A Sword for the Heart

This is my third Sailor Moon story, and is another part of the Crystal Kingdom Archives. It helps if you've read Demon Hunter's Journal first, but (hopefully) it's not necessary. It takes place immediately after Dear Ami.

"I know you don't want to miss a moment of time with her, Hotaru, but if you stay here while she's growing up, she'll look at you as her big sister. She'll never have the chance to love you the way she does now."

Haruka gritted her teeth as Setsuna explained why they had to disappear for the next seventeen years. She understood why Hotaru had to vanish: the love she and Chibi-Usa had shared in the past had been so strong that she'd visited the sleeping form of the girl who would grow up to be her beloved every day for over 900 years.

Now, after all this time, Serenity believed the world had healed enough to allow her to bring a few people back from hibernation - and her daughter was to be one of them. That explained why Hotaru had to vanish, but it didn't explain why she and Michiru had to join her.

"There is a great test coming, Haruka. One that the Inner Senshi must face alone. It is what will make them strong enough to join us in our fight against the Death Busters."

"But that happened . . ." Haruka paused as she realized what test Setsuna was talking about. "We can't abandon Serenity now! Not when the Death Phantom will be threatening her!"

Haruka jumped to her feet and paced angrily. How could Setsuna demand that they abandon Serenity when they could prevent what had happened? That was asking far too much of her - of all of them. She spun to face Setsuna, only to discover she was no longer there.

"Come on! We've got to stop this before it goes any further!" Haruka charged the door, transforming into Sailor Uranus en route. Sailor Neptune and Sailor Saturn were right behind, close enough to be forced to stop abruptly as she tried the door that led from their wing of the Palace and discovered it was locked. "That manipulative bitch!" Sailor Uranus called forth her sword and swung it at the door, only to have it swing open before the sword could strike.

**Titania, where is Setsuna?**

**In the Throne Room, with Serenity, Sailor Mercury, Chibi-Usa, and...DAD!**

Sailor Uranus stared at her watch, disbelieving what she'd just heard. "But...he's dead," she whispered.

"What is it, my love?" Sailor Neptune asked gently, touching her shoulder gently.

"Papa?" Sailor Saturn moved to her other side, calling her by the name she hadn't used since Ami's husband had died. "What's wrong?"

"It's got to be a trick. The Throne Room. Now!" Sailor Uranus ran through the Palace, Sailors Neptune and Saturn flanking her.

Sailor Uranus froze in shock at the tableau before her. Chibi-Usa was standing before Queen Serenity, exactly as she remembered her from the past. Lady Mercury and the Demon Hunter were kneeling between Chibi-Usa and Serenity. It had to be a trick - the Demon Hunter had been killed by Diamond's forces in the last battle before they'd been exiled to Nemesis. They hadn't been able to penetrate his clothing, so they'd vaporized his head. It had taken the combined efforts of Fluorite, Sailor Saturn, and Serenity to restore his body - but they hadn't been able to return him to life.

She remembered Sailor Mercury's anguish at the death of her husband - so much like her own when Sailor Neptune had died. Whoever was perpetrating this hoax would pay with his life.

Sailor Saturn gasped and fled, back into the Palace. She could hardly blame her: her beloved was back, which meant . . .


"You called?" Setsuna asked from beside her.


"SAILOR URANUS!" Serenity's angry voice rang through the throne room.

Sailor Uranus froze, suddenly realizing how close she had come to killing her friend. Her sword dropped from her hand as she turned toward her Queen with head bowed in shame. Serenity approached and took her hands; when she spoke again, it was with the gentleness and love that had won them all over, even when they'd believed she and her companions were nothing more than children playing at being Senshi.

"She did it with my knowledge and approval, Haruka. If you had been here, you would have died in the attempt to stop Nemesis, and I would not have been able to bring you back. I would not have gained the strength to become your Queen, and my daughter would not have grown to love yours. Would you have preferred that?" Serenity embraced her, making it hard to keep her feelings in check. "Haruka, my dear friend, I love you. While it's only been a few minutes for you, it's been seventeen years for us. Wouldn't you rather catch up on what you've missed, than waste your energy in anger over a decision Setsuna almost didn't make?"

