Arranged Marriage

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Ch. 14 Festival of the Stars

Minako kept one eye on Ami as she manipulated the controls, landing the shuttle on Venus. She could see the royal guard standing at attention waiting for them to disembark, but that wasn't what really held her attention. Ami had been silent since they left Mercury. What was even more interesting were the looks she kept giving Rei. It wasn't like she was staring at the Martian or giving her the death eye, but she just kept glancing at her to the point that the rest had noticed. What annoyed her even more was that it was making Rei extremely uncomfortable.

"Ami," she finally snapped, "is there something on Rei's face?"

Ami and Rei both flushed at the comment as Ami's grip on the controls tightened.

Responding quietly she said, "No. I just have something on my mind and believe Rei could help."

If it had been anyone else Ami would have expected them to drop the subject then and there. Unfortunately for her it was Minako and she should have known that that answer would satisfy her leader in the slightest.

"So what is the question?"

Just then the shuttle made a uneven landing. Each person grab for something to anchor them in their seats as the shuttle tilted on its landing pad to the right. Ami held on turning the steering hard to the left trying to tip them back. Finally she was able to even them out.

Ducking under the stares Ami quickly unbuckled her harness straps and left the cockpit.

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Pulling her tunic over her head she grabbed her dress off the floor throwing it on her bed in frustration. They had only been there less then six hours and she was ready to move on to Mars. Then again maybe they could just return to the Moon. Eltanin had been annoying compared to Dabih. The king of Mars had come yesterday to open more trade between their two kingdoms but the looks he continued to throw in Rei's direction had her gripping her knife a little bit tighter with every hate filled look he sent her.

Seginus had been in attendance for dinner as well. He had taken it upon himself to change his name to Adios a few years ago. Most of the dinner he attempted to monopolize her attention however she kept interrupting Dabih when his comments grated on her nerves about Rei and her lack of skills. Even Ami and Makoto had started coming to Rei's defense when Rei would not. Soon her Mother had addressed his lack of manners and he remained silent for the rest of the meal, but no one missed the disgusted glances he kept throwing her way.

Serenity had seemed oblivious to everything surrounding her.

A knock on her door drew her attention away from her thoughts.

"Enter," she called.

The door cracked open revealing Rei.

"Minako," she said.

"Please come in."

Rei looked around Minako's room taking in the stuffed animals and other décor. It was how she always pictured Minako's room would look. Just being with Minako gave her a sense of peace she had sorely missed. Ami had just finished speaking with her. At first she was angry then just sad before she finally tried to be indifferent to it. Ami swore she would never tell which cause Rei to feel better but with Ami continuing to say that she didn't view her as different was a balm to her soul. The little Mercurian had even joked with her about holding back and next time they sparred she expected Rei to not hold back. The last comment Ami had made to her as she walked away was to tell Minako, everything.

It was that thought that sent her running to the last place she thought she would want to be, but it was the only place she could honestly say she wanted to go. The idea of Minako knowing would be great. But…if she told her then would Minako like or maybe say she love her because of their past or because Minako loved her for her and not who she pretended to be back when they were children. She could be honest and say she had fallen for her friend. The days they spent on the Moon were cherished memories. If they had stayed Rei could have seen herself confessing once they were a little older.

Arms wrapped around her holding her close. She could feel Minako's breast pushing against her back. She wanted to feel them sans clothes.

"Are you okay Rei?"

Swallowing she choked out, "Yes."

"Did you need anything?"

Shaking her head no Rei went to leave the embrace except she found herself being held tighter.

"Sleep with me? I need you Rei."

Nodding Rei let herself be lead to bed and when Minako pulled her into her arms she was sure there was no place she would rather be.

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Looking up, her breath caught as Minako descended the stairs. At the urging of Queen Akiko they had all agreed to head to the festival tonight. It was called the Festival of the Stars or the Lovers Festival. Many Venusians believed that if you searched hard enough you would find your one. If you found your one and confessed then you would live a life full of love and happiness forever. Serenity had stared at Rei with dreamy eyes for the rest of dinner earlier that night. Dabih had scoffed at the mere word love. He had been more interested in striking up a trade agreement that suited him all day.

