Ok… this is going to be the next to last (um…unless I decide to do an epilog…I dunno yet…) chapter of this series. Still thinking about making an uber-fic out of it… it sounding really good, especially since I've been going through so many overlapping bouts of writers block in the last month or so.  –sighs- I don't know why either… I have lots of story ideas, but when I get home from work, I'm just too tired to write… I stare at the screen for an hour, type one line, save, and quit.

I don't really have a lot to say with this authors note… Ill save all the important stuff for the last chapter. Oh, and you should all be suitably impressed… my title crafting ability has sunk to an all-new level. By the by… this is gonna be short, because the next one is going to be pretty long.

Prelude to an ending….

By Michael Treiber

                Haruka grit her teeth in pain as the brush running through her hair snagged.

                "Haruka," Her mother sighed. "If you'd just let your hair dry all the way, it wouldn't pull. You're to impatient."

                "I'm running late." The tall blonde was rushing to finish her preparations for the dance, and so was taking as many shortcuts as she could. Finally, she was finished.

                "Are…you sure about this?" Haruka gestured at herself…or, more accurately, at the dress she was wearing. She knew that she was neither unattractive nor clumsy, but wearing feminine clothing made her feel so awkward.

                "Oh Haruka…." Akane smiled gently at her daughter. "Trust me… you look beautiful."

                "Alright…if you say so." Haruka gave herself one last look in the mirror, and started for the door.

                "Dear? Forgetting something?"

                Turning back to her mother, Haruka saw her holding out a small black purse.

                She shuddered lightly as she did so, but Haruka took the bag and slipped the strap over her left shoulder.

                "Have fun!" Her mother called to her retreating back.

                Haruka glanced at the dashboard clock as she started her car. She had time for one critically important stop before picking Michiru up.

                She pulled up the first flower shop she ran across. Ironically, it was the shop where she had bough flowers for Michiru the very first time (see "Snow Day"). After entering, she only had to wait a moment before the shopkeeper approached her.

                "Can I help you with something?"

                Haruka nodded.

                "I need a bouquet of lilies and white trilliums."

                He frowned for a moment.

                "We just got in a batch of fresh tiger-lilies. Will they work?"

                A few minutes, and quite a bit of money later, Haruka was back on the road to Michiru's home, the flowers resting on the seat next to her.

                The doorbell rang, the sound filtering thinly though the front door of Michiru's house. It was a short, but nervous, wait before Michiru's mother opened the door.

                "Ah, Haruka… come in. Michiru will be ready in a few minutes."

                As she entered, Haruka kept the flowers hidden behind her back.

                Uncomfortable silence settled around Haruka and Michiru's parents as they waited at the base of the stairs leading to Michiru's bedroom upstairs. Finally, Michiru's mother broke it.

                "I'm going to go check on Michiru." That left Haruka alone with Michiru's  rather imposing father.

                "So…" He asked slowly, unsure what to say. "How did you and Michiru meet?"

                "We were introduced by a mutual friend…. Elza Gray."

                He nodded, and another long silence stretched out.

                "Um…well…how about your family?" He asked. "Do your parents know you're a lesbian, or-"

                "Daddy!" Michiru's voice rang down the stairs, quickly followed by footsteps. "Leave Haruka alone!"

                As she rounded the last curve in the stairwell, her eyes met Haruka's. Both women felt as if they had been hit with lightning. Michiru wasn't expecting Haruka to be wearing anything like what she was, and as for the blonde…

                Michiru was always beautiful. If she wore frumpy old sweats, she was still beautiful. But the dress she was wearing…

                Whereas Haruka's dress complemented her natural colors, Michiru's highlighted it.

                Sea green satin flowed from a high, unornamented neck, past slightly flaring shoulders down her arms and body. Her sleeves were loose and flowing, but gathered at the wrist. The bodice was tight,  but rather than the lacing that Haruka's had, and oval slash partially revealed the tops of the inner curves of her breasts. A jade and silver pendant –a jade sea dragon  wrapped around a silver Neptune sigil- hung just over the opening.

