Zero no Tsukaima:
The Legend of Zero

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Chapter 1: Homecoming

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"These buildings, they're taller than I had imagined." Louise's eyes were brightly glued to the window next to her seat, her small mouth grinning wide in awe as tall mirrored towers and billboards spanned across her field of vision. Saito's lips curled into a faint smile as he looked at her. Just out of the corner of her eye, Louise caught him staring at her and blushed. "W-what are you smiling about?"

"You're cute," he said. Louise was a short girl with a pretty face and pink hair. Despite her beauty, she didn't posses the development or sex appeal of other young women her age. Her short stature and small bust size occasionally caused people to confuse her for a child, or at least younger than a girl in her late teens.

"Stupid dog," Louise muttered. She tilted her nose up and furrowed her brow in disgust. She quickly glanced out of the corner of her eye to make sure Saito was still looking at her.

Saito hung his arm around her and brought her closer to him. She resisted at first, but then rested her head on his shoulder and took another bite out of her crepe. The two of them had spent the first half of the day walking through Tokyo's business district. He had taken her to arcades, shopping malls, and food stands. He brought some gold ecus that he was able to convert into cash. It was a sizable amount, but even so, Louise easily blew through most of it with the amount of clothing and jewelry she had bought.

They were both exhausted. It'd been a long day, and Saito looked as if he was drifting in and out of sleep. Louise took his hand and played with the band around his finger. It matched one that Louise wore on her own hand, one she'd been wearing for less than a week.

"Saito?" Louise tried to get Saito's attention, but he was becoming increasingly unaware of his surroundings. "Hey Saito!" Again, he didn't respond. Louise frowned, then she grabbed his nose and twisted.

Louise hadn't given Saito any time to phase through his grogginess. Like splashing cold water on a drunk, Saito was instantly awake and apparently much more sober in mind than he was two seconds ago. "Aaah! Louise, what the hell do you think your doing?!"

"A familiar should listen when his master is speaking to him!" Louise snapped at Saito. Even after everything they'd been through, In Louise's eyes, Saito was still her familiar-her servant, and she wasn't going to let a little thing like marriage relinquish her dominion over him. "Humph!" Louise crossed her arms over her chest and faced the other way in indignation. After a long pause, Louise finally swallowed her pride and asked him the question that had been bothering her throughout the trip. "Are you nervous?"

Saito seemed to be still reeling from the trauma she had inflicted to his nose, waiting for the pain to wane to a degree that he finally registered her question. He was still rubbing his noise as he replied. "Nervous? Yeah, I suppose so. I haven't seen them in over a year, they haven't had an explanation as to why I suddenly disappeared. To be honest, I'm not sure what I'm going to say to my mom."

Louise looked downward and bit her lip. "She must have been worried this whole time." It'd been over a year since Saito had fallen out of the sky, and into Louise's world. Back then, she couldn't have been any more devastated. The summon servant ceremony was a chance for her to finally show her peers that the third born of the Valliere family was not deserving of the nickname 'Zero Louise'. She had fantasized about summoning something magnificent, like a dragon or a griffin. Instead she had summoned an ordinary teenage boy, a commoner. It was the most degrading humiliation she had ever endured up to that point.

Louise thought about everything that had happened, everything they had been through. Louise, who was thoroughly unskilled in all of the elements, had turned out to be a void mage. She was among a handful people in Halkegina who could use the legendary element-void, thought by many to be a mere myth. Because of this power, she and Saito had found themselves fighting against golems, gargoyles, and against a nefarious king who would have used her powers to commit mass murder.

Every single time she had come close to dying, Saito was there to save her. He wasn't what she expected or wanted, a mere commoner with no manners or common sense. He was just a familiar, but ran off and did things on his own, and worse still, payed far too much attention to other girls. Somehow, somewhere down the line, Louise started needing him, expecting him to always be around. She even came to love him.

But the fact that he stood by her side, meant that there was a family somewhere in the universe that had lost him without any explanation of why. It was because Louise took him from them. The thought racked Louise's heart with guilt.

A small hint of wetness welled up in Louise's eyes. Saito's lips curled into a coy half-smile as he said, "Of course I've missed my mom and dad, and I'm sure they've missed me. But, if I were a parent, I think I'd want my kids to be happy, and I'm happiest when I'm with you. As tears started to streak down her face, Saito bent down and closed the distance between them.


