Crystals of Love: Blood of the Rose

Title: Crystals of Love: Blood of the Rose

Author: kazeko

Show: Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon

Series: Crystals of Love: Tales of the Heart from Crystal Tokyo

Multipart: yes

Chapters: 8, complete

Couple(s): Haruka/Michiru

Time: Crystal Tokyo, a thousand years or so after the Black Moon Family

Timeline: "A Child of Darkness and Light", "Crystals of Love: Masks", "The Last Sacrifice: The End of the Silver Millennium", "CAS 1: The Trouble with Love is the Lovers", "CAS 2: To Defy Destiny", "Every Cloud", "Crystal Shards", "CAS 3: Unwilling Accomplice", "Our Past 1: The Reason We Fight", "CAS 4: Princess of Light", "Our Past 2: The Reason We Still Fight", "Our Past 3: The Reason We Fought", "CAS 5: One Last Shining Star", "In the Darkest Forest", "Destiny or Duty", "Dead Crystals", "Desperately Searching", "Kazeko", "Chronicles of the Star Senshi 1: The Gathering", "Chronicles of the Star Senshi 2: Castle in the Sky", "Chronicles of the Star Senshi 3: Queen of the Moon", "Chronicles of the Star Senshi 4: Separation Anxiety", "Crystals of Love: Betrayal", "Crystals of Love: Forsaken", "Chronicles of the Star Senshi 5: Black Moon Family", "Crystals of Love: Destined Couple", "Crystals of Love: Horoscope", "Crystals of Love: Haiku", "Crystals of Love: Thunder Goddess", "Crystals of Love: Blood of the Rose"

Disclaimer: I don't own them.


Chapter 8: Heart of Fire


Haruka stood on the bridge of her ship, staring at the blue/green planet and silvery moon beneath them. She noted with detachment the flurry of activity behind her as the crew prepared to land. Unlike many of the largest ships from the Earth and Moon, most warships from Uranus were built to survive landing and could function inside a planetary atmosphere. The feature was linked to the Uranian distaste for cowards and the lack of escape pods on their ships. The only way for the crew to leave the ship was if the ship was strong enough to make it to ground. Usually each ship carried one or two wings of small fighters for scouting before the battle group arrived, but they were only big enough for one and not sufficient for landing all of the Senshi, their children, and their prisoners on the planet. As weak as some of the Senshi still felt, Haruka was not going to order them to teleport to the planet.

"Majesty, we are ready to initiate reentry."

"Begin."

Haruka smiled as Michiru's hand came to rest on her shoulder, her wife joining her for the final part of the journey. Their daughters were renewing their familial bonds and practicing their powers in the training rooms, but they would be ready to disembark when their mothers called. The Princesses had been making rounds of the ships in the fleet, letting the Uranians know that their true leaders had returned, but they were going to teleport to the planet when their mothers called.

"What are you going to do with her, Haruka?"

"The Chancellor? I don't know. Let Serenity decide."

"And if she decides to be lenient?"

"I trust in her judgment. I have been gone for fifty years, Michiru. I do not think I have the right to question her."

Michiru nodded and watched the planet approach. The ship flinched as it entered the atmosphere of Earth, red filling the viewscreen. Haruka had landed a ship on a planet hundreds of times, but Michiru had never been with her. It was the aqua-haired woman's first planetary landing, and she was mildly unnerved. As they broke through into the atmosphere, the fire against the shields disappeared, and the ship settled into the approach. The tall spires of the Crystal Palace came into view, and Haruka smiled to finally be able to return. She had missed her queen during her long absence.

The ship settled onto a large landing pad outside the palace grounds. Haruka smiled and led her wife off the ship and toward a long-awaited reunion with her queen.


Serenity stood very patiently on the palace steps, smiling as the large group of Senshi approached her. All of her childhood friends and some of their children were in the group, Haruka and Michiru in the lead. A group of soldiers brought the single prisoner, another Uranian woman walking with them. As she watched, Haruka and Michiru's triplet daughters appeared on the carpet, waiting for their parents' approach. Pluto and Moonlight stood to one side of the queen, Endymion and their children on the other. Arrayed behind them were the Senshi who had helped maintain the barrier around Crystal Tokyo, the three Senshi from Sagittarius and their wives from Leo. The six women had appeared at the same time just before the planet Senshi went into hibernation for a hundred years. Kosame of Regulus, Kousui of Denobola, and Koike of Algieba were triplets from Leo, called by the power of the Senshi of Sol and the Senshi of Moonlight, and they had fallen in love with the three sisters Kikka of Rukbat, Sumomo of Arkab, and Yanagi of Alnasl. Still tired from their ordeal, they had insisted on being present when Haruka and the other Senshi landed.

