.moon by night

For the Love of Venus by alizeP

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Minako was lost in her thoughts for the reminder of the ride and was surprised to see her new home growing on the horizon. The ride back had been silent with the only sounds being those of the horses’ hoofs hitting the ground and the idol talk of the guards who escorted them back. It was close to sun down when they returned and Minako was hardly surprised when he told her that he would train with his guards first and to have dinner without him if she wanted. How much training could he do every day, she wondered to herself? How much training could these guards take on a daily basis? As they approached the entrance to the castle Kunzite instructed one of the guards to see her safely inside while he and the remaining guards rode off towards the training grounds.

She watched them ride off, sighing to herself. ‘Is it me that he’s trying so hard to avoid?’ she thought. ‘We have barely exchanged words with each other in the few weeks that I’ve been here. Why would he negotiate with my father to marry me if he had no interest? Perhaps he was forced to by his Prince? I wonder if that’s what I’m worth to him – another assignment – another order to complete – another conquest. Could he really be so cruel as to use me that way? I haven’t seen him speak with the other women in his home and none have been to his quarters, not since my arrival anyway.’

“Do you need help dismounting?” Her thoughts were interrupted by the guard next to her.

“If you would be so kind,” she said, flashing a smile at him. The guard was all too happy to oblige. He dismounted his horse and walked over to her, helping her to slide off the saddle. “What is your name so that I can thank you properly?” she inquired.

“It’s Adonis, I am second in command to General Kunzite,” he said bowing to kiss her hand.

Her eyes took in the sight of him, acknowledging how similar his uniform was to Kunzite’s. Obviously he must hold some rank to be dressed so well. His uniform consisted of the same brown pants and knee length leather boots. Instead of the General’s white shirt, his was a deep blue with silver piping. Adonis smiled at her and she could see his blue eyes light up with a hidden excitement as he stood to his full height, several inches taller than her, but still shy of meeting Kunzite’s tall stature. His wavy blonde hair had a disheveled look to it as if he ran his fingers through it after rolling out of bed in the morning. He was handsome certainly, but there was a look in his eyes that gave her a feeling of apprehension. “Thank you, Adonis. I’ll be sure to tell Kunzite how helpful you’ve been.”

She attempted to pull her hand away but he squeezed it tighter not wanting to release her yet. “He’s a fool you know.”

“Should you be speaking of him that way?” She wanted him to release her hand so that she could return to her room, not wanting to continue this conversation.

“If you were to be my wife, if I were to be so lucky and of such nobility, I would never send you off by yourself to be escorted back by some other man. I would never leave your side being so enchanted by your beauty.”

“Thank you, Adonis, but perhaps I should go inside now….”

He took a step closer to her, a space no more than 6 inches separating them. Again she tried to pull her hand back but he wouldn’t release her. “I don’t think your master would appreciate -.”

“He only sees what he wants to, Minako, and he chooses not to see you.”

His cool voice and the serious look in his eyes hit her like a wave of ice cold water. Does he really choose not to see her? It was an interesting choice of words, yet they seemed to describe her relationship with Kunzite quite well.

“Have we met before?” She searched his face for some sort of familiarity but found nothing.

“No, we have not.”

“The way you look at me….it’s as if you’ve known me.”

“Adonis!” Kunzite’s voice growled from across the stable. “Minako, I want you to go inside.” He dismounted his horse and approached the couple.

She looked from Adonis to Kunzite and then back to Adonis again, realizing the compromising situation he had put her in. She pulled her hand back and looked to Kunzite, “it’s my fault, I tripped and he was kind enough to catch me before I could hurt myself. The whole thing was so silly really. Imagine tripping over my own feet like some -.”

“Enough, Minako! Adonis, I want you to head out to the training grounds now. I will not have dissention in my ranks. Is that understood?” Kunzite spoke to Adonis, but Minako could feel his eyes on her and she knew that this would not end well between them. Adonis looked to Minako, stepped back and bowed slightly before heading out of the stable leaving Kunzite and Minako alone.

“I’m sorry, it’s not how it looked, Kunzite,” she mumbled looking anywhere but at him.

