I figured that someone would probably presume that the Serenity I'm writing about is Usagi's first mother. But, no, this is an alternate version of the Silver Millennium, and the queens are in fact the senshi you know.
Revised 2014-10-28: Quite a few things have been added or changed, most notably, the change of the queens' names to actual names from their planets. In order, this would be Khione, Philyra, Alala, Astrape, Keres, Oreithyia, Galene, and Moirae.
2017-6-3: So many revisions! First thing you should notice is that if a chapter says fifteen: it's old. I started writing this story at fourteen, so the age difference of fifteen and twenty-two didn't seem large to me. At nineteen, I am now uncomfortable with it, and I will not be continuing on that route. Instead, Serenity will be eighteen, with all characters being aged up along the same lines. This will unfortunately change some of the nice numerical plans I'd had, but that's the price I pay for revising a fic like this. For those who look forward to new chapters, please accept my apologies that any updates on this fic will be very, very slow.
The stairs in the main hall never creaked, but she took no chances as her bare feet hit the marble slowly and softly. The princess - queen, she corrected herself, Queen Serenity - had no intentions of alerting anyone that she wasn't in her room at that time. She pulled the door to the courtyard open and slipped inside. The artificially grown vegetation wasn't as beautiful or as lush as that of the other kingdoms', but standing in the garden her mother had worked so hard to grow made Serenity feel a little closer to her. The snowy white hem of her gown brushed against the ground and out of habit, she raised it to keep from dirtying her clothing.
Serenity's lips twisted when she looked at her skirt. She envied the people on Earth who wore black to mourn. Black, the deep blur of everything, completely tainted and overwhelmed. That was what she wanted to wear to mourn her mother. The contrast with Lunish standards would be outstanding, and surely everyone would recognize how lost she felt, never mind that perhaps that was a slightly overkill way to show her emotions. Still, Serenity could not help but wish she was allowed to mourn in that way. She was to wear only white or silver, on a rare occasion blue or pink, soft gentle colors that in theory represented the moon's ideals: purity, love, justice. Serenity loved the idea. She still wanted to wear other colors though. As if to protest, she dropped her skirt, letting the hem scrape over the dirt.
She looked down at the crumpled envelope in her hand. This was the reason she'd needed to go here. She simply could not think this through without her mother's help. Serenity knew it was impossible, but she thought that perhaps standing here, her mother could give her a little guidance. She raised the letter and read aloud.
"'Dear Queen Serenity the First,'" she murmured in a rather obnoxious Terran accent, but the girl had never claimed to be good at imitations. She laughed. Did the people of Earth really use names multiple times in the Royal Line? How very strange.
"'I am sorry to hear of Selene's passing and wish to offer condolences. Although I was 23 when my father passed, I understand the pain of losing a parent and immediately taking on the burden of governing. I can only assure you that it eases with time.
"'As much as it bothers me to mention this under the circumstance, I must remind you that a meeting to discuss the Alliance is approaching and you must attend. I would presume that Advisor Luna or Advisor Artemis has at least informed you of the wishes of the planets. Serenity, you must be in attendance.'" Serenity's voice cracked a little at the words. Her grip on the page tightened, crinkling the paper a little more, although it hardly mattered in its current condition. "Does he consider me a fool? No, he considers me a child. How . . . infuriating. 'I would allow you a longer period of mourning were it up to me, but the other queens do not yet understand the loss of a parent. I would hate that you be dismissed from the Alliance during such a delicate time.
"'Since I have already introduced the subject, I would like to discuss my wishes for inclusion. Your mother did not believe in my soldiers' strength, but I believe that you are an intuitive young—'" Serenity sighed. It was hard to believe that the boy who had teased her about her hair - but never in the company of Selene, who wore her own in the same manner, as did all members of the Lunish Court - when they were children was now complimenting her in hopes of achieving her support. "Did it just occur to him that we would rule in the same millennia?" she muttered bitterly. She crossed her arms and grimaced.
Serenity could remember this part of her childhood, though not well. Up until the other royal children reached the age of ten, they had been playmates. Venus and Endymion, of the same age, often held different opinions. Venus took charge of Mercury and Mars, both only slightly younger and somewhat willing to be led. Endymion took to the older Uranus and Neptune, more willing to get dirty than the others. Jupiter always seemed to babysit Saturn, youngest other than Serenity. Serenity herself was typically a tag-along. After all, the last time she remembered having all of them in the same room, Serenity couldn't have been more than a toddler.
