Chapter 1

The Decision

Serenity sighed as she gazed out over the pond, her cheek resting gently in her palm. She was leaning against the rail of a bridge in the middle of the vast palace gardens that surrounded her -- in the middle of nowhere -- or so, at least, it seemed to her at the time. Her eyes shifted involuntarily upward towards the earth. It shone like a jewel, hanging suspended in the night sky for everyone to see. In only two weeks, they would arrive.

Tears glistened in her eyes as she found herself -- once again -- going round in circles, wrestling with the same train of thought for the past few hours with seemingly no end in sight. Up until that afternoon, she was determined to turn him down. Now, however, all her plans had changed.

She stood outside the door, listening to the voices within that had brought her to a sudden stop as she was passing by, "I know I told her she could marry whomever she chose," her mother declared, "and you know I will live up to that. I just wish she knew how much was at stake. I don't want her to marry without love, but I want her to at least try to love him. I don't want another war on my hands." There was a pause as Selenity sighed, "I just don't know what to do, Luna. That girl is still too much of a child to be married. She is completely oblivious to the harshness of life."

Luna's voice cut in, "You know, she has a good head on her shoulders..."

"Yes, I do! I just wish it wasn't still lost in her childhood, but here in the present!" snapped the frustrated Queen.

Serenity closed her eyes to force back the burning tears. She could hear her mother's voice in her head as though she were still speaking. Of course I know how harsh life can be; she thought to herself angrily, I've seen the way our planets have suffered, the pain you have gone through. That's why I behave as a child, to help people remember the good side of life, biting back a cry of frustration -- all that was in the past now -- her decision was made.

She continued to look down into the cool water of the pond, as a rebellious tear slipped down her cheek. She knew she had to take responsibility. She also knew her mother had been more than fair to her by allowing her to choose her own husband. She now had to make that choice in a way that would repay her mothers generosity. She knew she would choose the Earthling. She knew...nothing anymore.

She wiped her face and straitened. There was no time for tears and self pity. She was the Princess of the Moon. First and foremost, she had to keep her people in mind as did the Senshi when it came to her own welfare. She walked back to the palace – feeling ten years older than she had before first entering it – and of that one thing, she was certain.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Where have you been? You were supposed to be here three hours ago," Rei cried out as Serenity entered the room. She looked up, noticing the worried expressions on the faces of her four closest friends, "I'm sorry," she apologized -- a little shocked at her lateness, "my mind wandered off on me as I took a stroll in the garden." She had spent the entire walk back to the palace composing herself. Thankfully she had a strong will, and her expression gave no sign of the turmoil within her mind and troubled heart.

"We were starting to get a little worried about you," Lita added, trying to soothe the mood in the room.

"I'm really, really sorry," Serenity said apologetically as she plopped down on her bed. The four girls took their usual seats: Mina on the bed beside Serenity, Ami in a padded chair close by, Lita on the floor, and Rei on the sofa.

"So, what is on the agenda for tomorrow?" murmured Serenity as she lay on her bed, eyes closed as Mina started to undo her hair.

Lita perked up, "We have training all morning, but in the afternoon we're free," she said, her mind already at the training session. Serenity smiled as she thought about the powerful Jupiter princess. Lita looked like a flower, but was far stronger than many of the men she sparred with.

Ami looked up at her, "Aren't you forgetting Lita that we're supposed to be in the library at two o'clock for our lecture with Artemis?" she asked slyly. Lita groaned.

Mina smiled, "Right. He's supposed to give us a lecture on Earthling manners," she exclaimed cheerfully.

Rei lifted her eyes and groaned, "Great, more manners to learn," she complained. It was then the girls got into a heated debate about whether or not it was necessary to have to learn so many new customs for just this one visit by the royals of earth. Each of them knew Serenity didn't want to marry just yet, and knew the Earthlings would stay a few weeks before returning to earth empty handed. Serenity listened quietly as Mina brushed her hair. Mina's long, fluid strokes relaxing Serenity.

"What do you think Usagi?" asked Lita. Usagi was the nickname her father had bestowed upon her when she was born, and those closest to her still called her that.

She didn't open her eyes as she replied, "I think it will be very interesting and useful." There was a stony silence in the room, and Mina's strokes stopped abruptly.

"Uhhhh, Usagi, did you hear what we were talking about?" Ami's voice finally broke the silence.

"Yes Ami, you were talking about the Earthlings' visit and whether or not it was worth it to learn their ways if they're only here for a short time," she replied evenly, her words met once more with silence. Finally, Serenity sighed and continued, "I'm tired. Perhaps we should all retire for the night if there is nothing more to discuss." The four princesses looked at each other in bewilderment.

"Yes, I guess we should get some sleep," Rei agreed as she got to her feet. Following Rei's lead, the girls also agreed and slowly stood and headed towards the door, "Sleep well, Usagi," Mina said softly on the way out.

"Rest yourself, Princess," Ami called over her shoulder as goodnights were exchanged. The door had closed with a soft click behind the retreating Senshi, and Serenity let out a long breath. She would tell them her decision soon. But for tonight, she was exhausted. She didn't bother to change, and was soon asleep.

Disclaimer

I do not own the rights to Sailormoon or any of the characters. That honour belongs to Naoko Takeuchi, and I am simply a lowly author who can use her characters for my plots.

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you so much to my wonderful Beta's, Loki and kenshinta. You two are irreplaceable, patient, and just plain amazing. You've helped me improve my writing skills, and I am very grateful to you. Thanks!