Disclaimer: The Legend of the Galactic Heroes © Tanaka Yoshiki, etc. This is a nonprofit fanwork.

The Stars Go Out
by Fushigi Kismet

"Were you in love with Kircheis?"

The words fell like stones across the silence, hard and blunt, each heavy with their own weight, their own irrevocability, their own power to wound - whether her or himself he could not be certain nor did he care.

They were words he could not take back again.

"I loved him," she said simply, "not more dearly than I love you. Nor, indeed, more dearly than you loved him or he you. When we are alone, we always speak of him. When he and I were alone, we always spoke of you. Only when we three were together were we ever truly happy."

"So we shall never be happy again." His eyes were flat and blank. "I have lost everything in one instant of utmost stupidity."

It was useless thinking of might-have-beens, but for an instant he let himself dream of it. How happy he might have made the two people dearest to his heart. A small house where they might have lived - but no, that too was wrong. Neither of them could have stood for it. For Kircheis would have been by his side, always. The light to his dark; the beacon lighting his way.

And now it was too late. He had already fallen into shadow. For the sake of his dream, he had sacrificed the only things that made it worthwhile. His one true friend had gone and taken all the light with him, his happiness and that of his sister. The only thing that remained was the dream that had already cost him so much. Only the universe. Only that.

"A brilliant star has gone out and though the rest of the universe burns more brightly than ever, there is a shadow in the heart of it that can never be filled. There is no new star to fill that void. No star would dare aspire to be that radiant." He laughed, a short burst of harshness directed at himself or the cruelty of fate or the universe itself for daring to be indifferent to his pain. "And were one to, I would crush it to dust in my hand. It is a fitting end, is it not, for some? But not for such as I, and not for such as he. He should have known better than to go ahead without permission."

He turned with a whirl of his cloak.

"Reinhardt."

The sound of her voice made him grow still. It was a touch of her old pleading, but soaked with infinite sorrow. He had aspired never to bring her pain or to mar the serenity of her countenance. She was not a woman who could ever truly be happy, and yet, he had wished for a measure of joy for she who had suffered so long and endured so much.

"He would have stayed by your side forever. Not for my sake, but for yours."

He shut his eyes. "I know."

It was with carefully measured strides that he left the room, eyes fixed on some unseeable distant shore to force back the pressure that pricked and burned behind his eyelids.

No, Ansbach, you did not fail. The half you killed was the better.

Perhaps you have doomed us all, you, and I, and the empire altogether to destruction. It may be that in slaying an angel you have unleashed a demon. Nothing is more dangerous than a man with nothing left to lose.

Now, I am truly alone.