Disclaimer: I don’t own Sailor Moon, but I’d be glad to have a box set of DVDs (preferably a season with Haruka and Michiru).
Minako wasn’t surprised by the knock on the door, but Hotaru jumped up from her position on the bed. The sandy-haired captain had a concerned look on her face as she came in. Hotaru laid back down when she saw who it was. Haruka looked over Minako for injuries, but she shook her head in response.
“It’s Hotaru, not me.” She indicated in the other girl’s direction. “He struck her and touched her.”
“What! Where did her touch her?” Minako looked down and then at Hotaru, whose eyes were still closed. Minako walked over to the bed and sat beside the other girl. She grabbed her hand and tenderly stroked it.
Minako swallowed and looked pleadingly into the violet eyes: “Hotaru, please tell us where Jonathan…” She clenched her free hand angrily. “…where he touched you.” Hotaru carefully pointed to her chest and her thigh before tears started to flow again. Minako pulled her into a hug.
“He’ll get the brand for that.” Haruka said ominously.
“Well, he deserves it and more…” Minako said as she held her sobbing friend in her arms. Then, Hotaru pulled away slightly to look into Minako’s eyes.
“What’s ‘the brand?’” Hotaru asked with a pained look to Minako. It wasn’t her who answered.
“The brand is for those who prey upon the innocence of women and children. It is a unique sign so everyone else will be able to identify them.” Haruka looked grim. It had been quite a while since anyone had been branded. “I’ll go take care of this at once.”
Before the captain could leave, Minako grabbed the sandy-haired officer into a grateful hug. “Haruka, I could kiss you!”
Haruka broke into a grin. “Please do…is what I want to say, but your mother would kill me! Literally…” They broke off the embrace and Minako spoke again.
“I want to be there when it happens…” Haruka’s smile disappeared. There was a nod of acknowledgement.
“It won’t take long, I know where he is right now. Be in the training yard.” Haruka left.
“Wait here, Hotaru…” Minako said, but seeing the look in the other girl’s eyes at the thought of being alone, she recanted. “It’s not going to be pretty.”
“As long as I’m with you…” was the reply.
A few minutes later, Minako was standing in the dusty training yard with Hotaru wrapped around her arm, anxious. The princess was starting to get anxious herself. Haruka was taking longer than expected. Before she could send someone to check, the captain entered with two guards holding the blonde man. They forced him to his knees in front of Minako.
Haruka looked at Hotaru and said: “I’m sorry, but I have to ask… Is this the young man who attacked you?” Hotaru’s grip tightened on Minako’s arm as she nodded. Haruka turned on the young man. “Jonathan Talricht, do you have anything to say in your defense?”
He looked up and spat: “That little wench threw herself at me! She’s a little whore!”
“Is that all?” Haruka had a look of disdain.
“No, she offered her blonde friend to me, too!”
Haruka uttered a sound that resembled a growl. “She offered herself to you? Her bruises do not agree with you. How dare you! Assaulting a defenseless girl! Do you understand how serious a penalty comes with a crime of this nature? Do you also fail to realize that this slave’s ‘blonde friend’ is the princess, second in line to the throne!” The young man’s eyes widened, but his case was over. “You will receive the brand and will leave the castle in chains so that all will know what you have done.”
A moment later, a brazier was brought in with hot coals in it. Two held the young man while the third used the brand. Hotaru hid her face in Minako’s back as the young man screamed.
A few days later, things went back to normal. Minako and Hotaru were relaxing after lessons. The blonde princess lay on the bed, looking as if she had run a marathon. Hotaru was looking at her from a nearby chair.
“Minako,” Hotaru said to get the other girl’s attention. Blue eyes fluttered open.
“What, Hotaru?” Minako said. She looked over at her friend, upside-down.
“You know that you’d do better in math, if you’d quit trying to pass me notes…”
“Sorry. You just look a little too interested in that stuff…”
“Hey!” Hotaru put on hurt look-obviously fake. “I have to make sure you don’t end up as the court jester.” Minako shot up from her comfortable position.
“You’d better hope not… I don’t know if I could afford you.” Hotaru came over to stand in front of Minako, grinning over her.
“I’m sure you could if you didn’t have to feed ‘the beast’ or your expensive taste in jewelry and clothes.” Hotaru tackled the blonde onto the bed. She knew that the princess was really ticklish. Her fingers went to Minako’s sides and the girl began to laugh. Hotaru stopped to let her friend catch her breath. Big mistake… Minako swiftly turned the tables and began to get her revenge. Hotaru giggled and out right squealed as fingers danced over her sides. “Please, stop I can’t breathe!”
“Well, you shouldn’t pick a fight you can’t win.” Minako let off as Hotaru gasped. “And, I’d rather be with you than have jewelry or dresses.” Hotaru blushed, and Minako closed the gap. She wrapped her arms around her friend and laid her head on her shoulder. Violet eyes closed as a sigh of relief passed from her lips. She loved it here.
The temporary silence was broken by a knock on the door. They both jumped and separated. Hotaru went to the door and peeked out.
“Hi, little firefly,” Haruka said. “Did I catch you at a bad time?” Hotaru’s face was still a little red from the tickling she had received and she quickly let the captain in. Haruka smirked as she noticed Minako’s was also flushed. “Maybe I should come back later…”
“Nonsense!” Minako said quickly. “I’m the one who asked you to drop by…”
“Okay, if you’re sure.” Hotaru didn’t like the grin on Haruka’s face. She was curious why Minako had summoned the captain. “So what might I do for my lady?”
