Love Looketh Not on Appearance But on the Heart

Disclaimer: "Ranma 1/2" is owned by Rumiko Takahashi, not me.

Formatting Notes: Double quotes indicate spoken dialogue, while single quotes indicate thoughts. Italics indicate flashbacks. I'm not very familiar with Japanese honorifics, so I won't be using them except in the cases of Ranma's and Ukyo's childhood nicknames for each other and of course the name of Ukyo's restaurant. I will also be using English translations for most terms except for the technique names that are left untranslated in the animé. As for the Amazon names, the naming theme can't be a coincidence (as with the Musk naming theme). I feel that the Chinese Amazons purposely name their children after the English words for hygiene products and then write the names as the closest Chinese equivalent. Therefore, they will have the same names even when speaking to each other in Chinese in the context of the story. As for gender pronouns when referring to Ranma, the narration will refer to Ranma by his current form, Ranma himself is a moot issue with the personal pronouns "I" and "me," while the other characters will mostly think of him as female (you did read the summary, right?) and speak of him by his current form.

Continuity Notes: This story obviously takes place after the end of the manga. I am ignoring all changes and filler from the animé. Therefore, Happosai and Cologne are only about 120 years old, not 300 (besides, it's nearly impossible for a 300 year old woman to be merely a great-grandmother to a teenager); Ranma's secret was revealed the first time he fought Mousse (except for the Kunos, of course); there is no Sasuke; and there was no time Ranma thought he was a girl, time traveling mirror, drowned spring of pious man, martial arts take-out race (nor included extra fiancee), martial arts calligraphy challenge , martial arts shogi, Ling-Ling nor Lung-Lung, Princes Kirin nor Toma, Natsume nor Kurumi, love mushrooms, and so on. I will allow Soun to be on the town council if it ever comes up, because I think it fits well and could just as easily be true in the manga. I'm using an estimate of 10 months for the time period covered by the entire manga. I have heard good arguments on both sides as to whether or not girl type Ranma's hair color is meant be to be red in the manga. I will be using red hair for her, because I like it better that way.

Prologue: Winning the Game of Love in Overtime

Ranma Saotome and Akane Tendo were finally getting married. It had taken a year and a half, much of it filled with constant insults and fighting between the two of them, but the finish line was now in sight.

Many people in the Nerima Ward of Tokyo, Japan had thought this day would never come. Despite the arranged engagement, it had seemed to some that they hated each other too much to ever go through with it. Others thought that Ranma would be more willing to marry the other fiancee his father had arranged, Ukyo Kuonji. Still others thought that Shampoo and the other Chinese Amazons would eventually succeed in luring Ranma to China under their ridiculous combat and marriage laws. Nabiki Tendo herself would've given long odds on Ranma and Akane ever getting married shortly after Ranma and his father had arrived at her house. There was even one old man out in the street preaching repentance, as this wedding was surely a sign of the end of the world.

Others, however, recognized the relationship for what it was: a love/hate relationship that was a textbook example of the "Belligerent Sexual Tension" trope that would eventually appear on the TV Tropes website. Kasumi Tendo, standing contently with the other bridesmaids, was among that number. Those who looked closely enough would notice that among all the fighting were moments of true friendship and even love. Despite all that had happened, neither of them had ever tried to break off the engagement (except for a brief period when Nabiki had made fools out of them in a plan to get them to make up after one of their fights) or stopped living together. Furthermore, Akane's safety before anyone else's, even his own, was always Ranma's top priority during the many fights and adventures in which he got entangled.

As Ranma nervously stood at his place at the front of the Tendo Dojo where the ceremony was taking place, he thought about how things had finally changed between him and his bride.