He closed the distance between them and placed his hand under her chin, bringing her eyes to meet his. She flinched at his touch, not knowing what would be coming. Her reaction surprised him and he wondered how much he truly scared her. She had always seemed so strong and unafraid during their confrontations. At times he even questioned if maybe she was enjoying herself. “Minako….” He started, stumbling for words. “You should not allow yourself to be cornered like this. There are some people who will look to take advantage of you.” Her gaze softened at his words, although his eyes still looked down on her, angry at what he had seen.

“I was only trying to thank him for his help.”

“Then I would advise finding other ways to thank my men. “

“Are you suggesting what I think you are suggesting?” She asked, shocked that he would insinuate such a thing.

He let his hand fall from her face. “I can only tell you what it looked like, Minako. What would I have seen had I come in sooner or even a moment later?”

“Perhaps you wouldn’t be asking me that question if you had simply escorted me in yourself instead of sending someone else to do your ‘duty’.” She could see the anger building on his face but she couldn’t stop herself from continuing. “Tell me, does it make you more angry that one of your guards touched me or that others may talk about what they might have seen? It has always been about your reputation – making others believe that we might be the contented couple when really you would be just as happy to have me out of your sights.”

“I have warned you time and time again to watch how you speak to me –“

“And you would do the same to watch your tone with me! My father may have sold me to you, but I will not sell myself to someone who has such disregard for me. I have tried to make the best of this situation yet you have done nothing to welcome me into your home. Why have you brought me here if you don’t want me? I will not be locked up in some tower to be forgotten about.” She took a step back and inhaled a deep breath to calm herself. When he didn’t immediately respond she decided to bring an end to their encounter. “I grow tired of this argument. I will see myself in alone.”

With a swish of her skirts she headed into the castle. He exhaled the breath he had been holding, his anger still getting the best of him. He hadn’t meant to be so firm with her, but yet again she managed to get under his skin and he had never before dealt with a woman who hadn’t succumbed to his will with a single look. He turned on his heel and headed out to the training grounds, his cape flapping with each brisk step.

Minako entered her room and shut the door, shaking with anger at their argument, but proud that she had responded to him. By all appearances she had won this round, but what would happen at their next encounter? She looked around her plush room that felt more like a prison than a place of rest. This was obviously one of the best rooms in his home yet she felt no comfort in this fact. The furniture was made of oak, and the cushions on the couch were covered with a soft gold cloth, embellishing the refined look. The couch was accompanied by two high backed chairs surrounding a small table that was meant for entertaining. Her favorite spot was the chaise in front of the window where she would sit for hours. Despite the luxury of the room, there was very little else. There were very few personal items of hers on display since it was only a matter of time before she and Kunzite would be married and she would be moving into his room. She felt fortunate that he did not force her to share his bed right away, instead allowing her to wait until their wedding day. Perhaps that’s why he kept her around for so long - curiosity.

She left her room to walk around the castle, trying to work off some of her anger at the whole situation. It was only a matter of time till she was forced to confront him again and she needed to be ready to apologize for her actions and her harsh words. If her father had heard her talk back to her new master like that he would have torn into her and reminded her to act more like a lady and not like some commoner. ‘Nobility has its price my dear Minako and we must pay it every day. No man will marry you if you show that you are anything less than the noble woman that you have been raised to be,’ her father had drilled into her head. Well she wouldn’t have minded not having a man to marry – not if it cost her the freedom that she craved. Kunzite was protective of her to the point that he would not allow her to interact with anyone of the opposite sex, not even the stable boy. Yet he would not show any real interest in her either. His mixed messages left her feeling confused and frustrated because she could not bring herself to hate him for his actions, yet she had a hard time trying to build a relationship with this man.