“Well…” Minako started. She looked a bit nervous. “Mother’s been telling me that I need to get serious about the person I will end up sharing the rest of my life with. I know I’ve acted all crazy about every other boy, but there has been one consistent person that I’ve had feelings for a long time…”
“And why are you telling me this?” Haruka looked confused.
“Because it’s you…” Minako finished off shyly. Hotaru felt a strange feeling: jealousy. Haruka jumped as if struck by lightning and began to stumble backwards towards the door. Minako cut the captain off. “What’s wrong, don’t tell me that you don’t care for me. You’re always there for me and flirting with me.”
Haruka clenched her fist. She knew the truth would hurt, but there was no hiding it from someone who had always supported her. “I have something I need to tell you.” Minako braced herself as Hotaru watched anxiously. “I’m already seeing someone.” Then, she attempted to hastily open the door.
“That’s not all, is it?” Minako said as she blocked the door. Haruka stopped and sighed.
“It’s really going to upset you…” Haruka pleaded. Minako was adamant. “Do you remember the traditions of Venus about leadership?” Minako nodded. “What are they?”
“It’s mostly about honor and dignity. Something about being fair and just… There was also something about leaders being all female. So what are you getting at?” Minako looked irritated.
Haruka looked down and ran her hand through her hair. “I am the leader of the guard. I am a woman.” Minako gasped. Hotaru didn’t seem surprised.
“But, that can’t be right…” Tears fell. Haruka stroked Minako’s hair.
“I’m really sorry. I really do care about you, but I can’t love you. It could cost me my life.” Minako sobbed again. Hotaru walked over to her closest friend and wrapped her arms around the blonde. “I have to ask you not to mention my relationship to your mother, highness.”
Minako wiped a few tears away and nodded. “I will always be your friend, but don’t call me ‘highness,’ captain Tenoh. You can trust me.” She had a small smile as she let the sandy-haired captain out.
“Thank you, Minako. I will always be there for you.”
“One thing, Haruka…”
“Who are you going out with?” Minako had an eyebrow quirked.
Haruka paused. “She’s a librarian. Her name’s Michiru.” Then, she left. Minako turned around after the door clicked shut and began to cry again on Hotaru’s shoulder.
An hour later, Minako had settled down somewhat and began to talk once again. It had hurt Hotaru deeply to see her princess get so upset. She stroked the blonde locks soothingly. She whispered softly into her ear: “There’ll be someone else for you.” Mentally she added, 'I'll always be here for you...'
“That’s not it, Hotaru,” Minako looked into concerned violet eyes. “I invited her to kiss me; wanted her to kiss me!”
Hotaru looked confused. “Isn’t it common for someone to want that from someone they love?”
“But I’m not allowed to want to kiss a woman! It’s wrong!” 'Why doesn't my heartcare about that?'
Hotaru struggled with it mentally for a moment. “Why is it wrong?” 'Please. I need some hope!'
Minako shook her head. “I…I don’t know. I just know my Mother wouldn't approve.”
Minako turned around and stared at the floor. Hotaru moved in front of her. “Does it change the way you feel about her? Does it still hurt like the other disappointments in your life?”
“No, I still feel something. Yes, it hurts like one of Master Huang’s kicks.”
“Does it disgust you that you fell for a woman?”
Silence. “I don’t know.” A flutter in Minako’s stomach told her otherwise.
“Would you feel the same if she was a man and told you that she was seeing someone else?”
Another pause. “I guess I would, but that’s not how it is…”
Hotaru ran a hand through her hair. “Love is love. You fell in love with the soul, not the physical, well mostly…” She had to hide a blush. 'And I'm just as bad. Minako's great all around.'
Minako had a harder time of hiding hers. “Well, I did stare at her rear-end a lot.” She giggled. “But I really did like how she always treated me special, even when she trained me in swordsmanship. She always was the first to wish me happy birthday, even though she’s always kept busy. I felt like I had a guardian angel…” Blue eyes became dreamy. Then, she suddenly seemed to snap out of it and looked at her friend curiously. Hotaru became nervous.
“When did you become so wise, Hotaru?”
“I guess all those lessons you had didn’t go in vain.” They laughed. Hotaru felt better at seeing her princess smile again. I wish I could tell you how I feel…
“So my daughter asked you out?” The Queen leaned forward in her throne.
“That was before I explained to her that I was not a man.” Haruka hastily explained. “You understand how flighty the princess can be.”
“True, but it still worries me.”
“Majesty, she was rather upset by the news. I think she will be more careful in the future.” Haruka was worried. I can deal with being punished for my deception, but I don’t want Minako to suffer for my crimes.
“Very well then, you are dismissed.” Haruka bowed and left without hesitation. As the door closed, the Queen was lost in thought. Well, who knows what my daughter will do next…I had better have someone keep a closer eye on her and that ‘friend’ of hers.
End Chapter 4
So… is this getting interesting? Will Hotaru tell Minako how she feels or will she suffer the fate of many shoujo-ai heroines and live with a painful secret? Probably not, I’m too much of a softy when it comes to my stories.
This should be wrapping up soon, so if you want your comment to take effect, you’d better be quick…
Thanks for reading if you’ve stuck with me this far. Review if you please.