The first real step had been when Akane had been chosen to wear that semi-sentient battle armor that her father had received. He had just wanted to get that perverted thing away from her for her own good, but she had mistaken him for being jealous over the superior martial arts skills that her beloved "Armie" had provided her, although his over-competitive nature would've normally made it an accurate guess. Through some foolishness of his own as well as both of their fathers, he had made things worse to the point that Akane might have never forgiven him. Pushed to such an edge, he had truthfully told her she was "cute." It wasn't much, but it was the first time he had shared his honest feelings for her. To his shock, she had actually refused to believe him at first. They fought each other until he had managed to find a way to both remove the armor and convince Akane that he was her friend if not more.

The turning point in their relationship had occurred when they had gotten involved with the Phoenix People's invasion of Jusenkyo and its source at Jusendo. Akane had allowed her bodily fluids to be instantly evaporated in order to save his life. To save Akane, he had been forced to fight and kill the Phoenix King, Saffron, before he could use Jusendo's source water to return her body to normal. However, he had appeared to be too late:

He had finally succeeded in spraying them both, activating his curse and restoring Akane's body. As she held Akane's naked body in her arms, she felt overwhelming despair as she realized that Akane wasn't breathing. She had been too late. He used a kettle to restore his natural gender and dressed Akane's body in his shirt to preserve her modesty. As he sat with her in his arms in the Jusen Caves, he knew he had to give her one last message, even if she was no longer capable of receiving it.

"You gave your life...for mine," he began. "You were always trying to do things like that. You were stupid." He paused, as he realized that he had once again put his foot in his mouth, something for which Akane would've hit him had she still been able to do so. 'D*** it!,' he thought as he punched himself in the face. 'I have to make sure I say things right for once.' He continued with his farewell message. "That's not what I meant to say. I just want to say...thank you, Akane...and I'm sorry, and...I'm...I'm really lame at this stuff." He had to say it now, for his own mind if for no one else. He just wished he had had the courage to tell her before he lost her. "I never...told you what I really felt. Akane, can you hear me? I want to tell you something. able to hear me, Akane." 'This is it,' he thought as tears began to fall from his eyes. "I love you, AKAAANE!," he shouted as he closed his eyes and embraced her tightly.

He opened his eyes as he felt a hand brush his cheek. Hope filled his heart as he responded, "A-Akane?' He heard her voice quietly reply, "" Her eyes were open, and she was smiling at him. "Akane!" he exclaimed in relief. "Ranma" was her simple reply. 'She's alive. She's smiling!' he thought as joy filled his entire being. "Oh, Akane," he lamely repeated himself. Akane looked deep in his eyes as she said, "I'm sorry. I couldn't make my body respond, but I heard everything." This caught him by surprise. "Eep? Everything?!" "Uh-huh," she confirmed. His face blushed red with embarrassment. He knew he had just told her something important and personal, but his shocked mind refused to dig up the memory of exactly what he had said. 'What? What? What did I say?'

Once they returned home after discovering that the Jusenkyo springs were unusable at the time, he had been knocked out from a surprise attack by his father and Mr. Tendo. When he came to, he found himself dressed in a white tuxedo. He had been even more surprised to learn that Akane had actually agreed to get married. When he went to talk to her, she reminded him that he had confessed his love for her in the Jusen Caves. He nervously recalled that he had indeed done so but still tried in desperation to deny it. If he had thought it through, he would've realized that Akane wouldn't have agreed to the wedding just on the confession of his love unless she also loved him in return. He did agree to go along with it with the lure of Nannichuan water to cure his curse, which had been sent as a thank you gift by the Jusenkyo Guide. Unfortunately, both the wedding and the cure had been ruined by the appearance of their many unhappy suitors, a problem that they had made sure to correct this time around...

Ranma looked towards the entrance as Akane appeared and began walking down the aisle as she was escorted by her father. Ranma sighed, entranced by her beauty in the same Western wedding dress she had worn at the previous wedding attempt. How could he have ever called her "uncute?" The memories came back to him as he recalled how their relationship had progressed since that first attempt.

