Here we go, It took me a week to actually finish the outline for this chapter, but here it is, hope you guys enjoy.

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Negima Star Chapter 18 – Return

I do not own these series.

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Why is it so dark? Konata had been walking through this maze for what seemed like an eternity, she was tired and hungry, but she wouldn't stop. It shouldn't be this dark… The light from the torch she was carrying only seemed to travel a couple of feet beyond her. It wasn't natural. On top of that, she was almost certain she wasn't alone in here. More than once, out of the corner of her eye she swore she had seen eyes watching her, but they had faded as she had turned to them.

She didn't like this place, in her games she had navigated many caves and mazes just like this one, but there was something more… frightening about actually being in one. It's the feeling, its one thing to see it, but the air feels damp, the random noises all around, its just… real.

Konata had never really been fond of doing things before, not really. She wasn't bad athletically, she was actually one of the fastest people at school and more than capable in a fight, but she'd rather level up in a game than in real life. Recently though, she had found a real reason to see just how far those physical abilities could take her.

This place… this maze was different. It wasn't physically exhausting, though she was tired. This place was playing with her. She was convinced of it. It was more than just the unseen eyes. More than once she had tried to backtrack only to find a path she KNEW was there before to be just a wall. That was never minding the traps. She had twice had to duck as she came around a corner to avoid an arrow, and once she had had to cast a fireball at an Axe that had come out of no where and tried to split her in half.

But worst of all are the voices… "Kona-chan" She heard from ahead of her, somewhere in the darkness. It was Tsukasa's voice this time. The first time it had been Miyuki, the second Yutaka. The first time she had chased it, thinking her friends were in trouble, and nearly fell into what as far as she could tell was a bottomless pit. The second she had been more careful, but it had still led her to stepping on a pressure plate, which, quite stereotypically, had released a massive boulder to try to crush her. Well, I'm not falling for that again I might have to keep going forward, but the second this path splits I'm going away from that voice. They aren't going to fool me aga-.

There was a massive roar behind her, so loud that it shook the walls around her enough to cause dust and dirt to flake off.

"What the hell was that?" Then she heard the footfalls of some beast, she didn't know what, but it sounded mean and was closing very fast. "Shit." She wasn't convinced it wasn't just more tricks, but this was one situation where she couldn't take that chance. Besides, how could an imaginary voice shake the walls?

She did the only thing she could think of, she turned and began to run, the light from her torch giving her just enough light to see where her feet landed, but she couldn't chance it, she was closing on the voice of Tsukasa, which meant that, in all likelihood, she was about to run into another trap, but it was that or that thing behind her, and she knew if it WAS real, she wouldn't see it until it was far too late.

Ahead of her, over the roars behind and Tsukasa's now pleading voice, she heard running water, almost too late; she saw the ledge, and the waterfall. She skidded to a halt, but now she was trapped, either the waterfall or the monster. Did she chance that it was another fake, or would she jump?

The footfalls were close now, and closing fast, if she was going to find out, now was the time. She had no way of knowing what was down that waterfall, but maybe she could stop it if she surprised it. She turned and began firing balls of fire down the hall behind her. The light from them was sucked up by the darkness almost immediately, but it still let her see further for a second each time.

Suddenly she heard a howl of pain and an evil louder roar of rage. It IS real. The creature had stopped running, but she heard the slow steady footsteps as it crept closer.

The next ball of fire she fire disappeared maybe 10 feet into the darkness, not like the others how they faded into nothing, this one just vanished. Then the roar came, and with it an intense heat and near blinding light.

The monster in front of her was on fire, and yet it wasn't a natural fire. The most of creatures body looked almost human. It had a bull's head and a bluish-green fire surrounded its entire body. Even from this distance the heat threatened to overwhelm her. It was also carrying a huge double bladed axe in one hand. In a panic she fired fireball after fireball at it, but they just met the blue flame and vanished, it didn't even seem to notice them at all. It began to walk towards her.

