Christmas Magic - Chapter 8

"We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears."

Francois VI de la Rochefoucault

Astrid continued her painful way down the Arcadia's lengthy hallways, and due to the distance between forward Medical sickbay, and the far aft conference room, directly below the Captain's quarters, she started limping and becoming more tired. The AI directed her to places for her to sit and rest, as she made her way to the place where she hoped to find her son, Axel. She was not one for praying, but this night, she found herself hoping and praying that he would forgive her. If he could not, she didn't think that she could forgive herself.

Part of her was in despair. All of the documents that would prove to Harlock who Axel was were gone, gone when she was injured. She had no idea where any of them would be, likely still in the street, and ruined by the slush and snow. Astrid had thought that the hard part would be to find Harlock himself. She laughed to herself. Who would have thought that somehow she would be taken to the Arcadia, his ship, for medical care? Certainly, this fact was amazing to her. If she hadn't been so focused on Axel at that moment, she would have stopped to think on how Harlock's actions differed from her preconceived ideas and fears about him.

What would her reception be? After all, she was aboard the ship of the universe's most famed and notorious pirate. Even if she could get Axel to forgive her, and return to Earth with her, he truly wasn't hers to keep. She knew that, but she had kept the boy safe for the first years of his life, hadn't she? Hopefully that would count for something to the Pirate Captain, and to Axel. She kept moving. Right now, Axel was her only concern.


Axel was enjoying his stay on the Arcadia. He was in awe of the huge ship, its surprisingly gracious crew, and their reception there. Everyone spoke to him that he ran across, and wanted to know about his escapades with Harlock and Father Anselm. They also asked about his parents, so he told them about Astrid and Raymond.

When he ran across Nolan, and repeated his story to him, Nolan stood up from where he had crouched down next to the boy, so as to not loom over him.

"Astrid, you say?" Nolan asked. "What does your mom look like?"

Axel perked up a bit, but then clouded over with sadness when he remembered the recent happenings.

"She's really pretty. She has long brown hair, and really blue eyes, the color of the sky on a pretty day. She's about this tall," Axel put his hand up on Nolan's chest to show her height, " And she's a little like Miss Kei."

He formed a curvaceous form with his hands, and then stubbed his foot, and looked up at Nolan.

"She married this guy named Erich after my father died. He's not very good to her, and he is the one who made me leave the house last night."

Nolan had debriefed his team, so he knew about the note at the house. He straightened up. Out of all of the people in Heiligenstadt, some of whom had to be named Astrid, he suddenly thought that this might be Axel's Astrid. And the one that they had hit, and who was currently abiding in sickbay. What were the odds of all of that happening? He was sure the computer AI could tell him, but that wasn't important just now. The boy and his potential mother were far more worthy of his attention.

"Axel, stay here for a moment or two, would you? I need to go and talk to Dr Zero for a moment."

Nolan strode off to seek out the ships' surgeon, after leaving a game with the boy to play, while he waited on the window bench, by the cathedral's duraplasteel windows. The boy's head was bent over his small screen handheld device, and the AI was playing a game with him, called Hangman.

The AI was happy to play Hangman with the boy, as it guided Astrid toward the child. This way, it was very easy to know precisely where the child was located. Now, if only the fragile human woman could move a tad faster, it would see the outcome of the reunion. It had researched reunions of lost children and parents in the database, and they were usually very good. The AI was hopeful that this one would be a good one, so that it could learn from the experience. It wanted to experience happy.


Nolan had caught up with Dr Zero and Thea Mallory. He told them of his suspicions, and asked if the woman would be up to seeing the boy.

"I am not sure that she is ready for that sort of thing, not yet," said Dr Zero. "We gave her a fair amount of sedative in order to help her to heal faster, as she was so overwrought. But you are correct, she did say the name, Axel, before she burst into tears."

He rocked back on his heels a moment, deep in thought, and then he cocked his head at the taller man.

"Do you really think that she is the boy's mother? If so, that doesn't exactly speak well of her, as according to the Captain, and Father Anselm, she and the husband shoved that boy out into a wintry snowy night, without concern for his well-being."

The three of them looked across the room to where Axel was sitting.

