*Disclaimer* I don't own Sailor Moon. Naoko Takeuchi/Kodansha and Toei Animation do. No suing the Cosmic One, for she is simply an admirer. And a very impoverished one at that.

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Fire and Ice

Chapter 1: Provocation

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Serenity smoothed her white silk skirts down with her palms, in an attempt to make herself as presentable as possible. This could quite possibly be the most important event of her young life.

At sixteen, the Moon Princess had been witness to many acts of royal formalities, and though they bored her to no end, she had been challenged to attempt acting one out herself. Her blood boiled all over again as she recalled the scene that had played out earlier that morning.

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She was lounging in an oversized chair, in the quiet comfort of the palace library, enthralled by a book concerning the history of Earth and it's people, when her delicate ears picked up the sounds of distant laughter floating down the corridor outside the open door.

The princess quickly hid the book under her cushion, being in no mood to hear the snide remarks of the guardian of Mars so early in the morning. No matter the action or intent, Raye always managed to pick it apart, never seeming to be satisfied.

Nothing was ever good enough for the fire senshi, though it was merely her way of attempting to make her princess stronger, to face the duties she would some day be chained to.

At least that's what Serenity had gathered long ago. There were times, however, that she found herself prompted by unseen imps to simply punch her raven haired guardian directly in the face to silence her, but that would be quite un-princess like and very bad for their relationship.

Serenity had long since trained herself to shoulder the irritation that Raye's constant mouthing spawned, holding her own tongue unless she found herself so flustered that she could no longer contain herself.

During such times, just before the palace erupted into a large scale battle ground, the senshi of thunder and lightning, Lita, would be forced to drag the raging royal off to her room, kicking and screaming all the while, and prompt her to sit until she no longer wished to decapitate her dear friend.

Lita was distinguished as the most physically strong of the four guardians to the princess, and finding a single man in the kingdom that could best her in a fight was a nearly impossible task.

She'd embarrassed many a testosterone driven brute that had been foolish enough to underestimate her, until her reputation as an expert fighter had begun floating around. Now, Lita found herself to be highly respected among the members of the court, and quite sought after as well.

Her unusual behavior and prowess seemed to attract many a curious male, and yet none had managed to catch her attention for very long. She was a tad too dedicated to her duties to waste much time on masculine company at any rate.

Soon, four guardians appeared, stepping through the library doors with Mina, who could've easily passed as Serenity's twin, in the lead. The somewhat nervous princess immediately greeted them, flashing her sweetest smile while feeling the baneful book beneath her cushion all the while.

"Good morning, ladies," she acknowledged, her smile not faltering in the least as the four descended upon her. Being no fool, Serenity realized that if she weren't careful, Amy, daughter of Mercury, would realize quite quickly that something was amiss.

Raye tossed her jet hair over her shoulder, her violet eyes already holding a mocking humor. Serenity hadn't done a thing, and already she was receiving 'the look'.

Amy ran a hand through her short blue hair nervously, noting the situation brewing just before her. It was an eternal battle to see just who possessed the sharpest tongue, and it usually seemed to end in an angry stale mate.

The princess and the fire senshi were in reality close as sisters, though both were stubborn as asses being led by a rope when their extreme personalities clashed. . . which seemed to occur with disturbing regularity. Neither would budge an inch once their opinions were made and if they contradicted one another, it was time for all who valued their lives to duck for cover.

"Good morning, princess," Lita returned, smiling back as she gave the blond a wink. Though she begged her not to time after time, Lita always insisted on sticking with formal addresses for some ungodly reason. She was so close to them all that such formalities were unnecessary, though she had the feeling that she did it simply to aggravate her.

"We have a surprise for you," Mina revealed slyly, blue eyes alive with excitement. She knew how jaded Serenity could become with everyday life, and lately it had been worse than average.

She'd been locked up in her room all day the last time the Earth's diplomats had come to speak with her mother and she'd not gotten to see a bloody thing. Serenity wanted desperately to experience the other planets of the solar system, and Earth seemed to catch her eye more than any other.

She could often be found staring out one window or another at the distant blue planet, her mind obviously wondering to unknown realms. Mina, always searching for a way to liven up menial existence, had mentioned her observations to the Queen, asking why it was that Serenity herself could not venture to Earth in her mother's place for a diplomatic visit.

The Queen had not been too keen on the idea when it had first been presented, as her daughter was a bit too naïve about the ways of Earth for her liking. Mina and the others, however, had pled their case, arguing that it was beyond time that their beloved princess experienced such a thing on her own. After all, she would be ruler of the Moon Kingdom one day. She needed to gain as much experience as possible in the ways of diplomacy, didn't she?

The Queen eventually began to see their point, though still a bit unnerved as she made her decision. This was her beloved baby girl, after all.