...


Louise was jolted awake as the train came to a screeching halt. "Looks like this is our stop," Saito said. Before Louise could fully open her eyes, Saito was pulling her out of her seat. "It should take about fifteen minutes to walk from here to my old house," he said.

"I'm tired of walking, why don't you just go buy a horse?" She rubbed her eyes and let out a loud yawn. "I'll wait here until you return."

"People don't ride horses in Tokyo, besides, you've spent just about every dime I have."

Louise shot him a sharp, disapproving glare. "You complain too much. Whining over a thin purse when you are still wealthy back at home, isn't it better that you treat your master every once in a while? Really, I've been too good to you lately and your starting to get ahead of yourself!"

"Oh, uh, I'm not complaining," he said. "I'm just stating the truth of our situation. We aren't in a position to be spending much more. It was fun though, really. Actually, I'm really looking forward to seeing you in that dress."

Louise's scowl melted into a tender, bashful smile.

The two of them walked away from the train station and started heading down the sidewalk. The road was really busy this time of day, and several times Saito had to prevent Louise from walking out in the middle of the street. She still wasn't used to dealing with the bustling traffic of Tokyo's roadways. "Geez, your going to get us both killed!"

"Shut up, and stop being so dramatic. I know what I'm doing!"

After about twenty minutes and plenty of complaining from Louise, they were in Saito's neighborhood. Louise looked at the rows of houses that lined the streets. This really was a different world. The streets still looked like streets, homes still looked like homes, but other than that, nothing could be mistaken as something belonging to Halkegina. Compared to the tall towers that dominated the previous section of the city, the houses were much more reminiscent of a village like Tarbes, except it looked nothing like Tarbes. The architecture was entirely alien, the streets were paved in solid stone, and even the trees were somehow different from any species she was familiar with. "We really aren't in Halkegenia any more" she said in astonishment.

Louise was having the same disorienting experience Saito must have had when he suddenly appeared at the Tristain Academy of Magic. "You'll get used to it," he said. Louise walked with Saito with her arm linked with his.

Louise smiled at Saito, his face was stuck in a state of astonishment. She looked forward to see what he was staring at. A tall, beautiful girl with long black hair and an ample bosom was walking towards them. Upon catching sight of Saito and Louise, the girl began to trod cheerfully. The girl's breasts bounced up and down as she ran towards them, something Saito didn't seem to fail to notice. Louise frowned and stared at Saito threateningly.

"Saito?, Hiraga Saito?! Is that really you?" The girl stood there for a second in awe, then smiled as she ran after him. In an instant, she tackled him to the ground. "It's really you! Where have you been? What happened? Why didn't you call?" The girl had Saito pinned to the ground, asking him a number of rapid fire questions. A surge of rage flowed through Louise's veins. She couldn't help but feel that this overly cheerful girl must be the girlfriend Saito left behind. Now that they're reunited, she was all over him, forcefully tackling him to the ground and embracing him. The girl's large breasts were pressed into Saito's face.

Blood-lust prompted Louise to raise her wand up, the tip slightly glowing. Saito, of all people, must have known full well what was about to happen. Louise was prone to venting her rage through explosive magical attacks, usually aimed at him. Saito immediately jumped up to stop her. "No Louise, you can't! not here! you can't blow up here!" Louise responded to his pleas by kicking him in his nether regions. Saito crumpled to his knees, holding his abused jewels.

Louise's eyes pierced through the dark shadows cast by her hair. "S-S-SAITO! W-Who is this?! Is she your girlfriend? D-d-did you have a girlfriend back home and forget to tell your WIFE?!" Before Saito could answer, she quickly kicked him in the crotch again.

"No . . Louise... misunderstanding. . ." Saito's voice gave out as he groined in pain. "Louise, this is Makoto. Makoto, meet . . . my wife, Louise."

Makoto looked at Saito, and then at Louise. She stood dumbfounded for a few seconds, blinked a couple times, and then looked as if she was getting ready to explode with excitement. "You got married!? Makoto squealed. "I'm so happy for you!" As Saito was still trying to get to his feet, Makoto pounced on both Saito and Louise and pulled them into an aggressive hug "When was it? Is she pregnant? Are you planning on having a baby? Were there a lot of people there?"

