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About Digital Art / Artist Member Drawer of Girls~Female/United States Groups :iconpuellamagiocs: PuellaMagiOCs
 
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Chibis!
Together Forever by Lady-Moth
Chibi commissions! For one chibi character, the price is as shown. Extra chibis are double points.
Cel-Shading
Commission - Hanasaki Cherry by Lady-Moth
Magical Siblings of Love by Lady-Moth
Chibiusa by Lady-Moth
Screencap - Online Pretty Cure BUSTERS by Lady-Moth
A Green Heart Is The Symbol of Friendship by Lady-Moth
A Single Flower Blooming in Winter by Lady-Moth
Cel-Shading, with background or without. This can include fake screencaps and PreCure finisher poses!
Soft-Shadings
Commission - Swimsuit Ren by Lady-Moth
Umi by Lady-Moth
Commission - Animeaddictalexa by Lady-Moth
Bright Black-Eyed Susan by Lady-Moth
Soft-shading works
Painting
Commish - Sunset Hang-Out by Lady-Moth
SS: Sugar Wind by Lady-Moth
Gift: Styx by Lady-Moth
Painting-style
Pretty Cure Posters!
Pretty Cure Bukatsudo Energetic poster by Lady-Moth
Our Hearts Are One--Pretty Cure by Lady-Moth
Starshine Pretty Cure by Lady-Moth
Pretty Cure Saison Scents by Lady-Moth
Akihabara Pretty Cure by Lady-Moth
Special for those with Pretty Cure fanseries--you can commission a fake promo poster!

Friends

Activity


“Ohhh, who missed me?~ Oh, who missed me?~ I bet you did!” Miho cooed as she scratched Pochi between the ears, under the chin, rubbed her nose to his. “Was you a good boy for Nana? Oh, was you?~”

“Hey, Miho, thanks for letting me hang out with you while the others are at school, by the way!”

“No problem. I bet Pochi would love the extra company, wouldn't you, Pochi?”

Otome laughed as she patted Pochi's back. “So he used to be an Usotsuki, huh?”

“Yeah, that's what Lady was saying. I dunno, though, he was super friendly. Isn't that right, Pochi? You was so friendly!”

Otome laughed a bit before her expression hardened. “Hm...so she created an Usotsuki...I wonder how?”

“Hm, you know what I'm wondering?” Miho asked as she finally pulled away from Pochi. “I wonder how Aki and Hiromi are doing at school right now...”

________________________________________

“Ulp...okay...everyone...”

Aki's hands were shaking slightly as she faced her friends, Hiromi at her side. Both girls were pale and slightly sweaty, but Aki was the one the others were more focused on. Hiromi always looked nervous, Aki rarely did.

“E-Everyone...” Hiromi stammered.

Yuki gave the girls a concerned expression as he reached out to touch Aki's shoulder. “Hey, c'mon, girl...breathe. You okay?” he asked. The people around him, who had gathered when Aki had called over her closer friends but hadn't said anything nor sent them off for about two minutes, nodded in agreement.

Hiromi was finally the one to speak. “A-Aki and I are dating!” she gasped out, eyes squeezing shut as her hands curled into fists.

There was silence. Hiromi could almost hear an odd ringing in her ears, the kind that comes from unnatural quiet and not post-concert.

“Oh. Congrats,” Yuki said in an odd tone.

“Yeah, congratulations. What a surprise,” said Antoinette.

“Uhm...Most of us figured that out already, you two,” Mirai admitted sheepishly.

The rest of the large group nodded.

Aki and Hiromi blinked, wide-eyed. First there was just more silence. And then... ”Ehhhhh?!”

________________________________________

OP: "Pretty Cure, Hands Meet" - SHE

________________________________________

“You what?!” cried Hiromi, hands curled into fists, a look of distress on her face. “What do you mean you figured it out?! We've been so careful!”

“Er...Hiromi, you and Aki always entered and left the classroom together,” Yuki said, scratching behind his neck.

“And you do eat lunch together. And we've seen you and Aki making plans,” Mirai said.

“Not to mention how worked up you get as far as the other in concerned,” Antoinette said, sniffing a bit as she tossed her hair. “Honestly, anyone could see it.”

“Even though you didn't...” Yuki muttered. “Anyway...yeah, sure, you weren't holding hands in the hall or feeding each other, but it was kinda obvious. I mean...I don't think people generally act this familiar or get so worked up over someone who's just a friend...”

Several others nodded in agreement.

Aki sighed and planted her hand on her hips. “Man, and after all this...” she grumbled. Then she smiled, looking around the assembled classmates. “So you're cool with this?”

“Sure. Well, okay, we're a little surprised it's Satou of all people--”

“H-hey!”

“But hey, whatever makes you happy, right? Same for Satou.”

Aki beamed. “Well, thanks, everyone! Hiromi, you hear that?” she asked, turning to face her.

Hiromi was pouting at everyone. “You know...” she began nervously. Then she squeezed her eyes shut, face bright red as she shouted “Y-you know, if you'd said something earlier I wouldn't have been panicking so much this morning!”

Almost everyone laughed.

________________________________________

TODAY'S EPISODE: A Rival?! Hiromi Is A Target!

________________________________________

It started the next morning.

Hiromi stood at her foot locker, switching out her gym shoes. She didn't really look inside before reaching in, too busy talking to Mirai and Antoinette. Then her hand closed around something slimy and cool.

”Kyaaaah!” she screeched, flailing backwards and landing on her rear.

“Hiromi, what--?” Mirai gasped.

A small green blur flew out of the locker and landed on Hiromi's head, making her scream again. “Get it off of meeee!” she cried.

“Don't hurt it!” Antoinette yelled, running forward. Gently, she scooped the creature off Hiromi's head, sighing in relief as it stared up at her, unhurt. “It's a frog!

“A what?” Aki emerged from a bathroom stall just then, tugging her gym shirt a little. She stared wide-eyed at the frog, then Hiromi, then Mirai, and finally back to Hiromi again. “What was a frog doing in there? Is there more?” she asked, walking over to take a look.

Hiromi shook her head. “N-No, th-that was...th-the only one...I think...”

“Hiromi, I am so sorry!” Mirai gasped, kneeling beside her friend and rubbing her shoulder. “I didn't foresee this, I--”

“N-Not your fault...” Hiromi gasped again, slowly calming down. “Y-You can't see everything, Mirai...”

Aki was still standing at Hiromi's locker, glaring inside as if she expected to see another frog teleport in. “But why,” she added, turning around to check on Hiromi. “Would anyone put a frog in there?”

“It's not obvious?” said Antoinette, sighing dramatically. She was fishing out a plastic baggie from her own locker, depositing the frog inside it. As she crossed the room to one of the sinks, she said “Right after you guys make public what was already public? Clearly someone's mad at Hiromi.”

“But who'd be upset about that? Who'd be mad at Hiromi?” Aki said, raising her voice to be heard over the sound of water running. “Everyone was cool with this!”

Mirai frowned. “Maybe not...”

________________________________________

“There you go, Keroppi...” Antoinette murmured, holding the bag underwater and opening it. She smiled as the frog swam out into the little outdoor pond near the sports yard. “I hope you weren't too scared in a dark and tiny locker.”

“Antoinette, can you explain something to me?”

“Yes, of course, Yuki.”

“Well, I was wondering...” Yuki began in a strained, though polite, voice. ”Why do I have to stand in front of you like this?!” He stood back-to-back with Antoinette, his legs bent at the knee and slightly parted, arms held out at his sides. His face was red as he snapped again, “I mean, this is way unnecessary, Antoinette!”

Antoinette heaved another dramatic sigh. “Well, clearly, you're here to protect me in case the ball comes flying over here. It'd be terrible if I were hit in the head, right? You know that could cause a concussion.”

“Antoinette, there aren't any goals over here. No one's going to--”

“It's okay, I'm done.” Antoinette stood up, drying her hands on Yuki's shirt (“Hey!” he protested) and began jogging back to the field. “Keep an eye on Hiromi, by the way.”

“Hah? Sure, whatever.”

They easily joined their teams on the field, entering the game. And things were fine for a few minutes; kicking the ball, passing, trying to shoot the goal past Mirai. And then...

“Hey, watch it!” someone shouted.

“Satou!”

Hiromi looked just in time to see the ball come hurtling towards her head. She screamed and instinctively brought her arms in front of herself. The ball smacked her arms hard, making her cry out again and stumble back. As the ball dropped harmlessly to the ground, Hiromi hissed in pain, lowering her arms shakily.

“Satou!” the gym teacher shouted as he jogged across the field to her. “You okay?”

“We're sorry!” yelled a pigtailed brunette from the other team.

“I-I...ah!” Hiromi looked at her arms. There were two large, angry red marks on her skin where the ball had hit. She whimpered again as the teacher held her arms gently, looking over them.

“Nothing appears to be broken, but go see the nurse just to be sure. Tell her to put some ice on those, too! Jeez,” he muttered, straightening and ruffling her hair a bit. “Good blocking though. If it'd hit your head...” He then frowned, turning to look out at the other team. “Okay, so I definitely saw someone in the red team kick that! Blue team gets a penalty!”

“I'll go with her!” Aki cried, walking up to Hiromi and putting an arm around her shoulders.

The two walked off the field as the red team erupted into groaning protests.

Antoinette was staring at their retreating forms, a hardened look on her face.

________________________________________

“Tamora? Are you going out again?” Riche asked in mild surprise.

Tamora stood at the door, holding Ichiko in her arms like a lifeline. Her arms trembled slightly as she spoke. “Yeah...”

Riche frowned. He walked up to her, gently placing his hands on her shoulders. Tamora tensed beneath his grip, but made no move to shake him off. “Tamora...I know you're angry at Pretty Cure. I know you want to destroy them, and that's good. Believe me, it is. But...I simply cannot believe I'm saying this,” he muttered before raising his voice and saying “Tamora, I worry about you sometimes.”

There was no response.

“Lady has told me Break is working on something new. Something to make us stronger in battle. Until it's ready, don't attack. Please?”

Tamora stood there silently. Finally, she heaved a sigh, nuzzling the top of Ichiko's head. “Can I attack first?”

“It depends on what Break wants.”

“....fine.”

________________________________________

Hiromi flopped down on Miho's steps with a loud sigh. “Ahn...my luck couldn't have gotten any worse...” she mumbled. It was after school, and the red marks were slowly fading from Hiromi's arms. She rubbed one tiredly as Aki patted her on the back.

Miho knelt in front of her, her expression one of concern. “Jeez...you think that was an accident?”

“Probably,” Hiromi said. “I mean...the teacher said he doubted it was, but it must have been, right? I mean, I mean who'd want to do that on purpose?” Her nervous tone lapsed into giggles as Pochi licked her cheek, apparently having read her mood.

“Antoinette thinks it was deliberate – well, not the ball, we didn't stick around to talk to her about that, but she thinks the frog was, so it stands to reason...” Aki muttered.

“Well, it's terrible!” Coffee blurted out from her position on Otome's shoulder. She and Ti had spent the whole day with Miho and Otome, wanting to be with the lost Cure more. To make up for lost time, and all that. Her little face turned red as she curled her paws into little fists. “To try to hurt someone on purpose, for such a silly reason...”

“That'd never happen in Kokoro, datchu!”

“A-Ahaha, I'm sure you're over-reacting!” Hiromi said with a nervous laugh, waving her hand dismissively. “Really, ah...I'm sure the thing with the ball was an accident. And that frog could have wandered in by accident!”

Otome fixed Hiromi with a deadpan look. “Hiromi, I can tell right now: You are far too nice and trusting.”

The blonde turned red. “Ah...I'm sure it's nothing, though,” she said again. “It'll all be okay, tomorrow!”

________________________________________

It wasn't.

Hiromi stood at her desk, staring at the message scribbled onto it. 'Stay away from Oshiro!' it read in harsh, dark marker.

“What the heck is this? Some nighttime tv drama?!” Antoinette demanded, her hands on her hips in anger.

Mirai bit her lower lip. “I – I foresaw some trouble but I didn't think-- Oh, Hiromi, I'm so sorry!”

“It's fine...” Hiromi said with a small, sad smile. She set down her bag and went to the sink to wash it off. “I'll just clean it.”

“It's not fine!” Aki snapped angrily. She turned to look at the rest of the classroom, but unfortunately only a handful of people were there, and they all looked just as horrified as they did. “Did anyone here see anything?!” When the answer was a chorus of No's, she let out an angry growl and stormed to the sink. “I'm cleaning this, Hiromi, not you!”

“A-Ah, no, really, it's fine--”

Just then Mrs Matoko walked in, cramming the last of her toast into her mouth. “Hey, guys. So my alarm went off early so I took an earlier train. And-- What the hell happened to Satou's desk?!” she said, face turning red.

“It's okay, ma'am, I'm taking care of it--”

“No, you most certainly are not!” Mrs Matoko snapped again, glaring around the room. Some students entered just then, clearly confused by both the sight of their teacher being so angry and at Hiromi's desk. A few of them began whispering before Mrs Matoko spoke again. “Alright. Whoever did this, step up! Right now – you're the one who wrote it, you're the one cleaning her desk off!”

No one moved.

“Alright then. Satou, step aside.” Mrs Matoko strode forward, pushing up her sleeves as if she were about to butcher a pig, and snatched the sponge and soap from Hiromi. ”I'm doing it.” When there were collective cries against this, she added “Nope! Nope, sorry, one of my students has had her desk vandalized, and I am not going to let her clean up someone else's hurtful actions. If no one's stepping up to clean it off, I am.”

“Mrs Matoko--”

”No,” she said firmly, furiously scrubbing away at Hiromi's desk. “Ah, Nanase, you were just in the bathroom, right?” she added as another girl stepped in, rubbing her hands. “Go back and get me some paper towels.”

As the teacher kept working, and the girl went to do as she asked, Hiromi just stood there, fidgeting and avoiding eye contact. She felt her face burning in embarrassment and shame – this was her desk, she ought to clean it...And while she understood Mrs Matoko's intentions, she felt as if it were drawing more attention onto her. She felt Aki squeeze her hand as everyone started to go back to their desks, and she smiled at her. Their friends were smiling reassuringly too.

But it still bothered her. Who would do this to her?

Antoinette frowned, unnoticed.

________________________________________

The rest of the day was no better. Whoever had written on her desk had apparently planned a lot more than that.

Hiromi found one of her schoolbooks had a message - Stay away! - on the inside; her lunch disappeared right out of her bag sometime during free time (which turned out okay-ish, as all four of her friends decided to share some of their own); she found yet another frog in her gym shoes, much to Antoinette's great disapproval; and the whole day...

Well, this was harder to explain but the entire day, Hiromi swore she felt eyes on her.

She shuddered and rubbed the back of her neck, as if to dispel those feelings somehow. But it just persisted.

The bell rang for everyone to go home, and Mrs Matoko began announcing cleaning duty. “Alright, so today we have Satou, Hojo, and Nanase.” She frowned. “Satou, you think you'll be alright?”

Hiromi turned red and nodded, slumping in her seat a bit as the class turned her way. “Y-Yes, of course! I'll be fine, it's just cleaning!”

“That's not what--” Mrs Matoko sighed, then went on. “Alright then. Satou, Hojo, Nanase, please clean up our classroom.” With that, she gathered her things and left with the rest of the class.

Hojo, a boy with short-cropped brown hair, moaned in an exaggerated way. “Gah, why do I have to clean? I wanted to play the new arcade games...”

A shadow fell across his desk. “I'll switch places with you, Hojo...”

“Hah?” He looked up, smiling gratefully at his classmate. “Seriously? Ah, thanks a ton, Rayne.”

Antoinette smiled, tilting her head a little. “It'd be my pleasure~”

________________________________________

Eyecatch 1: Coffee and Ti hold a giant heart-shaped bubble wand, the breeze sending out a stream of bubbles. Inside four of the bubbles are tiny versions of the girls. In a flash of light, the girls twirl around and transform into Pretty Cure, their bubbles immediately becoming heart-shaped. The Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.
Eyecatch 2: The four girls hold a large, pink heart-shaped cookie between them; Hiromi taking the left arc, Aki taking the right, Miho and Otome firmly holding either side of the bottom half. They snap the cookie apart and there is a bright pink flash of light. When it fades, the quartet are in their Cure forms, happily eating their cookie pieces. The Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.


________________________________________

Hiromi stood near a corner of the room, idly sweeping up a few scraps that had fallen from the paper-cutter. Nearby, two other girls worked – Antoinette mopping nearby, another girl (Nanase, Hiromi reminded herself) wiping the blackboard.

The blonde girl sighed a bit as she recalled her conversation with Aki, before she left.

________________________________________

”I dunno, Hiromi. After what's happened, I think I should stick around.” Aki stood in the doorway, frowning as Hiromi tried to push her out. “Hiromi, really, I--!”

“Aki.” Hiromi's tone was firm despite herself. She looked up into her girlfriend's eyes, a serious expression on her face. “I'll be fine...You have nothing to do with this.”

“That note had my name in there!”

“I can handle it! You don't need to worry about me all the time, Aki. You don't have to try to protect me all the time. It's just cleaning, I'll be fine.”

Aki bit her lower lip, frowning harder. She opened her mouth to speak, but Hiromi silenced her with a mere look. Finally, she sighed. “Alright...But you know, Miho and Otome were going to join us at the mall, so we'll all three be waiting outside.”


Yeah...Yeah, the mall. They were going to have another girls' day out. Otome hadn't gone to a mall yet, so Miho had wanted to take her. They were going to get her some new clothes, so she wouldn't have to wear one of Aki's spare dresses. And then later, they would see a movie, and she and Aki would get to sit by themselves so it'd be more like a date. That'd be fun.

