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The Beginning of the End: Prelude
Published: February 2011

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Silver Millennium, Palace Hallway, The Moon
Flashback: Three Years Prior


"You are the rudest, most inconsiderate prince I have ever met!" Serenity declared, her usually soft-spoken voice rising. The young princess's eyes were cast accusingly at the ebony-haired man in front of her. Despite her annoyed appearance, the Prince of Earth did not look even slightly perturbed. In fact, he was smirking, looking highly amused by her antics.

"Inside voice, Serenity…" Lita murmured quietly, tugging on her princess's arm in an attempt to pull her away from the scene. The Sailor Scouts looked highly uncomfortable, fearing the temper or their usually charming Princess, and wished for nothing more than to stop the battle of wits that was surely brewing. Ami was fidgeting, casting her eyes down the hall to make sure the Queen did not walk in on yet another dawning fight between the two royals. But Serenity refused to be dragged away from him, standing her ground firmly.

"And you, Princess, are the loudest, most idiotic girl in this entire galaxy." The Prince stated calmly, his eyes sparkling. The Scouts glared at him, taking personal offense to his insult, and once again attempted to tug Serenity away from the scene. But the teenager seemed oblivious to her friends' presence.

"I cannot stand you!" She fumed, eyes alit and linked with his as she yanked her arm from Lita's grip and stepped closer to the man.

Surprisingly, the Prince took a step forward, head ducking closer to hers as he murmured assuredly, "You love me."

Serenity blanched, the female soldiers behind her looking terrified.

What in the world was he doing? Serenity wondered, her violet eyes widening at him. He simply grinned at her. The Scouts seriously feared for his safety, wondering where in the world his generals were. Because surely, they would be needed soon to pry Serenity's fingers from Endymion's neck. They sure were not going to save him, he deserved it, but that didn't mean they wanted to explain to Queen Serenity why her daughter had brutally murdered the visiting Prince.

Endymion was, indisputably, digging his own grave. And as far as the girls could tell, Serenity was too furious to reply to his mocking.

He was playing a very dangerous game.

"Speechless, Princess? No denials, no insults?" He taunted, quirking one dark eyebrow at the petite blonde shooting him frantic looks, "Perhaps you do. I am quite dashing."

Serenity still said nothing.

He stepped forward again, closer to her, and tilted his head as if inspecting the girl. "Do you think I am handsome, little Princess? Do you think I am charming?" He paused, one hand coming up to caress the length of the beauty's cheek, "Are your insults and tantrums just covering up the fact that you are madly in love with –"

He never got to finish his taunt, because he found her suddenly yanking back from him, the sound of cold metal gliding effortlessly out of its sheath filling his ears. In a half a second, the end of his own sword was pressed into his chest, and the young Princess holding the sword aloft looked positively dangerous.

The Scouts gasped, too stunned to think of pulling their Princess away. Serenity, who had never before even picked up a sword, was holding it resolutely to Prince Endymion's unarmored chest. Serenity, who looked like she fully intended on using the man's own sword to murder him. Serenity, their innocent, kind Princess.

She looked absolutely murderous.

"Don't you dare say another word, Endymion. Not one more. You call me idiotic, but it is you who is the fool." She hissed, her eyes locked on his, her violet depths unreadable. "Now listen, and listen well. I have never, in my entire existence, come across another being that has made me as furious as you have made me."

She let out a breath, his sword still held tightly in her fist, as she said the loftiest lie she had ever told in the cruelest tone she would ever use, " I despise you, I detest you, I hate you. Passionately. And I will never love you."

She lowered the sword slightly, repeating in a quiet assertion, "Never."

And if Endymion had not known better, he would have believed her.

But he didn't believe her. He knew her words, no matter how coldly sworn, were unquestionably false. He could see it in the way that her eyes, which seemed to be glaring, were really brimming over with tears. He could tell she was lying in the way that her hands shook and the way her breathing was uneven. He knew she was lying in the depths of his soul, in the bottom of his heart, and deep in his bones. Because she loved him, just as he loved her, and she had told him so every night when they met in the shadows of the palace gardens.

That did not change the fact that her words shook him, murdered him, and cut out his heart. He knew she didn't mean them, knew she loved him with every fiber of her being. Knew they were soul mates. He knew this was all an act and that it was his fault for almost blowing their cover. Knew she was just trying to fix what he had done with his teasing, which had been too close to home. It was entirely his fault that she was breaking both their hearts, because he had teased her about the wrong thing. He had hinted at something, something her guardians were not supposed to know, something they had sworn to keep secret. And she had to respond, had to completely convince all that were watching that she did not love him. But she was acting out his worst nightmare. If she ever said those words in earnest, he would surely die.