Makoto relinquished the death grip she had on the newly weds and her bubbly demeanor subsided. "Wait a minute, aren't you a little young to get married, and, WHERE THE HELL HAVE YOU BEEN! It's been over a year. They sent out search parties; your parents have been worried like crazy!"

"I know"

"Then why . . . "

"It's a long story," Saito said. "Listen, Makoto, it was great seeing you again, but Id better show my face to my mother before the sun goes down. I have a lot of explaining to do, and not much time. If you would, I'd like to keep this under the radar. I don't have time to explain, but things are complicated as it is without getting other people involved, it's going to be hard enough explaining this to my parents."

Makoto looked confused, but then smiled cheerfully and nodded."I understand. Well, take care. It was nice meeting you, Louise!"

Louise, remembering her aristocratic pride, and in total contrast to her earlier brutality, gave Makato a very dignified curtsy. She then turned around and shot a piercing glare at Saito. Her face was red with anger and she gave off an almost demonic aura. She waited until Makoto was out of earshot, then lashed out at Saito. "So, are you going to explain to me who that was and why she was all over you, or not!"

"She's just a friend!" he said nervously, holding out his hands to defend himself from another attack. "You've got the wrong idea. She's just like that, and besides, she's dating a friend of mine!"

Louise was still angry, but Saito's explanation sounded reasonable enough, at least for the time being.


...


Louise followed Saito to a house at the end of the street. It wasn't big, but it was of decent size compared to all the others on the block. Saito rang the doorbell and they both waited. A woman that looked to be in her late-thirties opened the door. She had dark circles over her eyes and her hair was disheveled. She looked like she hadn't slept in quite a while. A deafening silence dominated the air. The woman stood there, frozen. She stared at Saito for what seemed like an eternity.

"H-hello Mom, sorry I haven't phoned home." Saito apparently couldn't find anything else to say. The middle-aged woman stood there for a while without blinking, she looked as if she wanted to speak, but couldn't let out any words.

"S-Saito?" She put both hands over her mouth and started crying profusely. She fell to her knees. Saito ran over to catch her. His mother buried her face into his chest, lightly hitting him with her fists. "I thought . . . I thought you were dead!" she said. As Saito wrapped his arms around his mother, Louise thought that he looked like a father consoling his child.

"I thought I would never see you again! Why wouldn't you call? Why wouldn't you let us know you were okay?" Her voice was starting to crack.

"I'm sorry, mom." His eyes began to water. Louise watched as Saito held his mother, both of them were crying. Louise was so transfixed by the scene that she hadn't realized that tears were flowing down her own face. They stayed like this for a while, no one spoke. After Mrs. Hiraga had soaked the sleeve of Saito's shirt, she finally looked up at Louise, as if she was just now noticing her.

"Oh, you must be . . . Saito's girlfriend?" she said, wiping the tears from her eyes.

"Well, um . . . something like that. It's sort of a long story."

"Well, why are we all out here for?" Mrs. Hiraga's eyes were still wet as she smiled, she was more composed than she had been moments before. "Come inside and tell me all about it." Mrs. Hiraga stood up and held the door open as she motioned for for Louise to come inside.

Louise walked into the house and sat next to Saito on his parent's Sofa. The room wasn't very big. It wasn't nearly as luxurious or grand as what Louise was accustomed to, but the decor and furnishings were much nicer than what you would expect of a plebeian family. Portraits on the wall depicted members of the Hiraga family, several of them were of Saito at different ages. "Wait here just a moment," Mrs. Hiraga said as she left the room.

Moments later, she returned dragging in a man in his early forties. His eyes and jet black hair were very reminiscent of both Saito and his mother. It was obvious that this was Saito's father. Louise thought that this man must be what Saito would look like later on in life. Despite being much older, he still looked very fit. In many ways he was a slightly taller, slightly bulkier version of his boyish, teenage son.

"Hanae, what's so important that you have to-" The man stared at Saito with his mouth gaping wide open.

The first expression on Mr. Hiraga's face was shock, the second was outrage. Louise thought the man was going to explode.

"You wanna tell me just where the hell you've been all this time, and who this is? Have you no heart, Saito? We thought you died!"

Hanae turned towards her husband and scolded him. "Calm down, Eiji! Let the boy explain himself."

"But-"

"We see our son for the first time, in a long time, and the first thing you do is start to yell at him? You should be ashamed of yourself!"