She laughed a little, blushing pink.

Nanase, a brunette with pigtails, smiled as she looked up from the blackboard. “You seem happy.”

“Hah?!” Hiromi squeaked, realizing someone had heard her. She laughed sheepishly, gently spinning the broom in her hands. “W-Well, yeah, I have plans after school that I'm looking forward to.”

“Ah, yes! With Oshiro, right? Since you're girlfriends?” Nanase giggled.

Hiromi blushed deeper. “Y-Yeah...”

“It's weird, Satou! I would think with all that was happening, you'd have broken up or something.”

“Huh? Why would we?”

Nanase frowned a bit, pursing her lips. “Well...Well, I mean, there was that scary message on your desk...and you looked scared when you opened your book, so I guess there was something scary in there too...And the frogs, I heard you screaming about them. Your lunch turned out okay but...But how do you know whoever is doing this won't come up with something worse? They're obviously doing it so you and Oshiro will break up...”

Hiromi tightened her grip on the broom as she looked at her shoes, biting her lower lip. Behind her, Antoinette had stiffened slightly, pausing in her mopping.

Nanase kept going. “I mean...I'd be so scared! Oshiro is a really popular girl, we called her the princess once! Lots of people must like her – boys, girls...Anyone could be doing this. Or maybe it's several people! And if it were me, I'd stop dating Oshiro right away, save myself from further humiliation.”

Hiromi fidgeted with the broom.

“Don't you think so?”

“I...” Hiromi started. Then she straightened, exhaling deeply. “No.”

“Haaaah?” Nanase blinked, turning bodily from the board to face Hiromi. Antoinette's tense form continued to go unnoticed. “Really?”

“Well...yeah...” Hiromi smiled.

________________________________________

Aki stepped outside, joining the others.

Otome frowned. “You okay, Aki?”

“Y-Yeah...” Aki murmured, running a hand through her hair. “I dunno how I feel about leaving Hiromi by herself though, after all that's happened...”

“Hey, Hiromi's a big girl! She can take care of herself, right?” asked Miho, hands behind her head. “We can't treat her like glass.”

“But--!”

“Aki,” said Coffee, smiling gently. “It's just cleaning duty. She'll be fine.”

“...if you say so...” Aki murmured. And with that, she stood quietly with the others to wait.

________________________________________

“I mean...I knew Aki was popular,” Hiromi was saying, smiling shyly at her shoes. “But of course that's not why I like her, or why we're dating. And I kinda knew there might be trouble when we decided to make this public. It turned out to be a lot less trouble than I thought there would be but...
But still. I really care about Aki. She makes me very happy, and I won't let myself be scared off by someone who's bullying me, just because they're upset about our relationship. Besides, it can't last forever. Sooner or later, they'll give up – they'll see that I'm not giving up.

“I like Aki a lot...Why should I break up with her just because someone's harassing me? That'd hurt us both, and...” She frowned. “And really, if someone is resorting to such measures to make us break up, how would they treat Aki? Of course I won't break up with her!”

”I would treat Oshiro just fine!”

Hiromi blinked, staring at the one who'd spoken.

Nanase stood there, red-faced and trembling, the dirty washcloth clenched tightly in her hand. “I would treat Oshiro fine!” she repeated.

Hiromi blinked again. “Wait...Nanase, you were the one who--”

“You're such an idiot!” Nanase snapped, eyes squeezing shut. “Why would Oshiro even like you? You're just – look at you!” She threw her arm out at Hiromi, gesturing to her. “You're plain and boring and frumpy and the uniform doesn't look cute on you like it does on Oshiro, and she can pick anyone she wants, so why of all people does she pick you?! I bet you don't even like her! You only dated her because she's cute and popular and rich! That's what girls like you go after, right?! And Oshiro only dated you because she felt sorry for you, I bet! You know, she could have dated me! She probably should have! Anyone but you, you...you ugly, spineless weakling!”

SLAP!


Nanase blinked in surprise, her face stinging.

Hiromi stood in front of her, arm raised, expression furious. “Don't you dare say those things again, Nanase,” she said. “You have no right.”

Nanase blinked again, and tried to recover, forcing a laugh as she touched her face. “Ahaha! No right! No right, she says, yeah, sure! This just proves you're no good for Oshiro! You're so violent while I can get things without resorting to such--”

SPLOOSH!

Now it was Hiromi's turn to blink, as Nanase stood dripping wet and sputtering, wiping her eyes. Beside her stood Antoinette, casually holding up her mop bucket, a look of distaste on her face. “Oh, I'm sorry,” she said in a slight sing-song voice. “But I thought you might appreciate me taking care of that filthy personality of yours.”

”How dare you?!” Nanase whirled around to face Antoinette. “You of all people should be on my side, Rayne! You used to--”

“Shut up!” Antoinette snapped before Nanase could finish. “Look, you uncouth brat, your feelings aren't the important ones here! Aki's are, and so are those of her girlfriend. If Aki's happy, then you should have been happy too!”

“Antoinette...” Hiromi mumbled in awe, eyes shining a bit. Then she schooled her expression back into a serious one, hands on her hips – briefly wincing as the broom clattered unceremoniously to the ground. “Nanase. I don't mind if you have a crush on Aki. I bet lots of people do. But I'm not going to stand around and let you try to scare me away from her! If she someday wants to break up, okay. But I don't see that happening anytime soon, and I'm never going to get scared away because...Because you're just too jealous to deal with it!”

As she shouted the last part, something odd happened. Her Cure Signet flashed bright pink, tiny golden sparkles dancing above it like dust in a sunbeam. Hiromi blinked – not from the miniature light show, but from the odd feeling she got inside her chest. Like her heart was stronger and lighter at once, like there was hope and love and power surging tenfold. Like...

“Hiromi?”

She blinked again; the light, and the feeling, vanished abruptly.

“Aki!” gasped Antoinette.

Aki, Miho, and Otome all stood in the doorway, staring at the scene before them. Half-hidden behind Otome's hair, Coffee and Ti were staring straight at Hiromi's Cure Signet with wide, astonished eyes. As for Aki, she was frowning as she noticed Nanase dripping wet. “You were taking a while...so we came to see how much longer it'd take. What the heck was going on in here?”

Nanase's face crumpled as she started whining a bit. Antoinette just scoffed and placed a hand on Hiromi's shoulder.

________________________________________

“M-My brother catches frogs, so I snuck some of out of his aquarium. He just catches them for fun and lets them out the next day or so, he wouldn't miss them! A-And I drew on Satou's desk with the marker, but some of it got on my hand, so that's why I was in the bathroom. I was washing it off. And I'm the one who kicked the ball at her during gym, and I took her lunch a-and...” Nanase couldn't speak anymore, her fists covering her mouth as she began to cry. “But I was just so mad that Oshiro was with Satou of all people and--”

“Enough,” Mrs Matoko said firmly.

It was about ten minutes later, and they were standing in the teacher's lounge. Mrs Matoko had fortunately not left yet, wanting to get the last few donuts, and everyone had walked with Nanase down tot he room. When Nanase said she had to tell the teacher something, Mrs Matoko sent the others to the hall while she and Nanase spoke with the door shut.

Mrs Matoko was still sitting, but she still looked rather intimidating as she glowered up at the trembling girl. “Regardless of how you feel about the situation, you shouldn't have reacted the way you did. Did you know what what you were doing was bullying? Harassment, Nanase? You can get into huge trouble for this – do you want me to phone your parents? Do I need to put a mark in your records about this incident?”

“N-No...” Nanase sniffled. “I wasn't thinking, I'm sorry! I won't do it again!”

“Quite right,” Mrs Matoko said. She stared up at the girl a few moments longer, contemplating. “Alright. This time, I will not call your parents or mark your records - but!” she added when Nanase gave her a hopeful look. “This is a warning. If I ever hear of you bullying another student, I will mark the incident and this one, and I will call your parents. Is that understood?”

Nanase nodded.

“For now, you have three days of after-school detention. You will handle the classroom clean-up by yourself, and tomorrow after the dismissal bell, I want you to scrub all the desks in the classroom, since you didn't clean Satou's.”

“Y-Yes, ma'am...”

________________________________________

“Thanks, Antoinette,” Hiromi said to the blonde. “For earlier...”

“Don't mention it.”

“I mean...I didn't think you'd do that for me...You liked Aki, too, right?” Hiromi said. “So I thought--”

“Hiromi.” Antoinette gave her a deadpan stare, tossing her curls over her shoulder. “Just because I may still have a little...thing, for Aki – which I assure you, I will get over – does not mean I would stoop so low as to bully her girlfriend. Honestly...” She smiled softly then. “I was watching out for you though...I've seen this before, in the school I attended in France. I think I might've made you a bit suspicious, looking at you and staying to clean with you, but trust me, it...well, never mind. But I appreciate your gratitude. If you'll excuse me, though, I think Bitsy's eager for a snack, and I'm later as it is. I'll see you tomorrow!”

“Bye, Antoinette!” Hiromi called as the other girl skipped down the stairs.

Miho ran to the stairs, cupped her hands around her mouth, and called down. “Antoinette, just admit you care about Hiromi~!”

“You be quiet, you don't even go here!” an embarrassed Antoinette shouted back, much to the others' amusement.

But things weren't over just yet.

“Ahm...e-everyone?”

Pretty Cure turned to face Nanase, who stood a few feet away from them. She was still wet, but no longer dripping a little puddle onto the floor. She did, however, still look mighty embarrassed and ashamed, twisting her fingers as her face turned red.

“I ah...want to apologize again! I was just so angry that Oshiro had been dating Satou, and I wanted it to be me! I won't bully you again, so please, uhm...”

Everyone looked to Hiromi.

Hiromi glanced around the group, wide-eyed and pointing to herself. Oh...Oh, this was--! She squared her shoulders, took a deep breath... “I forgive you...but I don't like you.”

Nanase blinked.

“I mean...you've been nothing but mean to me, for a silly reason. I'll forgive you, and I'll be courteous to you, but we're not going to be friends. I hope you understand where I'm coming from, Nanase.”

“Y-Yeah...And uhm, Oshiro--”

“Nanase. You bullied my girlfriend,” Aki said. “I'm going to take a lot longer to forgive you, if I do at all.”

“Same for me,” said Miho.

“Me as well,” said Otome.

And with that, the four turned and walked down the stairs.

________________________________________

“You really don't forgive her, datchu?” asked Ti.

“Ti, there's a lesson here,” said Aki. “You don't have to forgive those who hurt you. You don't have to be nice to them. You shouldn't hurt them back...but you shouldn't just accept friendship from someone who was mean to you and will probably do it again.”

Ti thought for a moment, then nodded. “Okay.”

“By the way,” began Otome. “I at first thought it was a trick of the light, but Hiromi, did you see your Cure Signet?”

“Yeah...” Hiromi frowned and lifted her hand. “What was that about?”

Coffee's next words made everyone freeze. ”Lovely Form~”

________________________________________

ED: "Rainbow-Colored Future" – BoA ft. Entwined Hearts 4

________________________________________

ON THE NEXT EPISODE:
Coffee: “Lovely Form, Lovely Form!”
Hiromi: “You keep saying that, but we don't know what that even is!”
Otome: “I've heard of this! Lovely Form is two hundred percent power, love, courage!”
Miho: “Ooooh, awesome!”
Aki: “Hiromi, get Lovely Form!”
Hiromi: “Y-You say that like it's easy but--! Next time on Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts: 'The River Is Rising! Lovely Form!' Let love heal your heart!"
Morning, even in a tourist beach town that was crawling with activity, was quiet.

One morning after everyone had freshened up – Miho had fallen asleep while brushing her teeth and had been standing in front of the mirror, holding her toothbrush for about two minutes before Aki noticed she wasn't among the group – Sebastian suggested they go to a local shop for breakfast. According to himself and Emma, they made delicious choco-bananas.

“You just don't wanna cook for us today,” Aki snickered.

Sebastian just smiled. “Well, that's a bit true. I'd like to go to the beach myself before things get too chaotic. But I also just think the more food you sample from other people, the richer your experience here will be.”

“Too la~zy to cook~” Aki teased.

“Ah, c'mon, Aki,” Miho said as she stifled a yawn. “I could totally go for a chupacabra...” she mumbled, eyes sliding closed again.

Hiromi laughed, gently shaking Miho by the shoulder.

“Wake up, Miho, datchu...” Ti offered helpfully.

________________________________________

OP: "Love and Joy PreCure" - Entwined Hearts Duo

________________________________________

“Phwaaaaah, that's better!” Miho loudly declared.

“I told you the iced coffee around here is delicious,” Aki said, smiling into her own cup.

A few people were already out and about – not as many as there had been when the girls first arrived, but enough so no one could entertain the notion of ever having a quiet day. Plenty of people were passing them by, paying no mind to the girls and vice-versa. No one even raised an eyebrow when Hiromi held her strawberry-chocolate-banana to the mouse and rat on her shoulder.

So it was a bit of a surprise when Miho suddenly stopped and stared at a strange girl with shoulder-length blue hair a little down the road. “Wait a...” she muttered, squinting.

“Eh? What's up, Miho?” Aki asked.

“Hey!” Miho called, and began running down the road towards the girl. “Hey, you!”

“Ah, Miho! Miho, wait!” Aki yelled as the others chased after her.

Miho didn't wait. She narrowed her eyes a bit as she drew closer to the girl, who was slowly realizing she'd been the one addressed.

The blue-haired girl slowly turned around, adjusting her glasses. Her aqua-colored eyes went wide as she smiled in recognition.

“It is you! I knew it!” Miho said as she skidded to a halt, lightly punching the girl in the shoulder. “And you thought you could fool me--”

“Miho!” Hiromi scolded as she and the others caught up. “Don't be so mean to her!”

“I'm not bein' mean, I'm greeting a friend of ours--”

Otome smiled and held her hand out. “Ah, a friend of my friends is a friend to me,” she said, unknowingly cutting off Miho. “I'm Otome Aimiya, and you are...?”

The girl smiled shyly and clasped Otome's hand. “Ah, hello...” she said in a soft, light voice. “I'm glad only Miho recognized me; it means my disguise is working!”

Hiromi and Aki blinked. That voice sounded a bit familiar...And a disguise?

Wait.

”E-Emi?!”

________________________________________

TODAY'S EPISODE: The Idol's In Love! More Star-Crossing?!

________________________________________

A few minutes later, the girls sat inside a small cafe, in a corner booth with Emi sitting nearest the wall. The others sat around her, keeping her from view of the other patrons. Emi had said no one had recognized her yet, except Miho, but they didn't want to take chances.

Emi smiled a bit as she stirred her green tea shake. “I'm surprised you recognized me, Miho! I mean, my wig's a completely different color and style than it normally is...”

Miho grinned broadly. “After you showed your true colors, I noticed your features looked softer, and your expressions just look lighter. It was super-easy to recognize you with that in mind!”

Hiromi blinked, her straw just an inch away from her mouth. “Wow, Miho, you really are a dedicated fan...”

“Heeee~! Anyway, Emi, I was kinda surprised to see you here. Well, not so much to see you in disguise though,” she said with a frown. “How've you been holding up?”

Emi looked a little uncomfortable – and Miho opened her mouth as if to take back her question – but finally sipped at her shake and said “It's been a little stressful.”

Miho nodded in understanding, concern etched in her features.

The other three exchanged glances. “Hey, ah, Miho, I like Emi's work, but I don't follow all those gossip magazines and fan sites and whatnot...Can you explain?” said Aki.

“Ah, you didn't know?” Miho said, blinking.

Emi's face turned a bit red as she began stirring her shake again. “Lately I've been bothered with some rumors...”

________________________________________

Emi stepped out of the studio and walked towards her limousine. She still wasn't doing any filming yet, but she was looking into a part for a new dramedy. There was talk that she'd be playing the protagonist, a young girl who purchased a robotic boyfriend – and so once again, Emi was in the center of the media limelight.

As such, a swarm of paparazzi quickly surrounded her, shoving microphones and cameras in her face.

“Miss Watanabe! Miss Watanabe! Is it true that you're interested in one of the potential co-stars?”

“Emi, Teeny-Bop Magazine has suggested you might be dating a fan you met! Is there any truth to this?”

“What's the future look like as far as dating goes?”

“Everyone, please stop!” someone else yelled. This person, with messy and short green hair, thick black glasses slipping down the bridge of their nose, held a copy of the script over Emi's face as they walked. Their free arm was looped around her shoulders, steering her through the throng. “Miss Watanabe is not taking any further questions!”

“Miss Assistant, do you know anything about--”

“No further questions!” The assistant opened the car door, hastily ushering Emi inside. Once the door clicked shut, the people outside unable to see them through the window, she sighed and dropped the script back onto her lap. “You alright, Emi?”

Emi nodded, toying with her hair. It was getting a little longer now that she had stopped cutting it, and fell in the slightest of waves to brush against her shoulders. “I wonder where the rumor about the fan came from?” she muttered. “I mean, obviously a magazine, but why would they think...”

The assistant flipped through some papers. “Well, apparently Keiko – you remember her, Keiko Ai, the idol singer? Apparently she was in a recent TV movie about a starlet falling in love with one of her fans just the other month. I suppose it's still fresh in peoples' minds.” She sighed again, slapping the papers closed again. “And...” She blushed a bit, but went on. “And I guess people have noticed, your demeanor's changed a little...”

It was true. Emi had been seen walking out of her dressing room with a skip to her step; sighing blissfully on occasion, her cheeks tinted pink; once she'd been seen browsing in the pink, rosy area of a perfume aisle – and in this particular shop, everyone knew that this section was for romantics.

“I'm sick of this...” she sighed quietly.

Her assistant patted her hand.


