Disclaimer states that: I, in no way, in any life, own Sailor Moon. No, Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha and Toei Animation happen to possess those rights.

With that outta' the way, now I'll say that I realize that this story is wacky. I want it to mess with minds, ya' know??!!! You're about to experience a very long flashback, and with any hope, it will explain the issues between Serenity and Endymion, and why they act so damn strangely towards one another.

This fic probably won't be an epic or anything, because that would just be irritating in this case. It's just about this love, this perfectly insane love that is absolutely impossible, and yet cannot be stopped. You know. . . the kind we all obsess over and such? Oh, wait. . . is that just ME??

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AN: By the way, in case you all were wondering what's taking me so bloody long to update my fics, I've had a death in the family, and things have been kinda', um. . .bad since. So, I'm sorry that it's taking so long, but I'm trying to give you something to satiate you a tad until I regain a bit of inspiration here. As always, let me know what you think of this interlude. It's what I've got for now. . .

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As before. . .ALL TRANSLATIONS ARE BELOW THE PARAGRAPHS IN WHICH

THEY APPEAR

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Seraphs of Shadow

Interlude: Hallucinations of the Soldier

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Not a sound filtered into her ears as Serenity's blond head rose cautiously, the events of the past several hours slowly registering in her mind.

Though her body should've ached, from the force of the hateful blows she had been dealt, she was rather pleased to find that no ill effects lingered. It seemed that her companion had been able to repair the damage done without much effort in the least. . .something he had indeed always been adept at doing.

Her rather parched lips curved into a somewhat downhearted smile, eyes tracing over the form of the man whose lap she sat comfortably upon. Endymion, still traversing the land of dreams, still the most beautifully intriguing creature she had yet to happen upon in any life.

Yes, so long it had been, since Serenity had last granted herself such a guilty pleasure. Far too long she had run, from the things which destiny had granted her so many long years since passed.

And she knew not why, for her own misgivings had also led them to this place, this point of much needed decision. Anger still bellowed its desire to lash out, to cripple him in its grasp, though she held it firmly at bay, knowing that her fury never granted any solid form of peace to her in the least.

The ache in her heart remained still, as she maneuvered herself closer to the warmth of her consort's body, clearly able to make out the pulse of un- life beating throughout. So beautiful he was in sleep, the innocence of so many blooming children seeming to radiate from him.

One hand touched his cheek, fingers running softly along the curve of jaw she had firmly committed to memory. Fingertips trailed on, across slightly parted lips, flame licking ever higher in the pit of her stomach as she remembered the feeling of perfect euphoria, the countless times she had found herself lost in his embrace, totally devastated by his lips as they positively ravaged her own. . .her body in flames as his ungodly hands wreaked havoc across her naked skin.

Serenity closed her eyes, the torrent of emotions that swept mercilessly through her a bit too much to bear all at once. The desire was there, just as it had always been, though until this very moment, she had savagely denied it, denied herself. . .denied Endymion what she could never admit was yet alive and well within. But now, as her eyes took all of him in, memory was ruthless as it assaulted her senses, the pain and pleasure nearly enough to rip her apart.

Not a dream. . .no, it had indeed been theirs. Their shattered reality, that she so longed to repair. Even after the passage of time, it lingered vividly still, each detail and emotion, as if it were only yesterday. Perhaps it were, she mused, for time had an ugly tendency to run together, leaving many victims in its wake.

"Endymion," she whispered, framing his face in her hands as he stirred, though still groggy from sleep.

"Serenity?" he asked, a bit taken aback to note that she was sitting astride him, her delicate hands cradling his face between them with the utmost care.

The sight of his eternal lady met him, so fresh and new, like a newborn fawn to his starving sight. The odd pang within his chest soon nagged at him once more, though he paid it no mind, for his hands were already stretching forth, the need to touch the most perfect of all possessions becoming quite desperate.

Crystal blue eyes watched him intently, half lidded both from sleep and from the amazing effects of the immortal's hands as they ran along her lightly clothed form.

Recollections of so many forgotten days came then to him as well, and he felt the emotion radiating from her into his own body. Again she had allowed them to consume her, though this time, he felt not only resentment. . .but a great longing, a genuine bliss assaulting him as well.

"You remember, micio mio," he said, more of a statement than a question as it flowed from his lips.

(my kitten)

"I have yet to forget. Perhaps that is what has kept me on the move for so long. . .the fear of losing it all once again. . .of losing you," Serenity all but whispered, causing her companion to groan audibly as her lips touched his neck, just beneath his jaw.

His eyes closed, an automatic response to the glorious feeling of her tongue, lapping leisurely at his skin and completely erasing his every notion to hold fast to his vows and promises.

He knew himself quite well. . .knew that he could not ignore the feral beast within, longing to be unleashed. Longing to claim this creature, who had never been quite as innocent as the rest of the world had assumed her to be.

"Never have you lost me, Serenity. Nor will you ever," he breathed gruffly, his hands sliding along the bare skin of her thighs, feeling her muscles tense beneath his palms.

Further they traveled, slipping with maddening slowness beneath the hem of his borrowed shirt, along the beautiful curve of her hips, his head tilting to the side as her teeth began nipping along his neck, sharply enough to cause anyone else to wince from the divine torture she was inflicting.