And then his sword clattered to the ground as she dropped it, the sound of it the only other noise in the hallway. The Sailor Scouts had watched the scene with wide eyes and open mouths, their shock at their Princess's passionate declaration of hate surprising them. They had never imagined that their sweet little girl could say or feel such things, because she seemed to radiate love and compassion. But they did not doubt her words, because Serenity never lied about how she felt. Serenity never betrayed her heart. And they were flabbergasted at how she so obviously despised him, wondering at what he could have possibly have done to make her feel that way. And they hated him, hated him because their Princess did. They hated him because to lose the love of Serenity was unforgivable. Because Serenity loved all, loved everything. And so he must be evil and they must hate him, since Serenity said she did.

They had no idea.

Serenity spun to face them, her face blank and unreadable, "We're leaving. Come, girls, let us leave the Terran." If they had only known how she had just broken her own heart. She looked back over her shoulder at the frozen prince, her eyes for a moment begging for forgiveness and begging him to believe she didn't mean a single word she had just said. The look cleared as quickly as it came into view, but Endymion caught it. She then turned back to her guardians and declared coldly, "I cannot stand the sight of him."

And then they were gone.

That night Serenity had snuck into his bedchambers, fidgeting with the sleeve of her nightgown as she stood in his doorway, afraid to approach him. He sat near the door, he had been putting on his boots to go see her. Her eyes were overflowing with tears, her face crumbled in self-loathing and fear that he would hate her for what she had said. She was too ashamed to get closer, too afraid he would push her away in disgust.

He jumped up when he noticed Serenity, hurrying to her in unlaced boots and stopping an arm's length away from her. She looked lovely, draped in light blue satin with her blonde hair loose – he had never before seen it loose – and his heart hammered in his chest at the sight of his angel. He opened his mouth to speak, but was cut off by her preceding wail.

"I am so sorry, Endymion! I am so, so, so unbelievably sorry!" she choked out in between sobs, staggering back against his door and seeming to shake uncontrollably, "I was so awful! I am sorry, so truly sorry!"

Still he did not move to comfort her. Could not, for he felt too much doubt. Was she here to end what she had with him, to tell him she truly could not love him? Her impassioned speech that morning had shaken him, had planted a seed of doubt that he had never before felt. Could it be? The thought made his blood run cold.

"I did not mean it! Not any of it, I swear to all the Gods, on my life. I do not hate you, not even a little bit, I could never hate you!" She slid down the door as she lost the ability to stand, crying through the words. She was not fit to talk, but she had to let him know. Or she would die, die if she did not say them.

"I love you! I love you more than life itself, I will always love you!"

He came to life. And then he was holding her, wiping away her tears and trying to hold her together. His heart soared at her words, at the reaffirmation of her affections. His lips left lingering kisses across the planes of her face as she sobbed, as he tried to soothe her.

"Serenity, Serenity. Shhhh. Quiet, my love." He brushed his thumbs across her cheeks, cradling her face, "I love you, shhhhh, I know you did not mean it."

Her lilac eyes, still leaking ocean water, stared startled at him. He did? He knew.

"I am so sorry!" she sobbed out again, still shaking all over. He breathed out, heart wrenching at his princess's distressed state. His hurt, at the words he knew she didn't mean, melted away and dissolved into oblivion. He wrapped his arms around her tightly and then quickly picked her up off the ground. He carefully walked her over to his bed and set her down, still holding her as he attempted to quiet her cries.

"Shush, Sere, I know. You did not mean it, it was all theatrics. I know."

"But, but I was so cruel!" She stuttered, clinging to him with childlike dependency.

He smoothed her silver hair from her face, smiling ruefully at her, "You were trying to convince your friends. It is my fault."

She was shocked out of her tears, which ceased to fall. "What! How in Selene's name is this at all your fault?"

"I was an outright foolish. I should not have teased you like that, I should not have risked teasing you about it. It was dim-witted. I almost ruined everything." He played contentedly with tendrils of her hair, his fingers lacing in her pale tresses as he smiled at her beauty and her silly insistences.

"No! It is not your fault!"

"Of course it was, Princess, I was stupid. I understand why you had to say those things, why it was necessary. You had to be absolutely sure they did not suspect anything. If you had responded in any other way they would have felt some suspicion." He kissed her head, wanting to silence her and let her know it no longer matter, " It was the only way to make them think you…did not care for me."

