Chapter 1: A Private Christmas
"Your turn now," Natsuki said, reaching under the tree to take out the present she'd gotten for Shizuru. After getting back from Mai's Christmas party, Natsuki and Shizuru had taken some time to relax together. They'd watched a Christmas special together, and when it was over, Natsuki was able to wait no longer. She'd gone over to tree, and after a quick gift of a brand new rawhide bone to keep their dog occupied, it was time for the gift she'd gotten for Shizuru.
Shizuru smiled as Natsuki handed the package to her, though her gaze was focused on Natsuki's face more so than the package itself. "Thank you, Natsuki," she said.
Natsuki blinked. She could feel Shizuru's gaze on her, and it was beginning to cause a blush to rise to her cheeks. "O-oi!" she said. She furrowed her brow and tried to meet Shizuru's gaze with one of her own, but it didn't seem to have quite the same effect.
A twinkle in Shizuru's eye gave Natsuki the impression that she had a comment in mind – most likely calling Natsuki's display cute – but apparently she decided to hold it back this time, much to Natsuki's relief. She finally looked down at the present and began to unwrap it. Her expression grew curious as she revealed what first appeared to be a large, thick book, but realization soon dawned in her eyes. "Natsuki..."
"Well..." Natsuki said, glancing away from Shizuru a bit nervously. "You kept taking pictures of me... Or asking me to take one of you, or Kiyoran... You said you wanted to always be able to remember it all. I just figured I'd help you out a bit."
Shizuru was silent for a bit. Eventually, Natsuki dared to look back at Shizuru. "Z-zuru?" she said. "Are you alright?"
Shizuru smiled softly, tracing her hands across the cover of the album. Natsuki had picked out one of her favorite pictures of her and Shizuru to place there, and it seemed that it had had the desired effect. "Natsuki... I..." Shizuru began to say, but she cut herself off. She looked up at Natsuki, her gaze soft, adoring. "Thank you..."
Natsuki blinked. She'd figured that Shizuru would like this, but she hadn't expected it to affect her this much – at least until she began looking through it, that was. "Are you... are you alright, Shizuru?"
"I'm fine... I just..." Shizuru said, her voice carefully steady. "I always assumed that Natsuki thought I was just being silly when I took pictures of her... She always seemed so camera-shy. I... I didn't think Natsuki would ever do something like this."
"Oh..." Natsuki said. She reached a hand over and placed it on Shizuru's knee. "Zuru... You know I think you can be silly at times... but I love you for it." Natsuki reached her hand up to Shizuru's chin, and she leaned in to capture her love's lips in a gentle kiss. Her lips traced slowly against Shizuru's, reminding Shizuru that she was there. She'd always be there; her love was unconditional. She loved Shizuru for all of her quirks, all of her silliness.
"Besides..." Natsuki said as she finally pulled back from the kiss. "As I put this together... I think I realized that you were right. I... well... Just open it. You'll see."
Shizuru simply smiled at this. She nodded slowly, and she bit her lips as she looked down at the album and opened it up. Through all of this, Natsuki found her gaze locked to Shizuru's cheeks, which had filled with a delightful pink blush.
Author's Note: Stay tuned! I'll try to post a new chapter every day or two through the holiday season. Hope you all enjoy this!