She spun, deciding to take her chances with the waterfall. It was gone. She hadn't even heard to wall move, but where the opening had been was only solid rock. She turned back to the monster as it stood over her, its arm nearly reaching the ceiling as it raised its Ax over it head.

I'm going to die here… Konata closed her eyes, convinced she would never open them again.

"Konata this way." She heard her mother's soft sweet voice from her left. That… that is just mean. Kill me and be done with it, but not this…

"Konata I'm Serious, THIS WAY. There's no Time."

She opened her eyes, and was immediately convinced she had already died. Her mother was floating there in front of her, halfway out of the wall. She stood there for an instant, disbelief filling her mind. She barely noticed as Kanata grabbed her by the arm and yanked her off her feet and into the wall just as the axe came crashing down where she had been standing. As she fell into darkness, the last thing she thought was, I'm sorry I couldn't be there for you Kagami…

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It was past 4 in the morning, and Kagami had been fighting with Chachamaru off and on, with only breaks for food, for nearly 20 hours. She felt like she could hardly stand, but she still did. Some part of her she didn't understand refused to quit, even when her body had LONG since past its break point. I suppose its not a surprise that she isn't tired, being a robot and all, but its almost as if she could go on forever.

"You are doing well Kagami-san, even Negi-sensei did not do this well the first few times we fought." Chachamaru smiled, which was still weird to Kagami, a robot smiling, though Chachamaru was almost less robot than human for all the obvious mechanical parts.

"I. Thanks, I am learning a lot I think." She stumbled forward a few feet before setting herself again.

"I think you should rest Kagami-san, you have done well, but that last spar you were slower and less effective than you have been all day."

'That's silly, I can still…" She wanted to, and if her body had anything left she would have, but it had decided to supersede her brain. Her legs gave out and she began to fall. Chacha caught her and eased her down.

"I am sure you want to Kagami-san, but there is plenty of time, you don't need to push yourself so hard that you cant train for days."

"But I have to... I have to…" I Have to what? She was suddenly overwhelmed by intense emotions, both protective and affectionate, though she didn't know the source or the reason. She started to cry.

"I don't even know what I have to do. I HATE not remembering anything. Why am I so determined about this? What is this feeling of wanting to protect… Who am I trying to protect? What is wrong with me?"

"Onee-chan?" Tsukasa had fallen asleep at a nearby table, but Kagami's outburst had woken her up.

"Tsukasa? I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you up."

"Onee-chan," Tsukasa yanwed "I think… I think we need to talk. I know you don't remember much, but maybe if we talk about things it will help your memory. Besides," she paused to yawn again, "It's not like you are going to be fighting anymore tonight."

"Maybe you're right Tsukasa," Kagami said, yawning in response to her sister's, " I AM tired.. And perhaps hearing more about things will help me remember why I seem to have this urge to continue past all reason, like there is something or someone I'm trying to protect."

"About that Onee-chan… I know you don't really remember Kona-chan, so this may seem crazy, but I think she might be related to the feeling you have."

"Why, were we really close or something?"

"Um.. You could say that, I think…" Tsukasa sweat dropped remembering all of the times Konata had spent irritating her sister or causing her embarrassment, but at the same time, they had always seemed oddly close despite it.

"What do you mean, you THINK?" Kagami asked both slightly irritated and confused, "Either we were or not, which is it?"

"Well, you too always seemed to fight a lot, and you were always yelling at Kona-chan or scolding her or making fun of her, or being teased by her or-"

"Enough Tsukasa. What about ANY of that sounds like we might have been close."

"Well, despite that, you two talked to each other more than anyone else, and you even left your own class to come sit with us during lunch and pretty much whenever you could. And your never seemed to be really mad at her either, more just frustrated at her craziness."

"That's crazy, I've never heard of anyone leaping from not being mad at someone to being close to them."