After a half hour of wandering the halls, she found herself stepping out onto a spacious balcony overlooking the training grounds. She watched as the figures below practiced their sword fighting – it was like a choreographed dance for these men having spent so much of their lives doing just this. Once she had heard that only the most elite soldiers were permitted to train under Kunzite. Now she could see why. She searched the group of men for one in particular and found him fighting off two different men at once. His concentration was fierce and unwavering as he fought to disarm the soldiers. At a closer inspection she recognized one of the individuals that he was sparring with – it was none other than Adonis. With what looked like minimal effort Kunzite was able to disarm one of his opponents leaving him to face off with Adonis. After a few minutes it seemed like this sparring match was becoming a much more intense battle of wills rather than a training exercise. Was Kunzite fighting for her – or was it for nothing more than his ego from what he saw in the stable earlier? Some of the other guards were stopping their matches to watch the two men, staring in awe at the skill both men welded with a sword. Then with a spin, a slice of the sword and a kick it was over. One man lay on the ground with the other man’s sword to his neck.

‘How savage,’ Minako thought to herself. Couldn’t there be a better way for these two men to settle this than to attack each other’s egos with a sword? She continued to watch as Kunzite helped to pull Adonis to his feet and instructed him on a blocking maneuver. The two men working side by side allowed her to really compare the two. They were both very handsome in their own right, although she hated to admit it to herself, Kunzite stood out more to her than Adonis. His features were sharp and his body was much more defined under his general’s uniform. Adonis’s hair was cut much shorter and was a brilliant shade of blonde, much like her own color. He was a few inches shorter than Kunzite with nearly the same muscular build, but stood as though he were a foot taller. Interesting she thought to herself, that no matter how similar they may be physically, their personalities couldn’t be more different. Kunzite regarded her with disinterest while Adonis had nothing but admiration. Were she not already promised to someone else she may have considered making good on Adonis’s advances. She shook her head clearing her thoughts. ‘Would I really? Perhaps I’ve just grown so lonely over the past couple of weeks that I would accept anyone’s attention.’

Feeling that he was being watched, Kunzite turned toward the castle and saw Minako watching from the balcony. He turned back to continue training with his men. The workout made him feel better as he was able to work off his lingering anger. Beating Adonis had given him a sense of power – showing the younger man that he could not have what was already his.


Minako returned to her room later that evening after having walked around the grounds of the estate, going out even further than she normally would. During these walks were the few times that she didn’t need to worry about formalities or forcing limited conversations to flow with the man who had ordered her presence but not her company. Once again pangs of loneliness began to tug at her and she contemplated taking a trip to the palace to see Serenity without bothering to tell Kunzite so that he would not convince her of otherwise.

As she stepped into the room, carefully shutting the door behind her, she noticed a single piece of paper, neatly folded, had been left on the table near the entrance. Hesitantly she reached for the paper and began unfolding it, already filled with dread over what the contents might be. Would he end this arranged marriage and tell her father that he no longer wanted to deal with her? She could already imagine the berating that would follow upon returning home. Without a doubt her father would press her to marry the Duke that she had already run away from once. Worse yet, maybe this was his last warning to her for compliance.

A slight tremble passed through her hands as she opened the note to display a few lines of neatly written text, her stomach suddenly heavy as she read the lines over again. She didn’t know whether to assume the best or the worst based on his request. The paper slipped from her fingers as she crossed over to sit at the chair of her vanity.

Sometime later a brief knock at her door jolted her from her thoughts. She glanced out the window, noting the now nearly sun set, and realized that she had been lost in her thoughts for much longer than she had intended. The door quickly swung open and Rebecca stepped inside, her eyes looking over Minako’s disheveled appearance.

“You’re not ready yet?” She asked, crossing over to lift the blonde from where she was seated.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize how late it was,” Minako said, brushing her hair behind her ear. “I’m ready.” She could hear the sound of the other woman clucking at her under her breath. “Is there something wrong with my appearance?”

Rather than provide Minako with an answer, the middle-aged woman walked away and opened the doors to the wardrobe across the room. Without a word she began rummaging through the rack of dresses until her eyes finally settled on a gown of pale orange. She pulled the dress from its hanger and paused to haphazardly drop the dress on the bed on her way back towards the blonde haired girl.

