AN: What can I say? This is the beginning of the end, a wrap up to a wonderful little idea I had. I hope you enjoy this too.
AN2: Oh, short note, there will be questions about things that come up in this part. This is before France was united under one ruler, so Endymion is king of his area, while Paris resides in another district. Though often everyone just thinks of Endymion as King of France, he's only king of a third of it. The East third, while another one has Paris and the north-West and another one has the south-West. Endymion's land is the largest of all of theirs, but that won't be brought up in this part, or at least I don't think so. Also again, please recall that I'm purposefully mixing up timelines, so the Kingdoms are divided but the actual events are from a story much further in the future, but all of it coalesces around a point somewhat in the dark ages but just beyond it. It's a made-up time in a period piece. What can I say? That's just my prerogative. :) Also, I do realize that Epilogues are supposed to be a going back and checking in on our characters after some time has passed, but I didn't want to do that. I wanted to do it somewhat, but also tie up other loose ends. The ones surrounding our main two have finished with the Duke's brother's death, so this is in a way an epilogue. Not the standard kind, but we have finished with our characters for now after this part.
AN3: I'd also like to apologize for any over the top religious references within this story thus far or in the future. It is not my view of religion and each character has a slightly different take on all that is happening. I hope you recognize that. It is not my intention to offend anyone, but most of the religious stuff had to be included, as it was something of that time, and it is also strongly based on the real fairy-tales out there. The Grimm brothers were heavy handed in it in their own works, I hadn't realized it until I started looking at some of the less well-known stories. It is not any baring on the story other than it is what they come across on in a few of their travels. So please bare that in mind while reading this.
The man stared at them as they stared at him in shock. "What are you waiting for?" He looked down at Serenity. "I- oh god, I forgot, she always described you as larger than life, a force to be reckoned with and never backed down or crushed. I forgot that she told me you were injured gravely." He sank down onto the chair and ran a hand through his blond curls. "What am I going to do now?"
"Who are you?" Endymion demanded, he had registered that this man knew Ami, but how had he gotten passed the guards?
"My name is Jadeite." At Serenity's intake of air, he nodded. "I see Ami has told you about me. She is a wonderful, brazen young woman. I feel strongly for her but the Priest of Notre Dame has decided she is unruly and too much of a vixen to be allowed to continue on here. He threatened her, wanted her to leave, but she refused to, now she is in grave danger."
"We'd love to help you, but Serenity is bed-ridden for a few more days still and I don't have any say in the church in this Kingdom. If you'd petition this King- I'll speak to him as well-." Endymion's words weren't enough for he spun around and stormed out, most likely to do something really stupid.
Serenity struggled to get to her feet and Endymion held an arm around her waist as she sagged into him. "It's Ami." She reminded him. "It isn't just any gypsy that they're going to burn. We have to do something."
"We will." Endymion vowed, kissing the crown of her head. "But first, get back in bed while I talk with this King." Serenity was reluctantly deposited back into her bed and Endymion left, she knew that they could not demand her release here, but she hoped this king could intervene somehow. Maybe only as a favor towards them and hopefully he acted in time. There was nothing they could do politically, except claim her as a friend and a member of their land.
Endymion gained audience with this king almost instantly. The man turned to Endymion with a smile and Endymion bowed his head. "Thank you for seeing me on such short notice."
"I had hoped that I would have seen you earlier. I knew though that you and your new Queen's injuries are not slight. It has been such a horrible ordeal for the two of you. I thought it best to let you both have as much rest as possible before I make too much more excitement down there." The King smiled again and he really did like this boy who was before him, always had. "What do I owe the impromptu meeting? I would have arranged a time and a place with you under more comfortable conditions. This is highly unorthodox and clearly not a place for royals to discuss such important matters of the state. I apologize that I could do you no greater comfort though."
"It's not a matter I concern myself greatly with. Where ever you wish to hold my audience is fine with me. Though I assure you as well, that when you come to visit, I shall hold a feast in your honor in regards to this matter of pressing upon you my presence without warning."
"I hear it will be a meal to satisfy all the taste buds." The King reflected.
Endymion didn't have time for this. "I apologize again for such short notice and the urgency of the matter. I beech you on behalf of my Queen. She is unable to come herself, and it is a great matter to her."
"I will have you go no further, for I believe I know what it is you request of me." The King shook his head sadly and dismissed his men from sight. They were reluctant to go, so he stood up and took Endymion's arm in his and lead him away from the others instead. "We shall have more privacy in here and can speak more frankly. The situation has become more grave from when you first set upon me. I was informed on the development shortly before you were let in."
"What has happened?" Endymion cut in, feeling impatient, for ever moment they wasted, there was a greater chance that Ami was going to be hurt or worse.
"One of my own men has been taken up by the church's man. He has a personal vendetta against these poor souls. I have asked for a stay in their punishment, but he is high ranking and I cannot turn against the church. We here do not have the same power that you do. We do not have the men or resources to hold out against the Holy Roman Empire." He shook his head again. "I cannot even save my own man. A trusted man and one that I would have fought for, but he has embedded himself with this scandal and there is nothing I can do for even him. Much less for a foreigner who has a few ties to any other land, even with your assurance that the ties that do exist belong to yours. They have moved in and caused quite a stir, refusing to leave and what's worse, not only were they uninvited but they were unannounced and came across the border without proper procedure and are unwanted. If you were to claim these gypsies as your own, we would have a conflict brewing at our borders which I would be against, but unable to stop. I am afraid that only God now can save their souls and have mercy on them. Only the Priest or some other means out of our hands can do anything. Please tell your bride that I am truly sorry for her loss, but alas for her it is only one gypsy friend, not the whole herd."
Endymion's jaw tightened, he did not want to tell her any of that. But this other King spoke the truth and he bowed his head in thanks. "I am grateful for your time. I know that it is precious few minutes that can be spared for things like this. I shall see to it that she does not hold any ill will towards you or yours. She is still fairly new to these intricate workings and I pray that she can understand."
"It is a shame it did not work out between you and the Princess. I had hoped that we would have another ally in our corner. The conversation would also be vastly different."
"The Princess was well spoken, but she knew less about politics than my wife. She was also a great deal less interesting."
"I hope she feels better soon and can hold an audience with me and mine. I would love to put your theory to the test." The words had no malice in them, and Endymion nodded without taking offense on behalf of his absent wife. He was dismissed and he took it as an opening to leave.
"Thank you, I shall see if she could not at least hold up for tea."
"I have something far more interesting than that. Have you heard of coffee?"
Endymion didn't want his opportunity to leave to pass him by, so he inclined his head. "I have grown well accustomed to it. A few of my servants have been experimenting with it, so they have shared them with us, but I still prefer the strong black without anything extra in it."
"Then we shall have to share a cup soon." The man inclined his head, seeing Endymion was ready to get back to Serenity, not only because they were young and in love, but because he worried about her as well, and now today, he had more to worry about. "I am truly sorry." The King said as Endymion hurried out and with the incline of the dark haired man's head, he knew that he wasn't in trouble.
Endymion glided through the halls without a moment to stop and look around. He had played here often enough as a child with that King's children. All of them were about the same age now. One of which married a strange man who could not shiver. Endymion shook his head at that stray thought and entered Serenity's room again. She was on her side, her back hurt too much to lay on too often. It also hurt to lay on her stomach as her curves pulled at the skin healing. Even on the side wasn't ideal. The least amount of pain she was in was when she was sitting without anything behind her and that was no way to sleep.
The pain had been worse the third day, just when she thought she was ready to get up and move about, because it hadn't been as bad as everyone was making it out to be. She had her face scrunched up, as if she was still in pain, or worried about something and he dropped to his haunches beside her and with his good arm reached out a hand to help smooth the lines away. She was in so much pain that it was hard for her to stay awake for long periods of time, no matter how much she tried. The blood loss had been extreme as well, so that also contributed to her sleepiness, despite the pain, and desire to help her friend, it had been to much for her. He bit his lip, debating if he should wake her up and cause her a different kind, the knowledge that her friend was not able to be helped. It was a dilemma that he was still mulling over for the next few minutes.
Serenity waited a long time for Endymion to return. It hurt to sit (though better), it hurt to lay down on her back, it hurt to lay on her sides. Everything she did pulled not only uncomfortably against her wounds, but caused fresh searing heat to go along her back. She had been warned by the doctor not to aggravate it too much, or else they'd break open again and she'd lose more blood. As it was, they were bleeding to only heal again, but luckily they weren't large enough to cause too many problems.
It was also near impossible to stand, her legs would not hold under her and she usually had to be held by someone if she tried. Endymion had put her on the bed, and she could get herself into a sitting position, a few days' rest had helped in getting back some of her strength and motor control hadn't been damaged, at least not too badly. She was able to get herself to at least do that, but now she wanted to go back to the window. She heard lots of commotion from below her on the street. Some of it was cheering and some of it was jeering.
She hadn't watched any of the executions to people who had been in her life and had attempted to harm her, but she needed to see this. It seemed quite impossible to her that someone would dare dream of lighting someone else on fire. It was horrible, but these last few months had taught her true horror did exist in this world.
But for a few lucky ones, or those who persevered, there could be a bright light at the end. That there were good things to celebrate as well. That when you managed to find a good one, you should hold on with both hands and refuse to let go.
She somehow managed to find herself at the window on her knees. She couldn't see much more from here, but it was a start. There was the cathedral in the near distance, and before that, between the two large structures of the castle and cathedral, there were stages set up. Serenity recalled someone saying something about a festival just before they arrived, but it seemed now that the happy moments were over. On the stage there were two not one, fire mounts. Who else were they going to try and burn? Only Ami was being tried as a witch, wasn't she? Fear clawed up Serenity's throat at the idea of any of her other friends being punished in the same way, Setsuna, Tamas, or especially little Hotaru who wasn't even old enough to choose this as her lifestyle yet.
