The first time he laid eyes on her, she was in the midst of her court in her mother's gilded palace. She was her mother's daughter, there was no denying it. But it was not her overwhelming golden beauty that caught his attention. Indeed, she was surrounded by young women of equally stunning looks, her ladies-in-waiting, each princesses of their own native planets. It was rather something below the surface, something he could not quite name. This Something emanated from her graceful frame, in much the same way the sun will spread out its warmth and caress one with tingling, tantalizing fingers.
Needless to say, the strange feeling coming from the princess did not hold his attentions for long. Burdened with the well-being of others for as long as he could remember, he had always been a very distracted child who had blossomed into a very distracted man.
He knew her to be the Princess, daughter of the Moon Queen, and this perhaps finalized the matter. He did not particularly like the Queen. It was not that she was unkind, no. It was rather an obtained, learned trait of his - an assimilated sort of self-preservation. He disliked anyone and everyone unless he had a specific reason not to. Even now he could only think of one person whom he did like. At any rate, he was here, under the counsels of his advisors, to learn from the prosperous ruler of the golden age, and simultaneously strengthen the weakly-founded alliance between the Moon Kingdom and his own.
His wise, cunning younger brother, and his favorite, had hissed when the advisors were not listening. "Why leave your kingdom now in its greatest need? I tell you Onii-chan. It is not a good decision."
Then he had placed his hand on his little brother's shoulder comfortingly. "I'll make this better. I promise you."
Ultimately, the decision had been made when all other choices were exhausted. This "internship," so to speak, appeared to be Nemesis's last chance for survival. And as long as he was present on the Moon Kingdom, it was understood by both parties that his own people would not attack, even in desperation - easing, if only somewhat, the ever-growing tensions between the two polar kingdoms.
For it was both a shameful and well known fact that Nemesis was quickly diminishing. It had become a land of Death. Exiled long ago from the Kingdom of the Moon, (his clan driven to the rogue moon because they had dared to rise up against the rulers of the planet) now they had exhausted their resources and were threatened by starvation and poverty. The weak planet of Earth was their main target for invasion, followed soon after by the conquering of the Moon. The Nemesians' craving for revenge was heightened by their hunger. The Moon Kingdom, however, was allianced to Earth through the betrothal of the Moon Princess to the Earth Prince. It was all very quaint, but Demando had no interest in the paltry courting that was the talk of the solar system. He had much graver matters to attend to.
* * *
She saw him in her mother's house, a pale, tall effigy of royalty. His demeanor, as well as his looks complimented the alabaster pillars and white marbled floor of the courtroom.
She knew it was him instantaneously. His reputation preceded him. The gossip among the courtiers was always a reliable source for news, and according to her mother's lady, Nani, the White Prince of Nemesis was to take residence in the palace for the three months of lunar summer, in accordance with his own proposition that he take the opportunity to grow in respect, friendship and knowledge under the beautifully wise queen. His people had once been inhabitants of the moon, that minority that lived on the desolate and unpopulated side of the lunar country which always faced away from Earth, until in discontent, they had risen up against the ruling queen. That was the story, if perhaps not wholly true, for the princess knew as well as the next person how the tales could be "improved upon." But it accounted for the Marks the Nemesians bore that was strangely similar to her own people's. She had thought little of the matter, passing it over once, twice in her mind, then dismissing it as all things that did not concern her. (Frivolity was both praised as her gift and condoned as her fault.) The prince had arrived, had been present for two weeks, and the princess had forgotten about it until she saw him for the first time that day from a distance.
The child-like young woman glanced at him momentarily, looked away again. He was different, intriguing to say the most, but nothing more. If anything he looked far too melancholy and serious to bother speaking with. That is what she told herself. But beneath this surface of indifference, a tiny whispering impression was made, unbeknownst even to her light-hearted spirit.
Then Princess Venus's laughter drowned the Moon Princess's thoughts, and she forgot, for the second time, all about him.
* * *
"Prince Demando," the smooth, deeply feminine voice brought him forth from his dark, swirling thoughts.
He turned from the tall glass-paned window, ghostly hair settling like a silver halo around his face. The silver-gold woman approached him, the image of a goddess, equal to him in height - and he was not an average- sized man. Her hair streamed behind her like sheens of moonlight and her eyes were of the finest cerulean blue: beautiful beyond description, but a regal beauty - the kind of beauty that demanded respect. Even the smallest of children who witnessed her understood this, lifting up their glittering eyes in reverent awe. She was simultaneously young and ageless, the wisdom in her eyes betraying her youthful features.
"I was pleased to hear your people graciously accepted my gifts," she continued, smiling genuinely. She bowed her head slightly, respectfully, as was due to a prince below her station.
He, on the other hand, bowed deeply. "My Queen, your gifts were more appreciated than Your Grace can imagine." He always spoke with the same, calm, almost monotone voice. He was practiced in keeping his emotions to himself.
The unspoken knowledge that passed between them was that the Nemesians in fact were in desperate need of the Queen's gifts - large, generous portions from the Moon Kingdom's own stores, food and supplies that would not have been obtained otherwise. Even in this golden age of the Silver Millennium, it was quite a bit to spare.
"My Prince, I request your valued presence this afternoon in my counsels with the representatives that hail from throughout the Solar System." It was all formalities, and they both knew this. Nemesis had little to no say in the affairs of the other kingdoms, to put it mildly. At worst, the rogue moon was seen as a belligerent and threatening force to the well-being of the Silver Millennium. The Nemesians were not powerful, nor were they well equipped for war - but anger and resentment are weapons in themselves.
Still, Demando nodded. "I am honored to accept, Your Grace."
