A brilliant explosion filled the central plaza of Clover Town, reducing the most recent invading monster to whatever inanimate object it had started as. Only two figures were left at the scene: Cure Pine stood triumphantly in place, and a young man who appeared to be the same age was cowering to the ground just behind her. She had saved his life just in the nick of time, but she had impulsively given away her identity in the process. She was no longer simply Inori Yamabuki to him.
The Pine Flute disappeared from its owner's hand as she peered over her shoulder. She was relieved to see her companion was safe, albeit startled. She then turned her back toward him and stared at the boots of her Pretty Cure costume. After a moment in silent, regretful thought, she clenched her eyes shut and sadly muttered with just enough volume so he would hear her. The time the two had shared together was over, and she had never felt so unsure of herself since before she had become a Cure.
"I guess this is the part where you break up with me…"
Another pause followed, and then the boy replied. It sounded as if he was coming out of his lapse of shock and now a feeling of concern was taking a hold of him.
"Why would I do that, Inori?"
Cure Pine quietly snorted in disbelief. It had to be a joke. She couldn't just go back to pretending she wasn't responsible for protecting the city when she was around him. She raised her voice when she answered, but she wasn't getting her hopes up.
"Are you kidding? All of this must be too much for you. You'd rather be dating a normal girl, wouldn't you?"
Pine now shifted her gaze toward the front of her yellow dress. The costume had been able to magically adjust its proportions over the years to compensate her growing body, but its basic design had never changed. Things she had taken for granted now became imperfections in her mind, and her despairing state exaggerated the issue even further.
"And this ridiculous thing. It was cute back when I was 14, but now it's kind of embarrassing."
She frowned as she continued to study her painted fingernails and the bulbous cloth bracelets around her wrists. She was so preoccupied in her own silent misery that she didn't hear the sound of footsteps approaching her from behind. It was then that a new sensation took her by surprise. The boy she had rescued now stood directly behind her, close enough so he could gently wrap his arms over his shoulders. She gasped softly before she heard him whisper a few words of support into her ear.
"I don't care what anyone else thinks. I say you still look great in it."
Pine carefully reached for his wrists and pulled his arms away before she turned around to face him. As she saw his devotion hadn't changed in the slightest, a new set of thoughts swirled through her head. He didn't know what he was getting himself into. No matter how much they loved each other, they would have to let go. It was for his own good.
A mix of regret and desperation appeared on Pine's face as she spoke next.
"Ringo, this will never work. You could get hurt if my enemies find out you're… close to me."
Despite the all risks he was facing, Ringo's stance was unwavering. A calm smile appeared on his face as he helped Pine through her worries.
"It would hurt me even more if I dumped you for such a stupid reason."
Pine's sorrow faded as her eyes began to sparkle with hope. Maybe their relationship wouldn't have to end, after all. When she was able to consider the gravity of the situation again, she addressed her final concerns in a more subdued tone than before.
"If you're really serious, you can't tell anyone you saw me like this."
Ringo offered an understanding nod as he gently assured her.
"I get it. You're a superhero fighting for the fate of the world and you have to protect your identity."
His smile then grew brighter as his voice lowered to another whisper.
"Your secret's safe with me."
Pine's remaining worries faded away with this statement, and her eyes began to grow damp with happiness as she returned her lover's expression. Grateful that they still had one another, the couple then closed their eyes and shared a long, quiet kiss. They would stay together no matter what happened.