Minako frowned as the woman grabbed a brush off of the vanity and wordlessly started brushing her hair. “Is this really necessary?” Minako asked. She attempted to turn to face the other woman, but Rebecca grabbed Minako’s shoulders and spun her back to face the other way.

Rebecca heavily placed the brush on the vanity in exchange for the strands of golden colored ribbons left laying in a small box on the countertop. Her hands moved swiftly as she tied the ribbons around strands of blonde locks. “Necessary no,” she sighed. “But something that you need to do none-the-less.”

With a push against her back, Rebecca directed her over towards the bed and quickly started to unfasten the clasps at the back of Minako’s dress peach dress. “Do you know what he wants?” the younger woman asked.

“Your company,” Rebecca responded briskly as she assisted the blonde to step into the pale orange gown. “He said that he left you a note, did you not receive it? I’m going to have words with that girl if she failed to bring that note straight to your room….” Her last sentence trailed off and sounded more like an afterthought than something being directed at Minako.

Minako bit her lower lip for a moment, hesitating to respond. She slowly turned to face the older woman who stood a couple inches taller than her who frowned at not being able to finish closing the back of the dress. “I read his note, but it was vague at best. It said that he wanted to speak with me, although I’m not sure that the outcome will be a good one.”

She could faintly hear the sound of the other woman clucking her tongue under her breath again.

“You’ll have to excuse him,” Rebecca said, turning Minako around so that she could finish lacing the back of the corset style top. “He often assumes that others understand what he means to say even when he hasn’t said anything at all. I don’t know what conversation he has in mind, but his intent was to have you join him for dinner which is why you are changing.”

“And what was wrong with what I had on earlier?”

“The honest answer or the polite one?”


“The bottom of your dress is dirty with mud – I can only guess that you were out by the lake earlier – not to mention the stain on the side from some saddle oil, and the faint scent that comes from having been in a stable.” She paused as she pulled tightly on the corset strings, tying them into a knot. “I would not allow him to present himself looking that way and I won’t allow you to either.” Minako couldn’t help but to laugh lightly at the response. Rebecca smiled as she tucked the dress strings into the folds of the material. “Everyone answers to someone. I suppose that it is a little unexpected that he would answer to me instead of the other way around. He’s really not as harsh as he projects himself to be. I hope that you will give him the chance to show you his better side.” Rebecca walked around Minako, inspecting her appearance while making small minute adjustments to the way the dress rested against the younger woman’s body.

The dress hung loosely from Minako’s shoulders, the long sleeves completely open on the sides held together by decorative straps just above and below her elbows allowing the material to fall open and expose her wrists. A matching sash tied around the high waistline, the ends flowing down the back of the dress. The lengths of the material pooled out in layers spilling around her feet, which had been adorned in matching colored sandals.

“Perfect,” Rebecca murmured. “We really need to go now. We’re late as it is and punctuality is very important to him.”

“He’s going to call off this marriage,” Minako blurted out, unable to stop herself. “I can’t go back to my father’s home. Not like this.”

Rebecca looked at her strangely and then laughed off the comment. “I can assure you that if anyone was going to be sent away from here it would be me for pointing out his bad habits to him. He wouldn’t take the trouble to ask you to sit down for a meal, he’s not that cruel – or perhaps he’s not that kind. Either way, we still need to go.” She gently placed her hand on Minako’s back and led her from the room. “If you don’t mind my asking, why do you think that he would suddenly decide to un-arrange a betrothal that had been arranged by the Prince?”

“He seems like he’s always angry with me and I think he would be happier to not have me around.”

“It’s not you that he’s angry with,” Rebecca said consolingly. “He was in a bad situation just before you arrived and it’s unfortunate that this marriage couldn’t have been arranged sooner.”

“Did it have something to do with Catherine?” Minako asked softly, noticing that the woman next to her seemed to pause and miss a step before quickly resuming her pace.

“She was a small part of it, but there were other things happening in the kingdom that forced him to be away from here for extended amounts of time.”

“Who is she?”

“He has ordered - asked,” Rebecca corrected herself, “to not speak her name around here which is fine with me as she was not someone whose company anyone seemed to enjoy. She was a terrible woman who wronged a good man and I for one say good riddance to her.”