Small hands journeyed down the panes of his chest, over the heart thumping madly within, the hunger as ancient as gods themselves growing steadily within the immortals, both of whom were becoming quite witless by the lustful haze which was so rapidly engulfing them.

"Control. . .has no meaning in your presence, quello piccolo," he breathed somewhat brokenly, his strong hands moving further still beneath her shirt, along the faultless curvatures of her breasts, which seemed to fit his hands so divinely well.

(little one)

Endymion felt her body, shivering beneath his touch, only urging his hands to explore her delicate form more thoroughly. He had longed to feel her, hear her sweet voice for so long. . .it all seemed to be just another vivid dream, such as those that had plagued him the entire while they had been apart. Apart and yet bound. . .joined by so many unspoken bonds.

"Nor should it ever, cara mia. I remember it all so well. So very well," she said softly, her body arching into his hands, as she relished in the all consuming heat that only he could ignite.

(my darling)

"As do I, beloved. Have your dreams haunted you these lonely years? Called to you in the darkness?" he whispered, drawing her nearer still as his teeth nipped at her earlobe, sending shivers dancing along her spine.

"You. . .you have haunted my days, my nights. . .my entire existence, from the day I first came upon you. From that day forth, I have thought of you. . .dreamt of you. Ached for you," she whispered, her words cutting into the depths of his aching heart.

"I know the feeling well, il mio amore, for you have given me no peace since last we parted. I too remember that day. Etched into my heart it shall forever remain," he told her, his body on fire in response to the feeling of her own lithe form pressed tightly against his.

(my love)

Orbs of blue locked with one another, Serenity found herself feeling totally stripped of the defenses she had worked so very hard to hide behind. His eyes, so dark with the desire she knew all too well, so familiar as they stared her through. It was then that she knew. . .wicked destiny would not win. Not this time.

"Endymion. . .baciami," she whispered, her lips a mere breath from his own as she made her soft request.

(kiss me)

Her gasp died in his mouth, his lips claiming hers with fervor as the memories assaulted them both: memories of dreadful scars, kind words spoken softly, fistfuls of sheets and ungodly cries of pleasure in the still of blackest night.

Gentle caresses and a warm embrace, the cage of safety always longed for and yet never truly known until that fateful encounter, which had scarred both of their lives forever. And the madness that had consumed them, in attempt to destroy the bliss they had both so deserved.

Everything, born of that day. . .the day neither would forget, nor begin to recover from.

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Long since had the sounds of battle died, the world once again blessed with an almost deafening silence, save the sound of leaves rustling in the warm breeze of the dying day of late summer.

The garish sun above, now hanging low in the sky, like some ripe peach waiting to be plucked from its home, bathed the face of the Earth in its final rays, an orange glow cast over all.

The meadow, a formerly peaceful refuge, was now witness to a sorrowful sight indeed. After many miles of agonizing travel, from the blood stained grounds of battle to the west, a lone figure could be seen, dragging himself though the knee high grasses with much difficultly, sword in hand still despite the ebb of combat.

The armor that had never seemed to faze him now seemed to bog him down, the pain racing throughout his body so intense that the soldier was now beginning to feel a bit numb, fatigue eating harshly away at him with each unsteady step he took.

The battle had been devastating, the enemy forces having have launched an ambush upon his already combat weakened forces. Too long had they been without food, adequate sleep, or any tolerable conditions in the least.

So they had been totally off guard, dawn having just broken as the much larger battalion descended upon their crude encampment, leaving his brothers in arms and himself struggling for their very lives.

Long into the day the battle had waged, bodies falling lifelessly to the ground, which had soon become stained red from the blood, seeping from the mortal wounds inflicted by so many merciless blades.

Their captain had been felled weeks ago, the higher ranking officers being picked off as well, until only the youngest, yet the most determined men had remained. In a short time, they had all been changed, been forced to bare witness to savagery that none of them had ever thought to imagine.

Combat was ruthless, leaving no one fool enough to trust another alive to make the same such mistake twice. This war seemed endless, a new threat showing itself with each passing day, leaving no time to recover from the last melee. They had been weak, many already staring into the face of death, as the horn of battle had sounded, setting the latest fray into motion.

The man had fought hard, as he always had, cutting down each adversary with a cry of rage, of pure anguish, racing forth from his painfully raw throat. His blade stained red from hilt to tip, the soldier had become lost in battle, his only intent to destroy those who wished to take his own life, before they could be granted the chance.

So it was, as he thrust his blade deeply into the gut of an oncoming foe, that fate was set in motion, a hideous pain tearing through his side as his voice raged through the air around him. He felt the cold steel, seeming to burn as it slashed through muscle, a pain so intense that he was sure he would soon know well the grim face of Death.

He felt the pressure against his ribs, seeming to jar his entire being as the blade was pulled from his body, causing him to fall forward, his body landing heavily upon the unforgiving ground below.

Agony assaulted him quickly, his breath catching in his throat as he felt his body shutting down, the battle slowly dissipating about the fallen form of the man, blood stained sword still held loosely in his hand as his sapphire eyes slit shut, the pain of the wound he'd been dealt soon taking total control.