The large crowd of commoners flanking the red carpet cheered as Haruka stopped before her queen, falling to one knee. "Forgive me, Princess," she whispered, "for being away so long. I never wanted any of this to happen."

Serenity leaned down and pulled Haruka to her feet. "Do not feel ashamed, Haruka. I know that this was not your fault. I am only glad that you have returned to us. Please, bring the Chancellor forward."

Sailor Mars stepped away from her wife and stopped the guards as they stepped forward, placing a hand on the Chancellor's arm. Smiling gently, she led the woman to stand before the queen, pink eyes locking with Usagi's. "Look into her heart, Usagi. See who she is before you punish her."

Serenity reached out a hand and held it over the Chancellor's head, closing her eyes and calling on her powers. It seemed like they stood in that pose for hours, neither moving, barely breathing. In reality, only a handful of minutes passed while the Senshi and the people of the Moon waited for their Queen to pass judgment. Akane, standing beside her mothers, watched the event with knowing gold eyes, nodding slowly. This was the future she had seen, the future she had pushed her mothers and the other Senshi towards.

Kazeko and Shousha watched Serenity, knowing deep inside that this woman could never punish a mortal, no matter the crime. She would find a way to help them repent, would help them change, but she could never punish. Despite the weakness her loving heart was seen as on Uranus, the leaders of the Star Senshi knew that Serenity was the best woman to rule over the other planets. Whatever she decided would be the best possible solution. Kazeko glanced at the group of Star Senshi standing near the queen and tilted her head, glancing at the Chancellor. The Senshi each nodded, agreeing silently to obey the Queen's directive, not to speak out against the punishment. They had followed Kazeko for so long that they no longer questioned her decisions, knowing that she had their best interests in mind.

Setsuna, standing with Ailan and Setsuko, watched her daughter probe the Uranian woman's mind. The crisis was over, and it seemed that the Senshi were calmer after than they had been before. Bonds had been reforged, powers had been renewed, and the people they lead saw stronger Queens. In hindsight, Pluto should have anticipated this outcome. Eventually one or another planet would rebel against the seemingly-immortal Senshi who ruled over them. Many short, small rebellions had occurred during the Silver Millenium, and it was long past time for one to happen during Serenity's reign. Setsuna was happy that the crisis had been resolved so easily.

Inside Ayura's mind, the woman's memories played for the watching Queen. Serenity stood on a small hill overlooking the famous Gold Flower Field south of the palace on Uranus. Her long silver gown rustled gently in the wind, a woman dressed in scarlet and gold standing by her side. Ayura, her graying hair held back by a trio of jeweled combs, stood silently beside the Queen, her dress too tight to be moved by the wind. Serenity glanced at the woman and smiled, stretching the wings on her back and shaking her head, letting her long hair flow freely. "You must relax. You are too stiff, too afraid. Do not be afraid of me, Chancellor. For more than two thousand years I have ruled these planets and I have seen things you would not believe. Trust me, there is nothing to fear from me and nothing in your memories you should not wish to relive. Sometimes there are parts of my past I wish to see again."

Ayura nodded, but her stance did not change. As the two watched, a crowd materialized on the field, commoners in dull colors mixed with nobles and lesser royals in brilliant hues and jewels. The palace was decked out in garlands of flowers, probably imported from other planets, and banners marking the different lesser houses important to the palace hung from the balconies. The lower balconies filled with families, strong women dressed in warrior garb, their subservient husbands herding young children and keeping them quiet for the upcoming event.

"What am I seeing?"

"Presentation of the Princesses," Ayura replied, a rare smile gracing her face. "Those are the ten War Leaders and their families, arranged to show great respect to the Queen and her new daughters. The people of Uranus have all come, even more overjoyed because the daughters were born to our Queen, born of her body. It is our belief that power, all power, is passed from the mother to daughter, which is why titles and property can only be passed from birth mother to daughter. These Princesses were the first daughters born to Queen Haruka on Uranus. They are her heirs, her first and only heirs. This is why the entire planet has come today, come to see them. They are very precious to us."

