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About Digital Art / Artist Member Drawer of Girls~Female/United States Groups :iconpuellamagiocs: PuellaMagiOCs
 
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Everyone was supposed to be asleep at this time of night. The moon was high in the sky, which was a dark blue-velvet, with no one awake to appreciate it.

No one save for one young man, that was.

Shylock held his scarf closer against the chilly air, walking the familiar path he'd laid out. Go through the forest. Hop over this stream. Climb the footholds in the hillside and--

Shylock suddenly froze when he reached the top, breath catching in his throat.

The figure standing at the cliff side seemed to sense him, for he saw their shoulders tense for a second before they turned to look at him.

“Oh. I didn't think anyone else knew about this place.”

Shylock just stared.

“I'm sorry. I should go, shouldn't I? It's your secret place, after all.” The person turned fully, and started to walk towards him to go back down the hill.

“Wait.” Without thinking, he grabbed their sleeve. The person stopped, but they didn't seem angry, or put off. Shylock took that as minor encouragement. “You've found it. You can keep it if you want.” And then just as
he was preparing to go down...

She grabbed his wrist. “How about we
share this spot?”

Moments later, they stood side by side, staring up at the moon and the stars – more stars gathered in one place than either had ever seen before. One star briefly shot across the sky as they watched.

“Were you the one who made the trail? The one through the bushes?” the girl asked.

Shylock nodded. “I suppose you were the one who dug the footholds that just appeared one day.”

She nodded, smiling faintly. “Looks like we really should share this, hm?” Suddenly she let out a small laugh. “Oh, my. Here we are, sharing a secret spot, and I don't even know your name yet.”

“...Shylock. It's Shylock.”

“Lovely to meet you, Shylock...My name's...”


Shylock's eyes opened. He was lying on his back on the loveseat, one leg bent at the knee, one hand on his stomach. He blinked lazily, still facing the ceiling.

“...Otome...”

________________________________________

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

________________________________________

“And here's the sandwiches Emma made...”

“Uwaaaah~!” Coffee's eyes shone brightly.

Aki grinned, moving her index finger a little to the left. “And over there's the cookies Sebastian made...”

“Aaaaah~”

“And here's some of the leftover chocolates...”

”Uwaaaaaaaa~!”

“And this is my personal favorite – triple chocolate cupcakes!”

Coffee squealed her loudest yet, covering her face and doing a strange 'shimmy-dance' before she lunged for the cupcake in Aki's palm. But at the last second, Aki smiled and held the cupcake high over her head. “Ah-ah-ah~ There's a little thing you gotta do to get this cupcake...or any other treats here~”

“Whaaaa?” Coffee blinked, her joyful expression immediately turning into one of shock. “What? What what what?!”

Aki grinned. “You gotta tell us the whooooole story of where you guys came from, what's up with the rings, and the bad guys...all of it. Then, and only then, will you get this delicious cupcake.”

Hiromi sat off to the side on the picnic blanket, holding Ti in her cupped hands. Both were staring with deadpan expressions at Aki. “...I want cupcakes too, datchu.”

________________________________________

TODAY'S EPISODE: 'Why We Fight! For Our Love!'

________________________________________

“Alright.” Coffee cleared her throat, trying to look as dignified as possible as Aki set the chocolate confectionery down between them.

The four of them were in a nearby park, seated on a small blanket spread out under a tree. It was still early morning, the sky a hazy and soft pink-purple. Sure, it was a little chilly, but that was fine! Sometimes it was nice to just sit back and enjoy an early morning, before everyone else. Hiromi shifted a bit, scooting closer to Aki.

“Now then...I, Coffee, am employed by the royal family of Kokoro, and it is my sworn duty to protect the young Crown Prince. That'd be Ti, over there,” she added, gesturing at the little fairy.

“Coffee, what's so special about Kokoro exactly?” Aki asked, leaning forward like a little kid in story-circle.

“Kokoro's very special, datchu!” Ti chimed in suddenly. A dreamy smile appeared on his face as he went on. “Th-there's lots of pretty flowers, and the sky's the prettiest blue I've ever seen, and the castle is so pretty...And there's the festivals, and the flower-watching nights, and everything feels so happy, datchu.”

His smile faded, replaced by a melancholy look that didn't fit his young age. Slowly, he looked down, shoulders slumping. “And Cure Ariel protected us all, datchu...”

________________________________________

“Your Highness!”

“Your Highness, where are you?!”

“Where could he have gone?”

Prince Ti giggled quietly to himself, hiding amongst some large, flowering bushes. The royal tutors didn't seem to notice him, too busy frantically running this way and that, urgency reflected in their eyes, the way they held their limbs.

“He knows that he has an important history exam today!”

“It's not like the young prince to wander off!”

No, indeed it was not.

“Oh, and on this day, of all of them!”

And yes, this was why he'd chosen to skip out on his lessons today.

Today was a special day.  And gosh darn it, there was no way he was going to stay inside a stuffy old room with boring books and parchment, when he could be outside, having fun!

“Ah, Cure Ariel!”

Ti stiffened, a choked gasp escaping him as he sensed someone right behind him. Almost afraid to look, he slowly peered over his shoulder and up. There, right behind him, her hands clasped demurely in front of herself, was the famed Cure Ariel herself.

The aqua Cure smiled gently up at the tutors. “Yes, is there something wrong?”

“Yes! Indeed there is!” cried one man, wringing his hands. “Prince Ti has gone missing! And he has a history test today! He can't miss a test!”

“Oh, my! Indeed he can't,” said Cure Ariel, her eyes growing wide and a hand coming to cover her mouth in shock. “Well, don't worry, Takawa. I'll find him, and he'll be quite safe with me.”

Ti started to back away nervously, wondering if, if he could just run fast enough, he'd be able to escape from a Pretty Cure.

“Are you sure?”

“Oh, very! Don't worry. I'll find him.”

“If you're sure...” the balding man mumbled, wringing his hands one more time before bowing, and then leaving with the other tutors.

Ariel smiled still, waving goodbye. And then, after a moment of holding that pose, she suddenly crouched down, her smile looking a little more mischievous as she looked directly at Ti. “Well. Playing hooky, aren't we, Your Highness?”

Ti froze, sweating a bit. “D-Datchu...” he squeaked weakly.

Ariel scooped him up in her hands and held him at face-level. “So, since you're already out...shall we enjoy today's festivities? I assure you, you're quite safe with me,” she added with a wink.

________________________________________

“Good morning, Cure Ariel!”

“Good morning,” she called back with a smile.

“Cure Ariel! How nice to see you!”

“Likewise, sir!”

Cure Ariel walked through the kingdom, her high heels making satisfying clicks against the brick ground. The main square was full of people, many off to the side and hanging up decorations and lights. They all greeted Ariel as she passed, and received a greeting in return.
Hidden in the ribbon on her chest, Ti took in as many sights as he could, his eyes wide and sparkling. Oh, he'd seen this from his window several times, from a distance. But it was nothing to seeing it being set up. It gave a sort of...familiar feeling, of sorts, to see something being prepared instead of just looking at the final product.

“Ah! Granny, please...” Ariel started forward, causing Ti to let out a small squeak and duck back into her chest-ribbon.

An elderly woman was about to climb onto a small stepping stool, bright ribbons in her hands. She looked over at Ariel as the girl jogged up to her and gently took the ribbons. “Granny, it's too dangerous for you to do that – you know what the doctor said. Let me handle that, please.”

A few minutes later, the lamp-post before them was sporting bright pink and blue ribbons at the base of the lamp, criss-crossing all the way down to the bottom. Cure Ariel knelt down and secured the ribbons' ends to each other with a pin, then stood and nodded her satisfaction. “There.”

“Oh, thank you, Ariel, dear,” the elderly woman said with a small chuckle.

“It was no trouble, Granny. Do you need any more help?”

“No, no, dear, that was all my grandson would allow me to do for decorating. He's a bit like you, it seems. All that's left is to go to the market for the cake tonight, and that will be all.”

“Do you need my help with--”

“Oh, dear, no, you've helped enough! Enjoy the festivities, dear, you work too hard!”

Ariel laughed as she walked off, waving goodbye to the old woman as she walked further into the square. “See, Ti, I'm not sure if you've seen those up close, but the ribbons catch the light when we light the lamps. There are some small crystals woven into it to create a shimmery effect too. I can't wait for you to see up close!”

Ti poked his head out again, blinking up at Ariel. “Hey, Cure Ariel? How come you're doing this, datchu?” he whispered.

Ariel's smile softened. “Because I think you deserve to see the festival of love up close, Your Highness.” At his surprised squeak, she carefully took him out of hiding and held him in her cupped hands, closer to her face. “You've only seen it from the window, haven't you? I saw you last year...”

Prince Ti stood on a windowsill, pressed against the glass. He stared out at the bright lights below, the largest one glowing in the middle of the town square.

Behind him, Cure Ariel stood in the doorway, brows tilted downward.


“The royal family of Kokoro has a lot of responsibility. But that doesn't mean you should miss out on one of the best nights of the year, Your Highness,” Cure Ariel said. “It's especially unfair of them to expect you to take lessons on this day...
So I'm letting you enjoy the festivities with me tonight, and then tomorrow, after your birthday party, I'll talk to your parents about allowing you to enjoy it on your own, okay?”

Ti's eyes were shimmering as he nodded. “O-Okay, datchu...” he whispered.

Ariel chuckled quietly and kissed him on the nose.

“Now then...let's go, Your Highness! You're going to enjoy this!”

________________________________________

Eyecatch 1: Hiromi and Aki lean over a small box, watching in anticipation as Ti and Coffee turn the handle. It appears to be a small jack-in-the-box, but when the lid suddenly pops open, it sends a spray of heart-shaped confetti all over them. The four of them laugh, and the Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.
Eyecatch 2: Cure Capulet and Cure Montague run at each other from opposite sides of the screen. The slide across the floor, intending on strike a pose together, but while Montague stops, Capulet keeps sliding. She briefly flails her arms in panic, and Montague grabs her around the waist to stop her. The momentum results in Capulet being held in a dip as she and Montague lock eyes. Montague laughs while Capulet blushes, and the Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.


________________________________________

Indeed he did, too! He perched on Ariel's shoulder as she walked all around the festival areas.

They had first gone to a waffle vender, Ariel sharing her chocolate-strawberry one and Ti sharing his cinnamon-brown sugar.

Next was the maypole; Ariel walked around with Ti held the ribbon. The laughter of the people seemed to flow all around him, and he couldn't help but join in.

There was a tent for people to make simple jewelry for those they loved. Ti held up a bracelet as big as he was, a gold heart charm dangling in the center. “This is for Mama!” he cheerfully declared. “Hm? Who's that for, datchu?”

Cure Ariel was putting the finishing touches on a necklace. It was a loop of cream-colored seed beads, with two larger, burgundy beads in the middle, and a large, bright gold heart. Next to her was another just like it, but the burgundy beads were a soft aqua green.

She smiled fondly. “It's a present for someone special.”

As the sun slowly started to go down and turn the sky orange and red, they enjoyed the rest of the festivities. A ball-tossing game, pink ice-cream, joining in a small crowd singing about a warrior whose heart was his greatest weapon and greatest weakness. Ariel helped more people light the lanterns as the sky turned to a dusky purple. She helped a small group of children make paper boats, little pink and white candles inside. Ariel had laughed when Ti himself sat in one to drift downstream.

Finally, it was truly nightfall, and the air was getting chilly. “To the square, everyone!” someone called, and the throng of people started to move from their tents and stalls, and towards a large structure in the middle of the town square.

Ariel lowered her voice, so she could speak to Ti and Ti alone. “This is the best part, coming up.”

“Better than the waffles, datchu?”

“Much better,” Ariel laughed. “You know, Your Highness, it's pretty lucky your birthday's the day after today. That means you'll get double the celebration, and double the reminder someone loves you.

“You know, that's what this is about, right?”

“Not really, datchu...” Ti mumbled sadly, curling up into an embarrassed ball. “Mama and Papa only told me that this was about love, but not much else. And all the tutors said was that it started centuries ago, when Kokoro was first formed, datchu.”

“Well, they're both right, but that's not the whole story,” Cure Ariel said, stopping at the edge of the town square. “Your Highness, as the heir to Kokoro's throne, you'll be in charge of keeping this land safe, and making sure that love isn't cheapened or destroyed. Love is a very powerful thing, you see...It makes people do great things, stupid things. Selfless things and irrational things. It's like the song about the warrior – your love can be your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness. It may sound fickle, but it's something that has to be treasured – without it, we would never be able to have relations, or friendships, or families.”

“Eh?” Ti blinked. “But love's about romance, right, datchu?” he asked, gesturing to a few people nearby. A man and a woman stood shoulder-to-shoulder, hands clasped. The woman nuzzled her boyfriend's shoulder.

“No. That's only one side of love. And this festival is about celebrating all of it. See?” Cure Ariel motioned past the two lovers. Beyond them stood a man and two children, a boy and a girl. The kids were clinging to his pant legs, and he himself was patting their heads.

Nearby them stood a larger family, only some of them looking like they were actually blood-related. Two girls – sisters, Ti realized – were talking excitedly to one another. Near them were three of their brothers, one of them shoving the other in the shoulder and being scolded by the third. The shover sighed and ground his knuckles against the younger boy's head, muttering “C'mon, you know I'm teasin.'”

An old couple greeted their child and her children.

A group of five friends ran from opposite directions to meet, cheerfully gossiping as they walked off together.

Ariel moved Ti from her shoulder to her chest, lightly squeezing him in lieu of a hug. “Love's everywhere, Your Highness. That's what this celebrates.”

Everything went dark as the lights were all extinguished. Ti briefly panicked, but only for a moment as the large, spire structure in the middle of the square slowly began lighting up from the bottom up. Small dots of light that ran from purple, to red, to pink, to white, ran all around until it reached a giant white prism. The prism alighted, throwing sparks and dots of pale pink and cream-colored light onto the people below. The citizens started cheering in hushed voices, nudging each others shoulders and pointing to various parts of the square – Ti looked to see what they saw.

The ribbons that Ariel had helped hang were catching the light and reflecting it back down. The chains of small prisms were doing the same, raining little glows onto everyone. The prism's own light seemed to constantly shift, changing which direction it threw the small glows. A light wind that blew the ribbons and prism-chains made them move and shift; this combined with the bright stars above made Ti feel like they were all standing inside a dark, glittery light-globe. Or perhaps standing among the stars themselves. He stared, eyes wide and shimmering, mouth slightly open.

Ariel just smiled. “These are the people and feelings we protect.”

“Ariiieeeel!” came a shrill, panicked voice. A moment later, Coffee ran up Ariel's body to perch on her shoulder. “Cure Ariel, it's awful! Prince Ti still hasn't returned home, and the tutors are all-- eh? Y-Your Highness?!” she shrieked, fur bristling a bit.

“Hi, Coffee, datchu.”