Swords clashed all around him, soon muffling to nothingness in his ears as the world grew darker and darker, his breath impossibly shallow as he prepared for his last. Anger still raged, though it now mattered not, for no revenge could be his after he left this life. This life of constant conflict and bloodshed, that he had been ultimately defeated by.

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Some time later, a chance miracle allowed his eyes opened once more, only to reveal that he was alone, surrounded only by the bodies felled in battle. His own brothers in arms had abandoned him as well, not a living soul lingering upon the bloodstained battleground. They'd left him for dead, he resolved, as he attempted to stir.

The devastating ache in his side forced him to remain still, though at long last, with gritted teeth and a shout of agony, the wounded man forced himself to his feet, steadying himself with the point of his blade buried firmly in the ground before him.

He noted that the sun was again high in the sky, alerting him of the passage of time whilst he had been unconscious upon the crimson ground below. The fine art of survival took over, leading him blindly through the surrounding trees. He knew that he required shelter, water. . .some treatment for the surely festering wound he'd been dealt.

Though knowing not how long he traveled, stumbling painfully with each agonizing step he dared to take, the soldier came at last to a lonely meadow, stretching far as his naked eye could see, reaching the base of a peak in the near distance.

In reality, days had passed, days without any respite from the hunger, the thirst, the pain which threatened to be his undoing. Blood now stained his entire uniform jacket, though he dared not to attempt to remove it, for he knew that the constricting garment had probably saved him from bleeding to death thus far.

The man spotted a rather large willow tree, not far from where he presently stood, wobbling rather precariously as he attempted to use his sword as a makeshift walking stick. His steps were becoming more lethargic, the abuse he had recently endured beginning to take its final toll. Much longer, and he knew his life would end, in a most unpleasant fashion indeed.

Body craving rest and mind beginning to shut down, he made his way to the outstretched embrace of the fronds of the willow tree, biting hard upon the inside of his jaw as he attempted to lie in the shade of it without causing himself undo pain.

His plan was useless, however, as fire shot through him, excruciating enough to force him into the land of dreams once more, where he finally welcomed Death, longing for it to take him from the grasp of agony that he now found himself trapped within. Darkness overtook him, like the ebony grip of night, though no stars dared dot this horizon.

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Nothingness. Pure darkness and nothing more. . .

Until a tiny light sparked in the far corner of his mind, causing his body to stir ever so slightly, though unaware of the action.

The flash shone once more, then a third time, until the thump of a weak heart beat could be felt within.

Slowly, cautiously, ocean blue eyes opened, only to be blinded by the sight before them, a light so dazzling that his arm, feeling fused to the ground by gravity, moved instinctively to cover his sensitive sight.

Gradually the light faded, his vision carefully falling upon the sight before him, unlike any he had ever seen.

A few paces away, a tiny figure clad in white stood, unmoving as he stared, caution and the ways of battle still flowing hotly through him, just as the nagging pain that refused to let him be.

"Who goes there?" he called, with all the strength he had yet remaining. His hand attempted to take hold of his sword, though his grip soon yielded a fallen blade.

The hooded figure stepped closer, though he was helpless to do naught but stare, as two hands gently pushed the snow white covering back, revealing the most beautiful creature he had yet to witness.

Impossibly long, soft golden hair framed her face, swaying behind her in flowing twin pigtails as she stepped cautiously nearer, each step dainty and light.

"Sono minaccia a voi," her voice returned, sliding like silk across his soul. Only such a soothing voice would emerge from such a gorgeous girl, he mused, despite the accursed ache plaguing his entire body.

(I am no threat to you.)

His eyes watched her approach, the pain momentarily forgotten as he took in the sight of her, such beauty unknown to his vision.

She knelt just beside his broken form, her hands sweeping her cloak aside as her knees touched the ground softly, concern written clearly across her fair face.

The soldier found himself drowning in the bluest eyes he had ever seen, so soft and gentle, fathomless as they assessed him, her blond brows soon furrowing in distress.

Her flaxen hair had fallen from behind her shoulder, the rogue tendrils resting upon the stark contrast of his stained black uniform as her hand reached out, clearing his own ebony hair from his somewhat blurry vision.

He was made quite speechless by the sight of her, only watching as her hands then moved to his side, hesitating as they approached the grotesquely bloodstained hole torn though both fabric and flesh.

"Sono nel regno del cielo? Siete un angelo?" he asked hoarsely, finally able to articulate a bit of speech.

(Am I in the realm of the heavens? Are you an angel?)

The nymph seemed to blush slightly at his words, though still intent on discovering the reason behind the presence of so much blood staining the man before her.

"I merely tend to those in need, good sir," she replied gently, managing at last to pull the two blood soaked layers of clothing away from his body.

His teeth clenched and he held back a growl as her blue eyes grew wide, one hand flying to her lips as she herself struggled to hold back her voice. A gaping hole met her sight, the wound caked in a crimson so dark that it appeared black.

The gash was inflamed, that much she could easily tell, and much to her dismay, she noted that her action had caused it to again begin to bleed, prompting her to tear off strips of her own dress, pressing the fabric against his side in order to keep the blood loss to a minimum.

The man looked positively drained of life as it was, and she knew that any more stress on the injury would only land him in the arms of death. And that, she would not allow.

"I dii sopra. . .queste ferrite sono profendi," she uttered gravely, watching with concern as the white cloth in her hands quickly turned red. The man watched her still, his eyes clouded, causing her heart to curiously pain her within her chest.

