Disclaimer: I do not own Sailor Moon.
The Golden Age
"We were dreaming of this planet. Longing for it. Looking over it." - Princess Serenity
The queen, with a loving hand, calmly stroked the fair head of her weeping child. The darkness of the princess's bedchamber was broken by the soft azure beams of the reflective Earth that swirled so silently in the deepness of space - just outside the princess's window.
"What is it this time, sweetheart?" she murmured.
The little girl pulled her face away to look up into her mother's ageless, crystal blue eyes.
"I had another dream," she sniffed, "I dreamed that the darkness came and tried to eat me and all the others. And - I couldn't find you anywhere. I felt so alone."
"Remember what I said?" the Queen asked, softly.
"About the light?" Selenity replied in a shaky voice.
"Everyone has a light inside them," the Queen and her daughter quoted in unison.
"And, every tear, every fear, only encourages the darkness to grow." Her mother finished. Selenity nodded in agreement.
Queen Selenity tucked her child more securely into her arms and rocked her for a few moments, allowing Selenity to have her cry.
This was the seventh week that the child had woken with a nightmare of darkness.
The Queen had endured similar nightmares for some time - her visions of the an approaching shadow had been poured over carefully in the light of day. She had shared these visions with colleagues, the dark eyed priest of Mars had illuminated them as best he could - but the dreams remained insubstantially ambiguous.
Tonight she prepared to go to the forbidden gate, to seek some answers. But first -
"Let me tell you a story, alright?" she asked her daughter who was now quiet against her shoulder. The little head nodded, sighing contentedly as her mother stroked her back.
"Once, a very long time ago, there was a princess who ruled over a wonderful kingdom," her mother began, "And all the people loved her."
"She was very beautiful?" Selenity put in.
Her mother smiled, "Indeed, and she never grew a day older. She was immortal."
"Like us," Selenity whispered.
"Yes," her mother confirmed, smiling with her wistful eyes, "Just like us. But in other lands the people were mortal, and they grew old and changed like the seasons do on Earth, like butterflies."
"Mortal," her daughter repeated to herself, already being lulled by the dulcet tones of her mother's voice.
"While walking by the sea one day, the princess looked down from her kingdom and saw a handsome young man walking by the sea of his world. She was so startled and entranced by his beautiful form and kind face that she wrapped her cloak around her and flew down to him. Of course, she startled him quite a bit," the Queen added, with a wry grin.
"But by and by they talked and she learned he was a prince. She continued to visit him and soon they fell in love - and when they told each other, their joy was very great. But their happiness was short lived."
"What happened?" Selenity asked, her tired little voice almost inaudible.
Her mother's face grew sad.
"The prince and the princess lived many happy years together, but eventually the prince grew old. And though the princess still loved him very much, he was ashamed of his mortality and forbade her to visit him anymore. He decreed that no one from their worlds was allowed any kind of contact from that day on - because he knew the sadness he had inflicted on the princess and did not wish anyone else to suffer from it."
"And one day, the old prince died and the princess became Queen of her world and mourned his loss heavily. But because she was immortal she could not follow him."
"So sad..." Selenity murmured, and her mother gently put her back into her bed and pulled the warm sheets close around her. Then she knelt beside the bed.
"It's true that it is sad," she whispered, smoothing the curls from her daughter's face, "but before the old prince died, the Queen had given birth to a beautiful girl and her child brought her a great deal of comfort and love, so that in time she did not feel lonely or pained at all."
The queen stooped to lay a light kiss on the child's cheek. She paused for a moment to listen to her daughter's deep, steady breaths and watched the little fists clutch and relax against her pillows. Then she stood and wrapped her cloak around her, vanishing into the darkness of the room.
"Who dares to approach the forbidden gate?" A deep, melodious voice called.
"It is me, Pluto. Queen Selenity, bearer of the Imperium Crystal."
In the dark fabric of space and a place between space a shadowed figure grew pronounced and with a flash of light the Queen was able to see the mysterious, fabled Guardian of the Underworld standing before her - her orb in her hand.
