Author's Note: This chapter comes with a special dedication to chatterbox-hikaru13. It's thanks to her I could write this. Also, thanks to everyone who reviewed. You all really helped to keep me going.
Title: Embrace of Stone
She saved me. Natsuki saved me. That was all I could think as I was plunged back into the real world. I wanted to run off and find her, then immediately sweep her off into my arms, steal her away to our bedroom, pin her to the bed, and screw the hell out of her.
Unfortunately, my body still wasn't responding to me. It wasn't like being petrified, fortunately. It was just sapped of energy. It may have prevented me from properly showing my love to Natsuki, but I could live with it. I knew it would pass. I was alive.
I might also have been practically unconscious, but I was alive.
"It appears you succeeded. It took some work though."
The words themselves barely registered in my mind. It was the voice that mattered – Miyu's. Only Shizuru's voice would have been any more welcome at that time, but there was no way in hell I was going to argue with the circumstances. I rushed to the infirmary, sparing only enough thought to keep myself from trampling over Yukino. She had just as much reason to run as I did. She just didn't have the training I did, so I beat her by a fair margin.
The thought briefly passed my mind that I'd hardly have any privacy to properly welcome Shizuru, but I pushed it out of my mind. I'd made my decision. I wasn't going to hide anymore. I wanted the whole world to know that Shizuru was mine.
Natsuki was kissing me. I'm pretty sure I was blushing, and I'm absolutely positive that I was kissing her back to the best of my ability. The only thing that didn't make sense to me at the time was the fact that there were other people in the room.
Natsuki said the sweetest things to me in brief breaks from our kisses. She said she loved me in every way imaginable. By the end, I was suffering from a full-body blush and trying to bury my head in her chest. At last, she let me do so, as she just wrapped her arms around my body and rocked me gently.
I was drifting off, but I heard murmurs coming from other people in the room. The only words I could make out, though, were Natsuki's: "Don't act so surprised."
Natsuki is quite simply the best fiancée I could imagine. I know we haven't even been engaged a full night yet, but I stand by my assessment. Her proposal held me melting, and then she gladly melted for me afterwards, even setting a new stamina record for herself. I'd thought she was completely passed out at that point, but she still had one final surprise waiting for me, as she spoke just three words in her sleep.
"Desk... bottom... left..."
Natsuki didn't seem to be forthcoming with anymore information, so I planted a kiss on her forehead – prompting a lovely blush to form in her cheeks – and left to check the desk in her study. There was nothing on the bottom-left corner of it, so I checked the bottom-left drawer. Some spare papers and envelopes were kept there, but I dug through them until I found a handwritten letter hidden at the bottom.
It was Natsuki's handwriting. She'd written this while I was petrified a few weeks ago. My heart nearly broke, even before I started to read it. The ink on the page was smeared in a few places from where tears had struck the page, and the writing was much messier than even Natsuki's standard scrawl. As I started to read, Natsuki's words clutched my heart and tied me to the page. I couldn't stop reading until I was done, even as tears built up in my eyes and then broke free.
Natsuki... were you really in that much pain? I'm so sorry... I'd do anything to take that away from you. But... but we're together now, aren't we? And to know you love me this much...
A smile formed on Shizuru's face. She wiped her tears away and placed the letter on the desk, returning to her sleeping lover. Natsuki had somehow found the energy to wrap her arms a pillow and tuck her head into it, almost as if she was trying to be as absolutely adorable as possible for Shizuru. Smiling once again at her love, Shizuru slipped into bed with her, lying behind Natsuki and wrapping her arms around the girl.
"Thank you, Suki," she whispered. "I'll never leave you again. I promise."