This is for nadie95! Since it doesn't really fit into the canon-world timelines of Healing Kisses, I thought it best to make it its own oneshot. This takes place after graduation.
Disclaimer: I do not own Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight.
With All My Heart
It's been three years since Maya and Claudine had started dating, and two since they'd graduated Seishou Music Academy alongside all their friends.
They've been through many things together since then; things most ordinary people could never hope to understand, things only the selected Stage Girls could ever know of. And even amongst the Stage Girls, there were trials and experiences unique only to those at the top - only to them.
While they have of course shared almost too many memories to count with their classmates and friends, for Maya and Claudine, the majority of those memories always - and sometimes only - involved each other.
The laughter, the joy, the successes.
The hardships, the dejection, the tears.
The two of them have shared everything over the past three years. And it's become very clear to them both that they only intended to continue sharing everything with one another.
After graduation, they had bought an apartment together and each signed contracts with various agencies for work in theatre and entertainment. Having taken yet another step forward in achieving their dreams, their days were filled with excitement and anticipation.
And even on the nights when they would come home weary and exhausted, they always had each other.
Which was why it truly didn't take very long for Maya to understand that she truly wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of her life with Saijou Claudine.
That was the only time in her life when Maya used her wealthy family to her advantage.
She had contacted several renown people by her mother's affiliation, and after a time of searching in secrecy had managed to find the perfect ring. The band was shining silver, and the diamond was faintly tinted with rose quartz. It fit her beloved Claudine perfectly.
Rather, the image of it did - she would have to wait a bit longer to see it actually fit her finger.
Tendo Maya was nothing if not extravagant. While of course her time spent in high school with Claudine and their friends had allowed for her humble side emerge, it was for things like these she would simply never settle for anything less than perfect.
She researched many nights as Claudine slept, often staying up for hours trying to look into the most romantic and extraordinary proposal methods. She would spare no expense when it came to Claudine in general, and of course Claudine always insisted she didn't need anything fancy or special anyway.
But on this matter in particular, Maya wouldn't accept a regular proposal to give her.
It must be breathtaking. It must be unforgettable. It must be something that lets the whole world know just how much Maya loves her.
When she'd committed to this idea months earlier, Maya's mindset had been that it would have to be absolutely perfect...
...And yet, her three unsuccessful attempts since then had been anything but.
Initially, she had set her heart on the most romantic proposal she could fathom.
She had waited for them to travel back to France for a week to visit Claudine's parents. Maya had made reservations at a beautiful restaurant with a perfect view of the Eiffel Tower, and went through a great amount of trouble to contact the staff and alert them to her plan.
She had brought Claudine there on that warm spring evening to enjoy miraculous views, music, and food. All the while, Maya had been waiting and waiting, casting nervous glances at every waiter and waitress that passed by their table, having several false starts throughout the evening.
But in the end, the boxed ring she had given to the staff had never been delivered to them along with their dessert as intended. Evidently, there had been many other couples with similar plans that very night, and Maya's had simple been forgotten.
All that evening, Maya and Claudine had borne witness to half a dozen other proposals at that spot beneath a glowing sunset. And all the while, Maya had gotten more and more excited to know that Claudine would soon be the next person to be proposed to.
So her dismay and disappointment was crushing when their dessert arrived with no hidden ring box with it.
At the end of the evening, Maya had excused herself to the restroom as a way to talk with the staff, who had regrettably told her of their busy night and how they had merely forgotten her ring. As such, they had at the very least refrained from billing her for the meal, and offered their sincerest apologies upon returning the ring to her.
Such had been the first failed attempt.
For the second, Maya had decided on something a bit less predictable.
Back in France, they'd seen so many proposals happen at that one single restaurant on that one single night. Part of her was almost a little relieved her plans had fallen through there. After all, she wouldn't have wanted her proposal to Claudine to have simply been 'another' for the evening.
When she proposed, Maya wanted it to be the only one. She wanted the onlookers' attention to be solely on Claudine and no one else for the entirety of the evening.
Therefore, for her next attempt a few weeks later, Maya had taken things a step further.
