From The Balcony

She watched from a balcony as her princess – soon to be her Queen – danced with such grace and poise that every eye in the room inevitably drifted to her. Serenity – and she was Serenity now, not Usagi, never again Usagi – was a vision of loveliness with delicate footsteps and elegant lines. Her gown, an ethereal silver thing, drifted around her in rippling waves. Her smiles were as delicate as her footsteps and her laughter a charming twinkling of bells.

Haruka bit the inside of her lip to hold back her scream. This was wrong. This woman... this woman was not her Kitten, not the little dumpling whose innocence and unwavering enthusiasm for life had won the love of the most difficult of the Senshi.

This was not her Usagi.

It was not even Sailor Moon, who had a strength of heart that Uranus could barely begin to comprehend, who was the only one whose opinion truly mattered other than her beloved Neptune.

No, Usagi – Sailor Moon – would never dance like that. She was all clumsy movements and coltish steps, and though she was beautiful, she was nowhere near delicate or elegant. Her smile was wide and infectious and, if her laughter sounded like bells, it was the booming bells of a cathedral, not this twinkling string of chimes.

Haruka hated it. She loved Serenity, she did, but she adored Usagi and was humbled and awed by Sailor Moon and she missed them both terribly.

And the others did too. Haruka could see it, in the quick, regretful looks when Serenity said or did something that Usagi never would have. In those moments when Usagi would be all brightness and cheer and Serenity was simply quietly content. During the times when Sailor Moon would leap forward and Serenity took careful, measured steps.

They – all of them, Haruka included – had pushed her towards this destiny and had never stopped to think, to realize what it would mean for the girl they knew and loved. And Usagi had let them – smiling the whole time – and Haruka wondered if she'd known, if she had realized that they would destroy her.

She wondered which was better. For Usagi to have known and not said anything, or to have never realized at all?

Both thoughts were painful.

So Haruka continued watching, gripping the balcony too tightly, and keeping vigil now just as she had in a past life. This was her punishment. Her atonement for ever allowing this to happen.

And if Serenity ever looked up at her with sadness in her eyes for the self imposed castigation, Haruka never saw it.

Just as she could not see Usagi anymore. Even when she was right there, hiding behind more mature eyes.