She must have passed out with her arms folded on the cold gray stone, looking out at the street below, because the next thing she knew, she was in bed, facing away from the windows onto the street and into someone's soul. She knew it well and loved it deeply. She smiled softly at Endymion, forgetting for a brief moment what she was just thinking about, what she was worried about. "Did you move me?"
"No." Endymion admitted. "I wouldn't have, not unless you looked more uncomfortable than you do now."
"Oh, must have been one of the guards or a doctor." She mused. "I was at the window, watching them set up. The crowd doesn't seem too entirely pleased."
Endymion glanced out the window, he could see some of it from where he was from, and when he looked back down at her, she knew that he was unsuccessful. She turned her eyes from him and he soothed her hair back, trying to comfort. "Shall I close the window? It will block it out some." He didn't want to watch himself, but she shook her head. "Serenity-"
"No. I want to go down there and be there for Ami. Who else are they going to fry?" Serenity was struggling to sit up again.
"A guard that tried to rescue her. I think it was Jadeite." Endymion slid an arm under hers and helped her up, he winced as it pulled on his own sore muscles and bones. It was lucky that they ended up here, and not somewhere that would have seen their weakness and tried to pry on it.
"How can he stand for this?" Serenity demanded, trying to do it without his help, she had seen his flinch and didn't want to cause any more harm to him.
"The King is bound to rules outside of himself. He must conform to the religious sector that plays a big part here. Bigger than it does in our kingdom."
Serenity had to accept it, she didn't relish the answer he gave her, but she accepted it as being concrete, there was nothing the two of them could do about it. They were visiting royalty, they weren't the royalty of these lands and the King would have tried everything to please them, but if his hands were tied, then they were tied.
"I still want to go down there. I want to see Ami one last time and be in the crowd, letting her know, she's not alone." Serenity wasn't sure if she was strong enough for that, but she had to be, had to be there for her friend who she had seen not even a few days previous. Ami was very important to her. Endymion sighed and left her again, with a kiss to her temple to see what he could do for her.
A few of the guards came back and they were carrying a chair with rounded edges so it would be easier to push along or carry. They lifted her from the bed and deposited her into it. One of the men stayed back with Endymion as they walked, trying to get their King to lean on him as he wasn't quite strong enough either. Endymion, if he'd had his way, would have carried Serenity himself, but he was limited and respected those limitations, so he could heal faster and be as good as new so he could care for her once more the way he wanted to.
They didn't speak the entire walk down. The King had a place far away from the crowd, high above them, but still within clear sight of the pyres that wished to hold the flames that would encompass those deemed sinners by this church. Endymion and Serenity were placed next to him, the guards moving back and around, to protect them. The King greeted Serenity with a bittersweet look and wished that their meeting had been under better circumstances. Serenity couldn't even offer up a sad smile as she looked over the large crowd, most of whom were rioting, but were held back. She was looking for her friend, but her curiosity got the best of her.
"Why do they riot? I was under the impression that crowds enjoyed this type of thing, even if individuals would swear by the fact that they thought it was horrendous."
The King tilted his head as he listened to her and then nodded. Endymion stood behind his wife, but he would soon tire, there was a chair next to her if he wished to sit. "They do riot. They riot against this disastrous act. The religious man behind it here has overstepped his bounds and they believe so as well. They, like me, cannot do anything about it. He is one man, backed by a large establishment, but if they knew his true motives, they wouldn't have agreed. They enjoyed your friend's appearance, found her entertaining and unique. I am sure that they wouldn't have even imagined calling the Cardinal into this matter if he hadn't already stepped in himself." The King looked pained. "The fact that now one of their beloved generals have been taken into this mess has only incited them to riot more. My men are only there to protect, to see that nobody is unnecessarily hurt."
Serenity thanked him for his explanation and turned her attention back to the crowd. She wanted to see her friend at the same time she really truly didn't. That would mean her death was seconds away. Serenity wondered what Ami was going through right now and what was being said and with whom. She felt something watching, or rather someone. She even caught a shadow falling onto the crowd that was not there before. It was an added shape that was on the cathedral's building. It was only a slight movement, but she had been looking so intensely at the crowd that she was the only one that noticed it. Her eyes lifted to the building itself and searched its facade for the being she saw.
Nothing stood out to her. She wondered if she was only making it up, that she had hoped that there would be one last chance for her friend. The sun was setting behind the cathedral and she shivered not from the cold, but what was going to happen now. This man had a flare for the theatrics. Endymion's hand rested her shoulder and she felt his presence behind her, and she was thankful for it. She lifted her hand and covered his, her grasp only in thanks right now, but as she saw her friend tugged onto the stage, it tightened until it was squeezing his.
Her beautiful friend was dressed in white cotton, the skirt ending at her ankles, a symbol of purity, hoping the gods would accept her soul with this act, despite all of the harm they say she did. Ami was being led by men, tethered to a rope and practically being dragged across the stage, though she was trying to walk with confidence. She fell to her knees, her hair wild about her, and the girl was as beautiful as ever. Ami raised her head and her eyes scanned the crowd as they pulled her roughly back to her feet and tied against one of the spires. She looked upon the crowd bravely and faced her fate with that attitude.
Her strength only faltered in her eyes for a brief moment as she caught Serenity looking at her with heartbreak clearly on her own features. Ami stared a long time, her bottom lip bit by her top teeth, before she nodded to the two of them, trying to be strong again. She hadn't expected that Serenity would be there for her, would sit and witness such atrocities, not because she wanted to, but because she needed to be there for Ami. There would be no other reason why she would sit and witness anyone's death. Ami was projecting that she was thankful for the support and love her friend was showing her. That Serenity's actions meant a lot to her. She was no longer alone in a sea of foreigners.
Ami's eyes pulled away from them and went back to the other prisoner they were pulling out. He walked more confidently and they weren't as rough with him. He was resigned to his fate and didn't fight. If Ami was going, then he had no where else he could be. Serenity didn't need to be a mind reader or told by him this was the case, his body language and how he only looked at Ami the entire time told her that clearly enough. Once Ami saw this man, she didn't look out at the crowd anymore, she only had eyes for him. They were staring only at one another. Even when the Cardinal came in front of them, his red hair at odds with his red robes, he forced Ami's head towards him, to ask, one more time if she repented, but Ami's eyes never strayed and she said 'no'. He let her go and walked away.
"Cardinal Ruben." Serenity was informed by the King. Her lips wanted to twitch in wry annoyance that yet another person had red hair that wanted to do her some form of harm, even if it wasn't to her physically or intended as such, but he was taking away her friend. That and even his name and rank played highly into his colors. A slight nagging feeling was felt at the back of her head, as if that name should have meant more to her. Wasn't that- but no, he'd died, didn't he? And he's a Cardinal. There wasn't a way for it to be possible. The cruel set to his mouth though showed Serenity all she needed to know. He was never going to let these two go.
She felt pressure on her shoulder and Endymion's fingers dug in, at first she thought he was trying to reassure her, but she realized that this was hard on him as well. She squeezed his hand and he released her slightly. He didn't move away or unhand her though. They both needed the other to watch this.
Night had fallen on them, but there was a torch lit on stage and a few more all around them. "I have asked once again if these two sinners repent for their crimes. They have not. I shall release their wretched souls from their body, in hopes that once released from mortal wants, they shall find their way up once more to God's Heavenly Gates."
Serenity tried to look away when he threw the branch of flames into the kindling beneath her, then another at Jadeite's feet. She couldn't do it, and she was clutching at Endymion's hand fiercely now as the flames rose higher, licking and catching onto Ami's dress. They were also attaching to the light colored pants of Jadeite and his white shirt.
Endymion was trying to move into her line of sight, to protect her from all of this, but the sudden tug on his hand, had him looking again at these two. Something was moving. Someone, many someones. There were the other gypsies releasing Ami and Jadeite but the Cardinal wasn't liking it and fighting them off, the guards were fighting them off and he grasped Ami by her hair, attempting to throw her back into the flames.
A man with a hunched back was upon them then, the two fought each other, Ami was released and fell against the platform at their feet, not moving. The hunched man pushed and the Cardinal fell into the roaring flames, being consumed by them, he was moving back towards them, reaching for the fallen girl, but he fell before he got close enough. Flames raced across the stage, getting widely out of control. Someone was picking up the fallen man and another was pulling Ami out of danger's path.
That was when Serenity did shield her eyes from the sight, the light was bright and it and the heat burned in the night air. Ami was fine and she had no intention on watching other deaths. They were moving suddenly as the crowd broke out into a full fledged riot. They were cheering and getting to their rescuers to help off the stage when last Serenity looked. Ami was stirring and reaching for the hunched man.
She looked now. "Where are we going?" She demanded as she realized they were moving away from her friend and the crowd.
"Into the safety of the castle." The King told her, resting a hand briefly on her arm. "You'll be able to see Ami soon enough, when things settle down. They won't be allowed to stay in this city for long, and then they won't be welcomed into our kingdom for much longer after that. It was one of my own subjects that had killed the Cardinal, but the Holy Oversee won't accept that for long once they find out."
"Are you going to go after them?"
The King laughed when he was asked that. "Heavens no, child, Jadeite is one of my favorites and Ami was quite an entertaining dancer. It would be a shame in losing either. However I need to at least appear to be doing so on paper. That's why they'll all have to leave. Perhaps you can protect them on the rest of your journey." The King was looking at Enydmion now who was, when Serenity turned her gaze to him, laughing silently.
Endymion was overjoyed to have Ami safe, it would be a burden taken off of him when they left Paris. Serenity wouldn't be in a foul mood about her friend and she could concentrate instead on healing. Hell, he liked Ami well enough himself, despite her ability to suddenly unload her opinions on him about why he wasn't performing correctly, although he'd heard no complaints from Serenity herself. He performed perfectly when neither of them were injured and probably even then, if he didn't fear hurting Serenity further by doing so.