The new school year had begun the day after the failed wedding. After racing Akane to school, they discovered that they would be having a rough time at Furinkan High for a while. Not only were they the talk of the school because of the failed wedding many of the students had attended, but his confession of love had also become common knowledge among the student body, as Nabiki had fished the information out of Ryoga during the wedding attempt and proceeded to sell it to Kuno and whomever else she could find to buy it before word spread too far. All day, they had deal with constant whispering and note passing. Miss Hinako drained several students she caught not paying attention and managed to stay in her adult form for most of the lesson. Several students tried to ask them about it directly at lunch once it became clear that they wouldn't respond to the notes they were passed. At first, he tried to be civil, but he eventually lost his temper and shouted out several painful threats if they continued to bother him about it. Everyone backed off after that, as it was well known that he could easily deliver on those threats.

The only exception was Kuno, who had unbelievably become even more annoying than he already was. He had attacked him (with the usual lack of results) as soon as he had arrived at school, then again at lunch, and once again after school, all the while insulting and threatening him, as he claimed that his love was a "most grievous insult of the fair Akane Tendo."

Akane had strangely been very quiet, politely turning down her friends' requests for gossip and not even reacting to Kuno. That evening, he found out why. He was looking up at the sky from his usual place on the roof when Akane joined him. She told him that she had been thinking about recent events and gone over their entire relationship in her mind. This had scared him, as he was suddenly worried that she would tell him that she didn't love him, or even worse, wanted him to leave. Instead, she had told him that now that she knew how he felt about her that she was no longer afraid to say that she was also in love with him. The time for denial was over as he confessed that he had indeed told her of his love in the Jusen Caves and meant every word. After a long passionate kiss, she explained that even if he hadn't told her, she now realized how much he loved and cared for her when she had looked closely back through everything that had happened to them since they had met ten months ago.

They then discussed where they should go from there. Together, they identified the main issues that had caused them problems up to that point. Now that they had admitted their feelings for each other, they no longer had to worry about any fights that resulted from the denial of their feelings. He agreed to try to avoid insulting her without thinking, while Akane agreed to work on her temper and avoid jumping to conclusions. He also agreed to train Akane for real after she pointed out that he had fought many girls and was really just afraid of hurting her. She complained that she was also a martial artist and that training her meant less worry for him the next time something weird and dangerous appeared in the chaos magnet of Nerima. He had to agree as he recalled that he had almost lost her this last time.

The final issues were the various fiancees and other suitors that constantly plagued them, and the over-zealousness of their parents to push them together and get them married off as soon as possible. The obvious solution was keep their new status as a couple secret until they were ready. Kasumi could be trusted, and Nabiki needed to be told and then paid off to keep the secret, but to everyone else they would appear to continue to deny their feelings and even purposefully insult one another on occasion, and they certainly weren't leaving the house separately with different excuses only to meet up for their dates.

As time passed, anyone could tell that they were getting along much better, much to the annoyance of some of their frienemies who continued to try in vain with several half-baked plots to either turn them against each other or get themselves noticed; but no one noticed how close they actually were.

After three months of secretly dating, he couldn't wait any longer. While it would've been nice if they had successfully gotten married on the first attempt, he was now glad it had failed. At that time, although he had already known he was in love with Akane, he still had doubts about getting married, as well as doubts about her feelings for him. It had taken a major bribe to convince him to go through with it. Now, he had no doubts. He loved Akane with all his heart and would marry no other woman. He bought a ring and took her to a nice restaurant for their next date. As he was about to propose, a waitress naturally took that moment to accidentally splash him with a glass of water. After cleaning herself up and brushing off the apologies f the embarrassed waitress, she considered waiting for another opportunity but decided to go ahead. It had taken too darn long to get to this point, and he wasn't going to let the curse screw things up this time no matter how embarrassing this was going to be. Gathering her courage, she got down on one knee, opened the box, and asked Akane to marry her. The restaurant soon got very quiet as the staff and the other patrons looked on in shock at what appeared to be a girl in a baggy suit proposing marriage to another girl. Akane began laughing at the awkwardness of the situation and then replied, "Yes, I'll marry you, you idiot." This response caused plenty of face faults and dropped jaws throughout the restaurant. They promised to explain if they could get some hot water, after which several of the people present were astounded by the transformation, while others quietly went back to their meals or jobs, being used to the weirdness of Nerima.