"Well, there are other things too; I mean you did save her from getting hurt and you've always acted like you were glad she was around." She paused for a second, Tsukasa wasn't always the best at talking about things like this, and she was focusing VERY hard to not spill what Konata had told her. "And I mean, its not like you've ever had a boyfriend or even looked at guys before…"

It was about now that Chachamaru decided to slip away. This wasn't something she needed to be involved in anyways. She'd just come find Kagami tomorrow. Yeah Tomorrow.

"Just what the hell is THAT supposed to mean Tsukasa? Are you trying to say I'm a Lesbian or something?" Kagami was getting irritated at her sister. It was one thing to say she had a friend she didn't remember, even a close friend, but to suggest that she might actually have feelings for another girl, and one she didn't even remember meeting. That was just crazy talk. "That's crazy Tsukasa, I know you get wild ideas sometimes, but that's got to take the cake. I mean really? Me? Seriously?"

"You never really said anything about it, not even to me, but you used to look at Kona-chan differently than anyone else, like you had a secret that no one else knew and it made you happy. Even when she was making you mad sometimes you'd stop and blush and just tell her to shut up like she was embarrassing you."

Kagami was quickly running out of responses, and it was bothering her that none of this sounded THAT farfetched and that some of it was even oddly comforting. I suppose she's right about some of that, I don't remember anything from before, but even yesterday when I heard Konata was missing, I got worried and upset, and I don't even know her now…

"Tsukasa…Do you really think THAT is why I'm so confused right now? And So desperate to remember? Could I really forget something so…" Her head suddenly spiked with pain. For an instant it was so blindingly painful she couldn't even see straight, she would have fallen if Tsukasa hadn't been standing right there.

"Onee-chan! Are you OK?" Tsukasa asked, worried look on her face as she helped Kagami into a chair.

"I.. I'm alright Tsukasa. I just need to rest I think." Good Grief.. what WAS that? It happened right when I felt like I was close to remembering something about Konata…That hasn't happened before. Usually it had just been a feeling of missing something, or something like feeling like you had forgotten something important, but that was different. It was almost as if something actively tried to stop her from remembering.

"You shouldn't push yourself so hard Onee-chan, either physically, or trying to remember, it will come back I'm sure of it" Tsukasa sounded happy but her face was lined with worries that Kagami almost didn't recognize on her twin.

"Thank you Tsukasa… I am glad I at least have you with me. I don't know what I would do if I was alone right now…" Kagami started to cry and buried her face into Tsukasa's chest.

"Onee-chan." Tsukasa was kind of at a loss to be honest. She was used to relying on her sister for almost everything, now that the rolls were almost completely reversed she felt like she was learning more about herself, every day.

Without her sister to help she thought she'd be completely powerless and useless, and it was true, she was still VERY bad at magic, and all of this felt so overwhelming, but at the same time, she felt like she was actually doing something to make herself better, and without having to be forced into it as well. It was a pleasant feeling in the middle of a whole lot of worry and, if she let it out, depression.

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"Kono-chan. What are going to do now?" Setsuna asked. It had been nearly seven hours since the end of the fight, they had spent longer than they had anticipated in each other's arms, neither willing to let go first or stop for more than a few breaths. Neither had been aware of just how emotionally pent up they had been.

Eventually, they had ended up falling asleep leaning against an old tree nearby, Setsuna's arms wrapped protectively around Konoka. Now it was nearly dawn and reluctantly, they knew they had to return to the school.

"Set-chan, just follow my lead when we get back. I know they are going to try to arrest you, or worse, but I'm not going to let them!"

"Alright Kono-chan, I trust you." It felt odd to Setsuna to feel so comfortable letting Konoka take charge, yet at the same time, she was glad she no longer had to wear a mask around her. She still couldn't quite believe things had happened that way last night. Remembering the previous night also caused her face to turn bright red. Kono-chan seems to know a lot more about that kind of stuff than I do.

Still, Kono-chan might be my… my… She blushed bright red and hurried on in her thinking. But she still needs to be watched over, more so now than ever. Setsuna set about watching her surroundings and making sure nothing decided to sneak up on them.

