't be around, but Natsuki had instead treated it as something she could cuddle with in lieu of Shizuru.

Giving Duran-chan one last hug and kiss, Natsuki carefully placed him back in the box – not quite as squished up before, as he could poke his head out of the top now – and walked over to the next candle. The label on the box below this one immediately made Natsuki blush: "Your kink." Her mind immediately jumped to all of the kinky things Shizuru had pushed her into – and the small number she'd pushed Shizuru into – and tried to figure out which toy Shizuru might have put in the box for her.

Eventually giving up at guessing from the myriad possibilities – the though of just how many possibilities making her blush even deeper – Natsuki opened up the box. Her suspicions turned out to be right, as inside she found a pair of silk handcuffs. The blush on her cheeks started to fade a little as she recognized the pair and was touched by Shizuru's thought.

The pair of handcuffs was the first that Natsuki had ever worn for Shizuru. These ones were strictly for play; they didn't use keys, so she'd always be able to get them off of herself if she wanted to. She'd made much use of that feature in getting over her fears at first, but Shizuru never complained. Shizuru had even laid off on her usual teasing while they were working on this. Even though by that point she'd figured out that Natsuki secretly appreciated it, she knew it would have made her a bit too uncomfortable at the time.

As Natsuki walked to the fourth and final candle that was set up, she reflected on a pattern emerging. Each of the boxes so far had contained a gift of some sort from Shizuru. The special mayonnaise and Duran-chan had been explicitly given as gifts, and Shizuru had always referred to that pair of handcuffs as being Natsuki's, though both of them had taken their turns being restrained with them. It seemed that in place of the letters Natsuki had placed out for her proposal, Shizuru was lining the hallway with gifts she'd given over the years.

Only one candle was left, close to the door to their bedroom – which Natsuki noticed was left closed, unlike how she'd left it open for Shizuru – and Natsuki suspected that Shizuru would have saved the best for last. Her suspicions were reinforced when she read the label on this final box: "Your love." There was only one possibility that Natsuki could think of here, though she wasn't sure what Shizuru would have put in the box to represent it. Her love was simply Shizuru. There could be no question there. But of course, Shizuru couldn't have put herself into the box.

It was likely some gift which represented Shizuru then, and how she'd given herself to Natsuki. Her wedding ring maybe? That would get the message across, though Shizuru had sworn to never take it off. It was possible she'd make an exception for something like this, but it didn't seem too likely. Probably something to do with their wedding, though. It was the most meaningful event in their relationship – possibly tied with their first couple of nights together, but Shizuru had already used two gifts from then. It had to be their marriage.

Natsuki slowly opened up the box, trying to drag out the final revelation as much as possible. Eventually, a heart-shaped frame came into view, and she knew immediately what Shizuru had chosen. It was one of the many pictures that had been taken on their wedding day, and probably the most professional-looking. It was the only one for which they'd been able to tear their eyes off of each other, though their embrace kept them practically glued together.

Shizuru was more beautiful than ever in the picture. She'd used some of her family's fortune to have a magnificent kimono specially made for the occasion. It was a pale brown to match her hair, decorated with an array of flowers. The most prominent were sakuras, to symbolize the day she and Natsuki had first met. Natsuki had had a similar idea with the sakuras, though she'd decided to use an actual flower, which she'd nestled in her hair. Shizuru had almost fainted when she saw it, overwhelmed by the thought that Natsuki thought it was as significant to them as she did.

It wasn't just the sakura that Shizuru adored, though. She seemed to love everything Natsuki had done with her outfit. Natsuki had never been good at judging how well she looked, so she'd taken some guesses with what she thought Shizuru would like, along with some advice from her father – who'd started insisting that Natsuki refer to him as her father as well as soon as he'd heard about the engagement. She'd ended up settling on wearing a dark blue kimono, which was elegant in its simplicity, in contrast to the elaborate kimono Shizuru had worn. At the suggestion of Shizuru's father, she'd also braided her hair for the occasion. She'd been wary, but he insisted that Shizuru would love it, and he was quite right.