On one of hers and Claudine's rare days off together, they had decided to go to a theme park for a day-long date. They'd gone on rides, played games, eaten all the sweetest foods, and seen all the most incredible performances with the animals.
It was at one of these demonstrations where Maya had called ahead to make her arrangements.
The trainer of the exotic birds had assured her the eagle in question had performed the exact same stunt many times before; it would do tricks and soar over the crowd, captivating their attention all while securely keeping the ring box in its talons. Then, obeying the trainer's signals, it would glide down and release the box within the hands of the designated person.
Maya's manner of thinking was that the more romantic type of proposal hadn't worked, so she wanted to attempt something unexpected and extraordinary.
Claudine had certainly been enamored with the beautiful bird as it had tumbled and twirled in midair above the massive audience. And so she had squealed with delight to see it gliding toward her, its striped wings flashing the most beautiful and graceful movements.
But when it dropped the ring box, it ended up being into Maya's hands.
It had only been a slight error, a few inches off its intended target, but even so, Maya couldn't go through with her proposal, as all the attention of the crowd had been on herself, not Claudine.
As her girlfriend had excitedly asked what the bird had given her, Maya had quickly hidden the box away in her clothes and brushed it off as a stone.
All in all, Claudine had immensely enjoyed their date-day together in all they had done. Maya was only upset that she couldn't have ended it even more incredibly, with the entire park to congratulate and celebrate them.
She had confided both of her failed attempts in her friends, whom she had kept in touch with and spoken with daily, just as they always had in high school. The seven of them poured in their pity and their support, trying to give her ideas for a third attempt.
A few weeks after the second failure, Maya attempted her proposal a third time. Her friends assured her that the third time was the charm, after all.
It was early summer by that point, and festivals were beginning to pop up all around. Futaba and Kaoruko gave Maya the contact information of an acquaintance who was in charge of the fireworks display.
A proposal written out in fireworks in the night sky wasn't unheard of, but it certainly wasn't an easy task to accomplish. Even so, Maya paid the fee and insisted upon it.
It would happen just before the finale. An array of smaller fireworks would be sent up in a certain order and light up bit by bit to form words of the message:
Will you marry me, Saijou Claudine?
Then, there would be a brief lull in the display as the onlookers would search for the couple who was proposing. And with the answer undoubtably being positive, the finale would commence, painting the night sky in color and light above the young couple's heads as they kissed and the audience applauded for them.
Maya had the evening already planned out in her mind many nights in advanced.
Just like the ones before, she had spent many sleepless nights mentally preparing herself for it, to the point where she would toss and turn so much she would wake Claudine, who would then proceed to ask her if she was all right and fret about her until Maya kissed her enough times to reassure her.
On the evening of the festival, Maya kept the ring box tucked safely in her yukata in anticipation for the fireworks display. Before that, she and Claudine met up with their friends to enjoy the food and games of the festival for hours before nightfall.
At that point, they all headed to the fields to get a good spot to view the fireworks display.
And Maya had truly thought this would be the success story. The fireworks were beautiful, blossoming across the sky like flowers, swirling and sparkling...
And then the low groan of the storm warning alarm began to ring.
The announcement was made that an unexpected rainstorm was rapidly making its way through the area, and that the festivities would need to be canceled early.
The worst part of it all was that Maya's message was sent halfway through. As the crowd had started to chatter and move about to make their way to shelter, the fireworks began spelling out the words:
Will you marry me
But just before any name could be displayed, the show was forced to end.
As everyone hurried to get home to avoid the rain, thousands of people were left wondering about the unfinished proposal that had lit up the night sky.
As she said a hasty goodbye to her friends for the night, Maya's heart had sunk into the pit of her stomach.
Naturally, Claudine had been wondering all night long about who could have planned out such an incredible proposal, only to have it ruined by a poor stroke of luck due to a rogue weather pattern.
Maya had offered only brief commentary on the matter as she'd hidden the ring box away in her dresser yet again.
That night she'd cried a little after Claudine had fallen asleep.
Why her? Why for this? Why couldn't misfortune befall her for quite literally anything else? Why did it have to happen when she was trying so hard to make Claudine happier than she'd ever been in her life?
