Disclaimer: I don’t own Sailor Moon, but I wouldn’t argue if someone tried to give it to me!
Hotaru’s stomach began to tie itself in knots as she walked arm-in-arm with the princess. The princess, who had a huge grin, kept staring at her with a gleam in her eye. ‘Is there something on my face?’ she wondered. Then, her stomach spoke for her with a weak growl.
“Are you hungry?” the princess turned and looked at her curiously. Hotaru put her eyes to the floor as they stopped. “You don’t have to be shy… I really want to take care of you. It’s about my usual lunch time anyway.” Her stomach growled loudly, startling Hotaru. Minako laughed. “Yeah, it’s definitely time to feed ‘the beast!’” Hotaru looked at her curiously and couldn’t contain a miniscule smile that was forming. Minako beamed. “There you go! A smile looks good on you.” Hotaru’s cheeks flushed at the compliment. She was not used to such nice things being said about her, except from Princess Serenity. That was when she noticed Minako was quite similar to Serenity; they could almost have been twins…
Minako found Martha near her room and asked her if she would have her lunch brought to her room. Martha bowed and quickly walked towards the kitchen. Minako brought Hotaru into her room and settled into a chair. Hotaru remained standing. Minako turned to Hotaru with a curious look and asked: “Don’t you want to sit down? Wait a minute! I’m so sorry! I haven’t even asked you your name!”
“Hotaru, your highness,” she said in a whisper.
“That’s a lovely name,” Minako said as she contemplated something. “That means ‘firefly,’ doesn’t it?”
“Yes, your highness,” Minako’s face saddened as she let out a sigh and Hotaru wondered if she had done something wrong. She cursed her luck. She had barely been with her new master ten minutes and already gotten herself in trouble. She shuddered, unsure how much her mistake would cost her.
“I’m sorry. I just don’t like to hear all that flowery stuff coming from someone my own age.” Minako put a comforting hand on her shoulder. Hotaru flinched. “Please don’t be afraid of me… I want a friend, not a slave.” She led Hotaru to a chair at her table and had her sit down. The door swung open and pair of servants carried in silver trays of food. Hotaru bolted to her feet, uncertain if she could be seen sitting one of the princess’s chairs. “Sit down, silly. It’s just our food.”
‘Silly?’ that was the first time Hotaru had been called that. She carefully sat back down as Minako settled into hers across from her. The servants laid the trays in front of Minako who clasped her hands appreciatively. The pair of servants removed the lids and left the princess to her own devices, knowing from experience that she did not like to be stared at while she ravaged her meal.
As soon as the door closed, Minako rose to her feet and fixed a plate. Hotaru nearly fell out of her chair when a smiling Minako handed her a plate first. Hotaru had never been so confused in her life (well, except for the kissing incident). The master was always served first, because she had always brought it to the previous princess! She tried to protest, but Minako just smiled as prepared her own plate before she sat down. She crossed her hands, bowed her head, and spoke to someone who Hotaru couldn’t see. “Thank you, Goddess, for providing us with food, even though there are some who don’t appreciate it. Thank you for answering my prayers about a friend!” She clapped her hands and dug in. Hotaru all though she was starving ate silently occasionally glancing at the princess who seemed to truly enjoy her meal.
‘She just thanked someone who’s not in the room for me… Does everyone around here act like this or is it just her? I guess she really does like me. She’s nice too. Weird, but nice…’ They finished their meals and the servants took the trays away. Minako had a contemplative look on her face as she turned to Hotaru.
“So what do you want to do now, Hotaru?” Minako asked cheerfully. Hotaru’s shock was evident on her face. “Are you all right? Is it indigestion?”
“No, it’s just that I haven’t ever been asked that before, highness,” Hotaru replied in that quiet voice. Minako balked at the formal title used, but kept her resolve. She would not give up.
“So do you want me to show you around?” Hotaru contemplated the offer and nodded slightly. “There we go. That’s some progress. Now if I can get you to stop using that ‘highness’ junk.” Hotaru looked at Minako, confusion clearly evident on her face.
“But if I get caught calling you ‘Minako’ instead of ‘highness’, I could get punished…” Hotaru let out a sigh as her mind went back to the lashes she had gotten for calling Princess Serenity ‘miss.’ Minako gently grabbed both her shoulders and looked her straight in the eye.
“As long as you’re with me, you’re safe.” Minako grabbed her hand and squeezed reassuringly it. Hotaru decided she would try and trust her. Minako’s sapphire eyes were sincere and beautiful. “C’mon, we’ve got plenty to see.” The blonde skipped haphazardly down the hall with Hotaru in tow.
The first stop was the library. Minako assumed a stuffy, serious look and announced: “This is a place of learning. There will be no laughing, smiling, or anything fun! This is where I am tortured by my tutors at least five times a week. I’ll make sure you can come here and get books anytime you want.” She paused for a second before cautiously asking: “You can read, right?”
“Yes, highness, um…Minako,” Hotaru replied quietly. “My father was a tutor for Princess Serenity and she brought me along to her lessons. She needed help with her homework.”
“That sure was nice of her,” she looked around and whispered back, “Let’s get out of here before they think I want an extra lesson…” Next, on the agenda, was the kitchen. Hotaru was in awe of the organized chaos going on as they peered in from the doorway.
“Is it always this busy?” Hotaru asked as she dodged a servant exiting with a tray of silverware.
“No, it’s just because some local nobles are coming in for my birthday.” Minako said somewhat derisively. “They’re just here for show; it’s not like they care about me or anything.” Hotaru observed a temporary look of loneliness in her master’s face and felt sympathy. She saw the blue eyes cloud over for a moment, then they widened as she realized she was being watched by a pair of violet eyes. She quickly shifted back to ‘hyper-mode’ and they left the kitchen.