"I am sure I can arrange something. My guards are in need of a few replacements. You could be sure to visit often, though I can never promise him as high of a rank as you've clearly given him if you're willing to bend for him like this."
"He'd be faithful to you above myself if you were to hire him on. I can understand your hesitancy though, so we shall both be grateful for whatever you can offer him. Even if it is only during the safe-passing, I wouldn't be surprised if he showed up again one day and pledged himself completely to you." The King was laughing as well and Serenity was a little confused what was going on. She had to keep looking back and forth from her position in being held by one of the guards. The others were carrying her chair. "Though I do hope you stay on longer than what is necessary for the two of you to heal properly. I wanted to get to know the new Queen."
"With the way things are shaping up, I'm not sure we'll be able to stay even that long." Endymion admitted almost as if he were sad to go. Serenity wasn't sure how she felt about this place at the moment.
"I'm afraid your wife doesn't share your sentiments about my land. She seems as if she's regretting staying even a moment longer."
Serenity jerked in surprise. "No! Sorry, I was just troubled. Ami is a dear friend of mine, has been since I was young. Any place that wanted to do harm to her, seemed like a place that I wouldn't want to spend much time in. However I do understand that what happened today has nothing to do with you. Ami had said that she had thought this place to be wonderful before this happened, so maybe I should give it a chance to find out what that meant."
The King nodded his head towards her and then a smile graced his features when they were already inside. "I see that you found the back way easily enough. Perhaps I shouldn't let you go." He wasn't talking to either of them and Serenity turned her head to see who he was talking to.
"Jadeite?" Serenity whispered in surprise and Endymion nodded.
"He might give you an in and it will be you that I have to worry about." The King though was only teasing Endymion.
"Might I stand?" She turned her attention back to the guard holding her and with a brief look over to her husband, she was allowed, but his hand remained at her waist, to help hold her up, and she was grateful.
Smoked and dirty from the ash, Ami and the strange small hunched man were coming out from behind Jadeite. The hunched man leaned on Ami for support and when Ami lifted her head, she saw her old friend and Jadeite took him from her so she could rush to give Serenity a fierce hug. Serenity held Ami, suddenly understanding what Lita felt when Serenity finally returned from the Duke's. Not that it was much different than what she was already feeling towards returning and knowing Lita was safe. Ami didn't sob into her chest and she seemed remarkably unfazed by the events, despite also being burned alive.
"Are you ok?" Serenity asked, wondering if there was a shock setting in.
"I'm fine." Ami beamed at Serenity. "Jadeite and I were ready to accept our fates, as long as we were together. Neither of us expected Quasimodo to come to our rescue. Now that he has though, I can breathe easier." Ami laughed as she realized she made a joke. "I was only worried about you and him. You I knew would bounce back, slowly, but you would. I didn't know what would happen to him if he remained with his surrogate father. I'm glad now that at least he's safe." She wasn't looking at the man she had been content to die with, but the other one.
Serenity now understood Ami's feelings. He was a brave and courageous man who had a lot of set backs. She was only feeling a little guilty that she chose the handsome charming one with the easy life. It wasn't what she planned, but she fell in love with Jadeite after meeting Quasimodo and had her heart go out to the shorter man, who had fallen for her. Serenity could see it in the mangled face as he looked at Ami. Always knowing that they couldn't be together, but stronger for the brief time that he had dreamed it to be possible.
"We're going to go in a few nights." Serenity's attention was caught by Ami as she explained it to all listening. Her heart grew towards the King who had planned something with them, but not sure if it was going to work and couldn't be responsible if it did.
"I'm going to stay here." Quasimodo announced right after her. Ami looked shocked and not more than a little upset. He held her hands in his. "It's my home and I never knew anything else. I belong in the bell tower. That's the place I want to be. I'd just get in the way otherwise."
"You'll fit into our band easily." Ami tried to protest, that was what she had come out here and had been set to do, the rest of this just got muddled along the way.
He shook his head and gave her back her hands. "I might, and I admit it might be fun, but I don't have the desire to travel and never be in one spot. I like being settled and I hope one day you may come back here and we can share our lives together once more."
"Meet us." Jadeite declared suddenly. "Ami told me of a place that she visits that is no man's land. Meet us there every year for a few days."
Endymion and Serenity shared a look at the reminder of that place and Serenity wondered what was happening now to Seiya, but that was a mystery she'd probably never find out the ending to. Perhaps some day when they went back again. "Serenity and Endymion will likely join us as well." Ami added. "Perhaps them and any future children. Lita too and her new husband."
"And Haruka and Michiru." Serenity added as well, trying to ignore Ami's suggestion that there'd be someone else with them. "They've all been there at one time or another, except Kunzite." Endymion lifted a brow with that knowledge, but it shouldn't surprise him too much. Serenity was well acquainted with the area.
Quasimodo seemed to think about it. "All right. I will probably need a guide though."
"That could be arranged." Serenity was thinking about sending Haruka and Michiru to do it, if not Endymion and herself.
"Let's not discuss all of this now. The Queen is looking piqued and you still have a few more days before you leave. This, tonight, is not a goodbye." The King chided all of them for making plans already, but they were all excited that all were well, or as well as could be. Ami and Jadeite had a few burns and bruises, and Quasimodo had a broken leg in addition to those. Other than that, these three had gotten off pretty lucky and Ami was smiling away between her two men. "Let us have dinner, or at least those who can stomach it."
A few more days found them on another journey, they were traveling through the lands between Paris and further north. They had several places that they had to visit and the amount of time they spent in each castle was diminishing as they had also planned to be home for the birth of Lita and Kunzite's child. That was fast approaching as there were only three months left.
Jadeite had agreed to be one of the guards, and Endymion and he were fast becoming friends. Serenity smiled to herself at the idea that Endymion couldn't make friends due to his position and thought of how many he had gained recently. He would have said it was due to her, but she would have had a laugh.
They traveled now with the gypsies and Ami and Jadeite had been wed under gypsy law and the party had lasted the remainder of days they had spent in Paris. Serenity had gotten to see a bit of it, and even marveled at the Notre Dame as Quasimodo showed it to them, already looking lighter and less gothic than it had previous to the Cardinal's death. He had been saddened those days over the loss of the man he considered a father, but had dealt with it the best he could. The church would remain what it was meant to be, a sanctuary for lost souls. A kind priest would be promoted from within the ranks and hopefully peace would reign over it once more.
Jadeite spent most of his time with Ami in her camp, but he also fulfilled the duties that Endymion had laid out for him for his position. Jadeite enjoyed being used again in any sort of capacity and relished doing those tasks.
Serenity was doing much better, she was able to walk around on her own and her wounds were healed enough that she could start with heavier tasks. Endymion still flocked over her and made sure she didn't do anything too strenuous. He was fairing much better as well. He had access to both his arms now and his ribs didn't hurt as much as they did.
They were traveling again this day, Endymion and Serenity on horseback, Kunzite had sent another guard on it after Paris. It was none other than Endymion's horse. The carriage was still pulled, but it held mostly their stuff. Serenity wanted to be out and looking at their surroundings, rather than hidden inside what had been there for mostly her safety. Endymion didn't refuse her. This way he got to hold her as well.
One of the members of the band reigned their horse to a halt and the guards tightened their position around the Royal Couple. It amused Serenity for a moment that title belonged to his parents only a few years ago and now it described them, something she never thought of in a million years.
Then her eyes caught what had held them up. "What is this?" She took the reigns from Endymion and they moved forward. She was annoyed and slightly angry. They were now in new territory and this wasn't any king she knew. He was an obvious king from where he stood on a raised platform, with his mother standing slightly behind him. "Why is it that there is a sudden wave of desire to burn maidens?" She asked them, not caring that they were on his land. "What are you doing?"
"This is my wife." The King gestured, taking in Endymion and knowing who they were instantly. "She is a sinner who has done something wicked. Why else would she refuse to speak?"
"You know, she could very well be just mute, right?" Ami questioned, pulling closer on horseback. "At any rate, what does not speaking have to do with anything? Has she been cruel or unkind?"
"No." The King admitted. "I do not want to harm her, but I have begged her to speak, to tell me that it is all falsehood, but she has done nothing of the sort. She never smiles or laughs either. If she is mute, it is god's way of punishing her for her sins. She won't even write down something to show me she is innocent."
"Could she have been a devout member of the church and undergoing the vow of silence?"
"It has been too long for something like that. Even they are allowed to break it if it comes to a life or death situation. No, her silence comes from much more sinister means."
"What sin could a child do? How do you know she has not always been this way?" Ami asked but the King had no answer. So someone else picked up, trying to stop this, though they did not know all of the background and probably had no right to intervene. Though they had all the right to their opinions after all they had gone through.
"Well if this is the kind of husband she has to look forward to, one that would burn her after marrying her, and knowing what she was like, then I wouldn't either. Smile or laugh, I mean." Serenity stated bitterly.
"Serenity." Endymion warned and left her on the horse as he got down and walked up to the other king. "Zoicite." He held out his hand and the other King shook it. "I do not know what would possess you to do something like this." Endymion's eyes took in the other woman. "Your father's last wife?" Endymion felt a little unease as he noticed that this woman had red hair as well. How many red heads were there on the mainland? He thought they all came from Scotland, or at least their genes.
Zoicite nodded. "This is Kaolite. She outlived my father and has become a trusted adviser."
Serenity struggled to get down and one of the guards helped her easily, Endymion hadn't wanted her getting that close, and she wouldn't have been able to manage it yet in her condition on her own. He held out a hand to her, holding onto her, but slightly behind her. Serenity looked over this woman with censure.
