a Sailormoon fanfiction by Dejana Talis
-not to be used without permission-
I wrote this as a gift for a friend, and in only an hour, so as a stand-alone story it may seem incomplete or unpolished and some of its meaning may be lost.
"Artemis...where are we?"
"I don't know, Luna."
The landscape was both familiar and strange, as were the visitors' own bodies. The pair found themselves in their human forms, long bare arms and legs having taken the place of furry paws. For a moment Luna held her hands up in front of her face and simply studied them, her eyes tracing each slender finger and manicured nail. It had been a long time since she was last out of her feline form.
Artemis took a few experimental steps forward, swiftly remembering how to balance on two feet and acclamating himself to the feeling of trousers over his legs and sleeves over his arms. It seemed so strange to see thin white cloth covering his body instead of soft white fur.
"What happened?" he asked his companion, his gaze focusing on the scene that surrounded them. "Is this a dream?"
It certainly seemed one. Beneath their feet a pathway of small smooth stones stretched forward, meandering its way through the magnificent garden that was spread out before them. Long grasses interspersed with flowering plants waved in the breeze on either side of the path, extending as far as the eye could see into the trees. The trees themselves were tall with graceful branches that arched overhead, embracing one another in midair high above the walkway. The air was filled with a soft rustling as the wind swept through the branches, and a light storm of leaves and blossoms swirled around the two visitors.
The colors of this place were strange. The leaves of the trees were green, but a pale green lighter than any foliage in Tokyo, and the flower petals ranged from electric blue to the vibrant red of an inferno. This was not Earth, and yet, somehow it felt just as familiar as the planet the two humanoid felines called home.
Just thinking the word brought a new surge of familiarity to the environment. Luna stepped forward, her head tilted back and her eyes drinking in as much of the sky's faint rosy tint as they could glimpse through the dancing leaves. The breeze sent the skirts of her yellow dress rippling, and as it swept through her dark hair it felt almost like a lover's caress. For a moment she closed her eyes, relishing the sensation, wishing it would never come to an end.
After a few heartbeats she felt the weight of Artemis' arm around her waist.
"Are you all right?"
She nodded, bringing herself back to reality, opening her eyes and turning to smile at her companion's expression of concern. This place was so strange, and the mysterious familiarity it contained may have been almost frightening were it not for the presence of Artemis, a trusted and valued friend. With him supporting her, Luna felt she could brave any adventure, she could embrace any world.
"I'm just...taking it all in. Remembering," she added, without knowing why she chose that particular word.
"Remembering?" Artemis repeated, looking puzzled. Luna watched him for a moment as she had her hands. His human features were both alien and mundane, both familiar and strange. Like this place, like this moment. Although his expression was one of confusion, she could see in his eyes that he felt the same.
"This place...is not unknown to me." Luna could not find a better way to explain it. Even her words were sounding strange, and at the same time, the formal language felt rather like an old habit resurfacing after a long absence. "It must be a dream."
"Whose dream, then, is it?" Artemis questioned. "It feels as real to me as waking. Are we sharing our dreams?"
"It would not be the first time," Luna replied with a small smile. "As friends and comrades, is there anything we hide from one another?"
Artemis did not reply to this, but simply returned the smile as they began to walk together down the stone walkway, curiously eager to explore their surroundings. Their path led them around many twists and turns, but the scenery changed little, and it soon became apparent that this was not a garden but the natural flora of this place. Leaves crunched under their shoes as they moved beneath the archway of trees, pausing on occasion to remove stray flower petals from one another's hair. Before long the feeling of strangeness had all but left them, and their smiles were broad expressions of delight, of comfort and contentment.
The road was long, but time passed as if in an instant, the journey made all the swifter by the presence of a companion. Before long, the trees thinned out, the path took them over a small rise, and a breathtaking landscape met their eyes.
Rolling hills of waving grasses rippled away to the horizon, interrupted here and there by patches of elegant forest like the one they had just passed through. As the wind swept over the meadowlands, the rippling grass flashed gold and green in the warm sunshine pouring down from above. Wispy clusters of cloud sailed across the sky, casting thin shadows in a patchwork across the fields below. In the center of it all, on a flat hill, stood the city.
It was more beautiful than any on Earth, its gently tinted structures a perfect compliment to the splendor of the environment that surrounded it. Sweeping towers accented by sculpture and elegant design stretched toward the sky, their details so pronounced that even from such a distance Luna and Artemis could discern the architect's intent.
The fine structures were surrounded by plainer, obviously more functional buildings, each with its own accents to prove the hand of the artist had designed it with equally loving care. Trees like the sort in the forests peeked through here and there among the walls, and on the grounds surrounding the city the grasses were tinted like a rainbow with fallen leaves and flower petals.
It was quite a sight, and at first glance both of the visitors knew as one where they were. Neither could remember later which of them spoke the word aloud, but it didn't matter; they both breathed it simultaneously with their hearts.
Luna felt her eyes brim with tears, the landscape before her becoming blurred as her heart swelled with joy and sorrow. She had never expected to see this place again, let alone stand on the ground of her home planet and be surrounded once more by its sights and scents and sounds. Beside her, Artemis tried to speak, and found he could not utter a single word.
They stood silently on the edge of the forest for a long moment, just gazing upon the city and the world it symbolized, remembering the lives they had left behind. Memories that had been hazy with age and distorted by the cold sleep became crystal clear and as fresh as if they had been made yesterday. Thoughts of happy days filled their minds, images of blissful hours floating to the surface as if carried by the breeze.
"Do you think we can go there?" Artemis asked at last, his voice hoarse, gazing upon the shining city with longing. Luna shook her head sadly. She was breathing this air, feeling this wind in her hair, smelling the perfume of these flowers...and yet, the scene before her was not quite tangible, like a mirage, a shadow seen through mist.
"It's only a memory," she said quietly.
Even so, neither of them could manage to turn their eyes away from the splendor of the past. This was a dream that would have to be left behind, but for now, just for this moment, they indulged in the comfort the image of history brought them.
"We have many memories together, don't we, Luna?" Artemis let the scene before his eyes mingle with other images in his mind, thoughts of another lifetime, of more memories made in another place on another world. On Earth as on Mau, they had built their lives out of the experiences they shared.
"We do." Memories were flying through Luna's mind as well, thoughts of a bond that had weakened in this lifetime rising to the forefront. A sad emptiness seeped into Luna's heart at this, an aching for that which had been and a knowledge that it might never be again. For a moment she tried to keep it to herself, but the sorrow had to be shared.
"There was a time when we were closer than we are now."
"No." The city shone brightly in the sun, as real in this fantasy as it had ever been in life. Artemis blinked in its shining brilliance, but did not look away, determined to fix the image of Mau's long-lost glory in his mind forever. "As long as we have our memories, we will always be as close," he said. "As long as we remember, this place will always be real, as near as the next breath, as bright as the next sunrise."
The truth of those words could not be denied. A single tear slipped down Luna's cheek, but she smiled.
As the world surrounding them darkened, the dream approaching its end, Luna and Artemis reached across the distance that separated them to clasp one another's hands. By their pasts they were bound together as partners, companions, friends through whatever the future would bring them. No time, act, word, or event could ever change that, no matter how many cities fell or worlds were destroyed. The past was past; this chapter of their lives was at an end...but perhaps the best was yet to come.
Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon and its associated characters and canon are the property of Naoko Takeuchi and Kodansha.