What Shizuru loved most, though, about Natsuki's appearance at their wedding had actually been the small bit of makeup she'd relented to wearing: a small touch of blush on her cheeks. Natsuki knew how much Shizuru loved seeing her blush, but she was feeling far too happy and confident about their marriage to possibly be able to do it naturally. The makeup didn't make her cheeks nearly as red as Shizuru was able to when she put her mind to it, but it was just enough to give the impression that she was constantly blushing. Shizuru had loved the gesture so much that Natsuki had relented to repeating it on a few other special occasions, as uncomfortable as she was with makeup.

As she felt tears start to well up in her eyes again at the memory of their wedding day, Natsuki decided that it was probably time for her to go in and see Shizuru. If she were going to break out in tears tonight, she wanted Shizuru to be there to see it. With this thought in mind, she turned to the door, which was all that remained standing between her and her love. In the flickering candlelight, she noticed that Shizuru had even put a label on the door.

Natsuki moved her head in close to read the label: "Your family." Of course. She grinned. You're all the family I need, Shizuru. Natsuki straightened up and slowly turned the doorknob. When she'd turned it all the way, she let her eyes drift shut as she pushed the door open and walked into the room.

Shizuru's hug, which Natsuki had been waiting far too long for, came from directly in front of her this time. It was the perfect angle for Natsuki to wrap her own arms back around Shizuru to pull her body close. She opened up her eyes to gaze into Shizuru's orbs, which were blazing crimson in the candlelight. "I love you, Shizuru."

"I love you too, Natsuki," Shizuru whispered. Her head drifted forward, quickly closing the distance between her lips and Natsuki's. Natsuki allowed herself to be absorbed into the sensations of Shizuru's lips against her own, feeling the soft, velvety flesh slowly moving against her. Neither of them felt any pressure to deepen the kiss; it was a simple reaffirmation that they were both there for each other and still connected.

They parted after a minute, but Natsuki didn't let their heads get too far apart. She rested her forehead against Shizuru's and gazed into her love's eyes. Not much of the candlelight could make its way in to illuminate them, but it just seemed to make Shizuru all the more enchanting. After another minute of simply gazing at Shizuru, Natsuki whispered, "Thank you for all this, Shizuru."

"Ara, Natsuki's very welcome," Shizuru said. Her lilting Kyoto-ben made Natsuki's heart leap in her chest. "But you don't even know what I'm doing all of this for yet."

"It doesn't matter," Natsuki said. "Whatever you were going to ask for, you can have it. There's no way I can deny you after all of this."

Natsuki couldn't see Shizuru's mouth, but her eyes showed definite signs of a smile. "Ara, that's quite tempting, Natsuki, but I really should tell you about this before we make a final decision." Shizuru backed her head away from Natsuki's and slowly withdrew from the hug. Her hand met Natsuki's and lightly pulled on it. "I think it's best if we sit down for this."

Natsuki nodded as Shizuru pulled her to the bed. She took this chance to assess the setup of the room, and she was pleased to note that Shizuru had decided to go with candlelight here as well. There were only a handful of candles set up in the room, but it was all the light they'd need. "So, what did you want to ask me, Shizuru?" Natsuki asked as they sat down on the bed.

"Natsuki…" Shizuru said. She picked up Natsuki's hand and cupped it in her own. "Everything seems perfect between us now. We have a house of our own, we both have steady jobs, and our relationship is as strong as ever. That's why I'm bringing something up again that we talked about briefly on a couple of occasions long before. I really hope you're ready now. I know I am."

Natsuki nodded slowly at this. She still had no idea what Shizuru might be talking about. "What is it, Shizuru?"

Shizuru took a deep breath to gather her courage. Her eyes met Natsuki's, full of nervousness and hope. "Natsuki… I want to have your baby."

Natsuki froze in shock at Shizuru's words. "M… my… my baby?" Shizuru nodded slowly at her. A child? Could I really be a mother? But… no… this can't work… "Shizuru… um, how can I say this? Wouldn't I need to be, you know, a guy for you to have my baby anyways?"

A mischievous twinkle appeared in Shizuru's eyes. "Imagine it is possible, Natsuki," she said softly. "I know that you've dreamed about us having a child that is truly ours. If it were really possible, would you want to?"