"I am sorry." She mumbled gently, the shame still twisting her heart.

His lips pressed a kiss to her nose, "Everything is fine, Princess, there is nothing to be sorry for. You did not mean it."

"I love you." She whispered, her nose nuzzling his neck.

"And I love you, Serenity. Forever, until the end of time itself, I will never stop loving you. No matter what." He breathed out, caught up in her dazzling essence.

Their lips caught, warm kisses trying desperately to heal the wounds they had inflicted on each other. He could taste her guilt, her sorrow at the bitter words she had said but not meant, but soon he felt her remorse fall away. And then they were just kissing, not just healing. And as their bodies meshed, their heartbeats racing in beat with each other, they knew no words could ever unfasten the love they had. Because together, they were complete.

Tomorrow they would have to do it all again, would have to put on yet another spectacle. They could never ignore each other, would never be able to ignore the other's existence. That was too hard. And so they would fight, for all to see, until her friends thought him heartless and his generals found her infuriating. They would hide compliments in insults, would hide caresses in shoves, and hide love in glares. Enemies by the light of day; criminal kisses, endless declarations of love in the night.

Because they were forbidden. And if they were ever found out, there would be tragedy.

. . .


Silver Millennium, Palace Gardens, The Moon
Present Day: Three Years After Flashback


It was lovely out, the air was thick with the delicate fragrance of flora and new growth. The stars seem to shine brighter in the sky above and the vibrant orb of blue and green hanging in the horizon seemed closer, touchable. Days like such, one was sure to find the Princess of the Moon and her companions out in the gardens.

Serenity lay in the grass, her eyes cast on the planet above with a faint smile etched onto her lips. Her fingers lazily twirled around a blade of grass as she softly hummed the melody to her own private lullaby, the sound of the carillon locked away in a golden locket she had treasured but no longer possessed. Her thoughts were far away, her ears drowning out the gentle purr of conversation every now and then between her friends.

Ami sat at the base of a nearby tree, locks of aqua hair dancing in the wind as her fingers traced the symbols inked into her book. Mina sat at the other end of the tree, peaking at the men practicing archery in the distance with a silly grin on her painted lips. Lita was busy carefully plucking flowers from a nearby rosebush, eliciting a sharp hiss every once in awhile as a thorn pricked her skin.

Raye, however, was the least at harmony in their surroundings. She paced nearby, a black cat poised on her shoulders, and she whispered back and forth with the feline. Growing weary of Raye's pacing, Luna soon sprung from her shoulders, landing gracefully on all four legs as she trotted back over to the other girls. With a look in between a grimace and a grin, Raye followed.

Serenity, drawn from her own reverie by the sound of Raye sitting down beside her, peaked over at the girl with a slight smile. Raye smirked in response, but the look quickly disappeared as the girl forced her lips into a compliant look of unconcern. The Princess quirked one pale eyebrow upward at the look, her companion shrugged it off.

"The Terrans are coming tomorrow." Raye noted listlessly, seemingly uninterested by that fact. However, her eyes sparkled with mischief – she knew her statement would get an immediate response. Lita promptly walked back over to the other girls, bouquet in hand, and glared at the Scout of Mars; while Mina looked pointedly at Serenity to judge her reaction. Ami sighed, grudgingly drawing her eyes from the thick volume held open in her lap. Luna simply blinked, she had already known that was coming.

"Raye, I did not think we were supposed to tell the Princess." Ami pointed out, pursing her lips as she looked at Luna, rather than Raye, for agreement or denial. Mina nodded wildly at this in concurrence.

"We have all agreed that we might as well tell her now, rather than risk the embarrassment of her causing a scene upon their arrival in the morning." Luna explained impassively.

The girls stared expectantly at their Princess.

Serenity's peaceful state of quiet was ruined as she shot up into sitting position, eyes wide and surprised at this new bit of information. Her mind rushed to find an explanation or some sort of coherence. The Terrans were coming? The Prince? His generals? Perhaps the King as well? And only tomorrow! They could not be coming tomorrow, preparations had to be made, it was too last minute. Surely they were not coming on such short notice…Of course not! How long had her friends, her mother, the whole court been keeping this from her?

"Since when!" she cried indignantly, looking at them all for an answer before she quickly demanded of Raye, "And why were you not supposed to tell me!"

"Since awhile." Raye shrugged, her lips twitching into a grin.

