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The Empress and the Priestess (Day Twenty-Eight: Chastity)

For sm_monthly

Title: The Empress and the Priestess (sequel to Seers)
Author: Starsea
Theme: Chastity
Genre: General
Version: Manga
Rating: PG

The Empress represents the more accessible, more benign aspects of the female archetype. She is motherhood, love, gentleness. At the same time she signifies sexuality, emotion and the female as mistress... The High Priestess represented the mental side of the female archetype; her deep intuivie understanding. The Empress is pure emotion.

It was amazing how all high schools had the same smell, Rei thought, as she walked down the corridor. Her school was Catholic: the noticeboards had posters about missionary work and mass, there were crucifixes above each classroom and the chapel was hazy with incense and shame, but the corridors were identical, a mixture of polish and dust.

The art exhibition was in the assembly hall, which had the biggest windows and therefore the most light. Rei didn't have to search for Hotaru's series: it was aligned along the back wall. She saw her painting first of all: a study in muted reds, purples and lilacs, a single crescent moon shining above her, shadowing her double's face in mystery but leaving just a hint of pride and serenity in the expression. Rei nodded, pleased. Then she saw the picture next to hers and stopped for a moment.

Hotaru had painted Usagi as the Empress. Rei had been so sure that she would paint Usagi as the Moon (or the Fool), she hadn't even considered... But there she was, her hand resting on a ruffled cradle, dressed in white and pink, surrounded by eggs (symbols of fertility) and, of course, rabbits. Two hares flanked her throne, distinguished from the rabbits by their size and their silvery coats. The rabbits tumbled about in the foreground. A pomegranate tree flourished behind Usagi's head. Rei took a few steps forward and squinted. Yes, the pomegranate seeds were little crescent moons. There was a soft smile on Usagi's lips and a warmth in her eyes. Rei glanced back at her own portrait, cool and solitary. It was what she wanted. And yet...

"She's so good, isn't she?"

Rei jerked. She'd been so lost in reverie, she hadn't noticed Usagi coming up to her. Irritated with herself for being so obtuse and with Usagi for being so unusually quiet, Rei just nodded. Usagi took no notice and slipped a hand around Rei's elbow. "I thought she'd pick me for the Moon... but she said that I mothered everyone, so the Empress was more appropriate. What do you think?"

What did she think? That Hotaru saw too much. That Hotaru saw the truth and wasn't afraid to show it. "I think she's right," Rei said, praying her voice wouldn't crack. "You do mother everyone, even if it's not as obvious as Mako-chan."

Usagi nodded, then pointed with a smile. "Did you see the seeds?" There was glee in her voice. "And the rabbits? She's so clever! Ami-chan and Michiru-san were standing in front of it for ten minutes, looking worried because she'd put so many clues in, but it's not like anybody would guess. They'd be recovering from shock. You should have seen Papa's expression..." She giggled, a delicious, carefree sound.

"You look very content," Rei agreed, wondering if Hotaru had borrowed a baby photograph from ChibiUsa, but no, she would think that was cheating.

"Feeling broody, Rei-chan?"

Rei rolled her eyes. "Don't start."

"If you ever asked, I'd release you."

The statement was so unexpected that Rei thought for a moment she'd imagined it. "What?"

"Don't you mean 'pardon'?" Usagi corrected, a mischievous gleam in her eyes, for Rei was always telling her the same thing. Then the gleam faded. "If you ever wanted to be released from that vow you made... the vow of chastity... I would release you."

Rei shook her head, ambushed and bewildered. "How did you... never mind. It's not necessary. I appreciate the offer, but-"

"No, listen to me, Rei-chan." It was the tone of voice, the quiet command, that silenced Rei. This was a tone that she'd only heard from Usagi in moments of great peril, and now Usagi was using it in a school hall. "Don't just turn away. I'm serious. If ever someone comes along and you want to be with him, you want to marry him, I would be happy for you. I would support you every step of the way. Do you know that?"

Rei looked at the High Priestess again, then the Empress. "I'm happy as I am," she said, unable to respond flippantly or chastise Usagi, not when she was using that royal tone.

"For now," Usagi agreed, squeezing Rei's arm before taking her hand away. "For now."

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Wonderful story, again. :)
I'm rereading the Sailor Moon manga from the beginning - it's full of nostalgia (I remember reading the professional translations from Tokyopop with my friend, years n' years ago), but I feel like I'm not getting any time at all to know Rei, Ami, or Makoto - like all my attention is focused on Usagi, who is annoying me very much at this stage.
But darned if your vision of the Empress card doesn't make me want to draw that, too!
But here's something I hope you'll like, anyway:
http://vifetoile.deviantart.com/art/Mars-The-High-Priestess-127847424

I gave her a pomegranate because I associate that fruit with the High Priestess, (and I pulled the idea from this card: http://puimun.deviantart.com/art/2-The-High-Priestess-8527230) How was I to know you'd sneak pomegranates into the next card! :P

I'm rereading the Sailor Moon manga from the beginning - it's full of nostalgia (I remember reading the professional translations from Tokyopop with my friend, years n' years ago), but I feel like I'm not getting any time at all to know Rei, Ami, or Makoto - like all my attention is focused on Usagi, who is annoying me very much at this stage.

I know! But stick with her, she has a good heart and that becomes more and more evident. Also, there are sidestories about Ami, Rei and Makoto, but you have to wait for them. ^^;

But here's something I hope you'll like, anyway

OMG, I can't believe you actually drew it! It's beautiful! I love the expression on her face, the peace. I do love that other painting, especially the owl and the shells in the tree.