Serenity pointed to a family on a middle balcony with a daughter and three sons dressed in their finest, the girl younger but more well behaved than her brothers. She was dressed in gold, red trimming along the bottom of her dress, neckline, and sleeves, a jeweled scabbard on her hip. The sword resembled the sword on her mother's hip, just as each of the women on the balconies carried a sword. It seemed that the War Leaders carried swords because their Queen carried one. "That girl looks like you."

"That is me. The woman there is the Sixth War Chief, my mother. I am five here. This is the first time I ever see the Queen."

The crowd burst into cheers as four guards stepped onto the uppermost balcony, each woman young and strong, armed and obviously very dangerous. They spread out as two more women stepped out, Kazeko and Shousha dressed in their finest for this important day. Shousha's aqua and sapphire dress glowed from the balcony, her hair curled and pinned up with sapphires and turquoise. Kazeko wore gold, the dress simple velvet, with white feathers along the hem and a short cape hanging from her back. Her short hair was unadorned, a topaz hanging from a chain around her neck, a simple crown on her head. As the leader of the Star Senshi, she often wore a crown to important gatherings, mostly to remind people of her status. On Uranus, worshipped as the birth daughter of the great Queen, she needed to remind no one.

Kazeko raised her hands for silence, and the crowd obeyed. "People of Uranus, we thank you for coming today. My mother has given birth." Cheers and screams met her words, even the stoic War Chiefs smiling and nodding. When the noise died down, Kazeko continued. "My mother has graced my family with not one new sister, but three." The woman smiled and stepped to the side as Haruka and Michiru joined them on the balcony. Haruka carried two wrapped bundles and Michiru the third. The blonde woman looked tired, a little drawn, but to her people she could not have been more beautiful. Michiru was just as worn out as her wife, probably having helped nurse them, and also getting very little sleep.

"It surprised us to see her that day," Ayura murmured. "Among the Royals and other important families on Uranus, a woman does not nurse her own children. Our queen refused to let anyone else touch her daughters. She looked so tired that morning, but I thought she was very strong, very brave, very beautiful." The younger Ayura watched the Queen intently, eyes full of love and worship.

"You fell in love with her that day."

"We all love our queen."

Serenity smiled at the other woman's dismissive tone. "No. You love her more. Your love is not the same as your mother's love for the Queen. You knew this, you recognized that you felt something you should not, even at that young an age."

Ayura sighed and hung her head, some of her hair loose from its tight coiffure. "I knew that I would do anything for our Queen. But I was born to be Sixth War Chief, and I did not think that my inherited position would serve her as I wished to serve her."

On the Balcony, Haruka smiled at her people, glowing in the light. "Five days ago, three young Princesses were born to the line of Uranus of the line of Neptune. Welcome my daughters, Amaya, Adana, and Asami."

The memory faded and another took its place. An older Ayura, possibly about ten, sat in a large play room with the three young princesses. Serenity watched as the girls played with Ayura, clearly happy around the older girl. "I adored her daughters. I was raised with them, and they wanted to be with me." The time skipped forward again, and Ayura was fifteen, the princesses and a younger girl who resembled Ayura standing with her beside a low bed. An older woman, her skin pale and her breathing shallow, was lying on the bed, clearly dying. The Princesses cried as Ayura held the woman's hand, tears in her own eyes.

The dying woman reached up and took her daughter's hand, eyes glazed over with pain. "Ayura, my daughter."

"I am here, Mother."

"You are the best child ever born to any War Leader. You are strong, and proud, and you serve our Queen with a love never seen before." The woman coughed, resting for a moment before she continued. "Your love can go either way, child. You must protect her from herself. She thinks she is strong but she needs us. She will need you one day and you must be there for her."

"I always will."

"You are destined for a special place, a position you cannot comprehend. You must not fail me, Ayura."

"I won't, Mother." The girl looked up as Haruka entered the room, tears in her emerald eyes. "Majesty."

Haruka waved her hand at the teenage girl, kneeling beside the dying woman's bed and touching her forehead. "Telura. You have served me so well over these years. You will be greatly missed, my friend."

"Majesty," she whispered, reaching up and touching Haruka's face. "You have led our people so well for so long. I am proud to be a loyal citizen of Uranus under your care."

