Memento Mori

by lilian

Summary: Where Ami thinks about a life past, and realizes she remembers more than just flashbacks. A/Z story.

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Memento Mori: (noun) 'A reminder (as a death's head) of your mortality'.

She knows the exact moment of her death.

July 3rd, 5:27 in the morning. The sun had just come out, she remembers, announcing the beginning of their third day under attack. It had been exactly one month, two weeks and four days after she had kissed him last, five weeks since she'd last spoken to him. Eight days since the news of the invasion had broken through the tight-lipped belt of silence Beryl had created around herself and exactly three days after the celebration of Serenity's birthday.

They had left during the night, she recalls, like spies escaping into the night. They had all said their goodbyes but even so, it had felt wrong. Because they had had to hide, had to lie about their origins for fear of retaliation. Things had been chaotic then, mistrust clinging to the air like a putrid stench, for Terrans were not welcome upon the idyllic Moon Kingdom anymore. She remembers fervent promises of return, half-whispered goodbyes and the hot, wet tears that had scalded her cheeks. She doesn't remember much after that—the pain of his loss too much for her to bear. She had drifted aimlessly from day to day: dreamscape and reality had all but blended into one.

Then They had attacked, and she couldn't sleep-walk anymore, because her most feared nightmares were coming true. Her life was falling around her, her world crumbling to ash and brimstone under the assault of the invasion.

She knows exactly why she had to die.

She was a Warrior, sworn to loyalty for a kingdom that wasn't hers. But her oath had spanned two lifetimes and beyond, so when fate came knocking at her door in the form of a pigtailed young girl and her black talking cat, she answered the call willingly. But that is today, and what she remembers now is the past: she had to die because she was in the way. She had stood between a greedy tyrant and her quest for world domination and for that, she had to disappear. She had embodied everything the red haired witch hated; everything that was right and good in this world. She had died because she fought to defend her beliefs until her body had broken and her spirit had fled from her bones.

She fell alongside her warrior-sisters, their foreign blood staining the marble staircases and pooling until you could not tell Venus from Mars from Jupiter from Mercury. Because they had all bled the same—red, scarlet blood, and they all had cried the same tears.

She also knows exactly where she died.

In the Southern part of the city, three miles away from the Tower of Prayer and leagues away from the Crown Palace. She had first met him two planets away; they were introduced at the Jovian Annual Yultide, a celebration of death, rebirth and renovation. It was strangely fitting that both their lives were forever changed that night, when a smiling Jovian Princess had thought they ought to meet. They had not clicked at first—he had been too loud for her tastes and she too quiet for his. They had found common ground in the end, their active minds finding an equal in each other and thriving in the discovery. He had kissed her for the first time next to the Fountain of Tranquility, not five streets away from where she fell. Still, she couldn't be completely sure: the fallen columns and collapsed buildings gave the entire setting an otherworldly air that defied her sense of direction.

She remembers exactly how she died.

The thrust of the sword as it entered her back, the sickening crack of her ribs as they parted underneath the pressure of the blade. She can recall the bite of the crystal shards against her arms, every little slash and wound letting her blood seep through until she thought she had no more of it to spare.

He had planted a soft kiss just on the nape of her neck, she reminisces, right on the spot where her neck ended and her spine began. And it was more of the intimacy of that touch than the blade he had twisted viciously right after that had brought her to her knees. Because that kiss spoke of better times, where he would sneak behind her and surprise her, making her scream in fright and enjoying the flush that would color her cheeks afterwards. He always liked doing that, she muses, recalling his gay laughter at the flush that had colored her cheeks. She grimaced, the memories shattering her hardly earned peace and rocking her tightly controlled world.

She doesn't know whether to love him or hate him because of that.

She had choked on her own blood, she remembers, and she can still taste it: copper and tears and flame, burning the back of her mouth until she thought she might melt from the heat. She can hear the snapping of her ankle, her heel catching in the debris littering the landscape. She had stumbled, hesitated, and then he had been upon her, devil smile and devil eyes and she had gasped as the blade had pressed against and into her—and through her—and the snow-white bodysuit she had worn was tinted red; even her skirt was red. Odd, wasn't her color blue? So why does she bleed red, then?

He had kissed her then, cold lips crushing against her own, hard, demanding, intrusive. Give me, they had said, because I'll take it anyway. And she is ashamed to remember she didn't fight him: she had just stood there, letting his stronger arms and body hold her up because she had had no strength left. And when he had retreated there were tears in her eyes, but they had refused to fall because she had promised herself she wouldn't die crying ever again.