"If so, then we need to talk with the Captain about this," said Thea. "He will need to know what is going on, so that he can make the best decision for Axel that he can. Abusive parents should not have control over children." Thea set her jaw, then crossed her arms over her chest.

"She may have felt that it was her only choice," said Nolan, "Especially if the husband was abusive to her. She may not have been capable of making a better decision out of fear."

He shook his head in dismay.

"You didn't see the house, nor the note that was left for the Astrid in our sickbay. He is one nasty piece of work. Maybe she regretted her choice of sending the boy out into the night. She had a dragoon in her bag, along with birth certificate papers, that I think belong to our Captain. Not sure why that would be so, though."

Nolan had a very puzzled look on his face, as he thought about the strange contents of Astrid's bags.

Both Dr Zero and Thea Mallory exchanged startled looks, and then looked at Nolan.

"Birth Certificate papers for the Captain? What makes you think that they are his, Nolan?" asked Thea.

"Well, they had the boss's full, really long name, with the number thing at the end of it. You know, the one with like, four middle names? And the knighthood title just before the Harlock part of it?" Nolan said. "Come to think of it, we just put the papers, the letters, and the crystal thing in a box back in the briefing room, so that we could sort it all out later, once she got well enough to answer some questions."

"I think," said Dr Zero, "that we need a look at those papers. And that we need bring the Captain into this, sooner than later!"

The other two nodded, and looked around to see where Harlock might have gotten off to. He shouldn't be hard to find, as he had dressed up like Santa this year. He had never done that before, and they wondered if it had been because Axel was visiting them.


Harlock was back in his quarters. The night, the day, and now the evening of the day had been long and wearying. He had some emotional things in his heart that he needed to think on, and he did that best alone, with a bottle of nice wine. He uncorked a deep Merlot, and poured some into his goblet. He took a swig, then refilled the glass.

Franz then went and changed out of the Santa suit, and gratefully removed the false whiskers. Urgh. How they itched! He did not want a beard, not now, not ever. He shook his head, how did some of the guys who had beards tolerate them? He surely could not.

He also remembered wearing a beard while with the Amish folk. That had itched, and he remembered wanting to shave it all off, but being stopped in doing so by Jakob. He smiled. That was a memory for certain, as parts of his patchy memory had begun to return, but not all of it.

Jakob and his family, along with Doc Mallory, had had to sit him down and tell him what they knew, or suspected to be true at that point, since he had sharply demanded some answers! So, he had kept the itchy thing for the time that he had needed to be disguised. It had truly worked, too. No one knew who he was by looking at his bearded face. Not even when he had looked in on his wanted poster in the town's single bar, not a soul noticed his similarity, only that a strange Amish man had been looking in the saloon with curiosity.

Harlock sipped some more wine, and then changed into a pair of jeans, and a red sweater; his concession for the day. On a wry note, he added the stocking hat to the ensemble. Kei had given him slippers this year, and they looked comfortable, so he tried them on. He yawned and wondered where she had found some fuzzy slippers for men in red, and in his size.

Funny how one small child could make him maudlin, he thought. It made him think back to a lesser, more innocent time with his own family. He bent down to look under his bed, and pulled out a long, wide, and fairly deep trunk, from underneath of his bed. Opening the chest, he sorted through some of the things he had stored there. Near the bottom, was an album that was in a box. He opened the box, and took out the photos he had stored in there. The album itself was his and Maya's wedding album, but he had also stored other photographs in there to protect them.

He sat in his favorite chair with his bottle, goblet, and album. He flipped open the album and saw Maya's first picture, and it was still his favorite of her, for it was from when he had first met her. She was seated in a ladies chair in his mother's side room, wearing her trademark white dress with the flowing sleeves. Her hair had been pulled back that day from her face, but still flowed down to her knees. Her eyes were the deep blue he remembered, the color of the lakes in Thuringia on a clear, sunlit day.

They had met on Christmas day, all those years ago. Her parents had been killed in a flyer accident on Christmas eve. Franz's mother had known the Schlutenheim family, and there were no relatives for their surviving daughter to go to. The Harlocks had taken her in without a second thought.

When Franz first saw her, and their eyes had met across the room, he had fallen instantly in love with her. He thought back, and wished he could return to that more easy, simpler time. She had been twelve, and he a grown up fourteen...