As they approached the front of the school, Mana and Kaede, as well as six other guards that neither of them recognized immediately met them. Setsuna reluctantly allowed Konoka to take the lead, rather than immediately falling back on her instinct to put herself between Konoka and the others.

Nonetheless, her hand instinctively clenched down on her sword. The others noticed this and were instantly on guard, eyeing her warily. For her part Konoka acted as if nothing out of the ordinary was going on.

"I want to talk to my grandfather," Konoka began, "There are some things he needs to be informed of, and I know he's been worried about me."

Taken aback by her directness, and seeming lack of concern about everything, the guards looked at each other, and one stepped off to the side and grabbed his earpiece. A moment later, he came back.

"We will take you both to the dean, however there is a condition. Setsuna-san is to be disarmed and will be bound, both physically and magically until the dean says otherwise."

"That's crazy, Set-chan is no threat to anyone here, and she was only trying to protect me."

"Nonetheless, the dean made it quite clear she was not to be allowed into the school without these measures being taken."

"Very well, however, I wish to note my protest." She turned to look at Setsuna, who had been stiff as a board the entire time. When one of the guards went to take her sword, he stopped short, finding it less than an inch from his neck. "Also, I think I better be the one to hold her sword, I don't think she is going to be willing to give it up to you." Calmly, more calmly than she felt inside, Konoka eased the sword away from the guard's neck.

Set-chan is obviously on edge, I know she doesn't like this at all, but we have to see gramps or we'll never get this cleared up. Hmm… She reached up and kissed Setsuna on the cheek.

"Kono-chan!" Setsuna turned scarlet. Bah, I had hoped after last night she'd have gotten over that blushing a little. Well at least she's stopped all the Ojou-sama nonsense.

"Set-chan, calm down, its only for a moment, we'll see gramps and I'll clear this up in no time. Besides we'll be safe here in the school."

"I don't like not being able to keep you safe Kono-chan."

"Set-chan, you've kept me safe for years, its time you gave me the chance to do the same for you. This isn't something you can fight, besides.." she grinned playfully. "The quicker we get this taken care of the quicker we can see about getting a room together."

"OJOU-SAMA!" Setsuna had turned beet red. "That that… I …"

"Ahem, I have absolutely no idea what you two are going on about, but can we move this along please? We have other things to be watching for in case you forgot." Mana said, breaking up the two's moment.

"Set-chan." Konoka said softly and gently while taking Setsuna's sword, "I will take care of it for you. It won't take long." Setsuna relented, unwillingly, but also unable to resist Konoka's requests at all. They were then led by two of the guards to the dean's office. They were told to wait outside for a moment as one of the guards slipped inside and began to talk to the dean.

As the door opened again and they were both lead in, neither had any idea how much there lives were about to change.

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It had been a long time coming for her, but Ayaka was slowly starting to feel like she was actually a part of Asuna's life again. As kids they had fought and played together so often, but as they had grown older the two of them had grown more and more apart. With the arrival of Negi-sensei, it had only gotten worse. It was almost as if they didn't even know each other anymore. Sure they were still classmates, but beyond that they almost never talked anymore.

Now though, it was different, she knew why Asuna had been so distant, and she was proud her often air-headed friend had become so strong and reliable. It made her somewhat sad that so much had happened to her dear Asuna without her even knowing. She wished she had known from the start so she could have been there for her. Well now she was, and she would never let Asuna face the dangers of this world alone. Even if she couldn't reveal how she felt, she was happier knowing she could be there to help.

"Earth to Ayaka, are you going to order or not?" Asuna said suddenly, jerking Ayaka out of her mind and back to reality.

"Huh? Oh, Yes," They were at a local diner, after stopping training they had decided to go out and get food, but neither could really decide on what to eat, so they settled for this cheap little place near the school. They weren't actually supposed to leave the school after curfew, but between Asuna's abilities and Ayaka's influence, no one was really willing to stop them.

