Haruka smiled and pressed down on the accelerator. It was a Hotaru weekend. That always made her happy. Michiru returned her smile form the passenger seat. She understood how much Haruka wanted to get to Professor Tomoe's house as soon as possible. That way, they get a bit extra time to spend with their little Hotaru.
In the backseat, Setsuna just held on for dear life. She'd never become accustomed to Haruka's crazy driving.
Back home an hour later, Dinner was happily uneventful. Hotaru bubbled with stories about this kid and that kid in her class. She was also looking forward to going to the gym tomorrow. Haruka-papa was teaching her how to use the naginata. Her friends at school were all jealous of how cool that was. So strong and graceful. She also looked forward to visiting the pretty Time Gate with Setsuna-mama the day after that. Her friends didn't know that part, it was a part of her "Saturn" life, but she bet they would all be jealous if they did.
After dinner was uneventful too. Setsuna-mama left for work. Haruka-papa did the dishes while Michiru-mama practiced her violin. For Hotaru, there was studying - she had a big math test on Monday. There was also a smuggled cookie that Michiru-mama gave her. She thought it might be from Haruka-papa's personal stash. She ate her cookie, brushed her teeth like a good girl and then went to bed. It was getting late.
All was peaceful in the Senshi household until Hotaru screamed.
Haruka ran into her child's bedroom, transformation wand out and ready to go. She saw nothing alarming in the room.
Michiru appeared a step behind her breathing heavily from her sprint up the stairs.
Forcing her voice to stay steady and calm, Haruka approached the bed.
"Hotaru honey, are you ok?"
"I'm ok Haruka-papa. Just a bad dream"
Haruka felt her adrenaline spike up to near fight levels at that. Danger? The Silence? Again? So soon? It wasn't fair. They had so much more to lose now.
"Tell me about it honey?"
Michiru's voice cut through like a cool ocean breeze.
"I dreamt that I got a 30 on my math test."
Haruka deflated. Michiru giggled with relief. It wasn't the end of the world after all. The transformation wands went away as the women walked into the room and hugged Hotaru.
"Aww, it's ok firefly. You'll do well. You've been studying hard right?
"Good. We'd still love you if you got a 30 you know, but I know you can do better than that."
"I know I can Haruka-papa."
Hotaru smiled. Now that she was awake, she knew she could easily handle the math test next week. Her dream seemed so silly now! The little girl giggled. 30%? Inconceivable!
"Michiru-mama? I'm awake now. Will you tell me a bedtime story?"
"Of course Hotaru-chan. Which story do you want to hear?"
"Tell me the one where the Little Girl stopped the Silence again? It's my favourite."
"That's my favourite too."
Michiru cleared her throat and started the old familiar tale:
"Once upon a time, there was a village. It was a good place where everyone was happy. There was always singing and laughing. Everyone told jokes and stories.
One day, a Little Girl came to the village. She had no family and no home. No one knew who she was or where she came from. Still, the village was full of good people and so, they took her in and let her live with them. She even met the Princess of the village, who was also a little girl, and they became best friends.
All was well, until one day, a sickness started to spread through the village. People that got sick lost their voice. Even the Princess fell sick and had to stay in bed. The village became a sad and quiet place. There was no more singing and laughing. Nobody told jokes or stories. There was only Silence.
Everyone was afraid, so the Queen called everyone went to the castle to figure out what to do.
The Knight, who was sworn to protect the village, spoke first:
"Everything was fine until the Little Girl came to live in the village!" She said "She must have brought the disease with her. We should kick her out!"
The Court Jester laughed at how silly the Knight was being.
"No!" The Doctor said logically. "We have no proof that the Little Girl is responsible. We can't kick her out"
While they were arguing. The Princess woke up. Even though her voice was weak from the sickness, she forced herself to speak up because she loved her friend so much.
"No! She is my friend and she belongs here with us! Maybe she can help us find a cure instead!"
The Little Girl was very happy that the Princess believed in her. She wanted to save the Village very much for her friend. The Little Girl thought hard, then suddenly, she remembered.
"Ah-HA! I know the cure! There is a flower that only grows on top of the mountain. It can cure any sickness. I will go get it for everyone!"
"No!" Said the Princess. "It is too dangerous! You cannot go"
"But I must! I am the only one who knows what the flower looks like!" the Little Girl argued.
The Court Jester stepped up bravely:
"I will come with you! That way you won't be lonely."
Shamed by the Court Jester's courage, the Knight said to her:
"Thank you for your courage Little Girl. Please take my sword. May it help you on your quest"
Thinking of the dangerous road, the Doctor spoke next:
"I have a fan that I use to cool people when they have a fever. Maybe it will help you on your journey"
Her friend the Princess spoke last:
"Thank you Little Girl for being so brave. I will give you my favourite Magic Mirror. It will protect you on the mountain"
And so off she went with the Court Jester.
The mountain road was very dangerous. There was a tangling Vine that would trap anyone that walked by. There was a Fog that hid the road and could eat a person alone alive. And lastly, there were two Trolls at the top that could throw anyone off the mountain.
It was all very scary, but the Little Girl was wasn't afraid. She was very smart, strong, and brave. She used the Knight's sword to cut through the tangling vines. She used the Doctor's fan to blow the fog away, and at the end, she used the Magic Mirror trick the two trolls. They threw each other off the mountain!
The Little Girl had reached the top of the mountain at last! She saw the flower that everyone needed. It was a beautiful crystal flower. She felt sad taking it, but she had to save the village. She tried to pick the flower, but it was too firmly rooted in the ground! The Little Girl pulled and pulled and pulled with all her strength. Finally, the flower came free in her hand. She had done it!
That was when the Little Girl started to cry. She was now too tired to walk back down the dangerous mountain back to the village. She couldn't stand the thought of letting everyone down.
Just then, the Court Jester came up to her
"You have worked very hard to get here, but let me help you! I will carry you home and together we can save the Village!"
The Court Jester picked up the Little Girl and carried her down the mountain to the Village. There, the Doctor was able to use the flower and make a cure for everyone. Everyone was happy again! There was just one thing however. The Little Girl realized that she still didn't have a home or a family. That made her sad.
At that moment, the Court Jester took off her disguise and revealed that she was the Queen all along!
"Little Girl. You belong in the Village. You always have. Thank you for protecting everyone. You are very brave and special. Please, will you stay and live with us?"
"Yes!" Said the Little Girl "I want to stay with you and my friends and live happily ever after"
And that's exactly what she did. The End."
Hotaru clapped happily.
"Yay! I like that story. I hope that I can be brave like that little girl. She was so nice to save everyone. Even that mean Knight."
Haruka spluttered. Michiru laughed.
"Aww baby. Don't worry about the Knight. She was very scared of the Silence at the time. She's actually a very nice and cool person."
Haruka cut in.
"Totally. She has a sword, and cool armour, and a special golden horse that's more powerful than 200 regular horses."
"Wow….she sounds cool…"
"Yeah, she is. How about I will tell you lots of cool Knight stories tomorrow hmm? Now it's bed time."
"Ok. Thanks for the story Michiru-mama! Goodnight Haruka-papa!"
Little Hotaru drifted off to sleep, smiling as she dreamed happy dreams again.
Michiru took a last look at the child in the bed before she turned off the lights.
Thank you Little Girl, for saving us all. We love you.