Harlock slouched down in the chair, and put his slippered feet up on the table with the album in his lap. He flipped through the pictures and remembered. At some point, his memories became dreams of his past, the album slid to his stomach, and his goblet overturned by an errant slipper. His head rested upon his chest as he dreamed.


"Harlock!" Maya called to him from inside of his mother's rose garden. He also heard her giggle. "Come find me!"

"Your wish is my command!" He called back to her, grinning like an idiot.

He entered the garden eagerly, for it was also a maze with tall hedges. She was likely at the center, on the stone bench, reading. He knew the way like the back of his hand, of course, so traveling along the path was easy for him. As he had suspected, she was there, on the bench with her book at her side.

She threw him a huge smile, and shook her blond hair back from her face, and held out her arms to him. He quickly crossed over to her, and picked her up off of the bench to hold her tightly against him, leg to leg, stomach to stomach, her head to his chest. She reached her arms around him to hug him tightly. He rested his chin on the top of her head, wrapped his arms around her, and sighed. This was where he belonged, he was sure of it. She giggled and looked up at him and then stood on her tip-toes to reach up for a kiss. He obliged her quite willingly.

"Franz, Maya?" He heard his mother calling. "Are you both in the garden? Stop bothering that girl, Franz, and you both come in for supper. It's ready, and will get cold if you delay."

They separated, but still holding hands, the young couple, then fourteen and sixteen, came reluctantly in to have supper.


Maya was leaning back against Cavalier, Franz's beautiful black horse, who was lying down in his paddock. The horse was a Friesian, huge, with a like-sized sense of humor, and personality. He also knew that he was beautiful. Maya combed her hands through Cavalier's long, thick mane, braiding his flowing locks as she thought about something. Cavalier nosed her when she stopped, to get her to continue petting him.

It was this scene that Harlock saw as he looked out across the Harlock holdings. He could see the large black horse, and the long blond haired girl with him. Franz grinned. He loped across the fields to where they were sitting. That horse, Franz thought, knew a pretty girl when he saw one, no matter what species they might be. Cavalier was quite a flirt with any pretty girl. He liked Maya a lot, and always tried to gain her attention.

When Franz got to where they were sitting in the field, under Cavalier's favorite tree, Maya looked up at him, but didn't get up. Cavalier nickered a greeting to his young master, though there were times that Franz knew that the horse was more the master than what he was. Cavalier's pranks were well known.

Just ask Father Anselm, he thought with amusement. He sat down next to Maya and patted the horse's neck and muzzle as Cavalier nuzzled him. He thought back to Cavalier's prank from two weeks earlier.

Cavalier had decided that the small skullcap that the priest wore was fair game. He had come up behind the good Father and snitched it right off of the Father's head, and then run full tilt for the fields with his prize. He had trumpeted his victory, and looked back to see who was following him. Sure enough, there were grooms, Harlock family members, and best of all, the good Father himself, running after the horse.

Cavalier had run them all around for a bit, and then stopped under his favorite tree, that also just happened to have his young master, and his girlfriend up in the branches, kissing as young lovers were wont to do, and totally oblivious to the drama below. He snorted up at Franz.

"What have you got there, Cav?" Franz called down to the horse. He slipped down out of the tree and caught the horse's head. The telltale cap was firmly gripped in Cavalier's front teeth. Franz eased around to the horse's front and rubbed his muzzle. Then he scratched under his chin, and then up by the ears. He tugged on the small hat. Nope, Cav wasn't going to make this easy. Franz sighed.

"You know I'm going to get into trouble for this, don't you?" Franz scolded the stallion. He crossed his arms over his chest. "Just give it up, please. I'll trade you for some oats?"

Cavalier nuzzled Franz's chest. There were higher stakes than oats, here!

"Alright, alright. Here's a carrot." Franz dangled the carrot hidden in his jacket pocket in front of the horse's nose.

The horse had to drop the hat to get the carrot, so he gave it up gracefully, but had a totally wicked look in his eye. Franz sighed. Father Anselm was going to need to watch it. Cavalier was going to remember trading the hat for a carrot.

Maya brought him out of his reverie, "Thinking about the skullcap escapade, aren't you?" She grinned. "Cav had everyone running after him, even your father."