How strange it was to think that as adults, those relationships would change so. As Luna had explained, or rather stressed the point, many would try to use her inexperience to achieve their goals. Others would see no reason to take her seriously. After all, before her mother had grown ill, the largest of Serenity's worries was whether the kitchen would have enough cocoa to make cake. She couldn't know a thing about being queen. To achieve anything during this key part of her reign, Serenity would need to work diligently to prove herself.
Serenity looked down at the candied sweet words in that cool, precise writing. She was certain King Endymion was of the former.
Luna pitied her queen. Under normal circumstances, she would have never allowed herself the thought. Queen Selene was far beyond pity, wise and beautiful. Serenity had always been a sweet princess. Back then, the Lunish Palace had been so lovely. Serenity hadn't seemed like that in a while, not since her mother had fallen ill. The palace had died with the queen. There were no balls, no dinner parties, nothing but Serenity sitting at her table with her advisors and looking forlorn. Luna had done her best to give the girl time to grieve, but politics waited for no one. The Alliance was a threat, and she needed to join in.
"I'm scared, Luna," the queen confessed, her silver hair almost white in the staunch artificial light. Right then, she looked as ethereal as her mother. Luna wanted to comfort her, but no. She could not baby this girl. Serenity needed to stand on her own. Luna was her advisor, but she was not her caretaker.
"Calm yourself, Serenity. You can take charge. Do you remember everything I told you about these recent meetings?"
Serenity stared at Luna for a moment, almost begging her for some form of assistance. A second longer and perhaps Luna would have relented, but the queen inhaled before she began to run through everything she had been taught. "Mercury refuses to share their technology unless Uranus and Neptune agree to provide protection. Venus wants absolute control over the approval of marriages from all planets. Earth wants their soldiers to be trained as the rest of the planets' are."
She stopped and bit her lip in blatant confusion. Luna would need to train her out of that. Queens weren't supposed to have emotions written all over their face, especially not young, easily manipulated queens. "Mars wants nothing to do with Saturn," she continued in a confident voice, which made her advisor proud. Confidence was key. "Jupiter is content with everything. Saturn is having difficulties with many of the planets because their queen can destroy the universe. Uranus doesn't trust anyone except Neptune, and Neptune wants the planets to forgive all of their debts, which most won't do. Pluto won't state their decision until everyone else does because they already know what's going to happen and don't want to influence any decisions. And..."
Serenity paused and looked at Luna. She nodded for her queen to go on. Serenity swallowed, dallying before she could bring herself to answer. "And no one trusts the moon queen because she's at least 4 years younger than all of them."
Luna smiled reassuringly. Serenity tampered down her own grin and entered the room as gracefully as she could Luna stared at her back. Yes, Queen Serenity was a strong girl. But she was still just a girl.
The rulers of all nine planets were arguing.
Queen Serenity knew no other way to describe it. She didn't want to intrude; after all, she wasn't a planetary ruler, and they already thought bad enough of her. But they wouldn't get any work done if they kept up like this. And Serenity couldn't stay in the doorway forever. She looked around and caught Queen Moirae's eye. It took everything in her not to grin. She had found a way to call attention to herself and still use manners.
"It is very nice to see you again, Serenity. I'm sorry for your loss and for the fact that such a position is being forced on someone your age," Moirae said. She sounded sincere enough, Serenity thought, but you could never be sure with Moirae.
Serenity gave a gracious nod. "Thank you for your condolences, Moirae, but, as I'm sure we all know, this is a diplomatic meeting. I would like to keep my mother's work going. She would want that."
Serenity couldn't help but be proud of her wording. Not only did it seem to stop the arguments, everyone seemed to be taking her more seriously. She tried to keep her beaming to a minimum. She was a professional.
Khione straightened. "I'm sure you've been debriefed on recent events, Serenity? We will begin as we do every time, order of planets, then the moon."
Serenity nodded. "That is fine. Let us begin, then, Khione."
The queen pushed a strand of her blue hair behind her ear. "First of all, my people still ask that we receive Uranian and Neptunian protection." She raised her cup of tea slowly and surely. Shy and quiet, Serenity decided, but determined to get her way. She could outsmart nearly anyone in this room, but she didn't, and for that, Serenity rewarded her with a smile. Khione merely gave a slightly condescending gaze back as she took a long sip.