Lita, who had fully supported the decision to keep Serenity in the dark about the Terran's arrival, was still glaring at the Raye for revealing it to Serenity. She then handed the bouquet of white roses, free of thorns, to her Princess and added on to Raye's weak reply quickly, "Your mother told us that we were not allowed to inform you. She feared you would throw a fit and wished to avoid any unpleasant tantrums before they arrived."

Of course, of course they had kept it from her. Serenity's mouth was agape. Although it irked her that her mother and her guardians had kept it from her, the real thing that bothered her was that Endymion had not come to tell her. She cursed him inwardly, angling towards Luna for further information. Her brows pulled together, her countenance letting her friends know the petite princess was clearly not amused by their conspiracy.

Luna cut in while Serenity aimed her violet glare at her, "Serenity, before you start in on us or throw some impertinent fit about the whole thing, just listen. We know last time the Terrans came you and their prince did not get along well –"

Mina snorted, Ami giggled.

Since when did Luna make such palpable understatements? Last time the Prince of Earth had been at the court of the Silver Alliance, he and the Moon Princess had engaged in hostile verbal warfare. Daily. They had been prone to shouting matches in the dining hall, ridiculous quarrels in the hallways, and a few shenanigans taken much too far. To the court of the Moon, their arch-rivalry had been a thing universally known. It was no wonder they had tried to hide it from their usually tame Princess for so long.

If they only knew.

"But that was several years ago. You have matured since then, and I am sure he has matured as well –" Luna stated carefully, sighing tiredly under her charge's glower.

Serenity snorted. Endymion? Mature? That was ridiculous, he was just as immature as he had been when she was fourteen. Last time she had seen him, he had come up from behind her and pushed her into a fish pond, then promptly declared that he did it because he thought she looked like she wanted to go for a swim. Oh yes, he was so mature.

"And certainly you can behave around him for a week." Luna continued tersely, "The diplomatic proceedings are very important to the Moon Kingdom, as well the people of Earth. It is said that the Earth wishes to join the Alliance. Prince Endymion himself suggested peace agreements and suggested the conference. He is a good man, Princess Serenity, no matter what bitterness you two have against each other. Though he, admittedly, has not been especially kind to you. He is a fine ruler and his intentions concerning these contracts, are good."

Serenity smiled quietly. Though none would have guessed it, her heart bloomed with pride and excitement. Endymion had requested to join the Alliance, Earth might soon be an ally rather than a potential adversary. That meant so much, suggesting a feeling of hope building up in her chest. And she would soon see him, would be able to lay eyes on him for the first time in a month.

Ami was the one to extinguish the small flicker of hope in her chest as she noted musingly, "Although, obviously, we would never allow the Earth to join the Silver Alliance."

Serenity turned to her, startled, "Wait, WHAT?" She shook her head, her heart beating frantically in her chest. Why wouldn't they allow Earth into the Alliance? It made no sense in her mind and despite what she knew of the political climate on Earth, it failed to compute in her brain that there was any reason for them to deny their appeals. "Why not? Why is Earth not allowed to join the Alliance? Was that not the point all along, was that not what we have wanted since the beginning of the planetary coalition? Was that not why they came, three years ago, in the first place?"

"Well, yes, but times have changed. War plagues the Earth. Its people have no love for the Moon Kingdom and they threaten rebellion if their Prince signs any new peace agreements." Luna clarified.

Serenity had not known that, Endymion had not explicitly told her that the tides of rebellion were calling forth. He had only said there was much fighting going on, that it would be over soon. He always had calming assurances, always made her forget the rumors she had heard from other planet's dignitaries. Her heart dropped. Any lingering of optimism was quenched. They were not planning on letting Endymion join the Alliance? But…he wanted to! Her tears welled up, sadness sweeping over her porcelain features, "But! They want to make agreements! We should let them!"

Her friends smiled fondly at her, thinking to themselves how compassionate their Princess was. The idea that she was so upset about Earth's disappointment when she herself despised their crown prince made their hearts warm. And although Serenity did want Earth to have peace and to have good planetary relations, her motives were a bit more selfish then they could have expected.

Because the reason she was vying for Earth so much was due to the fact that she wanted to be allowed to love its future king. If an agreement was to be made, there would be no reason to reject a union between the Prince and Princess of both planets. She and Endymion would be able to end their preposterous charade, would finally be able to tell their friends and family the reason they were so overly callous to each other in public, the reason they rejected any and all suitors, and the reason why they sometimes could not be found late at night. That awful word, which clung so readily to them, would finally disappear. Forbidden.