“Y-You were here the whole time! Oh, Cure, Ariel, thank you so much for finding him!” Coffee sighed as she patted Ti's head.

Ariel laughed behind her hand. “It was no trouble.”

________________________________________

Ti yawned widely, snuggling into Ariel's cupped hands.

The festival was over, and Ariel was walking back to the palace, on the darkened streets. Hardly a soul was still out, they'd all gone home to get a good rest and attend the prince's birthday party the next afternoon.

“Did you have fun tonight?” Ariel asked, jarring Ti out of a half-sleep.

“M-hm...” he mumbled softly, eyes closed.

“He better have!” Coffee hmph'd, her paws at her hips. “Honestly, the tutors were all beside themselves! I didn't tell your parents you were playing hooky, we all knew you were, Your Highness – admittedly, I enjoy a good hooky myself from time to time – but you could have at least left us a note!”

Ariel just chuckled – and then she stopped walking. Her posture stiffened slightly as she stared at something in the distance, a hard look on her face. “Ti, wake up.”

Her voice wasn't raised, but there was such a sternness to it that Ti had no choice but to immediately wake, on alert. “Datchu?”

She knelt down, depositing both fairies onto the road. “Go with Coffee to the palace, quickly. There's someone here.”

Coffee's eyes widened as she nodded, scooping up the prince in her arms. “Come on, Your Highness,” she whispered.

Ti looked between them fearfully. But what was happening? This had been such a fun night and now-- “Cure Ariel?” he whimpered.

Ariel just smiled briskly. “It's alright, Ti. I'll be along soon. Just...” Her smile looked a bit strained. “Get to bed. I'll see you tomorrow at the party.”

“C'mon, Your Highness. You need the energy to eat cake!” Coffee chirped as she jogged towards the palace, Ti resting his head on her shoulder.

Behind her, Ti could see Ariel stiffly approaching some shadowy form.

________________________________________

He didn't see Cure Ariel that morning when he woke up.

He didn't see her at breakfast; and she was usually standing in the doorway, chatting with either a guard or the king.

“She's probably just making sure everything is in order for your party, Ti, dear,” said the queen, gently brushing his fur with a soft brush.

Ti studied their reflections in the mirror. He didn't look like his Mama at all – especially since she was in a human form and he...well, wasn't. This wasn't so unusual, he'd been told. Some of the citizens of Kokoro never grew out of their adorable fairy forms – they just didn't have the right amount of magic. Others, like Coffee, simply chose to stay in those forms for convenience's sake. Coffee herself had been heard saying more than once that this was easier to carry Ti around and be on his level when they spoke. Meanwhile, his parents were constantly in human forms because they thought it looked more dignified.

(Ti had to agree, privately. He always thought the portrait for Great-Great-Grandpa, a fat old mouse fairy with a handlebar mustache, looked rather silly.)

“Or she could be fetching the cake,” Queen Meringue said with a light laugh, rising and carrying Ti to the banquet hall.

“The cake, datchu?” Ti's eyes grew wide.

“I made sure the bakers knew to get you coconut, just as you like,” Queen Meringue said with a smile. As she approached her husband, who was already seated at the head of the table, both of them heard the man make a gagging noise in his throat. “Oh, Cider, dear, don't fuss. When it's your birthday, then we can have cake you like.”

Ti laughed at the look his father gave. So far this was turning out to be a good day.

________________________________________

Of course it wouldn't last.

Midway through the breakfast, just as Ti was about to sample his favorite lemon tarts that he so rarely got to eat, there was a loud boom. It sounded quite a ways off, but the suddenness of it, the wrongness of its presence made the entire court stiffen. Had...had perhaps one of the citizens arrived early and brought a noisemaker?

Such an optimistic thought was dashed when another explosion rocked the castle, and a large hole was blown in the wall. Several Kokoro soldiers crashed to the floor, having been blasted into the walls from outside. One managed to pick himself up out of the rubble, scrambling for his sword and locking eyes with King Cider.

“Your Majesties! Your Majesties, it's Shitsuren! It's as they threatened, they've come back, they've--!”

His next words were nothing but choked cries of terror as a large, shadowy creature with cruel, glowing red features pounced on him, and seemed to swallow him up inside itself.

Everyone at the table had been frozen in fear before, but now they were shocked back into moving. They threw themselves away from their seats, screaming as they fled for the doors. But only more explosions sounded, more holes blew apart the walls, more of those horrible creatures burst forth.

Ti hid under a small section of the tablecloth, watching with large, terrified eyes as more people were swallowed up. He dimly heard his mother shouting his name: “Ti! Ti, where is Ti?!”

“Ti, where are you?! We can't go without you!” Cider shouted.

He couldn't come out. If he came out, those things would get him. They'd get him and eat him like they ate the soldier before. He hiccuped loudly.

The tablecloth was whipped away from him as the entire table was overturned, sending plates, cutlery, food crashing and shattering apart onto the floor. And Ti locked eyes with another of those horrible creatures, his mouth wide open and his lips quivering.

“Tiiii!”

The creature roared in...pain? Annoyance?...as the king flung a saltshaker between its eyes. The glass shattered, salt getting into its eyes and momentarily blinding it. Cider stood firm, drawing his sword from its sheath at his belt. “Coffee! Take Ti and run!”

Coffee, whose presence Ti hadn't even noticed til this moment, scooped him up. “Yes, Your Majesty!” she shouted.

“But Papa! Mama!” Ti screamed as he saw his mother too, producing a sword of her own and standing with her husband.

“Ti!” Queen Meringue shouted, looking at her son over her shoulder. “You have to go!”

“B-But the monsters...!” Ti sobbed. Despite orders for Coffee to move, he wasn't being taken anywhere just yet. Perhaps she was scared too. “The monsters'll--”

”Ti, you will do as your mother and I say!” Cider yelled, also glancing over his shoulder. Ti was startled to see something shining in his eyes. “Coffee, take him and run! Run away and don't let them catch you!”

“Mama! Papa!” Ti shouted.

“Coffee!”

Coffee ran for it. Her back was turned to the royal couple as they faced forward, their opponent being swiftly cut down...only for three more to run in instead. Ti only had time to see his mother's sword flash before Coffee turned the corner, and his parents were out of sight.

“Papaaaa! Mamaaaa!” he sobbed the whole while.

________________________________________

“And then we came here...Ti and I haven't seen or heard from the king and queen, or Cure Ariel, since then,” Coffee explained morosely.

Hiromi looked down at Ti, who had gone quiet and sullen around the point of his birthday party, and Coffee'd had to take over. He wasn't even eating the cupcake anymore, just staring.

“Who are Shitsuren, though?” Aki asked with a frown. “You didn't mention that part.”

“That's because...there isn't a lot known about them.” Coffee frowned herself. “They just appeared one day – we thought they were just another family, a weird one. They just appeared outside of Kokoro, in this real gloomy spot. We just thought they were weird, so we ignored them.
Well, that's not wholly true – we of course extended welcomes and greetings and they were always invited to our functions! But they just waved us off. We didn't think they could...”

Coffee drew in a deep, shuddering breath.

“One day, a month before the Festival of Love, they said how love was flawed. Fickle. It could easily be warped, and twisted, and cruel. We told them this wasn't so, but they insisted. They said...they said someone named Break had given them the power to twist and taint love, to cast it aside and drop people into despair instead. Despair was less fickle; it was a constant, and we'd all be happier if the constantly-shifting love didn't exist.

“We told them they were wrong, and they just...left. We believed they were finished with us, that they'd just move away but...Well, you've seen them. You heard what they did.”

Ti reached into the ribbon at his neck and pulled out one last Signet Ring. “That's why we have to find Pretty Cure, datchu...We found you, and we need a third. To make up for...for C-Cure A-A-Ariel, s-swallowed u-up....d-datchu....” he started to cry, much to Hiromi's panic as she quickly lifted him to her face and nuzzled him.

Aki's expression was stern.

“Don't worry,” she said. She reached over Coffee, and gently took the last Cure Signet. Stared at it a moment before folding her fingers over it. “...love isn't fickle. Love is beautiful.”

________________________________________

“Love is a weakness,” Break said.

Shylock knelt before Break, a shadowy figure with a pair of glowing eyes – the only thing that could be seen of them. “Yes,” he intoned.

“And why?”

“Because it makes the heart soft. It makes one do terrible, foolish things, and it affects one's head.”

“That is right, Shylock. You know, sometimes I think you're my best soldier. You answer me so readily.” Break laughed, a sound like rasping leaves. “Not like Tamora. What am I to do with that girl?”

“I am not sure, My Lord,” Shylock said simply.

“Ah, well....My dear boy, why don't you face the Pretty Cure next time? After all, you'd done so well with one before.”

There was a pregnant pause before: “Yes.”

________________________________________

ED: "Hummingbird" - Mana Ogawa

________________________________________

ON THE NEXT EPISODE:
Hiromi: “Coffee? Coffeeee?”
Miho: “Hey, Hiromi! D'you wanna drink?”
Hiromi: “A-Ah, it's not that!”
Aki: “Tiiiiii!”
Miho: “Man, you guys're thirsty!”
Aki: “Next time on Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts: 'Our Fairies Are Gone?!' Let love heal your heart!"
________________________________________

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

________________________________________

“I'm going!”

“Hiromi, wait!”

“Huh?” Hiromi paused at the door, shoes in hand. “Yes?”

Her sisters stood in a row before the table in the hallway, looking at Hiromi expectantly.

“Oh! Right, of course, I'm sorry!” Hiromi dropped her schoolbag and went to join her sisters, at the end of the line. Once there, the bunch of them clasped their hands in front of their waists, looking at the photo atop the table.

It was a lady, with long black hair that was parted on the right, and fell in soft waves over her left shoulder. She was smiling, and even in the photograph her eyes had a twinkle to them – the girls could just hear her joyful laughter as she splashed the photographer with ocean water, a few droplets landing on her white sundress.

“Good morning, Mom,” the five of them said, and bowed.

As her sisters straightened, Hiromi remained where she was. “I'm going to school now.”

________________________________________

Hiromi jogged down the street, at a more leisurely pace than before. This time she'd made sure to leave the house on time, have a good breakfast, and now there was no possible way she'd be late meeting Aki! Nothing was going to stop her or distract her from--

“Hey! You there, hey!”

Hiromi stumbled outside a simple wooden gate, glancing around to see who'd just called out to her. At least...she thought they'd meant her.

“Yeah! You with the glasses, man!”

“Huh?”

Hiromi turned to look over the gate and into the yard beyond it. A girl was walking towards her, hands in her pockets. The odd thing was, she was around Hiromi's age, give or take a year, but she wasn't wearing a school uniform – not Chuushin High's, or any at all! The girl grinned, leaning over the top of the gate and looking Hiromi up and down. “Hmmm, yeah! How'd you like to be a model?”

Hiromi blinked. “Model...?”

________________________________________

TODAY'S EPISODE: A Model, Me? Razor-Sharp Competition!

________________________________________

“Ehhhh? You, a model?!”

“M-Mirai, please don't be so loud...” Hiromi whispered, shrinking down further into her seat.

“I'm just so surprised, Hiromi! I mean – I had a premonition that something out of ordinary would happen today, but I didn't think it'd be this!”

“Hnnnnn...” Hiromi lay over her desk, her arms covering her head.

“A-Ah, sorry, Hiromi! I didn't mean to insult you like--”

“N-No, it's not that...”

“Eh?” Mirai blinked and tilted her head.

“You see...” Hiromi's eyes opened, revealing glistening tears. “What happened was...”

________________________________________

”Model?”

“Yeah~!” The girl grinned and stepped back, holding up her fingers in a box shape as she surveyed Hiromi through the hole. “My cousin's makin' a new manga, you see, and she's having a little trouble coming up with the protagonist. But you've got the perfect look for the type of character she's looking for!”

“I ah...”

“So what I was thinkin' was,” the girl went on, lowering her arms and propping her elbows on the gate. “You could come over after you get outta school and model for us? Just let my cousin get your likeness?”

“U-Uhm....”

“Hm?” The girl kept smiling, staring expectantly.

“I-I uhm...I guess it's--”

“Great!” The girl straightened and clapped a hand on Hiromi's shoulder. “See you after school, yeah?~”


________________________________________

“I wanted to say 'I guess it's a small favor,' but then she thought...” Hiromi sniffled. “A-And now I'm gonna be a model, and....”

“And...?”

Hiromi suddenly sat up straight, her eyes wide and watering with unshed tears. Her lips quivered as she grabbed at her neck ribbon. “A-And then--!”

Aki clutched at her chest as she leaned against a wall, looking away from Hiromi. “You've become a model, Hiromi?”

“I-It was only for a day, Aki!”

“But everyone knows you're a model now! And all these shoujo manga artists want to draw you!” Aki gestured to a crowd of people holding papers, pens and ink, and a few shoujo manga magazines. “And look at all your admirers!” she declared, sweeping her hand back to Hiromi, behind which another huge crowd had gathered with love letters and candy.

“You're so much better than I am, Hiromi...How could a popular and cute model want a simple girl like me, especially when you've got idols and millionaires and theme park tycoons asking to date you?” Aki sobbed once, covered her face, and ran down another hallway. “I'll let you go, Hiromi! Find a partner more worthy of you, but don't forget me!”

“Aki, wait! You're the only one that I want!” Hiromi sobbed.


“Noooooooo, I don't want thaaaaaat!” the real Hiromi wailed before slamming her head back onto her desk to loudly cry.

Mirai just stared, blinking slowly. After a moment, she reached out to tentatively pat Hiromi's head. “...there, there?”

Up near the front, Aki blinked and turned around, frowning lightly at Hiromi. What was Hiromi thinking about this time...?

“O-kay, everyone!” Mrs Matoko strode in, firmly setting down her stack of papers. “Let's start by passing back last week's English quizzes...”

Aki reluctantly faced forward as Hiromi sniffled on her desk top.

________________________________________

“Fwaaaaaaaaah!” Tamora yawned loudly as she lay in a large easy chair...the entirely wrong way. Her head facing the floor, her legs propped against the backrest, she sighed and clasped her hands over her stomach. “Bored bored bored...”

“You mustn't sit so, Tamora,” Lady said, setting down a tea tray. “A lady must sit properly.” As if to demonstrate, she swept her skirts about herself as she gracefully settled onto the loveseat. She moved to take a teacup and raised the drink to her lips, her other hand primly holding the saucer in her lap. After a quiet drink, she replaced the cup in the saucer and smiled, eyes closed as always. “You're a lovely girl, Tamora, you should really act like one.”

Tamora, who'd been making a face at Lady's demonstration, snorted and kicked the chair. “Man, I can't be a girl like you. Besides, I'm totally cute the way I am~! Isn't that right, Riche?” she chirped just as the man entered the room.

“I will decline to comment,” he muttered dryly as he took a seat beside his wife.

“Whaaaa? How rude! Well, Shylock thinks I'm cute!”