Frustrated beyond explanation, Maya had once again turned to her friends for help in secrecy…
The night after the festival, Claudine's heart pounds all evening as she tries to fall asleep.
It was all too clear to her now.
The incident with the eagle had been the first big indicator.
Though Maya had brushed off the object that had been dropped into her palm as a stone, Claudine could certainly recall seeing a square shape. She hadn't suspected anything during their romantic evening in France, but after the display at the theme park, she could only assume Maya had been trying to attempt something back then during their vacation as well.
And tonight had only proved it all the more.
That message in the sky tonight had been meant for Claudine, and she was completely certain of it.
Tendo Maya was trying to propose to her.
And Claudine just doesn't know what to do about it.
Of course she already knows what her answer will be - that isn't her concern.
But Claudine isn't sure if she should let Maya know she understood her intentions - if she should make it be known that she was aware of the failed attempts - or if she should pretend she knew nothing in favor of boosting Maya's confidence for the eventual successful attempt.
She doesn't know if she should confide in all of her friends, or perhaps just one or two of them, or if she should just stay quiet and let Maya handle it all, then act completely shocked when it finally happened.
It's truly troubling in the sincerest and softest of ways.
Claudine is so caught up in her own plight that night that she doesn't notice how bothered Maya is beside her, and the same is true for Maya.
Both of them end up with a rather restless night, and brush off their excessive yawns in the morning. They tell each other the same thing; that they'd simply had so much fun last night at the festival that they hadn't been able to sleep.
Both take the excuse at face-value, and head to their studio together for the day.
But after an entire night and day of serious thinking, Claudine decides Maya has suffered enough in her efforts.
It's time for Claudine to step up and take matters into her own hands.
She simply needs to wait for the right moment…
Maya finds herself trapped in a slump for several days after her third failed attempt. While she of course never lets it interfere with her work or her performances, she does a great deal of sighing in her showers, or when she's helping Claudine with supper and believes the sounds of the stove drown her out.
Claudine must've heard at least her most recent sigh as they begin washing dishes, because she turns to Maya now with a frown.
"Ah, it's nothing," she smiles. "I've just got a few more things I need to take care of tonight. Please go to sleep without me."
Claudine narrows her eyes, putting all of the dishes down onto the counter so she can place her hands on her hips.
Maya can't help but be touched by her glare, which she knows stems only from a place of concern for Maya's wellbeing.
"Don't worry. I shouldn't be terribly long. I shall come join you as soon as I'm finished."
"Then I'll wait for you," Claudine says. "If it ends up taking too long, I'll come back and take you to bed myself. You need to rest."
Maya dips her head before kissing her lips sweetly.
"Thank you very much."
Claudine huffs softly, then turns to head for the bedroom.
Maya watches her go, then waits a moment before retreating to the living room area to get comfortable on the couch. She takes out her phone and selects a familiar number.
"Hello, Daiba-san? I apologize to be calling at such an odd hour. But I was wondering if you might have a few moments…"
Of course, they end up talking for more than just a few moments, though. Their conversation extends a little over an hour, and all the while Maya is sure to keep her tone hushed.
When she does finally hang up, a fresh wave of confidence has begun swelling in her chest.
She and Nana had reached an agreement, which Nana would be telling Junna about right now, no doubt. And then the two of them would be spreading the word to the rest of their friends tomorrow.
And Maya is certain that this is the one that will work.
By the end of the next attempt, Saijou Claudine will be her fiancee, without a doubt.
Even if circumstances try to thwart her yet again, Maya shall will her success into existence no matter what.
With a yawn, she turns off her phone and then the lights before heading into the bedroom. She finds Claudine reading, but the moment Maya enters the room she puts the book aside and turns off the bedside lamp.
As Maya joins her, Claudine wraps her arms around her in seconds, pressing close and sharing her warmth. Maya nuzzles into her collar, folding her arms snugly across her back.
"How did everything go?" Claudine wonders.
"Quite well," Maya says. "I've made the necessary arrangements for something important."
"Yes. If you don't mind, I think I'll tell you about it once it's been seen through."
"That's fine. I hope it works out."
"As do I."
