This starts two weeks after the end of the last chapter. Then it jumps to three months later. I hope it isn't too confusing. I tried really hard to have details without becoming graphic. Not everyone is good with bodily functions and medical issues so I apologize if anyone gets squeamish. Also in the beginning I let Van ramble… I wonder where he gets it.
Epilogue- The Last Page
25th Orange Moon
Today was the second anniversary of the burning of Fanelia. I never thought there would be a day in my lifetime where I was more terrified, I was wrong. Yesterday which turns out to be another anniversary, but that it's been two years since a strange girl saved me from being impaled by a dragon. Hitomi and I decided to celebrate that day quietly together. After dealing with a castle bursting at the seams with nosy diplomats the calm was a welcome change.
I should start from the beginning… but that would take far too long. Instead I will say that Hitomi's coronation was simple yet elegant. She wore another Fanelian style dress, so it says a lot about my choice to send Merle to hire that specific seamstress. Honestly the quality and speed impressed even me. Turns out the moment word of Hitomi's arrival and condition started circulating this particular seamstress started working, and she had half a wardrobe completed before Merle ever stepped foot into her shop. Simple to say I bought everything she had made for my wife and am keeping her on retainer, some craftsmen are just that good.
There was some political grumbling, but that was bound to happen. The only thing that diplomats enjoy more than complaining is intrigue. We sure gave them a lot to talk about. Hitomi shows up a year and a half after the war ends noticeably pregnant. In just over two months we are married and she becomes the queen of Fanelia. It's a good thing I don't give a crap what they think.
Fanelia will always be tiny and backwards in their eyes, so what does it matter if the royal family is a bit unorthodox… wouldn't be the first time.
It was a relief when the guests began to leave, soon the only ones left were Allen and Millerna. Well not just them, somewhere in town an Inn is making really good money off the crew of the crusade. They were offered rooms in the palace, but turned me down. "It too stuffy for us your Majesty." Gadess told me in his gritty yet endearing way. "We're just simple sailors and ruffians."
I don't know if I could ever repay the kindness I was shown by them at my lowest, but something tells me to try would insult them.
Exhaustion makes my mind wander.
Hitomi and I had a quite dinner in our rooms… since her back had begun bothering her worse than ever. She put on a strong face, saying it wasn't anything to bother the visiting princess over. We turned in early, and though I tried to rub the pain away nothing seemed to help, like something was pressing on her spine.
I awoke in the middle of the night to find the bed next to me empty and damp. Hitomi paced in front of the windows slowly. Before I could ask her what was wrong she inhaled sharply bending almost double in pain.
I was by her side an instant. "What is it Hitomi?"
After a few long moments she exhaled opening her eyes which had been clenched tightly shut. "Van I think he's coming." Her voice was soft through the strain. "Get Millerna."
"Lay down and I'll wake her." I insisted trying to lead her back to bed.
"It's wet." She tried to hide her embarrassment by not meeting my eyes.
"Then use my side." Without warning I swept her into my arms taking fast strides back to the large bed, laying her down just in time for the pain to tense her from head to toe. "I'll be right back."
I dashed from the room not caring the amount of noise I was making as the door slammed open breaking the still night. Millerna was staying in Hitomi's old room and though the closeness made me a little uncomfortable at first, I was grateful for the proximity now. Knowing better than to enter a lady's room unannounced I started pounding on the solid wood with the side of my fist.
The door gave way sharply to reveal a startled princess, her long hair plaited in a braid hanging over one shoulder. Robe thrown on over her night dress hastily. "Is it Hitomi?"
There I stood in the middle of the night wearing nothing more than dark sleep pants and my heart pounding in my throat. What a stupid question. Of Course it was Hitomi.
"How far apart are the contractions?" She asked going into doctor mode easily.
"Less than ten miets."
Her face registered shock and slight outrage. "Why didn't you wake me sooner?"
I shot her a sharp look before turning wordlessly to go back to my room, and my wife who needed me right now more than ever.
A door down the hall opened and Allen stepped out looking unruffled in his crisp white shirt and black pants. "What's going on?"
"Hitomi's gone into labor." Millerna answered smoothly.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" The knight asked concern evident in his voice.