Kaolite said something to Zoicite, her words for his ears alone, but he sighed heavily. "We shall discuss this later. She has to be dealt with." It was as if he was being controlled as he jerked towards the blond held against the pillar. His actions were stilted and he waved for them to continue, the guards seemed opposed to the idea. His eyes were sad and hers were pouring out all of her love towards him.
Serenity tugged on Endymion's hand and he looked away from this towards where she was pointing. He saw twelve ravens above them swirling in the sky, already the vultures were waiting for her, he thought dryly. "I've seen them before. When we were at the library."
"Ravens all look the same." He told her, turning away, not believing her words as anything more than a side thought.
"No, Endymion, look." She pointed again and they were coming closer. "I recognize them, there is exactly the same number."
Endymion pulled her close, he believed her now, but he didn't know what the point was. So he asked her. "And?"
Serenity shrugged. She didn't know either, but there had to be a point to it.
Then all of a sudden the ravens were on the ground and they turned into men, just as the flames swelled around the girl in the center. Twelve men were suddenly pulling the logs away from her with their bare hands and putting it out. They released her and she smiled at them and laughed.
"Is that a person who does not laugh?" Serenity chastised the other king.
Zoicite shook his head in amazement. "I have never heard a sound so lovely."
"My love." She spoke. "I am sorry for my distance. I was looking out for only my brothers. I had already sentenced them to live as ravens for ten years, I could not be responsible for their deaths."
"Mina!" Zoicite gathered her close. "I am so sorry! Kaolite-" Then he hardened and looked directly at the redhead that was trying to slip away. "Arrest her!" The twelve brothers caught her before anyone else moved, they had been looking out over her as well.
Serenity laughed at how easy that was. "Seriously?"
"You don't know our story." Mina admitted. "You would have forgiven him for his misgivings after being married to me for two years and never a word, smile or laughter. I knew he was being controlled by her, but I could say nothing, not even write it down. That would have been cheating. Throughout it all though, he was kind to me. He was the perfect husband. It was not a surprise though that he had doubts. She exploited those doubts. But now things will be better."
"Please, Endymion, stay for awhile, and we shall share our story with you and perhaps you can share yours as well."
Endymion and Serenity shared a look before they both shrugged. "Only for the night." The guards and Jadeite offered up a slight protest due to the impromptu agreement. They hadn't had time yet to ferret out the location, make sure it was safe.
"It's been deemed safe before." Serenity reminded the guards when she was alone with them. "That hasn't made it so."
This wasn't a planned stop, but Zoicite and Mina made gracious hosts, though Mina was distracted between wanting to talk to them and spending her time with her brothers. Once she found her voice again, it seemed she could not be stopped.
"I think I liked her better a mute." Zoicite joked and his wife stuck her tongue out at him. "This is the woman I always thought she'd be. I love her more with each passing moment."
Serenity looked to Endymion, wondering if the man was serious.
"He's the most serious man I know. He takes his studies very importantly, this is the most laid back and impulsive I have ever seen him. It's refreshing. I do believe Mina is good for him."
The day and night had been entertaining and the gypsies added to the merriment, still within the celebration of a wedding, the night still dwindled to a close. The next day, like they had stated and despite the protests of not only Mina and Zoicite, but the twelve brothers as well, they had to be off on the rest of their journey. They had more than a day's ride ahead of them to get to the next castle.
The following night they camped out, Serenity and Endymion in a tent to themselves. The rest of the guards and gypsies and whoever else was with them were off doing whatever it was they wanted to do. Serenity and Endymion were too busy being wrapped up within one another after finally managing to subdue their desires within the other by finally being able to express it once more.
Endymion thread his fingers through her long hair as she lay on his stomach. She was wrapped up in animal hides to keep her warm, but she was starting to get over heated again as she looked up at him with a soft smile on her face. His fingers left her for a moment to draw a white hide across her cheek. "You are so gorgeous."
"Even now that I'm not perfect?"
She had been a little conscious of him seeing the wounds on her back. He laughed. "You were never perfect. I loved you just the same." She hit him with a pillow, she had been perfect and he knew it too, but it didn't matter to him. "Actually, now that you have a few scares, I think you're perfect. A few flaws to keep you human, perhaps, but now I know that I can't be the one to damage you."
He got hit with another pillow, but she knew he was only teasing her. "I'm just sad I can't say the same about you."
"You've healed all my scars." He kissed her. "I only hope that I can do that for you as well."
"You already have." She sighed into the kiss, bringing his head closer to her, he groaned as the position stretched his side he hadn't moved like that in awhile. "Sorry." She let him go, but he only gathered her up so he could kiss her properly in a different position. "Endy- you'll-"
"I'm just fine." He slid a knee between her bare thighs. "I've already shown you that once tonight." He proceeded to show her once more. She laughed as he moved quickly and showed her exactly how healthy he was. She kept up.
Across the Kingdoms there was a woman standing in front of a mirror that swirled in front of her. "Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the fairest on this land?"
"You, my dear Queen are fairest of them all, however two more dare to breech your record. One here, another visiting but has not yet set foot on your land."
The Queen snarled. "I don't care about any passing beauty, who is the fairest of this land?"
"You my Queen."
"Who is it that dares to compete with me?"
"It is only unexpected and unintentional, but she has not yet surpassed your beauty. I do not know if she will."
"Who is it?" The Queen was growing impatient.
"I cannot say until it is true." The mirror became quiet and the Queen shrieked in frustration, but she would get no answers this night.
They were two nights away from this Queen and that night they stopped once more to camp. They were too numerous to fit into an inn and wasn't many of their their ways. Serenity was looking in the carriage for something and it was Jadeite that had found her. "May I help you with something?" He asked, catching her as she was startled and slipped off the step.
Serenity laughed and pushed away her blond hair from in front of her face. "Endymion sent you to watch over me tonight?" When Jadeite didn't answer, she assumed she was right. "I am looking for my book. Hotaru gave it to me, and I wanted to finally read it. I hadn't been in the mood before this."
Jadeite frowned, he could understand that, he had been filled in on all of the difficulty she had gone through over the last year. He helped her search when it turned out it wasn't where she thought it would be.
Hotaru appeared before them as if by magic, startling both of them. "Serenity, you have let it out of your hands again?" She shook her head before reaching behind her and handing it to the blond again. Her eyes still blank and frosted. "Keep track of this, it is important." Then she walked around the carriage and before Serenity could say thank you, the girl was gone.
"How strange." Jadeite mused, wrestling his blond locks back into place. "Let me help you." He lifted the surprisingly heavy book out of her hands even as she protested. "You're not supposed to lift anything over 10 pounds." He was right and she was forced to let him carry it on the walk back her tent. He held the flap open for her, and bowed. "My Queen." She proceeded him into the main area, it was tall enough to stand in and had tables and chairs.
"Where is Endymion?" She asked, not having seen him for a little while.
"He is out by the bonfire. Would you wish me to gather him for you?"
Serenity smiled kindly at Jadeite and shook her head. "No, it is all right, I was only curious. Don't you want to be with Ami?"
"She is there with him, doing her show."
Serenity lifted a blond brow and looked at him teasingly. "And you'd rather be here than watch it?"
"Oh, she'll give me a private one later tonight. I will enjoy that one infinitely more than the one she gives the public. I can join her if I wish there. In the meantime, I promised your husband that I would watch over you."
"I have other guards. One that actually need to call me their queen, you're my friend's husband. You are allowed to call me Serenity."
"Queen Serenity." At the wrinkle of her nose, he realized she didn't like how that sounded.
"Too stuffy." She admitted when she realized she'd been caught. "Princess Serenity at least had a ring to it. Queen Serenity sounds like you're talking to my mother."
"Was her name Serenity also?"
"No. It was Isabel." Serenity was lost in thought a little at the mention of her mother, and Jadeite didn't press. He bowed his head and waited for her to continue. "At any rate, I try to avoid sounding stuffy at any cost."
"I could never imagine even the stuffiest title impacting your presence. Ami was correct when she said you were special."
Serenity laughed. "You do know how to flatter. Just don't let my husband see you do it."
"I shall wait outside until you deem it necessary to move on for something else." He inclined his head and went to go do that but Serenity called him to a stop.
"Please Jadeite. I know that you were good friends with your King. Let us be good friends as well. You are after all married to one of my best friends. Please sit down and join me. I am sure Endymion has a book or two that might pique your interest. I was only going to read mine for the time being. It will be very boring for you out there."
"I suppose you are correct. Endymion's new guard that had arrived after Paris has been making the rounds on the grounds. I would do better guarding you more personally and keeping you within eyesight." Jadeite took a seat across from her in one of the more comfortable chairs. He started reading one of the books Endymion had left out, but while it was pretty interesting, it didn't hold his attention as it should. His gaze kept monitoring Serenity and his surroundings.
She was aptly intrigued by her book. She didn't put it down, her eyes scanning all of the pages, looking at it closely, and turning the page only to go back and double check something. Her interest in the book did not wane until Endymion stuck his head in and took in the sight. He chuckled. "Something tells me I never have to worry about Jadeite making moves on the Queen."
"He is a flirt." Serenity countered, closing the book and putting it on the table. She stood to receive his kiss.
"You didn't have to stand." He whispered. "I could have come to you."
"I don't mind meeting you half way." She whispered back and he had a feeling they were talking more than just this kiss. He kissed her again, then pulled her into his arms so they were both facing Jadeite.
"A flirt, is it?" He looked Jadeite over. "I know I promised your last King, but-"
"It was harmless." Jadeite held up his hands and realized that some of Endymion's possessions were still in one of them. He quickly put it down, not knowing what he could touch, but knowing a few things were off limits in more ways than one.
"It really was. He was more interested in sharing how he was going to enjoy Ami's private dance tonight than to pay me any attention." Serenity leaned back into Endymion's embrace and Jadeite smiled at how obviously in love these two were.