Of course, Ranma reflected, making their engagement official had created its own set of problems. Just about every weirdo in Nerima had romantic interest in one of them (or both of them in the case of a certain delusional kendoist), and they were all very stubborn in their pursuits, which had already ruined one wedding attempt. Thankfully, Ranma and Akane had the foresight to plan in advance how to deal with them. 'Ryoga had been the easiest,' Ranma thought as he glanced over at his best man, who was holding not just the rings but a thermos of hot water, a necessary precaution at a wedding where the groom and three other attendees have Jusenkyo curses.

While cleaning up the dojo after the failed wedding, Ryoga had asked to talk to him alone. The lost boy then proceeded to tell him that he had known for a while that he loved Akane; his confession in the Jusen Caves had merely been final confirmation for Ryoga that Akane would never be his. Ryoga then predicted that even though this wedding had failed, he was certain that they would get married and be happy together someday. As for him, he was going to focus on his relationship with Akari. Finally, Ryoga had made him promise to take good care of Akane and continue to keep his identity as P-Chan secret from her. In return, Ryoga promised that he would never again take advantage of Akane with P-Chan and would try to avoid even crossing her path while in his transformed state. Ryoga also warned him that he had let slip to Nabiki about the confession to Akane.

Three P-Chan free months later, they had returned from the awkward date where he had proposed and broke the news to their families. Everyone reacted as to be expected. Soun openly wept while dancing around with Genma, both of them exclaiming how the schools would soon be joined. Nodoka commented on how manly her son was for finally deciding to get married. Kasumi offered congratulations while smiling knowingly. Nabiki handed out the prize to the engagement pool she had been running among the family, Nodoka being the winner. While Nabiki had kept her promise not to tell about them dating, she saw nothing wrong with running a pool after commenting on how much better the two of them had been getting along (Kasumi being ineligible due to her knowledge of inside information).

Happosai made a perverted comment about how lucky Ranma was to be able to "score" with Akane whenever he wanted, prompting a severe beating from Akane. Disgusted, Akane told her father that enough was enough and he needed to report Happosai to the police, or she would do it herself while also pressing charges against him for harboring the perverted thief. Soun was at first shocked that his own daughter would betray him like that. However, Kasumi and Nabiki wasted no time backing up their younger sister, having previously discussed the issue together. Confronted with a dishonorable prison sentence and three pairs of puppy dog eyes, Soun gathered enough courage to finally stand up to his "evil master" and went straight to the phone. Happosai wasted no time gathering up his belongings (including as much of his "collection" as he could carry) and fleeing into the night but not before warning everyone that they would regret this treatment.

Before school the next day, he and Akane had stopped by Ucchan's to tell Ukyo the news in person before she heard it from the grapevine at school. Ukyo was predictably shocked and upset, both at the engagement itself and for their secret relationship, yelling at them to get out. Konatsu tried to calm her down only for Ukyo to burst into tears and run crying up to her room. They attempted to apologize to Konatsu, but he dismissed their apologies saying that they had nothing for which to be sorry.

As they expected, Tatewaki Kuno was waiting for them at the school gate, having paid Nabiki to hear about their new relationship status. Shouting that he would not allow such a relationship when Akane rightfully belonged to him, the Blue Blunder charged at him with his bokken. Reacting according to plan, he easily dodged the first strike. He then pulled out a watermelon from behind his back and held it above Kuno's head. Kuno's watermelon slicing reflex kicked in, dividing the large fruit in half and knocking himself out.