Maya rolls onto her back, holding Claudine steady on top of her as she pets through her hair and runs her hands up and down her back. Maya stares up at the ceiling for a while, streaked with moonlight. This attempt will work. It has to.
"Hey, Tendo Maya." Claudine pushes herself up to put her face in front of Maya's, giving her a disgruntled little glare. "What are you spacing out for? Stop overthinking whatever you're thinking about and get some rest."
Maya smiles and shakes her head.
"Of course. Thank you, Claudine."
Maya pulls her in for a goodnight kiss, then cradles her head against her chest. Maya's heart is still jumping at the prospect of her next attempt, doing backflips in her chest.
But Claudine's pulse beats more steadily over hers, calming her and reminding her to breathe.
Maya allows the rhythm of Claudine's heartbeat and the pattern of her breathing to lull her into an undisturbed sleep tonight.
Claudine keeps her warm until dawn, and Maya wakes more determined than ever before.
It had been a week since Maya had made her call to Nana.
Recently, the seven of her best friends had auditioned for a highly-anticipated play that would be performed in town at the local theatre, and each of them had landed a role in the cast. The only reasons Maya and Claudine hadn't auditioned as well had been because they'd already been cast in a different play together.
But of course they had ensured they would be able to come and watch their friends' performance on opening day from the front row. It was a medieval sort of story, one of knights and princesses, put on by an all-female cast.
Maya's plan was as follows.
In the story of the play, a group of infamous bandits cause all sorts of trouble throughout the events. But at the end, an extra, unscripted event will occur, in which they will bring a certain unsuspecting audience member up onstage and pull her into the play. And then, a second audience member will join in as well, and create a bit of controlled chaos of her own.
Maya had been in contact with Nana for a while now, constantly checking to ensure this would all go according to her wishes. Nana had talked with her stage director, management, and other people in charge to see if Maya's request was something they could pull off, and they had all given their approval.
Being that the two audience members they would be involving in this performance were two renown actresses themselves was promising enough. Even if one of them had no idea what was coming, everyone who knew of this little stunt was confident in their improv skills.
As such, the entire cast and stage crew knew of what would be occurring during their opening performance, but no one in the audience - other than Maya - would be expecting a thing.
It would be perfect.
They will sit through and enjoy the play together, watching their best friends perform as professionals, live in front of hundreds of people. Then, at the end of the play, Nana and Junna would jump off the stage and capture Claudine, making her a surprise guest of the cast.
And as the audience would be stunned into a chorus of intrigued murmurs, Maya would leap onto the stage herself and voice the lines she had been given by Nana - lines of a character included in this portion of the play exclusively for the occasion.
Maya would rescue her princess from the bandits, and then drop down on one knee to propose in the middle of the stage for the world to see.
It would be perfect.
All of their friends would be around them, and hundreds of people would be watching in awe. It would make up for all of Maya's failed attempts thus far, and make Claudine happier than she'd ever been in her life...
. . .
Maya is so engrossed in the thoughts of what is to come later today that she spends a good amount of time gazing at the curtains before the show begins. Claudine has to prod her several times to get her attention.
"Hey, Tendo Maya! What's gotten into you?"
"Eh? Ah, my apologies."
"You really didn't sleep well last night, did you?" Claudine sighs. "Just try not to doze off during their show, all right?"
"I wouldn't dream of it," Maya vows. "Daiba-san and the others have been working very hard for this premiere. I will be giving them my utmost respect and attention."
"I should hope so," Claudine grunts. "But… If you really don't feel well, we can leave. They'll understand."
A smile spreads across Maya's lips. She leans over in her chair to kiss her for a long moment.
"Thank you, Claudine. But in truth, you needn't concern yourself. I assure you I'm perfectly fine. Perhaps never better."
Claudine gives her a somewhat puzzled look, but nods nonetheless.
"All right. If you say so."
Maya is touched by her concern as always, and gives her another soft kiss to put her at ease.
A short while later, the play begins. It's a little strange to be watching their best friends all onstage together without either of them this time around, but Maya knows that will change at the end.
Both Saijou-san and I will soon be joining them, and we shall all stand onstage together again.
She's almost a little happy her other attempts at her proposal had failed, because this one truly must be the most fitting.