They were all waiting on Minako to join them and the waiting, it Rei's opinion, was worth it. Golden silk, which left Minako's flawless shoulders bare to Rei's gaze, wrapped around her slim frame causing Rei to catch her breath. Minako hair was even let down, flowing down her back as graceful as water.

She also noticed Minako wearing more jewelry that night than she had ever worn when they were children or in the time they had been on the Moon. Aside from the earrings and an ornate armlet, Rei could make out a necklace with a fine silver chain that dipped into Minako cleavage. It drove Rei a little wild that she couldn't tell what the trinkets were. A small part of her was jealous because it was touching skin she very much wanted to caress her–self. Adios had stepped forward to receive her as she came to the last step, but Mianko was pleased to see Rei cut in taking her hand within her own, escorting her down.

Serenity huffed before turning to head for the door. Makoto offered up her arm to Ami. Ami smiled, took a quick peek at Rei and Minako then followed their princess out. Adios excused himself after being on the receiving end of one of Rei's glares, catching up to the rest of the group.

"You look absolutely ravishing tonight, Princess Venus." Rei whispered to Minako. Minako could feel her face heat up as she watched Rei's violet eyes burn with a emotion she had never seen before. At least she had never seen it on Rei. If it had been any other person then she would believe that they wanted to pull her into a dark alley and have their way with her. Getting a reaction like that from Rei actually wouldn't be such a bad idea.

"Thank you kind lady. Shall we?"

Minako asked before pulling Rei out the palace doors and into the very heart of the city.

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Makoto handed over the stuff unicorn to Ami with a smile. Retuning the smile Ami hugged it close then took Makoto's hand as they continued on there way down the row of booths. Serenity was kneeling down next to the goldfish scoop trying to get a fish. They had noticed that whenever Adios tried to get closer to Minako she would move closer to Rei, which cause Rei to glare at Adios. A few times, much to everyone's' amusement, Rei would look between her hand and Minako's as the Venusian princess kept their fingers locked together, swinging them lazily as they walked together.

Pulling Rei off to the side Minako asked, "You okay?"

"Yeah, I just don't like him sticking around."

Lightly placing a kiss on Rei's cheek she silently wished and wanted to know the feel of Rei's lips against hers. Would she be gentle or passionate? A mix of both? If Rei ever made love to her would she be warm like the hints of personality Rei hardly ever shows but when she does it makes those around her feel on top of the Galaxy. Or cold? Minako couldn't imagine Rei as a cold lover. The times they slept in the same bed, which were becoming habitually, she felt so cherished. It wasn't often but the few times Rei would let her hold her through the night; it was like they were getting back something long missed.

"Then stay by my side okay."

Taking a quick peek around Rei bent swiftly returning the earlier peck. "Alright. Just stay by mine too."

Serenity ran over then shout, "They are about to start the boat races."

"Boat races? You mean the races when a set of loves row across the lake and grab a apple, eat it together then race back?"

Everyone but Ami stared at Rei stunned by her question. Rei realized her mistake as soon as the words left her mouth. There was nothing like that on Mars and even on the Moon few mention Venus and anything associated with it around her. Minako was just starting to share things she once shared when they were younger and Rei had never corrected her either. She remembered the time they went to the Moon's version of the Stars Festival. Minako had been so embarrassed about the fact Venusians did the event naked.

Puzzled Minako asked, "You know about those races. I thought you didn't know any Venus customs."

Waving off the question she just shrugged.

Frowning Minako nodded. Where could Rei have learned about that detail?

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She considered the food stations they passed before asking, "Is anyone hungry?"

"I am!"

They all laughed at Serenity's enthusiasm. Rei smiled. "I'll go get something. Be back soon."

Minako moved to go after her but before she could Serenity grabbed her wrist.

"Can you all head back so I can speak with Rei alone?"

Minako blinked as a sick feeling came over her. Serenity was going to confess. There wasn't a good enough reason to refuse. She couldn't come out and say she wanted Rei for herself. She still had to find Akima and end that before she felt like she could approach Rei. Inclining, she turned away to leave. Adios caught her hand leading her away. Makoto and Ami left as well. Their only thought was that this wasn't going to end well.

Returning with the Kani Pan Rei was surprised that the others had gone leaving her with Serenity. Handing her one of crab shaped breads Rei started walking back towards the palace. She heard Serenity's step fall in behind her. Maybe she could court Minako. Have Minako fall in love with her then after she was sure of Minako's feelings then tell her everything.