After disarming the fruitcake, they woke him up and presented him with the restraining order Nabiki had arranged with various photographic evidence she had collected over the past few months (for a price, of course). They pointed out that at least he could put his full effort into chasing the pig-tailed girl and without coming off as a two-timer. He hadn't been happy about encouraging Kuno to go after his girl side but had reluctantly agreed when Nabiki had pointed out that a restraining order alone was unlikely to deter Kuno, and enduring an occasional Kuno glomp while female was worth getting him to leave Akane and his boy side alone. This had worked for about a month until he and Akane encountered Kuno at random while out shopping. Kuno couldn't resist rushing at Akane with outstretched arms; resulting in her shoe print on his face, a night in jail, and a large fine. Now knowing the horrors of a jail cell, particularly the primitive human waste disposal system, this mistake was not repeated.

As expected, the school was abuzz with the news of the engagement and secret relationship, Nabiki having sold the entire story to whomever would pay for it. Several of the girls were jealous of Akane, both because she had found love and because she had snared such a hunk. Sayuri and Yuka were a little upset that Akane hadn't even told them that she had been officially dating him. Even Miss Hinako was excited and let half the class period slip by before she realized that she should probably do some teaching. Several of the boys offered him congratulations and called him lucky, while a vicious glare had stopped any further awkward questions when a foolish classmate had asked him if they had "done it" yet.

Not completely unexpected, Ukyo hadn't come to school that day. After school, they had stopped by Ucchan's only to find it closed. He hoped he hadn't miscalculated by expecting Ukyo to eventually accept defeat and remain friends.

From the top of the building came an insane female laugh, "Hohohohohohoho!" Black rose petals scattered around as Kodachi Kuno jumped down in front of them wearing her gymnast's leotard and twirling her ribbon. "Is what brother dearest told me actually true? You didn't actually ask this violent peasant girl to marry you, did you Ranma darling?" With a frustrated sigh, he responded, "Yes, we're getting married." He handed her a restraining order. "Here, this one is for you. You can frame it next ta your brother's." She took a look at the form. "A restraining order?! Surely you jest. I can see why my idiot brother would need one, but why would you need protection from me, your true love?" Akane growled and replied, "He's my fiancee. He was never interested in you. Are you going to accept that restraining order or not?" Kodachi revealed a smile of which the Joker would be proud. "I think not. If I can't have my Ranma, you won't either." She rushed in to attack. A half an hour later, Kodachi was being committed to the Nerima Mental Institution, which promised that she would be held until at least after their wedding. Later that evening, Ranma returned Nabiki's hidden camera and paid the appropriate rental fee. He and Akane may have been going broke paying for all the help they were getting from Nabiki, but neither of them would deny that it was worth every yen.

They had one more stop to make before they were home free, and this one would probably be the most difficult. They stopped at the Cat Café and went inside. A young man with long hair wearing a long Chinese robe approached them. "Good afternoon. How many are in your party?" He sighed and responded, "Put on your glasses. It's us, Mousse. We need to speak to Cologne." As prompt as ever, the old Amazon elder hopped over on her staff. "I'll take it from here. You get back to work, part-timer." Cologne led them to the kitchen where they could talk in private while she continued to cook for her customers.

"What is it this time, son-in-law? I suppose it's too much to ask that you've agreed to marry Shampoo, especially with Miss Tendo accompanying you." He gulped and started what he hoped wouldn't be seen as a declaration of war against the Chinese Amazons. "First of all, you need to stop calling me 'son-in-law.' Me and Akane here have agreed to go through with our engagement an' get married." Akane nodded and showed off her engagement ring. Cologne face was unreadable as she responded, "Do you really love each other? Are you sure this won't turn into another fiasco like you had three months ago?" He answered, "Yes, this time we're sure about it. We're taking steps ta make sure everything goes right, and we're going through with it whether ya like it or not." "That's right," Akane agreed. He continued with the important part of the message. "I'd like ta resolve the issue of Shampoo's 'Kiss of Marriage' peacefully, but we will defy you and your people if necessary. You don't want me as your enemy, Cologne."