"And they are well aware that they have little chance of actually achieving a unification. Serves 'em right, too, for being such pompous asses to us last time they came to court." Lita interjected hastily, grinning widely as she cracked her knuckles. Luna shook her head in exasperation. Serenity smiled weakly at her attempt to lighten the mood, but her cheerfulness had already evaporated from her system. She looked down at the fresh bouquet Lita had picked for her, which was sitting in her lap, without actually seeing it.

"The people of Earth would never rightly accept the idea that they were allied with us 'blasphemous Lunarians', anyhow." Mina chirped, undisturbed by the idea.

Raye nodded, "The people there have been touched by great evil and are being turned against the other planets. We fear they may lash out against us. The Earth needs to resolve its own evil before we can allow any true alliance."

"Is there any other way?" Serenity questioned softly.

"I suppose if the Earth temporarily surrendered their rule over to Queen Serenity, giving her complete control over their realm until she could repel the evil lingering there, then yes." Luna huffed at the absurdity of such an action, "But we all know they would never trust us enough for that. They still cling to the absurd idea that we wish to take over their useless planet."

Serenity was desperately seeking a magical solution, something that could get the Earth on peaceful terms with the rest of the Silver Millennium. Her eyes lit up as her mind stuck the finest solution available, one that could solve all their problems. A grin threatened to overcome her lips, but she fought it – for her cover. She considered how she could word her suggestion and set her features as to not give away her excitement over the idea, "What if…what if I married Prince Endymion? Wouldn't that join our kingdoms? Could that solve it? If I did, our kingdoms would be merged and it would allow them to join the Alliance without any qualms. It could unite our people and we could bring peace to their planet using the Silver Crystal."

They were shocked by her proposal, aghast at what their Princess just suggested. They all began at once.

Lita: "But he is a conceited ass!"

Mina: "You should only marry for love! "

Raye: "You would kill each other on your wedding night."

And then Ami: "I do not think it should be at the expense of your happiness."

Luna was shocked into silence for a long time before she shook her head of the surprise. She smiled at the girl with pride, kindly continuing, "Princess Serenity, while I am impressed by your willingness to sacrifice for the good of the people – you will be a very great queen one day – we could never ask that of you. Your mother, especially, would never allow you to give up your happiness for such a thing. She has never wanted you an arranged marriage, not even once considered it. None of us want you to make so big of a sacrifice."

Serenity blushed a light pink, biting down hard on her lip. In truth, it was no sacrifice for her. None at all. She desperately wanted to tell them the truth, to tell them she had been secretly in love with the Prince of Earth since she was fourteen. For over three years she had kept it a secret and not once had they suspected her. But they would never believe her if she told and how could she tell them the truth about her and Endymion after she had betrayed them for so long? She did not have the courage to tell them, did not know how to form the words.

"But I would do it. In a heartbeat. I love my home and I love the Earth. I want their people to have peace and I want Earth to be a part of the Silver Alliance." It was the mildest admittance she could make.

"May I remind you that you despise Endymion and that he has never once said one kind word to you?" Now that was a lie, Endymion said nothing but sweet words to her – not in public, of course. And he didn't despise her, nor she him. Quite the opposite, actually. Serenity kept her mouth shut.

"A marriage between the two of you would do more harm than good. The tension would only worsen relations between our two kingdoms." Luna supplied.

"You two would end up killing each other." Raye cheerily stated.

Mina giggled, the laughable idea so far out of the realm that she could not even begin to imagine them together without sniggering, "The day you two married the world would surely end!"

Well now, that was an exaggeration.

What they did not know is that their princess had been in love with Earth's prince since the moment she had met him. And by a chain of odd events, everyone believed her to hate him. Because in their first public meeting – long after they had both accepted they were soul mates – Serenity had happened to be slightly aggravated at him for not meeting her the night before like he was supposed to. And so to everyone else it seemed as if the two had immediately taken a dislike to each other, when in reality they had only witnessed a lover's feud. And since then, all their public meetings had been accompanied by staged outbursts that were more of love then hate. They loved teasing each other, loved how they fooled everyone else into believing they were enemies.

But then it had gotten complicated. The Terrans were to return home. And perhaps they would never see each other again. But that would not do. They loved each other, infinitely. They could not be apart. And so a month after their initial meeting, they had vowed their love to each other. Since then they had snuck off to meet each other frequently, when they could slip past the notice of their guardians. In the three years since the dignitaries of Earth's last visit to the Moon, the Prince and Princess had met countless times under the mask of night. They could never stay long, never past sunrise, and sometimes they could not get away from their planets for long periods of time. As it stood, Serenity had not seen Endymion in over a month. And she missed him terribly.