It could take a bit.

Minako did not seem interested is Adios.

Maybe…

"I love you Rei-chan!"

Rei halted her steps. She kept her back to the Princess. This wasn't a conversation she wanted to have. She just wanted to get back to Minako. Serenity couldn't have picked a more ill timed confession. She had never given Serenity any hint that she returned the princess' feelings. Why was Serenity pressing this now?

As coldly as she could Rei spat, "Your physical well being Serenity, is all I'm interested in. I swore to give my life for yours but my heart was taking by someone else many years ago. I'm not interested in taking you as a lover or as a wife."

"But, Rei–chan…"

Clenching her fist Rei still didn't turn around. "I love someone else Serenity. I always have and always will."

"But…" Serenity felt tears spill out as Rei continued towards the castle. Not even noticing her passing of Ami and Makoto.

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"I feel bad for Rei."

Makoto lead Ami back towards the castle but they silently agreed not to wander too far. They both had a good idea of what was about to happen. Minako wasn't please with leaving and Adios was only too happy for the chance to have her to himself.

"I know. She'll break Serenity's heart. Are you okay, Ami?"

Clasping her hands behind her back she shook her head. "I think so. But I'm not sure. I'm glad you've been so patience with me. It's all I could have asked for."

"Anything Ami." Hesitating for a moment she asked something that had been on her mind for a few days. "Is everything okay with you and Rei. You've been giving her strange looks since before we left Mercury."

"We're fine," pausing she searched for the words. "I…I cracked the file. And before you ask no I won't tell you what's in it and I will never tell Minako. I feel bad now that I did. We spoke and Rei isn't happy with me but we've reached a understanding."

"At least tell me if anyone is in danger."

Ami stopped walking. Took a deep breath then let it out. "When we get to Mars I fear she will be."

Makoto sighed. She was hoping to hear the opposite.

"Then I guess we will just have to protect her along with each other and the others."

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It was a nice walk but all she wanted was to be with Rei again. Seginus, Adios, she was having a hard time making the adjustment to thinking of him with a new name, kept talking about things she really had no interest in. She simple nodded and hummed where appropriate and whenever he would try to take her hand she would discreetly step aside. When she realized they had come to a stop on the castle wall she hoped the evening was over and she would be able to return to her room and hopefully to Rei. She hadn't missed how eager Serenity was to be alone with Rei.

Turning to face her he got down on one knee asking, "Marry me Minako?"

Minako felt all the color leave her face at those words.

"I would be a strong husband," Adios continued. "I would rule our people wisely with you at my side. There isn't a day when you would wonder whether I was there or not supporting you. You know we belong together."

"Seginus…"

He shook his head from his kneeling position. "It's Adios now. Minako I love you and no one will love you like I do."

"No. What you feel isn't love Seginus or Adios…whatever you call your self now. It is possession. And I'm not a object."

Standing to his feet he paced for a second then met her eyes. "Why? You refused me as children. Your mother refuses my suit. I am everything a Venusian should be."

"I don't love you. I never have. You were my friend and I can't see you as anything else." Taking a deep breath she kept going, "Not like I love someone else. Their whole being consumes me and even though I barely have her friendship it is enough just knowing we're friends. I want nothing but the best for her. To see her smile. To see her laugh. I want her at her best but will always love her at her worst."

Glaring at his princess he lashed out, "I curse you Minako, Princess of Venus. I swear by the Goddess Aphrodite that your love will be hopeless forever!"


A/N

I'm not really sure about this chapter. Or any of the new chapters I'm posting. Oh well. Please let me know what you think.

To Y: Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed this story so far and Purr For Me. Scent is out now. And I hope to have Masquerade done by October. If you want to read part of it you can find it on my fictionpress account under the same penname. KM Rune has some meaning to me, which is why it was chosen, but I'm glad it made finding it easy for you. And please, if you think others will enjoy let them know and lol leave a review. ^_^

SportyReader: Not a problem. Thank you for asking and caring about the story. Means a lot.

Thank you to each person that took the time to read this story.

Thank you to those who left a review. I enjoy reading them.

Thank you to those to continue to come back and read.

Best Regards,
KM Rune