Surprisingly, Cologne sighed in defeat. "No, I suppose I don't. To be honest, I've been expecting this ever since Mousse told me about your little confession in the Jusen Caves. I've already taken the necessary precautions to dissolve the 'Kiss of Marriage' used on you as well as the 'Kiss of Death' used against your fiancee here. The other Elders weren't happy about it, but they eventually relented once I told them how stubborn you are and explained the danger of crossing the man who defeated Prince Herb of the Musk and killed Phoenix King Saffron. Our laws may appear strict to you outsiders, but we know how to be flexible when we need to be."

He smiled at his unexpected good fortune. Akane squealed and hugged Cologne while replying, "Thank you, Elder Cologne. This means a lot to us." Cologne smiled and said, "Please, just call me Cologne. Who am I to stand in the way of love? I know when to retreat when the battle is lost. I just ask for two favors. First, let me be the one to tell Shampoo. She doesn't know about any of this yet, and I fear she may not respond well if I don't talk to her first. Second, make sure we're invited to the wedding. We'll be leaving to go back to China for good afterward. I'm going to miss you, son-, I mean Ranma, and I'll miss this restaurant, but there's nothing keeping us here anymore. Nobody can deny that you made things exciting."

Akane nodded her hand and said, "Agreed, but we'd also like a favor. Last night, my sisters and I convinced our father to finally kick Happosai out of the house and report him to the police. However, we all know that the police will never catch him, and he's not going to let us go unpunished for turning against him. Our wedding will be too tempting of a target for him to pass up. We need you to track him down and find some way of capturing and holding him." Cologne replied, "That flimsy excuse for a human being has always been nothing but trouble. I'll do whatever I can to stop him." "Thank you," they both replied in unison.

As they headed for the door, Cologne surprised him one last time. "By the way, I don't suppose you'd like some Nannichuan water as a wedding present? I can have my village collect it and ship it to me here, and this time I'll keep it safe from your father and the other cursed buffoons, yes that includes you Mousse, until you can use it." Three months ago, he would've jumped at such an offer. However, three months of dating Akane peacefully had matured him and helped him accept his curse. Akane herself didn't even care about his curse and had at one point insisted on making out in the rain to prove it. "You know what, a cure doesn't even matter to me anymore. Akane loves me for who I am no matter what I look like, and I feel like I'm better off just accepting the curse instead of tryin' ta fight it. Although, I wouldn't turn down a bunch of that waterproof soap." Cologne laughed. "I see your young lady is already having a significant positive influence on you. Not many Jusenkyo victims ever reach that point of acceptance, let alone after only a little over a year of being cursed. I expect great things from you, Ranma. I'm proud to have been one of your teachers."

The next day, Ukyo was back in school and passed him a note telling him to bring Akane and meet her after school at her restaurant. When they arrived, she told them now that she had calmed down and thought about it, she knew she had to accept that he only thought of her as a sister. It wasn't worth destroying herself or losing her friendship with either of them. After all, he hadn't been aware of the agreement between their fathers, and Akane had just as much claim on him if not more than she did. She'd try to explain the situation to her father and hoped he'd be reasonable about it. When Akane told her that she was impressed with her attitude, Ukyo confessed that it had actually been Konatsu who had gotten through to her. It was too soon right now, but she admitted that she probably would eventually give the cross-dressing kunoichi a chance to date her.

Everything appeared to be settled until a few days later when Akane left the house by herself to do some grocery shopping for Kasumi. She had barely left the compound when Shampoo ambushed her and seriously attempted to kill her. Thanks to his training over the last three months, Akane had been able to hold her off until he could reach them. He was sure that Shampoo had never seen him this mad before, certainly never before directed at her, and her face showed genuine fear during the severe beating that followed. He helped Akane to Dr. Tofu to have her injuries treated while he literally dragged Shampoo's unconscious body through the streets to the Cat Café. The customers were a little shocked as he tossed Shampoo's limp form to the ground. "Old Ghoul," he shouted, "what's the meaning of this?"