Eiji scratched his head and grumbled to himself. He took in a deep breath and Sighed. "Saito, there's not a day that's gone by that I didn't grieve for you, not at day has gone by that I didn't worry or wonder what had happened. I've had to watch your mother fall apart, your disapearance has affected every facet of our lives.

"I can't even begin to tell you how much of a relief it is to see you sitting there alive and well, but could you please explain to us what the heck is going on with you?!"

Louise immediately stood up. "I-I-I'm deeply sorry. It's not Saito's fault, Mr. Hiraga. It is mine. I summoned him to my world. My name is Louise Françoise Le Blanc de La Val-" Louise stopped herself. She had been a Vallière up until a week ago, then she married Saito. "I'm sorry, my name is Louise Françoise Le Blanc de Hiraga de Ornielle, daughter to Duke De La Valliere and I am your son's . . . I'm Saito's wife!"

Saito's parents shot each other quick glances of disbelief before looking back at Saito and Louise. They were both speechless. This girl was telling them that she was now their daughter-in-law, that she and that their son were married. Once more, this foreign girl who somehow speaks perfect Japanese had introduced herself as the daughter of a duke. Neither one could tell if this was a joke, or if she was serious. Had their son really run off to another country and got married? Could this really be the daughter of some sort of nobility, and did such things as dukes and nobility still exist somewhere in the modern world?

Both of Saito's parents sat and stared in astonishment as Saito explained about Halkeginia, about mages, the princess, his becoming a Knight, and about the fact that he was now married to Louise. Saito conveniently left out the war in Albion, his role as Gandalfr, or the numerous times that he and Louise had been put into danger. At first neither his mother, nor his father said a word. Both seemed to still be trying to process what their son was telling them. Mr Hiraga's eyes softened as he scratched at the hairs on his chin. He looked as if he was deep in contemplation.

"Son. . . tell us the truth. Whatever happened, whatever the reason, it doesn't matter. We're just glad your safe and back home."

Saito looked at Louise and shrugged his shoulders. "That is the truth, this is why I've been gone all this time."

"Son, your talking nonsense. So you ran away and got married, so what? We've all done stupid things in our youth. There's no need to spin this tale of a fantasy-land straight out of an anime."

"I'm not lying dad, it's the truth!"

"You joined a gang, didn't you? No, wait, that doesn't make sense." Mr. Hiraga was muttering to himself and then looked as if an idea crossed his mind that made him gnash his teeth together. "You've been sexually abused by a pervert all this time, and are too ashamed to tell us about it! You poor kids have been brainwashed by the sicko who abused, haven't you? I swear on your grandmother's grave I'll kill the bastard!"

Saito and Louise were too stunned by Mr. Hiraga's theatrics and wild conclusions to muster anything that would resemble coherent thought or words.

"Partner would at least be getting some action if that were the case." The voice seemed to come out of nowhere, speaking with a tone of irreverence and crass.

Eiji looked around. "Who said that?"

"Are your ears going bad, old man? Hah! Luckily I don't have that problem, I don't have ears!"

Hanae's eyes were wide with shock as she pointed at the glowing glyphs on Saito's hand. "Saito! D-did your hand just speak?"

"Mom, Dad" Saito said, " this is Derflinger." Louise shook her head as she watched a situation that was quickly turning into a farce. On top of everything else, they would have to explain to them about a talking sword that isn't a sword anymore but an entity living in the runes on Saito's hand. Before Louise even got a chance to interject into the conversation, Saito's mom fainted.

Saito quickly ran off into the kitchen, soon he was back with a cup of cold water. His dad helped move his mother on to the sofa. "Here mom, drink this." Saito propped her head up and and moved the straw towards her mouth. Neither Eiji, nor Hanae, had any reason now to doubt Saito's story.

"So all that stuff about magic, it's really true, isn't it?" She said, "And you were really stuck in another world?"

"I'm sorry about that," Louise said meekly. "I didn't know this was going to happen when I cast the summon spell. Once he appeared in our world, I was unable to send him back. I've only recently gained the power to traverse between our worlds using the 'world door' spell."

Hanae had gone from disbelief, to fascination. "So when you talk about traversing between our worlds, you mean . . ."

Here, I'll show you!" Louise held out her wand and began to chant. The stem glowed, first dimly, then it got brighter until finally it seemed to produce arcs of neon blue. Louise finished chanting and suddenly a small disk appeared in front of them. It looked like a mirror, but instead of showing the reflection of the Hiraga residence, the room on the other side stood as a complete contrast. It was luxurious and spacious with elaborate, eloquent wall designs and finely crafted furnishings.

