“It’s strange here,” Neo Queen Serenity remarked while gazing out at the Time Gate. “I don’t like it.”
Pluto smiled kindly, her fingers lightly drumming against her staff. “You don’t like anything strange, Serenity.”
“It’s so silent,” she continued. “My voice doesn’t echo, but… that’s because there are too many echoes here already. Right?”
Pluto nodded. “Something like that.”
Serenity turned and caressed Pluto’s face, the pad of her thumb stroking her cheek. “I wish you didn’t have to stay here.”
Pluto swallowed, moved by the tenderness. She leaned forward and kissed her queen gently on the lips. “It’s my duty.”
“It’s not fair,” Serenity insisted, suddenly seeming so young even though her eyes look almost as old as Pluto’s now.
“It’s not meant to be,” Pluto whispered, her voice heavier than she intended.
Serenity looked at her sadly and took the Time Key out of her hands. She set it down on the ground, watching as the fog moved away from it, exposing the staff so that it would not be lost once it was ready to be taken up again. Serenity turned and saw the worried look on Pluto’s face. She shook her pale head. “Not forever. Just a little while.”
Pluto was still uncertain, not because of the act itself, but because of what it symbolized. The queen was willing to remove her duty so that she would be happy. Even if only for a moment. The weight of that knowledge lodged in her throat and made her eyes burn.
“You’re always so cold,” Serenity said softly, pressing her lips to Pluto’s collarbone. She sank to her knees, delicately minding her skirts before she ran her legs over Pluto’s bare thighs. “Let me warm you.”
Pluto didn’t say no, and she wouldn’t even if she had the power to.