Maya slips her hand into her pocket to check and re-check that the ring box is there and ready for when she'll need it.
Nana had informed her of the play's plot, and of when the big twist will arrive. Maya takes note of every scene change, and with each one, her heart races a little bit faster. Sometimes she squeezes Claudine's hand so tightly that her girlfriend needs to chide her with a whisper and readjust their grip on one another.
The two of them enjoy the events of the play, and it's made all the more enjoyable by the fact that they're getting to see their good friends in these roles.
Though eventually, Maya recognizes certain events in the story, and certain lines that are read. Nana had informed her these would be happening toward the end of the play - and the start of their little surprise.
Maya draws in a deep breath.
This is it. In just a few moments, Nana and Junna will climb down off the stage and whisk Claudine away as a captive. Maya will rescue her, and then…
"Curses!" Mahiru calls from onstage. "Ladies, we're not a very lucky band of bandits, now are we?"
"I'll say," Kaoruko sighs. "We can't seem to keep hold of even one prisoner for very long."
"We need someone who won't see it coming!" Karen declares.
"That's right!" Futaba projects. "Someone like her!"
All the onstage actress' gazes, as well as the gazes of the audience members, are directed to the front row. A trained spotlight shines down on Maya's and Claudine's seats.
"Huh-?" Claudine blinks, looking around in confusion. Maya also plays the fool.
"I wonder what this could be about…?"
"Seize her!" Hikari gives a call, and both Nana and Junna jump down off the stage.
Maya smirks, letting go of Claudine's hand with precise timing, so they'll be able to whisk her away-
Only, it isn't Claudine that Nana and Junna end up grabbing.
Maya is rendered utterly shocked as her two friends hoist Maya herself up out of her seat with cries of triumph.
"Yeah! We'll take this one!"
"We'll make a pretty penny off of her!"
Maya is so caught off-guard that she hardly even struggles as a captive should. Nana and Junna simply pull her toward the stage and up the stairs.
Maya looks back to stare at a baffled Claudine before snapping out of her trance. As the spotlight follows them onto the stage, she hisses in Nana's direction.
"Daiba-san! What is the meaning of this?"
"Hm~?" Nana coos quietly back. "We're doing what we were asked to do, Maya-chan!"
"But I asked you to kidnap Saijou-san-!"
However, Maya's exasperated words are cut off as all of the bandits onstage give a collective, hearty laugh, and continue on with the unscripted portion of their play.
"Yes, this one will do nicely!" Nana declares. "Would anyone else like to join her?"
As they all continue laughing around her, Maya feels that dreadful sinking sensation all over again.
This was a mistake. She won't be able to propose to Claudine as intended now. How could such misfortune have befallen her a fourth time? It simply wasn't fair…
The cackling laughter of the seven bandits cuts off abruptly. The spotlights swerve as another voice joins in on the stage. Maya blinks, looking first between Nana and Junna, and then back to the front row of the audience. Not only is Maya's own seat vacant, but so too is the one beside it-
"I would advise you to unhand my girlfriend, you scoundrels!"
Now, everyone's eyes - Maya's included - turn to follow the spotlight to the edge of the stage where a second audience member has followed them up.
Claudine stands in a firm stance with her hands on her hips, and a very irked expression on her face.
The audience gasps and begins to chatter in excitement at the sudden development.
Maya, however, is left flabbergasted.
"Hah!" Nana barks at her. "And just what are you gonna do about it, girlie?"
Claudine struts across the stage with such confidence that the other bandits recoil a bit.
"I'm glad you asked." Claudine lashes out to steal the prop dagger from Kaoruko's belt, then turns to face them all. "Care to stick around and find out, ladies?"
Nana clicks her tongue, then gives a command.
Karen, Fuataba, and all the others charge forward at Claudine, with only Nana staying back to restrain Maya. Although, with how utterly dumbfounded she is, Maya wouldn't have found the sense to move even if she had been released.
She watches in awed confusion as Claudine does battle with the others, swinging her weapon with grace and skill. The entire audience cheers for her, enthralled by this interactive development.