"Yeah," Franz grinned. "Dad comes home on shore leave, and what is the first thing he gets to do? Chase my horse around a paddock, because said horse has stolen a hat from a member of the clergy."

He thumped the horse on the shoulder with his fist in mock anger, and was rewarded with a horse mouthing, and then pulling on his hair. "Ow! Stop that Cav!" He clutched at the tortured strands.

They both leaned back against Cavalier and talked for hours. The horse kept a wise and indulgent eye on both of them. He wondered in his horsey way what human young ones looked like. These two were obviously in season with one another. A human foal should be close at hand.


Harlock was struggling up the rose arbor to get to Maya's window. His mother would put her on the third floor, he thought with exasperation. "Maya, open the window!" He called to her softly. "I don't know how long I can hold on out here. This arbor is rickety."

The window had opened, but to his surprise, it was his parents who opened up the window, with Maya in the background, with wide eyes looking out at him, outside of her window.

"Hello, son." His father, the Great Harlock said with a grin. "Looking for the staircase? They are usually found inside of a house, you know."

He had almost fallen, but then his father's strong arm had all but lifted him up, into the room.

That night, he had received a rather long man to man discussion, about the honor of men, and the required protection of women by all knights. Including the woman's virtue. He promised that protection, not just for Maya, but also for any other who had need of it.

That night, Father Anselm had also been called in, with Miles, the retired warrior who was teaching Harlock how to use, and fight with, a Gravity Saber. They had taught him the knightly vows that night, in preparation for the ceremony ahead, and helped him to resolve the control required, both body and mind, for a true Pirate Knight of Arcadia.

Franz found that it was not an easy task to bank the fires of adolescent desires.


His knighting came that next month, the day he turned eighteen. And his father had returned home in time to perform the act, along with Franz's grandfather, the Admiral. This was a generational knighting, from centuries before, when a distant Harlock ancestor had received the award of perpetual knighting for his clan line, from the hand of the monarch of the time. There were but six families left with this honor, kept up when noble blood, even of the minor houses such as theirs, had not been popular, nor politically correct.

Franz had been set into the family chapel to pray, as all other Harlock Scions had done on the eves of their knighting. He was dressed in a simple white robe, black trews, cavalier boots, and a black cape for warmth in the cold stone church, draped around his young shoulders.

Franz had endured the ritual bath of preparation, administered by his father, grandfather, Master Miles, and Father Anselm. He hadn't been permitted to do anything for himself, as he was supposed to be concentrating on the duties he was going to promise to take on. There had been a few minutes of levity when they had tried to put his trews on him, without him helping them, or doing it himself.

Trews were extremely snug fitting tights-like garments from the Middle Ages, that covered one from toes to waist, and in Franz's humble opinion, should have stayed in that time period. They had eventually gotten everything on him, and then taken him into the front of the nave, to pray all night, into the morning, when the ceremony itself would take place.

He knelt on the Prie Dieu, trying to pray. It was hard, as his mind had run out of proper knightly prayer material hours before. Now, he was trying, not terribly successfully, to keep his mind from wandering.

It wandered, as it always did, to Maya. His bride-to-be. He had proposed to her last night, and presented the ring his grandmother had worn while she had been alive. It was a lovely aquamarine surrounded by diamonds. The aquamarine had been in the shape of a deaths-head, of course, the family sigil. Maya had jumped into his arms without even saying a word. It might have been a foregone conclusion, as the two of them had been almost inseparable since he was fourteen, and she a mere twelve.

He smiled. Now he had prayer material for the rest of the night. He had prayed over his knightly duties, now, he needed to pray about being a good husband.

The morning had come, and they had come for him, then taken him to the vestry for his knighting garments. This was also a solemn portion of the ceremony. Then, he was taken to the church again, and gasped when he saw that it was filled with people, from all over the lands granted to his family, since before the Crusades. This was also not something spoken about outside of Heiligenstadt by anyone in those modern times. People outside would not have understood at all, so it wasn't talked about.

"Courage, boy," His grandfather grinned at him. "They are all here to wish you well, and to see the continuance of a long, treasured tradition." Franz took in a deep breath, and nodded.