"Almost...didn't?" Sailor Uranus asked, feeling Serenity gently push her into her beloved's arms. "But...."

"She never hesitates, right?" Serenity asked with a smile. "After all this time, you haven't noticed that our Setsuna is as human as any of us? She was still trying to find a way to not send you forward, right up to the day I re-awakened my daughter. I had to order her to do it before she would take the last step."

Haruka looked toward Setsuna, biting her lip as she tried to find the strength to say what she knew had to be said. The look of understanding and love on Setsuna's face just made what she had to do harder - and she'd never been all that good with apologies to begin with.

"Setsuna...I...I'm sorry." There, it was out. She felt Michiru squeeze her gently, and glanced toward her beloved, to see an expression of pride and approval in her eyes.

"Setsuna?" The imposter was before her, addressing Setsuna, and her sword was suddenly in her hand. She lunged, and felt her heart break with horror as Lady Mercury leapt in front of her and took the thrust intended for the imposter.

"Mercury! Ami! Noooo!" She caught her friend as she collapsed, bleeding from a wound only Hotaru or Serenity could heal. Why? Why had she leapt to defend the imposter? Couldn't she see?

"Mother?" Setsuna looked shocked, as if she hadn't foreseen this happening. "Noooo! It can't happen! Not like this! I won't let it happen!"

In a flash, Setsuna had transformed, and was raising her Time Key. Sailor Moon was suddenly there, knocking the Time Key out of Sailor Pluto's hands.

"No! You can't change what's happened!" Sailor Moon cried and spun to face Sailor Uranus and Lady Mercury, quickly sinking to her knees and reaching for them.

"No! Ami! You can't die! Not now...not when we've found each other again!" The imposter was on his knees, gripping Lady Mercury's hands and sobbing brokenly as the light in her eyes faded.

The light from the Silver Crystal filled the room, followed a moment later by the light from the Golden Crystal. Endymion stood on one side of Lady Mercury's body, while Serenity stood on the other, as both of them used all their strength to bring her back to life. Haruka lowered her to the floor and fled, too filled with guilt and anguish to face any of them.

**Sis? Talk to me, sis.**

**Go away. You're not real.**

**I'm not? Somebody forgot to tell me that.**

**You're not real, and I've killed my friend, and Serenity hates me and I don't deserve to live!**

**If you don't deserve to live, and if Serenity hates you, why are we all searching for you, and why is Serenity trying to convince David and Titania to tell her where you are?**

**If you don't deserve to live, why do I need you so much, my love?**

Haruka sobbed bitterly. In a single stupid move, she'd killed her friend Mercury, she'd made them all hate her, and she didn't deserve to live, not in the same world as her Queen and friends.

**Haruka? Please come home? It wasn't so bad, really. I understand what you were trying to do. We all understand. Don't punish yourself for it. Please?**

**But I killed you! How can I make up for that?**

**As Bill said, "I go' be'er."**


**It's all right, Haruka. I'm not mad at you. I don't blame you. You were just trying to protect me. You couldn't know.**

**He's not real. I saw him die.**

**I know. We all know. We all know how much you've blamed yourself for it, too. Now, are you going to come home, or are we going to come and get you as soon as Serenity convinces the kids to tell us where you are?**

"Please, my love. Let's go home." Michiru said gently. Haruka looked up into the eyes of her love and broke into fresh tears. Michiru knelt and gathered her into her arms. As Haruka sobbed, Michiru rocked her gently, holding her safely to her heart.

"Ten'ou Haruka, Lady Uranus, I have decided." Queen Serenity stood before her throne and looked down at Haruka with an expression as harsh as she'd worn on the day she'd exiled Diamond's forces to Nemesis. Haruka swallowed and bowed her head, knowing that no matter what punishment her Queen inflicted, she deserved it.

"From this day forward, you are barred from Earth. You shall not return to this world until I summon you, or until you have learned discipline equal to your power."