________________________________________

“These rumors are driving me insane,” Emi sighed again, fiddling with her straw. “I can't go shopping for cute clothes without someone thinking it's for a boy. Every time I talk to one of my male colleagues, the press thinks they're the person I'm seeing. And today I found someone writing a fanfic about me and my potential co-star!” She let out a loud groan and thumped her head down onto the table, shoulders slumping. “It's terrible...”

Otome reached across the table to awkwardly pat Emi's head. The actress didn't seem to acknowledge it.

“Can't you just tell everyone to stop? Like when you had that live interview?” asked Hiromi.

“Hiromi, it ain't that simple,” Miho said, squinting her eyes and thrusting her hand down. “Ain't you ever been the victim of rumors?”

“Uhm...not really?”

“It ain't that simple,” Miho repeated in a deadpan voice.

“Hey, Emi...” Aki smiled a bit and leaned towards her, gently putting a hand on her shoulder. “Look, just...I can't give much advice, but you know, we're your friends. And we're here for you if you wanna vent, okay? Anytime you need us.”

“That goes for me too, of course!” Otome said.

Emi finally lifted her head up and smiled weakly. There was a large pink spot on her forehead from where she'd pressed it to the table, and she rubbed it as she sat back up. “Thanks, girls...” She looked at her watch then, and gasped. “Oh my gosh, and I'm late!” Hastily, she removed the straw from her shake and downed the rest in two large gulps, setting the glass back on the table. “Thank you for the shake, Aki! I have to go, girls, I'm sorry! Ooooh....brain-freeze...” she muttered weakly as she jogged away.

As the girls watched her go, with varying degrees of bemusement on their faces, Ti and Coffee poked their heads out of Hiromi's canvas bag. “Poor Emi, datchu...” Ti murmured. “Life's not easy at all for an idol actress...That settles it! I'm never being an idol, datchu!” he declared, curling his paws into fists.

“Your Highness, I think you're already more famous and popular than an idol,” Otome said with a chuckle.

Ti let out a long, faint ”Noooooo,” much to everyone's amusement.

________________________________________

“I wonder what Emi was late for,” Otome said, tapping her index finger against her chin. “You said she wasn't filming right now, right?” Otome had been filled in on Emi's situation shortly after the actress left the cafe. They'd been about to explain the concept of idols and actresses and paparazzi, but Otome had stopped them before they'd gotten too far.

“Girls, please,” she had laughed, waving them off. “We have idols in Kokoro, you know.”

Back to the present, Miho frowned and shrugged her shoulders. “Dunno...can't be an audition, this is such a small town.”

“Well. Either way, it's none of our business, right?” Hiromi said. “I mean...she has her right to a private life. Just because we're friends doesn't mean we have to know absolutely everything.”

“Yeah, you're right, Hiromi,” said Aki. The quartet stepped onto the boardwalk and headed for one of the souvenir shops. “Sheesh, and we were talking about that right after she told us about the magazines gossiping about her...I feel like a jackass,” she groaned, tapping her knuckles to the side of her head.

The others laughed a little, Hiromi patting Aki in the back in reassurance.

“But anyway...Hopefully it'll die down, soon. I mean, even for idols this stuff doesn't last forev-- Emi?!”

The last word came out like a squeal as Aki blinked and pointed straight ahead. Everyone looked to where she was pointing, and blinked, eyes wide and faces a bit pink.

Emi sat on a bench, her own expression mirroring the girls'. She sat on a bench, holding a cup of ice-cream in one hand and a little plastic spoon in the other. But that wasn't all.

She sat next to a green-haired girl with thick black glasses, who held her own spoon...but no cup. She'd apparently been eating out of the same one as Emi. Now, this wasn't such a surprise, really, but she was leaning towards the actress with the spoon halfway to Emi's mouth. And her other hand was gently covering Emi's...And both girls were blushing...

Miho was the first to respond. ”How cuuuuuute!”

The green-haired girl turned bright red. “C-Cute?!” she squeaked.

________________________________________

Tamora sat in the middle of her room in Heartbreak Manor, cross-legged on her bed. She held Ichiko in her arms, gently stroking between the teddy bear's ears as she stared ahead in silence.

It felt...strange here, without Shylock and Ariel.

Sure, Shylock hadn't been around much. And she hadn't gotten to see Ariel much either but...but Ariel had been a constant presence, at least, you knew where to find her. And Shylock would always eventually come home.

Would.

Her grip tightened on Ichiko, her body trembling slightly.

“Why did this have to happen?”

________________________________________

Eyecatch 1: Coffee and Ti hold a giant heart-shaped bubble wand, the breeze sending out a stream of bubbles. Inside four of the bubbles are tiny versions of the girls. In a flash of light, the girls twirl around and transform into Pretty Cure, their bubbles immediately becoming heart-shaped. The Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.
Eyecatch 2: The four girls hold a large, pink heart-shaped cookie between them; Hiromi taking the left arc, Aki taking the right, Miho and Otome firmly holding either side of the bottom half. They snap the cookie apart and there is a bright pink flash of light. When it fades, the quartet are in their Cure forms, happily eating their cookie pieces. The Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.


________________________________________

“My name is Yoshi Kita. And since you're all friends of Emi's, I guess I can say it.” She smiled nervously, face tinted pink. “I'm Emi's personal assistant!”

“Personal assistant?” echoed Otome.

At this point, the girls had once again moved to another spot. Now they sat around a round wooden table near a hot dog vendor. Miho had quickly figured out what must be going on, and Emi had wanted a different place to talk. According to Aki, this spot wasn't as popular as the rest of the town (“The hot dogs are good, but they're not that good,” she'd said with a shrug), so it was a decent place to talk and not get recognized or bothered. This time they didn't have food, much to Miho's dismay.

“Yoshi organizes my fanmail, helps keep my schedule organized, does the shopping for me, and goes with me to interviews,” Emi said, smiling at the girl in question.

“Isn't that what a manager does?” asked Otome.

“Well, yes, but Yoshi does some of it too. And again, a bit more – my manager doesn't buy my beauty products of favorite candy, Yoshi does. My manager doesn't bring over movies when I need to unwind and does girly things with me! My manager is someone who helps me out and takes care of me, but Yoshi helps me, takes care of me, and is one of my closest friends! I can count on her for anything!”

Yoshi smiled with her mouth open, eyes closing as she rubbed the back of her head – clearly she enjoyed the compliments despite herself. “Haaaah, Emi flatters me...I'm glad to do it, I'd do anything for Emi.”

“Is that why you're dating?”

Emi and Yoshi both straightened, faces beet-red and mouths clamped shut.

Otome was the one who had spoken, and now she sat with her hands clasped before her, smiling warmly at the two girls. “Come on now,” she said, tilting her head a bit. “I can tell. And we won't tell anybody, right?”

“Of course not!” Miho squealed, starry-eyed. “Oh my gosh, an actress in love with her assistant – wait, Otome's right, right?”

The two girls hesitated...and then Yoshi nodded, lowering her head so the light caught her glasses.

“An actress in love with her assistant!” Miho plowed on. “An assistant who loves her actress! You get to work together but see each other all the time! Awww, how cute...” She grinned, rubbing her chin. “Hm, I could use this for a manga...”

“Miho,” Coffee whispered sharply from Hiromi's bag.

Emi and Yoshi were sitting in silence, staring at the tabletop. “I don't, uhm...” Yoshi began.

She was quieted by Emi reaching over to squeeze her hand. “It's okay, Yoshi,” she murmured.

________________________________________

Yoshi stood in front of Emi, her hands clasped firmly together in her nervousness. Her face was a bit pale, a little bit of sweat appearing on her temple. Emi was a tough girl, wasn't she? What if she didn't want Yoshi as her assistant? What if she got yelled at every day? What if...what if--

Emi just smiled. “Hello! You're Yoshi Kita, right? Let's get along from now on!” she said, holding her hand out.

“Y-Yes!” Yoshi stammered.

________________________________________

Yoshi soon found that Emi wasn't at all like she'd imagined. Emi was soft-spoken, liked cute things and strawberry shortcakes. She liked crane games with stuffed animals and nail polish and had a good eye for color.

But she didn't tell anyone this. For a long time, it was only Yoshi who got to see the real Emi.

“You have such a nice fashion sense, Emi!” she said during a day at home. Emi had just left her room, wearing a cute white dress with yellow flowers silk-screened onto it. “Don't you want to dress like that all the time?”

Emi looked away, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “Hmmm...yeah, but...But it would let all my fans down, don't you think?” she murmured.

“But...what about you?” Yoshi asked with a frown. “Wouldn't you feel better if you could be yourself, wear things like that all the time?”

Her heart stopped for a second when Emi smiled at her. “That's what I like about you, Yoshi. You're always thinking of
my happiness.”

Yoshi turned red and started stammering nonsense, completely forgetting that Emi had changed the subject.

But Emi wouldn't budge, no matter how Yoshi asked. In the end, Yoshi had to agree to help with Emi's 'mask.' Emi loved acting, and she loved her fans...she couldn't be selfish.

She'd been overjoyed when Emi came home one day with bags of new clothes and hair accessories, declaring she needed Yoshi's help preparing her make-up for the interview. As Emi sat in that chair a few hours later, telling the viewers who she truly was, Yoshi couldn't help but admire her, her hand resting over her heart.

________________________________________

“I'm glad you went through with this, Emi,” Yoshi said with a smile.

“Hm?”

“To see you so happy....it makes me really happy too.” Yoshi blushed a bit as she said that.

Emi blinked, staring in surprise before smiling. And then, to Yoshi's great surprise, she leaned over and pecked her forehead. “Thanks. I like seeing you happy, too!”

Yoshi's heart skipped a few beats.

________________________________________

“What's this?” Emi asked one day, staring at the paper Yoshi was holding out.

“I-it's uhm...my resignation letter,” Yoshi mumbled, twisting her fingers around each other. At Emi's stunned look, she went on; “I...I really like you, Emi! But...but I'm your assistant and if we were to...if something were to happen between us, I'd be fired. We can't have personal relationships in the workplace, and I don't want to be apart from you—”

“You don't have to!” Emi blurted out, grasping Yoshi's hands. She looked at her in desperation, squeezing her hands a little. “We...we can hide this, right? Keep it a secret? Then you won't have to leave...I dunno if I can handle losing you...” she mumbled.

Yoshi went quiet for a while. Then she nodded. “We...we won't tell anyone.”


________________________________________

“Aaaand then I realized it anyway and made you tell...” Miho muttered, slamming her head onto the table. “I suck.”

“A-Ah, please don't be upset, Miho!” Emi stammered, waving her hand in front of herself. “Really, if you think about it...this is a good thing.”

“Yeah...” Yoshi mumbled, lowering her head, her bangs shadowing her eyes. “This...this means we can't keep it private after all. I mean, we slipped up and met in public and tried to go on a date, and...and we told someone really easily despite ourselves...
People already know Emi is in love with someone - that's why the rumors are flying around, even if they don't know who. They already know something's up. It's only a matter of time before they find out it's me.

“I guess this means...” Her eyes teared up. “I guess we have to--”

“Fight.”

Everyone looked up at Otome, who sat in the same pose she'd been when she'd first spoken, but instead of a warm smile, now she wore a look of steely resolve. When she finally smiled a little more, it looked as if she were about to give them instructions on how to steal the crown jewels. “You fight. If you want to be together, you find a way to make it work.

“Take it from me, you two...hiding does no good for either of you. All it can cause is pain, and you're too scared and worried about being caught to truly enjoy being together, to enjoy what time you do have. If you keep going this way, you'll be too afraid and worried to enjoy yourselves, and your relationship may suffer for it. You might end up separating anyway because you don't think you can handle it anymore. And that would be the worst thing ever.

“So what you should do instead, is be brave. Be brave, stand up and tell the truth. Fight to be together. Okay, so Yoshi might have to find someone else to work for. Or she might have to find another job. But that shouldn't stop either of you from seeing each other. You can still date, you could even have a long-distance relationship if you have to. It'd be better than hiding all the time and living in fear of someone finding out, right?”

Aki and Hiromi glanced at each other.

Emi and Yoshi just stared at her, blinking in surprise. “You say that like it's so simple...” Yoshi muttered, face pink.

“It is and it isn't. It's a simple idea, but it'll be difficult to go through with it. And you don't have to take my advice, just so you know...But I'm saying it anyway; it will be a lot better for both of you in the long run if you stop hiding. The worst that can happen is Yoshi gets transferred, right? At least you wouldn't be separated forever.” A dark look crossed Otome's face just then, but it vanished just as quickly. “If you love each other, fight for it!”

“Otome...” Emi whispered.

“What's the point of that?!” a new voice yelled.

Everyone turned to see--

“Tamora!” Otome gasped, standing up.

Tamora stood a few feet away, feet planted squarely, shoulders tense as she glowered at the entire group. The teddy bear in one of her arms did nothing to lessen the ferocity of her stance or her glare. Nor did the Heartbreak Marker in one tense, white-knuckled fist. “What's the point of fighting, what's the point of love!?” she yelled again. “Shylock loved once, and look where it got him!”

“Tamora--” Otome began, taking a few steps towards the other girl. She held her hands up as if to set them on Tamora's shoulders, to calm her. “Tamora, Shylock was--”

“All Shylock did was like you, Ariel!” Tamora shrieked, making Otome halt in her tracks. “And now he's dead!”

“Tamora, listen to me--!”

“No! I wanted to be your friend, I was nice to you and everything and – and Shylock's dead because he loved someone! I hate love, I hate it!!”

“Gi-Girls, what's going on? Who's this?” Emi asked nervously, an arm around Yoshi's shoulders in a protective manner.

”I hate it!” Furiously, Tamora uncapped the marker and swiftly drew a slashed heart symbol in the air. “Fall into heartbreaking despair!” she screamed, and flung her arm out.

The symbol split into two and shot towards the civilians. They struck Emi and Yoshi in the chests, pulsating once and surrounding them in a black aura.

“Yoshi! Emi!” screamed Hiromi.

The two girls slumped against each other, heads tilted back as they wailed openly, tears streaming down their faces. The black aura pulsed around them in time to their sobs.

Tamora just laughed, sounding half-mad. “Your heartbreak will fill the River Despair and flood the world~!” she shouted, holding her arms out.

At Heartbreak Manor, the water over the falls suddenly turned black, frothing and churning harder than ever before it continued over the edge of the cliffside, black lightning dancing over the water's surface. 

“Now it's your turn!” Tamora drew another symbol in the air and flung it at the nearby hot dog cart. “Fall into heartbreaking despair! Come on out, Usotsuki!”

The symbol struck the cart, which was enveloped in purple light as the owner ran away from it. It flashed, and then an Usotsuki stood where the cart once was. It kept is basic shape, but had grown several times its size, developed fierce, angry red eyes and a mouth of fangs. It had no arms, but the wheels were turning rapidly, kicking up dust and sand as it revved itself up to move. “USOOOO!”

As the civilians ran, screaming, Otome looked from the monster to Tamora. “You don't even know what's going on, Tamora!” she yelled.

“Shut up! Just let the Usotsuki devour you so Shylock can rest in peace!”

“Pretty Cure, datchu!” Ti cried in terror.

“Pretty Cure, Love's Song!”
“The innocent love in a maiden's heart, Cure Capulet!”
“The sincere love in a maiden's heart, Cure Montague!”
“The steadfast love in a maiden's heart, Cure Portia!”
”The everlasting love in a maiden's heart, Cure Ariel!”


The quartet stood in a row, each tracing a large heart in the air before them – ribbons of light trailing from their fingers. “Our hearts connected!" They then leaned into each other and formed a trio of hearts with their hands together; Ariel and Montage, Montague and Capulet, Capulet and Portia. ”Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts!”

“USO-KIII!” the monster shrieked, firing projectiles at the quartet.

Pretty Cure split into two groups – Portia and Ariel went to the monster while Capulet and Montague went to the table.

Capulet scooped up both Emi and Yoshi, leaping with them to the top of one of the flat-roofed buildings. “It's not ideal,” she whispered to them as she set them down gently. “But I don't want you to fall in the water or get run over.”

“We'll be back for you all, promise!” Montague added, setting the canvas bag containing Ti and Coffee next to the girls.

While Ariel ran towards the Usotsuki, Portia was kicking and punching away as many projectiles as she could – spin-kicking and side-punching without breaking a sweat or even glancing at what she was hitting. That is, until she grabbed one that was heading straight for her face.

“Eh?” she blinked, staring at it. “It's...it's shooting hot dogs at us!” she cried incredulously, a laugh punctuating her comment.

“Portia, put it down--!” Ariel shouted.

Too late. Believe it or not, the hot dog actually exploded in Portia's grip, sending a cloud of hot spices into her face, burning her eyes and mouth. She gasped for air, eyes squeezed shut as she held her throat.

“Portia!” Ariel shouted. She was so close to the Usotsuki, but she had to get Portia. She still got in an attack, however, as she suddenly made a wide U-turn and delivered a powerful jump-kick to the Usotsuki in the middle. “Portia!” she yelled again as the Usotsuki rolled back from the impact.

She reached the tan Cure, supporting her back with her arm. “Portia! Are you okay?!”

“C-Can't...b-breathe...” Portia managed to wheeze. “M-my throat – burning!”

“USOOOO!” The Usotsuki roared again, its wheels kicking up another large cloud as it surged forward, heading straight for the girls--

“Pretty Cure Dual Kick!”

As Ariel leaped away, getting Portia to safety, Capulet and Montague appeared out of seemingly nowhere to deliver a powerful double-kick to the Usotsuki's side. Once again it found itself falling over...but a different direction.

“U-Uso--?!” it squeaked, thrashing in an attempt to right itself.