“I doubt it.” Riche casually took some tea.

Tamora frowned, puffing her cheeks out, and swung her legs to the side, vaulting herself over the arm of the chair. Landing on her feet, she stood straight and glared at the man, still pouting. “I am cute!”

“M-hm.”

“Totally cute cute cute!” Tamora stomped for emphasis. “I'm so cute...I – I could be a model!”

“Tamora, if you can find me one person who wants you to be a model, I will admit you are 'cute as a button,' as they call it,” Riche sighed, pressing his fingers to his temple.

“Yeah? Well, fine! You'll see I'm super-duper cute, no matter how I sit or act!” Tamora said. And with that, she turned on her heel and stalked out the door.

Lady and Riche were silent as they watched her go.

“Well, that should keep her occupied for a time,” said Riche, as he reached over to rest an arm around Lady's shoulders and pull her close.

________________________________________

The school bell rang, and the students began to filter out of their classrooms.

Aki paused in putting her homework in her bag, and looked over her shoulder towards the door. For a moment, she locked eyes with Hiromi – and then Hiromi squeaked and darted out of the room. “Hiromi...what's going on?” she whispered to herself.

Well, perhaps not entirely to herself.

“Hiromi's being weird today!” Coffee said quietly, poking her head out of Aki's bag.

“Is something the matter again, datchu?” asked Ti.

“Mm. Something is...” Aki frowned, looking at the two fairies. “Y'see, when we met at the tree today...”

________________________________________

”A-Aki...”

“Hiromi~!” Aki laughed, pushing herself off the tree's trunk. “You're a little late; did you miss the 'walk' signals--”

“U-Uhm...”

“Hm?” Aki's smile vanished, replaced by a look of confused curiosity. “Hey...'s'wrong?”

Hiromi was cluthing her schoolbag like a lifeline, holding it in front of her chest. She stared at Aki with large, tearful eyes, hicupping a little before she hastily bowed. “I-I have to be somewhere after school today but it won't be long at all and not permanent and don't think ill of me Aki I promise you'll never not be good enough for me if anything you're the one too good for me okay I'll see you tomorrow!” And with that she ran for the stairs.

“Huh? Hey, Hiromi, what was that about? Hiromiiii!”


________________________________________

“Sure, she can worry a lot, and she panics over nearly everything, and she can be so melodramatic but...Well, I can't think of what could possibly have set it off today.”

“Are you gonna follow her to find out, Aki?”

“Whaaaa? No way!” Aki waved a hand dismissively, looping her schoolbag's long strap around her neck and shoulder. “I mean, Hiromi's upset yeah, but...it's clearly nothing serious, like I said, she does this all the time. And she said it'll be fine tomorrow, so that's when I'll learn what it is. Then we can just talk about it if she wants to, and that's the end of it.
I trust Hiromi...I'm not gonna stalk her or anything because she's being weird.”

She left the classroom, passing a large window. Down below, one could see Hiromi walking down the stairs leading to the road. “It's nothing to worry about.”

________________________________________

Hiromi stood at the door, schoolbag held in front of herself like a shield. She swallowed nervously, and lifted a trembling finger to the doorbell.

Bing-bong~!

Almost immediately, the door swung open, and the girl from earlier was beaming at her. “Hey! You made it! C'mon in, c'mon in!”

“W-Wait, I — ah!” Hiromi squeaked as she was pulled inside, and the girl shut the door.

“You can just leave your shoes in the hall, okay?” The redheaded girl let go of Hiromi's arm, still smiling, and looked her up and down again. “You know, I didn't expect you to come in your uniform. I figured you might go home and change first.”

“A-Ah, should I have?” Hiromi whispered, feeling even more self-conscious than she already had been. The other girl still wasn't wearing a uniform either. She had a cream-colored tunic with a wide brown belt over tan leggings. Over that, she wore a pale yellow sweater, hanging open like a jacket. She definitely looked more comfortable and carefree than Hiromi did. “I know it's a modeling thing but--”

“Nah, nah, don't worry about it~” the girl interrupted, waving her hand. “You look fine. Besides, it's just your likeness and your expressions. We don't need you in fancy clothes or trendy stuff. And you don't have to do anything special with your hair, either!” the girl laughed suddenly and pointed to her own hair. Her rust-red hair had been gathered into two buns at either side of her head, and her bangs swept off to the side over her forehead. Just as they had been this morning... Hiromi frowned a little. No uniform, and she hadn't changed her outfit at all...

“So! My cousin's in the den. She'll probably want to serve us a snack first. Oh.” As she lead Hiromi down the small hallway, the girl looked over her shoulder. “I'm Miho, by the way! Miho Sakura. What's your name?”

“Hiromi Satou...”

“Well, again, it's great to meetcha, Hiromi!” Miho beamed and clasped Hiromi's hand.

________________________________________

Miho had been right. Her cousin did want to serve them a snack.

Hiromi sat at a low table, schoolbag beside her, happily partaking in home-made cookies and pineapple juice.

“I'm sorry it's all I can offer,” 24-year-old Nana Sakura said with an apologetic smile. “But I was so busy with the script I didn't have any time to prepare tea, and Miho still hasn't bought the milk.”

“Ahahaaaa, my bad~” Miho scratched the back of her head, smiling awkwardly.

Hiromi shook her head. “N-No no, it's fine! Really, I love pineapple juice! And these cookies taste wonderful!”

“Oh, thank you! It's a family recipe. I'd share it, but you're not family,” Nana laughed.

She then leaned on her elbows over a sketchpad, and grabbed a sharpened pencil from behind her ear. Giving the pencil a quick twirl between her fingers, she started to hastily scratch out some lines as she talked to Hiromi. “I'm sorry for my cousin, by the way. Her forwardness must have been kind of creepy, right?”

“Hm-m, no--”

“There's no need to sugarcoat it, Miss Satou.”

“W-Well maybe it was a little bit...” Hiromi admitted with an awkward smile.

All three girls laughed.

“Uh...by the way, what kind of story are you drawing?” asked Hiromi after she'd calmed down.

Nana smiled, adding one more line. On the paper was a girl who looked remarkably like Hiromi, save for a few subtle differences, such as her hair texture and the shape of her eyes. “Well, it's a love story...”

________________________________________

“I'm home~” Aki called out, stepping through the door.

Emma and a dark-haired man in a dinner suit bowed. “Welcome home, young miss~”

”...between a wealthy noble from a magical kingdom, and a young schoolgirl from our world. They meet under ordinary circumstances...”

Aki flopped backwards onto her bed, arms outstretched. With a contented smile, she glanced over at the bulletin board on the nearby wall.

There were tons of pictures on it; Aki in her school uniform on the first day of high school, Aki and her parents at the fair, Aki and some of her various friends...But the picture she focused on was the one from the photo booth.
A string of three photos, the same pose and same smiles. Aki and Hiromi stood before the camera, arms linked, both making V-signs and smiling broadly. They'd chosen rainbows and bubble as a border, and a pink “Awesome!” was in the top right corner.

Aki's smile softened a bit, looking more affectionate.

”They become friends, and eventually fall in love.”

________________________________________

Lady bent over her tray of tea and snacks, idly arranging the cookies into a more pleasing appearance. Suddenly, as if alerted by some strange sixth sense, she blinked, and lifted her head to look towards the loveseat by the window.

Shylock sat there, leaning against the glass and staring out at the falls.

”But it seems as if both the human world and magical land are against their union. Various forces try to separate them, there are multiple attempts on their lives, and it really looks as if fate is against them. And they wonder, how could fate be so cruel as to have them meet, only to do everything it can to force them apart again? Maybe it would have been better if they'd never met.”

His eyes closed.

________________________________________

Eyecatch 1: Hiromi and Aki lean over a small box, watching in anticipation as Ti and Coffee turn the handle. It appears to be a small jack-in-the-box, but when the lid suddenly pops open, it sends a spray of heart-shaped confetti all over them. The four of them laugh, and the Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.
Eyecatch 2: Cure Capulet and Cure Montague run at each other from opposite sides of the screen. The slide across the floor, intending on strike a pose together, but while Montague stops, Capulet keeps sliding. She briefly flails her arms in panic, and Montague grabs her around the waist to stop her. The momentum results in Capulet being held in a dip as she and Montague lock eyes. Montague laughs while Capulet blushes, and the Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.


________________________________________

Hiromi sat at her desk the next day, nervously tapping her fingers against the top of it. It was lunchtime, and everyone else was eating but--

“Wow, Hiromi, you really went to town!”

Hiromi jumped and nearly fell out of her seat. “A-Aki!”

Aki stood over her, staring in amazement at her empty, clean bento. “I mean, lunch just started two minutes ago...I haven't even started eating yet.” Her brows lowered and her expression softened a bit. She turned her attention back to Hiromi, and reached out for her hand. “Hiromi, come with me.”

A few others looked up in time to see the two of them leaving. “Hey, what's Aki want with Satou?”

“Beats me...”

________________________________________

A short time later, Aki and Hiromi sat on an empty staircase, side-by-side. Aki rested her hands on her knees, and leaned forward a bit to look at Hiromi's profile better. Her girlfriend was just staring at her shoes, toying with the hem of her skirt and not saying anything. This would never do!

“...say, Hiromi?”

“Huh?”

“When I was five, I broke Grandpa's glass rose.” She smiled a little, and faced forward. “It was really pretty too, and really big. It was just this giant blossom, just started to bloom and open up. It had a few leaves on the bottom that let it stand upright...Grandpa said it was one of the last presents Grandma gave him before her memory went away. And I was just playing with my trains, lifting them up and spinning around because they were picked up by a tornado – ah, anyway, I got dizzy and crashed into the shelves, and the rose fell off and smashed into three pieces on the carpet.

“I was so sure I'd be punished, and that Grandpa would hate me, so I cried and cried until I was sick. And I ran to my room to pack up my schoolbag and run away. But Grandpa caught me as I was trying to climb out the window.”

Her smile turned a little wistful. “I had thought I'd be caught and get a spanking if I went out the door, so I figured the window would be safer. But my room was on the second floor. Grandpa caught me just as I was stepping onto the roof below it, and he pulled me back inside. He's really strong, even in his advanced age.
The first thing he did was scold me, but he never raised his voice and it wasn't because of the rose. He just told me that I could have been badly hurt doing that, and not to ever, ever do that again. And then he hugged me and just thanked God he'd come into my room in time. Then after we calmed down, he talked about the rose.
It wasn't a big deal. He'd been a little sad to see it broken, but he could fix it. And it wasn't broken too badly, and he knew it was an accident and that I felt awful already.
We fixed the rose together, in the den, on some newspaper.

“He kept telling me that it was okay, it really was. It wasn't as bad as I'd thought, and I'd imagined everything would be far worse than it really was.”

Aki looked over at Hiromi. “So...you know, Hiromi, if there's something you want to talk about, or if you're hiding something...You don't have to worry about it like this. If you want to tell me, you can, it probably isn't as bad as you think.”

Hiromi blinked, then looked down at her lap again. “I – I uhm...”

________________________________________

“...And they've asked me to come back today too! Just one more time,” Hiromi finished in a rush. She went silent, and nervously looked over at Aki.

To her surprise, Aki was just smiling. “Oh, is that all?”

“I-Is that all?!” Hiromi sputtered. “You're...you're not angry?”

“Why would I be?”

“B-because...i-it was a modeling job, sorta, and I was so sure you'd want to break up and...and that you'd be mad I was hiding it from you and...”

Aki laughed kindly and rubbed one of her shoulders. “Hiromi, you didn't have to hide that! I'm not upset or anything. Really it's pretty cool that someone asked you to model for a manga!” Her eyes lit up. “Ohhhh, can I come too?!”

“Us too, us too!” Coffee cheered from Aki's bag.

“Please, datchu?”

Hiromi blinked, then turned pink as she looked away. “I – I guess it'd be okay? Miho and Nana are really nice, so I'm sure it'd be okay--”

“Woohoo! I'm dating a model and get to see her at work~!” Aki cheered, throwing her hands in the air.

“A-Aki!”

________________________________________

Tamora muttered angrily to herself as she walked down the street, away from the shopping area and closer to the residential. “Totally cute...cute as buttons...” she grumbled.

“Ah, you're here!”

Tamora stopped in her tracks and turned her head towards the sound.

Two redheads were standing in the large front yard, one of them holding a sketchbook. They were both grinning at two very familiar-looking girls. Pretty Cure?! Tamora thought.

“Oh, you brought a friend?” the taller redhead said with a smile. “She's cute too!”

Tamora grit her teeth.

“Okay, so let's go inside, and you can finish modeling for--”

”Modeling?!” Tamora shrieked suddenly, stomping her foot. The other four jumped and looked at her in surprise. “I should be a model too!”

The taller redhead looked apologetic. “Er – I'm sorry, Miss, you look nice and all but I already--”

“I'm way cuter than those two!”

“But...well, you are cute, sweetie, but I don't think you've got the right look for...If you want, I can make you a background character but--”

Tamora grabbed her hair and screeched. “No way! No way, no way, no way! I'm super-duper cute, a million times cuter than bobbles over there, and I'm way too cute to be a background character! Gyaaaaah!”

Suddenly, Tamora whipped out a marker and uncapped it. Ignoring the confused and startled looks from the redheads, she drew two curling lines to form a heart in mid-air, and slashed a line through it. Another sweep of her arm, and the symbol became two, and shot towards Miho and Nana.

“Miho!” screamed Nana, shoving her younger cousin aside. But it was too late. Despite the sudden attempt to save her, both girls were struck in the chest, and screamed in agony.

“Nana! Miho!” Hiromi shrieked, dropping to her knees as the other two did.

Nana's sketchbook fell from her hands as she tilted her head back and sobbed uncontrollably, her chest heaving as the crying affected her ability to breathe. A dark aura appeared around her, flaring in time to her sobs. Torrents of tears rolled down her cheeks, over her lips, but she didn't seem to notice, her cries growing louder.
Beside her, Miho was experiencing the same thing, except she'd fallen to her hands and knees, her tears falling into the grass below her.

Tamora just giggled and raised her arms into the air. “Your heartbreak will fill the River Despair and flood the world~!”

By 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, something like black lightning dancing over it.

“Miho! Nana!” Hiromi cried, rubbing the sobbing Miho's back.

“It serves them right!” Tamora pouted. “They should've picked me to model.”

“They don't even know you and Nana didn't even know you existed when I was asked!” Hiromi said, face turning red. “And you're doing this to them over not being sketched? They offered to draw you too!”

“Oh, shut up, Pretty Cure!” Tamora glared and drew another symbol in the air, and flung it at the fallen sketchbook. “Fall into heartbreaking despair! Come on out, Usotsuki!”

The sketchbook flashed  purple, and then an Usotsuki stood in its place, towering over the four humans. It was opened, with a few pages folded back over the binding like hair. Long, black arms and legs dripped ink onto the lawn, and the same red eyes and cruel smile appeared. “Usooo!”

