He came into possession of the ribbon after they were out exploring the foothills of a celebrated chain of lunar mountains. The wind was strong that day, and pulled insistently at the skirts of the ladies and at the cloaks of the men. There were only four of them; Serenity, her friend Psyche, Endymion and, of course, Kunzite. Kunzite was not particularly fond of out-of-doors exploring, but where his prince went, he went too. So, although his cloak was constantly wrapping itself around his legs and although his hair was going to be tangled beyond recognition, Kunzite appeared as calm and as stoic as ever.
He didn't even let the relief show on his face as Serenity announced that they should return to the palace for tea and pastries. Going back down the path the way they came, he tried to appear not at all annoyed, though he was sure by now he was sporting a spectacular case of windburn. Luckily, his skin was not so fair that it would be obvious.
As they descended back from the foothills, with the palace looming on the horizon before them, Psyche fell in step in front of him. Kunzite chose not to notice how her long blonde hair was streamed out by the wind, or how her dress, made of silk so thin it was almost immodest, was pulled flush against the curves of her body. He didn't even pay attention to how her skin, golden but still lighter than his, was glowing after receiving the sun's attention for the day.
He was a soldier, after all. Despite his title of 'King of the North', it was essential that he maintain a soldier's discipline and vigilance. This meant that he could not notice how a certain princess had eyes the same color as rainwater or lips that resembled rose petals in color and feel. That was not a soldier's business. It completely escaped him how her eyes sometimes lingered on his just a moment too long or how her touch was warm on his skin long after she took away her hand.
Those things – rainwater eyes and rosebud mouths – were the mortal enemies of discipline.
After they had reached the palace, Psyche gracefully excused herself and left the group. Serenity and Endymion continued their conversation and Kunzite fell into his comfortably familiar role of silent guardian.
"Excuse me, King Kunzite," Serenity said suddenly, gesturing toward his shoulder. "There's something on your coat." Kunzite looked down, and peeled off of the gray wool a blazing red ribbon.
"It's Psyche's," the moon princess said, though unnecessarily. Kunzite knew exactly to whom it belonged; he pretended it was because of his unnaturally good observational skills.
"The wind must've torn it off," Endymion offered. Kunzite held the ribbon out to Serenity, who smiled back at him without taking it.
"I'm sure Psyche would be very appreciative if you brought it back to her," she said.
"She's your friend, surely you see her more than I do," Kunzite said, trying to wriggle out of the trap the Lunar princess had so deftly set for him.
"Oh no, I'm sure she'd prefer a handsome king delivering her ribbon to boring old me," Serenity replied innocently.
So Kunzite was left with the ribbon. It was silk, fine like the rest of her clothes, and carried the faint scent of her hair. It was red almost to indecency; perhaps the Princess of Venus could only express her natural passion in the brilliant red of a hair ribbon, while hiding the rest beneath the veneer of a demure royal lady.
He found himself sitting on a bench near her apartments in the palace, the ribbon wound absent-mindedly around his fingers, wondering what else might be revealed by a simple red ribbon. He waited for the princess to pass by so that he may return it, with the hope that the red burn it had left in mind's eye would finally fade away.
The faint smell of orange blossom wafted under his nose and the gentle rustle of a silk hem against the marble floor heralded the appearance of the Venusian princess. Kunzite stood and bowed, not allowing his eyes to rest on her face for too long.
"Princess Psyche," he said without preamble, holding out the hair ribbon. "You lost this earlier."
Psyche's pale eyes silently considered the proffered ribbon for a moment, and then flicked up to Kunzite's face
"You should keep it," she said. Mischief tugged at the corners of her mouth and brought a sparkle into her eyes.
"What would you like to me do with it?" Kunzite asked, raising an eyebrow. He was unfamiliar with these games that young ladies apparently enjoyed playing with men. He did know that he did not like feeling unsure, clumsy as it were, in Psyche's little amusements.
Psyche took a half step backward, pretending to cast a critical eye over Kunzite's attire.
"Well, your livery could use some brightening up," she said. "Gray is dull, after all."
"I am not responsible for the color of my uniform," he said stoically. He did not add that he had had a glimpse of Venusian livery, and he would not be caught dead wearing the sorts of things that Lucifer traipsed around in at the Lunar Court.
Psyche shrugged. Kunzite noticed that, since their outdoor excursion, she had swept her long hair up into a loose chignon, revealing golden shoulders against which some rebellious curls rested. Twined through the chignon, gleaming rivulets against pale spun gold, were more red ribbons.
"As you wish," she said carelessly, brushing past Kunzite to drop gracefully onto the bench that he had previously occupied. "I suppose that the King of the North must wear clothing just as chilly as he is."
"If you are arguing that garments reflect one's personality, than I must ask what yours say about you."
"What about them?" she asked, leaning forward and gazing up at Kunzite through her eyelashes. Kunzite, with utmost determination, did not notice the soft, golden curves revealed when Psyche's dress was tugged southward as she shifted in her seat.
"You wear ocher and gold, in silks as thin as those belonging to the most scandalous Desert Dancer, and you put ribbons as red as passion in your hair," Kunzite replied, his reply falling as neatly as a move on a chessboard.
"Ocher and gold are the colors of my house," she replied with a laugh. "My silks are made by Venusians."
"As I recall, blue is also on your shield," Kunzite said. Psyche wrinkled her nose as she contemplated this detail.
"Blue is too…calm," she said, with a little shake of her head. "I wouldn't feel myself wearing blue. Or gray, for that matter." Kunzite ignored this little jab at his livery.
"And the hair ribbons? What do you have to say about those?"
Psyche did not speak for a moment. Her eyes dropped to the ground, her toe tapped a little rhythm on the marble. Kunzite waited patiently, still holding the ribbon, crumpled in the palm of his hand.
Finally, she looked up at him wearing a new expression, one that brought heat to Kunzite's face and made him wonder just what type of sound, exactly, a man could bring from those rosy lips.
"That's my own secret," she said softly. She stood and approached Kunzite where he stood rooted to the floor, where his disciplined soldier's mind had ground to a halt. He watched as Psyche pressed herself to his chest, and he felt as she wound her fingers into the hair at the nape of his neck, pulling his head down to meet hers. It was a kiss that was spicy and sweet, warm but searing in a way that would burn Kunzite's memory forever. His mind had just come unstuck, he was just about to either push her away or pull her even closer (he hadn't decided), when Psyche stepped back. A delicious smile slowly spread over her face, her eyes lidded and drowsy.
"I might tell you about my hair ribbons. One day." With that, she left him. Kunzite watched her sashay down the hall, his body trembling at the thought of going after her, running her down like a jungle cat after its prey and taking for himself a million kisses and a million touches.
He turned on his heel, and strode briskly down the corridor in the opposite direction, focusing on the clicks of his heels on the marble, depending on them to keep him out of heavenly, lusty day dreams. Hot, intoxicating kisses were the death of a soldier's discipline.
His thumb stroked the blazing silk that still lay burning against his palm.