She had felt her heart break when she saw him commandeering the forces of Darkness. To the left of Kunzite he had stood, holding his sword high and screaming bloody murder to the same world he had once revered. Will you scream when I kill you, little mermaid? Will you scream for me? he had asked.

Her blood is gathering upon her chest, a pool of crimson that grows bigger and bigger with each blinkheartbeattear and all she can do is stare into his eyes—green-blue eyes that laugh and laugh until she's deaf and blind. And then he tugs at his blade and there's this distant part of her brain that wonders why it doesn't hurt anymore, until she realizes she has never stopped hurting: not ever since they learned of their defeat. And then the sword comes free and she falls. He's still laughing, paying no heed to the blood that flows down his sword like liquid velvet to pool at his hand and make his white gloves as red as her bodysuit.

She lies on the ground for a while, unmoving and deaf to all sounds but the failing beat of her heart, straining to hear the next thumpthump just below her left breast. Somewhere through the haze in her mind, she is aware of him kneeling right beside her, a mocking smile dancing from luscious lips that had always tasted of mint. What does she taste like now? she wonders. She cannot say. He brushes a few strands of sweat-matted hair out of the way—hair she doesn't even remember cutting—hair she had lost in the heat of battle, sliced away by an overzealous youma who got dangerously close before she had frozen him to death.

His hand snakes down to her chest, where her lungs struggle to deliver oxygen to her broken body. Pressing ever so slightly against the star-shaped gem that rests there, he speaks, and though she can barely hear what he's saying she concentrates on the sound of his voice because that's one of the things she adores about him: "So beautiful, Athena. So young and beautiful..." she hears.

Her name is like a curse upon his lips, falling like a prayer from his mouth and she remembers of a time when he used to worship the ground she walked upon. How did he change so?

She coughs, blood slipping from the corner of her mouth and running down her jaw, twin trails of scarlet and she looks almost like a vampire having just fed instead of a defeated warrior about to die. "Why?" she asks him, because she has no energy left to ask anything else, and truth to be told, that is all she needs to know. Why? Why did you leave me? Why did you betray me? Why did you let her do this to you? And she suddenly realizes she doesn't really care, because she's going to die anyway; but it'll be a much easier passing if she can only understand.

He leans closer, hand moving even further down until it brushes her exposed thighs and makes goose bumps rise from her quivering flesh. How can he elicit such responses from her, even when she's in such a state? How can he play her like a well-tuned instrument when she prides herself of being in complete control of her self? He kneads and squeezes, causing wounds to open and more blood to pour out of the injuries he himself had caused not an hour ago. She bites her lip; only by gathering the last amount of pride she still retains does she fight the urge to moan under his ministrations, knowing he wishes to break her even further, to stomp on her pieces and then scatter them to the winds. She will not give him the satisfaction: if anything, that will be her sole victory in this battle.

He bends forward, the lapel of his uniform brushing against her collarbone and she thinks she prefers him in white—gray doesn't really suit his complexion—but her treacherous body doesn't care, doesn't mind the difference and she arches against him as he plants one last kiss right behind her earlobe. "Because I can", he whispers against the shell of her ear and his hand clamps down and squeezes upon her leg and she cries out and the tears spill and he smiles.

"Die now, little mermaid. Die knowing you failed and that it was your heart that made you lose."

He stands up and from her position on the ground, she notices his black boots shine as if recently polished. It takes her two blinks and one great effort to realize it's her blood that's making them shine: he's standing in a pool of it and laughing. With one last ounce of strength, she closes her eyes and wills her power forth. It's the swan song: one last burst of power, bigger than anything she has ever done. Her tears glitter once, twice and fall upon the ground and wherever they land, they freeze. And the ripple effect follows the path she marked for them, following her blood around her and under him and into him and he screams in fear this time.

Ice erupts like a maelstrom, unstoppable and quick and burning, stilling life wherever it touches. Afterwards, the battlefield is silent. Nothing remains of the Ice Princess and her Golden King, except a single petal drifting in the wind.

She knows exactly when, why, where and how she died.

She also knows who did it.

But that is one thing she won't remember, because remembering it means reliving it and she doesn't think she's ready for that just yet. Maybe she never will be.

Outside, the moon sets and the sun begins to rise. She shakes her head, dispelling the traitorous thoughts that have kept her awake into the wee hours of the night.

She looks at the time.


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The End.