(Gods above. . .these wounds are deep.)

"Who are you?" he asked, his voice sounding tired as it reached her ears. So weak he was, in need of great care. Poor man, she thought, to have been left to die. And for what? From the looks of him, this man was no stranger to battle, and yet all his best intentions had been overlooked.

"Dovete venire con me. Il pericolo rimane qui," she insisted, ignoring his question entirely as her eyes broke from his form, studying the outlying trees intently. The sun was fading far too quickly for her liking, for she knew what dangers lurked after darkness fell, none of which she wished to face. . .especially with this man being in such a helpless condition.

(You must come with me. Danger remains here.)

"Bella!" she called rather loudly, as her hands closed about the hilt of his bloodied sword. With a grimace she managed to sheath the deadly blade, her hands both stained crimson by the time the subject of her summoning appeared.

The huge dapple grey draft horse approached carefully, her massive muzzle bumping the elbow of her young mistress as she bowed her head over the body of the soldier. Bella too, it seemed, realized the severity of the situation.

Wounded man watching in delusional amazement, the huge beast lowered herself carefully to the ground, the angel in no disguise moving to help him rise himself. His words flowed without his consent, sounding immensely bitter upon his tongue.

"Lascilo e! La morte e troppo vicino affinche interferisca," he growled harshly, attempting to jerk his arm from her grasp. However, he only succeeded in causing more pain to find him, as well as angering the girl that was so intent on keeping him in tact, without any reason at all.

(Leave me be! Death is too near for you to interfere.)

A frown touched her face, her crystal eyes burning into his with what he swore was an icy flame. Perhaps he indeed should've kept silent and allowed her to aid him as she so wished.

"Arresti la vostra discussione! Non sono uno per permettere che la morte vinca," she said, with such a calm fury that he knew better than to protest any further. He realized then that if he refused to go willingly, she would but force his compliance, without his consent in the least.

(Stop your arguing! I am not one to allow death to win.)

With much effort and strain, the diminutive girl managed to steady him as best she was able, maneuvering him as gently as possible towards the patiently waiting mare, who knelt still by the side of her mistress.

The man groaned in pain as he slid himself across the animal's broad back, until his legs dangled at long last along either side. His head resting upon the great beast's neck, he was vaguely aware of the feeling of his savior as she too mounted, the horse then rising to stand as her arms went about him, keeping him steady as his body swayed to and fro.

Her grip remained unwavering as they rode in silence, the swaying of the massive beast enough to both sicken the man and lull him into a pleasant trance, though the ache of his body remained in full force. However, the feeling of those delicate arms about his shoulders, valiantly attempting to keep him steady as they traversed the tall grasses of the meadow, was enough to ease the sting a bit.

The peak in the distance became ever nearer, until at long last they were again surrounded by dense hardwoods and conifers, the foliage seeming to reach out to embrace them as darkness nipped dangerously at their heels.

His eyes remained closed, the sounds of heavy hooves meeting the ground, his own shallow breathing and the echoes of the creatures of dusk swimming all about him. Still the warmth of her remained at his back, a comforting feeling indeed, the first bit of calm he'd known since the days of his childhood.

As the last trace of daylight yielded to the ebony of night, faint light appeared in view, becoming brighter still as they continued forward. Soon, a small cottage appeared, shielded on three sides by walls of moss covered rock that rose to the height of ten men at very least. A somewhat narrow passage led through the densely covered terrain, opening up into the clearing in which the small structure lie.

To either side was a tall fence, rising to nearly the height of the building itself on both sides, meeting the unyielding faces of granite to form a rather protected refuge indeed.

As the passage widened, he was aware of the second rider dismounting, though he dared not attempt to discover the reason behind it. His aches and pains were more searing than ever, and he thought it not worth the agony to put his curiosity at ease.

The girl moved quickly, pulling the massive gate shut and latching it firmly, sealing off the only entrance to her home to ensure a bit of protection from the evils that yet lurked in the night. Not bothering to go to the trouble of jarring the wounded man once again, she put a hand beneath Bella's chin, the horse obediently following her mistress towards the cottage, which was lit cheerfully by several candles sitting here and there within.

They came to a stop just in front of the door, and the girl soon found it to be a beastly struggle to ease her newly acquired burden to the ground, as she attempted not to aggravate his injuries any further.

It was all she could manage, to shoulder the weight of him, broken armor included as she led him inside, one arm about his waist and the other holding his own firmly about her neck. They struggled in tandem, finally managing to step through the door, which she shut rather loudly behind them with a mighty kick.

Another journey was soon theirs, the humble bed in the corner seeming miles away instead of the actual few paces. Though there was more space above in the loft, the girl had no intention of attempting to maneuver him up the ladder, knowing full well that the poor man would pass out before she managed to lay him down to inspect his wounds thoroughly.

He groaned loudly as she helped him to lay flat upon her sheets, not caring that they too were soon stained red in his wake. She wasted no time in gathering the necessities required to dress his wounds, dashing about the room in bare feet as she retrieved the basin of water sitting on the table across the room.

Placing it just next the bed, she then flew to gather several bunches of herbs hanging inverted from pegs upon the wall, snagging a small mortar and pestle with her free hand before likewise depositing the newly acquired items upon the table.