“Aki!” Hiromi cried.

“Right!”

“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!”
“Our hearts connected! Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts!”


“I'll get you today, Pretty Cure! Usotsuki, go!” Tamora commanded from her place on the road.

“Uso-tsukiii!” the monster screeched, and flung its arms out in front of itself like whips.

Capulet and Montague swiftly grabbed their crying friends and jumped aside. Capulet gently set Miho in the doorway, under the small roof, as Montague leaned Nana against her. Then, in the blink of an eye, they both planted one foot against the wall, and launched themselves backwards. Flying into the air, they both did a backwards flip and fell towards the Usotsuki, one leg extended.

“Capulet Kick!”

“Montague Kick!”

“Uuuu-so~!” The Usotsuki made a noise that sounded a lot like a gurgling laugh, and flung an arm out--

--and thick black ooze flung out of it.

“What the—gyah!” Montague cried, one of the blobs striking her. Its momentum kept her going, until she found herself stuck against a nearby phone pole. “Nngh! What the...?!” she gasped, struggling against the goo. She grit her teeth, strained...and nothing happened.

“Usosososo~!” the monster laughed, pointing at the helpless Montague.

“You missed me!” Capulet shouted, landing her kick at the Usotsuki. The monster's laughter was abruptly cut off, becoming a quick cry of pain as Capulet performed another, tight backflip, and kicked it between the eyes and sent it skidding into the street.

Capulet landed on the walk leading to the front door, and looked up at Montague. “Montague, are you okay?!” she cried.

Montague struggled a bit more. “Capulet! Don't let this stuff hit you! I'll be out in a sec, just hang on!” She strained to free her arms, gritting her teeth so hard it hurt. “Hnnngh...this stuff's drying already!”

Capulet stared up at Montague for a moment, then blinked and gasped faintly. She had heard a low groan a little ways in front of her, and quickly looked forward to see the Usotsuki getting back to its feet.

“Uso~ki!” It flung an arm out again, sending more ink blobs towards Capulet.

Capulet gasped in alarm and hastily leaped out of the way.

“Forget it, Cure Capulet!” called Tamora. “Montague's gonna dry up, and you definitely can't do this all by yourself~!”

“What...?” Capulet mumbled, taken aback.

“Well, it's obvious, right?” Tamora giggled. “Two Cures may be super-strong, but you? You guys can only transform together, and attack together, and your hearts are all synced up...But you're useless when separated. This'll be easy, so just stand still and let my Usotsuki get you.”

“Hey!” Montague shouted suddenly, her face redder than before. “Capulet's not weak or useless, so shut up right now! Don't bully her!”

“Oh, come on~ She can't even move, see?” Tamora pointed to Capulet, who just stood there, trembling slightly. The Usotsuki was staring her down, chortling to itself with its hands over its mouth. “She talked big earlier, and you guys both destroyed two Usotsuki already, but on her own she's a big wimpy coward!”

“That's not true!” Montague roared.

Capulet blinked. “E-Eh?”

“Uso?”

“Wha?”

Montague glared down at Tamora and the Usotsuki, teeth grit angrily, tears gathered in the corners of her eyes. A few dripped down to the street below, but she paid them no mind. “Capulet's no coward! She's not useless either! Hiromi told me about something she was so sure I'd be furious about, and that took a lot of guts! She was scared I'd break up with her, but she told me anyway! And I was super-proud of her for it!
And you know what else? Three times now, she's gone up against one of these monsters without complaint! She's helping Ti and Coffee save their world! She was the first one to say 'I like you' in our relationship and that takes a lot of courage too!”

“...Montague...” Capulet whispered.

“She's got way more courage and internal strength than you think she does – it took guts to say she likes me, it took guts to say she was hiding something from me, it took guts to tell the truth...So don't you call her a coward! Don't you dare!”

“Montague...” Capulet's eyes grew shiny with unshed tears.

“Ugh, your voice is so annoying right now!” Tamora grumbled. “Usotsuki, leave Capulet for now...” She grinned and pointed up at the trapped Montague. “And cover her head! Suffocate the Cure and get rid of her!”

“Usooo--ki?!”The Usotsuki was suddenly slammed to the side, arms trailing limply in the air. “K-Ki?!”

Everything seemed to move in slow-motion. Capulet was right there at the Usotsuki's side, her fist pressing deep into it, her head bowed so her eyes were shadowed. As the monster looked in disbelief, she slowly lifted her head up to reveal a hate-filled glare.

”....leave my girlfriend alone.”

And then time sped back to normal. The Usotsuki screeched and was sent crashing against a stone wall, one of its inky arms smacking into it. It growled angrily, moved to fling it out and--

--snapped back. “Ki?”

“U-Usotsuki, what's wrong?” Tamora gasped.

The Usotsuki struggled a bit more, eyes wide, but it couldn't move the arm that was against the wall. It had stuck, and quickly dried.

Capulet glared and leaped forward again, landing on its face, right between the eyes and mouth. The Usotsuki raised its free arm to crush her like a fly...and then Capulet leaped back into the air in the nick of time. The Usotsuki's arm was stuck to its face now and, as it struggled and roared in anger, it wasn't going to be free anytime soon.

“Time to end this!” Capulet declared, hovering in the air above it.

She clapped her hands together, a pink glowing heart materializing between them as she pulled them apart. Swirls of gold sparkles were pulled inside it, and the faint sound of chimes could be heard as Capulet closed her eyes. ”Sound of the Bells!” The light burst outward to reveal her Rapier Wand. ”Sword of the Capulet Family!” She reached out to take it in hand, and drew a large, sparkling gold heart outline in the air, pink light flowing into it. ”Pretty Cure...Glorious Golden ...”  She thrust her sword out, sending the heart out at the Usotsuki. ”Shoot!”

The Usotsuki's eyes widened in horror as the attack shot straight for it. “Usooo-!” The attack struck its chest and expanded to cover its whole body in a warm gold glow. The monster's eyes grew even wider, weakly mumbling “U-usotsuki...” as it disintegrated.

The ink that had landed on the ground vanished, as did the ink that kept Montague trapped against the phone pole. She fell towards the ground, landing on her feet and staring at Capulet.

Tamora just gaped, then stomped her foot and pouted. “W-Well, fine, so you're not a useless wimp. I'm still way cuter anyway!” And then she was gone.

Capulet blinked as she felt someone touch her shoulder, and turned to see Montague smiling at her. “M-Montague...”

Montague grinned with her teeth showing. “That's my girl~”

Capulet blushed, smiling sheepishly.

________________________________________

Later, Miho set down a tray of more cookies before Aki, the latter helping herself gladly. Nearby, Hiromi was standing and looking at a wall, her hands smoothing over her hair. “U-Uhm, are you sure this is the pose you want?”

Nana frowned. “Hmmm...no, that's not it either...” She sighed, lowering her pencil. “I need a good, cute pose, and it's a little hard to find one.”

“I'm sorry.”

“Not your fault!” Miho laughed. “Nana's probably just a little out of it from that dizzy spell outside. Hm...I wonder if there's something in the air?” she frowned. “Since I got it too...”

“Of course it's not Hiromi's fault~!” laughed Aki, a little too loudly. She subtly dropped two cookies into her schoolbag, which Ti and Coffee ate joyfully, and then stood up to run to Hiromi. She grinned, throwing her arms around Hiromi's shoulders and nuzzling her. “Hiromi's super-super-cute, so it definitely can't be her fault~”

“A-Aki!” Hiromi sputtered, turning red.

“It's true though!” she laughed, tickling her a little.

Hiromi laughed, more out of joy than being tickled, and tilted her head to bump against Aki's. “A-Aki, stop, you're embarrassing me!”

“It's truuuee~!”

Nana just smiled, lifting her pencil away from the sketchpad. In front of her was a quick pencil sketch of her protagonist, eyes closed and mouth open in the very image of delight, her head tilted slightly. “Yeah, this is perfect...”

________________________________________

ED: "Hummingbird” - Mana Ogawa

________________________________________

ON THE NEXT EPISODE:
Aki: “You know, we still don't know anything about who these people are, what they want, where you guys came from...”
Hiromi: “That's right! We need to know more!”
Coffee: “Ohhh, I knew I was forgetting something!"
Coffee: “Next time on Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts: 'Why We Fight! For Our Love!' Let love heal your heart!”
The Second Guest by Lady-Moth
The Second Guest
What am I doing working on this aaargh

So yeah. More Second Guest fanart! Whoohoo~
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Around seven in the morning, Aki was awakened by a gentle knocking on her door, followed by a kind, feminine voice.

“Young Miss, it's time to get up. May I come in?”

“Hmmm...” Aki sat up in bed, rubbing at one eye. Her normally sleek and well-groomed hair was a tousled mess, and there was a bit of drool in the corner of her mouth. She yawned widely, absently moving the covers over the little fairies still dozing on her mattress. “Mmmm, yeah, c'mon in, Emma.”

A young woman in a long-skirted maid uniform opened the door, a set of clean clothes hanging over one arm. She smiled as she approached Aki, who yawned again and swung her legs out from under her blankets. “I've washed your day clothes,” she said as she set the clothes next to Aki. “And I've got some coffee brewing for you downstairs.”

“Hmmm, yes?” came a tired voice from the blankets. Aki tensed up.

“Yep, as always!” Emma smiled cheerfully, completely unaware. “Do you still want the usual French vanilla cream, or the new mint cream that came in yesterday?”

“Mint sounds good!” said Aki, wide-awake now.

“Alright, then! I'll pour you some after I've brushed your hair.”

“Actually, Emma, I can do that myself today!” Aki smiled, taking the brush from her.

Emma blinked, smile fading. “Eh? But I've always brushed your hair, ever since you were seven.”

“I know, but today I just wanna do it myself,” Aki said, smiling disarmingly. “Please?”

“Well...” But Aki was already shoving her out the door. “I suppose--”

“Great, thanks, Emma~!” Aki said before hastily shutting the door. She sighed in relief as she turned around to lean against it, shoulders slumping. “Close...” She walked over to the bed and lifted her covers to look at the now-awake Ti and Coffee. “You silly-heads...” she chuckled. “If you're gonna live with me, you gotta stay hidden! Although, now that I think about it, maybe that 'coffee' thing is gonna get confusing...” she added, shifting her eyes skyward.

________________________________________

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

________________________________________

A short time later, Aki was at the breakfast table, sipping her coffee and eating a crescent roll. Hidden on her lap, beneath the table cloth, were Coffee and Ti, happily partaking in half a crescent roll each.

“So, Young Miss,” began Emma as she put away the coffeepot. “What are your plans for today? There's no school, and I know you like to go out on the weekends.”

Aki swallowed, then smiled brightly. “Well, today I was thinking of going to the candy shop! They're selling those tiny chocolate hearts everyone's talking about.”

Emma's eyes widened and began to sparkle. “Ooooh, the ones that are made with German chocolate and have hot melted chocolate in the center and no one knows how they do it?”

“Yup~”

“Eeeeee~!” Emma quickly placed the coffeepot on the counter and squealed, fists beneath her chin. “Ohhhh, you've got to bring me one, Young Miss! Please please please! I don't ask for much, but if you could--!”

Aki laughed, causing Emma to stop right then and blush. “Sure, no problem! I'm going early so we can get them before they run out.” She downed the rest of her coffee, pushed out of her chair (Ti and Coffee hastily scrambled into the messenger bag she was wearing) and jogged out of the room. “Well, I'll see you later, Emma!”

“Bye-bye, Young Miss!” Emma called, waving lightly at Aki's retreating form. After a moment, though, she stopped, blinking in confusion. “Wait...'we?'”

________________________________________

As Aki hurried down the sidewalk and into town, Coffee poked her head out of her messenger bag, briefly glancing at Aki's ensemble. “Wow, Aki's stylish today!” she said.

Aki grinned, pausing to twirl a little, as if showing off her outfit to an invisible audience. She was wearing a lot of blue, as she usually did when not in her school uniform. Dark blue long-sleeved shirt with a light blue shirt over it, with short and puffy sleeves; a blue tiered mini-skirt over dark blue bike shorts, and white and blue sneakers was the look for the day. It was the same outfit she always wore on weekends when she...

“Aki's rules for dating number one~! Always look super-cute when meeting your super-cute girlfriend~!”

________________________________________

TODAY'S EPISODE: Double Hearts! How We Began.

________________________________________

Outside a crowded candy store, a girl wearing a baggy tan sweater and a long, ruffled brown skirt with a ribbon about two-thirds over the way down it stood tapping one dress-booted toe against the ground over and over. This girl was Hiromi, and she watched the crowd a bit nervously, biting her bottom lip and bunching her skirt in her hands.

“That's a lively crowd...” she mumbled as a guy got pushed outside the shop. She just barely heard his 'Ah! I got some!' as he ran off with a brightly-colored bag, too lost in her own thoughts. “I hope Aki gets here soon...Otherwise they'll run out and...”

A horrible image suddenly filled her mental theater. Herself and Aki stood in a quiet, empty candy store with the lights dimmed, the owner holding out empty trays to them. “Sorry, girls,” he said in a deep, rumbling voice. “We're all out of Sweetheart Chocolates...forever!”

“Nooooo!” Hiromi started to cry. “I haven't even gotten to taste one yeeeet!”

“A-Ah!”

Hiromi looked up at the sound of the cry, just in time to see a girl close to her own age be shoved away from the crowd. Her feet tangled up in themselves and slipped out from under her, causing her to fall backwards. “Look ou--!” Hiromi started, but just as quickly as the girl began to fall, someone reached out and grabbed her wrist, pulled her back up. The girl sighed loudly, casting an appreciative smile at her rescuer.

“Thanks, Daisuke,” she breathed.

“No problem!”

Hiromi's expression softened a bit.

________________________________________

”A-Ah!”

Hiromi fell backwards, having slipped on the stairs just before she reached the top. Her heart leaped into her throat, pounding like a jackhammer.

“Hey, watch out!”

Someone's hand snapped out, firmly grabbing her wrist, and pulled. Hiromi was quickly thrust in the opposite direction, stumbling as she reached the last stair and the safety of the walk to the school gates. She was still startled, and her ankle was probably bruised where she'd kicked it in the rescue, but it was certainly better than the horrific alternative. She sighed in relief, shoulders slumping. “Oh, thank you so much...”

“It's no problem!”

Now Hiromi looked up at her rescuer. It was a girl with blue-black hair who still held her wrist in one hand. The girl smiled at her, tilting her head slightly. “I'm glad I caught you.” She looked over Hiromi's shoulder to the stairs. “Oh, hey, you dropped your umbrella! Take mine, get in the school, okay? Don't want you slipping again, yeah?” She passed Hiromi her own umbrella before carefully going down the steps.

Hiromi just watched her go, face tinting pink.


________________________________________

In the present day, Hiromi's face was still a bit pink. She smiled a bit, lowering her head and toying with strap of her purse.

