"This is not a good idea Chicky."
"If you think it's so stupid, go hide somewhere, hang out at the Crossroads and scam a few lunches."
"I am not about to eat while you face the witch-cat."
"It's not me I'm worried about."
Baron was silent. If it had been anyone else, he would have been able to say no, but it was Haru asking him – and it had been right after she had caught them all reading her diary. That innocent looking little book had turned his world upside down, righted it, then thrown it in the blender.
"Oh, hey Machida." It was a very un-enthused tone.
"Mind if I walk with you?"
Haru rolled her eyes. So did Muta as he walked along beside her, as well as Toto and Baron as they rode on her shoulders.
Eventually, they reached the refuge. Muta had shown Haru another way there, one that didn't involve clambering over rooftops. However, it was no more memorable than the other way. It was just a sudden turn down a nondescript alley.
"So you were the right Haru Yoshioka. It was very rude of you to not answer yesterday."
"I have made a point of ignoring strange cats who know my name since I was almost turned into an unwilling bride – but you aren't interested in me I think."
"Only if you're interested in my Humbert."
"I am not your Humbert!" The gentleman cat almost yelled, leaping down from Haru's shoulder.
"Why would my Haru be interested in a cat?"
"I am not your Haru!" she hissed, pinching Machida's ear.
"I have a solution to this!" Louise said, a wicked glint in her eye.
"Please share," Haru almost drawled.
"Let's make the matches perfect."
Louise planted a walking stick of ebony solidly on the cobbles before her and started chanting. Silver light started swirling around her.
"That cant' be good." For once Toto and Muta seemed to agree on something – they'd said it at the same time.
"Well, this isn't what I expected to happen… which is unusual, considering that it was my spell."
Haru looked around, then looked up. There was a woman standing where Louise had been, but she was dressed the way Haru had been dressed, and she was looking at her hands and touching her face. Machida was staring in that dumb, love-struck way that had graced his features when Haru had shown up at school with short hair the first time.
A hand touched her shoulder, and she turned.
"Yep. How've you been Baron?"
He gasped a quiet laugh and wrapped his arms around her, trapping her firmly in his warm hold.
Haru suppressed laughter, hearing that conversation above and behind her. They deserved each other: egotistical narcissists.
Toto flew Haru back to her house. Muta helped her carry her diary down the stairs and onto the kitchen table, where she opened it and wrote a last entry and note to her mother.
Dear Mum, I'm eloping. Love Haru.
"I think that covers it."
"Mmhm," agreed Baron, wrapping an arm around his Haru's waist and nuzzling her hair.