At first, Cologne was not happy to see the sorry state of her great-granddaughter. Her clothes were torn in several places and covered in dirt and dried blood. The majority of her body was covered in bruises, and her right arm was broken. She probably correctly guessed that Shampoo also had several cracked or bruised ribs. Her face was bruised and bloodied almost beyond recognition, although there was at least no permanent damage. His fists were covered with a large amount of dried blood, while his face was unmistakeably full of the anger he felt.

However, Cologne was wise enough to realize that Shampoo must have brought it on herself and relaxed before quickly shooing out the customers, giving each of them a coupon for a free meal. One customer was heard to say, "This is what I like about this place. You never know what might happen, and you'll often get a free meal when something does happen. I would've preferred not to have seen today's show, though."

Cologne slowly turned to him and drily said, "I imagine my foolish granddaughter has crossed a big line for you to have put her into such a sorry state?" He silently nodded. "My humblest apologies. Let me assure you that I had nothing to do with her dishonorable actions. Come, let's clean her up while you tell me exactly what happened." Knowing that he could believe her, he let go of some of his anger. He then picked up Shampoo and followed Cologne to Shampoo's bedroom, where he placed the girl on her bed. Cologne left the room and soon returned with a first aid kit.

As she began to treat Shampoo's injuries, she asked, "I need to know. What has happened?" He replied in a angry voice, "She...she tried to kill Akane. Not like Ryoga says he wants ta kill me. The b**** actually attempted to the best of her abilities to murder my fiancee!" Cologne frowned in despair. "Is Akane all right?" He sighed. "Yes. Luckily, she was able to avoid any major injuries before I got there. She's at Doc Tofu's clinic right now. When we told him what happened, he refused ta treat Shampoo after confirming that her injuries weren't life-threatening. He did agree to let you handle it instead of gettin' the police involved, though." Cologne replied, "Yes, it would be best to address the issue from within the tribe. Considering what she tried to do, I'm actually surprised you left her in as good of shape as she is." He replied in all seriousness, "Believe me, Cologne. If her attack had been successful, she'd need an undertaker instead of a first aid kit. As it is, I managed to remain in control of my actions. Barely."

"Shampoo was certainly not happy when I informed her of your decision to marry Akane and my decision to accept it," Cologne explained. "I could tell that she didn't like my reasons for doing so, but she agreed to obey the authority of the Elders in the matter. I never thought she would be so stupid as to try something like this." He gulped as he thought of the likely Amazon punishment for defying the Elders. "They're not going to have her killed, are they? Me and Akane discussed that possibility, and while we can never forgive her and never want to see her again, we agreed that we don't want her dead." Cologne eyes brightened a little at that remark. "No amazon would think like that. It's further proof that things would've never worked out between you and Shampoo. Under the circumstances, between the failure of the attack and the mercy shown by the victims, she should be able to avoid a death sentence as long as she doesn't try anything else. There will be a strict punishment, though."

At this point, Shampoo began to wake up. "Uuuugghh! Why Shampoo hurt so much?" She then must have remembered what happened, as her eyes snapped open. She turned and saw him standing over her, a look of hatred now in his eyes. Shampoo shrieked and pushed back in fear, only to groan in pain from her injured arm. Once it was apparent that he wasn't going to attack her further, she gathered her courage and cried out with tears in her eyes, "Why? Why did Airen pick violent kitchen destroyer over Shampoo? Shampoo no hit Airen like violent girl does. Shampoo better fighter. Shampoo much better cook. Shampoo even built better." He knew he had to answer her if she was ever going to turn her life around, but he kept his voice strict. "Shampoo, you can't judge love on such surface level qualities. I love Akane for the person she is inside. For one thing, she would've never resorted to what you tried to do." At these words, Shampoo just cried even harder.

