Title: In The Secret Place

Pairing: Serena/Darien Serenity/Endymion

Summary: Nobody knows Serena as much as Darien knows her. What secrets does Serena and Darien have when they are alone?

Disclaimer: SailorMoon and sob Darien sob are not mine...

"Darien," Serena said, "Thank you for loving me."

The couple was sitting on a mat in the middle of Darien's secret garden. Endymion had first shared it with Serenity a thousand years ago back when she slipped away from the Moon Palace to escape to Earth. When the couple had regained their memories back, the first thing they did as a couple was try to find Endy's secret garden. It was their place, their sacred ground. Nobody else, from the past or present, knew of its existence. They had thought that it was destroyed or had vanished after the two died, but thankfully, it was still there… for them. Only the two of them.

The garden was as beautiful as it was during the Silver Millenium. It was as if only a day had passed from that fateful night to the present. The garden looked exactly the same as it had then, right down to the number of pebbles that surrounded the tree they were now sitting under. Endy and Sere had drawn a circle around this tree using rose pebbles to commemorate the place where they had first made love.

Right now, Darien sat leaning on the tree while Serena sat Indian style with her back in front of him. Darien had taken off Serena's meatballs a little while ago and had started their ritual. Neither the Scouts nor the Generals knew of this ritual a thousand years ago and they still do not know of it now. No body ever knew of what happened in this place except the couple themselves. Here, at their secret and most precious place, Darien made it a point to brush Serena's long hair at least once a week.

At first, Endymion did it to show Serenity that he was serious about his pursuit for her. With her ethereal beauty, many fell for Serenity and lusted over her body. Endymion wanted to show her that he was not lusting over her physical beauty but was instead longing to claim her heart, her inner beauty. Thus for the first six months that they dated each other, Endymion vowed to her that he would not touch her. Serenity refused, but Endymion insisted. In the end, the two stubborn couple decided that Endymion could not touch her for six months, but at least once a week, he would agree to brush her hair.

Endymion did as asked and he brushed her hair once a week. After the six months was over, Endymion realized just how much he loved brushing Serenity's hair. For one, and he knew it was hypocrital of him, he loved Serenity's hair and lusted over its softness. But the most important reason, however, is that he loved how Serenity would relax and be more human and open up to him when he brushed her hair. As a princess of the Solar System, Serenity was expected to act calm and composed all the time, more so than him who was just a prince of one planet. But when they were alone, Serenity acted like a kid who constantly dreamt of chocolates and roses.

"Why?" Serena asked, "Why do you love me when you alone know how dark I am?"

Everybody looked up to Neo-Queen Serenity thinking of how good and kind and compassionate and powerful she is. People either praised her or hated her. Still, they praised or hated her because of how she showed herself to people: innocent and pure.

But they did not know the truth. They did not know how dark and angry and vain and evil she really is inside. No one but Darien knew or knows. They either see the loud, hyper fourteen year old klutz or the respectable and beautiful queen. But they did not see the person who would do anything to get what she wants.

They did not know that she was weak. They did not know how much of a coward she was. They did not know how she would rather choose death than be held captive by another so-called queen, than live without anyone to protect her … than live without Endy. She had killed herself on that fateful night because she was afraid of what would happen if she lived in the mercy of other people's hands. She had lived all her life with others at her beck and call, whether they were another queen from another planet or a servant in the palace. She was afraid that no one would love her anymore because she was no longer important; she was no longer a princess. She was afraid…afraid that… so she killed herself.

"You knew, didn't you?" Serena asked.

Darien did not answer aloud, but Serena felt rather than saw him – she could not dare to look at him – nod his head quietly. And he just continued to brush her hair, pausing now and again to lovingly kiss her golden hair.

As much as she hated to admit it, the Sailor Scouts were never her friends in the Silver Millennium. Sure, they were around her all the time, but never because they were friends but because they had a duty to protect her. And yes, maybe they shared a few jokes with each other, but mostly, when they spoke with each other, it was idle chatting.

Endy was the first friend she had. They had seen each other many times in the past when there was a Solar Gathering, but like with the scouts, never really talked to each other. It was just after a stroke of rebellion seeped into her mind and thought she would sneak into some planet just to get away for a day or two. She chose the planet that she saw every time she sat on her balcony – the bluest planet that she talked to like a pal when she had a problem, her only 'friend'; she chose to go to Earth.

What she didn't expect was to meet the Prince of Earth, Prince Endymion, while she sat on the ground staring at her own planet. "The Moon gives us light when we are in the dark," he had said, breaking her out of her own daze. "It is beautiful."

She smiled a perfect smile, a smile that she had perfected three hundred years before.. It lasted only a few seconds, however. For three centuries, she had kept up that smile without it ever breaking. But for all her practice, at that night, she couldn't smile no matter what she did. "May I ask…" The princess asked soberly, an observation not lost to the Prince of Earth, "Who gives light to the Moon?"

And that was how they first talked and became friends. That was the first out of many nights that they would meet in secret and eventually fall in love with each other. Then, after six months of courting, Endymion promised, "I… I will give you your light, Princess."

That was the first time Serenity knew love from anyone aside from her mother. And ever since that day, it seemed that all her loneliness and sorrow was slowly but surely being taken away. The Scouts were all surprised when they slowly noticed that the unreachable princess was talking with them more often, and not just idle chatting anymore. She talked to them about things they never even thought entered the princess' mind like romance, friendship and picnics. All along, they thought the princess only thought of politics and war, only thought of how to do her duty as heiress to the Solar System.