"You have always served me well, always watched my back. You saved my life in the Wars in Andromeda. You would accept no payment then, just returned to your place as Sixth War Chief. I must reward your loyalty and love, if not you than your daughters."

Telura nodded and closed her eyes. "I have thought about this, my queen. I have two daughters, and I want both of them to serve you as best they can. My youngest . . . she is my heir. She is suited for this position. Ayura has a different destiny. She must serve you in a different capacity. I do not know what."

Haruka nodded and bowed her head. "I will give your daughter a high position in my court and the power to find her destiny."

The image faded and Ayura sighed. "The Queen made me her Chancellor two days later. I was fifteen years old. My sister of ten became Sixth War Chief and my brothers raised her and taught her the position. She was very good, did our mother proud. For the next five years I served our queen faithfully, uncertain what my mother meant. At the age of twenty, I realized that I could not stay single for long in our society. As Chancellor, my position was greater than any below the Queen and her family, so my husband had to be a man from a family of importance. When First War Chief Karina offered her oldest son in marriage, politics and the powers of court demanded that I accept. I realized . . ."

Serenity smiled and nodded, reaching over and running her fingers through Ayura's loose hair. It was a little darker than it had been when the visions began. "You realized that a husband would keep Haruka from suspecting that you had feelings for her."

"It let me do a little more. I allowed myself to get pregnant, and my child let me get even closer to the queen and her daughters. I saw how Michiru began to pull away from our queen, I saw how much she was hurt. I knew there had to be something I could do."

Serenity watched as the scene changed again, to a view from the outside of Haruka's personal chambers. Ayura, her long black hair hanging down her back, stood outside the carved wooden doors, dark eyes filled with rage. Haruka's voice could be heard from inside her room, talking to her youngest daughters. "How can I be the woman she wants me to be? She devotes every ounce of energy to her planet . . . there is nothing left for me. My beautiful girls . . . I don't know if she even loves me anymore."

"Mother she does. She must." Asami's soothing voice filled the hallway. "Kazeko says that she needs time to sort out her new life. She has to learn to balance her life as Queen with her life as a wife and mother. Kazeko says that it is not easy even for her, and she does not rule a planet."

"Yet Shousha never suffers an empty bed. No, Asami, Michiru is colder, harsher, older than I remember. Something happened to the woman I love and I do not know how to find her."

"Maybe she can find you. Maybe if you give her some space . . . go away for a while . . . she will come to see how much she needs you." Ayura started at that, eyes wide.

"Perhaps." There was a sound of furniture moving, then the door swung open and Haruka exited her suite, three daughters in tow. They were twenty, beautiful young women, and just barely beginning to learn their powers and connect with their planets. They followed their birth mother everywhere and were quickly learning certain parts of the administration of the planet. They looked frail and delicate, but every Uranian knew the strength and power in their slender forms.

Haruka glanced at the Chancellor and smiled, her eyes dim. "You waited. Good. How is Mariye?"

"Fine, Majesty. She is learning how to write and the basics of swordsmanship. She will be a fine warrior one day."

"Very good. She will make you proud. Ayura, you have served me from the time you were five years old. You helped raise my daughters, you learned the rules of court and have helped them become great Princesses. You have been strong for me, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that. I must ask you for another favor, my friend."

"Anything, Majesty. I am your loyal Chancellor."

Haruka nodded and ran her long fingers through her short blonde hair. "You have done a great deal of the tough administration of this kingdom for the past few years. I have put too much on you, now I must put more. My wife . . . I need some time away from her. Far away. You must run Uranus while I am gone. My daughters will go with me to help me while I am away. You must keep everything stable, must keep everyone in line. You know how hard this is, you understand what I am asking of you. Do not fail me."

"Never," Ayura whispered. "We will do you proud, my queen."

Haruka smiled and rested a hand on Ayura's shoulder. "I know you will. I will try not to be gone for too long."

As Haruka and her daughters walked away, Ayura clenched her fists. "We will avenge you, my beloved queen. We will punish the woman who betrayed your love. I promise you that."

Serenity turned back to the woman by her side. Ayura's hair had darkened back to its younger shade, her dress looser and red. "You wanted to protect her?"

"I had to protect her. I . . . I love her."