Cologne jumped on her bed and whacked her on the head with her staff. "Stop that blubbering and listen to me. Do you have any idea of the trouble you could've caused if you had successfully killed the girl?!" Shampoo looked up at her great-grandmother in surprise. "Akane is obstacle. Obstacles are for killing, no matter what Elders say." Cologne whacked her over the head again. "Get it through your thick skull, you foolish child! You're lucky enough as it is. A lesser man would've killed you in response to your attack. If you had killed Akane, Ranma would've killed you in return. He's already admitted as much. Keep in mind that this is the same man who killed a demigod to protect the very woman you targeted. While we Elders would've dismissed your death as punishment for defying us, there would undoubtedly be a few foolish young warriors, Mousse probably among them, who would attempt to take revenge on Ranma on their own or die trying, none of them very likely to succeed. With so much amazon blood on his hands, we would then have no choice but to make Ranma an enemy of the village and call for his head. Ranma would then be forced into hiding, perhaps taking along some friends such as Ryoga and Ukyo. At this point, he would no longer hesitate at killing any amazon who crossed his path and would likely put his tactical mind to use with some kind of guerrilla warfare. Even worse, he may even assault the village directly. I can't say whether or not we would be able to kill him in the end, but even if we did, it would merely be a Pyrrhic victory with our tribe in ruins."

Shampoo's eyes grew wide at this description of the big picture, at last fully understanding why she had to let him go. "I'm sorry," she tried to apologize, but he had had enough. "You're sorry?!" he began to yell. "You're not sorry for me or Akane! You're only sorry that you nearly brought destruction to your tribe! You knew full well what you were doing when you tried to murder the woman I love! I had hoped that we could be friends, but I can never forgive you for this. I never want to see you again, and you are certainly no longer invited to my wedding! Goodbye forever, you crazy b****."

He had left and never looked back. Eventually, Cologne had revealed that Shampoo had received a relatively light sentence, relative to their standards anyway. She had avoided the death penalty and even avoided exile from the village. However, she would never be allowed to cure her Jusenkyo curse, she could no longer use the "Kiss of Marriage" or "Kiss of Death," and her overall village status was reduced to that of a male warrior. For the rest of their stay in Japan, Cologne had effectively kept her on house arrest, forcing Mousse to make all the deliveries. Mousse had tried to comfort her, and Shampoo was now actually showing some kindness to the near-sighted quacker now that he wasn't chasing after her.

With all the suitors out of the way, they began to plan the wedding. As a typical male, despite what his physical appearance may sometimes indicate, he had left as much of the planning as possible to Akane, Kasumi, and his mother; while Nabiki kept everyone within budget. Before long, Cologne had managed to capture Happosai and provided Japanese law enforcement with some ki dampening equipment to make sure he stayed put. Ranma went out with the men for a bachelor's party (the highlight of which was a drunk Genma purposely splashing him and then attempting to stuff her inside a giant plastic cake), while the women held a wedding shower.

Another couple also found love during this time, as Kasumi finally decided to share her feelings with Dr. Tofu if he wasn't going to bother himself to do so first. This confession luckily had the effect of shocking the poor man out of his stupor long enough to reply in kind and explain his eccentric behavior around her before he relapsed and began waltzing with his skeleton in joy. They began dating, with Kasumi initially using her sisters as messengers to plan their dates. Gradually, she worked Tofu out of his nervous shell until he was completely comfortable around her. A month before his and Akane's wedding, Kasumi and Tofu had announced that they too were now engaged.

At last, they were standing together ready to become husband and wife. The rest of the ceremony went off without a hitch, and they were now forever joined as Mr. and Mrs. Saotome. Everyone moved into the house for the reception. Finally, they were together and free from all of their crazy suitors. Unfortunately, they had forgotten about one of the suitors, one they had dismissed as no real threat and a minor annoyance at worst. This would prove to be a big mistake...

Author's Notes: So this is my first attempt at writing fan fiction. Leave a review and tell me how I'm doing. You can give yourself a pat on the back if you figured out that the title of the story is a reference to 1 Samuel 16:7 in the Bible. I wanted it to be "Outward Appearance," but that made the title too long for this website. The title of this prologue is a reference to the very last line of the manga.