Ten years later
Red eyes watched carefully as small hands closed about a stylus. Tiny fingers gently gripped the shaft and dipped it with an awkward grace into the ink fountain. A chubby face pinched in concentration, the tip of a pink tongue sticking out one side of a pouting mouth as the ink began to form gracefully slanted letters. The child wrote carefully under the watchful eye of his teacher, the ink sliding over the paper and leaving behind letters that would do the most precise scribe proud.
The child finally sat back, his face relaxing into a brilliant smile, navy blue eyes meeting the gaze of his teacher. "By Damien," he said proudly, sprinkling a dust of sand across the wet ink.
The woman nodded. "Very good, Damien. That is the finished report on the royal family, correct?"
He pointed to a small stack of papers on the corner of his desk. "I wrote three pages just like you asked me too, Aunty Setsuna," he smiled hesitantly. "I hope I got everything."
Setsuna pushed a lock of black-green hair off her shoulder and nodded, taking the report - written in semi-large print - and scanned through it. "A great war covered the earth and destroyed the royal family, killing all but two; a baby prince and his father's sister." She looked up at him and nodded. "It will do. You have free time; I suggest you use it to get ahead on the next history lesson." Motioning to the thick, dusty book was resting on a table, the obliquely gave him his next task.
Damien rose and eagerly went to grab the book before scampering off. Setsuna waited until he was gone before taking the seat he'd just vacated and pulling a fresh stylus from his supply. She carefully read through his report, feeling a slight twinge of conscience. Damien knew next to nothing about his family. His father had died, according to the stories he'd been told, fighting a great war against an evil that had wanted to take over the world.
That much was true, but she felt almost remorseful when his report described his brother avenging his father's death in the Royal palace after the same warrior, the leader of the evil army, slew their mother. Unfortunately his brother died in the ordeal, and though it was a glorious death, it left the infant prince the only heir to the throne.
Setsuna sighed, rubbing her eyes. She'd been posing as the boy's Great Aunt for ten years, a mere breath as far as she was concerned - being the guardian of time - but that breath had been the biggest challenge of her life thus far.
Raising the boy wasn't easy, especially when she had to keep him from the truth about his family's past. Rumors had already started flying about the missing bodies of the boy's brother and wife. Those few who had heard that the Princess was from the Moon had already begun passing the story down to their children - though Damien was told to disregard it as nonsense. Whenever he asked specifics about his brother, Setsuna did her best to tell him the truth, as much as she could, about the noble young man. It wasn't easy living a lie all of her days. Thankfully she could still do her duties as the Guardian of Time - the door itself being barely a step away through a portal.
Her head came up as she fastened her gaze on the report by the young king. It told of a kingdom that was prosperous and fair. Setsuna found herself almost smiling as she read the description of the boy's father. A proud man of noble birth, standing tall and strong with ebony hair and eyes the color of midnight, the mark of each man in the noble line, he rode off to war sitting tall on his charger. Endymion stood by his mother, sworn to protect the Queen even at the cost of his own life, the spitting image of his father. Setsuna shook her head.
The boy had a knack for writing she couldn't deny. Thankfully he also had a knack for diplomacy and was already starting to learn from watching her speak in his stead. Soon, on his 15th birthday, he would be crowned and she could fade into the background, and eventually away, and leave the boy to become the King she knew he could be. She sighed - sometimes knowing the future, especially your own role, or lack thereof, in it, was the hardest part of her job.
She looked up from his final paragraph. "Yes, Damien?"
"I know you said I should start on the new book, but the sun is setting and the moon is starting to rise. Would it be alright with you if I sat on the balcony and watched? For such a desolate, distant planet, it really is quite intriguing."
She waved him away. "It is your free time, Damien, do with it what you wish. Just be careful - it's not like you can land safely from the balcony should you fall."
He flashed a roguish grin, the spitting image of his older brother at that age and shrugged. "I know. Thank you Aunty!" He dashed off, his shoes clicking on the marble floors as Setsuna turned her gaze out the window.
The boy didn't know it, but if he did fall he could catch himself without injury. She was hoping to instill in him the thought that he could not and in doing so, make it a reality. This line had to prosper, Damien knew it, but he never let that get in the way of his fun.
Setsuna put his paper aside and stood, smoothing out the modestly flaring black skirt of her dress. She was still technically in mourning for her 'brother' and black was the appropriate color, seeing as how it was one of the family's main. She absently scooped her hair off her neck and wound it into a tight bun at the back of her head, leaving her elegantly shaped face in full view. A strikingly beautiful woman who possessed a mature, cool air that spoke of experience that drew and repelled most people, she'd learned to live with it.
She left the room, heading towards the very balcony her charge was at, knowing exactly how she would find him. Sitting on the railing, 'endangering' his own life, his feet swinging over 30 feet of nothingness as the sun set and the moon rose. She swept onto the balcony and forced a gasp.
Sure enough, the white shirt was scuffed and ragged, the black slacks torn from his attempts to get onto the balcony's thick rail. His feet - bare now - swung gently over the courtyard 30 feet below him. For all the attention he paid the distance, he could simply drop down without a care. His shoes were in a heap by the base of the rail, kicked there by an over-eager lad wanting to get a better view.
Damien turned to look at her and blushed. "I'm sorry Aunty Setsuna, but I wanted a better view," he brushed his long bangs out of his eyes and shrugged sheepishly. "I know you don't want me to put myself in danger, but the railing told me to sit on it!"
Setsuna crossed her arms over her chest. "Get down right now young man! You're a prince - the king – and not some street urchin who can do as he pleases. Haven't you figured that out yet?"
His expression dropped as her voice lashed across him and he swung his feet back over the safe side of the rail. He dropped down and crouched, reaching for his shoes. "I said I'm sorry Aunty Setsuna."
"If you were sorry, Damien, you wouldn't keep doing it."
"Can I go on the roof then? The rail isn't as high and I can see better."
She crouched in front of him. "Damien, child, you're all I have left. You know as well as I do that the winds up there would tear you off your feet. Be a good lad and stand by the castle wall to watch the sun set, alright?"
He sighed in defeat. "Yes Aunty." He slid his feet into his shoes, not bothering with his socks and obeyed her suggestion, leaning back against the castle wall.
Setsuna made to leave but paused in the doorway when she saw him staring at her. "Yes, Damien?"
He looked away, back to where the sun was settling over the horizon and leaving the area bathed in a brilliant red and orange glow. "Why don't you ever smile?" His question was soft. "I try to please you - I try to be good. Why don't you smile?"
Setsuna looked at him closely. "When you give me a good reason to smile, Damien, you will see me smile."
Damien met her gaze solemnly. "When I am a good King, will you smile?"
Nodding, she reached out in a rare gesture to gently pat his face. "When you make me proud as a King, a fair and just ruler and upholder of the laws, I will smile."
"Good, because when I am King, I'm going to make you proud of me - I swear it!"
Setsuna's gaze went to the sunset. "I'm sure you will, young prince. I'm sure you will."
Author's Note: I know, I know. Another story where they die laughs and I apologize in advance – but I won't be writing a happy ending to this one. I will however continue revamping "First meeting" (the inner senshi centric story to accompany "The Joining of Two Nations") and "Family Secrets" – the sequel to this series.
Thank you for reading everyone, you've been a marvelous audience and your reviews are just wonderful too! They certainly make my day :D