Recompense

Disclaimer: I own nothing of "The Vision of Escaflowne. Otherwise, Folken and Eries would somehow be together.

Note: Happy Birthday, Eries!

The final chapter/epilogue at last! And I made it just in time too! It's short but extremely happy so I hope you find it a fitting ending to a rather dramatic story.

Again with the fluff but that was the main point of the story, to give an incandescently happy ending to characters who had otherwise sad fates in the series. That is the joy of writing fan fiction. We get to give our favorite characters their well-deserved happiness. (I also took some lines from the film adaptation of my favorite nineteenth century novel. No big surprise there. It has always been an inspiration for Folken and Eries anyway.)

This is definitely the happier sequel to a story I wrote exactly two years ago, "No Such Luck." That story ended on a sad note but this one more than makes up for that.

I've had this story planned for years but never got down to doing it. And I've discovered that giving myself a deadline is often the most effective incentive for me to complete a story. So in spite of the lack of sleep and the negligence of some of my studies, I do not regret this decision and I'm glad that I finally finished this story. I intend to continue my other unfinished Folken/Eries story, "Drink in the Moonlight" but how soon I will be able to post an update is still uncertain as I have to get back to focusing on school work as well as updating a couple of other stories.

At the end I've included the poem that was the inspiration for both the title and the story itself. It's a lovely poem that I really felt fitted the situation between Folken and Eries.

And I'd like to express my huge gratitude to everyone who read and reviewed this story of mine and who continued to support my Folken/Eries pieces!

I would especially like to thank windwraith and Millefiore for your constant support and encouragement. Thank you for everything! I greatly appreciate all your feedback and comments.

So without further ado, here is the final chapter!

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Fanelia was on the mend.

The young man made his way through the halls of the newly rebuilt castle and did all his rounds. He checked to see if everything was in order or if anything was required of him. As he exited the castle, he met some of his countrymen on the street. They greeted him cheerfully and warmly, just like old times. Folken smiled and waved back at them.

The wounds of the past were healing quickly and people had learned to forgive and forget. They were all working together to build a brighter future for their beloved land. Old resentments had been set aside for cooperation and camaraderie.

The young king had assumed his responsibilities with admirable wisdom and maturity. He was determined to repair all that the war had destroyed and create a land his ancestors would be proud of. And he wasn't alone in his struggle. He had the support of old friends as well as many new allies with whom he had forged strong friendships during the war. And now, he also had an extended family surrounding him after he reconciled with his formerly estranged older brother.

Folken watched his brother proudly and did his duty by him as a court advisor. Folken's extensive knowledge and experience in the field of diplomacy as well as technology was of great help to the young king. The older brother was only too happy to be able to make amends for the damage he had been responsible for causing in Fanelia. And more importantly, he was slowly regaining the trust and love of his brother.

Little by little, step by step, things were getting better. Everyday Folken thanked whatever higher power that enabled him to have this second chance at life.

He looked around him, marveling at how far they had all come in such a short time. Fate was not so cruel after all. Doors were not always closed forever. There was always hope.

There was much work to be done and he was exhausted every day but he could not complain. He was happier than he had ever been in a long time and he was only glad that he could still live such a privileged life.

He had refused Van's offers for him to live at the castle because he felt that a simpler domicile would suit him better. Though he still had a position in court, Folken did not want to live in the same pomp and circumstance as the others. Fanelia had never been a place for grandeur and ostentation. Folken preferred small but comfortable living quarters not far from his brother but not exactly in the castle.

Even though Van had accepted and welcomed him back, Folken still felt that he did not deserve to be living like royalty anymore, not after turning his back on that life for ten years. He preferred a simpler, happier existence and Van respected his decision.

He concluded his duties, and then Folken eagerly made his way home.

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As he approached the cottage-like structure, the sound of a woman humming could be heard from outside.

Folken smiled as he entered the house and went straight towards the room where the humming emanated.

Sunlight poured into the room. It was simply furnished but filled with warmth and love like only a true home could have. It was small but complete with everything anyone could ever need.

Inside was a pale young woman with long, straight, golden hair, and a warm, affectionate smile on her face as she cradled a baby in her arms. She was standing in such a manner that she was bathed in the sunlight, and it almost seemed like she was not of this world.

She hummed a lullaby she had heard her own mother sing and gazed at her son with shining eyes. She held the child lovingly in her arms, as if she had never seen anything so beautiful.

From the doorway, the father stood entranced by the scene. Nothing could ever be more perfect than this moment and he wished he could capture the happiness he felt and never let it go. He remembered having a vision of this very scene five years ago in Freid but he had dismissed this as a dream that would never come true. But now, here he stood, and the dream had become a reality.

He leaned against the doorway and marveled at the wonders before him. The woman he loved. Their first child. His family. A whole life ahead of them, a future he had never imagined possible for him. He was beyond gratitude, he was humbled by the chance that had been given him.

It did not take her long to notice his presence. She turned to look at him and her face lit up with joy at his arrival. Then, she smiled that incomparable smile of hers and he felt his heart swell within him.

"Welcome home, my love," Eries said simply, but these words were enough to throw Folken into a fit of ecstasy.

This was perfection. He could never want for anything for the rest of his life.

Folken returned her smile and approached her immediately, unable to contain his eagerness to be together again. He cupped her face with both hands and kissed her tenderly, before kissing the forehead of the babe in her arms. He then enfolded them both in a tight embrace.

"And to what do I owe this explosion of endearment?" Eries teased.

"To your very existence, my love," Folken replied cheerfully, "and the wonderful life you have given me."

"The feeling is mutual," Eries replied, "So need I even ask, are you happy, my dear?"

"Completely, perfectly, and incandescently happy, my dearest Eries," Folken replied with conviction.

Eries laughed lightly at this superfluous display of affection. Her husband was constantly surprising her with his expressiveness. But she did not complain. After spending their lives wearing masks and hiding their true emotions, it was refreshing and liberating to be able to express themselves openly.

Both of them had learned to stop regretting the mistakes of the past. After all, there was no way to change what had already come to pass. But one thing they had learned after all that had happened was that Fate did not take something away without giving something in return. For every ounce of suffering they had endured in the past, they were now being rewarded by an even greater dose of joy.

So Eries and Folken never dwelt bitterly on the opportunities they lost years ago because they had been blessed with a life together that exceeded their wildest dreams.

And if they were asked if it was all worth it, all the years spent apart in order for them to be together for good, they would answer: absolutely.

"Recompense"

Straight through my heart this fact to-day,

By Truth's own hand is driven:

God never takes one thing away,

But something else is given.

I did not know in earlier years,

This law of love and kindness;

I only mourned through bitter tears

My loss, in sorrow's blindness.

But, ever following each regret

O'er some departed treasure,

My sad repining heart was met

With unexpected pleasure.

I thought it only happened so;

But time this truth taught me –

No least thing from my life can go,

But something else is brought to me.

It is the Law, complete, sublime;

And now, with Faith unshaken,

In patience I but bide my time

When any joy is taken.

No matter if the crushing blow

May for the moment down me,

Still, back of it waits Love, I know

With some new gift to crown me.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

-FIN-