Lastly, her hands sought out a few clean rags from the cabinet near the side window, along with a small jar of salve saved for just such occasions as this.

As she turned back to her bed, she noticed how pitiful the man truly appeared, his body writhing painfully upon her sheets, his chest heaving with breaths that she knew to be simply agonizing to attempt.

Her heart pained her greatly, seeing him in such anguish. She knew only that she would do anything within her power in order to preserve his life, the consequence of such a thing never crossing her thoughts.

It was simply in her blood, to give to others in need, as had been the case with her mother. She could not have turned away from this man, as he lay dying beneath the shade of the willow tree in the meadow below, alone and in agony that none should ever have need to experience.

Odd thoughts assaulted her at last, as her fingers went about the task of ridding him of his sword belt, gently pulling it away from him even as his fingers attempted to close about the scabbard. She managed to wrench it from him, tossing the vicious demon across the room with a thud.

"Sia tranquillo," she ordered gently, her shaking fingers then proceeding to unclasp the stubborn buttons of his uniform.

(Be still.)

"Why are you doing this? Are you not afraid?" he wondered, nearly in a complete daze as he watched her hands sweep over him.

"I fear nothing of this world," she assured him, managing to carefully rid him of his jacket before likewise tossing it into oblivion across the room. She would worry herself with tidying up her cozy dwelling at a later time. For now, she had a half dead soldier to attend to.

He would've smiled at her comment, though it pained him a bit too much at the time.

"Do forgive me, but this shirt has met its end," she informed him, swiftly producing a small dagger from its sheath, which was strapped upon her thigh. She carefully cut the garment away, until he lay, bare from the waist up.

Tears formed in her eyes as she witnessed the full extent of his monstrous wounds, though she refused to allow them to take control. There was much to be done, and little time in which to accomplish it.

With all the strength she could conjure, her hands cleared away the previous scraps of cloth she had used for a compress, before dunking a fresh piece in the water by her side, beginning to cleanse the beastly gash as gently as she was able.

His face contorted into a mask of pain, though she could do naught but utter soothing words to him, as her skilled hands continued to wash away the gore which plagued him.

The wound was deep, though she knew not whether he had suffered any injuries to the vital organs that lie within. With any fortune in the least, she would yet be able to save this man, who she had happened upon by such chance.

She managed to produce a mixture without any difficulty, to ward off infection and to aid in the healing of his battle scarred body, her fingers smoothing the salve onto the wound carefully, her heart sounding in her ears the entire while.

At last she went about the task of dressing his injury, winding strips of fabric about his torso and tying them gently, cautious not to inhibit any circulation that would aid in the healing of his badly battered body.

After washing her hands thoroughly, the blond realized only then that she still wore her cloak, which was by then stained crimson here and there from the blood of the man who lay dazed upon her likewise stained sheets.

She removed it with a sigh, not bothering to place it upon its usual hook on the back of the door. It too was tossed aside, as her attention focused again on the stranger who lay in her bed.

Strange, how she should take in such a being, obviously one of great power and strength. She would have need to send him on his way as soon as he was able to walk, for when fully recovered, she had no inkling as to how his demeanor would change. He was a man, after all, and her mother had taught her well. She was no fool, nor would she be taken for one under any circumstance.

The girl moved to sit upon the mattress, her palm resting upon his forehead as his eyes watched her the entire while. A frown touched her lips as she noticed the fever raging within him. He was on fire, though she knew not why she was so surprised.

"You have lost a great deal of blood, soldier, though it matters not. This fever will drive you to the furthest reaches of madness, but it shall not take you. I am Death's greatest adversary," she assured him, his eyes closing as he cherished the tiny bit of relief of the cold cloth soon pressed against his forehead by amazingly gentle hands.

"Gli angeli hanno la necessita di essere chiamata?" he managed hoarsely, his hand longing to touch the splendor of her face, to assure himself that she were indeed real, and not just another teasing hallucination sent to drive him mad.

(Do angels have the need to be named?)

His eyes were again upon her, and she felt as if her very soul were being picked apart, her heart suddenly pounding against her ribcage with amazing force.

"Cosi volete sentirli?" she asked gently, still bathing his face in attempt to give him a tiny bit of comfort despite his current predicament.

(You so desire to hear it?)

"Posso," he replied, the ache in his side slowly being chased away by the sight of the beautiful girl, who seemed so intent on caring for his injuries.

(I may.)

The diminutive girl reflected for a short time, her hand clenching a bit more tightly about the cloth which yet rested upon his feverish brow. Her reply came without her consent, leaving her cursing herself for her lack of control.

"Serenity. My name, soldier. . .is Serenity," she told him, his half lidded eyes still attempting to keep the perfect sight of her focused, though fatigue and fever were biting harshly, leaving him drained in much need of the soft embrace of sleep.

She dared not ask to hear the same from him, knowing it to be hard enough a task to merely remain conscious under such horrid conditions. Serenity knew full well that had she not happened upon this man as she had, Death would most assuredly have whisked him away, to the silent darkness that awaited his coming.