"So Ayaka, what's gotten you so interested in helping all of the sudden? I mean I know you didn't have any idea about the whole magic and all, but you never seemed that interested in what I was doing, just in obsessing over Negi."

Ayaka choked on her drink. "I.. I just have is all. I don't want you getting hurt if I can help you be safe."

"You never seemed to worried about it before, if anything, you were more inclined to cause me pain or problems than help me fix them."

"Well, that was different, this is dangerous, and people are getting hurt. Us having kid fights is nothing compared to it."

"I suppose that is true, though you deciding to put all of that aside is what throws me off."

Ayaka thought for a minute, she was always careful about how much she wanted to say around Asuna.

"I just wanted to make sure you're safe…" Asuna blushed and Ayaka was worried she had said to much, but Asuna just replied,

"Baka. I'm more worried about you getting hurt. I can take care of myself just fine."

"Like you did against Setsuna?" Asuna blushed again.

"That was different. I couldn't beat Setsuna anyways and I think we both knew it."

"Then why fight her at all?"

"I had to, there's something you learn about what someone is thinking by fighting them that you just can't learn any other way." She paused for a second. "That might be why we were always so close growing up, come to think of it Ayaka."

It was Ayaka's turn to blush. "That's just crazy talk. How can you learn something about someone through brutish violence?"

"You learn just how strongly they feel about something by how hard their willing to push and how far they'll go to win. Setsuna might well have killed me if I had kept trying to stop her. She would have hated herself for it, but she is determined to save Konoka, and when she's like that, I pity anyone who tries to stop her."

"Its still reckless and dangerous for her to hurt you so much, I don't like it. I have half a mind to tell her off next time I see her."

"Haha, What are you my girlfriend? Besides like I said, she held back, even as bad as she roughed me up. She intentionally reversed her sword to avoid cutting me in half at the end of it, and she didn't even use her strongest moves on me."

Ayaka had turned pink at the idea of being Asuna's girlfriend. She had only half heard the rest of her statement. Still she pressed through.

"Enough of all that anyways, Setsuna isn't our real problem anyways, these attacks on everyone are a much bigger issue."

"I agree, but the dean said we should try to stay out of it, we're to make sure no one else gets hurt, but otherwise we don't need to go looking for trouble."

"I wouldn't dream of looking for the things that are out there, much as I hate to admit it, I can't forget how badly we were both beaten the other day. If the others were attacked by people worse than that as you say they were, I have no intention of facing those things… I have grown enough to know my ego won't solve everything Asuna."

"I know you have Ayaka, I know. I just worry about our classmates and you, if people like Eva aren't safe, I don't think any of us are really. She's always the one who always seems to bail the rest of us out. Her and Negi. "

"That is still as hard to accept as anything, that our teacher is actually a powerful Magician."

"Trust me I can definitely understand that, I was actually the first one to figure it out, and it was a shock. He's really just a kid though, for all his immense abilities and intelligence, I think he missed a lot of what kids need to learn. I constantly have to remind him that he's not invincible and that he needs help. Sometimes I think he needs more help than he gets, but he'll never ask for it."

"Sounds like a certain redhead I know Asuna."

"Very funny, haha, but probably true I suppose, much as I hate to admit it."

"So what now? I know we aren't going hunting for these guys, but who do you think these guy are anyways?"

"I'm pretty sure whatever is going on is related directly to that Gateway thing Konoka found. All of this happened since those girls showed up in our world. I don't believe they are the cause, but I think that whatever we did might have caused some kind of beacon others followed to get here. Though what they intend to do here, I have no idea."

"What if we asked the guy she bought it from?"

"I thought we weren't going to get involved Ayaka. Something about keeping me safe or some nonsense."

"I doubt we'll run into anything anyways, but just maybe the guy knows something about it. According to what Konoka told you, he probably knew more about it than what he told her."

"Well its only going to a shop, so I suppose it can't hurt. We can go tomorrow after our turn on watch. For now I'm Starving." Their food had arrived, and Asuna had ordered quite large plate of food at that, Ayaka noted.

