As much as I would have liked to have stayed right where I was with Seiya, eventually I made myself roll over and sit up. I wasn't sure how long we had been in Elysian, but it was long enough for me to know that it was past time for us to be going home. "We have to go," I said softly, regretfully. Going back meant that I'd have to talk to my family again. It meant telling my parents and the rest of the world I was pregnant, and figuring out what I wanted to do about school. It meant a possible end to the Three Lights.
"It will be okay," Seiya said, watching my face closely. "Odango, you do know that right?"
"I do, I just... when I think about everything that I've been putting off, it's overwhelming. I don't know what my parents are going to say when I tell them. They're probably going to be so mad at me." I bit my lip. I would never be able to explain to anyone else about the true circumstances surrounding Chibi-Usa's birth. That would be way too much for my parents to handle. I figured I would just tell them Mamoru and I'd had sex before he left, and now Seiya was stepping in as the father. It was plausible, but I knew that wouldn't stop Dad from being furious. He'd always thought Mamoru was too old for me; I hoped he wouldn't jump to any conclusions about how this had happened.
"But they're also your parents, and they love you," she pointed out. "And they're getting a grandchild out of it, which based on what I've learned about Earth can only be considered a bonus."
"Yeah." I tried to smile. There was so much about Earth that Seiya didn't know. That was the problem. Last year there had been a girl in my class who got pregnant. Her parents kicked her out. They couldn't take the shame of it, so she had to go live with her boyfriend's family - and then his family made them both get married. She'd dropped out of school after that to raise the baby. I hadn't thought about her in ages, mostly because that was right around the time that we were trying to deal with Mistress 9, but that was all anyone could talk about for weeks. The thought of anything similar happening to me was enough horrifying.
Seiya looked at me for a long moment, her mouth pressed into a thin line. Then she said, "Would it help if we were married?"
"What?" My head snapped around so fast that the bones in my neck creaked painfully.
"Would it help if were married?" Seiya repeated patiently.
"I don't -" I stared at her, flabbergasted. "Seiya?"
"I've learned more about Earth thank you think, Odango, even though we haven't been here for very long. After you told us you were pregnant, I did a little research on the internet and I found out how some people see young mothers." Seiya looked troubled. "Especially those who aren't married. I don't want anyone saying bad things about you. If marrying you would change that, well, it's not exactly a sacrifice." She winked at me with a playful grin. "It's only something I've been dreaming about since I met you."
I had no idea what to say. Less than an hour ago I hadn't even dared to dream that there might be a future for me and Seiya, and now she was telling me that she would marry me if it would make the news come out better. I shook my head. "Seiya, I could never ask you to do that."
"Didn't you just hear me say it's not big sacrifice?" she asked wryly, reaching out to touch my cheek. "Seriously, I want to marry you someday. Maybe I should have made this more clear to you before we spent the past hour making out, but once I have you I'm never going to be able to let you go. What's between us, it has to be for good. I won't ever want anyone else. It's only you. So regardless of whether we get married now or whether it happens in ten years, it doesn't matter. It won't change how I feel about you. And if it would mean that people would be less harsh or cruel with the things they say about you, then I'd just as soon have it happen now rather than later."
I was speechless. It took me almost a full minute to realize that she was basically asking me to marry her. And all of a sudden, all I could think about was that gorgeous engagement ring I'd found in Mamoru's apartment. I'd mourned the fact that I would never have the opportunity to wear it. I looked down at my hand and wondered what a ring from Seiya would like, if her tastes would run more towards flashy or understated. It occurred to me then that I actually wanted to find out. After all, I felt the same way that she did. I knew this was forever, and when I said 'forever' I actually meant it because I had a clear understanding of what forever actually was.
"I can't believe this," I said. "Your fans are going to be totally heartbroken. Not only are you having a baby, but you're also engaged."
Seiya's eyes widened. "Is that a yes?" she asked, sounding shocked, and I realized that she wasn't actually expecting me to say yes.
"Yes, it's a yes," I said, laughing and blinking back tears. I leaned over and kissed her again, loving the way it hit me that I'd be able to do this every day for the rest of our lives. Seiya was the one, the woman I was going to be with forever, and that knowledge didn't scare me one bit. Sometimes I used to get a little freaked out when I thought about the future that waited for me with Mamoru, all of the expectations that were on our shoulders. This was different. It was just going to be me and Seiya and our kids and Yaten and Taiki, and maybe someday the senshi, all of us making our way through things as best we knew how. There was something really comforting about that idea. I couldn't stop smiling.