“Hiromiiii~!”

She startled a bit, turned and smiled at Aki as the girl raced up the walk. “Ah, hi, Aki!”

“Hey! You weren't worrying, were you?”

“No, not this time.”

Aki's eyes narrowed as her grin widened a bit, and she poked Hiromi's forehead lightly. “You liar~ Your skirt is bunched up a little, and your knuckles are still white. Hiromi, you've got to calm down! Your blood pressure'll thank you.”

“Ehhh...”

“Now c'mon!” Aki seized Hiromi's hand tightly, dragging her towards the crowd. “Let's get the chocolate! To arms! Raaaaargh!”

________________________________________

Riche sat on the edge of the loveseat, one leg over the other. Lady sat demurely next to him, and Shylock stood with his back in a corner, arms folded lightly over his chest. All three were looking at a very sheepish Tamora.

“While I am glad you filled the River Despair a bit,” Riche began, casting a brief glance out the window. “I am a bit disappointed that you didn't bring the prince to us.”

“Wasn't my fault!” Tamora said quickly. “I tolja before, it was some new Pretty Cure! Two of them woke up at once, and they just -- they just -- They hurt my beautiful Usotsukiiii!” She began to wail, large tears pouring comically down her face.

In a flash, Lady was at Tamora's side, patting her shoulders and smiling softly. “Now, now, dear, it's alright...It's alright if you were taken by surprise. None of us were expecting a new Pretty Cure to awaken. Not even Break.”

At the mention of that name, there was a sudden hush, as if a thick and heavy curtain had fallen over them. Tamora stopped crying, blinking back her tears, and the males looked more solemn than usual. “Break...” she whispered.

“He more than understands, don't worry,” Lady murmured. “I spoke to him.”

“You spoke to Break?! Alone?!” Riche suddenly leaped up from his seat, crossed the room and grasped Lady's shoulders. “Are you alright, my love? He didn't scold you too badly, did he? You should have come to me for moral support, love!”

“I'm alright, dear,” Lady said quietly, smiling faintly. “It wasn't as unpleasant as I feared it'd be.”

“Be that as it may!” Riche removed his hands from Lady's shoulders, curling one into a fist. “My darling wife shouldn't have had to speak to Break alone! And it's all Pretty Cure's fault that she did!”

Shylock rolled his eyes. “Pretty Cure has nothing to do with Lady seeing Break, Riche,” he intoned. “She would have had to speak to him soon regardless of if new Cures awakened or not.”

“Be that as it may!” Riche went on. “They've caused my wife suffering--”

“She just said she didn't.”

“--And I'll be paying them a little visit.” Riche turned away from the others, marching for the large doors with purpose. “Shylock, watch the prisoner. Lady, stay here. Tamora...”

“Yes!”

“Be quiet and don't disturb anyone.”

Tamora pouted as the doors swung shut behind Riche.

________________________________________

“Ehhhh? The Aki Oshiro saved you?!” Mirai squealed, slamming her hands on her desk.

Hiromi sat at her own desk, patting at her hair with some paper towels. “U-Uh huh...” she mumbled. She looked up from beneath her bangs, blinking. “Wait...'the?'”

“Ah, that's right, you went to a different school,” Mirai said, and she sat back down in her chair. “Aki Oshiro's really rich, and really nice, and really pretty--”

“So she's like a princess?”

“Well, the thing is, you'd expect her to be but--”

The door burst open just then, Aki Oshiro herself sailing in and waving energetically. “Gooood morning, everyone~! Heeey, Yuki, how you doin'? You look good in the high school uniform! Hi, Antoinette, did you dye your hair? Looks great! Heeey, weird to have rain on the first day of the new school year, huh?” She grinned and sat down in her chair, as if things were perfectly normal...ignoring that she was soaking wet.

Hiromi just stared. “...oh.”

“Yeah, not what you might expect.” Mirai laughed behind her hand.

“Oh!” Aki suddenly stood up again, crossed the room and

stopped

right in front of

Hiromi's desk.

“You're from earlier,” Aki said, in a much quieter and gentler tone than before. Without waiting for Hiromi to respond, she opened her schoolbag and withdrew an umbrella, already prepared for storage. Hiromi recognized the pink fabric and the decorative bunnies. “Sorry I took so long getting this to you, but there was a bit of wind, you see.”


Is that why she was later than the rest of us? Hiromi thought, blushing again as she reached for the umbrella. “Th-thank you.”

As she took the umbrella, the girls' hands touched.


________________________________________

“Whooo, we managed to get some!” Aki beamed, holding her bag high above her head as she walked. The bag, a bright, glossy pink one with a pattern of red hearts and tied with white ribbon, swayed back and forth in her hands. She gave it a quick shake, smiling wider as she heard the candies inside. “What luck, huh, Hiromi? We got some before they all ran out.”

Hiromi walked, more awkwardly, behind Aki, holding her hand for support. “Y-yeah...” she mumbled, fixing her askew glasses back into place. How the heck did Aki end up less roughed-up than me?!

Aki's hair had been messed up a bit, one of her hair clips was dangling loosely, and she was a little red and sweaty. Hiromi, on the other hand... “I think someone took one of my hair bobbles,” she said. “A-And someone had juice and spilled it on my skirt...”

Ti and Coffee poked their heads out of Aki's messenger bag again, looking rather dizzy and disoriented. “The crowd was scary...” Coffee mumbled.

“...datchu,” seemed to be all Ti could provide.

Hiromi adjusted her glasses again, her own bag of candy held between her thumb and forefinger, and stared at the two fairies. “But you know...I still don't have any idea what you two are. Or what you're doing here, or why we were able to transform like that.”

“Oh, that's easy!” Coffee perked up. “We're fairies—”

“Yes?”

“We come from a magical world--”

“Yes?”

“And you two are legendary warriors~! Ta-daaaa!” Coffee beamed, holding her tiny arms out.

Hiromi just stared, brows lowered and lips pursed. “That still makes no sense at all!”

“Aw, c'mon, Hiromi. No rush, right?” Aki said, guiding Hiromi to a bench. “I mean, things have just started; there's all the time in the world to talk about this thing, right?”

“Aki, I just wanna know what exactly is going on, what we're in for!” Hiromi protested. “I mean, saying magic words while wearing a ring and then turning into a Lolita model?”

“That wasn't Lolita,” Aki said.

“You have to admit it's not normal.”

“Well, I'll concede that, but it still wasn't Lolita.” Aki opened her bag of chocolate and took out one of the little hearts, turning it a few times between her thumb and forefinger. “Wow, this is really well-made...no bubbles!”

“A-Aki...”

“You know...” Coffee began, climbing out of the bag and taking Ti with her. “I honestly didn't expect the two of you to both transform at once. Normally, two Cures only transform at the same time when their hearts are in sync with each other, beating as one... You two must be really close!”

“I sensed that right away, datchu,” Ti added.

Aki grinned, glancing over at Hiromi, who was blushing like a tomato, her glasses strangely opaque. Silently, she reached out and placed her hand over Hiromi's own. “Thanks for saying so.”

There was a brief, somewhat awkward pause. Finally, Hiromi looked up, eyes a bit teary in her embarrassment. “Y-You're n-n-not gonna a-ask what's going on?”

Coffee scratched the side of her face. “I think we can figure it out.”

As Hiromi opened her mouth to say something, Aki chuckled and tossed a chocolate into the latter's mouth.

________________________________________

Eyecatch 1: Hiromi and Aki lean over a small box, watching in anticipation as Ti and Coffee turn the handle. It appears to be a small jack-in-the-box, but when the lid suddenly pops open, it sends a spray of heart-shaped confetti all over them. The four of them laugh, and the Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.
Eyecatch 2: Cure Capulet and Cure Montague run at each other from opposite sides of the screen. The slide across the floor, intending on strike a pose together, but while Montague stops, Capulet keeps sliding. She briefly flails her arms in panic, and Montague grabs her around the waist to stop her. The momentum results in Capulet being held in a dip as she and Montague lock eyes. Montague laughs while Capulet blushes, and the Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.


________________________________________

”Next up! Hiromi Satou!” the gym teacher's voice rang out loud and clear from where she stood, stopwatch in hand.

“Yes!” Hiromi hopped up from her position on the grass, walking to the start line...and caught Aki's eye.

Aki sat on the bleachers, wearing her gym uniform, bloomers and all. She was just sitting there, watching everyone else get timed, her hands resting on her knees, a small and...

Was that smile
sad?

“Hiromi!”

“R-Right! Sorry.” Hiromi faced forward, taking her place and waiting for the whistle. When it came, she bolted from the starting line like a shot, arms and legs pumping, breathing steady...
And then her ankle seemed to work wrong and she was sent spilling to the ground, scraping up her knees. “Kyah!”

“Hiromi!” Mirai called out, jumping to her feet.

“Satou! Are you okay?”

“Y-Yeah, I'm okay...” Hiromi forced a smile as she rose to her feet and hobbled to the bleachers. “J-Just let me sit out, please...”

Aki blinked, and then widened her eyes slightly as Hiromi approached her, and sat down right beside her. She stared at the bespectacled girl for a moment, then started laughing quietly behind her hand.

Hiromi smiled faintly. “What?”

Aki lowered her hand, and shifted her eyes towards Hiromi. “You fell on purpose.” Hiromi's embarrassed laugh was all the answer she needed. “Why? You don't like gym?”

“It's not that. It's...you looked a bit lonely over here.” Hiromi's smile faded, and she turned to look forward again. “And...I thought it wasn't right, and I should come sit with you. You seem really nice, Aki...”

“Do you want to come to the arcade with me after school?”

“H-Huh?” Hiromi's head jerked up, and she stared wide-eyed at Aki. Aki was just smiling nonchalantly, though there was a little pink to her cheeks. “What?”

“Well...if you think I'm nice, and you even fell on purpose to sit with me and keep me company, then we should do something together. We can go to the arcade after school today for a start.” Her eyes closed and her smile widened. “Besides, I kinda wanted to talk to you more after the umbrella thing.”

Hiromi swore there was steam coming from her ears.

________________________________________

“I - I dunno if this is a good idea!”

“C'mooon,” Aki said, nudging her hand out at Hiromi. “It'll be fun! Better than me doing something while you just stand and watch, right?”

Aki stood on the platform for the arcade's dancing game, one hand on her knee as she leaned over to Hiromi. She held her hand out to her, trying to coax her into a dance. “Come on, it'll be fun.”

“P-P-People will stare--”

“I promise you, no one watches anyone on these things,” Aki said gently.

“I-I'm not real good at this.” Even as she said this, Hiromi's hand slowly lifted towards Aki's.

“I can dance well enough for both of us. Besides, it's not about skill, it's just fun.” Aki just kept smiling, her hand still proffered.

Hiromi hesitated a moment longer, then clasped Aki's hand.

________________________________________

“A little to the left...”

“Like this?”

“Yeah.”

Aki's tongue poked out between her lips as she lowered the crane according to Hiromi's instructions. “You know, I've never actually gotten anything in one of these. I keep feeding it money but I never - no freaking way!” Aki's eyes went as big as dinner plates when the crane lifted up, a toy in its grip. “Holy freaking cow, I got one! Hiromi, you – did you see – how did--?!”

Hiromi just smiled. “I'm pretty good at these, Aki.”

Aki held her prize in disbelief – a golden-eyed grasshopper plush, and for some reason it was wearing a top hat. “I can't believe it...Hiromi, you're amazing!” Aki squealed and threw her arms around Hiromi's shoulders for a moment before hopping back to the controls. “Let's get another one!”

________________________________________

As the sun was setting, Hiromi and Aki walked home; Aki was trying not to drop any of her numerous prizes, and Hiromi was trying not to laugh. Nope, Aki was indeed not what she might have expected. That much was clear as Aki tried to keep the prize sitting on top from toppling over and landing in the dust. “This was fun,” Hiromi said at last, cheeks tinting pink.

Aki paused in her little balancing act to look at Hiromi, grinning broadly. “Yeah, it was. Wanna do it again?”

“Wh-whaaa?!” Hiromi started. Whoa, straightforward!

“Well, it was fun, right?” Aki reached up and removed one of her toys. This seemed to be the reverse of the proverbial straw on the camel, as the pile in her arms was much less precarious. Smiling, she held the toy out to Hiromi; a large plush apple with a pink beret. “We should do it again. Is tomorrow okay?”

“U-Uhm...I h-have to volunteer at the library tomorrow...” Hiromi paused, swallowed nervously, and began again. “But...but the ne-next day. That's a good day.”

“Great! Then we'll hang out in two days. Maybe not the arcade though; you can pick this time.” With that, Aki quickly moved the apple towards Hiromi's face, mimicking a peck on the cheek. Then she tossed the toy into the flustered girl's hands, and jogged away. “G'bye, Hiromi! I'll see you at school!”

Hiromi watched Aki leave, weakly waving goodbye. “Y-yeah...bye...” she mumbled, then looked at the smiling apple. A small smile appeared on her own lips.


________________________________________

“Did you get some?”

“No, they ran out...Did you get some?”

“Uh huh!” A girl smiled and held her bag of candy out, a faint blush on her cheeks as she looked down at the ground. “U-Uhm...Daisuke, you can have mine if you like.”

“Eh?” The boy, apparently named Daisuke, blinked. “After all that fuss in the store? How come?”

“W-Well...Y-You see...” The girl's blush intensified. “I think you're really great, and I wanted to buy some chocolate for you anyway...”

Daisuke, picking up on her implications, turned red himself.

And meanwhile, in the air, someone was seeing red as he stared down at the few people left after the rush. “Giving something away because you're in love? That's just idiotic...” Riche swiftly produced a marker from his pocket and drew two curling lines to form a heart, in mid-air. Then he swiped his arm diagonally, putting a slash through the heart. The symbol split into two and shot towards the boy and girl below, landing on their chests. As the two screamed in pain and then dropped to their knees, wailing bitterly, Riche chuckled under his breath.  “Your heartbreak will fill the River Despair and flood the world!”

________________________________________

In a darkened mansion, a girl pressed her face to a window high above. She gasped in horror at the sight of the river blackening and frothing, lightning dancing over its surface.

________________________________________

Ti gasped and straightened up, his own eyes widening. “Sh-Shitsuren, datchu! It's Shitsuren, datchu!” he cried, tugging on Aki's sleeve.

“Shitsuren?” Aki frowned briefly, then gasped as realization hit. “You mean like the girl from the other day?”

“She was one of them – that was Tamora! There's three more, and there's one attacking right now, datchu!” Ti cried anxiously, moving to tug on Hiromi's sleeve now.

Hiromi and Aki exchanged a look. “We're going!” Aki declared.

________________________________________

Riche's chuckle turned into dark laughter as he watched the teenagers' despair. “Perfect! Whether or not I find Pretty Cure, I can still fill the river.” His hand clenched into a fist, and a smirk appeared on his face. “The entire world will drown in sorrow!”