“Is that the type of woman that he wants to be involved with?”

“Everyone is entitled to a mistake from time to time. He allowed himself to be distracted by her beauty and ignored everything else that was wrong with her. Although she was a smart woman and she made sure that he only saw what he wanted to see. He never saw how cruel she was.”

“Did he love her?”

Rebecca hesitated again and this was not missed by Minako, although both women were thinking very different things at that moment. It wasn’t that he loved her as Minako thought, it was that Rebecca couldn’t bring herself to tell the young girl that she had never witnessed him ever being in love with anyone. “He did not love her, I can tell you that much,” Rebecca finally answered. “He is dedicated to his responsibilities and often doesn’t see much more than that.”

“Adonis said that Kunzite doesn’t see me at all,” Minako responded.

“Stay away from him,” Rebecca said sternly. “He was always a good boy, someone that you could trust, but something hasn’t been right with him for some time now.”

“I think I made Kunzite angry by talking with him. He seemed well intentioned enough, although perhaps a little more forward than he should have been. Can you tell me about him?”

“I don’t think I should answer any more questions,” Rebecca said suddenly.

“I’m sorry,” Minako said, realizing that her curiosity had probably come across as interest in the man. “It’s just that we were introduced today and the way that he and Kunzite spoke to each other seemed off.”

“Adonis has been away for several weeks. He only returned a few days ago from where ever it was that he had gone off to. I’m sure you will come to know him very quickly as he is rarely ever far from Kunzite’s side.” The two women walked in silence as they travelled the remaining distance to Kunzite’s room, pausing outside the door. “Do try to give him a chance.” Rebecca pushed the door open and ushered Minako into the room, not allowing the younger woman to comment further.

Minako had been in the front room of his quarters before when she first arrived, but never any further than that. She glanced around and noticed that there were four doors leading out of the hall; three of the doors were closed, and she thought to herself that he must be behind one of them. Rebecca showed Minako into the room with the open door where a table had been set for dinner. She looked around taking in everything around her. The room was lightly furnished with two padded high-backed chairs with a small table between them facing a fireplace. Further back behind the chairs sat an intimate sized table where their dinner had been set. A thick square of plush carpet embroidered with striking designs covered most of the hardwood floor, giving the room a warmer feel. Around the fireplace rested a large oak mantle taking up the majority of the wall as the main source of heat for the room. Along the adjacent walls hung some paintings similar to those she had seen in the Palace and a tapestry depicting a medieval design. Her eyes were brought back to the fireplace where she noticed a particularly bright painting hanging high above the mantle.

She approached the fireplace to inspect the artwork further and was amazed by the beauty the painter was able to bestow with his paintbrush. Within the frame was a depiction of a blonde haired woman kneeling at the edge of the ocean. She seemed to be sans clothing, although her long hair framed her body as if to cover her nudity. The woman’s eyes were haunting and her features were strikingly beautiful as she seemed to be looking at the painter with a backwards glance. It was almost as if the artist had managed to stop time long enough to capture this image before the girl would disappear. But why would she think that about the woman? Where might she be going and where did she come from? Who was she to have such a look in her eyes? What secret lay behind them? The whole effect of the picture was captivating and Minako felt an urge within herself to reach out and touch the canvas in a vain effort to make physical contact with this striking beauty. Instead she twirled some of her own long golden locks between her fingers feeling as though it was something that connected her to the woman.

Rebecca excused herself and headed for the main door. As she was about to exit she saw Kunzite exiting from his bedroom into the main hall. She curtseyed to him and said, “Minako is waiting for you in the sitting room.”

“Thank you, Rebecca. That will be all for tonight.” He headed towards the sitting room where dinner had been set up, but was stopped by Rebecca placing her hand on his arm. “Try being kinder to her, she is a lovely girl and afraid of what you think of her.”

“That will be all, Rebecca,” he said firmly, knowing that she meant well. She shot him a look that was a mixture of part warning, part annoyance. His lips pulled into a half smile in response and he waited until she had left before proceeding in to see Minako.