The Queen nodded as the images faded, her long silvery hair waving in the same breeze that had been blowing on the hill. "Over two thousand years ago, I was a mortal girl on Earth. I had four friends and a boyfriend. Over time we became more, became sisters in the struggle against the evil that kept assaulting our planet. But one of those women loved me more than she knew how to express. In a strange alternate reality, we were lovers. Endymion is the love of my life, my soulmate, but I love each of my Senshi as well. And I know they love me more than their own lives, more than their wives and daughters. You have a love for your queen that is not normal for a woman of Uranus, but it is a love I have seen before. You expressed your love in an unacceptable way, and for that I must punish you. I can do no less to honor the people you killed. But you are not evil, Ayura, and your place was never as Chancellor. That kind of power leads you to want to protect Haruka, and she does not need that. The only woman she needs to protect her is Michiru. She does need guidance from time to time. And I think there are other people on your planet who might need such guidance as well.

"To that effect, I have made my decision."

Ayura gasped and opened her eyes, falling to her knees between the guards surrounding her and Queen Serenity. The Queen stood above her, a small smile on her lips, gossamer wings fluttering in a faint breeze. Serenity glanced at her husband, letting her gaze trail across each of the Senshi standing before her. She stopped on Haruka and beckoned her forward, reaching down to help the Chancellor to her feet. As Ayura stood, her gray hair darkened and the years fell from her slender frame. Haruka's eyes widened and she looked to her queen for an explanation.

"People of Crystal Tokyo and the Planets of the Alliance, thank you for gathering here. I have seen this woman's memories, shared her struggle, and I am ashamed that I have never thought of this before today. I am selfish, thinking that I am the only one to have the love of my people."

"Usagi . . ."

Serenity raised her hand, smiling at the Senshi of Mars. "Rei you understand her heart, you have seen it too. This woman's crime is that she loves her queen too much. She has tried to express her love the only way she was ever taught how, through war. I cannot condone her actions, but I cannot condemn the feelings behind them."

Haruka stepped forward and tilted Ayura's chin up, emerald eyes meeting black. "Is this true? Is that why you started this war when I asked you to keep everyone in line?"

"I had to, Majesty. I . . . I had to protect you from the one who hurt you. You are our beloved queen, we would do anything for you. Going to war for you is nothing, and going to war to punish those who hurt you and took you away form us . . . I had to do nothing at all to convince the War Chiefs. We wanted you back, had to have you back, and we knew no other way."

"And you?"

Ayura swallowed and nodded, hanging her head. "I love you, Majesty. I have loved you from the day I first saw you when I was five years old and the Princesses were born. I have done everything I can to help you, guide you, protect you, as my mother asked. I only wanted to get you to come back."

"And you thought that hurting Michiru was the way to do it? I love my queen more than you could ever love me, and I have loved her for the past two thousand years. Michiru means more to me than my own life, and I have died for her before. More than once. These are my sisters, my daughters, and my granddaughters. You could never please me by hurting them." Haruka's voice was soft, her tone gentle. With the danger gone and her wife safe in her arms, the blonde queen could not summon any anger for the errant Chancellor. By her side, Michiru smiled, knowing that this woman's misguided love had brought her to her senses about how she had treated her wife, and she was grateful.

"I see that," Ayura whispered, tears on her cheeks. "But no matter what happens to me, no matter what I suffer for my mistake, you are returned. And I have seen you once more before my death. For that I am grateful."

Serenity touched Haruka's shoulder, waiting for the blonde to step back before she pulled Ayura to her feet. "Your punishment is this, daughter of the Sixth War Chief. You are stripped of your title, your possessions, and your land. You have nothing the queen does not give you, and your line will forever be dependant upon others for their well being. You and your daughters are ordered to live on Mars, with Queen Rei and her daughter the Princess Miko Akane, and learn their ways, their peace. Once you are ready, you will return to your planet and found a line of mikos, powerful women the likes of which the Outer Planets have never seen. Your line will serve Saturn, Neptune, Uranus, and Pluto in the same capacity as the mikos who currently serve in the courts of Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, and Jupiter. You will guide, advise, and protect the queens and their lines, and you will ever be women of peace and love. Each of your daughters will travel to a different planet, and you will serve Queen Haruka and the Princesses Amaya, Adana, and Asami on Uranus."

"M-majesty?" Hope glowed in Ayura's eyes, and Serenity ran two gentle fingers down her cheek.