“This is far enough!”

“That's right!”

“Hm?” Riche blinked, and looked a little further down the walk. There, glaring up at him, were two girls. Normally Riche would have just considered them extra sources for sorrow and heartbreak, but they had two very familiar fairies sitting on their shoulders. Which meant... “Ah, Pretty Cure! You're so prompt, I must congratulate you on that. Punctuality is a virtue, one that not a lot of young people seem to possess,” he added, sounding a tad miffed at the last part.

“Oh, thank you very much – wait a second!” Hiromi cried. “Stop what you're doing!”

“These people came here to enjoy delicious chocolate! Chocolate hearts that symbolize love! How can you plunge them into heartbreak like that?” Aki demanded.

Riche's brow twitched. “Love? Such a deep emotion shouldn't be felt by the likes of you!” Swiftly, he uncapped his marker again, drew that same slashed heart symbol in the air, and hurled it down towards the bag of chocolate by the boy's knees. “Fall into heartbreaking despair! Come on out, Usotsuki!”

In an instant, an Usotsuki stood where the chocolate once was. It retained its bag an ribbon shape, but the cheery pink was replaced with dark purple, the red ribbon now black. Long, black arms and legs of pure darkness emerged from the enlarged bag and ended in sharp claws. Glowing red eyes suddenly popped  open, and a glowing red fanged mouth grinned at the two girls with cruel intent. ”Usotsukiii!”

“Hiromi!” Aki cried.

Hiromi nodded, and clasped Aki's hand as Ti and Coffee leaped off their shoulders.

“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!”
“Our hearts connected! Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts!”


The Usotsuki roared and swiped its clawed hands outward, not at Pretty Cure, but--

“Get them outta here!” Capulet shouted, but she needn't have. She and Montague both leaped out, each grabbing one of the teenagers and taking them to safety. Gently, they set the two down on a nearby bench, leaning against each other as they wept, blind and deaf to the world.

The Usotsuki let out a deafening shriek and thrust one of its noodle-like arms out to the bench. Pretty Cure gasped in horror, leaping in front of the bench to grab its hand and keep it from going any further.

“We've gotta get away from this spot!” Montague whispered harshly. “Or these guys'll be--”

“Usotsuki! Throw them sky-high!” Riche commanded.

”USOKI-KIKIKIKI!” The Usotsuki cackles madly, and swept its arm up high over its head. Cures Montague and Capulet didn't let go fast enough, and were tossed high into the air. Then just as they began their descent back down, the Usotsuki slammed its other arm into them, sending them both smashing to the ground before they had time to even scream.

It was their second battle. Only their second battle, and Pretty Cure seemed to be defeated, lying motionless in a large crater in the middle of the street.

“Pretty Cure, datchu! Pretty Cuuuure!” Ti screamed, tears of horror in his eyes.

“Prince, stay back!” Coffee yelled, lifting him up as the mouse fairy cycled his limbs.

“It can't happen again, datchu! It can't! Wake up, Pretty Cure! Please wake up!” he sobbed.

Riche stared for a beat, then chuckled. “Well. Clearly our dear Tamora was simply caught off-guard. I should apologize to her.” He then pointed nearby, to the chocolate shop. “Usotsuki, that shop is a symbol of love! Destroy it now!”

Montague's hand twitched.

________________________________________

”U-Uhm...Aki?”

“Hm?” Aki turned around to look at Hiromi.

It was sunset, and the two were on their way home from another day at the arcade. This time they'd taken it easy on the crane games, as each of them only held a single toy – interestingly, the same ones they'd won the first time they'd played. Aki held the stuffed apple under her chin as she turned bodily around. Hiromi's face was red, something that didn't concern Aki too much. The troubled look on her face, however... “What's the matter, Hiromi?”

“I – I uhm...”


________________________________________

“Destroy it now!”

”Uso--!”

”Stop.”

”--ki?” The Usotsuki paused, turned its body towards the downed Cures.

Riche quirked an eyebrow as he saw the two girls shakily pushing themselves up. “You can still stand?” Then he blinked, a look of realization on his face, before covering his mouth with a hand. “Oh my – Don't tell me you're going to defend a chocolate shop? Of all the absurd--”

“It's...an important place to us,” rasped Capulet as she got back on her feet. Her head was bowed, bangs shadowing her eyes. “We can't...”

________________________________________

”I...” Hiromi tapped her fingers against the top hat of her plush, shifting her eyes to look at the nearby bench, the road, the large window that showed assorted chocolates, everywhere but at Aki. Finally, she swallowed, inhaled a deep breath, and--

________________________________________

“We can't let you do this!”
both Cures roared, suddenly lifting their heads. Their eyes were gleaming in sudden ferocity, teeth bared. Letting out roars of anger, they charged towards the startled Usotsuki.

”U-Uso--?!” The Usotsuki threw its hands in front of itself, waved them frantically as it stared at the Cures with wide eyes.

Montague punched its hands aside with such force that the monster was sent skidding a few feet to the side. As it was regaining its footing, Montague locked her fingers together to form a foothold as Capulet leaped over her bowed head. She landed with the center of her foot in Montague's hands, and was immediately thrown upwards.

Capulet sailed high over the Usotsuki's head, and fell back down at top speed, one leg extended. “Capulet Kick!” she shouted, landing the blow right in the middle of the monster's forehead.

The Usotsuki crashed down the ground, sending up huge billowing clouds of dust and screeching in surprise and pain.

Riche was staring in wide-eyed shock. “Y-You really are getting so fierce over a chocolate shop!”

“That's because--!” Montague answered without even looking at him. Instead, she raced forward to land a straight punch at the fallen Usotsuki's side.

“This shop--!” Capulet spun-kicked the Usotsuki as she fell back down to land beside Montague.

“This place...”

________________________________________

”...I like you.”

Aki turned red, gasping quietly. The other girl was smiling softly at her, pink blush coloring her cheeks, her eyes closed. “You...do?”

Hiromi nodded shyly, hugging her plush closer. “I do.”

Aki turned even redder, looking off to the side and clearing her throat. “U-Uhm...I – I like you too.” She smiled at the look of faint surprise on Hiromi's face. “As – As more than a friend.”

“...Would you date me, Aki?”

Aki laughed quietly, hugging her own plush in absolute giddiness. “Yes!”

________________________________________

“...is important to us!”
the two Cures roared, clasping their hands and threading their fingers. Gold and purple light flashed and filtered between their fingers, and the Rapier Wands appeared in front of them. They grabbed their respective weapons with their free hands.

”Pretty Cure Dual Heart Strike!”

The attack blasted right through the Usotsuki as it was pulling itself back to its feet. It stiffened in pain, eyes going wide as it disintegrated and fell apart from the heart-shaped hole outward. ”U-Usotsu...” was all it could say before it was destroyed.

Riche tsk'd bitterly. “I will remember this,” he growled quietly before teleporting away.

________________________________________

Daisuke groaned, eyes fluttering open. “Mmm, wha...? Ah! Ikuko!” he cried, shaking the girl's shoulder. “Ikuko, wake up!”

“Mmm?” Ikuko's eyes opened slowly, and she looked to Daisuke in tired confusion. “Daisuke? ...what were we doing--”

Both of them suddenly looked down between them. A bag of candy sat there, opened to show the chocolates inside. Both teens blushed faintly and lifted their heads to look into each others eyes.

________________________________________

“I'm glad things worked out,” Aki sighed, eating another chocolate.

Hiromi laughed in embarrassment. “I didn't expect our date to end in a battle...”

“Unfortunately, that'll happen a lot, you two being Pretty Cure and all,” Coffee offered, a bit sheepish herself.

“That was the opposite of what I wanted to hear!” Hiromi cried, tearing up a little.

“But...if we're fighting for the sake of love and keeping people from heartbreak, I guess it's alright. Right, Hiromi?”

“Hmmm...”

________________________________________

Riche rubbed the back of his neck as he entered the room he was in earlier.

“Welcome home.”

He opened his eyes, and saw Lady sitting there on the loveseat, her hands neatly folded in her lap. Beside her sat a tray with a pot of tea, two cups, and a small plate of cookies. Riche stared at the smile on his wife's face for a moment, before he sighed and smiled. “I'm home, my dear...”

________________________________________

“Shylock!” screamed a depowered Cure Ariel, pounding on the door furiously. “Let me out of here! Let me out! You can't keep me here forever!” As she pounded, her hands started to burn, steam emitting from where they made contact with the door itself. But she paid it no mind, gritting her teeth through the pain and kicking the door for good measure. “You can't be alright with what you're doing! Let me out of here, this minute, Shylock!”

Outside Cure Ariel's door, Shylock said nothing. He just leaned against the door, his head bowed as he listened to her shouting.

A girl, clad in a long, flowing mint dress, her dark violet hair gently swaying in the wind, stood with her back to him. Her hands were clasped behind her back, and she suddenly turned around as if she sensed his presence. “Shylock~!” she called.

Shylock, his head still bowed, shoved himself away from the door and walked down the dark corridor, leaving Ariel and her shouting behind.

________________________________________

ED: "Hummingbird” - Mana Ogawa

________________________________________

ON THE NEXT EPISODE:
Aki: “Hey, it's Miho! I haven't seen her in a long time!”
Hiromi: “A-Ah, she wants me to...”
Aki: “To what?”
Hiromi: “T-To be a model?! Next time on Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts: 'A Model, Me? Razor-Sharp Competition!' Let love heal your heart!”
Kokoro.

A beautiful, vibrant kingdom, filled with flowers and birdsong and love. Not a soul in Kokoro hated anybody, or even wished ill will. Everyone who lived there was as kind and warm as the usual weather.

So perhaps that was why it was such a shock to them all when it happened.

Several explosions rocked the great castle to its foundation, sending dust and stone falling from the ceilings to smash to the floor. Several holes were blasted in the walls of the long hallway the prince and his caretaker were fleeing down. But they couldn't afford to stop.

“Mommy, datchu!” Prince Ti wailed, reaching over Coffee's shoulder. The mouse fairy sobbed before adding another plaintive “Papa, datchu!”

“It's okay, Your Highness!” Coffee, a rat fairy, cried over the chaos. “They'll be alright!”

Ti didn't seem to believe it, sobbing brokenly against Coffee.

Coffee just smiled at him, or rather at the side of his head, hoping that it would put him at ease. Well, okay, she knew it wouldn't really, considering she'd just hoisted him up and ran as his parents were taken captive. Right before his eyes. Yelling at his caretaker to protect their son at all costs. And on his birthday, no less!
But...maybe he would have appreciated at least one smiling face.

She didn't have time to reflect on that much longer. Coffee turned a corner and was forced to halt, gaping in horror and shock at a crowd of shadowy monsters. “U-Usotsuki!” she cried without thinking.

Ti began wailing again, shaking like a leaf and crying for his parents to come save him.

”Pretty Cure...Lovely Arrow!”

The Usotsuki screeched as a golden, glowing arrow shot for the center of their number, many of them bursting apart after the magical arrow shot clear through them. Not all were down, but enough.

Someone leaped out of nowhere, scooped up both Ti and Coffee, and bolted down another corridor.

“C-Cure Ariel!” Coffee cried in joy at the sight of the Cure.

Cure Ariel, glad in teal and aqua, her long magenta hair in twintails, smiled at the fairies. “Don't worry. I'll keep you safe--”

Another explosion cut her off, and the stone wall directly in front of her blew apart. Ariel skidded to a halt just as a girl stood in the resulting hole, her form silhouetted as she held a playing card between her fingers.

“Found you~!” she giggled. The girl threw another card at Cure Ariel.

Ariel leaped aside just in time. The card struck the wall opposite her, and exploded shortly after impact. Ariel leaped through the hole to get to the next corridor over, ignoring her enemy's loud cry of irritation.

“Don't worry,” she said, smiling down at the fairies in her cupped hands. “You'll be safe.”

She halted again as there was another loud explosion up ahead, rocking the castle. But she didn't waver. Ariel pursed her lips, and rammed her shoulder against the wall...

...which easily opened up and revealed a hidden room. The room was barer than the lavishly-decorated, regal castle interior. It was pure white, sparkling clean, with a small depression in one of the walls, and a large mirror against the other side of it. Ariel shut the door behind her and ran for the mirror, snatching three rings from the depression as she ran past it. She stopped before the mirror long enough to kneel down, set down the fairies, and pull out a handkerchief.

“Ariel?” Prince Ti whimpered.

“Shh...It's alright, Your Highness.” Cure Ariel tied the handkerchief in a knot, then loosely tied it around his neck. “I promise.” She scooped them up again as she stood back up, back straight, a gentle smile on her lips. But Coffee could see the way her mouth twitched slightly, the tremor of her brow. “Listen to me. You're going to have to go to Earth. Find Pretty Cure, they can help you. Coffee, I'm entrusting you to take care of Prince Ti, just as you always have.”

“Yes, Cure Ariel.” Coffee bowed her head.

Ti looked dismayed. “B-But Cure Ariel!” he cried. “You're a Pretty Cure, datchu! You can stop them! You can save my mom and dad, datchu!” His frightened expression only grew when he saw Ariel tighten her lips and shake her head quietly, her eyes flickering closed, head bowed. “Cure Ariel! You have to stop them!”

“I...” she whispered.

The walls shook as a loud thudding resounded around them.

“I think...”

The door dented inwards as another boom sounded, shaking the room and rattling the mirror.

Cure Ariel lifted her head and smiled, tears in the corners of her closed eyes. “I think...this is it for me.”

The door actually burst apart the third time, and shadowy monsters of indeterminable shape, with large, glowing yellow eyes swarmed in. Ariel had only a second to act. She leaned forward, slamming her hand against one of the decorative panels on the mirror that turned out not to be decorative after all. The glass glowed a blinding white, and Cure Ariel flung Ti and Coffee through the mirror.

Ti stared in horror and despair as Coffee grabbed him and held him close. “Cure Ariel!”

Ariel smiled faintly, her form rapidly disappearing as the fairies fell further and further into the abyss and the portal closed.

“Cure Ariel!”

Just before the portal closed for good, hiding his world from view, Ti saw the monsters swarm Ariel and submerge her. She'd never even had a chance to turn around, or fight.

She was just...gone.

Ti sobbed once before screaming. ”CURE ARIEEEL!”

________________________________________

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

________________________________________

“”Uwaaaaaah, I'll be late!”

A teenaged girl hurriedly went down the steps, tying her hair back as she went. Running down the hall, she grabbed her schoolbag from where it sat on a small table, nodding once at a framed photograph. Upon reaching the doorway, she hastily slipped into her shoes. “I'm going now!”

“Eh? Wait, Hiromi! What about breakfast?” A young woman ran out of the kitchen, spatula in hand. She wore a simple white dress over black leggings, her long and silky black hair in a straight ponytail secured at the base of her skull. Her large, black eyes watered fretfully as she watched Hiromi slip her shoes on. “You can't leave for school without a proper breakfast!”