Pride of her accomplishment rose within, her heart warming to think that she alone had been responsible for the preservation of this man's life. Though marred by injury and the early ravages of sickness, something about the stranger had positively enthralled the solitary girl, who had not seen a soul for countless days, until hapless chance led her path to where he lay, near death beneath the fronds of the willow tree in the center of the lower meadow, which she had grown quite fond of as a child.

As night wore on, her eyelids grew heavy, though she refused to allow her body to shut down, for fear of leaving her patient unguarded during the harshest hours of darkness, those he had yet to face.

He lay still as Death, save for the occasional rise and fall of his chest with each precious breath he took. From her perch on the mattress next him, Serenity curiously found her hand, working of its own accord, coming to rest upon the chamber of his heart, which beat steadily within his chest, thumping rhythmically beneath her hand.

A beautiful sensation, she thought, beginning to doubt the musings of her own mind on account of the battle ravaged newcomer. Why on Earth would such random thoughts be bombarding her? It wasn't as if she knew this man, who seemed nothing but masculine grace and beauty beneath the mask of agony he had worn earlier.

In sleep, she thought him to resemble some fallen being from above, ebony hair falling across his forehead, long, dark lashes now hiding twin orbs which she had noted to be a most startling shade of cobalt, though clouded by misery upon first glance.

But no, by morning, she determined, they would be cleared. For she had been taught the ways of the healer, by her mother who had shown her well. Though she was now alone, Serenity was no novice in the ways of healing, and as devastating an injury as he had sustained, the girl was determined to see him through, despite the nagging in the back of her mind to leave him to his fate. Something about him, it seemed, was worth preserving.

As her limbs began cramping up from being held in the same position for so long, Serenity carefully maneuvered herself forward, resting her back upon the headboard and stretching her legs out alongside the still sleeping soldier, who seemed fairly stable as he continued to dream.

Her small hands hesitated for a moment, before stretching forth, her fingers sliding through the ebony silk of his hair gently, an odd sensation flooding the pit of her stomach as her eyes trailed over him. So peaceful. How could such a being truly be a slayer? A man that lived only to survive to witness the next dawn?

The thoughts presently occupying her mind began troubling her, prompting the girl to close her eyes in attempt to clear them entirely. For the first time since she had found him, she noticed the exhaustion creeping devilishly throughout her body, her eyelids fighting the force of the sudden increase in gravity around her.

With the last bit of strength she could manage, she maneuvered his dark head into her lap, legs stretched on either side of his form as she gazed down upon his face one last time, a tiny smile curving upon her lips. Beautiful beast.

Her hands, a bit cautious though far too curious to remain still, smoothed along his warm cheeks, in attempt to sooth both the soldier and herself, though he was still oblivious to the world around him.

Candle flames burning low, Serenity at last allowed herself a bit of rest, her head tilting back against the headboard as well. Soon, her body had shut down, sleep consuming her in just the manner as it had taken the soldier.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So soft was the embrace of the realm of dreams, where he wandered aimlessly for an unknown amount of time, until the ache of his battered body roused him without bothering to show any mercy in the least.

Slowly, his eyes blinked, once, twice, before finally focusing on his surroundings, which were foreign to say the very least. Never could he recall witnessing such a place as that in which he found himself occupying, though the painful ache of his wounds soon commandeered his full attentions.

In a vain attempt to rise, the soldier groaned audibly in agony, surrendering willingly to his bodie's urges to remain perfectly still, where the pain would not find him so easily.

Even still, as he lay in a near daze upon the bed in which he was sure he had yet to occupy until that very moment, he suddenly came to realize that he was not alone. For on either side of his body he found a bared leg, stretching along, feet resting lightly next his hips. Confusion assaulted him, though he found it rather difficult to compose his thoughts after the realization of finding himself in a strange place with someone he had no knowledge of at all.

Ever so carefully, his head tilted back, until his eyes fell upon a most gracious sight indeed. Memory flooded his mind then, of the day since past. . .of the battle his body had succumbed to.

He had been sure that the grim arms of Death would soon cradle him, and yet, in the midst of the devastation, the scent of blood still thick in his lungs, the soldier had been found, and by an angel, none the less. The same in fact that occupied the bed as well, cradling his head in her hands as she dozed silently against the headboard.

From his precarious position, he found himself cursing silently, both from the incomplete view he actually had of her, and from the horrid crick in his neck he was experiencing from attempting to remedy that very problem.

So it was, as he attempted to take all of her in, that the beautiful creature stirred, eyes opening slowly as she looked about, light lashes fluttering as she attempted to chase away all traces of slumber.

It was the eyes, a shade of blue unlike anything he'd ever witnessed, which again managed to cause an odd pang to burden his chest. . .one which had naught to do with the nearly fatal wounds he'd been dealt.

No, the lightning which coursed roughly throughout his veins was strictly on her account, the nymph who sat, still blinking as she stared back at the soldier, an odd mixture of relief and apprehension gracing her face.

The girl seemed so akin to some breed of angel. . .the same he'd been told stories about as a child so long ago. Though the sun had yet to take its place within the sky, the low burning candles watching them from various positions about the room had bathed her in such a warm glow that she seemed nothing save freshly descended from the realm of the heavens above.

Much effort was to be exerted by the man, as he slowly rose to a sitting position before her, his body protesting madly as he turned then to face her, one hand held fast against his aching wound all the while.