Eiji reached out to touch the mirror-like object that floated in front of them. His hand went into it, and could not be seen from the other side. "Amazing!" he said.

A maid with medium-length black hair walked past, she was apparently absorbed in the task of dusting. The young woman was surprised to see Louise, Saito, and the Hiragas all staring at her. She turned around and yelled in Louise's face.

"Miss Valliere!"

"It's not Valliere, it's Mrs. Hiraga to you!" Saito's personal maid, and Louise had a long-standing rivalry for Saito's affection. Though Saito was Louise's familiar, and he had fallen in love with her a long time ago, the maid continued to flirt with him and agitate Louise. Louise wasn't about to let her get away with using her family name.

"But Mrs. Valliere," Siesta said, completely disregarding Louise's orders, "It's been so little time since the wedding, and I am so used to your previous title."

"Then call me Louise."

"Waah?!" Siesta looked at Louise as if she had just lost her sanity. It was completely out of character for Louise to ask a servant, especially Siesta, to call her by her given name. "B-but, miss Vallie-" Louis grew tired of speaking with her and closed the portal.

"Who was that?" Hanae said.

Louise quickly melted her cold, harsh expression and turned to face the Hiragas. "That was Siesta, the maid of the De Ornielles estate."

"And that must be a portal!" Hanae said. "That was the 'other world' you were talking about on the other side, wasn't it? So, that's how you kids came back here."

"That's right." Louise looked down at the floor and fidgeted. "You have to know, when I cast the summon servant spell, I had no idea that Saito would be called. Usually it's some sort of beast, summoning a human is entirely unprecedented." Having seen how much Saito's disapearance had affected this family, was too much for Louise to bear.

Hanae put her hands on Louise's shoulders and smiled at her warmly. "Hey kiddo, it's not like you meant for any of this to happen. You've got nothing to apologize to any of us over. More importantly," Hanae looked over at her son. "are you happy?"

Saito thought for a moment. He'd been through hell and back to save a world he wasn't born into, and had been forced to do the bidding of a thankless master who treated him no better than a dog. Louise was spoiled, haughty, short-tempered, violent, more trouble than he thought he could handle at times-and he loved her more than anyone else in the world. "More than I've ever been in my life," he said.

"Then this girl has my thanks."

Louise's cheeks turned the same shade of pink as her hair.

Mrs Hiraga sat up. "Well, Your both probably exhausted from a trip across the universe, and it's about time for dinner."


...


Louise sat with Saito and his father at a table in their small dining room. Saito's mother was in the kitchen. Saito and his father were both chatting away. The anger that Mr. Hiraga had shown earlier had vanished, leaving all but his usual jovial personality. Saito's father talked about work. Saito went on and on about Colbert and his inventions, and how they had recovered a Zero fighter, which seemed to really astonish Mr. Hiraga.

"How did you come across an A6M Zero in this other world anyway?" Eiji took a sip of his coffee as he spoke to his son. Louise thought it was strange that this man was drinking coffee in the evening.

"It seems I'm not the only person or thing to be summoned in that world." Saito said.

"This Colbert, it sound's like he's very intelligent, If he was able to repair and maintain something like that, without having any experience with that kind of technology. I think I'd like to meet this guy."

"Actually, he's always said that he'd like to see my world some day."

"If he's been good to you, then he's welcome here."

Louise couldn't help but compare her own family. She was close to her second eldest sister, Cattleya and her father spoiled her whenever he could, but both her parents were often busy managing their estate, and with their involvement in state affairs, there really wasn't much time to spend with one another. Meals were cooked by a team of highly skilled chefs and attendants answered every need of the three Valliere sisters. She had grown up in an environment where closeness in familial bonding took a backseat to the training and conditioning one needs to display the grace, elegance, and dignity of a proper noble.

Mrs Hiraga came out from the kitchen carrying steaming pots of rice and soup. The smell was absolutely intoxicating. Louise hadn't realized just how hungry she was until she smelled the food. There were no forks, knives, or spoons to speak of. In the place of silverware, lay two wooden sticks. Louise looked at Saito to see how he was eating his meal. He picked up both sticks with one hand. and used them to pick up small clumps of rice. Louise tried the same but failed miserably each time. Louise's face turned red with embarrassment as she clumsily tried to hold the chopsticks in place. In frustration she thought about using her hands, but then cursed herself for thinking of something so un-lady-like.