“She's right, you know. You should listen to Emi.” Three girls, all identical to the first, peered out from around the corner, tired and bored expressions on their faces.

“I'm sorry, sisters, but I really have to meet someone! I can't be late today!” Hiromi Satou turned around just to clap her hands together in apology, then bolted out the door. “I'm so sorryyyy!”

“Hiromi, wait!” Emi called out, a hand extended. Seeing the girl was already gone, she sighed, then turned an irritated look onto her sisters. “Girls, why didn't any of you stop her, if you agree with me?”

Hatsumi yawned, Harumi speared a sausage with her fork, and Kiyomi just muttered into her coffee. “It's too early for confrontation...”

________________________________________

Delicate pink cherry blossoms floated down on the students as they walked the wide, brick road to school. Dappled sunlight fell upon the road and teenagers below as the last of the morning fog was burned away, and a fresh, clean air invigorated them all. A small white butterfly flitted above the sea of heads. Truly, it was a fantastic morning to be alive.

But Hiromi Satou didn't have the time to appreciate it today.

Hiromi ran, panting heavily as she tried not to hit herself with her schoolbag. Her thick hair that charitable people would call “dirty blonde” (and less-charitable would call “dishwater”) hair held in two sections with the ends in tiny pigtails with pink bobbles bounced heavily behind her, her large green eyes reflecting anxiety behind her large wire-rim glasses. The magenta and black plaid, ruffled skirt of her uniform flapped a bit, rather comically, but Hiromi had no time for embarrassment.

“I'm...so...very late!” she gasped as she raced for one particular tree.

________________________________________

TODAY'S EPISODE: Our Hearts Intertwined! We Are Pretty Cure!

________________________________________

Hiromi leaned against the large cherry blossom tree, palm flat on the bark, trying to catch her breath. Phew...she'd made it. She'd overslept and had to miss her breakfast, but she'd made it.

Pushing her bangs away from her face, she straightened up, trying to school her expression into a smile instead of a panicked gasp. All that was left was to wait for Aki.

...Hm, but she did oversleep. “I didn't sleep in too much, did I?” she murmured, rolling her sleeve back to check her watch. Aki should have been here when she arrived, come to think of it. Aki was always first here, ever since they'd decided to make this their spot, back at the beginning of their first year. Aki was always here first, she lived closer after all, but...if she was gone...

Hiromi checked her watch again, biting her lip harder. Hm, she could have sworn she'd made it at the appointed time...She gasped, hands flying over her mouth.

But what if Aki had been waiting this whole time and got mad and left? What if she thought Hiromi didn't care anymore? What if she thought this was a wordless break-up, or that she'd been betrayed?!

Hiromi suddenly imagined Aki towering over her, much taller than she was in real life, with a dark shadow over her face and a stormy background as thunder rumbled. ”You betrayed me, Hiromi! I thought what we had was special! I never want to see you again!”

“It was an accideeeeent!” Hiromi wailed, gaining the attention of several students. “I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I love Aki, I didn't--!”

“Hiromi?”

Hiromi stopped, lowering her hands from where they'd pressed over her eyes, to look at the newcomer. A few feet away, schoolbag hanging over her shoulder, a perplexed but amused look on her face was a girl wearing the same uniform as Hiromi, but swapping out the white socks for black stockings. She had bright, ocean-blue eyes, and her blue-black hair was short and sleek, the ends curling at the nape of her neck. Two thin blue hair clips held her side-swept bangs in place, little hearts on the ends.

“Aki!” Hiromi ran over to her, hugging her tight. “Aki...!”

“Sorry I'm late!” Aki said, cheerfully oblivious. “I would have texted you but...you know, you don't have a phone. You weren't worried, were you?” Hiromi just sniffled and looked away, face red. Aki laughed. “You were, you silly~!”

“I-It's not funny!” Hiromi said over Aki's laughter. “I thought you were mad at me! Y-You're never late, I thought we were over, that you were furious with me and gone ahead and—”

“Hiromi, trust me,” Aki said in a warm tone as they began the long trek up the stairs embedded in the hill, on their way to school properly now. ”If we were over, I'd be honest one hundred percent, and not just ditch you. Oh, here.” Aki reached into the pocket of her skirt and passed a small, shiny-papered box to Hiromi. “Granny made macarons for you.”

“Macarons?” Hiromi stared at the box as she held it at waist-level.

“Yup! No real reason either, she just called me over like 'Aki! I made too many macarons this morning! Hiromi is very sweet, isn't she? You should give her the sweets, too!' Fff...silly Granny! You can't make too many macarons! I bet she did that on purpose, right, Hiromi?...Hiromi?” Aki, finally seeming to notice something was wrong, stopped smiling, tilting her head and staring at Hiromi.

Hiromi sniffled, eyes watering behind her glasses, mouth twitching. Her face slowly turned bright red.

“Hiromi?” Aki stopped walking, gingerly touching her shoulder. “Hey...hey, Hiromi, what's the matter? You don't like macarons? I'm sorry, I should've asked before I — whup!”

Hiromi had suddenly flung her arms around Aki's shoulders, wailing and blushing fiercely. “Akiiiiiiii! You're too unbelievable!”

“E-Eh?! Hiromi, what's that mean? Hiromi, c'mon...H-Hiromi, people are staring at uuuus!”

________________________________________

Far away, but quite near, there was a large and imposing cliff. It was dark, with many jagged rocks and crevices, and a steepness that told anyone who looked at it that scaling it was impossible. But please, feel free to try, the occupants of that mansion way up there would just love to watch you plummet to certain death, screaming all the way down! Of course one might wonder what a mansion was doing at the edge of a cliff this dangerous anyway.

Maybe it was the waterfall that rushed over the edge of a much higher cliff, behind and to the side of the mansion. The water roared past in a wide, frothy ribbon, vanishing into the dark purple clouds below, catching and reflecting the light from the full moon above. A beautiful sight, if one was into dark and dangerous things.

And of course, the occupants of the mansion were. At least, one was.

“Lovely, isn't it, my dear?” Leisurely seated on the dark purple cushions before the large bay window, a gentleman in a dark suit sipped at his tea and gazed out. The moonlight illuminated his face, his ice-blue hair that was graying in a way that only made him look more distinguished. He sipped again, expertly avoiding getting any tea on his thin mustache or goatee, and cast an appreciate glance at the woman above him. “I truly do appreciate quiet nights like this.”

“Oh?” A woman with long, lilac hair that fell in curling tendrils down her back and framed her face, two long ringlets over the shoulders, tilted her head down at her husband. She didn't appear to actually look at him, as her eyes were serenely closed, but Riche knew she could see him anyway. She gathered her floor-length skirts and sat opposite him, setting the teapot between them. “And why would that be?”

Riche smiled, reaching up to caress his wife's face, an action that made her pale pink lips curl into a soft smile of her own. “Because, my love, it means--”

”Riiiiiiiiche! Laaaaadyyyyy!” The sheer volume of the shout seemed to shake dust from the high ceiling. A second later, the wide and ornate door burst open, bouncing off the wall with a bang. A girl bounced in, her violet and white skirts swishing about her, her white lace straps bouncing slightly where they sat around her shoulders, her wavy white ponytail behaving the same way. The moonlight caught her black heart-shaped brooch and hair-tie as she bowed slightly, one purple knee-length boot tapping excitedly. “Gooood evening to you~”

Riche groaned, retreating from Lady and trying not to slam the teacup back to its saucer. “Because it means Tamora isn't around the bother us...” he muttered.

Lady just smiled sweetly. “Good evening, Tamora. I thought you were guarding the prisoner tonight?”

“Huh? Well, I was, totally was, but then Shylock wanted to do it. Pffft, he's so weird about it~” Tamora straightened up, tongue poking out, and brushed her bangs aside. This gesture didn't do much good, since they fell back to cover one eye a moment later, but she didn't seem to care. “I dunno what his deal with the prisoner is anyway – every time it's my turn to guard, he comes in and asks to take over. Not that I mind, o' course but--”

“Tamora, was there a reason you interrupted Lady and I, or do you just live to ruin the moment?” Riche grumbled, pinching the bridge of his nose.

Lady covered her mouth with one hand.

“Huh? Oh, that's right~!” Tamora's smile became a bit more sinister then, her mouth stretching wider as her eyes narrowed, head bowing slightly. The moonlight shining through the window cast a ghoulish glow on her face as she steepled her fingers. “You see...the thing is, I recently discovered that the prince of Kokoro has finally landed. I came to see if you'd like me to...do something about that.”

Riche lowered his hand, immediately sitting at attention. “Yes,” he said simply, as Lady placed a hand on his shoulder. “You know the prince is not to escape us. Find him, bring him back to our home...whatever the cost may be.”

“That's what I was hoping you'd say~” Tamora's lips pulled back to show her teeth. “Fufufufufu....”

________________________________________

At her desk, a girl with pink hair in large drill-style ponytails shuddered, eyes squinching closed. “Ah! A premonition!”

“Mirai, good morning!”

“Ah, Hiromi!” Mirai opened her eyes; one pink and one red, and smiled at her best friend. “You made it on time today.”

“Eh?” Hiromi sat down in the desk next to Mirai's own, pushing up her glasses. “But I'm always on time...”

“Oh, I know that!” Mirai waved her hand. “It's just that today, I had the oddest feeling something was going to happen today. Something out of the ordinary about you!”

“About me? Anything in particular?” Hiromi adjusted her glasses again.

“Hmm...unfortunately not. All I knew was you'd do something unusual. So I thought, 'Hiromi's so punctual, I bet she'll be late today!'”

“That sounds so strange out of context...” Hiromi chuckled a bit despite herself, idly scratching one the side of her face. She faced forward then, gaze landing on Aki at the front of the room.

As if sensing her gaze, Aki straightened in her seat, looked over her shoulder, and waved at Hiromi, a broad smile on her face.

Hiromi turned bright red.

“Hm? Hiromi? Are you okay? Maybe the unusual occurrence is that you'll have a fever?”

The teacher strolled in just then, stopping Hiromi from answering. She set her stack of papers on her desk, smiling pleasantly. Mrs Matoko nodded to the class, issuing a “Good morning, everyone” in a slight sing-song. When they answered in kind, she smiled and tucked a dark blue strand of hair behind her ear and began to speak. “Well, I've got your tests from the other day, and I'm pleased to announce that most of you did a very fine jo--”

The door slid open just then, a young man standing in the doorway with a folder. The armband he wore showed that he was in the student council. “'scuse me, Mrs Matoko? I'm sorry to interrupt, but I'm looking for a...” He glanced at the folder. “A Mister Akihiko Oshiro?”

Aki stiffened in her seat, just slightly.

Mrs Matoko frowned. “Hm? No, no, Yagami, you're mistaken. We don't have a Mister Oshiro.”

“Really?” His own frown deepened. “Because it says here that--”

“We do not have a Mister Akihiko Oshiro.” While her voice was friendly and pleasing when she'd first come in, now Mrs Matoko's voice was cool, hard-edged. She tucked her hair behind her ear again, the simple gesture looking more severe this time. “We do, however, have a Miss Aki Oshiro. You might be looking for her, but really, Yagami, you should get these things right.”

“Huh?” Yagami only then seemed to notice that the overall temperature in the room seemed to have dropped, and the entire class was staring at him icily. He looked back and forth, from the class to the teacher, to Aki who sat smiling nervously at the surface of her desk. “Er...r-right then. Sorry. Uhm, can we get Mist - Miss Oshiro to the principal's office for a minute? Nothing big, he just wants to talk to--”

Aki wasn't fully listening.

________________________________________

Eyecatch 1: Hiromi and Aki lean over a small box, watching in anticipation as Ti and Coffee turn the handle. It appears to be a small jack-in-the-box, but when the lid suddenly pops open, it sends a spray of heart-shaped confetti all over them. The four of them laugh, and the Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.
Eyecatch 2: Cure Capulet and Cure Montague run at each other from opposite sides of the screen. The slide across the floor, intending on strike a pose together, but while Montague stops, Capulet keeps sliding. She briefly flails her arms in panic, and Montague grabs her around the waist to stop her. The momentum results in Capulet being held in a dip as she and Montague lock eyes. Montague laughs while Capulet blushes, and the Entwined Hearts logo appears in the corner.


________________________________________

“Hiromi, are you going to the library today?”

“Not just yet. I want to see the school rabbits first. And besides, the librarian said she didn't need me much this week.”

“Okay. I'll see you tomorrow!”

“Bye!”

With those parting words to Mirai, Hiromi walked behind the school, towards the greener areas with flowers and forest. Past the rabbit hutch, not inside.

Instead, she leaned against one of the large trees, the sunlight filtering through the leaves and dappling her skin. She sighed, adjusting her glasses, and waited.

A few moments later, Aki appeared, smiling a bit tiredly. “Hey, Hiromi.”

Hiromi smiled. “Aki.”

There was a long stretch of silence as the two just stood there, in the shade of the green-leafed tree. Hiromi staring at the ground, Aki looking straight ahead. The only sound was the faint birdsong and some soft breathing. Finally, Hiromi broke the tranquil silence.

“It's rough, isn't it?” she asked softly.

“Eh?” Aki turned her head to look at Hiromi, the jeweled hearts on the end of her hair clips glinting in the light. “What, keeping this a secret? Not for me, really...Most people think we're just friends, but--”

“Not that.” Hiromi bit her lower lip before going on. “I mean...earlier.”

“...oh.”

Another long stretch of silence ensued. Aki's face turned a bit pink, Hiromi's turned bright red. “I'm sorry,” Hiromi hastily said. “I shouldn't have--”

“It's fine.” Aki smiled ruefully. “It...really, it's fine. It doesn't bother me as much as it did before, when I was younger.” She held her hands at waist-level, clasped together firmly. “I mean...yeah, it's a little rough, I guess, but seriously, it's okay. Usually. And besides, when stuff does happen, I have friends and the teacher and my family to help me out. Like earlier, in the classroom.” She turned her head, to fix her smile at Hiromi. “So...So I'm okay. I do appreciate your concern though.”

Her smile suddenly turned a bit cheeky. “As expected of my Hiromi~!”

“A-Aki!” Hiromi sputtered, turning red again.

“But really, I'm fine. Thanks for caring so much about me, Hiromi.” She held her hand out to her. “C'mon, let's head out. There's a dance game at the arcade I wanna try!”

________________________________________

Mirai made her way to the large rabbit hutch. Hiromi had probably already left, after feeding them, but Mirai just wanted to see the bunnies herself. To just play and hug them all, get little bunny-kisses... And of course, she'd pay special attention to her favorite: the little brown baby bunny she'd affectionately, and some would say stupidly, dubbed “Usagi-chan.”

A smile appeared on her face as she skipped to the hutch and opened the door. Usagi-chan would surely be glad to see he--

“Come out! Where are you?”