The next stop was the training ground for the castle guards. “Ah, fresh meat!” she nudged Hotaru in the ribs, “I come here all the time to check out the guys. They’re all strong and some are even cute.” As if on cue, two recruits Minako didn’t recognize walked toward them. Minako ran her fingers through her hair and checked her dress, while Hotaru shuffled anxiously. One was a tall, lean boy with short brown hair. Number two was shorter than his companion, but still around six foot. His long blonde hair was tied back with a piece of leather. Both were covered in sweat and were carrying their shirts.
“Hi, ladies, I’m Benjamin and he’s Jonathan,” the tall brunette said with a confident swank. He took Minako’s hand and kissed it.
“Minako.” She said after a giggle. The blonde haired boy went to Hotaru and attempted to kiss her hand. She promptly jerked her hand back.
“And who do you belong to missy?” the blonde boy asked with a smirk. He touched her face. She flinched and grabbed Minako around the waist. The boy let out a derisive snort. “What are you a woman lover, or something?”
Minako heard this and immediately raised her hand, cutting off the brunette, and turn to face the other male: “Leave her alone. She’s with me.”
The blonde looked her in the eye and asked: “Well, since you wear the pants in the relationship, can I borrow her for a little bit of fun?” He barely finished his sentence when Minako’s fist collided with his face. He fell back clutching his bleeding nose. The brunette gave her a look of disgust.
“How dare you! You crazy little…” He had grabbed Minako’s wrist, but she reversed it. She responded with an elbow to the stomach that left him gasping. Minako dusted off her hands and kicked the blonde. This caught the attention of one of the officers in the yard. He walked over and looked at the two recruits on the floor.
“Minako, you really ought to let me handle these situations…” the sandy-haired officer said as he shook his head. “Master Huang taught you well. You’re definitely the hands-on type of royalty.” Minako and the officer shared a laugh as Hotaru tried to over come her shock at watching her master single handedly dispatch the two much larger teens. Hotaru was definitely convinced about being safe with Minako. Minako wrapped an arm around Hotaru and pulled her forward to meet the captain.
“Hotaru, this is Haruka, captain of the guard, and a great friend,” Minako said enthusiastically as Haruka extended a slender hand to the shy, dark-haired girl. Hotaru carefully extended her hand and let Haruka shake it. The warrior glanced at the slave bracelet on her wrist and unique necklace. “Haruka, this is Hotaru, my new friend.” Minako placed heavy emphasis on the word ‘friend.’
“Well, any friend of her ‘highness’ is a friend of mine,” Haruka said with a charming and flirtatious grin, while prodding Minako with the formality.
Minako put on warm smile and sarcastically replied: “Thanks, Captain Tenoh.”
“So do you want me to dump these two outside?” Haruka said, addressing the matter at hand, or perhaps better stated ‘at foot.’
“No, put Benjamin and Jonathan on stable duty for a while. These two need to learn how to treat ladies and not to underestimate them. Maybe taking care of horses would be a start.” Minako said as she began to laugh and Haruka joined in. Hotaru just sighed. First, Minako flirts with two trouble-makers; then she flirts with their superior! Also, there something was odd about the captain. She couldn’t place it, but there was something different about him. She let it go as Haruka pulled the two recruits to their feet and back to the training yard. Minako gently grabbed Hotaru’s hand and led her. “I’m sorry about that… I seem to attract trouble. Are you okay, Hotaru?”
“Yes, I’m fine, Minako,” she said breathlessly. She almost never received an apology from anyone, with the exception of Serenity.
“Let’s go. I’m sure the next stop will cheer you up.” She stopped temporarily. “Hey, you called me Minako without thinking! I’m so happy!” Hotaru blushed at the praise. She hadn’t realized it, but she felt so comfortable and safe around the princess.
Together, they walked down another hallway and out a set of doors. They walked into the palace garden and Hotaru’s violet eyes lit up in amazement. There were beautiful marble statues depicting the various deities of Venus, most of which seemed to be female. There were rare flowers by the dozens. Every color of the rainbow seemed to be represented. Minako led her to a marble bench and set her down. She looked around for something and when she located it, she walked to a patch of flowers. She knelt down and scrutinized them. When she returned to Hotaru, she was carrying a beautiful violet flower. She brushed back some of Hotaru’s hair and put the flower behind her ear.
“It matches your eyes.” Minako said, as she gazed into Hotaru’s eyes. “Very beautiful…” Then, without warning, she grabbed the girl again and they ran off to another part of the castle. Hotaru blushed all the way behind her, with her heart pounding.
“So my daughter dispatched the two recruits bare-handed?” the Queen said leaning forward in her throne. She had a slightly surprised look on her face.
“Yes, your majesty.” Haruka said, kneeling in front of the throne. Her short sandy bangs hid her eyes.
“Impressive. I suppose those years with Master Huang weren’t wasted… Keep me informed if the situation with the two young men changes. Dismissed.” The young captain hesitated. “Is there something else, Captain?”
“I was wondering why you didn’t want to punish the boys further for attacking royalty, your highness.” Haruka was slightly unnerved as she wondered if she had overstepped her boundaries.
The Queen didn’t take long to reply: “Princess Minako has dealt out punishment and I’m not going to overturn it. This will prove to be a good test for her.” She paused before adding: “But do keep an eye on them, Captain.”
“Yes, your majesty,” Haruka said, as she bowed and left. The only sound was the clinking armor. The door closed with a click and the room was left in silence.
Well, Minako, you’ve proven yourself capable. Let’s see what else you can do. The Queen smiled. This was more than she had expected.
End Chapter Two.
Thanks for sticking with it. It’ll keep going, because I’ve got some more written.
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