"I just would like to see this resolved and everyone be safe again."

"I know Ayaka I know."

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It was a pain to open her eyes, every muscle in her body seemed to hurt, and hey eyelids felt like they weighed tons. I hear humming.. And I know this song.. Slowly Konata's eyes creeped open, and for a second she thought he was dead. The lap she was currently laying on was Kanata's, her mother's, and as much as that comforted her, even in her current state she knew her mother had passed away nearly fifteen years ago.

"How…how are you..?"

"Rest dear, there will be time to explain everything, but right now you need to rest. You've been through so very much."

"Mother.." Konata slipped back off to sleep.

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The room was almost too still as the two girls entered and approached the Dean's desk. Setsuna really didn't like being bound, but she had given her word to let Konoka lead, and she trusted her absolutely.

"I am quite curious as to what is going on, but first I have a very serious question Setsuna-san." The dean began, he looked unhappy and suspicious. "Before anything else, do you have the Gateway Setsuna? I am almost certain at this point that you are the one who stole it."

"Yes Sir, I did. Though it was with the full intent of protecting Kono-chan."

"Eh, is that true? And why couldn't you tell me what was going on earlier, rather than attacking me and running off like a fugitive?"

"Due to the circumstances around the curse, doing so would have risked her life, which is something I am unwilling to do, regardless of the consequences."

"Admirable, I am sure, however tha-"

"Lighten up gramps, Set-chan was protecting me, which I might add you and daddy have always said she should be doing anyways."

"Konoka this is a serious matter, Setsuna has violated many school rules and may very well be expelled over this."

"No she won't, because if she leaves, I will go with her."

"WHAT!?" The response from both the Dean and Setsuna was immediate.

"Kono-chan you can't…" Setsuna stopped as Konoka eyed her dangerously, but then she turned her attention to her grandfather.

"I can and I WILL. Setsuna may have broken rules, and I'm sorry you got hurt over it Gramps, but she did so to SAVE MY LIFE." She punctuated that statement with a finger in the dean's face.

"I uhh" The dean wasn't expecting this kind of reaction from his granddaughter, sure she was usually forward about how she felt, but she was even more so today. "Konoka, why are you so determined on this?"

"For one, because its not right to punish Set-chan for doing exactly what she's always been told to do, and second because I'm not leaving Set-chan's side again!"

"Kono-chan…"

"Hmm.. Well I don't know what's been going on between you two, but-"

"But nothing Gramps, that is the end of that kind of talk, there are more important matters to discuss."

"Oh? Like what?"

"We can get to the more complicated ones in a minute, but first lets get this one out of the way."

Without waiting for either of the others to respond, she promptly turned around wrapped her arms around Setsuna's neck and kissed her on the lips. Setsuna, her hands still bound behind her back, stiffened like a board. She certainly didn't mind, but the shock and surprise of Konoka's sudden kiss just caught her completely off guard.

As Konoka let go of Setsuna, he breath just a little on the heavy side, she smiled and stuck her tongue out at Setsuna who blushed deeply. Turning back to the dean, she was expecting anger or at the very least irritation. What she got was completely different. The dean was actually smiling at her.

"Konoka, if you thought that that was going to surprise me, you were very wrong. You've been pawing all over over that poor girl for over a decade. Frankly I'm surprised it's taken you this long to admit it."

Konoka actually blushed at that. "Though that certainly DOES explain why you're so adamant to stay with her now. And I don't believe that Setsuna-san is bothered by the idea either, if all the signs are true." Setsuna began to blush again at that. "You two are easily the least subtle couple at this school. I may be old, but I'm not so old fashioned to miss real love when I see it. There may be an issue or two down the road, but we'll get to them as needed."

"Gramps!" Konoka practically dove over the desk to hug the dean.

"Calm down Konoka." The dean pushed her back and settled her down. "I suppose you have it in your mind to change rooms as well don't you?" Konoka nodded and Setsuna blushed. She hadn't even considered that. "Well we can figure all of that out shortly. First the other issues at hand."