Capulet just smiled as she and Montague gracefully landed on the ground. She held out an index finger, casually leaned towards the Usotsuki...and tapped it. “Capulet Poke.”

With a CRASH the Usotsuki fell to the ground.

Ariel looked up from where she was tending to Portia, pouring water on her eyes while Portia herself gulped down even more water, washing away the spice in her throat. “It's down!” she gasped.

Portia grinned, eyes still shut. “Get it, Ariel!”

“Right! Sound of the Bells! Heart-Soul Bow! Pretty Cure Lovely Arrow!”

The light arrows shot for the Usotsuki as it kept wiggling, trying to save itself. It screeched as the lights tore through it, leaving a sea-green heart on its front. “U-Uso...” it murmured weakly, the light disintegrating it from within.

In a few waves, the Usotsuki went back to being a hot dog cart, now right-side-up. The black auras around Emi and Yoshi vanished, leaving the girls in a peaceful sleep. Portia blinked as she felt the heat leaving her eyes fully now, breathing a sigh of relief.

“I am never eating spicy food again,” she muttered, to everyone else's amusement.

Almost everyone's, that is. Tamora stood off the side, shaking in indignation as she held Ichiko beneath her chin.

“Tamora...” Ariel tried again, stepped towards her. “Tamora, Shylock didn't die because of...because of us. Please believe me. Love is a wonderful, beautiful thing, it does not cause pain--”

“Yes it does.” Tamora's voice as quieter than before, but it still held the same amount of fire. ”Yes it does”, she repeated, and then teleported away.

Ariel sighed quietly, brows lowered in distress. “Tamora...”

________________________________________

Later in the evening, after Emi and Yoshi had been retrieved from the roof and awoke – with no memory of the recent events – they were seeing each other off.

“School's starting again soon,” Emi told the quartet. “I have to get ready for that, at least!”

“Ugh, don't remind us...” Aki groaned.

“Sucks to be you two, huh?” Miho said with a smile.

“Miho!” Coffee hissed from the bag again.

Luckily, Emi and Yoshi didn't seem to hear the fairy, as Yoshi was still speaking. “And I'm going to...I'm going to just keep being loyal to my Emi!”

“But what'll you do about...you?” Hiromi asked, frowning.

Emi and Yoshi smiled warmly at each other, squeezing each other's hands. “...we'll think about what to do exactly,” Emi said.

“But we will not hide anymore,” finished Yoshi. “I don't know what we'll do – if I have to stop being her assistant--”

“Or maybe I can convince my manager to let her stay, just give her less duties.”

“No matter what, we'll figure out something.

Otome smiled. “I'm happy for you two...You guys stay strong, okay? You're in this together, have each other's backs.”

“We will! Thanks, Otome!” Emi said, leaning forward and hugging Otome tightly.

Aki and Hiromi watched as Otome hugged back, yelping as Yoshi and Miho decided to make it a group hug. Then they looked at each other, biting their lower lips.

In this together...

________________________________________

ED: "Hummingbird" - Mana Ogawa

________________________________________

ON THE NEXT EPISODE:
Hiromi: “E-Everyone, we have an important announcement!”
Aki: “Hiromi and I...are dating!”
Hiromi: “A-Ah, it feels good to get that off my chest! E-Ehhhh?!”
Aki: “What's wrong, Hiromi?”
Hiromi: “S-Someone put a frog in my school shoes!”
Aki: “Ehhhhh?!? Next time on Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts: 'A Rival?! Hiromi Is A Target!' Let love heal your heart!"
Otome blinked blearily at the trio before her. “E-Eh...? The beach?” she mumbled, still half-asleep and rubbing at one eye.

It was morning in the Oshiro home. Aki had made good on her offer to house Otome, and had brought the slightly-older girl with her the evening of her rescue. Sebastian and Emma had been rather surprised, but pleased as Aki said they would be, and said they would pass the message along to Aki's parents. Despite being overseas dealing with the American branch of Castle Toys at the time, the Oshiro parents still sent back an email that same night, expressing their joy that Aki was having more and more friends over lately.
Otome had been ready to sleep on the couch, but Sebastian and Emma would have none of it, and swiftly cleaned up one of the guest bedrooms down the hall from Aki's own. Toiletries were immediately provided for, bedding cleaned, Aki gave Otome free access to her vast closet...it was as if Otome was a long-time friend staying for holidays instead of a girl they'd just met.

Otome was still unused to such hospitality after those months in Heartbreak Manor, though she was still trying to adjust to it. And she definitely wasn't used to the bright smiles on Sebastian's, Emma's and Aki's faces as they stood at her door.

“Yes,” Sebastian said, rather charmingly. “It's been a few days since you arrived here, and...well, Emma and I do not wish to pry, but the young miss says you seem a little morose sometimes. And it's summer vacation besides, so she thought...”

Emma smiled and held up a ring of keys around her index finger. “We'd accompany you, the young miss, and your other two friends to--”

“The Oshiro summer house~!” Aki yelled, thrusting her fist into the air. She was already dressed for the part, too: a cream-colored tiered, ruffly sundress that came to her mid-thigh, and white sandals with large flowers at the toe-straps. “Get dressed, Otome!”

Otome blinked again. “Summer house...?”

________________________________________

OP: "Love and Joy PreCure" - Entwined Hearts Duo

________________________________________

Some time later, Otome sat stiffly in the backseat of a minivan, wedged between Aki and Miho. She'd changed by now, clad in a black bikini with mint-green ruffled trim around the top of both pieces, and black water shoes. She'd wrapped a fluffy mint towel around her waist in lieu of a skirt.
Next to her, Miho was wearing black sandals, snug black swimming shorts, and a swimming top that looked as if someone had layered two asymmetrical tops – one yellow and one black.

Sebastian drove while Emma sat in the passenger seat, staring out the window with her chin resting in her hand. Aki and Miho both looked happy, excitedly talking about the beach.

“You're gonna love the summer house, Otome!” Aki said, nudging the other girl. “It's just a super short walk to the beach from there, and there's a guy selling ice cream and snow cones, and you can get fireworks from the convenience store...”

“A-Ah, great...But are you sure it's alright to invite me along?” Otome asked. “I mean, you've got Miho, and Hiromi, and you're all great friends but I--”

“What better way to strengthen a bond than by going to a beach and having a long sleepover~?” cheered Miho. “Seriously, Otome, chill, it's cool. You're one of our friends now, too, remember?”

“Heeeeey, Hiromiiiii!” Aki yelled out the window before Otome could answer. “You bring enough stuff?” she laughed.

The car was sitting outside of Hiromi's house, the bespectacled girl awkwardly making her way from the front door to the car. In her hands were several different bags and Tupperware containers, all of which she was trying to balance and not send falling to the ground. “A-Ah, m-my sisters w-wanted me to b-bring all sorts of--”

“Hi-ro-mi! Did you remember extra sunblock?!” yelled Harumi from inside the house.

Hiromi jumped in surprise, dropping everything to her feet. “Waaaah, Big Sisterrrr!” she wailed.

From her shoulder, Coffee and Ti looked exasperated. “You'd think we were going abroad...”

“Datchu...”

________________________________________

TODAY'S EPISODE: Fun In the Sun and Sea! Let's Have A Break!

________________________________________

In Heartbreak Manor, it was quiet again. But this time, the silence felt heavier, thicker and near-suffocating.

Tamora sat in Riche's chair, but the man made no attempt to shoo her out of it. Instead, he leaned against the arm of it, unconsciously reaching for her hand when she sniffled quietly. “This is true?” he said quietly.

Across from them, her hands trembling somewhat as she lifted the teapot, Lady nodded solemnly. “Break had gone to Kokoro to search for any remaining survivors of the attack,” she said. “And it was there they discovered Shylock aiding Pretty Cure...”

Shylock collapsed to the ground in a crumpled heap, his eyes glassy and unseeing.

Behind him, Break held their hand out, the remnants of red energy crackling around the palm before fading away.


“...and releasing Cure Ariel. Break told me...Shylock was punished for his treachery immediately.”

Tamora let out a loud sob. Riche absently patted the back of her hand.

“I feel we should find Pretty Cure, destroy them for--”

“Darling,” Riche's voice interjected. “You know I want Pretty Cure gone as much as you do...but perhaps we should hold off a bit.”

Lady lifted her head from the tea set, brows raised. “Hm?” she murmured, head tilting a bit.

“We have lost one of our own...a punishment or not, whatever his true intentions were, Shylock was our family, and we have lost him.”

“I d-didn't e-even get to s-say goodbye...” Tamora whimpered.

“I believe it is best if we have a period of mourning first. Allow ourselves to process this,” Riche concluded.

Lady was quiet for a few moments before she nodded, sighing quietly. “I suppose you are right...Here, the tea will help us with that, darling,” she added, holding out a teacup.

“Ah! Darling your hand-!”

“Hm? Oh, this?” Lady laughed sheepishly as Tamora took her teacup, and held up her hand. Gauze bandages could be seen around her wrist. “I had a little mishap with the boiling water...It's fine, love, no worries. We have bigger things to think about.”

________________________________________

“Phwah!” Miho fell back on the couch in the main room, idly kicking her legs over the arm of the furniture. “What a great location! I can smell the sea salt even from here...” she sighed blissfully, nose twitching slightly.

“Miho, you're exaggerating,” Aki chuckled as she entered the room, setting down her knapsack.

“Tch-tch-tch~ I have a very sensitive nose, Aki~ I can definitely smell the sea from here.”

“Then I'm sure your nose will be too sensitive for you to go to the beach,” said Sebastian. He and Emma brought up the rear as the other girls entered the house. At Miho's loud cry of denial, he chuckled and redirected his gaze to Aki. “Young miss, why don't you lead your friends to the beach? Emma and I will get everything set up for you here, and prepare dinner for later tonight.”

“Really? Thanks, Sebastian, you're super awesome!” Aki cheered. “C'mon, girls!”

“Wait, Aki, I didn't change yet!” Hiromi protested, “I gotta dress in cooler clothes!”

Throughout all this, Otome just stood there uncomfortably, rubbing one arm and shifting her weight from one foot to the other. Everyone was so...cheerful. Happy.
It wasn't that she believed they'd forgotten what happened, far from it!

...she knew they hadn't.

________________________________________

The quartet sat in the classroom, the last of their sniffles and sobs dying down. Otome sat with her hands clenched in her lap, shoulders trembling as she tried to compose herself.

A pale pink box was gently thrust into her view, and Otome blinked back tears as she looked up.

Mrs Matoko was standing at Otome's desk, holding out a box of tissues with a concerned expression on her face. “Miss Aimiya,” she murmured, kneeling as Otome took a tissue and dabbed at her eyes. “Do you have someone I can call? Parents, a teacher, a sibling...?”

“I – I--”

“She's staying with me,” Aki cut in suddenly, catching both girl and teacher off-guard. The dark-haired girl was staring at her desk, bangs shadowing her eyes. Her own hands were clasped on top of her desk, little marks in her knuckles from where her nails had dug into her skin. “H-Her family's abroad and she's been staying with me...”

Mrs Matoko hesitated a moment, then nodded. “Alright. Then, Oshiro, I'm going to call your great-grandmother to pick you four up, okay?” There was no answer from any of the girls. “Oshi-- ...Aki...sweethearts,” she murmured in a softer voice. “You know you can all talk to me if something's wrong, if something's happened. But if you'd rather not, I'll understand that, too... Just know that as your teacher, I'll always be there for you, I'm always available to listen. That includes you too, Aimiya, Sakura. Okay?” Her hand rested on Otome's shoulder.

That did it. Otome buried her face in her hands, sobs beginning anew as her shoulders shook, breathing harsh between cries. The hand on her shoulder didn't leave, but instead squeezed reassuringly. She heard the sounds of chairs being pushed back, and felt three more bodies surround her, hugging her tight and crying themselves. In the background, she could faintly hear Mrs Matoko's voice. “Hello, Granny Oshiro? This is Mrs Nanako Matoko, from your great-granddaughter's school...Yes, could you please come down to school?...Something's happened...”


________________________________________

”You seem a little morose sometimes...” Sebastian's words from earlier came back to her, and she lowered her head a bit. Morose...that didn't seem strong enough at all.

“Otome!”

“Hm?” Otome blinked and looked up to see everyone else staring expectantly at her. Hiromi had already changed her clothes, and now wore a pink one-piece swimsuit with two little bows on the tops of the straps, and pink sandals. Tied around her waist was a long white sari with large, pale pink roses along the edges; the edges were a little sheerer than the rest of the cloth, showing the faintest outline of her legs near the bottom of the 'skirt.' She'd also tied her hair up into a single ponytail at the back of her head – Otome could faintly see Ti and Coffee hiding behind it like a curtain as they sat on her shoulders. “Yes?”

Hiromi smiled patiently. “I said, do you want to go to the town first, or second?”

No one else spoke up. Instead, Otome realized belatedly, they were all looking at her, expecting her to pick.

What an odd, different sort of expectation. “I, uhm...town first? Because the water will be cold for a little bit?”

“Sounds like a plan!” Aki said, pumping her fist.

________________________________________

The town was a short, easy distance from the summer house. There was a short, sandy path that wound between a few green trees, and at the end the girls stepped right onto a residential sidewalk. From there it was only a three-minute walk down, and voila, there were in the small beach-side town. Various small shops, all family-owned, lined the road; the road was rather simple too, no painted lines dividing it in half, and kids walked right down the middle of it without a care. And it was easy to see why: everyone was walking instead of driving, and if you were to look waaaay down past the road, you could see a large parking lot where people would leave their cars to continue their journeys on foot. Many shops had their doors wide open and inviting, a few owners sat in chairs outside and only got up when a customer entered, and Hiromi saw one man eating his lunch right at the counter.

“Ah, Miss Oshiro! Good to see you!” called a tan, weathered man in a sunhat.

“Ah, hi!” Aki beamed, pausing in her walk to wave at him. “Girls, this guy makes glass animal key chains. I used to come and buy some all the time when I was little!”

“Haha, yes, she did,” chuckled the man, idly fanning himself. “My, you sure have grown, though. I remember you being this big--” He held his hand at about knee-level. “--and coming in here with some coins in your little fist, asking for a crab. Ah, you were so cute I gave you two of them...”

Aki blushed as the others looked at her in amusement. “S-Say, you got any more?”

Minutes later, the girls found themselves browsing the shelves and glass cases.

Ti peered out from his perch at Hiromi's shoulder, gasping and pointing to a tiny gray mouse with blue eyes. “Look, datchu! Look, it's Coffee!”

“Aw, thank you, but the colors are way off...” Coffee chuckled, a faint blush on her face. “Ah! Ariel, have you found something?”

Otome stood straight and tall, holding a glass octopus above her head and allowing it to slowly turn back and forth, catching the light. “It's so red!” she gasped, “He almost looks angry.”

“Nah, he's just shy because a pretty young lady is holding him,” Miho chuckled, nudging Otome in the arm.

“Ffft...hey, Aki, look at this!” Otome held out the octopus to her and--

“Kyaaaah! Get that away!” Aki cried, nearly dropping her marine-blue crab.

“Ehhh? Aki doesn't like octopuses?” Miho asked, then frowned. “Octopuses...Octopi? Octo...octo...” she began muttering.

Otome blinked, stunned...and then grin deviously, thrusting the trinket out at arm's length, into Aki's face. “But look! It's got cute little suckers and big shiny eyes! It's saying 'I love you, Aki!'”

“Get that thing away from me!”

“I love you, Aki! I love you, Aki! Don't put me on rice, Aki!”

“Octopeese...?”

“Aki, it's only glass, it's okay!”

“I love you, Aki~!”

“Cut it out!”

________________________________________

Eyecatch 1: Coffee and Ti hold a giant heart-shaped bubble wand, the breeze sending out a stream of bubbles. Inside four of the bubbles are tiny versions of the girls. In a flash of light, the girls twirl around and transform into Pretty Cure, their bubbles immediately becoming heart-shaped. The Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.
Eyecatch 2: The four girls hold a large, pink heart-shaped cookie between them; Hiromi taking the left arc, Aki taking the right, Miho and Otome firmly holding either side of the bottom half. They snap the cookie apart and there is a bright pink flash of light. When it fades, the quartet are in their Cure forms, happily eating their cookie pieces. The Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.


________________________________________

“I can't believe you bought that thing!” Aki cried.

Otome laughed again, holding the octopus up to catch the light again. “It was so cute though...”

They were walking again, off to the next interesting sight. Aki was leading, as the others felt it was only appropriate. She knew this place, after all.

“And for the record,” Aki huffed, cheeks pink. “It's not that I don't like octopuses--”

“I had it right the first time, yes!” Miho whispered, pumping her fist.

“It's just...nothing should have that many legs, eurgh!” she finished, shuddering.

Otome smiled and slipped her souvenir into Hiromi's messenger bag, kindly donated for carrying anything the girls could get. “Technically, Aki, those aren't legs. They're tentacles.”

“You know what I mean!”

“So I guess spiders are out of the question, too?” Otome asked.

Before Aki could answer, Hiromi giggled behind her hand. “Aki doesn't like spiders either. Once when we had cleaning duty, a spider scuttled out of the corner she was she scrubbing. She screamed so loud someone from the hallway ran in to see if she was hurt – he thought maybe the blackboard had fallen onto her, for the way she'd sounded!”

As the others laughed, Aki turned bright red and began sputtering. “H-Hiromi, whose side are you on?!” she cried.

“I'm sorry, Aki, but it was cute! I didn't think someone like you would--”

Aki looked away, puffing her cheeks out and making a “hrmph!” noise in her throat.

Otome patted her on the shoulder, trying to stop laughing. “Don't worry, Aki. If it helps, I'm not good with opossums.”