The sight of her momentarily took his breath away. He took in every detail of her profile, noticing how striking she looked tonight as she stared intently at the painting hanging on the wall above the mantle. Her hands where clasped tightly in front of her and her lips were slightly parted. He ran his tongue lightly over his lips, thinking about how it would feel to capture hers with his own, but he stopped his thoughts from proceeding any further than that lest he allow himself to be caught up in his own fantasies for the rest of the night.

“That is my most prized possession – that is Aphrodite, the goddess of love,” he said approaching her slowly. ‘Don’t scare her away,’ he chastised himself as her head quickly turned to face him, her eyes wide with surprise. “This is said to be a true reflection of her image, although I don’t believe that something so powerful can be caught on any canvas.”

“My Lord, I didn’t realize that you were right behind me.” She dipped her head in a polite bow to him, taking the opportunity to look away and to stop herself from blushing. He had obviously just bathed, by the way that his hair was still damp and the hint of moisture that glistened on his tanned skin. His General’s shirt was unfastened and hanging open with his sleeves rolled up to his elbows allowing her a glimpse of his finely defined chest and sculpted arms. She spun back around to look once again at the painting to stop herself from openly staring at him any further. “She looks so sad, almost like she has a secret, or carries too much weight on her shoulders.”

“She carries the weight of everyone’s love without ever finding her own. I find myself staring at this portrait for hours sometimes, just taking in the image.”

“She’s beautiful. I can see why you want to watch her.”

“The picture reminds me of you.”

“You’re too kind,” Minako said softly, embarrassed by his subtle compliment. “I feel as though I pale in comparison.”

He stepped closer to her and placed his hands on her arms. “Not in this light. Please Minako, have a seat.” He carefully took her by the arm and brought her to the table where he pulled out her chair for her and lingered for a moment enjoying the fresh floral scent that seemed to surround her before moving to sit across from her. He could sense her apprehension and wanted nothing more than to touch her hand to let her know that she was safe around him. But whether she would take that as he intended was another matter. “Do you know why I asked you to come here tonight?”

She took a drink from her glass. “No, I don’t, my Lord.”

“You don’t need to be so formal with me.”

“My apologies.”

His body tensed at her dry response. Despite the pleasant tone of her voice, it was obvious that she was voicing her displeasure with him - not that it wasn’t completely deserved, not after the way he had lost his temper with her a few nights earlier. “I wanted to spend some time with you. You’ve been here for a few weeks now and we’ve exchanged so few words.”

“I’d say there have been more than a few….” She said with an almost astringent sound to her voice.

“You know what I mean, Minako,” he sighed, “We’re going to be married soon and we should discuss our arrangement.”

“I see.”

Kunzite frowned and tapped his fingers heavily on the tabletop. “You assume to know what I want?”

“No, I wouldn’t do that.” She paused to take a drink from the wineglass in front of her. “I would assume that you would just do what you willed whenever you chose to.”

It took a great deal of effort to not react to her words. “I apologize for the unwarranted kiss,” he replied, although by his tone he even had a difficult time believing his words. This was perhaps the first time that he had ever been in a position making this type of apology. With most women his attention was practically demanded among other things, but with Minako it was all but. “Although that’s not the only thing bothering you is it? You don’t trust me do you?” She looked down at the glass of wine still held in her hand, watching as the fluid lightly swirled around its enclosure. “I would have thought that you would realize I didn’t have any negative intentions by allowing you to have your own room and giving you time to adjust to your new surroundings.”

“Was that your intention?” she asked, her eyebrows arching slightly as she looked up at him. “You’ve left me in isolation is what you have done. There is nothing here that I wish to stay for. You have managed to avoid me at every opportunity and berated anyone who has dared to attempt to make conversation with me. My cousin tells me stories of a man who bears the same name as you, although I’m hard pressed to believe that they are the same person.” She paused to place her glass on the table, noticing that her hand was shaking slightly; perhaps it had never truly stopped from earlier. “Your reasons for marrying me may be your own, but there is no reason that we should pretend to be what we are not.”