Natsuki was finding it hard to resist the look Shizuru was giving her. She wanted to agree, just for Shizuru's sake, but she knew that she needed to give her own opinion here. Breaking her gaze away so she could think clearly, Natsuki thought about the prospect of having a daughter. It was a bit frightening, definitely, but the thought of merging herself with Shizuru to create a new human being stirred her heart. It seemed fulfilling somehow. It made sense as the next step in their life together. But it was still a daunting prospect, a huge commitment.

"Er… maybe," she said, bringing her gaze back to meet Shizuru's. "But what's this all about Shizuru? Wouldn't it make more sense to talk about adoption or something if you want to have children?"

There was that twinkle again in Shizuru's eyes. "But this is possible," she said, her voice filled with what seemed to be restrained elation now. "My mother told me of some wonderful news a few weeks ago. There's been some amazing technology developed recently. Basically, it would let a doctor take some of your bone marrow and convert it into sperm. Then we could use it when the time is right for me and make a baby – a daughter, of course – that would be our very own."

Our own daughter… The words echoed in Natsuki's head. She couldn't deny that it was tempting. But the prospect of experimenting with new technology didn't quite sit right with her. "Shizuru…" she said. "Are you sure this is alright? What if something goes wrong?"

Shizuru gave a comforting smile at this. "You don't know my mother like I do. If there were any chance something could go wrong, she wouldn't let me do this. It's already gone through all possible tests, and they know that it works just fine. There's nothing to worry about."

Natsuki nodded slowly. "I guess…" She let out a sigh. It was still too much for her to take on right now. "I need more time to think about this, Shizuru. This is a huge step."

Shizuru smiled lovingly. "Of course. I didn't really expect you to come to a decision right away. It took me quite a bit of thought to know that I was okay with this. There's no reason we need to do this right away, if we're going to. You can have all the time you need to decide."

"Right, okay," Natsuki said, sighing with relief that Shizuru wasn't expecting an immediate answer.

"I'm sorry if I got you thinking that I wanted an answer right away, Natsuki," Shizuru said. "It's just… the idea popped into my head to make this like my own proposal to you, and I couldn't resist. The night you proposed to me was so beautiful, I wanted to let you experience the same type of magic."

Natsuki brought her eyes up to meet Shizuru's again. Even in the dim light, her love shone through brilliantly, and Natsuki let it envelop her. All the emotions she'd pushed to the back of her mind as she was considering Shizuru's proposal resurfaced. After only a few moments of thinking about all Shizuru had done for her this night, a pair of tears finally managed to break their way out of her eyes to drip down her cheeks. "I did, Shizuru. Thank you."

"Anything for my Natsuki," Shizuru said, a sweet smile crossing her face. After another moment gazing back, she suddenly struck a contemplative pose. "Now, if I remember correctly, there was something else very romantic Natsuki did for me after I accepted her proposal. Now what was it…?"

Natsuki barely had time to remember what she'd done next before Shizuru rolled her onto the bed and climbed on top of her. She squeaked out a yelp of surprise, but any thoughts of complaints quickly evaporated when Shizuru's lips met her own.

Natsuki drifted awake. Something in her mind was nagging for her attention. As she lay there, hints of memory drifted back to her mind. There was a girl in her dreams, a young girl. A girl who called both her and Shizuru, "Mommy."

She rolled over to look at Shizuru, who was still sleeping peacefully. Yeah, I think you'd be a great mother, Shizuru. I have no idea how I'll do, but I know you'll be strong enough for both of us if you have to be.

Natsuki moved her head over to give Shizuru a quick peck on the cheek. "I'm ready if you are, Shizuru," she whispered. A smile crept across Shizuru's features in her sleep.

Author's Note: This idea jumped into my head as I was thinking of what I could write for khepri. The whole second proposal seemed to be a very Shizuru-like thing to do, and I thought that it could indeed be quite sweet. I hope everyone enjoys it.

By the way, I didn't make up this technology, though I did extrapolate a little on how it might be developed in ten years or so. It seems very promising for the future, and it's quite amazing to think that female couples could have their own biological children pretty soon.