Demando turned and resumed looking out the window. The silence that followed was not uncomfortable, only distancing. Queen Serenity followed his gaze that rested on the palace gardens below. Starlight flooded the lunar morning, painting alternating shadows and splashing of color on the thriving foliage and winding paths; the earth would not rise until later that evening.
"My daughter loves the summer flowers," the queen murmured lovingly, almost to herself.
But the White Prince heard her. "There are no flowers on Nemesis." Flat, informative.
Really, this was an exaggeration. There were flowers, but only one species remained, and it was fastly declining. But his words unalterably affected the queen, who breathed in sharply, unprepared for such an answer.
He did not look at her.
So the moon goddess took her leave of him, gliding away as quietly and as unnoticed as she had approached.
* * *
He wandered in the gardens, observing. It had been three days since he had seen the princess in the courtroom, but now the Queen's mention of her had reminded him of her existence.
He wondered why he never did see her. Most likely the reason was because they both kept to very different occupations. While Demando kept to himself as much as he could, when he was required he attended the Queen, feigning interest - if not in his countenance, at least in his physical presence. Some kind advisors of hers always made a point to emphasize the Queen's approach regarding governing and economy. But the fact of the matter was that even the most skilled of monarchs could do little with the Nemesian resources at his disposal. Perhaps the Queen was an exceptional ruler, but she also had a great deal more to work with.
The Princess, on the other hand, whose name was also Serenity, was rumored to be a silly, frivolous, inexperienced girl with a tender, loving disposition unsurpassable in the entire kingdom, but whose value in sovereignty fell short of her mother's. She was not a worldly young woman, to say the least. It was true the Queen was presently instructing her to follow in her footsteps, but apparently the fey creature, raised in the shelter of an exquisite palace during the most prosperous era in history, lacked any experiential knowledge that could serve her in her reign. She had little understanding of suffering and its consequences.
The days she spent in the loving company of her court, five princesses from the other kingdoms, and the remaining four, while not required to serve their princess directly, still pledged their loyalty to the woman and her mother, swearing to come to her aid if ever she needed it.
Princess Serenity had no great love for material things, but found her joy in her friends and her family. However, if she ever wished for it, countless wealth and riches were at her disposal. She was also unspoiled - her mother had made sure of that. The young woman was quite self- sufficient. The nurse that had attended her as a very small child was only out of necessity, her mother not always able accompany her, as she was busy overseeing the kingdom. But the nurse was dismissed as soon as the girl was old enough to fend for herself.
So it was that Princess Serenity lived out her days in a dream-like state of contented happiness. It was not that she was unsympathetic to the unbearable suffering of the outer world, - indeed she had a tendency to feel others' pain as her own - but rather she did not understand it. Perhaps, from within her ivory dollhouse, it seemed not even to be real.
But so it was for many people in the Silver Millennium.
As Demando paced the moon gardens, all these things passed through his mind in less than seconds. He was ever entertaining his own thoughts, as he had no friends to share them with.
That was how the girl saw him, pacing through the serene, star-lit gardens, taking in the beautiful scenery, looking, but not really seeing it. She remembered him for the first time in three days, but the sight of him stirred something inside her, something she had also forgotten about since their first glimpse of each other. The feeling was unsettling.
She continued to watch him silently, enveloped as she was in her beloved flowers, away from her friends to have a moment to herself. Still, he could have easily seen her if he had only turned and looked.
Now she thought that he was not a bad-looking man. She surprised herself. She did not often look at men. The charming prince of Earth had obtained her affections at once and she had not cared to give them to anyone else. But something about his beauty, like that stirring she felt when she looked at him, was also unsettling. He looked so solemn, hard. Was he truly made of flesh or was he stone come to life?
But what bothered her most was that she could not read him. She had always had a way with people, could sense their emotions - their fears and shortcomings. It was as if this man had built up a wall about himself, firm, cold, and perfectly flawless, as his beauty.
It was she that approached him.
"My Lord," she said softly, "is something the matter? Are you ill?"
She knew she must have caught him off guard, but he showed not an ounce of surprise. He stopped pacing and looked at her solemnly. If he felt anything toward her, she could not have guessed.
He paused before answering. "No," he said simply.
She frowned visibly.
He looked away from her and his eyes stared off in the distance, unfocused.
Instinctively, as it was in her nature, she felt herself reaching out for his hand. She took it in her own - it was large and cool - and held it up near herself. She knew something of human nature, and she knew that this man was not behaving normally.
This time when he looked at her, he could not conceal the surprise in his eyes, however faint. The rest of his face was unchanging.
Her sapphire eyes were wide. "Are - are you certain?" she asked timidly.
There it was again. What he had felt vaguely three days before - the throbbing, living force radiating from within her. Only now it was stronger. It was directed towards him. And her eyes gave away her soul. Did she not realize how dangerous that was?
He withdrew his hand, and to his utter amazement (although outwardly, this barely manifested itself as the subtlest of twitches), he found he missed this direct contact.
But the princess was just perceptive enough to catch his discomfort, and it confused her all the more.
"I'm fine," he said lightly, flatly, without meaning. "The Princess needn't bother herself with my health."
The lovely blue eyes widened, incredulous. She was insulted!
He bowed to her quickly and moved off, leaving her speechless in his wake. The prince's presence was requested by the Queen at her counsels.
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The setting of this story is the Silver Millennium, before Queen Beryl's conquest. Unfortunately, for the plot to be able to work, it obviously cannot be completely cannon, but where it was possible, I have tried to keep the people in character and some elements of the story in accordance with the anime.
Because of the nature of the myth the story's based on, I have to give this story a PG-13 rating, which may change to R in the future.
Please let me know what you all think!