And Mirai stopped dead in her tracks, eyes slowly going wide. The bunnies were all gathered in the far corner, trembling and flinching away from the person inside. The person stood with her back to the door, bearing down on the bunnies, with...was that a playing card held between two fingers? Mirai watched in half shock, half growing horror as the girl threw the card just then and holy hell it sliced right through the wires around the hutch! The bunnies drew back, making distressed noises and looking at her as if she were a wolf.

“I know you're here! I saw you run in here!” The girl crouched down just then and grabbed one bunny - Usagi-chan! Mirai realized in terror – by the scruff and held it high. “You can't hide from Shitsuren forever!”

And then the bunny went flying.

“Usagi-chaaan!” Mirai darted forward, just barely managing to catch the little thing.

The new girl whirled around, attention focused on Mirai now. “A person?!” Her shocked expression slowly gave way to a pleased smirk. “Well, I wasn't planning on dealing with people so soon, but since you're here...”

From the pockets of her dress, she produced a marker, and uncapped it.

________________________________________

”Hyaaaaaah!”

Hiromi and Aki jumped, turned their heads towards the rabbit hutch. They'd been just walking past it when they'd heard--

“That was Mirai!” Hiromi yelled.

“She sounds in trouble! C'mon, Hiromi!” Aki gripped Hiromi's hand tightly, and they ran for the hutch, where the door was still open.

________________________________________

Mirai arched back briefly, a large, red glowing mark on her chest. The mark, which resembled a curling heart with a slash through it, pulsed slightly, covering Mirai in a purple aura as she fell to her knees.

Tamora, her arm flung out at her side as if she'd thrown a discus, grinned wickedly. “Your heartbreak over your precious Usagi-chan will fill the River Despair and flood the world!”

Far away, where the mansion stood, the water over the falls suddenly turned black, frothing and churning harder than ever before it continued over the edge of the cliffside, something like black lightning dancing over it for a moment.

The rabbits continued to squeal and whine in their corner, shifting around to avert their eyes to what was before them. Hidden among them were Coffee and Ti, the young prince whimpering helplessly as Coffee tried to soothe him. “It's okay, Ti,” she whispered in a broken voice. “Someone will come, someone will come for us!”

“What's going on in here?!”

It was almost heroic, really. There, silhouetted in the door, were two girls, hand in hand and tensed as if ready for battle. The shorter-haired girl was wielding a water can, the one that always sat against the outside of the hutch. Not the best weapon, but it was a great gesture. “Mirai!” The longer-haired girl ran inside the hutch, placing her hands on her friend's shoulders and shaking her a little. “Mirai, what's wrong?”

Mirai didn't respond to her, just hung her head and sobbed bitterly as one hand clutched her chest.

“How dare you make such a sweet girl cry!” yelled the shorter-haired girl, marching inside the hutch and pointing accusingly at Tamora. “This is far enough!”

“What have you done to Mirai!?” the other demanded.

Tamora groaned, fingers in her ears. “Man, so annoying...” she grumbled. Then she smirked, lowering her hands and brandishing the marker again. “But this is okay too! You wanna see what I did to her? Here, I'll show you~!” The marker was uncapped again, and Tamora swiftly drew the strange symbol in the air before her, then flung her arm out. “Fall into heartbreaking despair!”

“Hiromi!” Aki flung herself at Hiromi, throwing the water can behind her, and shoved the other two girls out of the way. They all fell in a crumpled, tangled heap, and the mark smacked right onto the watering can instead, the momentum sending it through the chicken wire (which burst apart as if a man had ran through) and into the yard behind the hutch.

“Ooooh, this works better!” Tamora squealed in delight as the two girls pulled themselves apart. With a flourish, she raised her hand high over her head, which she tilted back to call skyward. “Come on out, Usotsuki!”

The mark on the watering can pulsed once, like a heartbeat, and then in a burst of darkness, the watering can changed.

“Usooo!” Where a harmless, cutesy watering can once sat, now there was a large and shadowy creature. It resembled the watering can, somewhat, but was much larger now and missing the colorful flowers that had once adorned it. The bright and cheerful colors were replaced by dusty dark purple and black, long arms and legs that ended in sharp claws and seemed to be made from darkness itself descended from its form, and a monstrous, fanged mouth and sinister eyes glared down at the hutch. The eyes and mouth glowed a horrible, vivid red. “U-sooootsukiii!” it roared.

“Wh-what the heck is that?!” Aki blurted out, staring through the hole in the wire.

“Usotsuki! Attack that school and plunge everyone into despair!” Tamora yelled.

“Uso--!”

“No!” Without thinking, both Aki and Hiromi climbed through the hole, ran for the Usotsuki as it turned its attention to the school building.

Unnoticed by Tamora, Coffee and Ti slowly stuck their head out from among the rabbits.

“Haaah? What's their problem?” Tamora mumbled, hands on her hips.

The Usotsuki lumbered towards the school, raising its arms –

– and two schoolbags, looking absolutely tiny in comparison to the monster, were thrown at its back. The Usotsuki actually stopped, turning to look at the two girls in confusion. ”Uso?”

“We said no!” Hiromi yelled, arm still outstretched.

“I don't know what you are, and truth be told I don't even care!” Aki joined in. “But you've hurt one of my Hiromi's precious friends and now you're trying to destroy a school, to hurt other people! We can't let you do that to people or things we love!”

“Love? Wow, these two are weird...” Tamora muttered.

Ti had heard enough. He shoved away from the rabbits, and ran for the hole in the hutch, closely followed by Coffee. “Ti, wait!” she called.

“Huh? He-Hey!” Tamora yelled as the rat and mouse fairies darted between her feet. “I knew you were in here!”

“You may be a scary monster,” Hiromi was saying as Ti drew closer to her. “But we'll still do our best to stop you from hurting others!”

“That's right! Both of us!” Aki yelled.

“Uso!” The Usotsuki didn't seem impressed by this at all. It turned itself bodily around, lifted one huge hand...

“You two, datchu!” Ti yelled, reaching into the bundle around his neck.

“H-Hu – What--?” Hiromi gasped, having precious little time to do anything else.

“Hurry! Take these, datchu!”

Two rings, one pink and red, the other blue, were thrown into the air above the duo. Without thinking, Aki and Hiromi reached out, each grabbing a ring in one hand.

--and the Usotsuki's hand came down.

It never made contact, however. From Hiromi and Aki's hands, between their fingers, came rays of golden light, briefly blinding them and making the Usotsuki draw back, roaring in pain. “Wh-what the...?” Aki gasped, blinking the dark spots out of her vision.

“Quick, datchu!” Ti called up in a panic as Coffee reached him. “Put the rings on and say 'Pretty Cure, Love's Song,' datchu!”

“Without the 'datchu!'” Coffee hastily added.

Aki glanced at Hiromi. “You know what's going on?”

Hiromi shook her head. “Huh uh...”

The Usotsuki seemed to recover then, roaring furiously and raising both fists to strike the girls again.

“But...”

“We'll do what you say!”

The rings were slid on.

Hiromi and Aki stood back to back, their ringed hands held in front of their chests, the other hands clasping with fingers intertwined. Both of them were glowing in light; pink on Hiromi, blue on Aki, with glowing hearts dancing about them. “Pretty Cure, Love's Song!”

The rings glowed and bursts of light appeared over them. Hiromi (now without her glasses) and Aki remained back to back, their hands clasped together and heads tilted against each other as the two spun around. Hiromi's ponytails came undone, and both girls' hair suddenly lengthened and changed. Hiromi's hair became a golden blonde, forming four large ringlets behind her; Aki's sleek hair tinted to a brighter blue and became fuller and feathered about her face, a long whip-like ponytail tied in a purple ribbon at the base of her skull. The light wrapped around both of them and then burst outward, revealing the tops to their new outfits. They smiled briefly, letting go of one hand to fly away at arm's length from each other. Each girl stuck out one leg as if they were dancers, and the light wrapped around both their legs and waists, then burst away in sparkling hearts to show the skirts and boots. Aki pulled Hiromi closer to her, each girl taking the other's hand again and raising it to her lips to kiss their fingers, gloves appearing on their hands right after. Their closed eyes opened, revealing that Hiromi's dark green eyes had become bright as emeralds and Aki's had turned a golden amber. They looked at each other, smiling widely, then bumped their foreheads together as light flashed on their ears and heads, revealing earrings and tiaras. They spun around once more, hands still clasped, and then stood back to back with one arm outstretched above them.

The girls smiled softly, her hand resting lightly on her chest. Hiromi wore a pink and gold uniform with slashed puffy sleeves, a pale pink corset with dark pink ribbon criss-crossing in the front, the skirt that flowed out from it was striped dark pink and light yellow and sat over pale pink petticoats. Pale yellow ribbons sat on either side of her waist, she wore pale pink elbow-length gloves with pale yellow ribbons around her wrists, a pale pink high collar and dark pink choker. Her pink boots reached her thighs, the toes, heels, and part of the front were pale pink and she wore pale yellow ribbon around her ankles and a bow at the tops. Her golden tiara was adorned with a bright pink heart-shamed jewel, and her chandelier earrings were dark pink ribbons with pink heart-shaped jewels.
“The innocent love in a maiden's heart, Cure Capulet!”

Aki smiled, clasping her hands in front of herself as if in prayer. Aki's outfit was similar, but her gloves reached her upper arm, her boots reached her knees instead of thighs, and instead of waist ribbons, she wore a large ribbon on her lower back. Where Hiromi's outfit was pink, Aki's was purple, and where Hiromi's was yellow Aki's was blue.
“The sincere love in a maiden's heart, Cure Montague!”

The two joined their hands together, fingers curling so together they formed a heart shape. “Our hearts connected! Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts!”

This all happened in the blink of an eye, and the Usotsuki's fists were just about to crash down on the two. But then it stopped.

Or rather, something stopped it.

”Uso?!”

“What the heck?” Tamora mumbled.

Cures Capulet and Montague stood with their arms over their heads, hands holding the Usotsuki's fists above them. Their heads were bowed at first, then snapped up to reveal the twin glares on their faces.

“We don't know what's going on...” Capulet began.

“But we won't let you hurt anyone!” Montague finished.

The two tightened their grasp on the Usotsuki's fists, pulled and leaned back, and the Usotsuki was pulled over their heads and sent crashing into the ground behind them. The ground shook upon impact, huge clouds of dust billowing up.

Capulet and Montague blinked, and then stared. The adrenaline rush had mostly worn off and now... “What...did we just do?” Montague mumbled.

“What did we say?” Capulet said, face tinting pink.

“Gaaaah, Usotsuki! Get back up and finish them!” yelled Tamora.

The Usotsuki grumbled under its breath as it pulled itself back to its feet.

“Quick, Pretty Cure!” Coffee poked her head over Montague's shoulder, surprising the blue and purple Cure. When had she...? “Join hands and summon the Rapier Wands! Finish it off before it does any more damage!”

“That rat is talking...” Capulet said.

“Rapier Wands?” Montague frowned lightly, then reached out and clasped Capulet's hand, their fingers intertwining.

From the pink and purple heart-shaped gems on their chests burst two lights, and two rapiers appeared before them. The rapiers were gold, with sparkling pink and gold, or purple and gold, handles; a heart-shaped gem sat atop the base of the hilt.

“Wh-whoa!” Capulet and Montague said together. As the Usotsuki finally pushed itself back up, they reached for their new weapons. Coffee leaped off Montague's shoulder and out of the way.

”Entwine! Our hearts are one!” The two Cures stood shoulder to shoulder, angled slightly and held in the en garde position. The Rapier Wands began to glow slightly as the girls turned and leaned forward, each of them tracing half a heart in the air, connecting to form one large, blue and gold heart of light. ”Pretty Cure...Dual Heart...” They dug in their heels, thrust the Rapier Wands outward. “Shot!”

The heart shot a stream of gold and blue light, heading directly for the staring Usotsuki. It slammed into it, creating a white glowing heart in its center. “U-Usotsuki--!” it managed to screech before the glow spread outward, disintegrating it to nothing.

A harmless watering can fell back to earth.

“Ohhhh no,” Tamora muttered. “This is bad, this is real bad!” And with that, she teleported out of sight.

Before their eyes, everything went back to normal. The hole in the rabbit hutch mended, the crater the Usotsuki had formed on impact vanished. Inside the hutch, the little rabbits tentatively hopped over to Mirai, who slowly sat up again, blinking tiredly. “Hmm...what was I...?” she mumbled, lifting a hand to her head.

Usagi-chan hopped onto her lap, pawing at her.

“Ah, Usagi-chan!” Mirai gasped, and she lifted the little bunny into her arms, giggling as he kissed her. Tears gathered in the corners of her eyes. “I-I'm not sure why, but I'm so glad you're all alright!”

________________________________________

Hiromi and Aki walked down the hill together, hands clasped, staring blankly.

“...that was a dream, right?” Hiromi asked.

“A vivid dream.” Aki nodded.

Coffee popped up on Aki's shoulder, her eyes sparkling. “It wasn't a dream~!”

Ti appeared on Hiromi's shoulder, teary-eyed. “We found Pretty Cure, datchu! Someone to save Mommy and Papa, datchu!”

“Ehhhh...” Aki sighed, hanging her head. “I still don't get any of this...could you two give us an explanation?”

“Please? If I have to keep another secret, I wanna know just what we're doing!” Hiromi added.

The rings, worn on the hands that were clasping together, glinted brightly in the sun.

________________________________________

In a far-off place, a girl sat in the shadows, her features obscured by the darkness. She had a very nice-looking room, wide and spacious with elegant tapestries, a large four-poster bed, and a lovely tea-set with cookies on a saucer already. But she was clearly not enjoying her surroundings, instead staring at her hands in her lap.

The wide doors opened, causing her to lift her head and look at the newcomer.

A young man with shoulder-length black hair stood in the doorway, eyes closed. “...Cure Ariel,” he said in a low, deep voice. His eyes opened, revealing them to be lime-green and expressionless. “It seems your two friends have had a stroke of luck.”

________________________________________

ED: "Hummingbird” - Mana Ogawa

________________________________________

ON THE NEXT EPISODE:
Hiromi: “Wehhhh, I don't get what's going on here at all! Suddenly, Aki and I are transforming heroines, and we have to fight these horrible monsters!”
Coffee: “It's lucky our first Cures are so close to each other already!”
Hiromi: “Ah, well...the thing about that is... Next time on Pretty Cure Entwined Hearts: 'Double Hearts! How We Began.' 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

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: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
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: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
:iconmirage-moonlight:
Mirage-Moonlight Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013
With those new prices, do fake screenshots cost a little more than 20 points?
Reply
:iconlady-moth:
Lady-Moth Featured By Owner Oct 10, 2013   Digital Artist
Wih new prices, the screencaps will cost the same as regular cel-shaded stuff.
my apologies for the increase, but one of my best friends said I was vastly under-pricing myself, and that the points I'm offering now are the equivalent to roughly five dollars or so. =A=
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