"Oh yeah.. I kind of forgot for a second there." Konoka blushed again and pulled out a small bag. "We brought the Gateway back with us. Setsuna didn't have it earlier, but we knew where to look after the fight."

"What fight?" The dean looked instantly more alarmed.

"Right after leaving here last night, Setsuna was attacked by a tall man with a large sword. It was about then when I returned to save her."

"Returned? From where?"

"One thing at a time gramps, we have a lot to explain, but perhaps Set-chan should be the one to start, and I can just fill in the parts she doesn't know about."

"I think that would be a good idea Konoka. I would very much like to know exactly what has been going on with you two the last few days. Given the situation, I think its safe to remove your bindings as well."

The Dean nodded to one of the guards that had been standing next to the door. He came up and released Setsuna's bindings and the two left the room at the Dean's second nod. "Now then, explain to me exactly what has been going on, try not to leave out any detail, any little thing might be important.

"Yes Sir, It all started two nights ago, not long after Kono-chan was attacked at Eva's Cottage.

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Konata woke with a start and sat upright. She was in a small, dimly lit room, lying on a makeshift bed that was little more than a wall tapestry laid down on the floor. She was alone.

Was that all just a dream? She didn't remember this tapestry, or this room, but at the same time, the idea of her mother saving her was just… crazy. Maybe she had just been so tired her mind had slipped. Lord knows she had been dealing with enough lately to finally snap. I mean really. Mom, here? That's just crazy. Much as she would have loved the idea, that was just fantasy. Then again, Sayo-chan exists here, why not mom?

"You know, if you keep laying on the floor like that without anything over you, you're going to get sick." Konata jumped as she heard the voice from across the room. Her mother was really there. Well her mother's spirit at least.

"M..mom? is that really you? You're not just another trick of this place trying to break me are you?"

"No dear, I am not, though finding you here was just short of impossible, even a ghost doesn't know everything. "

"I am as curious as to how you are here as to why."

"Well I'm here because my daughter suddenly vanished completely from the plane of existence I left her on. One minute you were there, and the next you were gone. Your father was devastated by it, I knew he couldn't do anything to find you, but I have more resources to try. And here I am."

"Ok, so that's why, but how?"

"Well I knew you had changed planes, but I knew you were not dead, which was my first fear. But I could have found you easily had you died. That meant somehow you had to have switched from one living realm to another. Luckily for me, one benefit of being dead is that I can go to whichever realm I please whenever I chose.

That did still leave the issue of finding you, but thankfully that was easy too. See the world I am now in, we have knowledge of things none of the living worlds do. We have a connection to all, and receive the souls of them all. This has allowed us to build a great deal of knowledge and skills that no single world is capable of handling. I am forbidden from sharing the exacts of it, but with the help of a nice old man I was able to pin point your exact location within this realm in hours."

"If you knew where I was in hours, why not do something then? Like before Kagami got hurt?" Konata knew that wasn't fair, but she was just a little upset.

"Well dear, that was just finding you, unfortunately, contrary to popular belief, Ghosts can't just pop up wherever they want at will. Particularly interdimensional ghosts. We might be able to travel freely between, but the actually ACT of doing so is sort of involved.

Also I had to spend days getting permission to actually interact with this world. Again, it's complicated ghost stuff, but while travel is free, in order to prevent interdimensional tampering and poltergeists, the visits are almost always only permitted on an ethereal level. Actual physical interaction is all but unheard of.

I managed to convince them that given how suddenly living beings had shifted between the realms, something that is almost impossible, that if I was to be of any help getting you home, or even seeing you safe, I'd need my full abilities here. They agreed, though the also sent some others as well to investigate and see if this matter might endanger more than one world."

Konata just started at her mom for a minute. What she had said was actually easy for Konata to understand given her video game background, but even then, it was a lot to digest at once.

"So, you are here to help me? And we can go home?"