Franz had proceeded up the long aisle of the nave, up to the chancel area before the high altar. Father Anselm was there, dressed in a totally white alb and robe. The stole was the Tree of Life pattern, and he was smiling widely at the four men processing down to him. Franz was flanked on either side by his grandfather, and father. Behind him came Master Miles, bearing the family's ancient, great broadsword, last used centuries before, and handed down father to son, on this very occasion.

As Franz came to the front, he looked to the side, and saw his mother, his fiancé, and also his cousins, of which there were many. His favorite cousin was Anastasia Marie, as they were close in age. Maya was between his mother and Anna. They were all fast friends and he was glad that they were here this day.

It seemed like a blur, the ceremony itself. It was also quite strange in spots. He thought that perhaps the odd feeling that he had, was due to a lack of sleep, and a lack of food from fasting, but he had the distinct feeling that there were "others" watching him this day. He couldn't shake the feeling, and almost thought he saw something out of the corner of his eye.

The vows came and Father Anselm blessed him. Again that watching feeling, as he vowed to protect and defend the people, the earth, and the helpless. At his "I will." It was like something leaned back in relief. He wondered why he felt that relief - was it him or something else? The rest of his vows hadn't been accompanied by that strange feeling.

He knelt again on the Prie Dieu, and his father and grandfather gave him the accolade of the perpetual knighthood of the Pirate Knights of Arcadia with the ancient braodsword. It was done! And he hadn't even passed out from either the fasting, or lack of sleep that had been required of him, either. He'd been worried about that.

His mother had come forward to put his white knightly belt around his slender waist, and gave him a hug. His cousin gifted him with a long, black, crimson lined cape, then gave him a kiss on the cheek. Maya came forward with gold crested gloves that she had made for him, but first, as his future wife, had the honor of buckling his golden spurs onto his boots, marking him as a knight.

Her hands were encased in white long gloves, but he saw the dark spots where some bleeding still came through from sewing the emblem onto the backs of the leather gloves. She placed the gloves on his hands, and he admired her handiwork; the gold bullion was embroidered in the family sigil, the deaths-head. He smiled at her, and she leaned up into him, kissing him softly, as he lowered his head for her salute.

The rest of the day had been a blur, but he remembered dancing with his ethereal bride-to-be at the celebration ball later that night. Thankfully, he had been excused for a few hours to get some sleep before the party and ball. Her hair had been up on her head, in a complicated braided style that she had warned him not to touch; it had taken hours to do, she had told him. So he had danced many dances with her, especially their favorite; both of them loved the Viennese Waltz. Her dress belled out, and she looked positively radiant in his arms, as he guided them across the glittering room.


Their wedding day came, and passed, as he graduated from the Space Naval Academy in Annapolis, the horse drawn carriage, the line of uniformed men and women holding the crossed swords over their heads as they processed out of the church, all precious memories.

His vault over her voluminous white wedding gown, that dripped with diamonds and pearls, in order to get to the seat beside her in the carriage, which caused her to laugh her musical laugh at his antics, as they were carried off to the reception.

He didn't remember much else besides the vows, and these treasured moments from that day. He well remembered being able to kiss her following the vows, and the frustration at attempting to get to her beneath all the layers of her veil.

He would always hold in his minds' eye(s) her beautiful face tilted up to his, as he kissed each cheek in turn, then forehead, and finally her mouth. He could still taste her in his dreams.

And of course that night, when their honeymoon began, his banked fires had no longer any need for being banked. They both had lain together that following morning, their night's exertions spent, her head upon his chest, her golden hair across him, and his arms wrapped around his new wife. He was suddenly glad that the Admiral had allowed him a month furlough to be with his new wife, before he was shipped out on his first mission.


War came with the Illumidas. Separation came with war, and also brief, but wonderful interludes when they could be together. Stolen moments, mostly when he was wounded and allowed home, before being sent back out to fight the enemy, who were attempting to destroy the planet he had vowed to protect, as both Pirate Knight of Arcadia, and as Captain of the Deathshadow, in the Earth Force Navy.


"Franz, listen to me." Maya said, pleading with him as she clung to his arm. "People are forgetting to believe in the future. They are forgetting the beauty of the Earth, and the hope for tomorrow. I can help with that. I can be the voice of the Earth, calling them back to where they can fight for a future."