"Here," Saito said. "you hold them like this." He gently coaxed her fingers into the correct position. Louise smiled sheepishly and continued to eat her food. She thought Saito seemed happier than he had in a long time. No doubt, he was glad to be back home eating with his family, the first time in over a year that he had been able to do so. Louise was glad that not only has she finally returned her familiar home, but she could be here with him.

"So, Louise," Ms Hiraga said, "How is it that you know Japanese? Did Saito teach you?"

"Japanese?"

"It's the language of this country." Saito said.

The runes on Saito shone as Delfringer decided to put he own two cents into the conversation. "It's the properties of void"

"The properties of void?" Saito spat rice as he spoke, his words nearly incoherent.

"Must you repeat everything I say?" I don't remember much, but it has something to do with how you both used that world door to come into this strange place. I'd be inconvenient for a familiar to misunderstand it's master, so void powers are naturally enchanted with such properties."

Both of Saito's parents were fascinated with the conversation Saito was having with his hand. Louise had recalled the silence spell that had malfunctioned and caused Saito to be able to both understand words, and have his words understood in her world. Did the spell react this way because she was a void mage? Louise quickly lost interest and continued to greedily shove rice into her mouth.

As she was nearly finished with her meal Louise felt the hem of her skirt being pulled up. She quickly darted her eyes at Saito, giving him a cold death glare, but Saito kept eating and acting like nothing was going on. He steadily held a conversation with his mother without skipping a beat. Louise kept trying to swat his hand away, and even tried pinching him; apparently he had built up a high tolerance for pain.

Louise hadn't said anything to him in spite, or done anything violent since they arrived at his family's home. It must have finally dawned on Saito that Louise was trying to maintain appearances. She was acting nicer than usual, and wouldn't do anything that might upset either one of Saito's parents. Louise watched a devilish smile curl on Saito's face as he completely took advantage of the situation.

"Louise would you like some more miso soup?"

"Y-y-y-y-y-yes-s-s p-p-pl-please." Louise stuttered profusely while trying to maintain an awkward smile on her face. She looked over at Saito again, her eyes were telling him to cut it out, but he persisted. Louise hands shook as she brought the bowl to her mouth and drank the soup. It took all her effort and concentration to not spill it. Saito still wouldn't quit teasing her.

Somehow Saito managed to conceal his arm movements. Louise was at her limit. Her face was starting to turn a bright shade of red, and she seemed to be unaware of the fact that she was eating her chopsticks.


...


"What's with him?" Louise sat in front of a mirror in Saito's room, combing her hair and talking to her own reflection. Out of fear of mortal embarrassment and an unexplainable awkward situation, Louise had let Saito do lewd things to her at the dinner table. "It's not like I wanted him to do that!" she said. "Well, maybe it wasn't all that bad, but he went too far!"

After dinner, Louise had quickly excused herself and retired to Saito's room. His parent's didn't seem to have a problem with them sleeping in the same bed, considering that they were both, in actuality, husband and wife. Louise changed into her nightgown and dove face-first into a pillow. She was just glad the whole thing went unnoticed by Saito's parents.

As she lay there in Saito's bed, contemplating the actions of her familiar, Louise was overloaded with embarrassment and anger. She quickly thought of ways to make Saito pay for this infraction on her dignity.

Louise removed her panties and was in the middle of changing into another pair, but then she stopped. How would Saito react if he were to walk in and find her just as she was? Thoughts of seducing and teasing Saito poured into her head. If she did that, she was sure that Saito wouldn't be able control himself. She began to fantasize about Saito coming into the room and pushing her onto the bed. Steam came out of Louise's ears as her brain overloaded and crashed.

She snapped herself back to reality for a brief moment. "No, that wouldn't be right, we've only been married for a week. Even three months would be too short a time!" Despite her own protests, Louise continued to entertain the fantasies. Just as she was about to become lost in her thoughts, she noticed a corner of what seemed to be a thin book sticking out from under the mattress.

