Usagi's fingers softly brushed Mamoru's and he instantly responded, taking her hand in his, intertwining their fingers in comfort and support as they silently stood together. Beside them someone sniffled quietly, the sound almost whisked away by the soft breeze through the budding trees. She could sense Makoto and Rei reaching out to comfort Ami, but she did not see them. Usagi's eyes focused only on the ground in front of her: on the grass that was just starting to flourish, the tiny blue and yellow spring flowers that poked out of the ground in small patches, the fresh earth piled by the shovel to her right. The rectangular hole in the ground at her feet.
Everything was supposed to have been okay. Everything should have been fixed, and yet now, as once before, she felt as though she were standing on the edge of an enormous precipice, looking down into the black depths and feeling so intensely that she wasn't okay. It wasn't supposed to be like this. It was supposed to go back to the way it was before – her friends, her beloved friends, had all come back to her. Her love, her Mamoru, came back, too; she squeezed his hand to reassure herself that he was actually there; he squeezed back, only confirming that this was in fact not a dream. She wished it were.
Three had been left behind at the cauldron.
Her eyes brimmed with tears, but she forced them back. That's not what Luna would have wanted, was it? Her heart constricted and she focused on the ground again. On the hole. It was so small… so dark and lonely. But it would be okay. Luna wasn't here anymore. Luna was with Artemis and Diana in the cauldron. She wouldn't be put into the ground. She wouldn't be buried. She wouldn't be left behind in the dark. The tears threatened again and again she fought against them, using her grip on Mamoru to center her. This wasn't real – she had seen what was real, she had been there. Luna wouldn't be alone. She would never be alone!
Footsteps through the grass worried her – she knew who was coming, but she couldn't handle it. Not now, not yet. Maybe not ever, but still the footsteps advanced. Far too soon, Minako was there, a small wooden box in her arms. Hotaru sobbed quietly. Michiru pulled her back, held her; the young girl pushed her face into Michiru's blouse, wrapping her arms about her mother's waist as she watched the box in Minako's arms and cried. Briefly, Usagi wondered if Chibi-Usa was doing something similar in the future. Was she, too, holding her mother close as she watched the little wooden box? As she watched her best friend be put to rest? The tears came again and this time, Usagi didn't stop them.
Her best friend was in there. Her mentor, her guide, the single person who was there through everything, from the moment she became Sailor Moon through the hardest period of her life, always offering support and comfort and asking for nothing in return. Luna had always believed in her, even at her worst, even when everything was falling apart. And she never doubted, not even once, that Luna had loved her. Had Luna known how important she was to her?
"Artemis," Minako shook violently, her hands gripping the box as the whisper seemed to tear from her throat of its own accord. Tears, fat and heavy, splashed down on the wooden top as she sniffled greatly, shaking her head to ward the others away as both Rei and Setsuna stepped forward to help her. Usagi could hear Ami crying again as Minako bent down, her tear-streaked face determined as she knelt in the grass before the small, gaping hole.
Don't put her in there! Usagi's eyes were glued to the box, as though she could see the three cats through the casket and by sheer force of will make them come alive again. But nothing happened, nothing except the box lowering, Minako's hand guiding their loved ones down into their final resting place. She couldn't see the box anymore.
They weren't coming back.
Luna was gone. Forever. Her breath caught in her chest as Minako leaned over to scoop up a handful of dirt off of the pile. Her hands paused above the hole, hovering in place as though she, too, were waiting to see if something miraculous might happen. But it didn't. And it wasn't going to. Luna wasn't here anymore. Neither was Artemis, or Diana. They were gone. They had moved on.
Usagi let go of Mamoru's hand and bent down across from Minako, cupping Minako's hands in her own. Her fingers were cold, and at her touch Minako seemed to melt, to break in some way. Together they released the dirt, listening to the cascade of earth fall upon the little wooden box in a steady, peaceful stream until it was quiet again. Holding hands, they knelt there for a few moments more, quietly mourning their friends, trying to let them go. Finally, they helped each other stand. Hand-in-hand, they moved away from the rectangular hole in the ground and returned to their friend's sides, turning to look once more on the little patch of Earth. Usagi reached again for Mamoru's hand; Minako reached for Makoto's, Makoto for Ami, Ami for Rei, Rei for Setsuna, Setsuna for Michiru. Hotaru, her face red from crying, stood back and took both Michiru's and Haruka's hands. Haruka and Mamoru completed the circle.
Fate had brought them all together. Power granted them new life. Destinies intertwined to determine their future, but two little cats had started it all.
Usagi felt lighter. She closed her eyes squeezed Minako's hand, and in a moment felt a squeeze from Mamoru. They were all together. They were as one. She took a deep breath, a sound that echoed all around her, and held it, thinking of Diana, the tiny purple kitten from the future, of Artemis, wise and loyal, and finally her little black cat with the 'crescent bald spot'. She exhaled, letting them go, knowing they would find happiness. "Luna," she breathed in farewell.
When they opened their eyes a great crystal spire was before them, rising up within the encircled gravesite to give Luna, Artemis and Diana a strong and beautiful headstone that seemed to touch the sky. It reminded Usagi of the Crystal Tower of the Moon Kingdom, the Pillar of Prayer Luna had prayed to when Usagi struggled to defeat Chaos's first incarnation on Earth, Metallia. A faint smile tugged at Usagi's lips with the understood meaning: it was time. With a Crystal Tower of their own, a new kingdom could be built; Crystal Tokyo was still in their future, whether they had lost their important friends or not.
A thousand years later, the Crystal Spire stood enshrined in a new Chamber of Prayer, this one opened to all residents of Earth. Children, women and men of all ages visited the shrine to pray for love and peace, wisdom and clarity, courage and luck; hundreds of people passed within its marble hallways, and everyone knew the names of the three cat statues that stood watch over them all.