"It's too dangerous for you. You've been ill, and are still not strong enough for this." Franz bowed his head, and tears started to form in his eyes.

"Besides, what if you are caught?" His breath caught in his throat. "I won't be able to stand against that, Maya, I just won't be able to do it. You are why I am fighting, you are my world."

He grabbed her close to him in a hug so tight, she could hardly breathe. She also clung to him, this dear man she had fallen for, so many years ago. She had loved him more than half of her young life.

"Harlock, you have a people, and a world to protect. I am a small, very small, part of that. You must promise me, my love, if I am caught, that you will not try to rescue me yourself. You have to remain free to fight off the enemy." She put her finger up to his mouth to quiet his protests.

"No. I will not do that." He said with tears running down his cheeks. "Don't make me promise that, Maya, for without you, I am not..." He shook his head. "I am not that strong."

"Yes, my darling, you are that strong. I know it. You must promise me, because I know that if I don't have that promise, you will throw your life away to protect mine. I may be the White Rose, but you are the one who can beat the Illumidas back away from us, and keep us free. "

She looked up into his eyes, pleading for understanding. Her eyes also bore tears.

He had never been able to refuse her anything, especially when there were tears involved. He looked up to the heavens, and blinked the tears from his own eyes, and then met her gaze.

"I promise." He croaked out.

Why did it feel like a door had just been shut? He wondered.

They both had clung together that night, taking comfort in each other's embrace. It was then that they had conceived their daughter, however, he had not known it until much later.


Another scene, of Maya highlighted against the building she had been broadcasting in, his desperate attempt to get to her. Gunfire kept him hidden below.

She was shot, as she reached down a hand to him over the balcony!

"Harlock!" She cried. "Go back, save yourself, seeing you is enough!"

He rose out of hiding, and in a blind rage fired back on those who dared to injure her. He too was shot, first in the right eye, and then in the shoulder, as he tried to get to her, across the balcony, shielded by stout pillars to reach her. His only thought was to go to her, protect her.

Maya, hiding behind a pillar, as the enemy fired at them below, cringing in fear, and shaking with pain. He reached out his other hand to her, the other holding his ruined eye as blood poured from the wound, and pain blinded him. "Maya..."

"Don't come any closer, seeing you is enough, go, my Harlock."

She fled back the way she had come, holding her damaged shoulder.

"Maya!" He cried out to her.


Maya, dangling from a cross, badly injured and weak from the loss of blood. Bravely facing the crowd who jeered at her. Illumidas, and sycophants of them, gathered before her, taunting her.

Triter the traitor, daring Harlock to come rescue her. Wanting him to come, shaming him when he delayed. The Illumidas taunting him, calling him a coward for not coming to give himself up for his wife's sake. Tochiro asking him if they should go, and give themselves up. He could not; his promise bound him.

Part of him wanted to go. The other part, the honorable part, warned him of his inconvenient promise. He clenched his fists. The Resistance had promised him that they would protect her, could he not. They had failed. Could he break the promise? For her sake?

"Promise me," she had pleaded with him, in his mind's eye.

He had promised.

He could not break his word to her, but it would break his heart.

He could feel it shattering within him.


Holding her in his arms, alive, but barely, holding her so that she would stay with him.

"Maya." He nuzzled her with his nose, his grief palpable across him, warring with the scant hope of love.

"Harlock, there is so much that I wanted to tell you, share with you," she said weakly.

She looked up at him with that same look of love she had always looked at him with. She was too weak to touch him, so he held her tighter against him. He wanted her to come with him to the stars, she had done her work here, and it was time to leave.

After signing off as the Voice of Radio Free Arcadia, she had died in his arms. He felt her soul leave, and her body slumped in his arms. His world, and hopes of their being together at long last, crumbled. He cried out her name, knowing that she could no longer respond to him. Carefully he gathered her soulless body in his arms. He stood carefully, and turned to give her to Mimee. They would leave this benighted place, and take with them their honored dead.


Once the battle had been done, and Harlock and the newly minted pirate crew headed out into space, their new home. There, while the Illumidas fumed futilely, unable to track them, they had gone off to honor their dead.

His dead.