Luna suddenly stood as she caught sight of a white-haired man approaching from the castle. The cat's form flickered momentarily with a flash of light as a tall, black-haired woman with a crescent moon on her temple stood in her place. She smoothed the creases from her yellow gown before turning towards Serenity and adding resolutely before heading off towards her husband, "Princess, do not worry yourself over all this. Please, for the love of Selene, just try to avoid him while they are here as our guests. Now I must be going, Artemis and I have much to do before the arrival."

The girls watched her disappear with Artemis, silent for a long time before they turned back to one another.

"It would not be so bad to marry the prince." Mina mused. Serenity felt like hugging her.

"No, it most certainly would be bad for her to marry the Prince. They are the most incompatible people in the universe!" Lita countered. Serenity huffed, though they took no notice.

"I doubt he would agree to marry her anyway, he hates her as much as she hates him." Rei grinned.

That one actually hurt.

"They would look cute together, though! Their babies would be adorable!"

Serenity knew there was a reason why she loved Mina so much!

Ami, surprisingly, began to laugh in a very un-Ami-like way, when Raye whispered cheekily, "But I doubt they would ever consummate their marriage, if they did somehow get forced into marrying each other."

Serenity smirked. She and Endymion had never had a problem with that.

"The idea of him shirtless is quite appealing." Lita admitted, stunning them all, as she shrugged. Lita, in her protectiveness of Serenity, disliked Endymion more so than any of the other Scouts and was always quick to insult the disgusting, smug, egotistical, bad-mannered Terran.

"He had such nice, toned arms." Raye cooed.

Um, hey! That was her Endymion they were talking about! Who did, admittedly, have quite nice arms and a very appealing shirtless chest. Serenity blushed.

"I bet he's good at…you know!"

Serenity was red, how could Mina say such a thing! It was scandalous…it was true.

"Bet he has a whole harem of concubines, waiting hand and foot on him."

The Princess and Ami were scandalized with the turn in their conversation. Serenity's mouth fell open. He did not have a harem of concubines! …Did he?

"Your right, he does seem like he would be a bit promiscuous. Who knows what wanton things those Earthlings do…" Mina, Lita, and Raye were giggling madly, somehow extremely amused by the idea.

Serenity, however, was not at all amused. In fact, she was seeing red. The ideas they planted in her head, of Endymion with any other women, made her seethe. The idea of him flirting with someone else, let alone being with someone else made her want to scream or cry or just outright die. In fury, she jumped up from her seat in the grass, her clenched fists shaking, "SHUT UP! ENDYMION DOES NOT SLEEP AROUND."

They stared at her.

They were baffled at her outburst. Perplexed. Disbelieving.

"Sheesh, Serenity, calm down. You know we were kidding!" Lita admonished, slinging her arm around the petite girl's shoulder and winking at her, "We knew you hated him, but surely the thought of him with a girl is not that bad!"

"Maybe she is jealous!" Mina squealed in delight.

Serenity's anger left her, replaced by cold fear. They could not know! She had to cover it up. She was reckless; she had let her emotions almost blow her cover. She hastily pushed the burning thought of Endymion cheating on her from her mind and quickly forged a decent recovery. "I just do not want to hear about that awful prince! He is a ghastly, arrogant fool. The thought of him ruins my day, this whole conversation is ruining my day. And he is coming tomorrow, so it is going to be another bad day then, so can we just, please, please, please stop talking about him? I want to pretend he does not exist."

She thought she was awfully convincing and their nodding reaffirmed her belief. The Princess grinned, pleased with her smooth restoration.

Serenity hooked her arm with Lita's and picked up her collection of roses from where it had fallen from her lap. Laughing easily, she added for effect, "And you guys are right, a marriage between us would be awful. I suggested it when I was thinking only of our people, not of the monster who would torment me. Let's let him have his harem, I do not want him."

Serenity was a very good liar.

The Scouts had no idea what their Princess had done three years ago, the night before the Terran royals left the Moon kingdom to return to Earth. They could never have imagined that she had done the unimaginable, behind their backs, and had kept her deepest secret from them for years. They did not know that she had committed treason. And if they ever found out it would break their hearts.

Because three years ago, the Princess of the Moon and the Prince of the Earth had secretly done the unthinkable. They had gotten married.

. . .