Title: Little Shadow

Author: Girl Who Writes

Character: Usagi, Serenity

Word Count: 584

Rating: G

Genre: Gen, Drama

Summary: Serenity disappointed herself once on the battlefield, and she swore to herself never again, and draws herself up with the conviction that her Usagi-self doesn't understand.

Notes: I found this on my computer and have little memory of finishing it, but I don't want to fiddle with it too much, as I think it says all that I ever intended it to.

The poem at the beginning is 'Antigonish' by Hughes Mearns; I'm guessing it was a prompt from somewhere - possibly sm_monthly at livejournal.

Disclaimer: The characters of Sailor Moon belong to Naoko Takeuchi, Bandai and Toei. I make no profit from this fan-based venture.

Yesterday, upon the stair,

I met a man who wasn't there

He wasn't there again today

I wish, I wish he'd go away...

She can see the shadow.

It hovers just above her left shoulder.

No one else seems to notice it.

When she was younger, it was nothing, something she only glimpses once or twice, a shimmering patch that disappeared with a toss of glossy hair and a giggle.

As she grows, it gets darker and darker, but no more substantial than a little grey cloud. She tries to speak of it, but the only responses she gets are confusion, concern. She needs to rest, needs to spend less time in the sun…

But it's still there.

She ponders it; is it an illness, an omen, a sign of magic? But it does nothing, says nothing and she tries her hardest to forget it, ignore it but she cannot. She worries that it will kill her, and she might still be able to save her, protect her but…

When Beryl brings war to the Moon Palace, she throws herself onto a sword in a moment of grief and passion that, when she is dead and looking back at how every fell to pieces, Serenity is rather embarrassed about. She went out not in a blaze of glory, living up to all that her mother and her people hoped for her, that she had been schooled for – all that strength wrapped up in golden hair and wide blue eyes, but a single moment of weakness that showed her to be as fragile as a pane of glass.

She's still annoyed about that.

But as something akin to a ghost treading the battleground, she finds her little friend, still hovering at the shoulder of her dearest protector.

Somehow, in this moment of death, it is lighter and less substantial than it was before and Serenity does not know what that means but she thinks she does and when the killing blow comes, she is not surprised but waits for the ghost to rise from the body so she won't be so alone anymore, relieved that that little shadow will be gone now, now that it's horrible little prophecy has come to pass…

… And then she is Usagi, with a wide smile and wide eyes and unflinching trust in her friends. The only shadows in Usagi's life are the monsters under the bed and the frustration over another test not-quite-passed.

Even when the Crystal comes to her hand, and she is that other self, that silver and gold child that answers to Serenity, she sees not shadows, only light. It is that hope-filled gaze that sees her path clear – through awkward teenage years, made so much more awkward with the addition of an all-powerful gem and the odd planetary raid by evil powers, to the giddy young-adult years and to the battle that makes both her selves weep for the warrior they cannot be.

But Serenity disappointed herself once on the battlefield, and she swore to herself, never again and draws herself up with the conviction that her Usagi-self doesn't understand, there are no little shadows on the battlefield today, so those that are good and true will live to see the sun rise again.

With the sun, does Neo Queen Serenity rise, a pillar of gentle perfection, her trusting light spilling over those who emerge from the scorched earth that once was Tokyo.

And finally, there are no shadows that the light does not reach.