"What a perfect place for a wedding."
Michiru marveled at the soft breeze that ruffled her hair slightly as she stood in the warm sunshine viewing a world that seemed hidden from time or darkness.
"Yes," Haruka agreed, fidgeting in her bridesmaid's gown, "It's beautiful alright. I bet you could drive through that countryside forever without having to stop. It's like a whole world inside our own."
Michiru suppressed a smile and put a hand on the other woman's arm to lead her toward the rest of the wedding party.
They were assembled in a large group of colorful variety in the center of the lawn of the Golden Kingdom, their happy conversation floated on the breeze to the approaching women.
"Told you you couldn't get away with that neck cloth, Neph," Zoisite was saying to his taller friend who scowled down at the purplecloth he wore and that Makoto, arrayed stunningly in her wedding dress, was removing from his throat.
She caught her fiance's eye and clucked at him with a smile which he soon returned, forgetting, as he gazed into her eyes, that there was a ban on purple clothand black velvet coats.
"And I thought I told you not to wear your hair in that old scrunchy you borrowed from Mako-chan," Ami's voice pronounced primly to her fiancee.
Michiru chuckled as she watched Zoisite bow humbly to his petite, soft spoken intended as she deftly removed the offending hair band and tied his hair back with a very becoming black silk tie.
"And I thought you were supposed to be Mr. Fashion," Makoto observed to him, with a smirk.
Zoisite colored slightly but his eyes sparkled with good natured amusement. He shrugged, taking the opportunity of Ami's proximity to play with her hair.
"Laugh on, women," Nephrite said, catching his friend's eye, "right now you have the upper hand, but wait until we get home after all this."
Ami blushed and pointedly looked at the ground, but Makoto eyed her fiancee with a challenging expression.
"Just wait, Mako-chan," Nephrite promised, his voice becoming lower with something like a growl at the end. Mako blushed faintly and gave a sharp tug on his newneck cloththat ruined his here-to-fore seductive smile.
Haruka, having overheard the exchange as well, nudged Michiru in the ribs and they both snorted - sharing something very like a glance of mutual congratulation and praise between them.
"Really, this is too much," Rei's flabbergasted voice rose above the rest.
"Why am I surrounded by blond incompetency?"
"Well she didn't mean to forget them," Minako defended Usagi, while Jadeite looked on in amusement.
Rei crossed her arms and surveyed the three blonds with disapproval.
"It was your job to remember the bouquets, Usagi. That was the only thing you had to do. The only thing," she emphasized.
"And you two," she added, turning to Minako and Jadeite, "You were supposed to remind her to remember to pick them up."
All three hung their heads in mock-shame, except for Usagi who actually felt some genuine remorse.
"Don't be too hard on them, Hino-san," Kunzite said, noting the glint of unrepentant mischief in both his soldier and his wife's eyes.
"After all, they're only blonds."
Mina looked up sharply.
"Speak for yourself!" she retorted, "You're blond too."
"This is white, my dear," Kunzite explained patiently, smoothing his hair which was pulled back like Nephrite and Zoisite's.
"Perhaps you can't see it from your diminutive height," he then suggested, ignoring her squawks of indignation, and bent toward her until they were face to face.
The strange white crown that Minako wore nearly tumbled off her head along with the attached veil as she tilted her head to escape his alluring eyes.
"Careful," he murmured, catching the slidingarticle and replacing it gently. He leaned in as if he was going to kiss her, Minako closed her eyes in anticipation, but opened them when he gave her a slight, brotherly peck on the cheek.
"Well, we aren't married yet," he explained at her offended expression, though his eyes sparkled with amusement and teasing promises.
"I swear," she seethed, "sometimes I think you are a bigger flirt than I am."
"No one is a bigger flirt that you are, Mina-chan," Rei answered, "Unless it is this reprobate."
She gestured in a hopeless way toward her very dashing husband-to-be.
Jadeite only smiled, a very masculine, mischievous smile.
"It was very kind of you to sacrifice your happiness by accepting this humble rapscallion, princess," he answered smoothly, taking her hand and turning it over to plant a slight kiss on the inside of her wrist.
Rei blushed and jerked her hand away quickly, trying not to look flustered and not succeeding in the slightest.
"Yes," she snapped a bit breathlessly, "Well, I'm feeling charitable today."
Jadeite's smile widened at her reaction.
"I hope your charity will continue." He said, gazing at her meaningfully, "I have a feeling that you will have to be extraordinarily magnanimous with me this evening."
Rei coughed and turned to find something else to look at.
Kunzite suppressed a chuckle as he caught his prince's dark eye, knowing that Mamoru had been listening to this exchange with the utmost amusement.
"It seems strange that we're all really back here again," he murmured to his friend, "after everything that's happened. It's almost like we've gone back in time to that one crucial point. And this is our second chance."