I gave her a pomegranate because I associate that fruit with the High Priestess, (and I pulled the idea from this card: http://puimun.deviantart.com/art/2-The-High-Priestess-8527230) How was I to know you'd sneak pomegranates into the next card! :P

The reason I put the pomegranate with Usagi in the Empress painting is because it symbolises marriage! :D (Because of the myth where Persephone ate six pomegranate seeds in the Underworld and ever after had to spend six months with Hades.) The many seeds are an indication of fertility and fruitfulness. :)

But darned if your vision of the Empress card doesn't make me want to draw that, too!

Tee hee. :3 I look forward to it!

OH ADORE LOVE. This was incredible, again, the dialogue and imagery was just perfect.
The entire conversation with Usagi was just completely ON. I really envy your ability to write dialogue that sounds realistic, and you got the emotional parts done without going overboard.

And the fact that Usagi knows the score adn is "thx but no thx" to that vow...that Vow Still Bothers Me!!! Just like Adonis and his stupid freaking curse, that turd!

Great job and write moooooore.

This was incredible, again, the dialogue and imagery was just perfect.

Thank you! :)

The entire conversation with Usagi was just completely ON. I really envy your ability to write dialogue that sounds realistic, and you got the emotional parts done without going overboard.

Well, I envy your ability to put swear words in a conversation. I can never write swearing properly.

And the fact that Usagi knows the score adn is "thx but no thx" to that vow...that Vow Still Bothers Me!!!

I think Serenity would have been a little oblivious to the implications (she was pretty self-centred it seems from her remarks to Venus) but Usagi has moved beyond that. I can't see her being happy that someone has voluntarily given up companionship for her, though she accepts Rei wants it. But as she says, things can change.

I loved this piece just as much as the first one. Wonderful scene between Rei and Usagi - but you always seem to get their dialogue spot on.

I'm still curious about what tarot cards the other girls are. So more please?

A nice sequel to a nice fic :] I love, love, love how you portray all of the characters. But especially Rei and Usagi (and Minako, but that's another story).

And here, Usagi really feels like she's going to be a queen, a wife and a mother. She's the mature lady we all know exists in the future (the future Rei's waiting patiently for).

I love that you (or Hotaru) chose the Empress for Usagi. It's perfect, even moreso than the Moon or the Fool (though not by much, with that last one).

The dialogue was superb, as usual. I think I've fallen in love with each and every piece of yours I've read :]

Oh, and I forgot something. The vow. Curse that vow! But hopefully Rei will take Usagi up on her offer for a certain someone (Isamu??).

Okay, I'm done now. :]

But hopefully Rei will take Usagi up on her offer for a certain someone (Isamu??).

Well, there's always hope.

And here, Usagi really feels like she's going to be a queen, a wife and a mother. She's the mature lady we all know exists in the future (the future Rei's waiting patiently for).

Yay, that's what I was aiming for! Well, in this area, she is more advanced than Rei and they both know it.

I love that you (or Hotaru) chose the Empress for Usagi. It's perfect, even moreso than the Moon or the Fool (though not by much, with that last one).

Hee, true. Usagi starts off very much as the Fool then metamorphoses into the Empress. :D

The dialogue was superb, as usual. I think I've fallen in love with each and every piece of yours I've read :]

Aww, thank you!

I simply loved Usagi and Rei's conversation. I always like it when Usagi surprised people with her wisdom. And Hotaru's painting of her seemed perfect.

I always like it when you see beneath the surface with characters, so I aim to do that in my stories. :)

And Hotaru's painting of her seemed perfect.

Thank you! :D

I loved the imagery with the painting, and how you've depicted Hotaru and Usagi, too. You've always got such a great grasp on the characters ... it really adds depth and that something 'extra' to all your fics. As always, a complete pleasure to read!

Oh thanks, I'm glad you agree with the portrayals and my choice for the cards. :)

You've always got such a great grasp on the characters ... it really adds depth and that something 'extra' to all your fics.

W00T!

Wow, I read this one and Seers a few times and I think I'm captivated. I really like how Hotaru's tarot-series gives a deeper look into the different personalities, not only of the portrayed but also of the artist, herself. The depth of Hotaru's nature was captured genuinelly - unfortunatly many authors tend to stereotype her as the 'angst girl' as you say and that get's pretty tiring after a while^^ It's the same problem with Minako who is way too often portrayed as a dense bimbo -_- I wonder, what card you chose for her. I would pick the emperor. ;)

Thank you! It's a bit lazy to characterise Hotaru as the doom-and-gloom girl, especially after she's reborn. Yes, she's Saturn, but she's not just Saturn. I also wanted to write a fic about Hotaru and Rei together, as I think their personalities complement each other nicely.

I wonder, what card you chose for her. I would pick the emperor. ;)

I'm going to write a story for July where you find out what card Hotaru picked for her. :)

Edited at 2009-08-04 07:13 pm (UTC)

I started on '78 degrees of wisdom' this week and now I could picture Minako as the magician, as well - since it's the opposite to the high priestess (Rei) and all about action and consciousness. But it's just a consideration since I'm only at the beginning of the major arcana^^ However that be, I look forward to read the sequel and I hope, we'll get to know the cards for the others as well :)

Thank you for your comment. It's a fascinating book and I'd recommend it to anyone with an interest in archetypes. And I do intend to write a sequel to this one.

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