"Something I never thought to be possible." Endymion gasped in outrage. "How could any man think of someone else in your presence?"
Jadeite was suddenly aware that they were putting him on. Truthfully doing so, but none of it was serious. "If you'll excuse me, my majesties, I shall be returning to my wife, whom you've had the pleasure in seeing tonight."
Endymion tilted his head to give Jadeite his by, and then when the flap closed again he gathered Serenity up between his hands and raised her to give her a proper kiss. She wrapped her legs around his waist and completely forgot about the book that she had wanted to share with him as he lead her into the sleeping area.
Later that night as he laid his head on her thighs, and she sat up looking down at him as they talked, she realized she needed to show him. She slipped her legs gently out from under him, despite his protests and kissed him, promising that she'd be right back. She wasn't wearing anything as she grabbed up the book and then returned, holding it in front of her as she looked at him. He turned his head, still in the same position she'd left him in. "I know I shouldn't be turned by the image you create standing there like that with that book, while you're in turmoil, but I can't help it. What's the matter?" He asked.
"Well, remember when you asked me if I had any more secrets I'd like to share?" He nodded, sitting up, realizing this had gotten more serious. "Well, at the time, I hadn't realized I had one this big."
"Get back in bed Sere, you'll get cold other wise and we can go over it calmly." He held the hides away for her to join him and she did, lying down on her stomach next to him and put the book in front of both of them as they rested on their elbows and forearms. "What is this?" He asked, running his fingers over the cover. "I've seen this before."
Serenity nodded. "Twice, I believe, once when we were at the waterfalls and the other when we were at my family home." She opened the book to turn it to the front page. "Look familiar?"
"That's you." He seemed genuinely impressed to see her in it. "Your hair is a little different. They look like meatballs." He mused, running a finger over her locks on the page. "And spaghetti."
Serenity laughed. "I suppose they do. Anyway, this me is reading a book called Cinderella. I recall another tale by that title, with the same author as this one."
"Isn't that the rags to riches tale? A servant girl meeting a handsome prince and he chases after her when she leaves a shoe behind?" He paused and started laughing. "Did you love that book? Is that what you dreamed would happen one day to you? Because, I have to say, it had."
Serenity nudged him playfully with her shoulder. "I never dreamed of marrying a prince. Handsome or otherwise. That's not the point. I wasn't a servant girl, not really, I always had my proper title. Lita fits this tale more than I do."
Endymion mused over that point for a while, he had to agree with her, it was. Serenity was only temporarily filling in the role of servant, Lita on the other hand had lost both her parents, was an orphaned servant and had married about as high as she could. In their society, it was Lita that had truly gone from poor to fabulously wealthy and the new perfect life by meeting a handsome man, by meeting a prince had set it into motion, but a different, highest ranking man had married her. Lita was the true Cinderella. "Then what does that make you?"
"I don't know. When Hotaru gave me this book, she said I was special, that I was the connection to these stories, but that this is only this life, that the stories that are in this book are something different than purely fictional. This is supposed to be a guide to me, to us."
"We don't get a Grimm tale then?" Endymion asked, putting weight onto his far arm to look at her.
"Grimm tale I don't know. I certainly think our tale has been grim in some ways. However a traditional one, I think not. I think we have a different fairy-tale." Serenity shrugged. "Haruka and Michiru don't get one either."
"I'm sure we could figure out one about them that they fit into. A farmer and a noble woman, sounds like every fairy-tale I've ever read."
Serenity sighed, she supposed that was true enough. "Also, not the point. Though since you have brought up all of my friends, I need to show you this. I looked at it before, but it didn't hit me the way it had this time. I've forgotten everything I looked at. I can't even tell you what's on the future pages, just what I read tonight."
She turned the page. There in the first story were Serenity, Lita, Ami, Mina and another dark haired girl. Ami had blue hair though in these pictures and they were all wearing highly inappropriate clothing. "The Legend of the Sailors." Endymion read the title. "What is this?"
"Hotaru said that the fashions and mentality are of the future, but it is rather strange, because she didn't say it was us in the future, just that it was set then. A future type of book or an imagined one. But I want to know how these girls." Serenity pointed at Mina and the other one they hadn't yet met. "How these girl were included into the story when I haven't even met them yet."
Endymion shook his head. He didn't have any answers. "Maybe someone had guessed that there would be people like this in your future. Blond hair and blue eyes isn't that strange and we haven't even met this other girl yet."
Serenity frowned at Endymion, he had a harder time believing in the mystical than she did, though after Setsuna's disappearing act with her dress shop, one would have thought he'd be more open to it. He was still trying to figure that one out. Serenity was still unaware that it existed. "There's more." She turned the page. "Our first enemy. Does she look familiar?"
Endymion's eyes turned to the page and he growled. "Beryl."
Serenity nodded. "I was reading this earlier. It says that she was in love with this Prince of a time long ago and when they had all been woken once more, she was still out to get him. She would stop at nothing, hating the one that had turned his head and would even try to kill her to get to him. That prince is the one that looks like you." She pointed to the man that was lying on the ground, but the girl next to him, shielding him from another blow was the one that looked like Serenity and who she was shielding him from was Beryl. "Beryl died in this story. Her name is even Beryl in this story. Tell me that's a coincidence."
"It's not. Someone knew it was your stepsister and knew how horrible she was, so included her into the story." Endymion tried to calm her.
Serenity rolled her eyes. "Then explain this one to me." She turned the page and the story was: Legend of the Doomed Tree. "I don't know about the rest of this, but look who the enemy is in this one." Her finger tapped against the two beings arm in arm.
"Ali and Ann?" Endymion took a closer look. "Were they even together yet when Hotaru gave this to you?"
Serenity grimaced, they had been, but only she and maybe one other person knew about it. "They lived." She added as an after thought. "I really wished I had sat down and read this entire book the night Hotaru gave it to me, but I have to admit, it spooked me, someone incorporating me into their book. I only glanced through a few pages. Being scared to dig too deep when I started recognizing faces."
"This isn't the Grimm style, they don't carry themes over from one story to the next, much less characters."
"Sometimes they do, but no, this is only Jakob's work. Wilhelm wrote the ones we're most familiar with."
Endymion had to admit he was kind of curious now. "So we have Ali, Ann and Beryl for villains. All of the ones we've met so far and the one we haven't as your friends, or lover." He was suggestive on that last part. "Even Kunzite, Jadeite and Zoicite are in here, kind of in between characters."
"They're all in order too, these enemies. First Beryl, then Ann, and then." She turned the page, and had to look away, there were too many people on that page that she didn't want to see. "I didn't finish it, but this is where I got when you came in. It's spooky. Nobody knew that they were brothers." She pointed out the Duke, whose name was Diamond in this story, and Sapphir, his younger brother. "Even Esme and that Ruben guy are in here, but with slightly different names."
Endymion studied the pages for a long time. He scanned all of the faces and he had to admit once and for all that she was absolutely correct. "Have you read ahead yet?" He slid his fingers into the pages further in the back but she stayed his hand.
"I fear that our next enemy will be on the next page, not so far forward."
"What about Kaolite? She wasn't in here yet." Serenity allowed him to turn the page and there were a whole host of enemies that these girls fought in this story, but front and center, with red hair and which had caused major problems for these warrior sailors was Kaolite after all.
Endymion closed the book and snatched it away, putting it on the ground next to them. Serenity reached for it, but Endymion held her hands gently within his and against his chest. "We just met her, and tomorrow we shall be in Bavaria. It is our last place to visit before we head home for a little while to take care of Lita for the last few months of her pregnancy then we set out again. I want you to think very carefully before we go again. If this book is to be trusted, then we will be facing a fair amount more."
"We haven't really faced any of the others, at least not any of the ones that didn't want to do either of us direct harm or had direct desires for us. They kind of just appeared along with some of the good guys and matters sort of worked themselves out with our interference, though even that didn't seem to help much as things were still going to happen even when we said no." Serenity argued. "So it wouldn't hurt to know what is going to happen in the future. What we should be looking for next."
"Like you said, we haven't managed to influence what happened in any way in this, our real lives. They just look and come in the order the book predicts. What good is it?"
"To know?" Serenity was sure he was right, things would happen regardless of whether they knew about it or not, and knowing about it wouldn't do anything. They couldn't change what happened in the here and now.
Endymion held it out to her to take back. "As long as you're understanding what this means. It's only an oracle, nothing more. I don't want you to get too worked up about it if you can't do anything. It is your book, Hotaru gave it to you, so you can decide what you want to do with it."
"You're just going to remove yourself entirely from this decision?"
Endymion laid back onto his hands, looking up at her. "Yes." His answer was simple. "This might be a big secret for the two of us, but to me, it doesn't matter. We only have to watch out for people with red hair or ones that work closely with them."
Serenity frowned down at him for a moment before looking at the book and shrugging. He was right after all. She couldn't change anything and they were no longer in a direct threat. Serenity put it to the side, she'd read more tomorrow after they got to Bavaria's castle. She settled into Endymion's arms. The book was silly after all, a guide book, but really what did they need a guide for?
A short amount of time later found them in Bavaria's castle. It was quite nice and it had a view of the river flowing by. There were three royals living at this castle. The King, his new wife and his daughter. The King was pleasant enough, but he went to go hide in his chambers for the rest of their visit. The Queen was in control of everything and she was quite lovely. She had dark hair, pale skin and dark eyes. She dressed like a queen and her name was queen sounding. "Queen Nehelenia." Serenity curtsied. "Pleased to finally meet you."
The Queen looked Serenity over, almost sneering at the girl's fresh-face and purity. "Likewise. I hadn't realized one so young would become Queen so fast. But you are very beautiful, that must have helped some."
"I am, I admit, younger than your stepdaughter." She didn't address the rest of the Queen's comment, neither in thanking for a compliment or defending herself for not using it to get where she was. Serenity shared a look with the girl, who was very beautiful and had a fiery personality.