To be exiled...the worst punishment Serenity would inflict on her, and no more than she deserved. Far less, in fact, than she would have inflicted on herself. The collective gasp that filled the Throne Room revealed that the others thought it was unnecessarily harsh. If only they understood how much she deserved it...and more.

"Yes, my Queen. It shall be done as you command," Haruka said, remaining on her knees until dismissed. She glanced up, into eyes filled with love and understanding. She felt herself weaken; to know that Serenity understood and loved her made the punishment infinitely worse. How could she love someone who had killed her friend, who had not trusted her judgement of the man she knew now was the real Demon Hunter, who had attacked without thinking . . .?

"You may go now. And see that you are gone before the moon rises." With that, Serenity turned and glided back to her throne.

Haruka rose to her feet and backed away, her head bowed, then turned and forced herself to walk from the Throne Room with as much dignity as she could muster. As the doors closed behind her, she heard a strangled sob coming from the thrones.

"Haruka! Hey, sis! Wanna give me a hand with this?" The voice coming from the Great Hall sounded like Bill's, and Haruka felt her heart freeze within her. What was he doing here?

"You shouldn't be here! I've been exiled! You're...what's that?" Haruka's protest died as she stared at what looked like a motorcycle made of amber.

"Eh? Oh, this is a little something I was working on before I died the last time. I only now managed to get the myomers working properly. As for whether I should be here . . ." He grinned, that same infectious grin that had cut through her guilt after he'd died saving her life. "I analyzed Serenity's words very carefully, and at no time did she deny you contact with any of us. She only denied you the right to be on Earth. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if a certain dumpling-haired fruitcake we both know and love were to show up and visit you."

Haruka swallowed as she thought about it, and realized he was right. Serenity hadn't condemned her to solitude. It would have been easier if she had. - she could have punished herself without witnesses. She glanced at him, to see him raise an eyebrow and offer his hands. With a sob, she let him embrace her. If he wasn't angry, after what she'd done, and what she'd believed him to be...

"Hey, sis...you're not the only person who's ever done stupid things, you know. Remember the time I nearly leveled Sendai Hill?" She smiled at the memory: he'd just built a particle beam rifle, and had used it against a droid, back when Diamond had launched his attack against them. The blast had vaporized the droid, then punched so far into the hill that only the fused walls of the tunnel and the mass of earth above the hole had kept the entire hill from collapsing. As far as she knew, the cavern he'd created was still there.

"I remember," she murmured. "But my stupidity killed Ami."

"And she's not dead anymore. So don't worry about it." He dismissed her protest with an airy wave, just like Usagi would. "You know what I think, don't you?"


"If you break something, fix it. If you can't fix it, then replace it or do something else to make up for it. As long as you didn't do it with molasses aforethought, that takes care of the problem. If you did do it out of malice, I kill you. Simple enough, eh?"

"Molasses aforethought?"

"Oh. Sorry. An old American joke. See, in English, malice and molasses sound close enough to each other that you can play with them the same way you can play with Minako's name."

"Oh." Haruka thought about it and decided it was just one of his strange Americanisms - one of the things that had always made him a puzzle, no matter how close they were.

"So, did you have malicious intent towards Ami?"

"No!" Haruka gasped in horror. Malice toward Ami? She'd rather cut her own heart out. "I was...."

"You were trying to protect her. How can I possibly hold that against you?" He hugged her tightly and growled softly, "Am I going to have to kick your butt around this castle and back before you stop punishing yourself?"

"You and what army?" Haruka growled, pushing at him with a faint smile. He was impossible to resist...if he were a woman, instead of a man, Michiru might have reason to be jealous.

"Hey, don't you know? I am an army!" He posed, just like Sailor Moon used to do before she'd learned how much of an opening it gave the enemy.

"Damn you! How can I keep my failure in mind when you're doing that?" She laughed as he put on an exaggeratedly thoughtful expression.

"Mmm...you can't?" He asked it with such overdone innocence, she leapt for him with a growl and pinned him to the floor, tickling him mercilessly.

"You! You...imp!"