"My Queen," Pluto spoke, her eyes heavy with solitude and her voice husky as though she hadn't used it in a hundred years.
"I've come with a question," the Queen said, lightly, "I was hoping you could help me."
Pluto's face didn't reveal any particular emotions - surprise or suspicion seemed equally absent - she merely inclined her head.
"If I can help you, my Queen, I certainly will."
"Thank you, my friend." The queen said.
It was hard to tell who was older - both the Guardian and the Queen looked to be similar ages, quite youthful still and beautiful. But where the Queen was pale, and delicate as a beam of moonlight, Pluto was dusky as night. The Queen had lived for so long that she no longer remembered the names of all the guardians and Senshi she had met and known - most of them died so quickly, compared to her endless life span their lives were like an instant. But when she looked into the eyes of the only other immortal who was not born on the Moon, she felt a vague sense of understanding. They both knew what loneliness was.
"What is your question?" Pluto asked, quietly, "I heard you telling the princess a story just now. I like to listen to them too."
The Queen looked a bit surprised at this admission.
"I didn't know you listened to us, Pluto," she said, "I hadn't realized."
Pluto waved away her thoughts with a graceful hand.
"Sometimes," she said, her garnet eyes resting on some unseen world beyond the Queen's vision, "I like to listen to the outside worlds - your's especially. I like the young princess very much."
"Do you ever wish you could leave, Pluto?" The Queen asked, not knowing what she said. Where had the question come from?
Pluto gazed at her with an impenetrable expression.
"Sometimes," she murmured, "I...speculate...about the things I haven't experienced...but such speculation is -"
She looked with quick and sudden meaning at the Queen.
Queen Selenity felt an ache tug in her heart.
"It's true," she said, in a subdued tone, "Some things are useless to speculate, and can only bring pain."
"What is it that you wanted to know?"
The Queen took a deep breath and pulled her thoughts away from bitter-sweet memories.
"I have had a dream now, for quite a long time, about a darkness - a shadow - that lurks in men's hearts and minds and tries to devour the world. What does it mean?"
She watched in silence as the Time Guardian seemed to ponder her words carefully, sifting through them like colored glass marbles in her mind.
"I am not sure," she spoke at last, and her eyes were darker than before.
"But I think that there is a battle coming - something that will threaten the thousand years of peace."
"Death must always follow life - rebirth must follow death." The Queen murmured under her breath.
"Have the princess's guardians been chosen?" the time guardian asked, almost idly.
"Not yet," the Queen answered, promptly, glad to be back to easier subjects, "But the scheduled time for that is not near. Selenity is still only a child - but when she grows a bit more we shall certainly set about to finding the new Senshi."
Pluto nodded again, still pursuing her own thoughts that wove around her head like cloudy dreams.
"I think that the time is changing," she said, vaguely, "There will be things unheard of before, but they must be allowed to happen. Change is necessary."
The Queen frowned at her words but committed the warning to heart.
"I will not stand in the way of change, but," she faltered, "I hope that no harm will come to Selenity or my people as a result of these changes."
"What will be will be," Pluto replied.
The answer weighed heavily in the Queen's heart. It seemed to her, that, no matter how hard she wished for happiness for those around her, fate seemed determined to upset her wishes. It was hard to go against fate - almost as hard as going against nature - an impossible task.
She thanked Pluto and turned to go, to leave the in-between world of gates and to leave the gate keeper alone once more in her eternal solitude.
Selenity turned, a bit surprised, to find Pluto watching her with an odd, wistful smile.
"Follow your path without fear," she said, and her voice was the voice of a young woman - uncertain, but brave. Her words echoed in the Queen's ears, and she felt as though a small hot light began to glow within her - very small, but very warm. She saw the light reflected in the other woman's eyes and realized it was hope.
Queen Selenity smiled.
"Thank you, Pluto." She whispered and watched the other girl's eyes steadily fixed on her face as she wrapped her cloak around her and disappeared.