The girl similar to her age was not at all cynical and seemed unaware of her looks, unlike her stepmother that kept adjusting her hair or fluffing up or looking into any mirror she happened by. "However I am of age in my country and was gifted with an excellent role model."
"Was that the one you had beheaded, or thrown into jail?" The Queen stopped to turn to Serenity with a bored look.
Endymion had gone off with some of the men to talk with their court. There actually was business to be attended to here, rather than just visiting and keeping appearances up. Endymion had left her with the Queen and Princess, assured she was in good hands, and Jadeite stood post not too far away. He took a step forward at that blatant verbal attack on Serenity. She held a hand, low so not to get anyone's notice, but for him nonetheless, to stay back, she could handle this. Serenity swallowed hard before responding to that outright attack. "Neither. I have had no excellent role model that has either been thrown into jail or beheaded."
"That was not your stepmother then that was beheaded for trying to put you into your place?"
"Attacking a child is never a place-putter. She was sentenced with a crime against not only someone higher than her in rank, but also someone who she was supposed to look out for. I am sure you can understand that, being a stepmother yourself."
"Please, Serenity my dear, do not compare us." Nehelenia begged, and tried to smooth out her face. "Your stepmother and I are infinitely different ages. She was old, and I am not Raye's stepmother, I am just the King's new wife and Queen. Raye and I could practically be sisters, that's how close we are in not only age and beauty but also the bond between us. We share almost everything with one another."
"That is not inappropriate then, you think?" Serenity cast to the side, not to be heard by Nehelenia but was heard by both women none-the-less. Raye laughed and her violet eyes danced as she looked at Serenity with more interest than before. The girl seemed to click at that moment, and was shining and more radiant than the Queen in Serenity's eyes.
Nehelenia was still bored with her and yawned.
"I am not the one that chose me, my husband did. Any inappropriate thoughts will have to rest with him. I love him, but if he married me, he must have realized how it would look. Similar to how your own husband and King must realize that marrying so young means he'll have a chance to do so again if you fail him."
Serenity had to fight to keep her eyes from rolling at this very shallow woman and instead found her stepdaughter infinitely more interesting. The two of them walked a short distance away from Nehelenia and talked when it was appropriate to leave the slightly older woman's side.
"Why are you not yet married?" Serenity asked Raye, she had to only be 20, maybe 21 at the oldest. She was Lita's age.
"I haven't found a male that would chose me over Beauty Pageant there." Raye admitted. "They come seeking a wife's hand, but then they get besotted with the Queen and forget all about me. I'd find it annoying if I didn't think that marriage was not for me so soon."
"I thought that too." Serenity sighed, thinking of her husband. "I never wanted to marry until after I was 21 and then Endymion and I met and it wasn't meant to be how I planned it."
"Mine will have to somehow sweep me off my feet."
"I'm sure it'll happen." Serenity tried to cheer her up, seeing how sore of a spot this really was to the dark haired girl. "Even if not now, who cares. It'll come to you when you least expect it." She paused and looked at Raye again. "Has anyone ever told you that you have the strangest attributes?"
"Never in quite those terms. Should I be offended?"
"No, of course not. It's just your hair is very dark. Dark as-"
"Night." Raye supplied.
"I was going to say coal, but yes. Your skin though is not like anyone else I have seen up here, it's practically-"
"White as snow?" Raye continued. When Serenity didn't say anything else, Raye laughed. "My mother's wishing came true. I have hair as black as night, skin as white as snow and lips as red as blood." Raye shrugged. "Everyone notices."
"It's actually your eyes that intrigue me that most. What shade of purple are they? Lavender?"
"Violet, actually." Raye ran fingers through her dark hair. "Nobody really gets close enough to look. Some say when asked that they're blue, and others say brown. I think people just want to guess and put their own personal preference in there."
Serenity laughed. "Propaganda. Which ever way people want to hear that's what they'll tell them or advertise on posters by coloring them different colors when they're in an area that likes one over the other more."
"Why would we need to propaganda myself?" Raye asked, more curious than anything else.
"Because all royalty needs to. Why do you think we're here? It's to not only introduce myself to the other kings and queens, but also to spread good humor between the nations."
Raye and her got along fabulously. They were polar opposites in personalities, but somehow that lent a hand to their friendship. When it was time for supper, Endymion came up to her and pulled her into his embrace, leaving her with a kiss she had no difficulty in translating. Then when they walked to go eat, Serenity whispered to Endymion as they followed behind Raye. "Doesn't she look somehow familiar?"
Endymion shrugged. "The likeness between her and her stepmother is uncanny." He admitted. "Other than that, no."
Serenity rolled her eyes at her husband, he was sometimes blind to what was right in front of him and she had to give him a little leeway with that, he had his mind preoccupied with about a million other things that she didn't even begin to understand and he still managed to remain relaxed with her and focus only on her when they were together, pushing everything else away. She stopped briefly to tug him close so she could kiss him and then they were walking again, him not knowing what that was for, but not complaining.
All through dinner, it was only Raye and the Queen and it passed kind of slowly. Serenity picked at her meal, but it was a little off to her, but it didn't taste as bad as Lita's cooking recently. The others ate without complaint too. Then they all went into the hall for a little while, listening to Raye play the piano beautifully. Nehelenia seemed bored by it and brought in other musicians as well. Raye didn't blink an eye but transitioned smoothly into her stepmother's desires.
That night, Serenity found herself wandering the halls as everybody else got ready for bed. There was a guard trailing her, but not too close to be bothersome right now. Serenity ducked her head into random rooms and she looked around before moving on. Then one room caught her interest. There was a tall, free standing mirror in it, but that's not what caught her attention completely, it was the Queen looking into it and speaking to what seemed herself.
"Mirror mirror on the floor, who is the fairest of this land?"
Serenity moved away without waiting for a response, not expecting one and continued on her walk. If she had waited a moment longer, she would have heard the mirror speak back to the Queen. "My Queen it is but true that you art fair. Alas the title of the fairest has fallen from your grasp. You are not even two on this land."
The Queen grew angry, how was it possible that in a day she been removed from it completely? "Who is the fairest?" She demanded.
"The visiting Queen holds that title. She is the fairest of them all."
Nehelenia had to retain herself from smashing something, most likely the mirror she was looking into as Serenity appeared before her. She gripped her hands into fists and asked more calmly. "She is not of this land."
"She is of this land and hers and all lands together. She is the fairest of them all."
"If you ignore the damn Queen, who is the fairest of them all?"
Two more faces showed themselves in her mirror. "The gypsy brat is only fair for now, but soon her charms wont hold." Nehelenia growled. "She is not of this land."
"True, but she has no land to call her own, so where ever she is, she is of it."
"The last one, number three."
"Is tied for two, but is no you." The mirror spoke in rhyme and it was one thing that the Queen was ready to expunge if she could do anything about it. "It is the fairest Princess Raye that is the answer you seek. She was always fair and number two, but her heart has grown so beautiful, having met the other two, that she now grows stronger than you."
"If these other fairs leave this land, who is the fairest of them all?"
"Once they who travel find the home they seek, Princess Raye shall be fairest here and you shall be number two."
The Queen was furious, it was one thing for someone to come in and claim that title instantly, but for her stepdaughter to have flourished so and instantly? The Queen would have to do something about that. She could not harm the visiting Queen, nor her friend the gypsy queen, she had to take care of her stepdaughter and her alone. Perhaps once these visitors left, they did not want scandal to reach the furthest corners of the globe, not until Nehelenia was once again the fairest of them all.
Serenity pulled her book out as she and Endymion sat on the bed, he had his arm around her and was looking down with her at the pages. "Here. A woman obsessed by mirrors is in this story too. Says she trapped the souls she did not like in them as they challenged her beauty. They fed her and aided in her own once they were there."
"She does look like this Queen, and Raye does look like the last girl that you showed me the other night." Endymion sighed and rested his cheek against her head. "What do you want to do?"
"I don't know what we can do. Nehelenia is shallow, but I don't think she would hurt Raye. Or if she did, this isn't our land to do anything about it. But Raye is my friend and I want to help her."
"Well if we really are living a fairy-tale, she'll need a prince or high classed noble to wake her from the spell."
"What spell? Not one of us have been under a spell." Then she realized that what happened with the ravens and Mina wasn't natural. "That was just plain odd. A trick of some sort." Endymion agreed with her on that point and they put it from their mind. Magic didn't exist, not even in Germany.
"I'm surprised you didn't get me on the needing a prince part."
"She doesn't, but I said that once before and look where I ended up." Serenity laughed, hooking a leg over his and looking down at him. "I'd hate to see what that would mean for someone else if I were to say it again."
"This isn't so bad, is it?" Endymion slid his hands up her legs and rested them on her hips.
She hummed a little and it sounded almost like a purr. "I don't know... It would have been a much simpler and easy life had you been poor."
"You wouldn't have looked at me twice." Endymion was only teasing. "Even at the beginning you assumed I had a high rank."
"A high rank and being poor do not always have to be separate." Serenity was teasing as well and she turned her head and moved all of her considerable blond hair over to the side and it poured off her shoulder. She lowered her head so her lips could brush along his jaw.
"As you've shown."
"I was not poor. I had no access to my money or was unable to use it, but poor I was not."
Endymion laughed as she said that. "That my dear is true enough, isn't it? But what are we even talking about or why? I can't follow when you do those things like that with your tongue."
"So you want me to stop?"
"Hells no." He flipped her over so she was on her back and was ravishing her lips. She was laughing as he showed her exactly what he wanted her doing.