She answered quickly with a steel edge to her voice. "Keep Van from climbing the walls."
"Stay out here with me Van." In a few quick smooth steps Allen placed himself in front of me with purpose. "Sorry my friend, but this isn't a place for men."
"You can't stop me." I growled trying to step around the taller man who now stood directly between me and Hitomi.
"I will restrain you if I have to." Allen warned.
"Try and I won't hold back this time." The dark threat hung between us heavily.
"Stop it." Hitomi's spoke from the doorway, her tone leaving no chance for argument.
I shoved past Allen the instant I heard her voice, she swayed on her feet and I took her weight steadying my wife easily.
"I want Van with me." It was a statement that left no room for debate but I knew though the others would fight it... this decision was already made, Hitomi would win.
"It's not appropriate." Millerna argued quickly.
"Do you think I care?" Hitomi asked her voice coming out strong and sure. "I want my husband by my side and if you've got a problem with it then-"
"Okay! Enough threats already. We are in for a long night and I need you to lay down and relax." The blond threw up her hand in defeat quicker then I expected. This was a situation she wasn't comfortable with, but her patient's wellbeing came first. "If having him helps, then so be it."
"Thank you Millerna."
"Get her back into bed." She ordered me before turning on Allen "Find a maid I need plenty of towels and hot water."
With medical bag in hand the princess took charge storming into the room with ultimate authority. Some people are born to lead, others are born to fight, but Millerna was born to this calling where she had to do both crafts at the same time. With a practiced hand she pulled the damp sheets from the bed sniffing them in the process.
"What are you doing?"
"It smells sweet so it means her water broke. It's not often a rush of water like people tend to exaggerate; more of a trickle, it can be confused with other body functions unless you know what to look for. The baby is well on the way." "Have you been feeling any unusual pressure before the pains started? If so, for how long?"
"In my back. It felt like a tightness or squeezing, but my back always hurts these days." Hitomi looked almost shy about having missed the signs of early labor, then again so did I. "Late afternoon it really started"
"Back labor, it's really easy to mistake for normal pains until either the pain shifts or intensifies. I need to get you comfortable and do an exam, but I'd have to say you'll meet this baby soon. " Millerna shook open a large piece of waxed paper placed it on the bed and smoothed a clean sheet over it. "There now we shouldn't ruin the mattress. Child birth is a very messy business, not for the faint of heart."
Gently I helped Hitomi settle onto the bed which crinkled slightly with each movement. Suddenly I felt out of place. My father and his father before him would have never dreamt of intruding on this time between women. "Are you sure you want me here?"
"Don't be stupid Van." Another wave of pain swept through her, and Hitomi had to wait for it to pass before she could speak again. "I've been through battles with you now it's your turn to support me during my fight."
"Well when you put it like that." Reassured by her words I took her hand tenderly. There was only one question left to ask. "Is this normal on your world?"
"Pretty common really, just don't faint." She warned "It happens to even the toughest guys."
The time seemed to move incredibly slow after that. The contractions moved closer together and at greater intensity as Millerna warned they would. I completely lost the feeling in my hand as Hitomi squeezed it tightly with each new wave of pain, but knew she was only sharing a fraction of what she felt. My determined girl never screamed even when Millerna assured her that is was normal.
I wasn't scared… I was terrified, and felt entirely useless. All I could do was murmur soft words, brush sweat dampened hair from Hitomi's face, and let her try to break my fingers.
Through everything Millerna remained calm and sure. The sun rose and the day started while Hitomi labored. Then the most amazing thing happened. My son was born.
Red, wrinkled, and screaming the infant seemed so incredibly delicate as the doctor cleaned and checked him over. The moment he was placed against Hitomi's skin he quieted. Something akin to peace smoothed his furrowed features. I couldn't take my eyes off this tiny perfect being.
"Ten fingers, Ten toes." Millerna spoke lovingly, I'd completely forgotten her presence. "He seems to be of average weight and size. I'll record everything… normally it is done in the royal family's official blood line records."
"But ours was lost in the fire." I finish for her. "I'll have a new one made, but most of our records were destroyed in the attack."
"Your mother's diary might have details about you and Folken." Hitomi spoke softly as she gently ran her fingers through our son's thick dark hair. She was exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.