                When Haruka could finally drag her eyes away from Michiru's chest, she slowly ran her eyes down the rest of the dress. A darker sea foam green sash was tied around her waist, with the trailing end hanging down over her left leg. The skirt beneath the sash was slightly flaring, and slit on the right side to reveal a single underskirt of teal a few shades lighter than the rest of the dress.

                Michiru managed to regain her facilities first, and giggled as her friend blushed at the effect the dress was having on her.

                In an effort to take back some control of the situation, Haruka presented the flowers to the other girl with a flourish.

                "These," She said, bowing as she held them out, "Are for you… a small thank for allowing me the pleasure of your company tonight."

                "Haruka…" Michiru blushed as she took the flowers. "You shouldn't have…"

                "But she did." Michiru's mother cut in, wiping a tear from her eye. "Your father hasn't bought me flowers in years…"

                Suddenly realizing that he was the only male in a room full of either strange or potentially hostile women, he stammered,

                "Um… well…"

                "Lets go Haruka…" Michiru bent and whispered softly in the other girl's ear as she stood. "When mother gets like this, its best to give her and father some privacy… if you know what I mean."

                Haruka suddenly wished that she didn't.

                Michiru cuddled the flowers close the entire drive to the dance, breathing their delicate scent as deeply as she could without hyperventilating. She even brought them with her as the two parked and got out of the car.

                "Um, Michiru? Shouldn't you have put those in water or something?"

                "Why?" The smaller girl asked in a falsely innocent tone of voice. "Are these the last flowers that you're going to buy me?"

                Haruka began mentally calculating how she could shift her finances around to accommodate a girlfriend with a floral addiction. It wasn't too unpleasant of a though… she was still feeling warm and tingly from the look on Michiru's face when she took the bouquet.

                All this ended when they reached the ticket counter, however.

                "One pair." Haruka told the girl managing the register.

                "Alright." She said cheerfully. "Ill just need to see both yours, and your dates student ID's."

                Michiru handed her ID over to Haruka, who presented them  to the girl.

                "I'm sorry…" She seemed genuinely apologetic. "The rules changed this year. Two singles cant get in under a cheaper pair ticket. You actually have to be a pair."

                The tall blonde glared down at the poor girl, her face set in stone.

                "We are a pair." She said in an icy tone.

                "…Oh…" the girl was obviously confused, and looked over her shoulder to where the principal was helping another ticket seller.

                "Haruka,  just let it go." Michiru reached forward and set some money on the counter. "This is enough for two singles, right?"

                The girl, looking immensely relieved, nodded and handed Michiru two single's tickets.

                Haruka followed her date in silence for a moment, before Michiru turned around and smiled gently at her.

                "Listen… I know that that wasn't very fair, but this isn't the time to get into a fight. Can't we just… enjoy ourselves tonight, and save the battles for tomorrow?"

                Finally, Haruka relented, allowing a soft smile to break over her face.

                "Ok, I'll give in… this time."

                The other girl just laughed, taking her date's arm and drawing her through the door and into the auditorium.

Another fic, another dress…sadly, designing the dress probably took a third of the time that it took to write the entire fic… but, well… its important, eh?

Hmm… not quite as short as I was afraid it was going to be, but still…it's a good thing I always call this my "Haruka and Michiru SHORT fic series".  Oh, by the way… the incident with the ticket counter is a fic-ised version of a real life event of what happened when my best friend tried to take her girl friend to the spring formal when we were in junior high school. Just like in the fic, they bowed down and bough singles tickets, but unlike in the fic (mostly cuz I'm to lazy to write it out…) the next school day they both went to the principal's office and asked how they could file a discrimination complaint against the school. The rule was corrected before the next dance.  Not that that has anything to do with this story… but I like to drop these little nuggets of "maybe the world isn't completely messed up"-ness every so often.

Anyhoo… that's it for this chapter. I'll probably start on the last chapter immediately, but I want it to be really good, so it might take a while. Until then… be excellent to each other (a quote from one of my favorite movies….^_^)