Serena's back slammed against the stone wall, pounding all the air from her lungs, burning her throat when she stopped herself from crying out. Her knees hit the floor with a loud thump and bruises began forming on their rounded caps. She almost lost the fight to keep her tears back.

"When will you ever learn?" an icy voice said, a hint of happiness leaking in. The evil one grabbed her arm, digging his nails deep into her arm and drawing blood. He jerked her to her feet so that she would have to look into his eyes as cold as a winter's night. "You better learn soon, your lowness, or we'll have to take another trip to the Core."

An uncontrollable shiver traveled down Serena's spine at the mere thought of the Core, but she wouldn't give in. She hadn't in the five long years she had spent in this castle, and she wouldn't start now.

The evil one threw her back towards the wall, bruising her shoulder blades even further. He smiled crookedly at her pain before slamming the kitchen door behind himself.

Serena managed to stand for a little while after this beating, but not long. Her knees gave, forcing her to lean against a table for stability. The kitchen workers turned to look at her and wag their heads. They tsked their tongues, then turned back to their work. They hadn't even flinched the sounds of her beating had reached their ears.

Serena regained control over her wobbly legs long enough to give them angry looks. She wiped the blood from the corner of her mouth; the result of the first slap he'd laid across her cheek. She shuddered in frustration. He'd slapped her for not calling him, King Diamond, your Highness.

She stood as straight as possible with her aching back and left the kitchen regally. She'd been in there only to sneak scraps. Her stomach growled just catching the wonderful scents of the kitchen. He'd been starving her again and she was getting frail. Yet no one would give her a chance.

She thought over her list of chores, checking them off on her fingers. One left, she thought wearily. Changing the sheets.

She started up the back stairs to the Royal Bedrooms. It was a horrible task and she had to be careful when she attempted to do it. If Sapphire or Diamond were ever in their rooms while she was...

She remembered the first time, how close it had been. Then she had still had her strength and her youth. She had escaped Diamond's grip upon her, and fled the room. She remembered his breath, hot against her neck, and the want in his eyes. She'd received one of the worst beatings she'd ever had later, but it was still better than what had awaited her had she stayed.

Serena came into the dim hallway of the royal bedrooms and began towards Emerald's room, the only safe room in the castle. Emerald was the Queen of the Dark Moon Kingdom and she had a burning jealousy of Serena. The witch knew what Diamond had tried so many times with Serena, but pretended that she didn't.

A wave of dizziness rushed over Serena. She fell against the wall to hold herself upright, but seemed to be failing. A picture of the two brothers stared down at her, snickering at her weakness. Her vision began to blur as the blood colored floor rushed up to meet her.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

It had been five years since the life of a slave had befallen the Princess of the Moon Kingdom. At the age of thirteen, she had loved parties and dresses. Blushing at the young Princes who smiled her way. It had been the night of the biggest ball ever when the world came crashing down.

Her Court were on their way back from visiting with their families and she was waiting excitedly for them on the upper balcony. She saw their capsules came in sight, all four at once, and she waved. She turned away for only an instant when fire filled the sky. Explosions rocked the ground and Serena watched in horror as her Court's capsules fell in burning masses to the ground.

Screams echoed from all directions as the ballroom emptied. The sound of armor rattling came from beneath her as the Royal Knights filled the courtyard, surrounding a ship that had landed just after the explosions. Her mother called to her, but she couldn't move.

The ship opened and power flew in every direction. Knights fell to the ground as well as innocents. Serena couldn't divert her eyes. Behind her the Palace began burning. People cried out in pain, servants cried out in sorrow. Still she couldn't move.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

She awoke in a hot sweat from the memory of the fires. A sharp pain in her side forced her to open her eyes. Diamond squatted down beside her, his eyes narrowed.

"Wake up, Serenity. You have a guest." His voice was still as angry as it had ever been, but it was not directed at her. He seemed disgusted as he spat out the word "guest". Who was it that he hated so?

She shoved herself up onto her feet shakily, only to have Diamond knock her knees out from under again.

"Don't fall asleep in my hallway again."

Serena's hatred for him flared as she stood. She flipped her long braid over her shoulder and walked as tall as she could despite her pains. She stepped down the main staircase with grace like only a princess possessed.

Diamond's lip curled upwards in disgust. He restrained himself from kicking her legs out for being so damn defiant. Five years, innumerable beatings, yet she still kept her will. She would listen to him, but only for so long. He cursed her for that.

Serena walked into the throne room with her head held high and a determined gleam in her eye. She could act horrible now which would make the Royal three look bad. Oh yes, the beatings would be brutal later, but now was her time to have fun the only way she could.

Emerald did not look at Serena as she passed. She stuck her rather long nose into the air and turned her eyes another direction. Sapphire gave Serena a stare that might have killed her had she noticed it. She was looking instead at the young man who had come to see her. He had a head full of raven hair, and eyes the color of the a star-filled night. She wished him luck though she knew she wouldn't be leaving.

She did not know however that Diamond had feared this day ever since putting Serena into slavery. The day when he might lose her.