"How do we know that your technology will work?" Queen Oreithyia demanded—stubborn, prejudiced, and slightly overprotective, but good-hearted, Serenity decided. Khione seemed slightly annoyed, and everyone in the room was alerted of this by the means of the teacups clattering against the marble.
"Are you implying that you do not trust us?" the calculating queen asked. Her voice betrayed none of irritation, but she did rise from her chair.
Galene stepped in. "Not at all. Uranus only wishes that all planets have a firm trust in the Alliance." Galene was graceful and careful with what she said, but she was not the type to dance around what she wanted. Serenity thought it suited her to provide the music which fueled the dance.
"We will," said Khione firmly and sat back down in her seat, making everyone know she was finished. Queen Philyra rose.
"I'm afraid I was unable to explain precisely what I meant at the last meeting," the blonde said with a sweet smile. "The reason we Venusians want all control over marriage is simply because we know what matches are right for each other. This way, there will be no woman—or as cases may be, man or whatever the person identifies as—scorned. This system will be easily regulated."
Everyone seemed to be considering it. Serenity was desperate to make her place in this conversation, as she had already determined Philyra was too kind and generous. She probably needed the help.
"But, Philyra, will you have time to do this for the whole solar system? There are a lot of people coming of age right now," said Serenity.
Alala frowned and coughed, her hand clad in a vinaceous glove covering her lips. "Like you." The Lunishwoman did not frown, and no matter how appealing it seemed, nor did she stick out her tongue. Brash and fiery Alala had always rubbed her the wrong way.
"I propose that you regulate all inter-planetary marriages, simply because this could prevent wars from happening. I'm sure everyone is able to handle disputes between their own citizens."
Everyone stared. Serenity wondered if she'd said something wrong.
"Serenity has a point. I support her proposal," Astrape, the most just queen in the room, said. After a few moments, Oreithyia and Galene agreed. Eyes focused on shy Keres and Khione. They nodded their consent.
"I like the idea," Philyra said, a smile on her face though her eyes seemed to say otherwise. As always when the majority was reached, Moirae put in her vote. Only Endymion and Alala were left. They shrugged it off, for their votes would have no effect.
"Venus has nothing more to say. We are ready to join the Silver Alliance. Endymion?" she urged.
The king stood. "I'm sure you're all aware of what we want."
Moirae looked exasperated, a feat considering her easy temper and knowledge of future events. "Endymion, as you know, we cannot allow regular mortals to train with any senshi. It is simply not wise."
"But surely we could allow to train with non-magical soldiers?" Serenity said. All eyes were immediately on her. Serenity seriously considered darting out of the room right then, with the condescending looks she was receiving.
"Serenity, Earth is the only planet with non-magical soldiers," Galene explained carefully. Serenity flushed, lips trembling. She resisted the urge to flee from the room.
Endymion sat down, slightly defeated. Now Alala's turn, she looked pointedly at the wall.
"Get Saturn out of this, and we're good to go."
Queen Philyra nudged her as if to scold her behavior.
"We have made it very clear that that is not an option, Alala," Astrape said coldly. Serenity now raised her eyes to sneak a peek at the Jovian. She seemed calm and in control, but she was slowly leaning to Keres as if to hide her. It made Serenity smile a little. It seemed nice to have someone so willing to protect another. She'd always wanted that as a child.
"But it is my stipulation," countered Alala, tossing her dark hair over her shoulder and focusing her eyes past Astrape to the queen of Saturn.
"It is a stipulation that we will not grant," interjected Endymion. Serenity was surprised to hear him speak for this. She'd always imagined Endymion as the time to hate everything good.
Alala huffed. She looked around the table and asked, "How many of us truly wish for Keres to be here?"
Astrape and Endymion voiced their opinions immediately. Serenity chirped, "I do!" in her sweet, cheerful tone, that also seemed to derive derision from her companions.
"It is in bad taste to leave out one when all others are included," said Khione softly.
It was silent. Then Alala said, "I'm done. I've told you what I want, and if you will not grant it, I have nothing else to say." She then looked to Astrape, who nodded on to Keres, who nodded on to Oreithyia and Galene.
"I believe we've given our opinion once already," said Galene. Her voice was as calm as the ocean-her mother had once described Galene as the calm before the storm. Murmurs floated around the table as they tried to decide a next topic of business.
"Until we agree, we will accomplish nothing," said Serenity. That was the right thing to say, wasn't it?