Claudine topples Kaoruko, then cuts down Karen and Hikari, followed by Futaba and Mahiru, and lastly Junna. With a toss of her hair over her shoulder, she aims her weapon at Nana next and delivers a chillingly charming line.
"Unhand her, or else."
Nana sputters, and eventually cowers away, leaving Maya free. She almost wishes Nana had stayed to hold her up though, because now she feels like she's going to collapse from shock.
Claudine drops the sword and turns to her, and the audience rustles into a murmur as the spotlight follows the couple at center-stage. Claudine reaches her hand out to Maya with a charismatic smile.
"Are you all right?"
Maya blinks. She accepts Claudine's hand, her mind whirring with so many thoughts right now that she can hardly even hear herself when she gives her answer.
"Good. Now then-"
Claudine curls her fingers beneath Maya's.
And then she drops down onto one knee.
"-I would like to make a request."
The audience surges with chatter and gasps, and all of the fallen bandit girls revive themselves to watch.
Maya's mouth drops and hangs open as she stares down at her girlfriend, speechless.
Claudine bows her head for a moment to gather herself. Then, when she finally lifts her face, her eyes are spilling over with emotion.
"Tendo Maya-" she begins. "You've been trying so hard all this time. I'm sorry to steal your thunder. But I couldn't pass up this opportunity."
Maya chokes on her words, pressing her unoccupied hand to her mouth to hold back the sobs. Claudine wipes her eyes as well before continuing on.
"It's frustrating… there's so much I planned on saying in this moment… but now my mind's gone blank, so please accept the bare minimum."
Her eyes shine more brightly than any spotlight, honest and beautiful and full of so much love.
"We've been through so much together… more than anyone else could ever hope to understand. It's been difficult, frightening, and upsetting at times. But it's also been so much more wonderful, rewarding, and breathtaking."
Her grip on Maya's hand tightens in earnest. Her eyes sparkle and overflow as she reaches into her skirt pocket to reveal a small box. She presents it to Maya, then opens it to reveal the ring inside.
"Tendo Maya," she rasps. "I love you with all my heart. Please… would you marry me?"
The entire room goes rigid with delight and anticipation. Onstage, their friends are already holding back tears.
Maya blinks again and again, trying to comprehend what she is seeing and hearing, trying to convince herself it is real.
"Sai… Claudine…" She's more confused than ever, and yet everything is crystal clear.
Maya feels tears dribbling all down her face and her neck, so heavy that they seem to be pulling her down with them. In fact, her legs give out a few seconds later, and she drops to her knees as well. Everyone gasps, Claudine loudest of all.
Maya keeps hold of her hand, and with her other she pulls out the ring box from her own pocket to present it to her.
"Claudine…" she chokes. "I… I had wanted to ask the very same thing of you here today… Would you marry me…?"
Another trill sweeps through the room, and the volume of the excited murmurs all around them increases.
Claudine blinks past her own tears, dropping her gaze to the ring in Maya's palm, then lifting it back to her face once more.
"Mechante… I asked you first, you know. You've got to answer me first…"
Maya cracks a wobbly smile, nodding deeply.
"You are absolutely right," she chuckles through the sobs. "Then yes. I absolutely will marry you, Saijou Claudine."
"Then so will I, Tendo Maya."
The onlookers can't take it any longer. The entire room bursts with raucous cheers and applause, while the girls onstage burst into tears.
Maya and Claudine throw their arms around one another, sobbing from all the joy in their hearts. Their friends wail and cling to each other all around them, frantically scrambling to accept boxes of tissues from the stage crew.
Cameras flash and videos record the entire scene for everyone to admire for months to come.
Maya and Claudine share a deep and beautiful kiss, and the audience gives a standing ovation.
The recently-engaged couple eventually eases apart enough to put their rings on each other's fingers, then embrace and kiss again.
Eventually, their tearful friends venture over to help them up, and the cast and their impromptu duo take a bow together. The applause continues for long afterward, and so many people come up to commend the performance and congratulate the couple. It takes a while for the place to clear out and for the nine girls to clean themselves up.
But when they do, Nana and all the others take Maya and Claudine out for a celebratory dinner in town. They eat, chat, laugh, and cry well into the night.