“And I suppose I can’t convince you that I have other intentions?” he asked, his fingers still drumming lightly on the table.

“How will you convince me?”

“Through my actions just as I hope that you will convince me of your intentions through the same.”

“If you can’t trust me to not have relations with every man that I encounter then I’m not sure that I can convince you of anything.”

“I didn’t mean to insinuate anything,” Kunzite said firmly. “I know Adonis and I know his intentions. When I saw him standing so close to you, I couldn’t stop myself from reacting like that towards him. It’s not you that I intended to accuse of anything.”

“I pride myself on my honor and that I haven’t chosen to have indiscretions with random men, or any for that matter.” She rose from her seat and looked down at the cool expression he wore on his face. “I’m not going to stay a prisoner here in your home until you decide whether or not you are going to marry me. You don’t seem to want my company and I don’t expect that to change despite the circumstance.”

As Minako moved to walk away from the table, Kunzite quickly reached out and grabbed her wrist, stilling her before she could put any distance between them. Her words had done what she intended and had reached him. “Sit,” he ordered her, receiving a cool glare in response. “Please,” he corrected himself. When she remained standing he rose to meet her gaze, now standing several inches taller than her. “I would like to have your company now. If you would please sit down we can finish our dinner.” She turned her gaze to look at the food set out on the table before looking back upwards into his eyes. “I really don’t mean you any harm and I’m sorry if I made you think that something was wrong by inviting you up here tonight. I just wanted us to have a chance to talk without any interruptions and I’m afraid that with the constant ensuing chaos around here, this is the only place where we can be alone.” Minako continued to watch him through wary eyes not yet responding. “If you’d like to go, I understand,” he said calmly, releasing his hold on her wrist that he forgot had been clasped in his hand. “I won’t make you stay here if you’re not comfortable, but I’d like you to stay.”

Minako didn’t understand why she suddenly felt the way that she did, nor would she ever understand what suddenly propelled her to act the way that she did. Maybe it was the genuine look in his eyes, or maybe it was the way that his gaze had softened for perhaps the first time that she could remember. Whatever it was, it took over her mind and made her take a step closer to him, her hand rising to land on the warm skin of his abdomen. She could feel his body tensing under her touch, the hardened muscle contracting. Another step brought her even closer to him and she rose up on the tips of her toes to place a single kiss over soft lips. She moved back a step, allowing her hand to linger on his chest where her fingers had travelled to without her noticing.

Kunzite watched her closely waiting for her to make the next move. He could feel his body tensing as he held himself from taking a step closer towards her. Of all the scenarios that had run through his mind for tonight, this one had never even held a place in his thoughts. He had been very aware of her warm hand sliding up his chest and now that her hand was slowly being withdrawn he found the contact to be maddening. If she were any other woman he would pulled her in for another kiss, but he knew that his actions would only cause her to retreat further away from him and he would have to start over again trying to convince her that he wasn’t a man lacking control over his own actions. How ironic that his mind allowed him to believe his thoughts while his body told another story. Instead he waited for her to make a move, watching her as she looked at him cautiously – maybe even a bit curiously.

“I just needed to know,” she finally spoke, her voice coming out raspy as she cleared her throat.

He nodded his head even though he didn’t really understand what she meant. He missed having contact with her and against his better judgment reached out and ran his thumb over her cheek. “I suppose now we’re even.”

For a moment she just stared at him with those same wide, blue, curious eyes before breaking out in a peal of laughter. It wasn’t even that his comment had been so humorous, but it had broken the moment of tension and she felt relieved that he let her kiss go by without further ado. Although at the same time she couldn’t say that she didn’t enjoy the feel of being against him. He was an extremely handsome man with a tall, lean, muscular build – it was only natural that she would feel some sort of attraction to him – or any woman for that matter. It was that combined with his friendlier demeanor that allowed her to suddenly relax around him.

They looked at each other for a moment more before she took a step further back from him, afraid that he might think her to be too eager and afraid that she herself may actually be eager enough to step forward and reclose the distance she had put between them. He smelled faintly like soap and the scent remained in her mind as she could still feel the weight of his lips on her own.