Try as he might, and no matter the pain, he couldn't help but keep his eyes locked upon her, the salvation in no real disguise that had indeed saved him from the cruel hands of fate without so much as a second thought about doing so.

Articulation came slowly as they regarded one another, Serenity finding her tongue with some deal of difficulty. He looked a great deal better today, much further from the reaches of Death than he'd been only hours prior.

Ebony hair hanging precariously into his eyes, the color of the ocean on a turbulent night, he appeared more human than apparition, the color having returned a bit to his cheeks, though she still regarded them to be a bit too hollow for his good.

There was no telling how long he had succumbed to the hardships of war, or exactly what the man had seen in his days wandering the Earth. He looked to be not much older than she herself, despite the scars of battle and adversity that graced him.

"How do you fare, soldier?" she wondered, maneuvering herself carefully away from the somewhat precarious position she currently held in order to put a bit of space between herself and her unexpected guest.

He was, after all, still a stranger in her home, and that alone caused the dormant caution lying within to take control, despite the way in which her heart seemed to be pounding within her chest at the mere sight of him sitting silently before her.

A small gasp escaped her as his free hand caught her wrist, his grip firm yet gentle to her fragility as he put an abrupt halt to her retreat. The sight of her mouth, hanging slightly agape as she tugged slightly away from him was quite amusing, though he dared not allow himself the pleasure of chuckling in response.

She greatly reminded him of some frightened rabbit, eyes wide as she again attempted to free herself from his grasp, which only became more unshakable as he drew her a bit closer, his hand finally leaving his wound in order to take hold of her other wrist.

"Your eyes. . . they hold fear within. I ask you, Serenity. . . do not fear me, for I will do nothing to bring harm to you. That alone I owe you, for my life itself has been preserved on your account. I thank you for it, seraphino," Endymion told her, his voice a gruff whisper as he continued to hold fast her gaze, ignoring her question entirely.

(angel)

Unable to think and totally overwhelmed by the apparent sincerity floating within the cobalt eyes that were so effectively staring her through, Serenity only stared, feeling herself being drawn ever closer to the body of the stranger sitting upon her bed, a small grin beginning to curve upon his lips as his hands, ever gentle, began sliding slowly up her forearms.

"What. . . what are you. . ." she began, only to be silenced by his eyes, her heart throbbing painfully as she realized that she indeed wished to be drawn so toward him, despite her mind's commands for her to flee.

"Sia tranquillo. Vivete qui da solo, quello piccolo? Dove sono i vostri parenti?" he wondered, finally managing to sit her down upon her mattress once more as he looked down upon her, hands still continuing along their randomly charted paths.

(Be still. You live here alone, little one? Where are your relatives?)

Speech, though a bit difficult to achieve, came at last, as Serenity answered the questions he seemed so intent on asking.

"Tutto il completamente. Sono tutto che debba girare verso in questo mondo," she informed him a bit gravely, eyes welling up with silent tears at the thought of her mother, whose spirit she conversed with daily despite the apparent insanity of the entire concept.

(All dead. I am all I have to turn to in this world.)

Endymion's face softened, the thought of such a young, delicate creature as she living alone in the center of the forest a bit disturbing to him, though he couldn't figure out for the life of him why it bothered him in such a way.

It was apparent, after all, that she had no problem in handling things on her own, as she had proven ten fold by saving his life when he had been in greatest need of just that.

But now, that controlled decorum had slipped steadily away, revealing the true form of the angel that he had already set in his mind to be his own: a frightened girl, unsure of her the situation in which she currently found herself submerged in.

It was the most surreal vision to ever grace his sight, such a beautiful creature, so pure and true, so unmarred by the things that had plagued him for the latter part of his young life. Nothing but innocence dwelt within her. That much was plain to him. An overwhelmingly refreshing thing it was, to witness anything save gore and death for the first time in much longer than he cared to recall.

Even then, the hand of Death lingered, eager to snatch up anything or anyone foolish enough to allow their guard to drop for any amount of time at all. And yet, Death held no sway, for the company he presently held would make sure to see to its untimely annihilation.

"No longer," he said suddenly, his eyes still studying the gentle lines and curves of her face. Cornflower orbs growing wide at his amazingly profound statement, Serenity's head tilted to the side, blond tendrils framing her face as the candlelight continued to gloat over the room.

"Perhaps your fever speaks for you, soldier, though the words are kind, no matter their source. But, one thing remains against you. Dovete mangiare qualcosa. La vostra resistenza non rinviera se non," she pointed out, not noticing that her own hand was busy betraying her as she spoke, her fingers brushing lightly against the warmth of his cheek.

(You must eat something. Your strength shall not return if you do not.)

Her concern both touched and troubled Endymion, who only then took note of the way in which his side had begun to throb once more, the dull ache growing quickly into an all out throb.

Noticing his distress, the way his teeth were gnashed, his unforeseen savior frowned, knowing then that he required further care. The foreign emotions swirling about her, it seemed, would simply have to wait until afterward.

"You would do well to remain still. Angering your wound further will leave you in no shape to continue along your way," she pointed out, finally able to dart backward, leaving him reaching out to her and longing desperately for her to return to her previous position.

"An angel," she heard him mutter under his breath, his arms finally dropping to his sides in defeat as he allowed himself to be content with watching her flit about the cottage as she retrieved adequate sustenance to thrust in his direction.