"Fine, girls. I will allow her to go in my place. On one condition: the four of you must stay by her side at all times, and make sure that no harm befalls her. I trust you to make fair judgments and keep her safe, as always. You understand well how the majority of Earth's people feel about us. She may not go out of your sight, for her life may be in jeopardy if she wanders. I feel that she is prepared for such an experience, though not alone. I am confident that all will go well with the four of you by her side. So be it, girls. You may tell her," the Queen had informed them, with a somewhat sad smile.

Her daughter had grown up without her realizing it, and into a very beautiful lady at that. Many admirers had been after her for some time, though she'd turned them all away without so much as a thought.

The girl could be an ice queen at times, but it most definitely got the point across. Her mother had assured her that she would eventually face a time when she would have the need to choose, and her daughter had replied by saying that she would remain alone forever, should she not find someone that she wanted and that no one would force her into anything.

She was right, after all. The Queen was a hopeless romantic herself and knew that she could in no way marry Serenity off to just anyone out of convenience. If she were to try such nonsense, she was well aware that her retaliation would be drastic.

Either she'd run off as she was at times prone to do, or she would dedicate her every waking moment to making her husband's life an unending misery until he demanded their union to be severed. Serenity had her eyes set on different, somewhat distant horizons at any rate, though no one was aware of the fact.

So it was that her senshi had sought her out to deliver the good news. Serenity would be thrilled by the fact that she was going to Earth. There were only so many times that she could tour the royal gardens, as gorgeous and peaceful as they were.

And training. . . she nearly fainted each time the girls would attempt to teach her the ways of combat. A fighter she wasn't, and she made no bones about it. The princess and weapons of destruction, it seemed, did not mix. Poor Raye had nearly lost several fingers the last time that fiasco had been underway.

"What kind of surprise? Not more combat training, I hope," she said, sounding horrified with the idea.

"Gods, no, nothing like that," Raye said hastily, wiggling her now movable appendages in memory. Ignoring her dramatic antics, Mina continued with what she had to reveal.

"Serenity, your mother has agreed to allow you to go to Earth on a diplomatic visit in her place. We leave tomorrow," Mina informed her. The four guardians immediately saw her eyes light up, the color rising quickly to her cheeks. In a moment she'd bolted from her reclining position, flinging herself upon the unsuspecting Mina and nearly sending them both crashing to the white marble floor below.

"Are you serious? Earth? Oh, gods," she breathed, the realization hitting her fully. Earth and Moon relations were extremely limited and this was very unusual. Oh, but she'd awaited a moment such as this for so long. Finally, after all this time. . . after all her blasted day dreams and troubled nights.

"Has it been approved?" she asked, releasing her gator grip on Mina as she awaited an answer.

"This morning. The Queen of Earth has agreed to it and we are due to arrive tomorrow night," Lita told her, happy to see her so ecstatic about the news. At last something had made her content. There was only so much gloomy princess one could take before finding a solution to the problem.

"It took forever to talk your mother into it, but she finally agreed. The only thing is. . . you'll have to deal with us in your face the entire while," Raye informed her somewhat smugly.

"And what would be new about that Raye? It seems to me that you're always in my face about something," Serenity quipped in response. Before Raye could speak again, the princess flung her arms around her neck, squeezing so tightly that she was convinced her face had turned a lovely shade of violet.

"Oh, Raye, don't be crabby! Let's be nice to each other today, alright? Can you agree to that?" she wondered, giving her friend the best puppy dog face she could muster.

"Why not? I can live with that for a few days," she said with a small smile.

"Now get off of me! I can't breathe," she mocked, pretending to gasp for air. Serenity released her only to attack the unsuspecting Amy next, kissing the side of her head with an exaggerated smack of her lips.

"I suppose you have our tip all planned out already, don't you?" she guessed, and the daughter of Mercury nodded.

"As always. Everything should go smoothly," she answered, fighting the urge to whip our her pocket computer to show her the exact plan of travel.

"You really want to go, don't you?" she asked the bubbling princess, who nodded excitedly in response.

"Very much so. I've heard some very interesting things about Earth and its people," she said, unaware that she had inadvertently sealed her own fate with those few innocent words.

"Like the Earth Prince, perhaps?" Lita teased and Serenity turned as white as the dress she wore, her breath catching in her throat as four sets of eyes stared at her in awe.

"What? What did you say?" she asked, feeling a bit foolish for letting them on so easily. Curses! Could a girl have no peace? THIS was going to be a lovely lecture, no doubt.

"You're so transparent, Serenity," Raye added with a smirk, her violet eyes beginning the assault without a single word being uttered.

"Meaning what exactly, Raye?" she demanded, her automatic response being a defensive one. She was caught dead to rights and now was the time to face what was coming.