"She wrote about some, but not all the information." I shook my head. "That is all well enough; this little one will be the first full entry." Hitomi was right though. The diary was one of the few books with any information about my family that was spared the fate of becoming ash like most of the other records. Folken may have been trying to hide the prophecy from me even in this reality, but what he really did was preserve the fateful words.
"Official name for the records is the same as before?"
I nod and Hitomi smiles tiredly.
"Folken Shou de Fanel born 0945, 25th Orange Moon." Millerna states clearly while jotting down notes in her medical journal.
My wife smiled asking the words that made my heart pound faster. "Van, would you like to hold your son?"
"More than anything."
So here I sit watching the tiny chest rise and fall with each breath. The soft warmth that permeates his very being is quite mesmerizing. It's truly unbelievable that I helped create something so perfect. His hair is dark and wild like mine, and that can change, babies transformation so much in such a short amount of time… or so I've been told. My son takes after Hitomi quite a bit in the turn of his small nose, the shape of his ears, even the curve of his mouth. I can't seem to get enough of just studying his sleeping face.
Hitomi rests, exhausted, and I don't think I could love her any more than I do in this moment, and every moment that follows that love will continue to grow. We've had a long hard road to get to where we are today, but I wouldn't change a thing. It's made us who we are and brought a new Fanel into our lives.
A soft knock sounds at the door and I'm tore between trying to get up without waking the baby in my arms or hoping whoever it is will stop knocking and just leave. The decision is made for me as the door opens just enough to show Allen who glances between me and the two sleeping occupants of the room.
"Can I come in?" He asks softly unsure if I'm willing to let any visitors intrude on this peaceful time.
"Sure." What else can I say? The last words between us were not quite friendly, and my jaw still aches when I think about his reaction the last time we were alone. The bruise wasn't much fun and neither was having to explain it to Every. Single. Person. I saw for the next several days.
I know Allen to be a fair man and I doubt he would have hit me again, but I'd rather not have tested that theory, so I stayed clear of the knight unless we were in a group setting. Witnesses and all that. I was able to stay on my feet the last time his fist connected with my face, I don't know if I'd be as lucky a second time.
"I didn't come to fight Van." He spoke in a soft low tone as he approached the chair where I sat by the window.
"I'd hope not. It's not very sporting to hit a man unable to defend himself." My words are harsh but my tone remains slightly joking, anything to keep away the tension between the two of us right now.
"In my defense you had that one coming, anyways it's not for your sake but the baby's" There was a teasing note to his voice in response.
"Please sit." I directed the taller man to the empty chair placed across from me.
"How are they doing?" Allen asked folding himself into the wing-backed chair with effortless grace.
"Good." I replied simply looking down at the child who in his sleep gripped my finger tightly, his full hand barely making it all the way around the single digit.
"How are you doing?" The knight's eyes studied me carefully.
I sighed knowing whatever rivalry there was between us was only on the surface. Deep down Allen cared for me as a close friend and that was mostly why he pushed me the way he does. I honestly have very few people I can truly be myself around. Hitomi, Merle, and somehow along the way Allen. Everyone else sees me a King first and Van second, but not these three.
He didn't laugh, but his smile grew. "You are a good man Van, you will be a good father. Don't doubt yourself." I must have looked surprised at the complement. "Don't look so shocked. I may not be a good father myself, but I've been around you long enough to know that you'd walk through fire and fight an army of enemies for that boy in your arms right now."
He spoke truthfully and so Allen deserved the same honesty from me. "You weren't given the chance to be a father."
"Whether that is true or not we'll never know, but if my father was any indication then Chid was better off without me." He looked away not meeting my gaze directly, very unlike the knight.
"You can't carry the sins of your father and more then I could carry those of my brother." I shook my head slowly, Allen tends to bury everything so deep down that it eats at him slowly like water carving its way through stone. "The weight of our own choices are great enough without unnecessarily adding to them."
"Spoken like a man who has tried." He responds evenly
"You know I have." Though I'm normally not much for sharing when it comes to emotional speeches Allen needed to be reminded of our shared past. "Pain, anger, and regret are emotions I remember well. It nearly destroyed me in the process, if it weren't for Hitomi I'd never have made it through the war. She saved more than my life. That girl saved my soul. It would be a very dark world without her."