His heart was in ashes. His emotions were held tightly, lest he scream, cry, and destroy something, anything. He was free, as she had wanted, but she was not at his side. Would never again be by his side. Instead, they would bury her in space, on a long elliptical, to the sun in three years time. By then, he would have either won Earth's freedom, or died trying, and joined her in death.

He helped them put her into the capsule that was to be her casket. He placed her hands over her stomach, as she sometimes did as she slept. Harlock touched her ring that he had given her. He should take the family heirloom from her hand, but found that he could not. If she wasn't the one wearing it, he would never be able to stomach seeing it on another hand. He was going to die, so it didn't really matter, now did it? Franz touched her cold hand, and said goodbye to his love, his only love, in his heart.

He covered her carefully in roses, white roses; his White Rose. Grief threatened to overwhelm him as he also placed the flag, their flag, over her as a blanket, and tucked her in. Emeraldas place a single, blood red rose on top of the flag. Franz looked at Maya for several moments, said words that he truly didn't even remember, and then they had asked him if he was ready.

Ready for what?

To close the capsule had been the reply.

He couldn't do it, he could only clench his hands and try not to cry, she wouldn't have wanted him to cry; Tochiro had had to close it for him. He heard the click as the capsule was locked, and cringed inside, wishing he could change the past from this terrible outcome.

It had really happened, she was gone; his family was gone.

And the harsh reality came over him that he was truly alone, fighting for freedom with a small number of people who felt the same way that he did.

He had been able to order the send off for both Mira and Zoll, their capsules sent out into space. But he hadn't been able to order Maya's capsule to be sent out. This time, Emeraldas stood in for him and nodded her head to order sending the capsule out, as Harlock numbly stood there holding back his tears, and clenching his fists.

Tochiro had even cried for him, because he could not, not now.

They sent her off into the void, the black, the deep of space. His heart, his love, his only love. And he had sent their unborn child, a girl, with her.

Life was a desolate place.


Three years later, he had gone in honor to watch the sun's corona take Mira, Zoll, and then his beloved Maya and their child, into its' fiery embrace.

She lit the tatters of his soul now, for his had died that day, that day when she had died.


They were sitting on the front porch of the farmhouse in Bird in Hand, Old Pennsylvania. He and the good widow. She had taken him in when he hadn't known who he was, patiently awaiting the day that his memory would return to him.

It had returned with a vengeance, in the middle of the night, the week before their talk. It had been nightmarish, and everything that had happened, came rushing in on him, and he had awakened the entire household with his screaming in mental anguish. The widow had been the only one who had been able to calm him, as he sat there in the bed, rocking back and forth, from the newly rediscovered and horribly painful memories.

He had started to work on his flyer the next day, as something to do to keep him from staring in despair at a wall. She had brought him lemonade, Rachel, Jakob's wife had brought him food at meal times. He stayed in the barn, so as to not awaken the family when the nightmares came. Jakob came and talked to him about the cows, the sheep, and the crops, as if Harlock had helpful advice for him. The children shyly came and offered to play hoops with him, and Shut the Box. He had obliged, since he had the peaceful memories of their times together, as well as the very painful older ones.

This particular day, the Widow had walked with him in the fields of stunted grain. He saw that the earth was suffering, and he needed to get back into the fight, to free the Earth so that the Schulte's could follow the path of the Amish, the same as their forebears had for centuries.

He had stared at the malformed wheat in his hands. Maya was gone, but these people, and others like them remained. It was what Maya would have wanted. He was coming more to peace with his awful memories of great loss, and death of those he had held dear.

"So, child, what will thee do?" The Widow Schulte had asked him. "Thy beloved wife and child are both gone, taken home to heaven. Thee are here, alone. The Bible tells us that it is not good that a man should be alone."

She paused in sympathy and patted him on his hand. "Thee also has a job to do, as thee have told to us. Thy task is not one we understand, we Amish. We abhor fighting."

She paused. "God in his wisdom, hast given to each one an understanding, and a life task. Some are easier than others, but all have challenges and trials. Thine seems most dire and difficult. Tis why a helpmeet is something to consider, ya?

"I know that you mean well, Widow." Harlock said. "My heart is full of grief and pain. I don't think that I will ever be a good candidate for a woman to love. Not after what has transpired." He shook his head.

