Neptune wasn’t sure when it started. For all she knew, it started so long ago that she doesn’t even remember it- when you got as old as Neptune was, your childhood became so foggy that you’d have to think very hard to remember if you even HAD a childhood.
But while she wasn’t sure when it started, she certainly remembers when she noticed it. After all, it was only fifty years ago.
She just… caught herself, one day. She nearly landed a hit on Neptune, because she was too busy staring at her fluffy snow white hair, her beautiful cobalt eyes, her slender legs- her everything, really. Neptune managed to recover- of course she did, she was too perfect to fail- but it stuck with her.
Thinking back on it, it wasn’t the first time she had just stared at the other goddess, but it was the first time that she’d nearly gotten in trouble over it- from the target of the stares herself, no less. She couldn’t help it- something about the other girl drew Neptune in.
It wasn’t just her appearance in HDD- they were all beautiful in HDD, that was just a fact (even if the other two would never admit that they were equally beautiful for as long as they lived). Her “human” appearance was just as striking, despite being very different physically- raven hair just as beautiful as snow, crimson eyes just as beautiful as cobalt, well-proportioned physique just as beautiful as… well, okay, her physique seemed to stay the same. Neptune was kinda the odd one out in that regard. Regardless, Neptune found her rival equally beautiful in both forms.
It wasn’t even just her appearance period . The way she carried herself, the things she fought for- even though they never interacted outside of battle, you get to know a person after seeing them all the time for centuries, especially when you rarely interacted with anyone outside your staff they way she (and, as far as she knew, the way all of them) did. For instance, while Neptune and her staff had intercepted many spies and assassins, all of them had come from Leanbox or Lowee- either Lastation’s ruler had too much honor to consider tactics like those, or she had similar feelings and was unwilling to truly take Neptune out. Neptune desperately hoped it was the latter.
After a few months, Neptune finally accepted that she was madly in love with the CPU of Lastation. Nothing else explained it. Mere infatuation? This had been going on far too long- if it were just that, she’d have gotten over it already. Caution over a worthy enemy? That would explain why Black Heart was so frequently in her thoughts, and Black Heart certainly was a worthy enemy- perhaps the only worthy enemy, even, since the other two didn’t hold a candle to them- but it wouldn’t explain why Neptune liked it so much, or why so many of these thoughts were fantasies.
But… she knew that she was madly in love with Black Heart. Alright, then. What do you do with that information? Normal humans had a hard enough time getting their feelings across to their beloved. Neptune and her beloved were the leaders of rival countries that had spent the last several centuries fighting to the death. That sort of thing creates a barrier. Even if she could work up the nerve to confess, she would probably never have a good opportunity. Every time they saw each other, they instantly started fighting, even if they were already in the middle of fighting Green or White. Which, you know, in its own way, was a little bit encouraging- Black Heart was clearly as obsessed with her as she was with Black Heart, even if it wasn’t necessarily the same kind of obsession- but it still made confessing harder.
Neptune once tried to write a love letter, but felt that Black Heart would probably assume it to be a letter of mockery, and tear it up before she even read it. Not to mention, she spent over an hour wondering if she should call her Black Heart or Noire- Noire would be more intimate, certainly, but was that level of intimacy appropriate? Sure, they had all known each other very well for centuries, but they weren’t exactly on good terms. They never called each other by name; hell, they only had that information because it was public information that tended to get shared around. What if calling her ‘Noire’ offended her? That was the last thing Neptune wanted to do when their relationship was still this shaky.
So, the love letter was scrapped.
Whenever Neptune tried to call a truce in the middle of a fight, so they could talk and- hopefully- stabilize their relationship a bit, Black Heart always accused her of trying to distract her. At the very least, it wasn’t a total waste; it did mean that there was a good precedent of Neptune trying to calm things down for fifty years, so if they did manage to have a calm conversation for once, it at least wouldn’t seem so sudden when Neptune proposed peace, or- if she was feeling particularly bold- confessed her love. That was a plus, right? Right?
There were a lot of options that might have worked, but she discounted them for being too… simple. They clearly wouldn’t work.
But, after fifty years of this, she couldn’t handle it anymore. She was very patient, being a goddess and all, but even she had limits. She needed to get this off her chest.
In short, she was getting desperate. It wouldn’t be long before she did something incredibly stupid.
Unbeknownst to her, she wasn’t the only one who knew that.
Neptune panted as she stared her opponent down. They were both exhausted, and they both knew that. The question was what they would do with that information.
Before Neptune could make a decision, Black Heart leapt towards her, forcing Neptune to act on the defensive… or, so Neptune initially thought, but she quickly realized that she could turn Black Heart’s inertia against her.
Instead of blocking, Neptune ducked and pushed against Black Heart’s legs, tripping her. After landing on her face, Black Heart quickly rolled back over onto her back, but before she could get up, Neptune pinned her to the ground, holding her forearm over Black Heart’s chest. Her rival’s panting face while she was pinned beneath her… Neptune had to struggle to not let her mind go to the wrong places. Still, she’d probably remember this moment for a loooong time.