They passed by a small ice-cream shop, and that was when Ti's stomach decided to start growling. Of course a treat was in order, and a few minutes later, they were all standing before a freezer display. “You think we should get cones or cups?” Hiromi mumbled.

“A cone feels more fitting for summer, but cups aren't as messy,” Miho said.

“You know, you can do a cone that sits upside-down in a cup,” Aki said before looking to the lady at the counter. “Hey, can I have lemon meringue?”

“Me too!” cried Hiromi. “I never had that as an ice-cream before. Have you, Otome?”

“Can't say I have...” the pink-haired girl said.

“You wanna try a sample?” Miho asked as she pointed to the tiny pink spoons by the register. “Oh, yeah, and mocha please,” she added.

“No, I know what I want,” Otome said before pointing to the strawberry.

The girls and fairies all exchanged glances.

________________________________________

They went to a lot of different places over the next few hours. Aki dragged them to so many different places the girls thought they'd be buying something from everywhere at first. But Aki had told them not to worry, she'd pace them and they'd see more, new places in the next few days instead.

But even so, they hit quite a lot of places! There were some more souvenir stands – some selling seashells, or jewelry, or the obvious T-shirt. One man had a large food trailer and gladly gave Aki a small discount for the sizzling hot dogs she ordered the group; evidently, her family had given him some money to get his business started to begin with. There were places that sold only hair accessories like bandannas and colorful clip-on braids (“Really, Otome, this white one looks great on you!” Hiromi gasped as Otome eyed her reflection warily), a shaved-ice shop, and, possibly the most out-of-place...

“I didn't really expect there to be a nail salon in spot like this,” Hiromi said.

“Well, they're locally-owned, and with so many bare feet around, I guess everyone likes to have their toes look nice,” Aki said. She and the others sat in a row of chairs, their feet in the little tubs of bubbling water.

Miho snickered behind her hand as one of the technicians began drying her off. “This really tickles! Hey, Otome, have you ever been to something like this?”

Otome was staring at the tools the technician was laying out as if she thought they were going to be used for stomach surgery instead of on her toenails. Her fingers dug into the arms of her chair a little. “No, can't say I have,” she admitted, voice quavering a bit. “Back home I didn't have a lot of time for things like this, and no one saw my feet anyway. Gyah, what's that?!”

“It's just to push back your cuticles, miss. No need to worry,” said the technician.

“I'm amazed, Otome,” said Aki. “You've faced...a lot of bullies and jerks, and yet you're shying away from this?”

“W-Well I'm not used to this!” Otome stammered. ”What's that?!”

“It's just a pumice stone, hon.”

Hiromi tapped her lips with a fingertip as she looked at the nail polishes before her. “I like the sparkly pink...”

Her hair shifted a bit, Coffee peering out from her hiding place. “Can I get my nails painted too?” she whispered.

“I'll buy a bottle after this,” Hiromi whispered back.

Otome watched her three friends get their nails painted. Now it was her turn, wasn't it? She honestly couldn't remember having that happen with her before...what color would she even choose?

“Miss?” the technician prompted.

“Ah, yes.” Otome looked at the polishes –

--and blinked. Her gaze had immediately locked on one color in particular. A bright, lime-green gel color.

The girls could feel the atmosphere changing. One by one, they leaned over to peer worriedly at Otome, who sat still with her finger poised as if she still couldn't choose. “Otome?” Hiromi called over.

Otome shook her head. “That green. Please...” she said in a thick voice.

________________________________________

“Aki, what's with the watermelon?” Otome asked with a frown.

Toes painted, the sun setting, it was soon decided to head back to the beach. Aki and Hiromi walked with a plastic shopping back between them, a personal watermelon inside it. Otome had suspected they were going to eat it, but...Well, Miho had also bought a bat.

Miho was the one who decided to answer, tapping the bat against her shoulder. “Oh, right! I bet you don't have this in Kokoro. We're gonna smash the watermelon!”

“Whaaaa?” Otome, Ti, and Coffee said in unison.

“See, it's this awesome beach game! You'll see! Or not, I guess,” Miho laughed.

“Okay, now you all really have me worried...” Otome muttered.

And soon enough, Otome was on the beach, arms in front of herself as Hiromi gently tied a strip of cloth over her eyes. “I am really, really worried,” Otome deadpanned.

“Don't worry,” came Aki's voice.

Otome felt something being pushed into her hands. The bat. She gripped it tightly, allowing someone (Hiromi? They felt gentle) to adjust her fingers on it and change the angle she held it at. “What's going on?”

“Okay! It's watermelon smashing!” Miho said. “Kick your foot out a little – no, not too fast or you'll hurt your toes! There you go, just tap a bit. Okay, that's the watermelon you're feeling. How this works is we make it so you can't see, and then we're gonna spin ya 'round, and then you smack the watermelon with the bat!”

“Isn't that a waste of food?” Otome blinked behind the blindfold.

“Nah, nah, we got cardboard under it. We're gonna eat it when it's split. H'okay, house rules! Spin you three times, you get one chance to hit the watermelon. If you miss, take the blindfold off and let someone else try! We're gonna go you, then me, then Hiromi, then Aki!”

“How come I go last?!”

“Because you're the host and it's polite to let guests go first.”

Otome didn't hear the rest very clearly as she felt Hiromi grip her shoulders and start turning her. Otome felt herself being spun one direction, then abruptly go the other direction, and then once more the other way. “Okay, Otome!” she heard Hiromi's voice from...somewhere. “Hit the watermelon!”

“Hit it, datchu!”

“You say that but--!” Otome cried, taking a step one direction--

--and freezing when she heard Hiromi squeal ”Not me, not me!”

Otome blinked again. Then, a slow smile grew. After a second, her lips parted so she smiled with her teeth showing, snickering with her shoulders shaking. “Ehhhh, I think I heard the watermelon talk!” she laughed, taking another step forward.

“Kyaaah! I'm not a melon!” Hiromi's voice cried – but Otome could hear it. There was more laughter than fear. “Get Aki, she's the melon!”

“I am not! Gyah, Otome, not over here!” Aki squealed as Otome followed her voice and held the bat at chest-level. “Otome, no!” she laughed, and the faint fwump sounds revealed she was running away.

“Heeey, c'mon, melon! I gotta smack you!” Otome crowed, chasing after Aki.

“Kyaaaaah! Noooo!” Aki shrieked with laughter as she ran faster. “Miho, save me!”

“I'm the melon!” Miho yelled, cupping her hands around her mouth.

Abruptly, Otome changed course, running towards Miho, her bat held before her like it was a divining rod. “You melons need to quit moving around!”

“I'm a melon, datchu!” Ti shouted from Otome's left.

Otome ran towards him, and Hiromi by extension.

“Melon!” Aki yelled, from a different location than Otome'd left her.

“Melon!” Miho and Hiromi yelled at the same time.

Otome briefly debated which way to go before running towards Miho. Made sense, she'd just been after Hiromi, after all.

“I'm a melon!”

This went on a bit; the girls and fairies would yell for Otome, and Otome would follow their voice. Her face was getting flushed pink from exertion and laughter, she felt her cheeks starting to ache from her big smile. Sand was sticking to her legs from all that running, but she didn't care. She could hear the others laughing, panting for breath as they yelled “I'm the melon!” at her just before she reached one of them.

________________________________________

Up above the beach, Sebastian and Emma stood on the deck, setting out the barbecued meats and steamed vegetables. Sebastian chuckled as he watched Otome nearly fall over in her haste to change course and run for Miho. “They're having a lot of fun down there...”

Emma nodded, placing a bottle of soda on the table. “I think this was just what Otome needed.”

________________________________________

“Otome! Melon!” everyone shouted at once.

Otome ran forward, lifting the bat over her head. “Hyaaaaaah!” She brought it down hard--

--and neatly split the watermelon in half.

“Alriiiight! Way to go, Otome!” Miho cheered, thrusting her fist into the air as the other girl lifted her blindfold. “Perfect score!”

“Yes, yes, good job,” Sebastian called down to them. “Now come up here and eat!”

________________________________________

Otome stared down at her barbecued beef, poking it occasionally.

“Oh, don't tell me you never had barbecue,” Miho said around a mouthful of food.

“Oh, no! Otome, I'm so sorry, are you vegetarian?” Emma gasped, her hand over her mouth. “Here, I'll steam some more vegetables for you if--”

“Oh, no, I eat meat...” Otome began, sitting with her feet tucked under her seat so she wouldn't kick the fairies eating below. “It's just I've never had...this.”

“I was right! You didn't have barbecue!” Miho gasped.

“Don't worry, Otome, it's real good,” Aki said, spearing a smaller piece and holding it out to her. “Take one bite, and if you don't like it, we'll load your plate with veggies.”

“And I'll eat the barbecue instead!” Hiromi volunteered.

Otome laughed alongside the others, then carefully took the proffered beef. She eyed it warily for a few second, sniffed it once...and then just stuffed the entire thing in her mouth. Abruptly, she hunched over the table, shoulders shaking as she pounded her chest.

“Well don't just eat all at once, Otome!” Aki cried.

“Otome, you okay?!”

“'m fi',” she mumbled around her food, chewing awkwardly.

“Otome, you can cut it into smaller pieces if you want, you know...” said Miho.

“Nah, nah, 's'okay....” Otome forced out, straightening and tilting her head back. Her cheeks were puffed out like a chipmunk's as she chewed for a few more moments, and then finally swallowed. The meat went down, and she exhaled loudly as she relaxed. “Okay...”

“Well?” Sebastian asked.

There was a beat as Otome didn't respond. Then suddenly, she grinned and held her plate up. “More please~!”

Everyone laughed as Emma obliged her.

________________________________________

The beach was quiet as everyone finally went to bed. The girls all slept in the main room, several futons having been pushed together and draped with sheets. Emma and Sebastian had taken another bedroom, and that left the girls with the fairies.

“What'll we do tomorrow?” whispered Coffee.

“I want more ice-cream, datchu!”

Aki yawned before gazing sleepily at the others. “I was thinking we could swim tomorrow...Otome, what do you think?”

No answer.

“Otome?”

Everyone looked over to the fourth Cure. Sure enough, Otome was already fast asleep, curled on her side with her hands in front of her face. She was drooling slightly in her sleep, one foot occasionally twitching.

Everyone smiled at each other. “She had a busy day, huh?” Hiromi whispered, carefully pulling Otome's sheet to cover her shoulders.

“We all did...but Otome needed it most, and it's been a rough few days for her, period,” Aki said.

Miho nodded, brows lowering. “You think...you think this will help her? I mean, we can't make what happened go away, we can't undo the past...But I don't want her to be sad for too long. She should be happy, she should be laughing like she was when we played the watermelon game...”

“I hope it worked,” Aki murmured. “I really hope it did.”

“Datchu...” Ti yawned in agreement.

________________________________________

Cure Ariel ran down a long, dark hallway. She couldn't see what was on the other side – it just disappeared into shadow. But she knew she had to go on in that direction.

Someone was following her. Someone taking slow, measured steps instead of running, yet Ariel knew if she stopped for just a second, they'd catch her.
Was she running to get away, or running to someone else?

A figure appeared before her. A familiar one, with a red scarf. “Shylock!” Cure Ariel cried, holding her hand out to him.

Shylock turned around to face her, blinking in surprise. Then he slowly smiled, turning fully and holding a hand out to her. “Otome...”

He was okay. He was okay! She just had to reach him! Cure Ariel laughed, held her hand out.

Their fingertips touched.

A blast of red energy flew over Ariel's shoulder, singeing her hair.

Shylock was struck in the heart, screaming as his whole being was enveloped in red before he burst apart into small particles of light--


________________________________________

The girls slowly woke up, blinking tiredly at the ceiling. It was still dark, and for a moment they wondered what had woken them. After all, it was quiet, the only sound was the waves gently crashing on the beach, and someone--

...oh.

They looked over to the side, and saw Otome curled up with her back facing them. She was in a fetal ball this time, her head tucked as she softly cried, sounds faintly muffled by her futon.

Nothing needed to be discussed. The girls scooted closer, and Otome tensed up briefly as she felt them surround her, arms loosely thrown over her shoulders, her side...She felt the fairies move against the top of her head, nuzzling her hair a bit as the girls gently hugged her.

They stayed that way the whole night, until Otome cried herself back to sleep again.

________________________________________

ED: "Hummingbird" - Mana Ogawa

________________________________________

ON THE NEXT EPISODE:
Miho: “Ehhhhh?! Rumor has it that Emi Watanabe has a secret lover!”
Otome: “I wonder who it is? Is it one of her co-stars?”
Aki: “I bet it's her bodyguard! Bodyguards and actresses always fall in love, right?”
Hiromi: “Wait a sec, why's she hiding it anyway? She seems really nervous...”
Aki: “Ahaha...like we're ones to talk...”
Hiromi: “Next time on Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts: 'The Idol's In Love! More Star-Crossing?!' Let love heal your heart!"
OP: "Love and Joy PreCure" - Entwined Hearts Duo

________________________________________

The group had managed to find the medical ward of the castle, following Ti's directions. They now sat on the floor in a patch of light cast by the setting sun, applying an ointment to Otome's burns. The burns themselves were not too serious, luckily for her, but she would need to be careful with them for a while. Bandages didn't seem to be necessary either, but that was alright because the gauze bandages they did find were on the floor and unusable.

“My name is Otome Aimiya,” the girl repeated as Capulet finished up with her hands. “I'm a citizen of Kokoro, and Cure Ariel.”

“We've never seen you like this, Cure Ariel!” Coffee said. “I wasn't sure if you even had another form!”

Otome chuckled. “I received my Cure form three years ago, in a private ceremony.” She briefly recalled being thirteen, clad in white and pale green, standing in a small room with stained glass windows high above them, casting spotlights of pink, green, blue, and gold onto her. Before her had stood Kokoro's king and queen. They'd smiled at her, and she'd held out her hand for the Cure Signet to be slipped onto her finger as she smiled back.

________________________________________

“The ring does not represent romantic love,” the queen said, gently placing her hand over the young Otome's. “A Cure of Love fights for, and holds dearly, love in all its forms. For family, friends, romance, for all the world and all its creatures.”

“Your heart holds so much love, Otome,” the king added. “Never stop loving others.”

Young Otome smiled and nodded, becoming Cure Ariel in a burst of aqua light. “Yes!”


________________________________________

“From then on, I made sure civilians saw me as Cure Ariel. It was simpler, safer...And I was to be Kokoro's and the royal family's protector, why should I be anyone else? I only became Otome at night, when everyone was asleep.”

“That's not fair, datchu!” Ti blurted out, taking Otome by surprise. “You're a Pretty Cure, but...but you shouldn't have had to be one all the time, datchu!”

“That's right!” added Coffee. “Miho, Hiromi, and Aki are Pretty Cure and they're usually in civilian form! They're students and artists and they hang out and do fun stuff and be lazy!”

“Ehh...which of us are you referring to with that last one?” asked Montague with a frown.

Otome suddenly giggled quietly, behind one of her hands. As everyone looked back at her, she made herself calm down and lowered her hand back to her lap. “It's alright, Your Highness...I was the one who made that decision. I thought it best that way, and I could help people at any given moment.” Her expression became downcast. “But...it looks like that didn't help me at all in the end, did it?” One of her hands began rubbing at the other, lingering over her ring finger.

“I'm sorry, Otome.”

“Eh?” Otome looked up again.

Portia stood there with her head lowered, brows furrowed and twitching slightly. She held her hands in front of her chest, fidgeting with her fingers as she stared at the floor. Apparently it was much more interesting to look at the Otome right now. “We didn't find your Cure Signet. And I was the one who grabbed your hand and pulled you along... Maybe if we'd found another way, like if we just stayed to attack the Usotsuki, then maybe...”

Someone held Portia's hands.

She looked up again, blinking in surprise as she saw Otome in front of her, her own bare hands resting over Portia's gloved ones. Otome should have been angry, Portia thought, but she was smiling at her with a kind, warm expression that didn't match their dark and dismal surroundings at all.

“It's alright,” she murmured, squeezing her hands. “There wasn't any time, and you were scared--”

“I wouldn't say I was scared--”

“And you'd probably never seen something like those before. I sure hadn't.” Otome frowned slightly. “Well, I did once, but once was enough...”

“But now it's too dangerous to get your Cure Signet,” Capulet admitted, kicking at the ground. “If we go back, those things might be around, ready to tear us limb from limb. We might not summon our weapons in time and...and there's no way of looking in to check if they're gone--”

“It's fine.”

That voice was most definitely not Otome. It was deeper, masculine...

Everyone glanced towards the doorway in surprise as Shylock entered the room, idly tugging something beneath his scarf.

“Her Cure Signet's not even in Heartbreak Manor. It's here.”

________________________________________

TODAY'S EPISODE: A Pretty Cure's Heart, Shylock's Heart

________________________________________

“Shylock--”

”You...!” Otome pulled away from Portia and stormed over to Shylock before anyone could stop her. “You...!” She grabbed the front of his shirt, shaking him slightly before lightly punching his chest with one hand. “You – I don't know whether--!” More shaking, this time a little harder; her arms shook a bit, as if she wanted to lash out and hit him but she couldn't bring herself to do it. But he deserved it, didn't he? But at the same time he'd never directly harmed her and it was wrong to hit someone who--

“I don't know if I should hit you or hug you right now, you idiot!” Otome yelled, face turning red. “You – you stupid - what were you thinking, Shylock?!” she shrieked, and her last words were punctuated by a faint sob.

Everyone blinked, seeing her slowly relax, the fight going out of her for the most part as she glared tearfully at the Shitsuren boy. “What were you thinking?

Shylock looked away.

Look at me when I speak to you!”