"You sound like you'd know from experience." The knight studied me carefully.
"It doesn't matter." The recent experience in an alternate world without Hitomi was not something I think I'd ever want to share with anyone. It was time to change the subject. "I did need to talk to you about another matter."
"Hm…" Was all Allen said, so I chose to just blurt it out.
"Hitomi and I have agreed you are the only logical choice for godfather."
Eyes wide and shocked Allen looked some how younger, more at ease. "Are you asking me to be... Godfather to the heir of the Fanelian Crown?"
He thought for a moment before nodding, a serene smile gracing his face. "I'd be honored to be a part of little Folken's life."
"Then you should know that family is allowed to call him Shou." Hitomi and I had discussed it at length that though his formal name is a tribute to my brother his life should be all his own.
"Shou." He spoke the unusual name slowly testing it out. "A fitting name for your son."
As Allen gazed softly as the sleeping infant my eyes sought my wife. Though Hitomi appeared to be asleep a small smile was easy to detect. I'd have to bet anything that she'd been awake for the whole exchange. How very like her to give me the chance to clear the air and set things right between Allen and I.
Black 12th Moon
Yet another anniversary is here to remind me of the bittersweet moments that comprise my life. Two years ago today I set Escaflowne to slumber and sent Hitomi home, fulfilling the promises made by myself and Bulgus on the fateful day of my coronation. Now in keeping with tradition I clean the Fanel Family memorial. This time I am not alone. My wife and the queen of Fanelia is at my side though she has her arms too full carrying our son to physical participate. Hitomi talks to Shou and me as I scrub and tidy. It makes the time pass quicker, I am as always glad to just have her by my side.
Shou is three months old and it is so astonishing how much a being can grow and change. He holds his head up on his own and is already trying to sit up. Far too soon he will be cutting teeth, learning to walk and talk… time moves so fast when you are constantly watching another develop. I might have to stop wearing the pendent for a while, as the little one's grip has nearly broken the chain already. It's shiny and pretty, Shou seems almost attracted to the dancing pink stone. I secretly hope it is just the habit of babies to grab jewelry and not the power hidden within that draws him.
"Are you ready?" Hitomi asks, her voice soft and understanding.
"Yes, I think that its time." I nod to her solemnly. My wife steps up next to me, wordlessly shifting our son to her hip and handing me her old teal duffle bag. The bag which she offered for this purpose strains slightly at the rectangular shape of its contents. Opening the bag I remove the wooden box carried within. It is solid and sturdy, simply carved with the royal crest and nothing else. The lid lifts silently and inside are treasures that will one day help someone when they need it the most.
I didn't know how much I needed to go find Hitomi when I opened Mother's aged diary. I had thought that after everything I had seen and done in my short life that I was 'a man', but it turns out I still had much growing up to do. Learning more of the past helped shape my future and for that I am grateful. Hitomi and I finished reading the book together. There are bright amazing stories I want to etch on my memory and read until the pages fall apart, but then the darkness sets in. Father dies, leaving a three year old and a thirteen year old with a broken mother and a kingdom set in grief.
No matter the happy face mother wore around her sons she no longer desired to live without Father and her only goal was to help Folken ascend the throne and fulfill the prophecy. Her tormented words ended before his failure, Folken must have hidden the book the night he set out to hunt a dragon. I remember the last passage written.
I am sorry my sons for how I have failed you. Love can endure so much, but soon I know I must selfishly find peace.
Folken my intelligent boy… no almost a man. Protect Van for me when I can't. He is far too sweet and gentle for this dark world and it will destroy him piece by piece. Change the world for him if you must. I know that is within your power.
Destiny is not for the faint of heart.
Van I'm sorry. I hope one day you will find a life of joy and love. Know that even though I am gone, my love for you will never fade. I will watch over you for all your days, and find peace only when you do.
Varie Koraki de Fanel
Did Folken know she planned to commit suicide? Did that knowledge pause his hand and open himself up for weakness in a time that only decisive action will work? Could something or someone have stalled this series of unfortunate events or was it meant to be?
Regardless, I have become the man I am today in part of these tragic memories. The sacrifice and selfishness that often seem to walk hand in hand.
