Disclaimer: See Chapter 1.

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Escaflowne: All you need is Love, Isn't it?

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Note: IMPORTANT! Please read the Author's Notes at the end of this chapter! Thank you.

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Chapter 102

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Merle clutched a large brown envelope to her chest as she watched th Lady Vari dock at Fanelia Harbor. A steady flow of tears ran down her face as she waited for her king to disembark. It had been three days since Hitomi had handed her the envelop, asking her to give it to Van, and then returned to the Mystic Moon. Three days filled with anguish and tears for the young catgirl as she waited for Van to come home. Now seeing Van on the deck of the ship, she wished this moment had never come.

"Remove the screws and contact Sir Baschan. I want a prototype set up and ready to be tested before nightfall." Van instructed his Minister of State.

"Yes, My Lord." Sir Vallentii bowed. Upon straightening up he minister noticed the catgirl standing on a small hill just beyond the harbor. "It appears someone is waiting for you." He nodded towards the young girl.

Van turned and looked. He smiled and waved but the smile quickly vanished. Despite being too far to make out Merle's facial expression, her body language told him something was very wrong. Turning to his minister again, Van said, "Notify me when the prototype is ready." Not waiting for a reply, Van jumped off the ship onto the pier and ran to his young friend.

"Merle!" Van came up to the catgirl, wrapped his arms around her and lifted her off the ground. "I've missed you so much." He set her down and kissed her on the forehead, smiling down at her.

"Oh, Lord Van." Merle cried and buried her face in his chest.

"What's wrong Merle?" He looked side to side. "Has Hitomi returned yet?"

Slowly, the catgirl pried herself from her king, and held out the envelope. "She cameā€¦ and left. She asked that I give this to you." Tears rolled down her face.

Van took the envelope with a hint of uncertainty and slowly piled it open. Looking inside, he pulled out the six page letter and walked over to the practice track he built for Hitomi. Holding the letter up he began to read.

My Dearest Van,

This has to be the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Even harder then when I left you the first time, because that time, I knew in my heart that I would come back someday and see you again. This time, I'm not so sure.

Please, forgive me for being so weak during our journey. I knew we needed to talk the moment I arrived, I just didn't have the courage to open my heart to you and tell you what was bothering me. So like a coward, I hid behind a smile and behaved like a fool, telling myself I needed you to protect me, to look after me, like I was some damsel in distress. I'm sorry for worrying you so much, and I'm sorry for causing so much trouble.

The truth is, while I was on the Mystic Moon, I convinced myself that the reason I could run so fast was because of you. That it was you and the love we shared that made me better than everyone else. And while your love does motivate me to do my best, the real truth was that I have more ability than I ever imagined I could have.

You can't know how much this scares me, and excites me at the same time. You see, in my world, sports, like running, are incredibly popular and competitions between schools, universities, even nations go on all the time. There is even a special sports tournament that is held once every four years where the best athletes from all around the world come together in one city and compete in dozens of different sporting events. And you see, the country I am from, Japan, has been pretty successful in long-distance races over the past years, but we haven't even come close to even sending a representative for the 100 meter sprint (the race I run) in the women's event. Now, I don't know if I am good enough to make it to that level. Right now I've only run in high school meets, but I owe it to my school and my country to try and develop into the best runner I can be.

Unfortunately, I can't do that jumping back and forth between our two worlds or by spending hours talking with you telepathically. Both drain my strength and it takes me days to recover.

I know I promised to come back and marry you when I finished with school, but if it turns out that I really do have what it takes to compete at the international level, well, it may take me longer, a lot longer. I can not ask you to wait for me, not knowing how long I will be gone. I can not expect you to keep me in your heart forever not knowing when or if I will ever come back.

The more I think about it, the more I realize how unfair and selfish it is of me to ask you to wait for me. Any girl in her right mind would jump at the opportunity to marry a handsome young king. I guess this just goes to prove I'm not in my right mind. (that was supposed to be a joke but the more I think about it, it seems sadly true and not funny at all) Please forget about me. Forget what we had. Let it be a wonderful dream of what might have been.

Goodbye Van

Hitomi

Van's arms dropped to his side, each page slipping from his hand.

"Lord Van!" Merle ran over, scrambling to pick up the pages before they were swept away by the wind.

But Van paid no attention. He staggered away lost in a haze, unable to believe that this was the end. Looking up suddenly, he looked over the harbor and saw his horse had already been taken off the ship. Running over, he quickly jumped onto the beast bare back and took off for the castle.

"Lord Van!"

It as too late. The king was in a full gallop racing to find the woman he loved.

AN: I am so very sorry for taking so long to post this chapter. I actually finished writing it well over a month ago, but I've been waiting to get it back from my beta. Unfortunately, she never contacted me. I don't know what happened. (Janice, if you are still out there, I hope you are alright. Call or write, please. I'm worried about you and I care.)

I have a couple things I need to say. It is not going to be easy but please bear with me. My wife and I are starting a website for US Civil War Reenacting. It is Nothing set up yet, but I will be spending all my spare time working on it. Because of that I will have very little time to do any writing. I am currently actively working on two stories, one for Avatar and one for Harry Potter. I will be limiting my work to just these two stories as inspiration moves me but even these will be slow writing. I know I promised I would finish this story and I plan on remaining true to my promise. After I get my reenacting website up and running at the level I want it at, I am planning to start my own fanfiction website that will feature my stories in a multi-media presentation (music and images to go along with the story and enhance the reading experience). I will announce when that site is up and running.

Until then, I wish you all the best and I hope you will do the same for me.

I love you all,

A. Amishi