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Ai no Senshi

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“Princess Venus.”

Turning at the voice, Venus welcomed her companion with a brief nod. “Lord Kunzite.”

“It appears that we are once again sharing our respective…guardian duties for the evening.” A small smile tugged at the general’s lips as he held out his hand.

“You mean our babysitting duties,” Venus returned with a smile of her own, placing her gloved hand in his and allowing him to raise it to his lips for a formal kiss. “It’s quite all right to be honest in my presence, my lord. I shan’t speak out of turn.”

Kunzite laughed heartily, releasing her hand. “This is what I like best about the people of this kingdom. Always so direct, calling a spade a spade.” He shook his head regretfully. “Earthlings tend to be a much more evasive lot.”

“I’m sure that is why it has taken so long to form a treaty between our two worlds,” Venus agreed. “It is fortunate that your present prince appears to share our frankness, and that our current queen is willing to gentle her tone.”

“Fortunate indeed,” he murmured, glancing significantly across the glade in which they stood. “For them most of all.”

Venus let out the tiniest of sighs at the sight before them. Princess Serenity, her dearest friend and future sovereign, sat happily under a tree in the arms of Earth’s warrior prince, Endymion. Less than a month ago, the prince and his entourage of four generals, led by Kunzite, had landed on the Moon with orders to broker a peace treaty between their two worlds. Such a treaty had been attempted several times in the last five hundred years, and each time it failed. King August, the ruler of the Earth, believed his son to be the most skilled diplomat the royal line had ever produced, and he came willing to stay however long it took to find a common ground.

Venus has stood with her fellow Senshi, flanking the queen when Endymion disembarked, and as soon as her eyes met those of the prince, she knew.

As heiress to the Throne of Aphrodite, there were certain aspects of life she could simple not ignore. True Love was one of them. The moment Endymion and Serenity met, her vision was proven correct.

Courtiers muttered that it was a forbidden romance, that the people would never submit to an Earthling as their king. There was simply too much bad blood between the two races. When the queen asked her, directly, if anything could be done, Venus could only shake her head.

“It is as it is,” she replied simply. “Their love is written, and so it shall be.”

Queen Serenity was wise enough not to argue with Fate, but others, Venus knew, would not be so intelligent. Theirs would be a road fraught with difficulties and filled with much pain and suffering. But it would endure, as all True Love did. That was the way of things.

For now, she could at least take pleasure in their joy. While neither royal could truly be without guard, the Moon Senshi and Earth Generals had agreed to a rotation each night. They would simply observe from a distance and ensure the couple’s safety and privacy. As Kunzite had noted, he was more often than not her companion on these evenings, which gave her equal amounts of pleasure and pain.

Serenity’s True Love was not the only one who had arrived from beyond the stars.

Try as she might, Venus could not keep herself away from him. They were eminently suited for one another, both in personality and temperament. As the leaders of their respective royal guards, they both knew the importance of duty and sacrifice, and their devotion to their charges was always their first priority. Like Venus and Serenity, Kunzite and Endymion were the best of friends, and the general would gladly give his life to protect his liege, as Venus would do in a heartbeat for Serenity.

Based on their similar lifestyles, common interests were a given. They both had a deep love for martial arts, swordplay, and meditation. They preferred to be out of doors as much as possible, and neither could sit still for very long without becoming restless.

And, though she would never admit it unless pressed, Venus could not deny that he met her every ideal of physical perfection. Tall, broad-shouldered, and possessed of a deceptively lean frame that masked a latent strength, he was her match in every way. She dreamt more times than she cared to admit of burying her fingers in his thick silver hair, gazing deeply into his ice blue eyes as he lowered his lips to hers. Her hands clenched in her skirts simply recalling those visions, and she thanked all the goddesses above that Earthlings possessed no telepathic abilities.

Venus was fighting a losing battle and she knew it. She’d informed Queen Serenity under no uncertain terms that True Love could not be thwarted, so she’d best get used to the idea of Enydmion as a son. And yet here she stood, attempting to hold her own destiny at bay.

But she had no choice. Though she would fail in the end, she knew she must fight against it. The royal family of Venus did not love. Myth said they could not, though all knew better. It was her task to be the Guardian of Love, not to experience it. In all their history, the few rulers who’d succumbed to the emotion had met bitter ends.

The irony was not lost on the current princess. She must give her life to protect Love, but giving into it herself would bring about her own destruction.

It was a risk she could never take. Not when she had Serenity to protect.

So she spoke casually with Kunzite about his life on Earth, his duties within the royal guard, and his pleasure at their successful treaty. She smiled warmly when he gestured to the happy couple reclining under the night sky. She joined him in wishing them happiness.

And when they parted for the night, she allowed him to once again to place a gentle kiss on the back of her hand. Her heart fluttered, and she forced herself to remain still, her eyes lowered, lest he see the combination of pain and longing reflected in their depths.

Her strength would fail her eventually. Kunzite was intelligent and observant, and she could feel the passion sparking within him already, burning as intensely as the fires of her homeworld. He would never force his attentions on her, but she could not hide the truth forever, and if he believed even for a moment that his feelings were returned…

The road before her was paved in ruin, but as she allowed herself a moment of weakness and gazed up at his strong profile, Venus had to admit that she could think of no one better suited to walk such a path at her side.

True Love did not conquer all. Such was the stuff of fairytales and stories for children. But it did endure, no matter the hardship. Perhaps, just perhaps, that would be enough.