Along with mothers words we have included Hitomi's journal. The blue bound book's spine suffered some damage from my tantrum but the words still hold true. The girl from the mystic moon added one last entry.
This is my life and these are my words. Never forget that strength is not given it is earned. Compassion breeds care and understanding. Believe in yourself, because if you don't how can you believe in others.
My life was forever changed one summer night when I was only fifteen, and though I saw so much pain, death, and destruction… I also saw hope, determination, and love.
If I could go back and live my life all over again, I wouldn't change a thing. I am the person… the woman I am today because of how my life was effected by a boy and a dragon. I don't know how much I believe in prophesy, but I can share what I do believe. Destiny is what we make for ourselves through action, reaction, and understanding.
So go make your own destiny.
Hitomi Kanzaki de Fanel
Included with the two books is Folken's feather just as he has wished for it to be. I have decided the toy though a good symbol for a child would not fit as a representation of me and the path I chose to walk. I did not write down my thoughts like Hitomi and Mother. I have left am inpresion on this world that Folken could have never dreamed of, and though I refuse to let his memory fade I will never walk in his footsteps.
With all the love and support Hitomi and I have to give we pray that his namesake will have the happy fully life he never had the chance to.
Taking a crisply folded parchment from my pocket I place it on top of the other donations. Closing the lid, then I replace the box into the brightly colored fabric. The whole package fits into the hollow where I first found the objects that would end up changing my life, this time for the better. Once the marble was replaced no one would ever know the secrets and the stories hidden beneath. Maybe one day my children or grandchildren would need guidance, then and only then would it deserve to be found.
I began gathering the cleaning gear my traditional tasks done with the added goal of returning the words to memory where they belong.
Hitomi stepped closer to me. "Are you ready to go home?"
The small child in her arms chirped excitedly, his cubby little arms reaching. Giving into his wishes I took the boy in my arms. Looking between his round face and my wife I felt a deep contentment settle throught out me very being.
"Yes, Let's go home."
Hitomi has never asked what I wrote in that letter to the next person fortunate enough to find the written accounts of the two most important women in my life. I'm sure she never will, but I will never forget those words as long as I live.
If you have found these words let me impart a small introduction. Within these pages you will find a great many things. Prophesies of destruction. Visions of death. Dreams of hope. Choices made that effect more than just two lives. And the greatest love story of all time, the one between a mother and her child.
These pages tell the story of many lives touched by one destiny. Who is to say that fate is predetermined, but in my experience there are a million tiny factors that can affect everything, and it is the person's 'will' that determines their fortune.
For all the darkness and pain in this world there is always a glimmer of hope. Hitomi has always been my light. I pray you are so lucky as to find your very own spark to guide you through the shadows.
Van Salazar de Fanel, 32nd King of Fanlia
AN- Thank you so much for reading to the end! It means the world to me! This story may be done, but I have many more ideas heading your way. I have two new stories mapped out, an M-rated Oneshot in the works… and chapter 19 of Last Person on Earth around here somewhere.
Please think about revewing. It means so much to me.
If you think about it an average rule of a king in medieval times couldn't have been more the 20-25 years. Shorter life expectancy, intrigue, wars, so on (unless you factor France into the equation and then it's much… much shorter. Like the average drops to 10 on the high side.) King Goau was 48 when he died. Say he was in his early twenties when he took the throne then 25 years was about the length of his rule. 25 times 32 different rulers… The Fanels or the line they came from has been ruling for 800 years. Not too shabby. Another author put Van as the 74th king in their story that put them on the throne for more than 1850 years (If you use my average). In that era it seemed too long for me. Fanelia is a small rural country that relies mainly on agriculture. I'd think that before the Fanels took office that bit of fertile land would have changed hands a lot. It also makes a lot of sense that King Goau was at war when he met Varie defending his country from other powers. So the peaceful rule the country was enjoying before Zaibach attacked was actually the rare.
Oh and though it's not going to be in any actually story Van will retire from ruling at forty five so his twenty eight year old son Folken Shou de Fanel can take the throne with him as an advisor. Van rules for thirty years but lives for more than eighty years with the 'girl' from the mystic moon at his side until the very end...