"Let's be honest here dear, even if we solve this, do you really want to go home? I was never into the games like your father, but I was always really into the fantasy concept. This world is incredible. Sure parts are dangerous, but still I mean magic!"

Konata couldn't help but laugh. He had been very little when her mom had passed, and most of what she knew of her mother was from her father. Being able to actually talk to her was so much more amazing. Though she is just like dad always described her.

"So how long have you been watching me here?"

"Um, since around the time with the dragon outside. That was pretty incredible by the way." Her mom gave her a thumbs up.

"You've been here that long? Why not say something before?"

"Because you were doing well, you dealt with that thing and up until last night with that monster, you were actually making great progress in this maze, for all that witches attempts at killing you."

"She's trying her best to break me mother, I want her powers to protect Kagami and.."

"My dear girl, you don't need her powers at all. You know that don't you? You are completely capable of keeping that girl safe without them, never mind that she is probably capable of keeping herself safe just fine. I do have to thank her for saving you some day."

"She nearly died because of that…" Konata teared up a little remembering. "And now she can't even remember me…."

"Dear, I have watched over you the last few years, I know how you feel about her, and regardless of how you might feel you are perverted or wrong, just remember this, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, what matters is how the two of you feel. Everyone always said my marrying your dad would ruin my life, that I would be miserable and regret it."

She looked away for a minute, and turned back smiling, with tears in her eyes. "I never did, I would never trade a single moment of the days I spent with your father and you for anything. He was a dork and occasionally a creep, but your father is an amazing man, and I loved him for all of his flaws. Until the day I died he was there with me, and he had raised such a wonderful person in you. Let go of worrying over what others might think, let you heart decide dear."

"But Kagami probably will hate me if I tell her."

"I don't know her heart dear, but I doubt she's going to hate you. If anything she might just need that little push to accept her own feelings, who knows. From what I've seen of her around you, she's hiding something, but how deep that goes, who can say. I think you should try my dear. But first you need to survive this witches hell dungeon."

"That's true, and I'm starving…"

"Well, that's actually why I wasn't here when you woke up. There really is a lot of food at the end of this maze, though there are some nasty things between here and there. It might take you another day to get through, though from what I can tell, she was expecting longer than that. She knows I helped you though; she could rearrange the place because of it. I did mange to bring you some food. Its not much, just some water, bread and –OH! I almost forgot, I also brought something from home you might like."

Konata couldn't help but start to cry, her mom handed her the food along with a wrapped up choco cornet.

"Mom I… Thank you for coming to save me.. And for and for…" Konata stopped and just started crying, clinging to her mother. Normally she could think on the positive side enough to move on, but something about how surreal this was, her mom saving her and guiding her, knowing her mom supported her love of Kagami, and knowing she just wasn't alone here, it all just overwhelmed her. Once she started crying, there was no holding it back anymore. Kanata wrapped her arms around Konata and for just a moment, was happy she could finally be there for her daughter.

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The Part with Konata and Kanata in the maze was fun, It's not entirely without precedence in either world, but I really just like how it worked out. (Written at the 2,000 word mark)

Also I think as my writing has expanded, so has the length of these chapters in general. Gone are the days of 2,000 word chapters. ha-ha. I shall miss them to some extent (its easier to spit out 2,000 words than 5,000+) but these seems to cover more ground, or at least better flush out the ground they do cover. (Written at the 5,200 Word Mark)

There was also actually going to be a Yueki(That's what I'm calling the MiyukixYue bits for now, any better variants I'm willing to hear. I also like Miyueki) Section in this chapter as well, but I decided to hold it for the next chapter as while it was good in its own right, I didn't feel it melded well with the theme of this chapter as a whole. That and this thing was already over 7,000 words Long without it.

Section Word Break Down:

Konosetsu: 1,700 (2 Segments)

Ayaka and Asuna: 1,200 (1 Segment)

Konata/Kanata: 2,600 (3 Segments)

Kagami/Tsukasa: 1400 (1 Segment)

A/N: 250 ( 2 Segments)