Louise lifted the mattress and pulled out a stack of paper booklets with scantily clad women on the covers. These obviously belonged to that perverted mutt. Louise thumbed through the magazines, many of the women were naked. Every single woman in those magazines had large breasts. Saito had lied to her time and time again, told her that he preferred small breasts, that he preferred Louise. She shook with rage.


-oOo-


"Your going back? But this is your home!" Hanae said, quickly putting away the rest of the dishes. "You've been stuck in that other world for so long, and your talking about going back now?"

"I know, but I got a life there now, Mom." Saito still sat at the dinner table, talking to his mother. Eiji had gone off to the living room to catch the evening news, and Louise had gone to bed earlier. Saito hadn't realized how much time had gone past, but the sky had already grew dark.

"You've got a life here."

"I'm eighteen years old, do you really want Louise and I hanging around here, mooching off of you?"

"Of course."

"I've got my own place, and believe or not, I've managed to become prosperous - enough to take care of you and dad." Saito tried not to go into too much detail, her head would explode if he told her that he had his own mansion and territory.

"We don't need to be taken care of, but I see what you mean. It's just that I finally get to see you again, and your going to take off on me."

"Louise's life is there, her parents, her school; not only that, but I have a future in Halkeginia. You and I both know that even if I had finished high-school, I wouldn't have gotten into a good college. It's not going to be for long. With Louise's powers, I'll be able to visit often. It'll be no different from getting an apartment here in Tokyo."

"I don't think I want you to move out at all. I get it, your all grown up now. You just better make good on your promise to visit often."

Saito hugged his mother and went up the stairs and towards his old room.

Opening the door, Saito could see that not much had changed since he had last left. Model aircraft and tanks that he constructed years ago sat on the dresser and book shelf. His desk was organized and free of dust. Everything looked as if the room was cleaned on a regular basis, but otherwise left untouched since he left.

Louise lay on the bed with her head resting on her arm. She wore a translucent night gown with her hair draped across the bed. It was a scene that would have stopped him in his tracks not long ago, but now no longer phased him. Even before they became romantically involved, Saito's status as her familiar and the fact that their was only one bed in her dorm necessitated both of them sleeping in the same bed. He had long since gotten used to seeing her like this.

Saito gulped down a swelling growth of nervousness that suddenly overcame him. She was looking at him as if she was a leopard about to go in for the kill. It was times like these where he couldn't tell what Louise was thinking. He was tired and needed to go to bed, but feared his life would be in danger if he got any closer to her. The next thing to come out of Louise's mouth defied all his expectations.

"I'm not wearing any panties"

All at once the hairs on the back of Saito's neck stood up. Two seconds ago, he thought she was going to murder him. Now it seemed as if she was coming on to him. "Do you know why?" she said seductively.

"N-no, I-I-I've no idea."

Suddenly Louise's face twisted into a grotesque, maddening snarl as she screamed at him. "It's so I can do this, you perverted, dumb mutt!" Louise jumped up from her position and pounced on Saito. "Choke on it!" she yelled, shoving her wet panties down his throat. She had her tiny fist thoroughly lodged into his mouth.

Saito tried to plead with his deranged wife, but her fist and wadded underwear was making it impossible to speak. Saito grabbed Louise by the arm and tried to pull her hand out of his mouth, but she was surprisingly strong. They both rolled on the floor for a while in a bitter struggle. Finally Saito seemed to get the upper hand, he hurled the both of them upwards and backed her against the bed. Saito finally managed to remove her panties from his mouth. "Louise, calm the hell down already. What the hell has gotten into you?!"

"H-how dare you make a mockery of your master!" Louise pulled out a riding crop she had set on the bed-stand earlier and started hitting him in the face with it. Saito grabbed Louise by the waist and pulled her toward him as he tried to take the riding crop from her. The hem of her nightgown was wedged between them, exposing her lower half from her stomach down to her legs. Saito wasn't sure if Louise realized how she looked to him right now, since she seemed much more interested in braining him.

"Louise, your gown . . .," Saito manged to utter as he grappled with Louise. Louise looked down at herself and turned beet red, immediately rushing to correct her disheveled nightgown. Louise's eyes met Saito's again. He had a nervous look on his face, but not for fear of bodily harm - it was the type of nervousness a man feels when near the woman he loves. Saito pushed her down onto the bed and stared at her. He could see a mixture of emotions in her eyes as her breathing grew shallow.

"I love you Louise." Saito's heart beat even faster as he brought his face closer to hers. Saito paused for a moment and stared deeply into her eyes. She turned away to avert his gaze.