"We know you saw him. Why else would you have been so intrigued by Earth so suddenly after his visit? And why would you not have asked us questions about our visitors? Perhaps because you'd seen them yourself. . . one in particular caught your eye, didn't he?" Raye teased, making Serenity's face turned the blood red color of her fuku.

"I have no idea what you're talking about," she lied, vainly attempting to drop the subject. Oh, but no. . . she'd have no of that. Serenity realized very quickly that her pretty neck was still lying fully upon the chopping block, the blade suspended precariously above and awaiting a merciless descent. She hoped that it would indeed be a swift drop.

"Whatever you say. He is quite an attractive man though, don't you agree? You heard the rumors about him and you wanted to see for yourself, am I right? Admit it Serenity, because we already know it to be true," Raye continued, waiting for her reply.

"Fine, you beast!" the diminutive princess exploded, causing Amy to pinch the bridge of her nose while Mina shrank back against Lita a bit, preparing for the dam to break.

"Yes, I heard about him from those gossipy women of the court and I most certainly did catch a glimpse of him! And yes, Raye, he was THE most attractive man I have ever laid eyes upon! Are you satisfied now, you foul wench?" she demanded angrily, crossing her arms over her chest with a huff. Gods be damned, could civility never remain in tact with this woman around?

"That's all I wished to hear. You act as if we haven't known since that very day. You could tell so easily, with you flitting around like you'd been made drunk by the mere sight of a man. There have been stars in your eyes ever since," Raye said, her tone softening a bit at her reflection.

"There is nothing wrong with being curious, Serenity, but you are well aware of how things stand between this kingdom and that of Earth. At any rate, I've heard the prince is away, engaged in battle. He's the captain of the largest unit of Earth's army, and rumored to be an expert fighter and leader," Lita informed her, a comforting hand laid upon Serenity's shoulder as she spoke of the object of her charge's longing.

Her heart sank to her feet in that instant, the four surrounding her nearly able to hear it shatter upon the floor like a piece of china. She'd hoped more than anything that she would again be fortunate enough to see him, perhaps even speak to him during this visit to his home planet.

She'd only been bold enough to peek around the corner to see him standing in the throne room, flanked by four generals in uniform, so many medals and decorations adorning them all that she wondered silently how they kept from walking with a hunch in their backs.

The man was speaking to her mother in what sounded to be a very formal tone, though his words she could not make out from her distance. Serenity had but seen him from a distance, yet the air about him was simply regal.

He was in full uniform as well, armor even gracing his towering form, again causing her to question in her mind how anyone could find such garb to be tolerable.

His hair was as black as a raven's wing, hanging precariously into his eyes if he leaned forward just so. As she continued to gawk at him from her position behind a rather large potted fern, the hem of her dressed hiked up to avoid soiling her gown, she wondered of the color of his eyes. Most assuredly dark, she mused, just as the rest of him. Perhaps a deep chocolate. . . or ocean blue.

She cursed herself for caring what shade his eyes indeed were, wondering why the hells she was currently camouflaged by foliage when she was well aware of what a fool she'd seem if she were caught in such a ridiculous position. So, she forced herself to retire back to her room, where she was supposed to have been kept prisoner the entire while anyway. Even so, she couldn't get him out of her thoughts the entire way. Nor had he left them since.

He'd enchanted her from that day on and she wanted nothing more than to meet him properly and make an attempt to get to know him. Now that one chance seemed to be slipping away before her very eyes. What was the damn point in going to Earth if he would be absent the entire while?

She regained her composure slowly, squaring her shoulders as she assumed the air of the princess that she was, prepared to defend herself to the bloody end.

"No matter. I have other matters to attend to while upon Earth," she said confidently, hands clasped before her and thumbs twiddling nervously even as she spoke.

"Are you so sure that you can?" Raye wondered, surprising her with the question she hadn't prepared herself to face.

"I suppose you assume that I will but mange to make an ass of myself, am I right?" Serenity guessed, her foot beginning to tap against the marble floor beneath her.

"Well, you aren't exactly the picture of composition when it comes to formal affairs. You may even worsen our relations by your visit," she commented, setting Serenity off for the millionth time. Mina saw her fists clench, and she grit her teeth, knowing that they were all in for a rather unpleasant sight indeed.

"Raye, if you knew half as much as you assumed you did, you'd be an alarmingly brilliant woman," she ground out, and Lita swore that she noted a tick forming in her eye.

"I am very capable of handling this affair, and I shall prove it to you," she resolved firmly, turning on her heel to take leave of the rapidly deteriorating situation. Without another word she had disappeared out into the long corridor, leaving four guardians to discuss the matter further in her absence.

"Well, THAT went well," Lita noted with sarcasm, rolling her emerald eyes as all others landed upon the guardian of fire.

