I know I promised I'd update again soon. I keep forgetting, I'm sorry! I'll try to be a bit more reliable. Happy New Year and all that!

~*~Chapter 4~*~

"Who are you?" Serena asked the man.

"My name is Fenris," he replied. "I am the lord of the palace."

Serena looked out over the an ocean of green grass, glimmering in the morning sun, that stretched out so far that it met the sky. Only the wide dirt road that lead to the palace marred the monotonous landscape. She felt like she cold fall into a trance, watching the field wave placidly in the wind. "Um, could you tell me why you brought me here?" she finally requested.

"It would be my pleasure," he smiled. "I simply wanted to meat you in person. You know, there's hardly a corner of the galaxy that hasn't heard something of you. You are truly renowned, Princess Serena."

Serena took a sharp breath in when he addressed so because she most often took for granted the title, like it was just some daydream. It was sometimes hard enough to accept the fact that she was a popular superhero, never mind a princess. "It would have been more polite if you had just invited me."

"I do apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused, but since you are already her would you consider staying for a while?"

A little alarm went off in Serena's head. He's avoiding the issue...what's he got cooking? she thought. "I can only stay for a few days. I need to get back soon, or my friends will get worried."

"I see," he frowned. "I suppose if that's as long as you may stay, it will have to suffice." He stared intensely at Serena, who was gazing at the fields sway in the morning breeze. He finally spoke; "I am hosting a party this evening, and I would be privileged if you would allow me to be your escort."

"That would so totally cool!" Serena burst out excitedly. She blushed and realized that she sounded very immature. She was only more embarrassed by Fenris' reverent air. He laughed at her in more of a surprised than degrading way. It took her a minute to realize that she was not going to be ridiculed, and she smiled too.

"Why don't you let me give you a tour of the palace?" he offered.

"Okay."

Fenris extended his arm to Serena and she took it with as much grace as she could manage. He led her through the library and out into the corridor.

"It took him long enough," Griffelle snickered as they left. The girls had been waiting safely out of site behind one of the gigantic bookshelves several times their own heights.

"Master's definitely all over her," Pheonessa giggled. She watched them walk around the corner.

Drea only scowled, her back was turned to the subjects of their scorn. "We should go check Sphinette's progress. She'll surely have news for us." The other two only smiled slyly and looked at each other.

They strolled over to a small pedestal with a bowl sitting on top of it. It was filled with a clear liquid, and Sphinette's image was projected above it when Drae touched the surface. "Have you found the Crystal yet?" Drae demanded.

"I'm afraid I haven't," Sphinette replied. The three became irritated at the news, but said nothing. "Everything is uneventful. I'm trying my hardest to find it, but I think the Senshi are on to me."

Drea sighed. "Those vexing Senshi are more clever than I thought. We must work quickly. We have a very limited amount of time, and just this morning Serenity managed to awaken."

"But how?!" Sphinette gasped. "That spell was supposed to last-"

"I know," Drae interrupted flatly. "Please, proceed with haste."

~*~*~*~*~

Serena was nervous when Fenris first lead her out onto the dance floor, fearing that she might trip over her own feet, or worse, her partner's. Her anxiety didn't last long though. At first, she let Fenris guide her around the dance floor, since she didn't know much about formal dancing and concentrated on staying upright. The rhythmic three-count beat helped her dictate when to move, but eventually she lost her concern as she became caught up in the moment.

She danced away most of the night, and then she and Fenris quietly slipped out of the party and found an empty bench in the courtyard, where many other young couples took refuge to find some privacy. The evening was still and there was hardly a breeze in the air, as if the wind thought if it blew too hard the night might scatter and blow away like the petals of a delicate flower. The moonlight fell serenely on the garden, paling the vivid, lush greenness that had overwhelmed Serena in the dazzling morning sun.

Serena sat quietly on the bench next to Fenris, who had been daring enough to gently put his arm around her. She felt strangely content sitting next to him, wrapped in the silence of midnight tainted only by a flicker of guilt. She tried to think of what would make this evening more perfect to cure her of her remorse. The thought casually stole into her mind as she looked at Fenris; If only it was Darien sitting next to me... Then just as stealthily as it came, the thought left her. She let her sleepy head rest against Fenris' shoulder and stared into the clear night sky at a blue star twinkling at her in the distance.