Kunzite gestured for her sit again, but she shook her head saying that she wasn’t really hungry. She found herself surprised when he reciprocated that thought and started wondering if dinner was just a rouse for the night’s events. Immediately she chastised herself thinking that someone like him wouldn’t became as bothered as she by just a kiss.

Rather than sit back down at the table, Kunzite picked up their glasses and the wine bottle and walked over to the two high-backed chairs placed in front of the fireplace. Minako followed after him and seated herself on the chair to the right. They exchanged a few words, gradually slipping into a light conversation. They didn’t talk about anything that was too much of a personal nature, but the dialogue stayed pleasant and she found herself enjoying his subtle humor. He seemed accessible for the first time since her arrival at his home making her feel at ease in his presence.

At some point she started to feel warm in the room from the heat radiating from the fireplace and he led her out of the room, telling her that they would go sit outside. She felt that the fresh air would help her clear her thoughts and so eagerly agreed. As they walked out of the room, his hand found its way to the small of her back as he ushered her towards one of the closed doors. Maybe it was because of how much she had had to drink, but she found herself leaning closer to him, breathing in the lingering scent of fresh soap.

His hand reached out to open the door for her and in the darkness she could make out that they were about to step into a bedroom – more importantly his bedroom. She stopped at the doorway and looked around at her surroundings. His room was spacious with a large canopied bed centered against the far wall so that it overlooked the balcony. There was an oak wardrobe against the wall opposite the bed, and a sizable desk catty corner that was flush against the wall in front of one of the sizeable windows. On the wall by the door a large crest had been hung, isolated from any other objects in the room, crossed by two ornate swords.

Kunzite pressed lightly against her back and she entered the room, her eyes fixating themselves on the bed. He smiled reassuringly at her and they moved forward towards the open french doors of the balcony to emerge outside in the cool summer night air. She smiled at the sight laid out before her and walked towards the edge of the balcony, her hands coming to rest on the stone ledge as she leaned forward. Directly below she could see the gardens that surrounded the backside of the castle as well as the lake that she often went for walks around. In the distance the turrets of the Palace towers were visible, with the lights of the Palace illuminated the horizon. Minako turned back to look at Kunzite, noticing that he stood with his back pressed against the wall, arms crossed at his chest as he watched her. “Are you afraid of heights?” she asked teasingly. She could hear the deep rumble of his laughter in his chest just before he pushed himself away from the wall to stand near her.

“Heights are the last thing that I am afraid of,” he said.

“Then what are you afraid of?”

She had expected a serious look to cross his features but instead he maintained the same teasing smile and responded without hesitation. “Being taken advantage of by a woman half my size.”

“Funny,” she murmured, turning her attention back to the skyline. Her hair slipped over her shoulder, spilling like gold over the edge of the railing and she could feel Kunzite’s hand brushing the strands back towards safety. “Things are going to be different now.”

“Things needed to change,” Kunzite agreed, keeping his tone low. “We had a bad start together and I want to fix that.” He turned her to face him and brushed his hand over her cheek, watching as her eyes fluttered closed. Without further hesitation he leaned forward and kissed her lightly, his lips brushing softly over hers. When he felt her lean into him he deepened the kiss, gently parting her lips with his own and feeling slightly surprised when he felt the tip of her tongue dance across his lower lip. She didn’t hold back from him and he gladly indulged himself in her affections. He slowly broke away from her, leaving a trail of kisses on her cheek. “You look beautiful,” he murmured in her ear.

Minako thought about how to respond, thinking that maybe she would thank him for his compliment and look to him for another kiss rather than break the moment. He looked at her contentedly, watching as she chewed her lower lip, something amusing obviously passing through her mind. She slipped out of his arms and started telling him about how Rebecca had dressed her and the other woman’s comments over her prior appearance, earning a chuckle from him from time to time much to her satisfaction. She didn’t know how long they remained out there on the balcony talking over glasses of wine, but she had a faint remembrance of the night air becoming cooler as the moon moved further and further across the sky.

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