“It was the only way to keep you safe...Break swore to me, if I did what I was told, if I did what the others were doing, if I helped create Usotsuki...” Shylock's voice was thick and halting as he spoke, still not looking at Otome. He seemed to find the floor just as fascinating as Portia had earlier. “If I did my part without hesitation, he'd spare you...You wouldn't be--”

“You thought I'd be okay with that, Shylock? That I'd be fine with being safe while Kokoro was destroyed?”

Shylock flinched.

The others saw Otome's shoulders relax a bit, and her grip on Shylock's shirt loosened. When she spoke again, her tone was still tight and upset, but softer than it'd been when he first entered the room. “Shylock...I'm supposed to protect Kokoro. Kokoro and the royal family... Did you really think I wouldn't want to fight back, to protect it, even after what you told me? Did you think I'd be alright with surviving while everything else was gone?

The boy's mouth was drawn into a thin, fine line. After a moment of silence, he whispered “Break said he'd get rid of anyone in his path who stood up to him...anyone who would wish to stop him...I couldn't...I couldn't let...” His hand tightened on whatever was under his scarf. “I couldn't...”

Somewhat alarmingly, a sob escaped his throat.

Otome sighed, shaking her head before closing the gap between them...

...and hugging Shylock close, her chin resting on his shoulder as he seemed to collapse onto her, his own hands coming up to grip the back of her dress. “I understand how you feel, Shylock,” she whispered, stroking his hair. “But you know this wasn't going to fix anything...”

“I was desperate – I was scared, I--”

“I know...” Otome gave him a reassuring squeeze, then stiffened as she suddenly seemed to remember the others were there. She turned around, smiling awkwardly at the staring Cures and fairies. “Uhm...let me explain something...”

“Can we explain...while we walk?” Shylock managed, voice a little hoarse. “We need to find the Cure Signet--”

“Yeah. Yeah, anything,” Montague said, still wide-eyed.

“Just as long as you explain,” added Capulet.

________________________________________

“I've searched Heartbreak Manor top to bottom, and found nothing. I was able to look around in here too, without anyone noticing,” Shylock said.

The group was making their way down a large hallway, glancing into various doorways as they passed. The rest of the castle was just as dark, ruined, derelict as the room they'd fallen in. Dust particles floated idly in the moonlight, the group's footsteps echoed in the empty halls around them. Capulet found herself hugging Montague's arm a bit.

“You've probably figured it out by now, but Shylock and I go back quite a bit...” Otome murmured.

________________________________________

After they'd met at what each had assumed to be their secret spot, Otome and Shylock continued to see each other.

They'd meet to stargaze in that same spot they met. At first, they stood several feet away from each other, engaging in idle conversation. What were their families like? (Otome didn't have a family; she lived alone. Shylock hadn't a blood family – he and Tamora had been informally adopted.) What did they like to do? (Otome admitted she enjoyed flower arranging and fashion; Shylock preferred to be alone with a book.) What did they like to eat?

Strawberry sundaes. Both of them.

Shylock learned she would eat them when she was sad. They began to eat strawberries and ice-cream more and more often as time went on. “I'm sorry I couldn't see you last night, Otome,” Shylock murmured, grip tightening on his spoon. “My family...our benefactor was getting suspicious. If I was caught--”

“They're is no one to fear,” Otome said in a wooden tone. “So they're a bit strange on what love is. That's alright; they can learn for themselves how wonderful love can be. But even until then, their...viewpoints, don't make them a threat. If they were, something would have happened by now.” She smiled at him. “You wouldn't be sitting with me.”

He was quiet.

“Shylock. I know you're worried, but listen. You have nothing to be afraid of!” She smiled, clasping his hand tightly. “Nothing will happen...”

He turned to look at her, his eyes empty.

Otome just smiled gently, lifting her other hand to gently touch the side of his face. “Come see me tomorrow, during the Festival of Love. Please,” she said.

“...alright.”

________________________________________

Cure Ariel watched as Coffee ran for the castle, carrying Ti to his bed. Then she turned on her heel, glowering as she stiffly approached Shylock. “Shylock!” she snapped as she drew closer to him. “Where were you? You promised you'd see me at the festival. I waited and--” She stopped, blinking as she suddenly took note of Shylock's carefully guarded expression. “Shylock? Shylock, what is it?” she whispered.

He swallowed, looking away for a moment. “...something's going to happen.”

“Shylock, what are you
talking about?”

”I overheard Break speaking Lady,” he blurted out in a rush. “Break is planning to attack Kokoro. Tomorrow.” He looked back at Ariel, his face pale in the moonlight, eyes wide. “Ariel, what Break is planning will ruin Kokoro. I want...
I need you to escape before morning, so you'll be safe.”

“Escape?” Ariel drew back, frowning again. “Shylock, I can't abandon Kokoro!”

“You have no idea what Break's planning, Ariel!”

“I know it'll be nothing to worry about! I'm a Pretty Cure, Break has been gone for a very long time, I can handle it!” She sighed. “Shylock, I know you're worried...but you have to remember who your girlfriend is. I'll take care of it!”

“Ariel, you--”

“Here.” Ariel shoved something at him before he could finish his sentence. “I made you this at one of the booths...”

Shylock held the gift up; it was a necklace with cream-colored seed beads, with two larger, burgundy beads sandwiching a large, bright gold heart. “It's...a necklace.”

“I have one too.” Ariel smiled, shifting back into Otome. She held up her own necklace, already around her neck. “We match, see?” They did too – except where Shylock's beads were burgundy, hers were aqua green. “I expect to see you wearing it when we see each other tomorrow. Tomorrow when Kokoro is still safe,” she smiled, winking.


________________________________________

“And then, Kokoro was...” Otome had murmured when the story was over, a hand coming up to clutch her necklace. “After I got Ti and Coffee out of there, I woke up in Heartbreak Manor, without my Cure Signet...”

“So we need to find it now...” Coffee added, under her breath. “Shylock didn't take it, did he?” Her voice was a bit louder at that part.

“That wasn't my doing. I didn't even take her to our home,” Shylock said. “Why do you think I've been trying to get her Signet back? I've been spending most of my time away from Heartbreak Manor, coming here!”

It wasn't in Heartbreak Manor, it had to be in the castle. Some place no one from Shitsuren would care to check, a place with nobody around to even look for it.

“I had to keep Break from suspecting, so when I had to fight, I tried to make sure that Pretty Cure would defeat me...it was an easy task; you three are quite strong.”

“Flattery won't--!”

“Thanks!”

Portia sighed. “Oh my God, Montague...”

“And I have to admit now...I was the one who opened the door and let the Usotsuki out.” Before anyone could yell, he went on. “I feared the others would get suspicious of your presence! So I needed to distract them!”

“You could have picked a less dangerous method!” Portia snapped.

“I wasn't thinking...”

“Obviously not!” Portia muttered, rubbing her temple.

“Girls.” Otome's voice cut in. “Please...Shylock made mistakes, and he regrets them. We can talk about it with him later, but now can we please look for my Cure Signet?”

They did just that. The library was first; they spent the most amount of time in there, Ti and Coffee climbing the shelves to check the highest areas for the ring. There was nothing.

The throne room yielded no results either. Nor did the ballroom, the dining room, or the art gallery.

Later, Capulet traveled down a very dark, very narrow hallway that ended in a locked wooden door. Unlike the door in Heartbreak Manor, however, there was no sound behind this one. She frowned, tried the knob. Nothing. “Maybe it's...”

“Hey, Capulet! Come back, I think we found it!”

Capulet's hand pulled away from the doorknob. “Really? Where?!” she called as she ran back to join the others.

________________________________________

The mirror glowed, ripples spreading across its surface.

________________________________________

Eyecatch 1: Hiromi and Aki pose back to back, forming a heart with their arms while Miho feverishly sketches them. Finally she smiles, and turns her sketchpad around – to reveal she's been drawing Coffee and Ti the whole time. Hiromi and Aki gape at her for a second before all three start laughing, and the Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.
Eyecatch 2: Miho, Hiromi, and Aki hold a large heart-shaped cookie between them; Hiromi taking the left, Aki taking the right, and Miho holding the bottom corner. They pull, and as the cookie comes apart there is a bright pink flash of light. When it fades, the trio are in their Cure forms, happily eating their cookie pieces. The Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.


________________________________________

Everyone stood before a broken window, staring incredulously outward. “You can't be serious...” muttered Portia.

“I kinda get it.” Montague rubbed her chin. “I mean...it's a place you'd never think to look.”

“But...on a roof?!” cried Capulet.

Outside was a large turret with a conical roof. And there, glimmering at the very top, as if it'd been placed there neatly, was the Cure Signet.

“How're we gonna-- eh?” Coffee gasped as Capulet lifted her and Ti up. To her surprise, they were set inside Shylock's scarf. “Capulet?”

“I really...” Capulet whimpered, squeezing her eyes shut as she knelt down, arms behind herself. “Hate...heights...

”Hop on, Otome.”

“Pardon?” Otome blinked. Shylock did the same.

“We're getting your Signet,” Montague said, climbing out the window and leaping across to the roof.

“Capulet, you want help carrying her?” Portia offered, helping the pink-clad Cure stand up straight. “C'mon, you go with Montague – I'll carry Otome.”

And she did just that. A few moments later, all three Cures were slowly, nervously making their way up the conical roof, Otome holding tight to Portia's back. “Just don't look down, Otome!” Coffee yelled from where she, Ti, and Shylock stood at the window.

“Portia, you don't need to go this far...” Otome chuckled. “I can climb.”

“....you can?”

“Yeah! I climbed trees when I was little all the time, how much different can this be?” she asked, starting to slide off and find a steady position on the rooftop herself.

________________________________________

From the mirror, several feral Usotsuki burst forth, screaming as they surged down the hall, seeking out the Cures.

________________________________________

Shylock blinked, tensing up.

“Shylock, datchu?” Ti asked.

“Ti, Coffee...stay in my scarf!” Shylock yelled, whirling around. He drew his rapier, slashing at the Usotsuki that rushed at him. He managed to take out several of them, but still more surged past and through the window behind him. He lifted an arm to shield his face, his scarf and hair ruffling in the fierce wind the creatures made as they moved. “Pretty Cure!” he yelled, turning around to see them.

It was too late. Several feral Usotsuki shot for the girls, mouths open wide and claws bared.

One landed directly above Montague, slashing at her face as she looked up at it. She let out a shriek, flinching back and covering her eyes with her hand--

And Montage's foot slipped on a loose shingle, causing her to go sliding down the conical roof a few feet. “Kyaaaah!” she shrieked, digging her fingers into the grooves of the shingles. The rough texture scraped at her hands, but the fabric of her gloves protected her from real damage.

“Montague!” cried Capulet.

Montague gripped the roof harder, gritting her teeth as she looked back up. “I...really...hate...” In a burst of purple light, her Rapier Wand appeared in one of her hands. She aimed at the Usotsuki that'd attacked her, which was now half-running, half-falling towards her. ”These things! Pretty Cure Majestic Amethyst Shoot!”

The purple blast tore the Usotsuki apart from within, but Montague didn't wait for it to be over. Frantically, she began tearing back up the conical roof as best she could with one hand full. Suddenly her eyes went wide. “Capulet!” she shrieked.

Another Usotsuki, a bird-like one this time, was swooping down for Capulet. She looked up, crying out in alarm, and hastily summoned her Rapier Wand. “Pretty Cure Glorious Golden Shoot!” Another Usotsuki gone.

But both girls, in their pausing to attack, were fallen behind Otome and Portia.

“Portia, hurry! We'll try to hold them back! Glorious Golden Shoot!” Capulet shouted again, blasting another Usotsuki.

“Right! C'mon, Otome, your ring's--” Portia suddenly gasped as an Usotsuki threw itself over the roof from the other side, seizing her and sending her skidding down the roof with it. Leaving Otome to hold the roof alone.

“Portia!” she screamed, the others' voices joining her.

”P-Pretty Cure...Bronze Truth Shoot!” The Usotsuki seemed to explode, revealing Portia tumbling and rolling down, Chest of Revelation in her hands. She made it vanish in a burst of bronze light but it was too late. She'd already tumbled over the edge.

”Portiaaa!” screamed Otome.

A pink glove snapped around Portia's wrist.

Capulet had allowed herself to fall, going after Portia, and now stood precariously on the edge of the roof, one hand holing Portia and the other holding Montague's hand. Montague lay flat, her other hand gripping the shingles for dear life.

“Go, Otome, go!” she screamed.

Otome hesitated just for a moment, then nodded. “I'll come for you, I swear!” she yelled over her shoulder as she continued her frantic climb. She was almost there...she could see the gleam of her Signet, she was almost--

The remaining Usotsuki shrieked, surging for her. The other Cures wouldn't be able to stop them, their hands were all full--

“No...you...” Otome growled. ”Don't!” In a final burst of speed and strength, she shot herself up, a hand closing around the Cure Signet.

Immediately, there was a bright, aqua-colored light. The Usotsuki that were upon her screamed and drew back, eyes squinting against it.

From their position in the window, Shylock and the fairies' eyes widened. “That's--”

“Otome!” yelled the other three Cures.

”Pretty Cure...Love's Song!” Otome floated in a void of aquatic blues and greens, her hands gently sweeping across her face. She shut her eyes and leaned far back as she spun around on one foot, her hair trailing behind her as it glowed brightly and changed into long, magenta twintails. At the end of her spin, her legs glowed aqua green and the light burst apart into a shower of hearts to reveal her boots. She clapped her now-glowing hands together, then flung her arms outward at her sides. The glow on her hands burst away in the same manner as the ones that'd been on her feet, revealing her gloves. A bright glowing heart spiraled down from above, landing on her chest as she gently held her hands on either side of it; the heart suddenly grew and split apart into long ribbons of light that wrapped around her body and burst outward to reveal her Cure dress. Her necklace, which had been around her neck all the while, became an aqua light that shot down to around her waist. It circled her and burst apart to reveal that it had become a fashionable chain.

She smiled and opened her now violet eyes, tossing her head as more glowing light particles gathered on her head, ears, and around her neck. They burst apart to reveal her tiara, earrings and choker.

A Pretty Cure once again, she wore a teal and pale aqua dress with puffy, slashed sleeves, and a pale mint high collar. Over her chest was a dark teal heart brooch over her teal chest-bow. She had a mint-colored corset with aqua green ribbons crossing over the front, and a slashed skirt that bore the same colors as her sleeves over mint petticoats. Her mint gloves went just past her elbows before flaring open, revealing another layer of scalloped, aqua lace on the inside; teal ribbons encircled her wrists. Her aqua boots went up to her thighs, teal ribbons on the outer sides of her legs with ribbons of the same collar around the ankles. The heels and toes of the boots, as well as a middle section of the front, were mint green in color. Atop her head was a golden tiara with a dark teal heart-shaped gem, earrings of the same color dangled from her ears, and a dark teal choker wrapped around her throat. Around her waist was a thin and delicate magenta chain, a sea-green heart dangling in the center.

”The everlasting love in a maiden's heart...” she recited, tracing a large heart in the air in front of her, aqua light trailing after her finger. She threw her arms out as the heart burst apart into small bubbles, then formed a heart with her own hands, holding it next to her face as she smiled proudly. ”...Cure Ariel!”

“Cure Ariel...” Shylock whispered.

“Datchu...” added Ti.

Cure Ariel stood on the top of the roof, effortlessly maintaining her balance. Her eyes were closed, the light wind gently tossing her long twintails. A small smile appeared on her lips as her eyes slowly opened again.

The Usotsuki, who seemed to have been in a state of shock, suddenly remembered themselves and reared up to attack.

“No,” she said simply – not in denial, but a simple statement of fact. ”Not again!”

She clapped her hands in front of her chest once, a glowing aqua heart floating up between them. Ariel spun around on one foot once, snapping her fingers as she brought her arm out in front of herself. ”Sound of the Bells!” The heart rippled before it changed shape, becoming longer, thinner...in an instant, a seafoam-green bow with a string made of pure, golden light appeared before her. ”Heart-Soul Bow!” She snapped the bow up in one hand, drawing the other hand back as if she were aiming in archery. As she first began to move, another ribbon of green light appeared before becoming a glowing arrow. ”Pretty Cure...Lovely...” She tautly drew the arrow back, a look of resolve on her face. Her expression intensified, and suddenly several more arrows appeared around her, one for each Usotsuki. ”...ARROW!”

She let the arrow in her hands fly, and as it did so did the others. Each one shot an Usotsuki right in the middle of the chest, burning their way through to the other side and leaving just a heart-shaped, sea-green glow in them.

At the edge of the roof, Montague had finally managed to pull back Capulet – who in turn, pulled up Portia. All three of them were on their hands and knees, staring in awe as the last of the aqua lights faded. “Amazing...” Capulet whispered, eyes wide.

“U-Uso...” mumbled the last Usotsuki as it disintegrated from the inside out.

Ariel lowered her arms back to her sides, her bow disappearing in a burst of light. After a moment's pause, she smiled down at her teammates, seemingly radiating with pride.

________________________________________

“Well, I can't stay here anymore...” muttered Ariel as the group walked down the hall. “There's nothing left...” she added, frowning.

Shylock looked away, but said nothing.

“That's fine.”

“Eh?” Ariel looked up at the speaker.

Montague was smiling, shrugging her shoulders as if her next statement was obvious. “You can stay on Earth.”

Ariel blinked. “Earth? In your hometown?” She chuckled a bit, scratching the side of her face. “Well, alright, it makes sense, but, where will I stay? I don't know the state of your city's shelters, or if there even is one...I have no money for board, so a hostel is likely out--”

“Fffft, that's easy! You can live with me!” Montague said, in the same tone one would use to say If you're thirsty, help yourself to that water.

“With...you?”