Kunzite nodded, soberly.
"It is a second chance, my prince," he replied, "like a miracle."
"This is they way it should have been."
"Perhaps," Kunzite answered, "But then, sometimes the reward, when it comes, is sweeter because of the difficulties one goes through to obtain it."
Mamoru nodded, watching Usako hopping through the rose bushes to gather enough to make five bouquets. Her antics made him smile to himself as he went to help her.
Haruka and Michiru watched the prince and princess, or king and queen, as they would soon be called, wander through the flower gardens of the Golden Kingdom, gathering different colored roses into clumps.
"They really are like children, sometimes," Haruka marveled.
"Speaking of children," Michiru interrupted, "Where is ours?"
They scanned the group with care and finally lighted upon a dark head bobbing around the waists of the others.
"Hotaru," Michiru called, "Come here and let me see you in your dress."
Hotaru, hearing her name, turned her large amaranthine eyes on her adopted parents and came skipping forward slowly but happily in her paleyellow dress.
"Do you like it?" she asked, breathlessly, as Haruka scooped her up and held her.
"Setsuna-mama made it."
"It's lovely, just like everything Setsuna makes."
"Why, thank you," the dark voice intoned.
Haruka and Michiru turned to see the taller, dark haired woman dressed in a becoming dark garnet gown standing quietly behind them.
Setsuna was Usagi's Maid of Honor, and wore a long gown similar to Michiru's and Haruka's, though theirs were dark blue and green.
Setsuna had designed all of the gowns for each of the senshi and their princess, as well as designing the bridesmaid's' dresses for Michiru and Haruka, and her own. She had made Hotaru's by hand, however, so that it would fit the tiny girl to perfection.
"She looks nice in yellow," Setsuna remarked, brushing Hotaru's bangs out of her pretty eyes.
"Yes, it gives her some color," Michiru agreed, smiling.
Haruka bounced Hotaru three times and laughed as the girl squealed.
"Are you ready to throw flowers at people?" she asked.
"Don't confuse her," Michiru muttered.
"I'm not supposed to throw them, Haruka-papa," Hotaru replied very sternly, "I'm supposed to drop them."
"I think it would be more fun to throw them," Haruka answered, but shrugged at the look she got from Michiru and Setsuna.
"Oh, well," she whispered to Hotaru, making her giggle.
"Is everyone ready?" Luna called out in exasperation.
She was standing beside the steps of the newly resurrected temple as Helios stood patiently, the soft wind ruffling his shaggy hair. Artemis stood on the other side of him, both cats were in human form for the occasion - dressed resplendently in black.
Usagi was the first to the make-shift altar, which was in fact, simply a carved, alabaster pedestal that sat sedately on the grass.
They had all agreed that the wedding would be performed with simplicity and by the more ancient traditions of the Silver Millennium services - though, Mamoru and Kunzite had both been forced to promise their respective wives lavishly public, modern weddings as soon as the private ceremony was over. Nephrite had also promised Makoto a more traditional Japanese wedding later, but this was to take place on a much smaller and more intimate scale than those that Usagi, and especially Minako, had planned. Mamoru and Usagi would be married publicly (and the entire population of Japan would be invited) a few months from now. Ami and Rei believed that the extremely private homage to the Silver Millennium wedding ceremony would be more than enough of a wedding for them and their husbands were only too happy to agree. But for many reasons, none of which truly needed to be voiced, the people gathered so solemnly and reverently in the hushed shade of the temple agreed that the formality of the Silver Millennium arrangement was not only fitting but necessary. It was an event which had been cut short before its time - and fulfilling it today was the first step on the long road to mending the past forever.
Which was why Setsuna, Luna and Michiru had gone to such lengths to make sure that everything was as close to the past as possible, including the dress designs, the rings, the vows and even the music.
Gathering their considerable memories and talents together they had come up with a great deal of information that most of the other senshi were beginning to recall themselves. For instance, Setsuna had unerringly, after scrutinizing her most ancient impressions, designed gowns for each of the girls in accordance with what they would have worn at the time of their first lives. Ami, who had recovered a great deal of her lost knowledge, also aided in authenticating these details of etiquette and dress, and the results were truly astounding.
Haruka, Michiru and Hotaru wore, according to their preferences, blue, green and yellow, while she wore dark red, but each of the gowns was crafted in a unique style. Haruka's was a sheath like dress, strapless, with a long-sleeved, calf length coat of the same material. Hand-stitched in gold were emblems of the winds and the sun and stars that ran in borders along the train of the gown and the trim of the coat. She also wore a small, plain gold circlet on her head. Michiru, in a sea-green gown stitched in silver, wore a similar design except that her full length over jacket had a softer collar and rounded cut. She also wore a silver circlet on her head, and the stitching around the gown was of waves and moons.