At this moment, Neptune had an epiphany. Wasn’t this the perfect scenario? Every time she had tried to get her feelings across, Black Heart didn’t listen to her because they were fighting. But now, she had her beloved right where she wanted her. Nothing would come between them at this moment, not even each other. Neptune steeled herself.
“Just... do whatever you’re going to do and... get it over with, already,” Black Heart panted. “I don’t feel like... waiting for my punishment.”
“There’s not... going to be any sort of punishment,” Neptune corrected her. “I have something to... say to you, something that I’ve been trying to say for... fifty years, now.”
“And... what would that be?” Black Heart raised an eyebrow. “If it’s that you’re... better than me, I already... knew you thought that way.”
No, that wasn’t it. Neptune wasn’t going to brag. She was going to suggest a truce-
“Black Heart… Noire ,” Neptune sighed happily. “I love you.”
The moment the words left her lips, Neptune began to internally berate herself. Yes, she was getting impatient and needed to get that off her chest, but that was too forward! She was supposed to suggest a truce, first, then work her way up to that!
“Bweh?!” Black Heart instantly sputtered, her face turning crimson. Neptune could actually feel the heat radiating off it. “Wh-what are you talking about?! Is this some sort of trick, or have you gone mad?!” Neptune winced.
“Perhaps it’s the latter,” she admitted sadly. But, it was too late to go back and do this right- she was on this path, no time for regrets. “But, know this, my love. I have no desire to hurt you. I haven’t in a long time. The only reason I’ve fought you at all is to defend myself and my nation- what good is winning the Console Wars if you’re not there by my side?”
“Absolute power?” Black Heart snarked.
“Worthless, compared to you!” Neptune cried. “Please, believe me!”
Black Heart could only glare, despite her red face. Neptune felt all the hope start to drain from her body- was this the end of her dreams?
“Ugh, how annoyingly sappy,” an unknown voice suddenly called out. “Two CPUs, together? Don’t make me laugh. Still, wouldn’t you two say that this is an excellent opportunity? They’re both weakened physically, AND they’re both in a compromising position, not to mention the shock of what’s just been revealed. Wouldn’t you two like to get the greatest of the competition out of the way?”
“What are you talking a-” before Black Heart could finish what she was saying, Green Heart and White Heart both leapt out of the trees.
“Yeah, you’re right, this is the greatest opportunity I’ve ever gotten in this damn war!” White Heart bellowed as she swung her weapon towards the pair.
“You don’t mind if we make things a little easier, do you?” asked Green Heart.
Before Neptune or her beloved could react, everything went white.
When Noire awoke, she was in her human form. She wasn’t sure where she was- a forest, perhaps? Whatever it was, she felt sore all over.
As she examined her surroundings, she quickly realized something- that there was a person under her. A person that she never would have expected.
Beneath her was Purple Heart, in her human form, completely unconscious. She began to panic, but then, the memories came rushing back- her rival declaring her love for her, and the other two CPUs taking advantage of the situation. Apparently, Green Heart and White Heart weren’t good at making sure that they were dead- a discovery that didn’t really surprise Noire in the slightest. Still, her memories of their fall told her that Noire should have fallen first, meaning that… Purple Heart must have intentionally maneuvered in a way that ensured she broke Noire’s fall, despite the fact that she risked further injury by doing that. She had every opportunity to take advantage of the situation, and yet… could she be telling the truth?
A rustle in the bushes grabbed Noire’s attention, turning her head faster than a cartoon bird outrunning a coyote.
“Is everyone okay?” a softspoken woman with hair the color of peaches called out, running into the clearing. “I heard a loud noise, and- oh!”
“What?” Noire asked, tilting her head quizzically to the side.
“I’m super sorry!” the girl suddenly shut her eyes and turned around. “I didn’t realize I was interrupting something! I’ll get out of your way!” Interrupting something? What was she- wait…
“I-i-it’s not like that!” Noire cried, her face suddenly feeling very hot indeed. “W-we just fell, and I landed on her, and, uh, actually, could you help us out? I’m not sure where we are, and I’m pretty sure we both need medical attention- especially her, and…”
“Well, why didn’t you say so?” the girl asked cheerily, turning back around. “Actually, you’re in luck, because I’m a nurse! My name’s Compa, what about yours?”
“Uh… Noire,” she answered, blinking. That really was easy. “And this is Neptune.”
“Those are really pretty names!” Compa beamed so brightly that Noire almost went blind. Perfect cinnamon roll too good for this world, too pure. “Come on, let’s get you back to my apartment, I’ll fix you two up there!”
Noire slowly got up and picked Purple Heart up bridal-style. It was embarrassing, but she did have to move her… she supposed she owed her that for the whole “breaking her fall” thing.
“Come on!” Compa beckoned, walking further into the underbrush. “It’s just a little bit farther, you’ll make it in no time!”
Sighing, Noire followed Compa out of the woods. What came next? When Purple Heart was okay, would things go back to the way they were? Was that even possible, now that she knew what she knew? Did she even want that?
Putting those questions into the back of her mind, Noire trekked on.