"You seem so sure of that," she said, her hands cradling a bowl of something steaming between them as she made her way back towards her bed and the somewhat dazed man awaiting her return.

"It took nothing for you to convince me of it," he assured her, his stomach churning despite the appetizing aroma that reached him as she handed the bowl to him.

"As you say, soldier. Now. . .eat. Your body may protest, though I advise that you not argue. Should you have such faith in me, I implore this: trust in me," she asked, proffering her gift in slightly shaking hands.

His eyes, glowing in the candlelight, sent shivers trailing along her spine, reminding her again of the fact that he was indeed a man, one that she had no previous knowledge of despite his current condition.

The sooner he was well, the sooner he would be on his way, and that was for the best. . . at least she attempted to convince herself of just that. However, the erratic beating of her heart was beginning to cause her to doubt even herself.

"I would be a fool not to," he told her genuinely, finally accepting the bowl as she settled back down beside him, though leaving a comfortable space between them as he forced himself to eat, and only to please her at that.

Each bite seemed to pain him as she looked on, though he continued with his task, until at long last he was finished, a small smile gracing the rosy lips of his new companion. Taking the bowl, she sat it gingerly on the bedside table, before resuming her observation of the soldier.

"Posso avere uno sguardo?" she asked, touching his bandaged side lightly as her eyes bored into his own, leaving many a fresh scar upon his heart.

(May I have a look?)

"As you wish, seraphino. As you wish," he answered, straightening himself as her hands began gentle unwinding his expertly placed bandages. Her smile only grew as she took in the sight, his wound already having begun to heal in so short a time.

(angel)

"Well, soldier. . . it seems that you've managed to skirt your own fate. The scar may run deep, though only to remind you of these days. Soon, no ill effects shall linger," Serenity said proudly, her index finger tracing over his skin with the utmost care.

She felt his body as it shook ever so slightly beneath her soft touch, her actions ceasing as his hand descended upon her own, seeming to engulf it entirely.

"Though nothing I may do could possibly repay your kindness to a stranger, I freely offer all that I may, Serenity. La mia vita e la vostra," he told her, nearly causing her to lose her breath entirely.

(My life is yours.)

Silent moments passed, her heartbeat sounding in her ears as she felt his fingers, trailing a bit cautiously through the golden strands of her hair, smoothing down a few rogue tendrils as he held fast his gaze.

"You owe nothing, soldier. I would have been inhuman to leave you to your demise. Your strength will return soon, and afterward you will be on your way. I would, however, be content with one thing: your name, soldier," she said, her feigned apathy easily seen through by the cobalt orbs of the man who seemed intent on driving her mad.

"Then you shall have it. Endymion I am called. Now tell me this: will you turn me away, little one?" he prompted, his palm coming to rest upon her cheek as his thumb ran along the gentle curve of her lips. Her shivering didn't go unnoticed, only prompting him to lean closer, until the soft scent of her bombarded his senses entirely, nearly intoxicating him in its wake.

"You should rest now. The sun has yet to rise. Sleep," she advised, unable to keep her own hand from moving to cover his own upon her cheek.

"Should my angel remain by my side, no protests shall be yours," he informed her softly, her mind attempting to process the onslaught of emotion that was soon upon her.

"Endymion, I. . ."

"No, little one. I am I man, though I would do naught to dishonor a lady. . .especially one so beautiful and tender as the one before me now. I am not a shadow of the night. Indeed. . .I keep them at bay," he nearly whispered, seeing her eyes close as he leaned closer still, lips touching her forehead like a whisper of wind in the hours of midday.

Pulling back, he noticed a single tear, trailing steadily down her cheek, the sight enough to send a sting shooting throughout his entire body. The thought of causing her pain simply would not due.

"No," he said softly, lips touching her cheek with a tenderness that Serenity had never dreamt of knowing.

"No tears. Angels should never weep," he told her, suddenly surprised to feel her warm arms slide about his neck, the softness of her cheek against his own.

"I know not why," she said, her voice quaking with effort, "but what you say. . .I believe in you. Your eyes hold truth and truth alone," she managed, her lips brushing against his earlobe softly as she spoke.

"Doubt it not, little one," he urged, reluctantly freeing her in order to allow her hands to again wrap his torso with a clean bandage. Pleased with her work, the young herbalist gave no protest as two arms laced themselves about her, pulling her against the form of the man she found herself trusting with her very life, despite every urge of her mind not to. This, it seemed, was not a matter of the mind.

Silence descended, breaths becoming steady as sleep moved again to claim the two occupants of the bed, golden hair mingling haphazardly with ebony as she lay, head resting upon his shoulder, eyes closed as she concentrated on the rise and fall of his chest with each breath he took.

Night wore on, candles burning low in the wee hours of morning, just before the first light of the sun graced the Earth with its glow. Still, neither stirred, each content in the silent company of the other, neither realizing just how twisted the humor of fate would prove to be.

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Ok, so that's Interlude #1. I won't promise rapid updates yet, because between work and life in general, who truly knows when I'll have the time or motivation? Not me, so no false promises will be made here. At any rate, I hope you enjoyed this, and thank you for your reviews thus far. I'm glad to know that you like! Until next time, Ja Ne!

*Cosmic Moon Baby*