"Well, it looks like someone else found the loophole in my punishment," Usagi laughed. Haruka squeaked and jumped, then fell to her knees in front of her Queen. Usagi shook her head and laughed. "I'm not being Serenity right now, Haruka. I'm just me."

"I don't deserve this," Haruka said, looking at Usagi's feet. It didn't matter what she said, this was still her Queen. "I should be punished more harshly. There's no excuse for what I did."

"If you say so," Usagi said, waving her hand dismissively. "Luckily, I'm the one who gets to make the judgement, not you."

Haruka swallowed and looked down, where Bill was grinning shamelessly up at her. She sent a glare at him that promised dire consequences - later. He stuck his tongue out at her, eliciting a peal of laughter from Usagi. It felt so good to hear her laugh...she'd thought she'd never hear that sound again.

"Now, if Lord Mercury is through being a clown, I have a task for you." Serenity's voice came through, just a little. Haruka looked up hopefully; her Queen had a task for her? All she had to do was ask! Usagi smiled and nodded, then reached into her personal hyperspace pocket and pulled out a padded jerkin and fencing mask. "How in the world do I put these on?"

"How...do...you?" Haruka squeaked in surprise.

"That's right. How do I?" Usagi grinned and bounced over to hug her. "How else are you going to teach me how to fence?"

"Teach you...to fence?" Haruka gulped and looked down at Bill, in hopes that she'd heard wrong.

"That's right!" Usagi pulled a pair of bokken out of the pocket and dropped them on the jerkin and mask. "You promised to teach me a long time ago, but we've just never gotten around to it. Well, now is a good time for it, wouldn't you say?"

"But I could hurt you!"

"Only if I study as hard as I did in school." Usagi laughed.

"But you didn't study in school." Haruka protested - and blushed as she realized that was the point.

"Bingo!" Usagi grinned, picked up the jerkin, and began trying to put it on - backwards - over her jumper.

"No, no, that's not the way you do it," Haruka protested and moved to help her get it on right.

"My love," Michiru murmured softly, slipping her arms around Haruka and snuggling into her lap. "Please come home soon. We all miss you. I miss you."

"I can't," Haruka whispered, hugging her sweetheart tightly. She laid her head against Michiru's breast and listened to the sound of her heart beating. "I...haven't fulfilled Serenity's conditions yet."

"That's not what she says," Michiru murmured, running her fingers through Haruka's hair. "She says the only thing keeping you here is your own self-doubt."

"How does she know?" Haruka snarled, trying to beat back her sorrow with anger. "She can't know what I feel. She doesn't know how many times I've almost killed her while sparring, she doesn't...." Michiru's hand against her lips cut off her litany of self-abuse.

"Two hundred seventy-six times," Michiru stated flatly. "At least, that's what Usagi says. Haruka, listen to me. The condition of your return was not that you feel anything. The condition was that you develop discipline to match your power. You've done that. Why do you persist in not accepting it?"

"What if I make the same mistake again? What if I kill another friend? What if I kill...you?" Haruka sobbed and buried her face in Michiru's breast. She couldn't bear to lose her again...and knowing that she was capable of killing a friend, even by accident, meant she could kill her. She'd rather die herself than risk the life of her beloved.

Michiru stood and looked down at her with so much anger in her expression it tore at her heart. It was no more than she deserved, but from Ami, or Serenity. Not from Michiru...please!

"I guess you're trying to tell me you don't love me. You could have picked a more honest way to say it, though, don't you think?" Michiru snarled, her voice cutting as painfully as her gaze.

Haruka whimpered and raised a hand to touch her love. Michiru sneered and slapped the hand aside.

"No...I do love you...I love you more than anything...." Haruka tried to find a way to express what was in her heart; to offer the words she'd always found difficult to say, but that Michiru had always understood without her saying them. "I'd do anything for you. I'd die for you. I'd-"

"Dying is easy!" Michiru snarled, leaning forward so there was no mistaking the anger in her voice, in her eyes. "Do you love me enough to live for me? Do you love me enough to risk hurting me? Or is your fear so great that you've forgotten how to love?"