Karen blubbers almost nonstop and hugs them every chance she gets while Hikari and Mahiru gently pry her off the couple. Kaoruko asks again and again to see the rings and whines to Futaba about how badly she wants one. Junna and Nana show them the pictures already circulating around the internet, and the headlines about their mutual surprise proposal.
Claudine reveals that she had suspected Maya's attempts, and had ended up thinking similarly enough to make the same request of Nana and the others. She hadn't expected Maya to do the same exact thing though, so she was genuinely shocked to hear that she had called Nana as well.
"Maya-chan contacted me first," Nana reveals to everyone. "So I agree and told her what to expect. And then Kuro-chan called me a few days later and asked for the same thing! She wanted us to kidnap Maya-chan so she could save her, too! It was so hard not to let either of them know!"
"In the end," Junna continues. "We had to coach both of them about how the scene would go so they each thought it was happening according to their plan. But we ended up following Saijou-san's plan and kidnapping Tendo-san."
"It was really hard to choose," Nana sighs. "But the shock on Maya-chan's face when we turned the tables on her was priceless! She thought we got it wrong!"
Maya blushes and bows her head slightly.
"I must admit… I was very worried my plans would fall through again…"
"But you got to propose in the end, after all!" Nana reminds her.
"Yes. Indeed I did." Maya bows to all of her friends. "Thank you all. Without you, I never would have gotten this far."
"Huh…" Claudine mumbles. "I'm lucky they decided to go with my plan. If you'd gotten to propose to me first - on top of being first about everything else - I'd never hear the end of it."
"That is true. I suppose you can count this as your sole victory, Claudine."
Everyone laughs, and the nine of them enjoy their night to the fullest. When Kaoruko starts talking about the future wedding, they decided to retire for the night before they can get too far ahead of themselves. That would have to wait a little.
For now, Maya and Claudine simply want to relish the joy of this night, the indescribable feelings of joy that bubble over and fill whatever room they occupy.
They wish their friends goodnight for now, and thank them all again for their help, then go their separate ways.
When they finally arrive home, Maya and Claudine feel like different people. The energy and mirth that rushes through their veins is hardly appropriate for the late, sleepy hour of night, but they can't calm down for a second. They keep glancing at their rings, and at each other, and constantly end up throwing their arms around each other to kiss.
After finally changing and brushing their teeth, Maya scoops Claudine up into her arms and carries her to bed, where she falls softly on top of her and proceeds to pamper her. Claudine laughs with all her heart, countering with kisses of her own whenever she can, drawing out equally beautiful laughter from Maya in turn.
When at last they finally settle down as much as they're able to, they lie together for a long time.
Only then does Maya turn off the bedside lamp, and suddenly the ceiling is aglow. With a gasp, Claudine gazes up to find dozes of tiny glowing stars had been laid out across the ceiling, stickers that spelled out a familiar message:
Will you marry me?
Claudine's heart swells, and a fresh wave of tears wells up. She buries her face into Maya's neck and pouts.
"No fair… what's this?"
Maya curls both arms around her and kisses her hair.
"This," she says. "Was Plan B. In case today didn't work out as intended…"
"You… You're something else, you know that?"
Claudine pulls her in for another warm kiss. Maya chuckles into it as another tear drips free.
"I love you, Ma Claudine. I love you with all my heart."
"I love you too, Ma Maya," Claudine recites. "With all my heart."
Sharing one last kiss, they curl up warmly together, the weight and shape of their rings already comfortable on their fingers.
From this moment forward, their lives will never be the same again. The days that await them now are even more exciting, more fun, and more dazzling.
They can hardly wait to continue on down this path together, with new rings on their fingers, and a new song in their hearts.
A/N: I'm not sure how many times I've written such romantic scenes and lines for them but it's still not getting old for me yet!
This was a really fun one! When nadie told me the proposal methods, it was only natural to make the successful play be acted out by their old classmates~ And then I threw in that "Plan B" at the end cuz I thought that'd just be super cute of Maya to have a backup-backup to make sure she made Claudine her future-wife. I really love this idea of Maya trying so hard on the thing she cares most about in the world and failing, and then getting so pleasantly surprised when Claudine makes it happen for her~