"The life of a miko is not a pleasant one. I know what Rei showed you. You will never have her power, but you will have enough to serve. Never again will you give orders, lead others into battle, show your strength in warfare to your people. On your planet, among the Uranians, this is a great loss I know. But your line will one day be seen for the power it holds. Your life will be filled with scorn and ridicule from the War Leaders and lesser royals, and you must endure this with pride. This is the destiny your mother saw on her deathbed, but you would never have accepted such a role then."

"My mother . . . how could she have seen this?"

"Your mother was a great warrior," Haruka replied, her voice low. "She loved me as well. She fought by my side in the Wars of Andromeda, and she saw horrors most could not imagine. She saved my life in a particularly brutal battle, mended my wounds and watched over me until Michiru could come, could bring Ami to heal me. Afterwards, she told me that she did not want to fight anymore. She wished that she could serve me in peace, could learn tranquility. She could not say these things on Uranus because it would have dishonored her and her line. She wanted to give you the chance to serve me as she wanted to, which is why your sister was named heir. I made you Chancellor because I did not know what she wanted and you needed the power to find out on your own. I think Usagi is right. I think this is the path you were meant to walk."

Ayura nodded and hung her head. "I think you are right. After what Queen Mars told me, after what she showed me, I have no more stomach for war. I want to know her peace."

"You will. The women of your line will live longer than normal people, giving you plenty of time to learn what Rei needs to teach you. It could take you years to learn every lesson you need."

Ayura kissed Queen Serenity's hand and fell to her knees at Haruka's feet. "No matter how many years it takes, I will be worthy of you, my queen. I will serve you again."


"Usagi, thank you for giving her a chance. I saw her soul, I knew that she is not evil."

"This will not be easy for her, Rei. You cannot understand how a pacifist is viewed on my planet. Her daughters will go to planets that respect a miko's gift, but Ayura will bear the brunt of public outrage." Haruka sighed and sipped her tea. "She must be strong enough to survive it."

The ten women sat in a circle in the Queen's meeting room, some of their daughters on other cushions nearby, sipping tea or snacking. Mid-afternoon sunlight streamed through the windows of the palace, warming the white and silver silk and giving color to the serene room. Serenity sat on her cushion and nodded, her tea untouched on the low table before her. "This was not easy for me, Haruka. I felt the deaths of many hundreds of people at the weapons of her fleet. None of my Senshi were lost, for which I am grateful, but my people suffered. Some will think that I did not punish her enough."

"And some will think you punished her too much," Makoto countered. "Usagi, you know how this works. There will always be people unhappy with some decisions you make, but you always choose the best path. No matter what she did, we could never kill her, even if she had been unrepentant and truly evil. She is mortal and we cannot kill her. The revelation that she loves Haruka will cause a stir among all of your people. Many will wonder if other mortals love their queens enough to do something like this. Many will wonder if we doubt their loyalty because of this. In a handful of years, it will all be forgotten and no one will care that you chose this punishment, that she was allowed to live and serve when she killed so many and hurt some of our daughters and wives." She reached over and squeezed Ami's hand, smiling at the Senshi of Mercury. "We must remember that our people can be very protective of us."

"Mako-chan, Rei, and I have the most to worry about. Our people are strong-willed, sometimes violent, and sometimes warlike. I was too caught up in my own pain to see what my Chancellor felt toward me, or see what she might do to protect me. I will not make such a mistake again."

Michiru, safely curled against Haruka's side, reached up and kissed her wife. "I will never ignore you again, Ruka. I should never have let us grow so far apart. There are many tasks one of our daughters or one of my lesser royals can handle. The next time you come to me and say I bore you, I will find a way to keep you entertained."

A light twinkled in Haruka's eyes. "Promise, my Michi?"

"Always."

Haruka smirked and put her tea down. "Then I believe I am bored now." They vanished in a shower of pink rose petals, Michiru's laugh ringing in the room. Serenity, still a little bit innocent even after so long, blushed, and her Senshi laughed, hugging each other and their queen, grateful that they were together again.

Venus raised her glass, happy and relaxed for the first time since the war began. "A toast to love. Love for each other, love for our wives and children, and love for the men and women who trust us to protect them."

"And may we never ignore one in favor of the other," Rei added, glancing at her wife, her sisters, and her queen in turn.

"I'll drink to that," Usagi replied, lifting her glass. "I'm glad we survived this, and I think we may come out stronger for the strife. Here's to Ayura, for showing us how blind and numb we have been."

"To Ayura."


The End