"Lady Saturn? Can I get anything for you?" Hotaru looked up from her chair, at one of the many nameless servants that populated her castle. She smiled faintly at the young woman.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I'd like you to get my stationary kit, please."
"Would m'Lady like something to eat or drink?"
"No, I'm fine."
"You know that Lady Mercury said you need more calcium, m'Lady."
Hotaru made a disgusted face. "Fine. I'll have a glass of milk too." She watched the young lady in waiting rush off to the kitchen, all business, and her lips twitched a little. They all assumed she was completely helpless. Sometimes it was pleasant being waited on hand and foot, but usually it was slightly annoying. At least she knew they meant well.
Hotaru's eyes went blank as she went back to her interrupted train of thought. It'd been years since she'd seen Usagi. It was hard to think of her as 'Usagi'. She still thought of her as Chibi Usa, from when they'd first met, but when Usagi had first been born Hotaru had decided to keep herself at a distance, until they met in the past. If Hotaru's memories served her correctly, Chibi Usa hadn't known her as an adult before she'd traveled to the past, while it was painfully obvious that she'd been friends with 'Puu', and Hotaru didn't want to mess with something so sensitive as the time line. That was more Setsuna's area of expertise. The thing that had her distracted was Chibi Usa would be returning to the future soon, and she didn't really know how to handle it. It would be wonderful to see her old friend again, but she was old compared to Chibi Usa, now. Hotaru had seemed to stop aging once she hit twenty-five, like all the other senshi, but when Chibi Usa came back she would only be twelve.
The lady in waiting bustled back with Hotaru's stationary and a tall glass of milk with another smaller one of ice water. Hotaru began to pen a letter in her favorite shade of violet ink, but she hadn't even finished writing the date when she realized that the servant wasn't leaving. She looked up. "Yes?" She couldn't keep the annoyance out of her voice completely.
"I'm sorry, but I thought I'd wait until you finished your milk so I could bring it back down to the kitchen for you."
Hotaru wrinkled her nose at the thought of actually drinking all that milk. She'd been planning on dumping most of it out her window. The servant had that stubborn look in her eye, though, so Hotaru gave a long suffering sigh and an accusatory look to the woman as she resignedly reached for the glass. She opened her mouth and felt the cold, creamy milk slide down her throat. She hated the way it seemed to coat her throat. As soon as she'd swallowed the last of it she grabbed for the water to wash the taste of it out of her mouth. The servant smiled happily and took the offensive glass out of her sight. Solitude at last. Hotaru loosed a sigh of relief.
She'd decided to ask Neo-Queen Serenity for advice on how to deal with Usagi--Chibi Usa--since she would undoubtedly be planning on how to deal with the same sort of problems. She smiled as she penned her letter. It'd been so long since she'd seen anyone. She was so isolated in her keep, but she couldn't seem to adapt to the bustling pace of Crystal Tokyo. She liked the dark gray stone her home was built with--it seemed to possess all the strength she lacked. Even though she'd grown comfortable here, in her isolation, she thought it'd be nice to see everyone again. It was always a pleasure to see Serenity, and she hadn't seen Michiru or Haruka in too long. It would do her some good to visit Crystal Tokyo. With that decision made, she added another paragraph to her missive, telling Serenity when to expect her, and signed and sealed it. The lilac scented wax she used to seal the letter seemed a bit archaic, but Hotaru enjoyed these little affectations--it cultivated her aura of mystery.
She stood up and carried the finished letter and half empty glass of water down the dark, winding stone staircase. Beautiful lamps spun refracted light off the gray stone, making the granite seem to flicker and dance. Hotaru ran her splayed fingers along the cold blocks as she walked down the staircase. It seemed a little too cold here. Maybe a few tapestries would make it seem more pleasant, she mused as she came to the ground floor landing. She blinked as she stepped into the light bathed hall. A servant bumped her as she rushed by with only a quick glance. The woman had almost left the room before she realized who she'd hit. She dropped the clean linens she'd been carrying with a startled exclamation.
"M'Lady! Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't hurt you, did I?"
They were all so overly protective. Hotaru suddenly felt as if she were suffocating.
"No. I'm fine. Here." She thrust the finished letter out at the woman, who was worriedly wringing her hands. "I want you to mail this as soon as possible, and tell the steward that I want him to prepare for a trip."
"A trip? Who's going?" The woman couldn't keep the surprise out of her voice as she automatically reached for the letter.
"M'Lady! Are you sure? I m-mean--"
Definitely suffocating. "Yes, I'm sure. Don't look at me like that! I'm not made of spun glass!" Hotaru swept past the woman with a frustrated glare, and kept going until she was outside. She stood outside the main entrance to her keep and took her shoes off. It was so rare for her to feel simple pleasures, like cool, green grass between her bare toes. She silently watched the sun begin to set--a natural fireworks display. As the sun fell beneath the horizon, the dark violet of the night sky chased away the flaming reds and oranges, and invited the cold, sparkling stars into the night. The universe seemed to be like that, she mused to herself. Cold silence and darkness always won over brightness and light in the end. It seemed to be the reason for her existence--the link between the light and the dark, between death and rebirth. She put her arms around herself and shivered. She seemed to be a creature of contradictions. How funny that she could feel so alone, and yet be suffocating from too much attention, all at the same time!
"Is m'Lady cold? You shouldn't be out here alone in the dark. And without your shoes on!" Yet another efficient servant came to her side to put a warm cape over her shoulders. Hotaru caught a glance of the woman shaking her head at her mistress's silliness, but couldn't bring herself to care. She ignored the woman's gentle but insistent tugs on her arm. Instead she simply stood straight, grateful for the warm cloak wrapped around her thin body, and watched the stars finish coming out over the eastern horizon.