"Don't look at me like that!" Louise said shyly. Just moments ago she acted as if she was a viscous predator, now she acted as if she was the prey. "I'm still mad at you, you know."

"Uh that . . . I'm sorry, but you looked really cute like that."

"It's not that"

"Then what?"

"Are you really okay with me?"

"What are you saying all of a sudden? It has to be you, it can only be you!"

Saito kissed Louise passionately, and began lifting up her gown. Louise let out a gasp of surprise.

"Ah, I'm sorry, it's just-"

"It's okay."

Saito continued, when suddenly the door burst open and Saito's half-asleep father stood in the doorway. Saito's parents had been sleeping downstairs in the living room with the TV blaring. They were both sound sleepers, so Saito never imagined waking them up. "What's going on, is everyone all right?" Mr. Hiraga showed signs of slight delirium. Suddenly he came to his senses and realized the situation. Saito and his father stared at each other awkwardly as Saito hovered over Louise.

"What's all this racket? What are you yelling about, Eiji?" Mrs Hiraga said to her husband. She walked up from behind Saito's father and rubbed her eyes. She took a quick glance at the scene in front of her. "I know what it's like to be young, but don't you think you two are making just a little too much noise?" she said casually. Louise looked as if she wanted to deny the reality of the present situation, but was too stunned to come up with the words. "I've got to be at work in the morning and we'll be sleeping in the next room, please try not to wake us up." Mrs. Hiraga dragged her husband off by his ear and was gone.

Saito looked at Louise and grinned nervously. Louise smiled back at him, but with a cold, sinister look in her eyes. She planted her foot firmly into his face, threw him out of the bed, and then rolled over and went to sleep.


-oOo-


Louise woke up to the sound of the wind and the murmur of several hundred passengers. Her vision was still blurry, but she could make out a dark-haired girl running up to her. Louise almost didn't recognize Siesta without her maid uniform.

"Miss Valliere! Where is Mr. Saito?"

Louise looked around. She was apparently on an airship. Saito was no where to be seen.

"He went to face the Albion army alone, while you were still under the effects of the sleeping potion." Julio's strange, mis-matched eyes carried a sense of coldness and pity.

"That can't be," Siesta said, "I gave that potion to Saito, so he may live!"

"Saito, for my sake, he . . ." Without thinking a single rational thought, Louise ran across the deck, grabbing a hold of the rail. It looked as if she would jump over it and fall to her death. "Saito!, Saito!" A pair of muscular hands caught her under the arms just before she went overboard.

"Miss Louise! No! It's too late!"

Louise kicked at the air as Scarron held her back. "No, I want to be with Saito, I want to fight by his side, I don't want him to die alone!" Louise's companions stood around her and watched helplessly as she was brought to tears.

Julio watched as a small vial rolled from Louise's hands and onto the deck, she rushed over to pick it up. He could see that it had a small, glowing flower inside of it. "Eclore d'amour," he said. "The ability to know the wellbeing of one's lover regardless of distance." The flower had been one of two that Louise had bought; one for her, and one for Saito. She watched in horror as it shriveled and died.

The sky over Albion was filled with the anguished sound of Louise screaming Saito's name.


...


Louise cried until her mouth was dry and it hurt to swallow. She clenched her pillow tightly and soaked it in spit and tears. She rose up slowly and realized she was still in bed. A wave of relief swept over her, though the fear and heartache still lingered. It was a dream, but it really happened. It was a vivid memory that haunted her often.

She had lost him. She recalled the weeks she spent depressed and withdrawn from the world. She stopped eating, she stopped sleeping, she stopped going to class. She'd lost all hope and was ready to throw it all away until the day the eclore d'amour shone again, something that should not have been possible. Saito had returned to her. She didn't want to ever loose him again.
Louise felt around on the bed next to her for Saito, but he wasn't there. Then she remembered. She looked over to the floor and saw Saito tossing around in his sleep. It appeared that he wasn't having a pleasant night either. He had a sheet under him and no blanket. He must have been freezing the whole night.

Louise wrapped herself, head and all in her blanket and crept next to Saito. As she threw the covers around the both of them, she could hear Saito murmuring in his sleep.

"Louise"

"I'm here."

"Louise!"

"I'm right here."

Louise placed her head against Saito's chest and held him tightly.