The floor beneath her knees was hard enough to hurt. Her arms strained with the effort of holding them in the perfect subservient salute. She heard the rustle of Kunzite's uniform as he once again began the complicated hand motions of the Terran Loyalty ceremony. She fought the urge to glance at him, instead focusing on the blue, blue, blue eyes to which she was once again swearing her fealty.

Kunzite's muttering slowly got louder as he reached the crescendo of the chant - sacred words only uttered in sacred spaces, in a language so old its meaning had been long forgotten at the dawn of the Silver Millennium. It took nearly forty-five minutes to recite properly; forty-five minutes she'd been kneeling, one arm extended to her side, the other pressed against her forehead.

Sweat trickled down her her cheek, her heart was pounding, and she didn't think she'd ever been so terrified. The enormity of what she was about to do thrummed through her being, and if it weren't for those eyes, she'd have long ago collapsed.

The chanting ceased abruptly, and though she never looked away from Serenity, she could see in her mind's eye Kunzite raising his arms in the air and slowly bringing them down as he spoke the final, binding words of the vow, his eyes, she was sure, locked on Endymion's.

"My hand in yours. My sword with yours. My life for yours always and forever."

As he spoke the words she felt a hot knife in her soul, and she gasped, eyes clenching, teeth tearing her bottom lip in anguish as the corresponding Lunar ceremony began.

For all its pretty words and movements, the Terran loyalty ceremony was only as binding as those who participated in it chose it to be.

The Lunarian ceremony had no words, no actions.

Only the agony of the Ginzuishu tearing her soul apart, searching for any hint of rebellion, of disloyalty, of anything that she might place before her monarch.

She was ripping, tearing, psychic limbs being yanked away from each other more painfully than if her physical body had been drawn and quartered.

She was naked, open, bearing everything, every thought, every desire, every pain, every piece of her soul to... to her.

Then it ended, and she fell forward, gasping, eyes wrenching open at last to stare at the tears streaming down Serenity's face.

Serenity opened her mouth, trying to speak, but no sound came out. She shut it, closed her eyes, swallowed, and opened again, but again, silence. She glanced at her husband who took her hand and stepped forward, acting as her voice.

"What you two are doing today is not often attempted. Marriage is difficult enough without having prior oaths binding you. You have each vowed anew those words you have spoken twice before - once at our coronation, and once in lives long past.

You have been weighed, you have been measured, and you have been found worthy. Speak the words of your heart."

She turned to Kunzite, tried to ignore the worry in his eyes (when would he learn that she was as much a soldier as he - and not afraid of pain?), grasped his hand around the blade of a ceremonial knife, fingers entwined in the sacred symbol, and, with him, intoned their marriage vows:

"I swear my life and love to you, for now and for all eternity. With the willful spilling of my blood I so swear, and may Heaven strike me down if I act against you. So I speak, so I intend -"

"And so let it be done!" Serenity and Endymion chorused the last words with them.

And then there was only the cheering of the crowd, the catcalls of Jadeite, and Kunzite's lips on hers, fingers tight together, and their future before them.

A/N: Those who have read whydoyouneedtoknow's "Danger" series (which, by the way, is awesome) will notice a similarity in some of the wording – credit to her!

I always wondered about what it would be like trying to balance the oaths of defending a monarch, and being married to someone with similar oaths to another monarch (though I imagine the two monarchs being married makes it easier).