"I can't believe you said yes," Seiya muttered, wrapping her arms around me. She kissed my mouth and then both cheeks and my forehead, and then she just looked into my eyes. She said, awed, "I never thought this moment would come. Sometimes... back before... I used to lay in bed at night and think about how I would propose to you. The dates I'd take you on if I ever got the chance. I used to hate myself because I wanted that so much and I knew I needed to go back to Kinmoku."
"Seiya," I said shakily, lifting my hand to cup her cheek. I couldn't say the same. I'd ignored anything I felt for her because of Mamoru. I would've kept ignoring it, too, and we both knew it.
"It's okay," she whispered, kissing my palm. "I have you now and that's all I really care about."
My heart swelled up so big that for a few seconds I thought there was a real chance it might burst. I'd never realized that it was possible to be so happy and so sad at the same time. After everything I had lost, the thought that I might have finally gained something was enough to make me want to cry all over again. I settled for giving her another kiss and then sitting up. I knew that if I stayed there for much longer we'd be making use of the bed for a whole different reason, and I didn't think either of us was really ready for that yet.
"I think Helios is probably waiting for me," I said, not without a hint of apology.
She smiled at me. "That's okay. I should go wake Yaten up, anyway. If we stay here much longer I'm not going to want to leave."
I knew what she meant. Being on Elysian was blissful. Everything was at peace. "Maybe we can come back for a vacation," I said shyly, because what I really meant was honeymoon. Who needed to visit a place like the Caribbean or Paris when you had an enchanted world?
"Sounds good to me," Seiya said as she swung her legs off of the bed and stood up. She swayed for a moment, but waved me off when I tried to reach for her. "It's fine, I'm good. I think I just stood up too fast," she said, but I was still concerned. We healed so fast that it was easy to forget that, for the time being, we were still technically wounded.
"Okay, but try to be careful," I urged as we left the room together. She nodded, although I knew that she would probably forget all about it as soon as she was out of my sight. I stood there and watched her go until I couldn't see her anymore before I looked around. It was only just occurring to me that I had no idea where we were, or where Helios might be.
I realized that I was standing in the middle of a wooden hallway. It was nothing fancy, but the wood was silver and pulsed beneath my fingertips when I touched the wall. I turned, deciding to go in the opposite direction of Seiya, and found myself standing at an exit when I got to the end. I pushed the door open and let it fall gently shut as I stepped outside. The air was cool and misty, but not so cold that I felt the need to go back inside. My bare feet sank into the grass when I moved down, and the dampness felt good against my soles.
Helios was waiting for me. I could see him as soon as I was about ten feet from the house, standing up on a little hill not too far away. I walked up to him, surprised to find that even this little trek had left me breathless and a little dizzy. My throat ached with pain when I tried to take a deep breath. By the time I got to Helios, I was relieved to stop. I bent over, putting my hands on my knees. "Sorry," I said in response to his raised eyebrow. "I guess I'm not as recovered as I thought I was."
"It's my fault. I should have come to you. I'm sorry, your highness."
"Hey, it's fine. The walk probably did me good. They say that when your muscles ache the worst thing you can do is stay still, right?" I straightened up slowly. I wasn't sure who 'they' were, but I really wanted to tell them that they were wrong.
He smiled then. "If you say so. I'm guessing that you were told that the Sisters have returned to Earth?"
"Seiya mentioned it," I confirmed.
"I healed them before they left."
"Helios!" I was surprised by that, though maybe I shouldn't have been. Helios hadn't been able to do much during the battle to help us. By giving us shelter and healing, he was trying to make up for that. "You didn't have to - but thank you. I was wondering how I was going to be able to do that. I still feel weak."
"I was expecting that. You used a lot of power during the battle, and I didn't want you to have to be concerned about that as you soon as you returned home." He paused, his eyes dropping briefly to my stomach before rising to my face. "Petz is buried here, in Elysian. I've extended an invitation to the other Sisters to stay here, should they ever wish to leave Earth."
"Oh." My eyes widened slightly. "That was nice of you."
Helios shrugged one shoulder. "It seemed fitting. They are human, but they were borne partly from magic. Elysian could do with the help."
And he could do with the company, I silently translated. It made my heart ache for him. I reached out and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. "You know, you're always welcome to come visit me on Earth. I know Elysian needs you, but a little vacation wouldn't hurt anyone." I smoothed his hair back. "I've already got a couple of daughters, but I've never had a son before."
He looked shocked. "Princess..."
"I'm just saying," I said gently, and then I hugged him until he hugged me back.