“Why not?” Montague shrugged again. “I live in a huge mansion, I've got plenty of room and you won't be a bother to anyone. Emma and Sebastian will probably like that I've got a friend staying with me; they love meeting all my friends!”

“It'd be a bother--”

“Don't throw away Montague's kindness, Cure Ariel, datchu!” Ti half-scolded, half-laughed as he shook his paw. “Pretty Cure need friends, and friendship, and they have to accept kindness of others, datchu!”

“You better listen to her, Ariel...” Capulet chuckled sheepishly. “Montague's really persistent...”

“Yes I am!”

“Well...” Ariel chewed her bottom lip for a moment before laughing. “If I've got no choice...”

“Not really.”

“Then I accept!”

“Yaaaaay! Cure Ariel is my roomie! Capulet, Portia, you two come over for sleepovers, okay?”

Everyone laughed as they entered the room with the mirror.

“And I'll return to Heartbreak Manor.”

Everyone fell silent, staring at Shylock. He stared back, expressionless. “...they are my family,” he murmured, tugging something under his scarf. “And I turned against Break...I have to go back and face them.”

“Shylock, you can't go back there anymore,” Coffee murmured. “If the others realize you had something to do with this--”

“And I'm sure they have,” Ariel said. She frowned, reached forward and clasped both of his hands in hers. “Shylock...come back with us.”

“I...”

“If it's about having a home, you can stay at my house too!” Montague offered. “I've got tons of room!”

“If you want, you can even register to go to school!” Capulet added, sounding a little excited by the prospect. “You and Otome both can!”

“Or if you don't want that, just hang out with me,” Portia said with a broad smile. “That's an offer for both of you!”

“It'd be dangerous to go back there, datchu...” Ti said.

“Shylock...please?” Ariel asked, expression softening as she clasped his hands tighter. “I don't want us to be separated anymore, on different sides, having to hide...stay with me from now on.”

There was a few moments of silence as they all stood there, in the wreckage of the castle. Capulet and Montague still had one foot through the mirror each, but neither would move until they heard Shylock's answer. Portia stood right behind Ariel, ready to take both of them through if it was what he wanted. And Ariel just kept smiling, pleading, at him.

Shylock drew in a deep, shaking breath...and then smiled. “Alright...alright, Otome.”

Ariel let out a short, overjoyed laugh and jumped up to hug him tight. Shylock smiled still as he hugged back, briefly nuzzling against her cheek. “Shylock, you won't regret this,” Ariel said as she pulled away. “We'll make things right...we'll go back to how we were – better than we were before!”

Capulet and Montague stepped back into the mirror fully now, allowing Portia to begin entering. She edged backwards, guiding Otome who guided Shylock.

“I...I look forward to it!” Shylock laughed himself.

”Traitor.”

There was a sudden rushing sound, like thunder and a waterfall at once.

It happened in a single instant. Shylock slammed his hands against Ariel, shoving both her and Portia through the mirror. And then Shylock's eyes went wide, lips slightly parted as he suddenly reared back, his hands releasing Ariel's on their own accord. The others watched in horror as, seemingly in slow-motion, Shylock kept rearing backwards, his hair flowing past him. His scarf came undone, finally revealing what he'd been tugging on.

The moonlight glinted off the heart-shaped necklace he wore as he crumpled to the floor in a heap, his eyes wide and glassy.

”Shylock!” Ariel screamed, now on the other side of the mirror, being pulled away against her will.

Break stood in the entryway of the room, a shadowy hand outstretched. ”I warned you, boy,” came the hissing voice. ”I warned you this was your last chance, that I'd remove anyone who stood in my way...” That deed done, Break began to cross the room towards the mirror itself.

“Shylock, no!” Ariel shrieked, trying to pull forward. But the tunnel couldn't allow that, so all that happened as her descent was slowed. Portia tried to hold her back (“Ariel, stop! It's too late, there's nothing we can--!”) but Ariel struggled against her, elbowing her, kicking her, anything to get back to the mirror. “Shylock!”

Break stepped over Shylock's body, which was already glowing bright red. Break lifted a hand, aiming it at the mirror's surface, energy gathering in the palm.

”Pretty Cure Dual Heart Strike!”

Break cried out as the blast hit, stumbling back--

Shylock's glowing body burst apart into tiny particles of red light--

The image shattered and vanished, the mirror unusable.

Montague and Capulet held each other around the shoulders, their Rapier wands out, breathing erratic. Montague kept blinking, Capulet just allowed the tears to stream down her face. Portia hugged Ariel tighter; Ti and Coffee clung to Capulet's shoulders, shaking like leaves in a storm.

Ariel didn't stop screaming.

________________________________________

Mrs Matoko was finally heading home for the day. She sighed and popped her back as she began to descend the stairs. “Ah, I can't wait to get home...” she muttered. Suddenly she halted, frowning. Wait...was that...?

No, that was definitely the sound of a student.

“Excuse me!” she snapped as she hurried down the stairs and began to round the corner. “But you should have all gone home by now and-- eh?” She stopped, just two steps away from the landing.

There were Aki and Hiromi, kneeling on the floor with their friend, the one who'd come to visit earlier and walk them home...Miho, her name was, right? And they were all clustered together, surrounding another girl Mrs Matoko didn't know. The fourth girl wasn't wearing a uniform either, but that wasn't important.

What was important was the fact that all four of them were crying bitterly, the new girl sounding like she couldn't get enough air, tears and mucus dripping from her face.

“Oh...my god...” Mrs Matoko whispered, dropping her purse and rushing to the quartet. “Girls! Girls, sweethearts, look at me, is anyone hurt? Girls...?”

“It's not fair...n-not f-fair...why...?” the fourth girl was sobbing into Hiromi's shoulder.

Mrs Matoko reached out to this girl, gently rubbing her back. “Girls,” she whispered. Despite the fact that a whisper wouldn't be heard over such loud crying, she couldn't seem to make herself speak any louder. “What happened..?”

“Why...?!”


________________________________________

ED: "Hummingbird" - Mana Ogawa

________________________________________

ON THE NEXT EPISODE:
Aki: “Hey, hey, Sebastian and Emma are taking us to my family's summer house at the beach! Let's go, let's go!”
Miho: “Watermelon smashing, watermelon smashing!”
Otome: “Uhm, I've never done something like this...”
Miho: “No worries, just blindfold yourself and swing the bat!”
Otome: “Like this?”
Hiromi: “Not over here, not over here!!”
Miho: “Next time on Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts: 'Fun In the Sun and Sea! Let's Have A Break! ' Let love heal your heart!"
Miho set a plate of hamburger steak in the fridge, plastic film wrapped over it and adorned with a sticky note. For Nana. Eat up! She stood back and glanced at the clock on the wall. Her small smile faltered a bit. “Welp, time to go...”

She threw on her sweater, stepped into her shoes, and was about to go out the door when something sharply tugged her back. “Eh?” she gasped, looking over her shoulder.

Pochi stood there, a bit of sweater in his mouth, ears and tail lowered. He whined pathetically, staring at her with wide eyes as he tugged on her sweater again, taking a step back into the house.

Miho stood for a moment, staring, before her expression softened. “Pochi...” She turned to face him and crouched down, scratching him between the ears. “Pochi, are you worried for me?”

He whined again.

“You shouldn't!” She smiled brightly, tugging her sweater out of his mouth. “I'm strong, Pochi, all three of us are! You know that!” But then, he also knew what Shitsuren was like, and what their home was like, didn't he? After all, he'd come from that place. Miho shook her head to clear those negative thoughts, and gave Pochi an extra-good scratch. “I'll be home before tomorrow...and then you and I can go on a long walk together, and I'll buy you a steak from the grocery store. 'kay?” Without waiting for an answer, she stood up and opened the door. “Take care of Nana today. Make sure she sees her food.”

Pochi just watched as the door closed again, shutting Miho from his view. He began whimpering pathetically, scratching a little at the door before giving up and curling into a ball.

________________________________________

OP: "Love and Joy PreCure" - Entwined Hearts Duo

________________________________________

“Ah, Miss Sakura, right?”

“Huh?” Miho turned around, blinking in surprise at the familiar figure. “Mrs Hisa!”

The woman stood at a phone pole, stapling up a new flier. “The ink was fading on the old ones,” she explained when she noticed Miho glance at it. “Are you going off somewhere?”

“Ah – yeah...”

“Well, be careful if you're on your own, okay?” Mrs Hisa stapled a second flier above the first. “Noa disappeared when she was by herself.”

Miho looked sheepish, kicking the ground a bit. “Mrs Hisa, I appreciate the concern but--”

“And...and there was the incident at the Culture Fest.”

Miho froze, staring at the woman.

She didn't seem to notice, staring ahead and frowning as if trying to recall something. “There was that giant, dark bear, remember? It's...it's the oddest thing, but I swear I remember something like it when Noa disappeared.”

Miho gasped faintly. Wait...could that possibly mean--?

________________________________________

Aki and Hiromi stood in front of the mirror as they waited for Miho. Hiromi was idly petting Coffee and Ti, who sat on her shoulders anxiously. “Did you tell your family you'd be late?” she asked Aki.

Aki shook her head. “Nah.”

Hiromi blinked and shot her head back up to look at Aki, her eyes wide. “You didn't?!” she squeaked.

“Did you?”

“Well...well, yeah...but I told them I'd be studying at a friend's. And then I prepared a pot of tea for them.” Hiromi's gaze softened, and she looked back down at her shoes. “My sisters would have appreciated it...and I didn't want to leave for some other, dangerous world without doing something nice for them. You know...in case I didn't come back.”

“Hiromi.” Aki rested a hand on her shoulder, smiling softly. “We're comin' back. That's why I didn't say anything to Emma and Sebastian, or Granny. Why I didn't do anything special for them. Because I'm gonna come back at the end of the day, so why worry?”

“That's right, datchu!”

Hiromi managed a small smile. “I--”

“Aki! Hiromi!”

Miho stood at the bottom of the stairs, grinning up at them. She quickly climbed the stairs, til they all stood in a row before the mirror. “You guys ready?”

Hiromi sighed. “As I'll ever be...”

“You bet!”

Ti and Coffee nodded, cheering “Yeah! (Datchu!)”

“Okay...” All five faced their reflections – Miho reached out to either side of her and grabbed Aki and Hiromi's hands. “Remember what Punch said...Think of water.”

Water...the glass was water...

The girls walked forward, and didn't stop even when their shoes should have kicked the glass. They continued walking...and passed straight into the mirror, leaving only silvery ripples behind.

________________________________________

TODAY'S EPISODE: The Missing Classmate...Our Fourth Member?!

________________________________________

Lightning flashed above Heartbreak Manor. Normally this wasn't a big deal; after all, black lightning flashed and danced above the River Despair every time it was added to.

But this was normal, regular and honestly kinda-boring lightning.

Almost like an omen, maybe.

Tamora sighed heavily, staring out the window with her chin in her hands. She, Lady, and Riche sat in the parlor, the tea party having just finished; Lady putting away the tea set. “Shylock missed tea, again...” she sighed again, slowly kicking her feet behind herself.

“I was informed that he had a plan for Pretty Cure,” Riche said. “He is probably doing that.”

Another loud, heaving sigh. “But tea is important too...And he doesn't spend time with us anymore! It's no faaaaiiir...”

Lady smiled faintly. “Tamora, dear, our mission is of most importance. I don't mind if someone misses the occasional teatime, so long as they're working on exterminating Pretty Cure. Don't you?”

Tamora huffed. “Not really.”

Lightning flashed again, lighting up the darkest corners of the room.

________________________________________

“It's dark in here, datchu!”

“It's okay, Ti. Just stay on my shoulder.”

“Hiromi, is Miho still holding your other hand?”

“I'm right here, and yeah, I am.”

“It looked nothing like this when Ti and I went through the first time...”

The quintet were hurtling forward through a void of shifting black and purple, shadows whirling all around them. It was difficult to see anything, the girls having to squeeze each others' hands to make doubly-sure they were all still there. Whenever they tried to look in any direction, all they could see was just...those two colors. Constantly shifting and churning around each other, darkness buzzing about like a swarm.

“It was bright when we left,” Coffee whispered, hugging Ti tightly on Hiromi's shoulder. “Just as bright as the castle was when--”

“Hey! Up there!” Aki suddenly yelled.

Up ahead, there was a tiny pinprick of light. It was dim, but as they watched, it suddenly flashed brighter, and they could faintly hear a low rumbling.

“Thunder. Lightning,” Miho muttered, eyes narrowed. “Let's go!”

“Right!”

They suddenly sped up, seemingly by their own willpower. The light grew larger, closer...

...until they all burst out of a mirror and into a dark hallway, landing in a painful pile on the floor. Capulet stuck her hand out as Ti and Coffee landed in her palm, keeping them from getting a stray elbow or knee to the...everything.

“Owwww ow ow!”

“My knee!”

“Portia, you're on my hair!”

“Quiet!” Coffee whispered.

Pretty Cure tensed up, holding their breaths as they listened for something – anything at all. Coffee held Ti against her side, one paw over her own mouth, ears twitching as she waited. Seconds ticked by, nothing happening. Finally, everyone sighed quietly and began to untangle themselves, rising to their feet.

Then they were able to properly look around.

“Is this...?” Capulet began.

“Where Shitsuren lives,” Montague finished, squeezing her hand in reassurance.

They all stood at the very end of the hallway; from where they stood they could see that the manor was beautiful and grand, in its own way. The carpets were a dark red with a black tint, almost like blood. The wallpaper was a brighter red, and black, a repeating lace pattern – a surprising image, considering who lived here. There were large, tall windows every five feet along one of the walls, showing that this particular hall was against the side of the manor.

Capulet tentatively stepped to one of the windows and peered out. Her eyes widened and she gasped faintly at the sight before her. “Everyone!” she whispered.

As the others joined her, they saw that they were in a very large home, and at one of the top floors at that. The land outside was barren, nothing but flat rock and cliffside. The skies above were dark and stormy, black clouds churning thickly above. A tiny sliver of moonlight was all that was permitted to appear, the only light the Cures were offered in this place.

As they watched, lightning flashed, illuminating the hall for a moment. And as they looked around, they noticed in that one second, the walls were also covered in large, deep scratches, the wallpaper nearest the floor torn to shreds. The carpets along the baseboard were shredded as well: loose pieces torn up, fuzzy pieces strewn all over, whole chunks of the baseboards embedded in the carpet itself. There was no blood, not even stains, but perhaps that in itself was frightening.

If there was no blood, then it meant either whoever had caused such horrid destruction hadn't wanted to actually harm a living person...Or there hadn't been anything left to bleed.

Portia covered her mouth and drew closer to the other two. “What could have caused that?” she whispered. “None of Shitsuren have nails that can do that!”

Montague set her jaw. “I think we should keep from being seen,” she whispered. “Everyone, move, and try to stay quiet...Once we find Cure Ariel, we're leaving.”

________________________________________

The unspoken rules were simple as the quintet moved quietly from one hall to the next.

Avoid being seen.

Be very quiet.

If you see Shitsuren, make sure they don't see you – they're at the advantage, this is their home, not yours. If you see them, just get away quietly.

They figured those should be easy rules to follow – after all, this place was huge. Which, of course, made finding Cure Ariel difficult, but at least it left little chance of being seen, right?

After roughly twenty minutes of walking, they had neither been seen, nor seen where Cure Ariel might be. But there was still a lot of manor left to explore; Capulet opened an unlocked door and peered around inside. Luckily for them all, the hinges were well-oiled, and the doors opened completely silently.

“Nothing in here,” she whispered, squinting into the room. “It's a lady's bedroom, but there's no girl here.”

“Is someone in bed?” Portia asked.

“Eh?”

“Well, I was just wondering,” she explained, arms over her chest. “I mean, we haven't seen anyone yet, I was starting to hope they were all asleep.”

“We only left in the afternoon,” Montague said.

“This is another world, Montague. And these people aren't quite human. For all we know, time moves differently here and they're nocturnal.”

“Hm, you've got a point there...”

Capulet sighed and shut the door. Or rather, she began to.

She suddenly tensed, hearing something other than her friends' whispers. “Girls,” she whispered. “Do you hear that?”

They all fell silent, watching as Capulet edged into the room.

It was a lovely room, though just as dark as the rest of the manor. A large four-poster bed was pushed against the wall opposite the door, the deep violet curtains pushed aside and the matching bedspread immaculately made-up. There was an ornate nightstand beside it, with an elegant-looking black key atop it. Against another wall was a large cabinet with a glass door, revealing the interior to be filled with various tea sets, dozens of tins of what she assumed to be tea leaves, fragrant boxes...

And in the corner was a door that Capulet assumed to be a closet. But the door gave way a little, the wood straining and creaking against the pressure of something. And whatever that something was, it was also clawing at the door, growling and snarling.

Capulet reached for the knob. She was halfway-there where there was a loud sound between a howl and a shriek on the other side. She, and the other four, jumped in alarm, her hands flying up to her throat.

“Hiromi, get away from there, datchu!” Ti cried as a loud WHUMP sounded against the door, making the frame creak and tremble again.

Capulet turned and ran for the others, and they took off down the hall without pausing to close their door again.

________________________________________

“Wh-what was that?!” Portia asked at last, once they were far enough away from that room.

“I don't wanna know!” Coffee said, trembling faintly.

“Either way,” Montague began. “I think we should stay away--”

Capulet suddenly gasped and pulled Montague's shoulder, yanking her backwards just as she was about to turn a corner. When Montague eyed her in confusion, Capulet held a finger to her lips.

They listened.

Sure enough, there was the faint sound of humming, and they heard Tamora bounding down the hallway, straight towards their location. They turned and ran the other direction, turning the first corner they saw and waiting, hiding. Holding their breath.