Haruka cringed from her beloved's anger. Of course she loved her! Her love was the only thing that gave her strength; the only thing that gave her hope she'd one day be worthy of returning to Earth. How could she believe otherwise? She felt her heart sinking within her as she realized her crime had now taken from her the only thing that made living worthwhile.

Haruka spun and punched the nearest wall with an anguished wail. The pain of the bones in her hand shattering with the impact eased some of her heart's pain, but not enough. She punched again, and again, each impact bringing more cleansing pain; each jolt sending a fire through her body to burn away a little of her guilt. If they wouldn't punish her, she'd have to do it herself. She screamed in sorrow as she pounded on the wall, losing all sense of anything except her comfort in the pain.

"Come with me, beloved," Michiru's voice sounded so gentle, so loving, so right. Her arms sheltered her as she stumbled through the darkness, aware only of the cleansing agony in her shattered hands and the sense of safety she felt in her beloved's arms.

There was a sensation of vertigo as Michiru took her from her castle to somewhere bright and sunny - somewhere that smelled like green grass and roses, where several gasps of shock and horror greeted her. It didn't matter, though. She was in Michiru's arms, and that was the only important thing.

"Papa? What did you do?" Hotaru's voice came to her from far away, sounding worried, somehow.

Haruka concentrated and slowly brought her daughter's face into focus - along with the faces of Ami, Serenity, and the other Senshi. Why were they worried? Everything was so much better now...she looked up, toward where she felt Michiru, and saw the same worry in her gaze. With a whimper, she pressed against her beloved. She shouldn't worry. If there were only some way to make her understand....

"Have you been punished enough now?" Serenity asked, gazing into Haruka's eyes with the love and acceptance that - she realized now - had always been there.

Haruka lowered her head and took a deep breath. No matter what she did, it only made things worse. After Hotaru had healed her hands, Serenity had spent hours with her, talking about the difference between justified and unjustified guilt, and about how self-condemnation could become an indulgence - a way of keeping the world at bay to spare yourself the pain of risk. Haruka hadn't wanted to hear it, but as Serenity had talked, she'd had no choice but to admit that she was right. It was so hard, though - so hard to admit she was wrong, so hard to admit that she'd punished herself far more than she'd deserved, so hard to admit that she'd indulged her self-loathing so much that she'd almost driven away her heart's light.

"I have, my Queen," she whispered, in hopes that would satisfy this last condition Serenity had laid on her.

"I'm sorry, Lady Uranus. I'm afraid I didn't hear you." Haruka knew Serenity's hearing was better than she was pretending, but how could she confront her with that now?

"I...." She took a deep breath and steeled herself to do the thing she dreaded more than anything else in the world - admit her feelings in the presence of others. "Yes, my Queen. I have been punished enough."

"And have you punished yourself enough?" Haruka looked up at Serenity, terror rising in her heart. Please, no! Don't make me say it in front of everyone! Serenity's firm and steady gaze was impossible to turn away from. She was going to have to say it, for everyone to hear.

"I have, my Queen. Please forgive me." She could feel everyone's gaze on her, searching out her every weakness, exposing her with the power of the words Serenity had demanded.

"My dear friend, you are already forgiven," Serenity said, her voice expressing surprise that Haruka could have thought anything else. "Please come home to us?"

Haruka stumbled into Serenity's outstretched arms with a sob of longing and relief. A moment later, Ami took her from her Queen and welcomed her home with a loving embrace. Once she had convinced Haruka to relax in her arms, the others swept forward to gather her back into their hearts, ending with the arms of the woman she most wanted to be held by.

Disclaimer: Sailor Moon, Sailor Senshi, and all terms, names, etc.associated with the series are copyrighted by Naoko Takeuchi and Kodansha. I make no claim to them and this work of fanfiction should not be seen as making a claim.

Those characters and concepts that are original, the Crystal Kingdom Archives, and the story "A Sword for the Heart", are copyrighted 2000 by Bill Hartwell.

Rated: PG

Back to the archives