And I would die a thousand deaths
But to defend your happiness
Yours is like a wave upon an open shore

- "New for You" by Carney, R.

Shizuru stood still, although her heart was going faster than Apollo's chariot across the skies.

She was so afraid it was another illusion, ghosts conjured by her bitter sorrow.

But then, she felt two strong and familiar arms wrapping around her waist.

"Shizuru." A low, smooth voice murmured.

Shizuru let out a small gasp, and turned around slowly. Hope blossomed in her chest as she took in the sight of her lover. Natsuki's emerald green eyes, gazing into hers, a small smile adorning her pale face. Her dark robes hung loosely on her lithe body, her dark aura dancing around her as before.

Shizuru felt dampness on her cheeks even as her lips turned up into a joyous grin.

"You're.. you're back." Shizuru whispered, as Natsuki drew their faces closer. A warm breath on her lips, and their lips touched at long last.

Natsuki reached out, wiping the tears away from Shizuru's cheek. She frowned. "I'm sorry I was gone. But you must know, I would die a thousand deaths if that meant your freedom."

"I would trade my freedom to spare you the curse of death. All I want… I.." Shizuru sighed and looked away into the distance. Around them was a quiet silence.

Natsuki grasped her hand and embraced her tightly. Warm breath against her ear. "What do you want, Shizuru?"

Shizuru burrowed her face into Natsuki's shoulder. "For us to be together."

It was time to be brave. Shizuru's heart felt like bursting, her mouth dry, her hands shaking slightly. "We could marry. I could live with you in the Underworld – we could visit the sunlit lands every now and then. But let me be yours – don't let me go. And you could be mine, forever. I wouldn't look at another, I'll leave the Halls of Aprodite and her service. Only, only – let us belong to each other."

Natsuki breathed out. She stepped back, her face betrayed little emotion. "You would leave the service of the Goddess of Love, for me? Truly, Shizuru? Do you really.."

Shizuru glared fiercely at Natsuki. "And why not?" She narrowed her crimson eyes.

"I know how much it means to you, Shizuru."

"We've been though this same argument numerous times, in its various forms. What do you want, Natsuki?"

Natsuki swallowed, quailing a little at Shizuru's sharp tone. Then she let her gaze take Shizuru in slowly. Her love's slightly shaking hands, despite her brave front, her calmness. The unshakable certainty in her eyes, that she knew what she said to be true. The daughter of Hades smiled. Her eyes danced with joy as a peace settled on her heart. "You love me."

Shizuru frowned. "Obviously."

The Goddess of Death paused, and took Shizuru's hand in hers. "You don't need to leave everything, Shizuru. We can work something out. I'm dying every thousand years so you - no, so we can breath in sunlight. By Hades, please don't say you actually want to live in the Underworld for eternity..."

Shizuru bit her lips, not knowing where Natsuki was going with her meandering thoughts.

Natsuki wrapped both her hands around Shizuru's. She looked into Shizuru's eyes. "Marry me, then?" A hopeful grin blossomed on her colourless cheeks.

"Yes, Natsuki." She smiled, the fierceness fading from her crimson eyes.

Both their hearts soared. Natsuki tilted her head slightly, thinking. "There'll be quite a few things to work out…"

Shizuru drew Natsuki in for another kiss. "It'll be all right. We're together now. As long as you believe in us."

"I do." Natsuki deepened the kiss, snapped her fingers and they disappeared in a burst of shimmering smoke.

A few months later.

It was in the middle of the night, and Natsuki was all ready to fall asleep on their soft, luxurious bed in Garderobe. It was a warm night, and Natsuki stretched out lazily on the deep blue sheets. Shizuru was still up, having just returned from Aprodite's halls. She was disrobing, setting aside the gems in her elaborate hairdo on the nightstand next to the bed.

"Let's have our wedding feast in Olympus AND the Underworld." Shizuru suggested.

"Why can't we just have it in Garderobe? We live here for the better part of summer, our wedding is in summer, everyone likes Garderobe!" Natsuki groaned.

"I don't think Garderobe would like the gods and goddesses to descend on it all at once. The last time that happened, half the city was leveled after a fight broke out between Ares and Athena."

"… okay. As you say, dearest." Natsuki pulled the now nude Shizuru onto the bed.

Shizuru grinned. "Does Natsuki want to do other things than plan for our wedding?"

"I have some ideas. Wedding planning can wait until tomorrow when Mai, Nao and all our extremely interested and nosy friends descend on our humble abode."

Questing fingers snaked down Shizuru's curved sides and danced across her inner thighs.

"Wouldn't you agree?" A husky whisper in her ear.

A warm blush across Shizuru's cheeks. "Of course, Natsuki.." She turned and rolled her body on top of Natsuki's.

Natsuki reached up on her elbows and began kissing Shizuru.


Author's note: The end (for now) for our two lovers. There's a lot more that can be written, and perhaps that day will come. After all, we have Mai, Nao, and the rest of the cast awaiting. But for now, dear reader, let your imaginations wander..

A heartfelt thank you to all my readers and reviewers who have followed this story from its beginnings - a story that started as a digression from another, and became more than I thought it could be. :)