Afterwards they laid there in each other's arms, warm and happy to be with each other. The rest of the world didn't matter and didn't really exist. Endymion stirred a little to drop a kiss on the top of Serenity's head. "So what do you want to do about Raye and her stepmother?" It really was her choice and whatever she wanted to do, he'd help make it happen. She was actually the better expert in this than he was. But he wasn't sure if it was because it was truly a poor relationship between them or if stepmothers were instantly regarded as evil. Each that they'd seen so far fit that category but not all mothers were bad and neither were all stepmothers.
Serenity shrugged. "I'm not sure what we can do. It's only something I've read in a book. Nobody else would believe it. You don't."
"I'll believe anything you tell me to. But really its up to you. We can try and solve this matter together."
"I think its best for now to sleep and wait to see what happens. I'm not even sure yet what I believe, myself."
He hummed his agreement and brought her closer into his embrace. It might have been warm out, but he wanted to be pressed up against her at every conceivable spot along her length. "Good night." He whispered down to her, already falling asleep. She snuggled in, appriciating the warmth he gave off verses that from the warm breeze. Her eyes fluttered shut as well.
And so they slept
The next day Serenity and Raye were riding horses together. "Where would you like to go?" Serenity asked Raye.
"The Black Forest." Raye's answer was almost instantaneous, she had not waited or thought about her response. "It is a magical place. Not real magic though." She chided when she saw Serenity's face. "But as soon as you step into the tree line it becomes impossible to see. Even torches are impossible to be used as a guide. It is dark and scary in there. Only places that you can see are little clearings but they are far and few between and nobody reaches them."
"Then why do you want to go?" Serenity asked, shivering a little at the thought.
"Because it is someplace forbidden." Raye thought about this place with great desire lusting within her to go see it, if only once.
"I hope that you do and that you can map it all out."
"If I could map it out, it would no longer be fun or uncharted." Raye complained. "I'd rather get totally and bewilderingly lost in it for days, and never come back to this place."
"It's breathtaking here though." Serenity tried to argue but Raye wouldn't hear of it.
"I hate it here." Raye replied back and Serenity knew something of her feelings and so didn't say anything else on the matter.
"I'd always wanted to explore." Serenity said without being asked. "I thought becoming a princess, then a queen would lessen my chance but I've seen things, had a bit more authority, been explained to, more than I ever would have as a commoner or a countess. It was a lucky turn of events."
"I'm glad." Raye smiled, truly glad and it was the first time Serenity had seen her smile like that, and Raye felt like she hadn't smiled like that in such a long time. Serenity just brought the best out in her. "I think we should explore together one day."
"I would love that." Serenity agreed readily. "Though my husband might have a protest or two."
Raye laughed. "I suppose I can make allowances to have your husband along as well. Just... no kissing in my line of sight, it's a little odd. I've known Endymion since I could walk, I always thought of him as some kind of brother-in-arms. He never wanted to stay put, and I never did either. It seems that you're a perfect addition."
"Glad to hear it." Serenity leaned down and pet Endymion's horse, he had insisted and the horse gave an appreciative snort. Serenity glanced slyly at Raye and then at the guard nearest to them. "What do you say to a full out run?"
"Are you sure that would be advisable? I know you're still healing-"
Serenity bobbed her head and came up next to Raye and they both stopped, waiting. "On the count of three. One."
"Two." Raye continued.
"Three." Serenity finished and they both sent their horses into a gallop. Raye pulled her reigns back a little to move her horse into a canter, it was faster than the horse's gallop, she had such a strange horse that that was true. Serenity though kept hers in a gallop as it was smoother and didn't tug too much on her back. It was a close race, but Endymion's horse pushed through and started gaining distance.
"Serenity!" Raye's voice carried over to her and she turned her head to look back at Raye who was frantically trying to get her to a stop. A tree limb went over her head, missing her because she was crunched over to look back at Raye and then she was shrouded in darkness. The horse stopped instantly on its path, jarring her a little, but she only flew into its neck, and not over.
"Come on boy, let's go back." She attempted to turn it around, but it refused, walking backwards instead. Serenity remembered to keep her head low, she couldn't hear anything outside of these woods, not even Raye. They backed out slowly and then suddenly once more there was light. Serenity now that she was looking could see it clearly, the light then the dark.
Raye was standing there frantically yelling for her and when Serenity was out once more, Raye breathed a huge sigh of relief. "That's the Black Forest."
"I can't believe its so near your house."
"We're not that close." Raye pointed off into the distance and Serenity could see the castle, but only barely on the hill.
"How'd we get here so fast?"
"We both have fast horses." Raye was still looking at Serenity with relief in her eyes. "Come on, let's go back, I'm sure we've risen alarm now."
They met back up with the guard more than half way on their return, going slower now. Serenity patted the horse beneath her again, it was such a steady and good spirited horse and now she knew it could ride like the wind. The guard was red-faced and sputtering at Serenity for being so... so... "Stupid?" She supplied and he held his tongue, wishing she hadn't done that and had been more cautious instead. "We're both fine. Don't worry." Serenity tried to soothe, but he was more worried about her husband's rage than her reassurances now that he found her safe.
When they got back to the stables, Raye went in first and Serenity followed, each finding their stalls. Serenity swung her leg over the back of it, but found hands on her, pulling her down and into a warm chest. Then lips were nuzzling her neck just below her ear. She got an appreciative buzz from the male and she pushed lightly against him so she could get a better look. "If my husband knew what you were up to, he'd have your head for daring to think you could get away with this. Endymion?" She blinked at him in feigned surprise.
He grinned at her and slid his hands done her back, cupping her and pulling her up against him. "You think another man would dare touch you like this? Who?"
Serenity was lost to his lips going down her throat and towards her neckline. She could barely think with him doing that. "What other man?" She was confused and he smiled into the kiss he left at the hollow of her throat.
"Good." He lifted his head and seared his lips over hers. "I've missed you."
"I haven't been gone that long." Serenity was starting to get a little more clear headed as he let her move away from him slightly. There were others around and they were in the stables on another's land. This was not the time or place to lose themselves completely.
"Long enough." Endymion just held her close and kissed the side of her face, trailing kisses along her cheek and then stopping at the corner of her mouth. "Too long."
Raye knocked and stuck her head in. "Serenity? Are you coming out- oh, hello Endymion." She nodded to the man and a blush managed to make it up Raye's neck as she realized what she was interrupting. "Sorry, don't mind me. I'll clear this place out, if you'd like."
"It's really all right Raye-"
"Thank you. We'd like that very much." Endymion cut off whatever Serenity was going to say and Raye closed the top portion of the gate so no one could see in and then she started herding people out as Endymion closed his mouth over Serenity's once more. At that point she had no more hope in staying lucid. He lowered her onto the straw that was for the horse and had his wicked way with her, but it was only fair, as she had her way with him as well.
They only stayed a few more days after that and then began their journey home. It wouldn't take too long going this way as they weren't back tracking in a half circle, but going fairly straight, having to avoid only one kingdom on their way, but it was a pretty small one.
On the way home though, they came across a brown haired man struggling with his horses as they got stuck in the muck. Endymion sent most of the men out to help him and got down as well. Endymion clasped the man's hand and pulled him out, as he wasn't getting much done being stuck himself. "Thank you, King Endymion."
Endymion grinned at the man. "No problem, Prince Nephrite. I'd like for you to meet my wife." He brought him over to meet Serenity who was still atop of the horse, wanting to see and this was the best position to do so. The men were still working with the horses, but they were succeeding.
Serenity slid down and didn't need Endymion's hands that were there in case she needed them. She took one though in hers as she came forward to greet the Prince. "No guards, no carriage, no servants. I can see why Endymion knows you by sight."
Nephrite laughed heartedly. "I can see why instantly Endymion chose you as his bride." He turned his attention to Endymion briefly. "Careful Endymion, or she might flay you alive."
"Only if she is angry and I have no intention of seeing that side of her any time soon."
Nephrite's hearty laughter was heard once more. "It is good to see you my friend. I was just enjoying a bit of solitude, I hadn't realized that you would be coming this way."
"We're not on your lands." Endymion reminded him drolly. "What kind of solitude are you hoping for?"
"The kind that brings me to a beautiful and enchanting woman. I can't steal yours away, can I?" He smiled charmingly at Serenity. "I'd make for a more interesting companion than Endymion. He's rather boring when he's not on a mission to explore."
"That's all right." Serenity smiled warmly at Nephrite. "He's already competing against another male's affections. I'd give him a break before I gave him two."
"Another male?" Nephrite seemed astounded. "Who could that be?"
The horse answered for her as he rested his snout over her shoulder and snorted a warning at Nephrite who was getting too close. Serenity reached up and rubbed his nose. "It's hard to beat that combination." Endymion admitted, also rubbing the side of its face. "I've never seen my horse so devoted to another being but myself."
Nephrite nodded. "Well then, I'm off to find myself a bride. Not just anyone will do. Thank you for your assistance and your men's." Nephrite smiled to Serenity. "Pleasure to meet you, I hope one day it will be for longer." He swung himself over onto one of the horses, why he had three, she didn't know.
"Wait!" She called out suddenly, an idea coming to her mind. She didn't want to send him on a wild goose chase, but she had been reading her book again last night and this struck her as the perfect opportunity. "There might be a maiden as fair as the snow, as dark as the night and as red as blood, who seeks you too."
Nephrite lifted a brown eye brow in curiosity and Endymion was looking at her as if she was high. "And where do I find such a maiden as she?"
"Check first at the castle in Bavaria. If she is not there, then all of your efforts shall be commended if you search the Black Forest, but be wise and be careful for it is not an easy thing to search." She had warned Raye too, but couldn't say too much, for it was only a guess.
Nephrite gave one more deep laugh. "Dearest Serenity, I thrive on the uneasy. Good bye Endymion, Serenity, if I succeed, then you shall have a wedding to attend soon." He gave his horse a kick and then all of them were running off in the direction that they had just left.
"Is there a reason you've set Raye up with Nephrite? He's a scoundrel."