Soon enough, Tamora's voice slowly faded into the distance, and everyone found they could breathe easier.

“Sheesh, we ran from Tamora... muttered Portia, rubbing the back of her neck in embarrassment. “Of all people!”

“The scratches, though,” whispered Coffee. “Maybe she was the one who made them. We did see her throw exploding cards when we fled Kokoro.”

“Explosions don't leave long gashes in wood!” Capulet whispered harshly.

“Pretty Cure, datchu...” Ti whispered tearfully.

That was enough to make everyone stop whispering. They sighed, leaning against the wall. “Shall we keep going this way, then?” Montague asked.

“Might as well,” Portia answered, and they set off again, keeping their eyes and ears open.

________________________________________

Riche sighed and set down his teacup. “Tamora?”

Tamora, who had just entered the room, paused mid-skip and turned to look at him. “Yeah-yeah?”

“Have you seen Lady? Or Shylock?”

“Hmm...well, Shylock hasn't come back at all, still,” Tamora muttered, arms folded as she pursed her lips. “And Lady said she was going to clean and put away the tea set. But that was the last I saw her.” She suddenly blinked and tilted her head. “Why?”

“Hm...No real reason.” Riche began to drum his fingertips against the arm of his chair. “I just have this oddest feeling of trepidation.”

________________________________________

The door to that bedroom was still open.

Someone slipped in, paused by the door before making their way to the nightstand and taking the key.

They went to the locked door, gently slipping the key into the lock. When the faint click was heard, they tensed up, waiting...preparing themselves...

They flung the door open, keeping themselves behind it and hidden, protected.

”SKREEEEEE!”

________________________________________

Eyecatch 1: Hiromi and Aki pose back to back, forming a heart with their arms while Miho feverishly sketches them. Finally she smiles, and turns her sketchpad around – to reveal she's been drawing Coffee and Ti the whole time. Hiromi and Aki gape at her for a second before all three start laughing, and the Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.
Eyecatch 2: Miho, Hiromi, and Aki hold a large heart-shaped cookie between them; Hiromi taking the left, Aki taking the right, and Miho holding the bottom corner. They pull, and as the cookie comes apart there is a bright pink flash of light. When it fades, the trio are in their Cure forms, happily eating their cookie pieces. The Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.


________________________________________

“Hey...you guys?” Portia said.

“Yeah?” Montague looked back at the redhead, brows lifted in interest.

“I've been thinking...about Cure Ariel. You think she might be Noa?”

That made them all stop, blinking at her in surprise. “Noa Hisa?” Capulet said. “Our schoolmate?”

“Well, it makes sense, right?” Portia said. She frowned slightly, bringing a fingertip to her lips as she stared down. “Noa's been missing for a while...Cure Ariel has too. And I met Mrs Hisa on my way to the school.” Her gaze lifted, expression serious. “She saw what took Noa – at least, she saw the end of it. She said it was something dark, and she said the Usotsuki at the culture fest seemed familiar. It all adds up! An Usotsuki took Noa, and Noa is Cure Ariel!”

“H-hey, don't be so hasty!” Coffee said. “Not that I don't think that makes sense, but the last place we saw Ariel was in Kokoro. I don't think Mrs Hisa is from there – Noa is a girl missing from your town.”

“What if she managed to escape?” Portia shot back. “What if she escaped Shitsuren first and came to Earth to find you? Or save her mother? And then she was taken? Just...just what if?!”

The others fell silent, thinking it over.

“It...would add up,” Capulet admitted.

“I didn't see Cure Ariel outside of her Cure form,” Coffee said. “Did you, Ti?”

“No, datchu.”

“So there's still a possibility...” Montague muttered. “Okay, so when we get her out...first thing we do is bring her to her mom.”

The others nodded, small smiles appearing on their faces – and quickly froze.

Thunder had begun to rumble above, but that wasn't what caught their attention. There was this odd rushing sound, rushing and thumping, screaming, tearing...They could feel heavy vibrations in the floor, getting stronger and stronger...

Montague held an arm out protectively, shielding Capulet and Portia as she took a few steps back the way they came, squinting into the darkness. The noises, which were getting louder, were coming from that direction, she could see that much...

And then, ahead, she could barely make out dozens and dozens of red pinpricks. Then glowing red gashes, stretching and expanding like many mouths.

Her eyes went wide. ”Run,” she whispered, stumbling backwards. She turned and began to sprint, stumbling in her first few steps but saving herself in time to grab the other Cures' hands and drag them along. ”Run!”

They knew what had caused those gashes in the wood.

________________________________________

Ariel had been fast asleep when she heard the screaming. Gasping, she shot up in the bed, wide eyes fixed on her door. That sound-- She knew that sound, that was the same sound she'd heard during the invasion, when--

“Shylock!” she screamed, throwing back her bedcovers and running to the door. She flung herself against the wood, pounding on it with her fists. Suddenly she cried out as red flame-like aura appeared where her body made contact with the door. She pulled back and held her hands, the aura burning them.

But that only lasted a moment, she she drew in a breath and tried again, pounding and kicking at the door. “Shylock! What's happening?! Open the door, let me out, let me help you!”

________________________________________

In the parlor, Riche and Tamora stood together as they stared down a group of Usotsuki that had branched off from the others.

“Who let you out?!” Riche demanded. “I thought you were locked up tight!”

“Riche, Lady and Shylock are still missing!” Tamora cried, pressing herself tighter against him. “They might be in trouble!”

“I know that!” Riche snarled, gently pushing Tamora away from him. “Get your cards!” He clapped his hands together, then swiftly drew them apart. A long whip rapidly uncoiled between them, with a pitch-black handle and the rest glowing an angry red. It floated up before his face, and he snatched it up by the handle and snapped it forward.

The whip lashed out, a satisfying crack sounding through the air as it sliced a lion-like Usotsuki in half mid-lunge.

________________________________________

”Sound of the Bells! Chest of Revelation! Pretty Cure Bronze Truth Shoot!”

The glowing heart shot towards the bird Usotsuki diving towards them, making it rapidly disintegrate from within. Portia ran backwards, her Chest of Revelation still in her hands as she let out a victory laugh. “Ha! Mess with Pretty Cure!”

“Portia!” Capulet yelled over her shoulder. “How far away are they?”

“I think we might be losing them! Bronze Truth Shoot!” a few more blasts took out the Usotsuki that were breaking away and moving closer. “Just keep running.”

They weren't exactly sure where they were now. They'd been running blind this whole time, blasting attack behind themselves every now and then, quiet be damned! They had to save themselves!

“Who made all these?!” Capulet cried.

“I wanna go hoooome, datchu!” Ti wailed.

Montague gasped. “H-Hey, guys--!”

Thump. Thump. Thump.

“I think I just heard--” She gasped, her eyes going wide. They were approaching a fork in the hall, and--

Thump-thump!

“Over here! Hurry!” she yelled.

The others followed her, hearts pounding. Was this--?

As they drew closer, they heard what Montague had just moments ago. Beneath the din of thunder, the roaring of the rampaging Usotsuki, were a series of loud thumps and faint, pained grunts. “What's going on out there?!” yelled a feminine voice on the other side. “What's happening?! Let me out!”

Ti gasped. “I know that voice, datchu!”

“Cure Ariel?” Montague called as they reached the door. “Is that you?”

The thumping stopped, and they heard someone on the other side gasp. “Who is this?”

“I was right, datchu! Cure Ariel, it's me! It's Ti and Coffee and we brought three Pretty Cure to save you, datchu!”

“Ti...? Ti, Coffee, you made it, you're ali-- Ahn!” The pained yelp on the other side did nothing to diminish the relief in Ariel's tone.

“Ariel? What's wrong?!” Coffee cried.

“It's this door – I can't touch it in this form – it's burning my hands,” she explained, sounding apologetic.

Capulet suddenly frowned. She lifted her hands up to her shoulder, picking up Ti and Coffee, and holding them to Portia. “Stand back, everyone...” she said simply.

”Sound of the Bells! Sword of Capulet Family! Pretty Cure Glorious Golden Shoot!”

At that last word, the familiar glowing heart shot out towards the door--

--and it exploded into splinters and chunks of wood.

________________________________________

Somewhere in the manor, Riche whirled around. “Tamora!”

A few playing cards embedded themselves in several Usotsuki – the monsters shrieked in agony as the cards exploded and took them out with them, bursting apart into pieces of shadow that swiftly faded. Tamora stood where they once did, her arm still at her side in her post-throwing pose. “Yes, Riche!” she responded, her tone alert and all-business.

“Check the prisoner!”

“Right!” Tamora threw one more card over Riche's shoulder, destroying the Usotsuki that was about to pounce upon him. Then she turned and ran down the hall, looking for Ariel's room on the far side of the manor.

“Lady, my darling, where are you?” Riche growled in concern and frustration as he snapped his whip at another Usotsuki.

________________________________________

The girl who was Cure Ariel had her arms lifted to protect her face, her eyes squeezed shut. She lowered them, blinking at the sight of the huge hole before her. And the people who stood just on the other side.

She smiled, shoulders slumping in relief. “I'm so glad to--”

”Skreeeee!”

The girl tensed, and seized Capulet's hand as she ran out of her room. “Everyone, quick! We've got to fight them off--”

“Not now we're not!” Montague shot back.

“We came here to find you!” Portia yelled.

“Yes, but--”

”SKREEEEEE!”

“Cure Ariel! Where's the Cure Signet?” Coffee cried over the noise of the Usotsuki swarming towards their side of the manor.

“I don't know!” she cried with a shake of her head. The manor began to shake from the force of the monsters heading their way, faster and more restless. “It was taken from me when—”

“Pretty Cure, datchu!” Ti shrieked.

Usotsuki swerved around the corner, piling up on each other briefly, scrambling over each other in their attempts to untangle themselves and attack the girls.

There was no time. Portia grabbed their new ally's hand as they all turned and fled down the hall away from the Usotsuki, spotting another mirror. “Through there!” she yelled.

“Yes!”

“Hold me tight, Ariel!” Portia screamed as they all put on an extra burst of speed--

--and splashed through the mirror, out of sight.

A second later, the pursuing Usotsuki slammed against the wall the mirror stood on, shrieking and roaring in rage.

Another second, and they all exploded into smaller shadows, leaving nothing by the remnants of a few playing cards. Tamora stood at the end of the hall, glaring at the space they once occupied. After a moment, she looked towards Ariel's now-shattered door. “...Damn.”

________________________________________

Inside the royal palace of Kokoro, a single mirror stood. It had a large crack running down its center, splintering off to the sides and corners, ready to shatter at the slightest disturbance. It was the only bright surface in the desecrated great hall.

Suddenly, silvery ripples passed over its surface, and four girls burst through, gasping in relief.

Capulet dropped to her hands and knees, shoulders shaking. “W-We...made it...” she gasped.

Montague knelt down, gently rubbing her shoulder. “You okay, Cappy?”

“Y-Yeah...”

Portia relaxed her hold on the fourth girl's hand, sighing in relief. “I thought it was over...I'm sorry, Ariel, but we couldn't fight just yet--”

“That's right, datchu!” Ti cried from his perch on Montague's shoulder. “Ariel needs her Cure Signet, we can't leave her powerless forever, datchu!”

“Once things die down, we'll go back and look, uhm...Noa?” Miho ventured, looking up at the girl's face.

It was dark inside the palace, but brighter than it'd been in Heartbreak Manor. So this time, they could all actually see what she looked like.

She had light cerise hair that went a little past her shoulder-blades, the front section of her bangs hung over her forehead while the sides were gathered into crown braids, leaving the rest of her hair to hang down her back. Her eyes were magenta, and she wore a white and mint-green dress with simple white shoes. Her gold, heart-shaped earrings glimmered in the moonlight when she turned her head.

“Sorry...I haven't introduced myself yet, have I?” The girl inclined her head a bit, resting a hand on her chest.

“My name is Otome,” she said. “Otome Aimiya, of Kokoro.”

________________________________________

ED: "Hummingbird" - Mana Ogawa

________________________________________

ON THE NEXT EPISODE:
Hiromi: “We've got to find that Cure Signet! But we can't go back to that place, can we?”
Miho: “On top of that, we need to heal those wounds!”
Otome: “Listen, guys...I think I need to come clean. There's something I want you to know...”
Aki: “About your Cure Signet or...Sh-Shylock?! What's he want?!”
Miho: “Ehhhhh?! You wanna help?!”
Otome: “Next time on Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts: 'A Pretty Cure's Heart, Shylock's Heart.' Let love heal your heart!"
  • Mood: Desperate
  • Listening to: "Together Forever" - Rick Astley
  • Eating: cheddar potatoes
  • Drinking: water


I got PayPal working for me, so this time paying is a lot easier, less stressful…and I think I've gotten better! (There's also a special thing my fellow PreCure fans can request~)


:bulletred:CHIBI
A chibi commish looks something like this. Really simple, minimal shading. Chibis don't usually have a background, those are transparent. One chibi by itself is $5, any additional chibis are $2 more apiece. So this example would have cost $7.
They will be 300 points for one subject, double for each additional one.
Together Forever by Lady-Moth

:bulletred:"Painting" Style
These have backgrounds and I try not to have harsh lines—they're softer and take more work…
These are going for $25, or 700 points.
Commish - Sunset Hang-Out by Lady-Moth
SS: Sugar Wind by Lady-Moth

:bulletred:Cel-Shaded
These can be with a background or without. Fake screencaps and PreCure finishing poses can fall under these points values! A cel-shaded piece is $10 with a simple background, like the following example. A background-less image is $7.
They will be 500 points apiece.
SS: Dreamcatcher by Lady-Moth

:bulletred:Soft-Shading
Soft-shading is $15 with a simple background, again like the first image, and $10 without a background, like the bottom image.
They are 550 points apiece.
Magical Confessor Ai by Lady-Moth
Magical Moth by Lady-Moth

And finally, something Pretty Cure fans can request…

Do you have a fanCure? Want to commission their end-of-transformation pose?
A Vivid Wish, Creating Hope by Lady-Moth
A Green Heart Is The Symbol of Friendship by Lady-Moth
A Single Flower Blooming in Winter by Lady-Moth

These are only $15/500 points apiece. All you have to do is give me a ref to your fan-Cure, and I'll draw their pose (if you have a particular pose in mind, tell me! If not, I'll wing it); be sure to tell me what series they're a fan-Cure for! If they're stand-alone, let me know if there's a particular "PreCure style" you want me to draw them in.

Oh but maybe you'd like a fake poster for your fanseries?
Starshine Pretty Cure by Lady-Moth
Pretty Cure Saison Scents by Lady-Moth
These are $25 or 800 points. Again, tell me which style, if any, you would prefer!

:bulletred:To reiterate::bulletred:
Chibis: $5/300 points for one person, added $2/double points for each more
Painting: $25/700 points 
Cel-shading: $10 w/ background, $7 w/o background, or 500 points
Soft-shading: $15 w/ background, $10 w/o background, or 550 points
Pretty Cure Pose: $15/500 points
Pretty Cure Poster: $25/800 points


Just send me a Note with what you want/any references, I'll tell you the price and you can pay by PayPal. Once I get the money, I'll get to work and put your picture up!

PLEASE NOTE: MONETARY COMMISSIONS TAKE HIGHER PRIORITY THAN POINTS COMMISSIONS.


deviantID

Lady-Moth
Drawer of Girls~
Artist | Digital Art
United States
Current Residence: Earth
Tools: Pencil/paper, tablet, Sai
Favourite genre of music: Hard to say...have to go with whatever's on my radio station...
Personal Quote: "You know, ears are the one thing that you never really notice..."
Interests

AdCast - Ads from the Community

Wishlist

*sniff* I want these...

Groups

Comments


Add a Comment:
 
:iconrobotkid2001:
Robotkid2001 Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2014  New member
Do you Want nets to have friends and I mean with her well I'm new but I draw a being that almost has the same codes as nets but he's blue and can go into the real world and the Internet and by blue I mean blue cloths I call him unit and he'll love to see nets can you do that? He'll be in my page:excited: 
Reply
:iconrobotkid2001:
Robotkid2001 Featured By Owner Edited Dec 28, 2014  New member
Do you like wall.e well I made my bot i call him mann.e he is a repairer that's is all i can give you
Reply
:iconiam4ever:
Iam4ever Featured By Owner Jul 16, 2014  Student General Artist
I hope you would consider joining us over at :iconbsoct: a new Sailor Moon OCT. I miss a lot of the just wonderfulness of the SMOCT and would like to try to recapture that magic! So please do consider it, thank you~
Reply
:iconinfella:
Infella Featured By Owner Mar 31, 2014  Student Writer
Thanks for the fav ^_^
Reply
:iconmariedubois:
MarieDubois Featured By Owner Jan 13, 2014
Your Original Characters are wonderful! And I really enjoy your Pretty Cure stories as well. Thank you so much for sharing them!
Reply
:iconchokon:
chokon Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2013
Your art is ADORABLE! I really love how bright and cheerful it all is, and I'm so jealous of your coloring and anatomy skills. Its so great to see magical girl fans who make their own stories and OCs that fit the feel and ideals of the genre, instead of try to make it super grimdark and mature and edgy, you know?
Reply
:iconharuka-n:
Haruka-N Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2013
hi
Reply
:iconaxeliloveyou201:
Axeliloveyou201 Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2013  Student General Artist
Reply
:iconmirage-moonlight:
Mirage-Moonlight Featured By Owner Sep 18, 2013
Why only money commissions? I only pay with points and wanted to do so for a fake Pretty Cure screenshot ><
Reply
:iconlady-moth:
Lady-Moth Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2013   Digital Artist
I can now take points commissions!
Reply
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