"Besides, which, what woman in her right mind would even go for such a man as myself? Have you taken a good look at me? I am very scarred, both inside and out." Harlock bowed his head. "I wouldn't want to inflict me on anyone. I'm very moody."

"Ah, so now thee are vain, and feeling sorry for thyself?" She smiled and touched her old, calloused hand to his face and rubbed his scar, and lightly touched where his lost eye should have been.

"Tis not thy face a True Woman sees, child, but thy heart within. Thine is strong and true."

She thumped his shoulder.

"An we know thy head is hard, and body ready to labor. Thee are heartily built and strong, which pleases a woman. Dost not shut out, child. Thee will see." The widow had nodded.

"When the right time comes, thee will let go of thy beloved wife, and choose life."

She took his left hand in hers.

"Thee must then let go of all thy worldly trappings, so as to honor the future thee must have." She removed his wedding band from his finger. He started to protest, but then she handed him the ring back.

"Life thee must choose, an thee will know when timely." She folded his fingers up and over his ring to hold it clutched in his closed hand, and smiled gently at him.

He had thought the rest of the day on her words, after he had put his ring back on, and worked some more on his downed flyer.


Nolan, Harley, Dr Zero, and Doc Thea were all hunting for the Captain. He wasn't at the party any longer, which didn't surprise them, as his involvement with parties was usually brief and perfunctory. They finally thought to ask the AI where he was located. Gathering up all of the documents and items Astrid had in her bag, which were all still in the briefing room, they headed for his quarters.

All of them piled into his rooms, "Captain, Captain, we..."

Their voices all trailed off as they looked over at him, sprawled in his chair, sound asleep. His legs were akimbo, his red slippered feet were up on the table, the wine glass had spilled the remaining wine across the table and down onto the floor. His head, sporting a festive red stocking cap, was down on his chest, which was encased in a bright red sweater, and in his lap, spilling onto the floor, were numerous photographs from his earlier life, from happier days. His arms were supported by the arms of his chair, and obviously the photos had fallen out of his sleepy, relaxed hands.

Thea went and gathered up the photos, and gently took the album from his lap. She placed the photos in the book, noting the large number of photos of the Captain's dead wife. She felt pity stir in her heart. They were all celebrating, and he was up here, alone, drowning in his sorrows. She placed the album on the table, and then looked over at the men.

The men of the group shifted from one foot to another. It was obvious that the Captain was deeply asleep, had been visiting with his sad past, and they noted the tired fatigue around his eye(s).

It could wait. It could all wait.

In the morning, after some sleep, he would be better able to help with this particular issue. They could offer the Priest and his young charge, Axel, a place to stay for the night. Astrid was recuperating in sickbay. There was nothing that wouldn't keep, while their Captain enjoyed some badly needed rest.

Thea got a blanket off of the bed, and they carefully covered him in the chair with it. Then they all tiptoed back out the door, and closed it quietly.

Harlock no longer dreamed, for deep sleep is healing, and he had great need for it. Mornings always come, and each new day brings its riches of new wonders, and old pains that haunt a broken heart. Hopeful joy was needed for full healing, and that was a choice that Harlock had not yet made.


Author's note: My apologies for the length of this particular chapter, but their story and journey called for this, the depth of their love, his devotion, and the cost of keeping a difficult promise, required time. It would be difficult to break up, and have the story pathway make sense.

I have shorter vignettes of those times, and more, stored away for use at various points in the entire story arc. I had written those first, for their love story was obviously one of the first water, deep and enduring, despite their comparative youth. Even in the early animation you can see the love and devotion written into the story of Harlock and Maya. I've abbreviated some of my imagined stories, of their time together, here.

I have long been of the opinion, that the reason that Harlock had not chosen a new mate, in any of the series, was due to his being emotionally stuck in grief. Partly, he had to feel as if he directly caused Maya's death by not returning, and giving his life for hers. The only reason that one can find for that with Harlock, is that somewhere in the past, he had promised not to rescue her, should she be caught. And it had been to her, that this promise had been made; it was the only thing that made any sense at all. His promise to Maya bound him in more than one way, and we all know that he keeps his promises, no matter how difficult they might be.

However, Christmas is coming. And we all know that Christmas is magical.

Blessings to all of you, and may your Christmas and New Years be joyous ones.