"If he could change for any girl, it would be for Raye. If any girl could change him, Raye would be the one." Serenity teased him and Endymion stole a kiss from her before plucking her up and putting her back onto the horse.
The journey took a few more days, but finally they arrived home by dinner time.
"LITA!" Serenity called as soon as they arrived back at their home. She jumped off the horse and hugged her friend fiercely. She got a similar reaction and the two had so much to talk about. They were talking over one another in their excitement. She had been difficult to hug with the belly protruding like that but they managed. Endymion and Kunzite greeted one another too, they did a 'manly' hug. Jadeite cleared his throat as he helped Ami down from the cart that held the shabby looking traveling home. Inside it had almost all of the gypsy tents, but also served as a bed for the women at different times during the trip.
Lita turned to look at the two of them, hugging Ami, pleased to see that the smaller brunette hadn't been hurt too much afterall. She was even giving a chiding when Jadeite cleared his throat again. "I know this is not the nicest thing to do and might actually be a bit rude, but I'm starving. Do you know where I could go to get a bite to eat?"
"Nonsense my boy!" Tamas clasped a hand onto Jadeite's shoulder. "You will eat with us tonight!"
A few faces were made, and Lita snorted. "You can come eat with us." Lita persuaded. "I make a mean meal."
"That's right." Kunzite commented as an aside to Endymion, but Serenity still heard. She ignored it as Lita didn't seem to hear or take offense. She was too busy eying Jadeite.
"Who are you?"
"My husband!" Ami beamed and slid her arms around his waist, her hands dangling dangerously low to improper.
"Also one of my newest guards." Endymion added for both of their benefits. "It is only fitting that the two of you join us for the evening meal. Once things settle down with the Holy Church, then we will again revisit your status here. Perhaps by then you'd like to stay or follow Ami to wherever she directs you."
Kunzite had a lot to say about that, but Lita was having an epiphany moment. "Oh! I have so many more items to add to the meal tonight! I hadn't realized we'd be having so many mouths to feed! Kunzite and I had just been dining with the Queen most nights. Sometimes Haruka and Michiru would join, but for the most part I wasn't feeding the rest of the castle and we weren't sure when you'd get back." She was scolding them for their rude arrival but at the same time she couldn't be too angry as she hadn't left Serenity's side for long.
Then Lita was running off. She wasn't anywhere to be seen unless one happened by the kitchen and Serenity was intending to do just that, but Lita's orders were to be left undisturbed, the servant told the Queen in no uncertain terms. The servant was more afraid of Lita than her Queen. Serenity would have been offended if she wasn't so greatly amused. Catching up with Lita would have to wait until after dinner and then it would be nearly impossible for Endymion to pry Serenity away from her friend's side. Kunzite would have worse luck. It was already predicted by the men and neither had to be psychic to do it.
Then she realized that she hadn't even said as much as hello to her lead guard and friend's husband. She had been so excited by everything else going on that it just happened to slip by.
Luckily that was rectified as dinner was being served soon. "I thought you were going to find her a distraction away from there while she was pregnant." Serenity was not looking forward to eating Lita's food any time soon. She gave Kunzite a firm hug as she asked him. Kunzite returned her question with an answer.
"While you were gone I had a choice to make, either a fretting Lita or a busy one in the kitchen. There isn't much else that can distract her. We've been putting up with her meals ever since you left."
Serenity frowned at that, she'd missed Lita, but she'd also been really busy. Maybe if they had sat around doing nothing it would have been worse, and Serenity knew it would have. She didn't realize how much she missed her friend until they were sitting and eating and Lita wasn't there.
"Why isn't Lita up here?"
"It's finished and in front of us."
"She's got more parts to the meal to make. She's been going all out and making feasts with several courses these last couple of months."
"But she didn't make this soup." Serenity protested.
"Yes she did."
"But, then has she gotten better at reducing the amount of seasoning or able to taste it now and actually gauge the right amount?"
"No..." Kunzite drawled, not sure if he had just gotten used to Lita's cooking that he couldn't tell if it was good or bad and just assumed the worst.
Endymion's eyes found hers and he seemed dubious. "It's as god-awful as when we left, maybe worse."
"No it's not, it tastes good. Better than the food we've been eating since we left." Serenity defended her words.
"Lita's not in here, you don't need to praise her cooking." Endymion was serious, he could hardly eat it. "I'm hoping now that we're back, she can stop cooking and concentrate on having her baby. Maybe then I'll be able to eat some decent food in my own home."
Endymion's eyes hadn't left hers and there was sudden dawning in his gaze, followed by escalation and it paralleled Serenity's own emotions.
Ami butted in with a whoop. "I knew it would work! I'm amazing!" Jadeite tried to throw a hand over his wife's mouth. This wasn't their situation and should stay out of it, but Ami wouldn't have it and removed the hand from her skin. "I'm going to be here to be wet nurse, nobody can stop me, I won't leave until I have a healthy baby in my arms to give to the mother!"
Ignorant of all that was going on besides what she and Endymion were conveying to one another, Serenity's jaw dropped open and she couldn't find her voice for a moment, but when she did, she only had one word. "Oh."
EAN: So, I have to admit, that the original version of this story had a lot more obvious overtones to it. Serenity was underfed and abused by her step-family, more so than there was here. She was too skinny and the clothes she wore while serving were over sized and more like rags, having a rope to tie them in place. Then as I started writing this, I had thoughts of making the scene with the Duke a little less pleasant, but I felt that was over done. All of that was. So I cut it out or changed it to a bit less disturbing. I'm happier now with this version than I was before with those things in it. Also the the story with her father was a lot more complicated than I had written this time around. Which you probably didn't think that was possible, did you? There was also no prologue. I felt like I was rushing the characterization without it, and this way I could show rather than tell the love between father and daughter without the over the top forced in your face way the original had. The story however of the original version ended long before Serenity and Endymion met. She had been heading into town. The rest of this story was ideas that had popped up long ago and what I had intended to write, but never got to. However I hope this time it is a little less descriptive on scenery and a little more mature in style.
I am quite amazed that I have finished this story for you, I never thought it would happen. I only did so with a few others, Upon a Flash being the other that springs to mind right now. However these two stories have one thing in common, I sat down and wrote them without much for disturbance. Without that, I might never have finished this one or even that one. Both of them I kind of got to a point where I knew the ending and I just didn't feel like writing, but I forged on, not because I had to, but because I wanted to share it with all of you, who were patiently waiting for it. I guess it just goes to show that if I don't finish a story within a month, then it will take me awhile to do so. That isn't to say that I won't eventually finish, but you'll get distracted stories thrown in while you're waiting. Upon a Flash and this one being prime examples of distracted stories. However ones I have finished it took me time, but I was finally happy with them, and I hope you liked them too. A story that took me years to finish, but managed it, was Ties that Bind. I'm hoping that can be an example not only to you to not get too frustrated by the lapse in time between chapters and completion, but for myself as well, as I use that as a reminder that I can finish these tasks that I have set up for myself.
So, without further ado, this story has completed. Let me know if you'd like a sequel, I have a lot of ideas running through my head, if you want them, but I doubt it will be focused on our lovely Serenity and Endymion. Though I might also throw in another fairy tale for you guys that has nothing to do with this story with them being the main character. Inspiration has been pretty good to me recently... haha...
Fin Editing: 3/14/2012
Fin Editing part deux: 4/18/12 (though might still go back over whole story again)
1 day short of a month since I overhauled and posted.
6 years since I began with the idea and laid out all the stops.
266 pages. 1 page over 265. Yikes. Longest story yet.
both present and mentioned
Charles D'arte- Serena's father
Serenity D'arte (Serena)
Isabel Kennedy- Serena's real mother
Esmeraude Inverno-D'arte (Esme Inverno)- Serena's stepmother (By the way, Inverno means "winter" and I chose that because it was Italian sounding compared to the french sounding name of her husband, as well as I visioned them all as winter and cold creatures. Also, truthfully, it was a few days ago and late at night and winter was the first word to pop in my head as being appropriate for them, but in Italian. Also it sounds kind of like Inferno, which goes well with some of the imagery I've created for the three girls.)- Emerald
Antonia (Ann) Inverno- Serena's youngest stepsister.
Beryl Inverno- the older stepsister
Edgar Viola- King
Desideria Viola- Queen "longing"
Endymion Darien Viola- Prince
Adelita (Lita)- "noble"- cook best friend/sister- Cinderella (I know, I had you believing it was Serena who would be Cinderella the whole time, sorry)
Haruka Amada- "Beloved"- best friend
Michiru- Noble, mirror and accessory shop owner, good friend
Duke- no real name, but considered Duke of Diamonds by Serena, or just Diamond
Duke's brother- Sapphire- attacker
Tamas "Twin"- Taiki
Ruben- Rebeus- Cardinal from Hunchback of Notre Dame (And somewhat/somehow father of Esme's kids. Not really possible since he's the Cardinal of France, but at the same time, he never seemed 100 percent Cardinal like in Hunchback to me. So why not? Or since he's such a strong character, he's a twin or there's two of him somehow magically. I don't really care what answer you come up with, it'll probably work out.)
Raye- Snow white
Mina- The Twelve Brothers
Kunzite, Jadeite, Nephrite, Zoicite- The "Princes"
Kaolite, Nehelenia, etc- The Evil Queens/Step-mothers
The Kings, other stories mentioned, ask and I shall share where they came from, possibly.
Anyone missing? Actually, now that I think of it, it is quite a big ensemble of a cast.
Please leave me with any final thoughts you might have. I have enjoyed writing this, and am so excited to be finished. I loved reading a lot of your reviews (though some had me scratching my head). But all had been entertaining and inspiring. Please don't stop now. :)
Also if there is any specific story line you guys would like to me to write about (I have given you a few), just vote in the poll or leave me a message. Love to know which to focus on.