The steady and regular beat of her heart was like a drum in the distance, thumping against her chest. It echoed in her ears and she heard nothing else, dead to the world around her, pressing against the cool, pale marble pillar and gazing ruefully at what lay beyond her. A soft wind sifted through her golden hair and lifted the orange fabric of her short skirt, sending goosebumps rising along her thighs.
Behind her rose marvelous buildings so white they could have been sculpted of snow, and with a loving hand. Beyond the monoliths an ethereal ivory landscape stretched to an imminent horizon, meeting a sky of such deep velvet black that it seemed unreal. Stars dusted this sky of eternal and perfect night, a pallet no painting of the most skilled hand could ever capture in a limited, two-dimensional frame. And like a ghost, cutting like a knife through the sky in its constant orbit, the Earth—a vast globe painted hues of impossible deep blues and rich greens, the Moon’s peaceful neighbor.
She knew from innumerable councils that the Queen was completely resolute on preserving the amiable and clement relationship that the two kingdoms had maintained for thousands of years. With quiet dignity members of the royal line of the Moon Kingdom had been ruling the entire solar system from their home, but no planet could so touch the celestial body as Earth had. Perhaps such a peace could even last forever.
If anyone strengthened the conviction of the bond between the Earth and the Moon, it was the princess. Serenity, the ultimate embodiment of what every teenage girl longed to be—graceful (most of the time), beautiful, good-natured (except in the mornings), and of course, madly in love with the man of her dreams.
Tears stained her azure blue eyes and she did not bother to wipe them away. Her gaze lingered on the forms of Serenity and Endymion of Earth, entwined in a passionate embrace, each fitting the other’s frame in perfect complement. The princess’s platinum-blonde hair at some point had fallen out of its customary hairdo and now spilled like a river of silk over her pale shoulders. Her white silk dress accentuated her every curve, from the subtle swell of her bosom to the soft curvature of her waist, flowing out at her hips in copious folds. Serenity’s head and arms rested on Endymion’s broad shoulders, hands coming up to clasp themselves behind the prince’s strong neck. A blind man would notice the tender devotion with which they held each other, how their eyes shone so blithely when their gazes met.
Who could have thought? Inside the palace, among family and friends, Serenity was a bumbling but sweet-natured girl who liked to play tricks on the Royal Guard or the ageless feline guardians. Her appetite could speak for a court, and her sweet tooth was infamous among the cooks. She laughed her head off at the Roman comedies adopted from Earth, and bawled like an infant if she so much as scraped her knee. But this lovably imperfect princess had been sneaking off to meet Endymion in secret, away from her mother and away from the Senshi who were bound to her.
She was unsure how it happened. She had always been close to the princess, ever since their childhood together, though they were radically different. On one hand, Serenity grew up learning all she needed to be a good and just ruler of the solar system. On the other, she had been trained in combat since the day she could walk. Play would have been virtually unknown to her had Serenity not exhibited such an irrepressible, fun-loving spirit. The two of them would explore the palace for hours, sneaking into the kitchens or running up and down stairs until their breath ran out.
But neither of them were children anymore, and she no longer had time for play. Her call to duty was much more important than her personal fancies. Everything she learned now reminded her that the princess “is not your friend; she is everything to you, your savior.” A Senshi was instructed to take whatever measures necessary to protect the princess.
Somehow, it had taken on a different meaning for her. Recently her heart began beating with a hollow sound, an empty echo. When she saw the princess, something would flutter in her chest and suddenly the drumbeat of her heart would be so strikingly resounding that the reverberations of it sometimes startled her out of sleep. Endless nights of pointless tears robbed her of sleep. Eating took effort. Little could animate her—she sometimes seemed a lifeless automaton. Yet it took only a smile from Princess Serenity to bring her to life again.
It was her duty to protect the princess; nothing could become of what she was feeling. It was not her right . . .but she could not forget that ache in her heart. She could not ignore that she was in love with Princess Serenity.
“Venus!” a familiar husky voice called somewhere behind her.
She turned and saw Sailorjupiter waiting impatiently. “The Queen has called council! Let’s go, already! What are you doing, anyway?”
“Nothing,” Sailorvenus lied, swallowing the lump in her throat. “What’s up?”
“Berryl’s disappeared again. Her highness is really worried this time. Come on, we’re keeping everybody waiting.”
“Sorry.” Venus sucked in a deep breath and let the air fly out her lungs.
She glanced once more at the moonlit couple standing oblivious to their spectator. Venus forced herself to choke back the tears that threatened to form in her eyes and directed her focus to her tasks.
“Found you! Princess! Are you running off to see the Prince again? It’s dangerous to meet him just for fun!”
“It’s not just for fun! You don’t get it, Venus! Because you’ve never fallen in love with anyone before! You don’t understand my feelings!”
“Princess! Geez, you don’t know anything . . .” Princess, you’re here again!? We have to go home!
“I’m worried about her . . .one day she will be the Queen, her duty to watch over the Earth and protect the Silver Imperium Crystal . . .
“She won’t get hurt by falling in love, will she . . .?”
You don’t get it, Venus! Because you’ve never fallen in love . . .
Until now. Farewell, Princess.
Maybe in the next life.