"Must you always to test her so?" Mina wanted to know, arms crossed over her chest as she saw a slight flush cross her cheeks.

"Well, what did she expect? I won't allow her to let her guard down over some passing whim. People of Earth aren't exactly the most civilized, you know. And Serenity. . . it is our duty to protect her," she pointed out, though feeling a bit foolish for arguing with her so frequently. Mina did indeed have a point.

"Why not try encouraging her for once, instead of making her feel like a child?" Lita wondered, for once causing Raye to actually think about the sharp words she always hurled at her charge. Perhaps she had gone a tad far this time.

The longer she stood thinking, the more guilt bit at her, until she threw her hands into the air, an exasperated sigh leaving her.

"Fine. . . you're right. I had no right to say such things to her. I only wish to keep her from being hurt, you know. I suppose I'll make an attempt to speak with her later, though she'll most likely ignore me entirely. I can never retire with her upset with me, at any rate," she admitted reluctantly, causing the other three to shake their heads in near unison. This trip, it seemed, was going to be a bit more tedious than they had initially assumed.

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Serenity's blood ran hotly through her veins, as she again remembered the events that had transpired earlier that day. For once, Raye would see that she was perfectly capable of handling herself. . . without her breathing down her neck. If she was so inclined to cut her down, she would see just how bold she could possibly be.

She was well aware that her mother would throttle her for this, but she cared not about the consequences at the moment. Her senshi would most likely kick her royal behind all about the palace as well, but no matter. Now, this had become a matter of pride, which no one intelligent dared to tamper with. For Serenity's pride was not to be reckoned with. . .

The princess had determined that this was what had to be done, to show that she was not as helpless and naïve as everyone wrote her off to be. She had no need of them to do this, being bound and determined to show everyone that she was no longer the child they all assumed her to be. She was tired of being babied all the time and now the moment had risen for her to prove herself to the skeptics.

The dress she wore was of the finest white silk, skirts flowing all about her. The bodice was snug, showing off her well developed chest, causing the simple act of breathing to be a rather large hassle indeed. Silver stitches and pearls adorned the bodice, making it sparkle like stars in the night sky.

A long white ribbon was tied around her waist, flowing down her back nearly as far as her royal pigtails. The odangos were up tightly, held in place by pins and strands of quartz. This damn garb was the bane of her existence, making her feel like some treasured doll instead of a living, breathing human. But, such was the duty of a princess, to be forced to wear such atrocities for the sake of elegance.

She hoped desperately that the Earth prince would be there when she arrived, in all her sparkling perfection. The man would have to be made of granite, she mused, to ignore her in this state. Perhaps she would be fortunate enough to catch his attention.

Her traitorous heart fluttered at the mere thought of it and she fought to regain her composure before she became a mass of misfiring nerve endings where she stood. Before she made good her escape, she grabbed the long velvet hooded cloak hanging upon a hook on the wall, adjusting it about her shoulders.

She buckled the silver clasp and brushed off the plum velvet a bit, taking one last deep breath as she did so. She was now ready to conquer this endeavor, determination and pride driving her forth from there.

Serenity knew just how to escape her room, as she'd done it many times before, finding herself in need of vacating the prison of a palace on occasion. She climbed carefully down the trellis that led up to her balcony, taking the utmost care while finding her footing.

She imagined herself falling unceremoniously to her death below, which would be no help in the least in proving her point. No, cracked skulls would most definitely be avoided on this night.

Once reaching the soft grass below, she sprinted silently past the gardens to where the meadow met the forest, darting around tree trunks and brush until she'd reached a clearing far from the sight of her home and it's occupants.

None of them would notice her absence until midday tomorrow, though by then her visit would nearly be over, and she would be back in their presence before anyone could begin to plan her impromptu death for her disobedience.

She began concentrating her energy, eyes closed as she felt the power of the Silver Crystal rising within her. Over time, she'd learned to harness its powers fairly well, but she was well aware that using it would cause her to be a bit weak. But no matter. This was far beyond worth it any discomfort she would face. For once they would see. . .she was no longer a child.

Silently beseeching the goddess of the moon to protect her on while on her journey, to lead her heart in the direction it was meant to go, her arms rose, the light of the crystal glowing from within as she felt its warmth surrounding her. It was time to go.

She allowed its power to take over, feeling her body being pulled this way and that. In a moment, the spot that the Moon princess had occupied was bare, and the young Serenity was well on her way to an unknown destiny, leaving all she had ever known behind.

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Ok, I wrote this a long time ago, and I decided it needed a re-write. I didn't do much, because I'd rather concentrate on later chapters, but I think it's ok. So, everybody tell me what you think! Want more? Lemme' know!(*Enter 'happy-pixie-gimme-reviews' dance*) Ja Ne!

*Cosmic Moon Baby*