"We are all aware," said Alala.
Serenity clenched her teeth. "What I was saying was that without reaching an agreement, there is little else we can accomplish in terms of this alliance."
"Serenity is right." Moirae rose. "This meeting is adjourned." The sovereigns quickly began to gather their things and file out the room, some at ease and some rather discomfited. Serenity looked around for a moment before pressing her hands to the table to lift herself awkwardly and turning towards the door. Terrible. She'd done terrible, and she hated being queen, and she just wanted-
"Wait, Serenity!" Said girl turned to see the Venusian queen waving her over. Serenity walked to the blonde warily. "I was wondering if you planned to continue our private alliance. Your mother was intending for it to remain separate from the Silver," Venus said pointedly. She flashed a brighter smile than earlier to enforce her words.
Serenity gave her most diplomatic smile. "I'm afraid I haven't been briefed on that yet. Perhaps we can speak next time." There. A recovery. She felt a little better. The room was nearly empty now, and as Philyra turned to leave, Serenity thought it was time as well. Luna had waited for her in the hall, her frantic, worried face as much of a comfort as ever.
"How did it go, Serenity?"
"Good, I think," she replied cheerfully. "I suggested something that made Philyra agree, so there are now four of us that are ready! Maybe it will work out soon!"
Luna, unable to resist, patted her queen's head fondly. "That's wonderful. Now, we better get home."
Queen Serenity was not a morning person. She had not been as a princess, and no one expected that to change. It was no surprise to Luna when she stumbled into the dining room near noon, still slightly disoriented. "Guh…"—yawn—"good morning, Luna…" The dark-haired woman smiled at her queen.
"Good morning, Serenity." Luna placed a roll on a plate and poured a glass of juice, pushing both to Serenity's seat at the table. Serenity smiled, accepting the food eagerly.
"You know, yesterday, Philyra asked me about a separate alliance. What did she mean?" Serenity stuffed the roll in her mouth, chewing quickly before taking a sip of juice.
Luna paused, setting her work down on the table. "I have no idea. In fact, Queen Selene wasn't on very good terms with Philyra." Luna frowned. No, that couldn't . . .
"But . . . she said . . ." Serenity faltered.
Luna inhaled sharply and lowered her head. "Philyra tricked you. I have to admit, that girl is a master at strategy. Everyone else perceives her as a dimwit who will go along with anything. She made it look like your mother forced her into an alliance that wasn't agreed upon with the rest of them and that you were going to continue the ill treatment. She's playing the victim. But why? . . . Serenity, did you do anything to upset her yesterday? At all? Think!"
"Well . . . I did suggest she change her requirements to only interplanetary marriages . . . But she agreed upon it!" Serenity defended.
Luna sighed. "Only because she's not supposed to be the type to stand her ground. You've incurred her wrath. So soon too. Now, you'll do best to work around Philyra and her closer allies."
Serenity looked sheepish.
"Neither Khione nor Alala will have any sort of faith in you. Astrape is somewhat close to Philyra, but she'd be willing to give you a chance. From my experience, she has a good sense of judgment." Serenity made a face. "Oh, Serenity, stop that! You're eighteen-years-old, and you're a—"
"Queen, Luna," supplied Serenity. "And I don't suppose you would have spoken to my mother than way, would you?" Her bright blue eyes dared her to defy her. Perhaps Serenity enjoyed her arguments a little too much. Luna reminded herself to scold Artemis for indulging her in this pastime.
Luna let out a long breath. "As I was saying, Astrape is a very fair ruler, and she always judges people by their own merits. She excludes no one, which is why she is so close to Keres. Now, Neptune and Uranus . . . Selene only agreed to forgive part of the debt. I think we can manage without it though, so I suggest make an impression on the queens that way, although I cannot guarantee that will completely salvage their image of you. Keres will be happy to have you, but you will make some people mad. You can't do much about Moirae. She's not the type to lean to any side. Now, my queen, you must try to made amends with King Endymion."
Serenity pursed her lips and thought about it. Endymion. Endymion, Endymion, her childhood torturer. "Oh, Luna, surely Endymion knows to trust his closest neighbor," she said innocently. "I think I'll be fine!" Thus, the queen grabbed another roll and stuffed in her mouth before running off.
Luna closed her eyes. Serenity tried, she knew. It didn't make it any easier to see how easily she could fail.