Setsuna had refused to put Hotaru in black, choosing yellow instead in an effort to emphasize the charm of her youthful innocence. Her dress was a version of a child's princess dress rather than the over formal, traditional Saturnine gown. With yellow tea roses in her hair, Setsuna thought she looked beautiful, and Hotaru was evidently more than pleased with the result.
Designing the gowns of the four Senshi had been relatively easy. Ami wore a pale blue and silver gown with long bell sleeves and a drooping collar which set off her elegant, fragile shoulders and neck. She wore two small blue jewels in her hair (which also served to hold her feather light veil in place), and, along with the few tiny jewels that sparkled in the blue embroidery of her hem,this washer only ornamentation.
Rei's dress was much longer and more complicated, consisting of a pale white wrap with a deep, dark violet lining that matched her eyes; the wrap fit her upper torso and gathered at the back just below her shoulder blades, then fanned out to trail at some length behind her like a very long cloak or robe. Her gown was a paler violet, willowy and diaphanous with a empire waist, like the all others. She wore her hair up with a netting and very long and modestveil.
Makoto was the most exotic looking of the four; where Rei resembled a priestess and Ami a nymph, Makoto looked like a goddess. Her dress was pale coral, raspberry pink and white, sleeveless - in fact the material looked as though it had simply been draped over her form. It came over her shoulders and across her chest to meet and cinch at the empire waist and flowed down to the ground from there. But instead of being tucked into the back, the two straps of cloth hung much longer behind her, down her back and trailing as a train. There were tiny pink roses embroidered onto the chest material, which met like a halter top behind her neck. She wore her hair down with a long veil attached to the tiara of roses on her head.
Minako's gown resembled more typical Lunar fashion for princesses, in that the dark gold of her under skirt was covered by an over skirt of a white transparent material and her sleeves were short, puffed silk affairs with gold-orange threads. Her veil was held in place by a tiara and her usual bow was missing, allowing her long hair to hang free down her back. The over skirt was also longer than the under skirt, and formed a train behind her that shimmered as she walked. It was split in the front, revealing the darker gold material beneath.
Usagi was arrayed in a dazzling white with an overlay of lace lined with moonstones and pearls. The gown was fitted under her bust with material spilling down from the empire waist. The dress's many layers fluttered around her as her hair, now a paler blond, nearly white, flowed out behind her in her normal two tails. She wore a simple crown and looked like an angel.
But Setsuna hadn't stopped with the women; she had gone out of her way to insure that the men were dressed de rigour as well. The four guardianswore black velvet jackets, fitted pants and top boots - the sleeves of their jackets were embroidered with differing colors but each had a gold thread lining. They also wore short capes for the occasion, tied across the chest and drooping over one shoulder. Their dress swords were buckled to one side in silver sheaths. Kunzite wore a slightly longer cape than the other four, but Mamoru's was the longest.
Mamoru was not dressed in black, but in gold and white - in a well fitted jacket, pants and boots, with epaulets of gold and a circlet on his head.
Together, Setsuna reflected, they made an astounding picture - something like a dream or memory come true; as though they had walked out of a fairy tale, or medieval legend. The women looked like mythical creatures, such was their unique, otherworldlyelegance and charm.
Her reverie on her work was broken by a cough from Haruka. It was time for the ceremony to begin, which mean that she was called to stand before the altar with Usagi. She walked up the aisle carefully, so as not to trip on the folds of her heavy gown, and as she went she spotted Ami's mother and Rei's grandfather standing at the back of the little group, looking out of place in their dressy yet unforgivably modern apparel - and yet their faces were full of so much tenderness and emotion she couldn't help but wonder if they could have their own understanding of the true significance of this particular ceremony.
She turned to take her place beside Helios and Usagi and waited as Michiru thrummed the last note on her violin.
It was well, all things considered, that the five couples would finally be united. It put the evils of the past to rest, and it built a firm foundation for the future of Crystal Tokyo. Now that the Golden Kingdom, the heart of the Earth, had been restored, she knew the Earth could grow again - that its power could begin to heal itself. It was more than just a promising future.
She turned to look down and caught the future queen of Crystal Tokyo laughing as Nephrite stepped on Rei's extremely long train. The glare that both Rei and Jadeite threw back at him was full of amusement and promised retribution.
In the dark, dream-filled eyes of the future King, Setsuna saw her own future and others' race by. Mamoru had come into hisbirthright as the chosen king of Earth, and her champion. The futurenow rested onhisshoulders.
It would be a future Setsuna looked forward to with great anticipation - knowing, as she did, certain things that would come to them all. She eyed the younger senshi and smiled a slow, knowing smile.