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Aurora lay on her back, her chest heaving, her eyes closed. She dared not move, for fear that the pain flaring up in every inch of her body would kill her.

"Aurora, you okay?" Sophie asked, nonchalantly wringing the stomach juices out of her hair. "Geez, if you look at us, you wouldn't think I was the one who just got eaten..." She smiled, sitting down cross-legged beside Aurora. Her huge, golden-furred dog ears perked up slightly.

Aurora closed her eyes. "Let's never do that again."

"You got it," Sophie said, her hands in her lap. After a moment, she leaned forward, peering over the fallen Aurora. "Though I think if we did do it again, we'd do it the other way around. I think you'd fit in me much better than I fit in you there."

"We're not doing that either!" Aurora hissed, her silver-furred tail flashing behind her. Her cheeks betrayed her with their hot flush.

"So, what now?" Sophie asked. Her ragged tail swept the floor behind her in slow, lazy strokes.

"I can't do it," Aurora murmured. She rolled onto her side, facing away from Sophie. "So it's over."

"Well, you are a lot smaller than me," Sophie said, her finger to her cheek. "But it seemed like you didn't want to do it, either."

"That's what I meant." Aurora shot a pouting glance over her shoulder at Sophie. "Obviously I can do it. I did it. Just... It's not right. I should have never tried to begin with."

Sophie shifted around Aurora, placing herself on the catgirl's other side and staring down at her. "Why?"

"Why...?" Aurora could not bring herself to meet Sophie's eyes. "I have a confession to make. I... I had a crush on you. When we were kids."

"I know!"

"Y-You know?" Aurora's voice seemed stuck in her throat. "You knew about it all this time, and you never-"

"Sure. You'd tell me when you were ready." Sophie's tail thumped the floor. "But you never did."

Aurora gave a choked laugh. "I'm not like you, you know that? I can't just... come out and say things like that."

"Yeah, you can. But you don't."

"That's what I meant, Sophie."

"Oh." Sophie's tail thumped companionably. "Is that why you came here to eat me? Cause you had a crush on me when we were kids?"

"No. ... Yes. Kind of." Aurora's tail was moving now, too, in jerky, agitated movements. "... My mother found my diary. She told me that no true Moreno would love a Nasato."

"She made you come here to eat me cause of a crush when we were kids?" Sophie laughed. "Geez. Talk about strict. I mean-"

"Are you going to make me spell it out?" Aurora half-shouted, frustration bubbling to the surface. "I'm still in love with you, you stupid dog. There, I said it."

Sophie's tail thumped, and her ears perked. up. "Still?"

"Yes," Aurora said, turning away again to hide her humiliation. "I try and try and try, but I can't forget you."

"So then... you came here to eat me anyway. Why?"

Aurora swallowed back the sick lump in her throat that had formed at Sophie's non-acknowledgement of her confession. "I'm going to feed a real Moreno because I couldn't do it. My mother told me that if I couldn't show family loyalty, then my boot-licking little sister would have a better use for my body."

"Oh, I see," Sophie said. She was quiet for a little while, then circled around Aurora again, her tail drumming her eagerness on the floor behind her. Her face got close to Aurora's. "Hey. I think I have a ton of snacks in the closet. And I can think of some places to lay low for a while. You're small, right? If you eat all my snacks, you'll probably be almost as big as if you ate me."

"What are you trying to say?" Aurora stared at Sophie's shining eyes, brow wrinkled in confusion.

"I'll go into hiding, and you tell your mom that you did what she asked," Sophie said. "Duh."

"Getting duh-ed by you might be the most humiliating thing that has ever happened to me," Aurora said flatly. Then Sophie's words sank in. "... Wait, what?! You can't go into hiding, Sophie!"

"Why not?" Sophie tilted her head in confusion. "If you try to eat me, you're just going to hurt yourself again. You're too little, and I'm too big. And if you go home without eating me, then your mom's gonna feed you to your little sister, right? Soooo. I'll just hide, and you give yourself a full belly so that it looks like you did it! It's the only way that'll work!"

Aurora dragged herself into a sitting position. "You're actually serious."

"Yeah." As always, Sophie's eyes shone with a brilliant and unwavering determination.

That light had been Aurora's lighthouse through countless fights with her family. And it made her already weak heart do cartwheels in her chest to see it now.

"Look, I know it seems bad, but we'll get through it together. Just like when you got a bad report card when you were a kitten." Sophie's whole body shook with the force of her tail's wags. "Come on. It'll take a while to eat, and I don't want you getting in trouble with my family either, so we should get started."

Aurora fell forward, into Sophie's arms. "You stupid dog."

"Huh? Did I say something wrong?" Sophie's ears flattened to her head.

"You really have no idea of the full situation, or any care to learn it. All you do is find the goal and charge full speed ahead toward it, no matter what screen doors or windows are between you and it." Aurora's trembling arms raised up to embrace Sophie tentatively. "And you usually get there anyway. I missed that."

"I missed you," Sophie said, her arms going tight around her small feline companion.

Aurora didn't respond for a long time. Try as she might, she couldn't swallow back the thickness in her voice, and it was still there when she finally spoke. "... Me too."

The two girls held the embrace for a long moment.

"Why are you doing this?" Aurora whispered. "I tried to kill you."

"Because I love you, too," Sophie said, as if it were the most natural and obvious thing in the world.

Now Aurora's hug was tight and real and with every ounce of her strength. Tears dripped onto Sophie's back, silent ones. At least at first. But as the sensation of being held by her beloved Sophie began to sink in further, Aurora stopped being able to hold back.

Sophie was a patient dog girl. There would be time to execute their new plan later. For now, she just held the little white cat in her arms and listened to her sob.