"How shameful," Even as she said it, she hoped Darien would not hear it. "Worthless!" But alas, Darien hears every murmur or thought of everything in this planet, most of all her voice no matter the distance they were apart. "I don't know how you still love me!" And this time, she meant for him to hear.

Darien silently put down the brush he was using to caress her hair and gently held Serena's shoulders as he led her to lay down on his lap. He bent down and gave her a quick but reassuring kiss. "I never want to hear those words from your mouth, Bonbon." Bonbon, French for "Candy" was the secret nickname he had given her on their first date when he realized how much she liked candies. Apparently, it was the first time in her life that she had had one. Many had given her candies, of course, but she never developed a like for it because its sweetness reminded her of how bitter she is inside. Not until Darien was the one who gave her candies that she accepted its sweetness and even craved for it.

"But you know it's true, Darien," Serena said, biting her lip, trying not to anger Darien but at the same time wanting him to react to what she's saying. "I am worthless! All my life I have been running out of my responsibilities as a princess. Instead of saving my kingdom, I chose the easy way out, I killed myself!"

Although Serena knew that Darien already knew, they never really talked about it before. This was the first time that the words were spilled between them. But still, Darien did not flinch. He had accepted it a long time ago, when he had remembered the past. He was hurt, yes, that Serenity would willingly give herself to death just to follow him. The hurt only lingered for a few moments until his resolve to protect Serenity, Serena, even from herself, strengthened him.

"I'm a klutz! I'm useless as a Sailor Soldier!" Serena continued when she saw Darien not flinching in the least, "And even now I'm trying to get out of my responsibilities. I don't know how you tolerate me, Darien. You know we have a Scout meeting today at Rei's but here I am because instead of worrying about the world, I just want to spend time with you…"

At the end of her speech, tears were already flowing down like twin waterfalls on her cheeks. "Darien! Please! Say something!"

Finally, Darien spoke, "I love you, Serena. I don't need you to be perfect, I know you're not. You are right. You are irresponsible, you're a coward, and you're very selfish." For a moment, Darien closed his eyes and bit his lip, not believing that he was saying these things about his beloved. "Is this what you wanted to hear, Serena? That you are as evil as the next powerful enemy we will fight against with?"

Serena knew she was asking for those words, but it still hurt her nonetheless. She waited for Darien to continue because she knew he wasn't done. When Darien spoke, he didn't finish halfway. He always made a point.

"I love you even more because of your flaws." Darien's eyes were looking directly at Serena's eyes when he said it, willing Serena to know the honesty in his words. "I love you because even when you know how dark and hollow you are inside, you don't give in to it. You've become so strong, my angel."

Darien gently wiped the tears off Serena's face and once again bent down to kiss her on the lips. Gently… softly… and full of love. "You've defeated Beryl, the one who took your kingdom away. The Black Moon, Nehelenia, and Chaos… beings who threatened this world and tried to take it into darkness. All of them fell under your light, your love."

"But Darien," Serena wept. She sat up straight and looked at her beloved on the face. She cupped his face in her hands and watched him blush with happiness just being near her. "It was all you. You are my power. The Silver Crystal's power is dim to the power I have when I think of you. Before I met you I did not know how to love, how to care for others. But you, as Endy, showed me how much you cared for your planet and all the people living in it. You cared so much that you would weep for a wilted rose, much less a person. You showed me love, Darien. It is that love that I held on to through all those years of fighting… I am weak, worthless… but for you and your love, I held on. I wanted to save the world you so dearly love."

Darien smiled and took her hand in his and placed a kiss on her palm. "Serena, all I know is that you defeated the enemy. Thank you for making me your inspiration, I'm flattered, really. But don't put yourself down, my dear, because it is you that showed your brilliance and your shine out there, not me."

"Look around, Serena," Darien said, "And tell me you do not love this world as much as I do."

And at that moment, Serena understood. All her life, people thought she of all people knew what love is. But she never really knew it, not as much as Darien knew it. She never even thought she had it in her to love anyone aside from Darien. She sometimes thought that the only reason she wants to save this world is because it is Darien's planet or the selfish reason that she just didn't deserve to be under anyone's mercy but her own.

But now, she understood. She really did. That the reason she did what she did – save the world – is because she loved it. She may not have learned to love in her past life, but she surely did in this life. She loved the Sailor Scouts as they were her sisters and she loved her family, even Shingo, and would not trade them for the world. She loved her life as a high school student and loved her teachers' antics. She loved her life.

"Darien?" She trembled as she asked as if for the first time she was let out of a prison's cage, "I'm not weak?"

Darien smiled. Serena finally understood. "No you're not, my dear."

"I didn't run away from my responsibilities, Darien!" Serena exclaimed, surprised at what she was discovering, "As Sailor Moon and as a princess!"

"No you didn't Serena," Darien soothed as he took her face in his strong hands, "Just as I knew you wouldn't."

"And I don't just love this world because of you, Darien," Serena said as she looked around her. She saw the tall buildings of Tokyo just behind the trees that surrounded the garden as if she was seeing two worlds. "I love everything in it because… because…"

"You love it," Darien finished for her. "Because this is where we found each other, where we met our friends, and where we will live for the rest of our lives. I'm glad you understand that now, Serena."

Serena suddenly lunched herself into Darien's arms. "Thank you," she whispered quietly in his ears, "for knowing me inside out more than I know myself. Thank you for just being there for me. I love you."

"I love you, too, Serena."