Forget Me Not
By Simon System
Author's Note: For the purposes of this fic Neverending Story 3 never happened. I hope you enjoy my story, creative criticism is always welcome but flames will be ignored or deleted.
As the Childlike Empress gazed out on the land of Fantasia from a window of the Ivory tower her thoughts turned to him, as they did very often. Bastian Balthazar Bux, the hero of Fantasia, the boy whose dreams saved her and her world.
She wondered if he thought of her often as well. It had been a long while, far to long since he last visited this world, and her, but she tried not to feel hurt. He must have had a good reason to stay away so long, but she so desperately wanted to know what that reason could be. Her position isolated her many of her citizens and it was so rare anyone visited her, only Atreyu came occasionally, but those visits where always short as he had to return to his people.
She thought back on when she had first encountered the boy, he was shy and timid, afraid to really dream. When he overcame that he named her. Moon Child, it was such a beautiful name, she was proud to carry it. Others would still call her Empress, but she would always love it when he called her by her true name.
In there second encounter he was a bit older and far more confident in himself, and, with what she would like to believe she helped in, he was able to beat his own personal fears and save her world from the dark witch Xayida.
Bastian visited Fantasia often after Xayida's defeat and the Empress spent many happy hours talking with him. He told her more about his world, she shared her tales of her life as ruler of Fantasia. She grew to look forward to Bastian's visits with great eagerness not proper for a ruler like herself. She didn't realize it then, but looking back now she knew she had been falling in love with him.
But then Bastian's visits started becoming less frequent, he didn't look at Fantasia with the same wonder as he did before. He didn't seem to have time to tell her tales of the human world anymore, and his outlook on life seemed a lot darker. She feared she was losing him then, losing him as Fantasia had lost many of its Keepers before, losing him to human age.
She refused to believe it though; Fantasia has had many Keepers, many of them she had become friends with, and they all stopped coming to her world after reaching a certain age, but none of them had been like Bastian. She had never been as close to them as she was to Bastian, she hadn't loved them as she did Bastian.
But then Bastian stopped visiting her and Fantasia all together. Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, months to years, and still Bastian hadn't returned. But she waited still, unrelenting, confident he would be back. Atreyu had been hit hard by the disappearance of the man who had been like a brother to him, but was far more pessimistic then she was. He believed Bastian was gone forever as the other Keepers before him were. Her advisers, her friends, all tried to get her to accept he was gone, but she would not listen.
Bastian would return to her, and she would wait as long as it took. But perhaps she could gaze into the real world…just for a moment. She had done it before …it was a power she was rarely allowed to use, but there couldn't be any harm in just looking to see Bastian as long as no one found out.
Bastian tapped on his keyboard. He needed to complete this assignment quickly to get to work on his next project. The University he attended was prestigious, and his coursework load was hard, but he really didn't mind, he had nothing else. He had no real friends and paid attention to nothing but his studies. That attitude had won him a full academic scholarship.
He had always envisioned he would study creative writing, but instead he had decided to get his Masters in Business. After his father's death Bastian had lost the will to continue writing.
His father had been killed a few years ago suddenly, hit by a drunk driver on his way home from work. It had hit Bastian hard, so hard it caused him to revert to the way he was many years ago, quiet, unsociable. He had no time for silly dreams of fantasy worlds anymore; he had to look out for himself from that moment on. It was lonely, but he learned to accept it as life. He buried himself in his school work and ignored the world around him. It was the only way for him to remain sane.
He rarely thought of that odd childhood fantasy he had called Fantasia, and as time passed he forget about it entirely. What had seemed real as a child he had written off as a dumb dream. He had to focus on reality, and reality was harsh.
The Empress liked to believe she had an exceptional control over her emotions, but she didn't even attempt to hold back her tears as she took a look into Bastian's life.
Bastian had forgotten. Forgotten Fantasia, forgotten his adventures, and forgotten her.
She had refused to believe it for so long, but now the evidence undeniable. Yet what was worse was that Bastian miserable. If he had forgotten she had believed she would be able to take some pleasure in seeing Bastian had at least found happiness in his own world. But he hadn't, Bastian was a shell of what he once was, destroyed by personal tragedy.
"Bastian!" She yelled, hoping against hopes that somehow he would hear her. "Bastian please, DON'T FORGET ME BASTIAN!"
'Don't forget me Bastian.'
Bastian looked around his dorm room. He could have sworn he heard someone calling his name. He shrugged when he found no source for the voice, trying to shake it off as just his imagination. But for some reason he couldn't let it go, the voice had seemed familiar, but he couldn't pinpoint who it had belonged to.
"Mr. Koriander?" He thought out loud, but chuckled. No it definitely wasn't Mr. Koriander's voice, why would he come to mind? Mr. Koriander was the mean spirited book shop keeper he had known when he was younger, Bastian recalled visiting his shop a few times but couldn't remember much about his visits other than Koriander being a gruff man who didn't like kids.
For some reason the memory had made him smile, Bastian didn't remember many people from his youth, but he knew Mr. Koriander's book shop was still open. After finishing up this last paragraph he would go into town and visit the old jerk's shop. It would be nice to see a familiar face again.
It didn't take long for Bastian to find the shop; he remembered the neighborhood quite well. It was still in the exact same spot it was all those years ago. When he entered he realized that nothing had changed. It was still filled with all the same old dusty books, still looked to be poorly organized. A man that looked to be only a few years older then himself approached him.
"Can I help you?" The man asked. He had short brown hair, a well trimmed moustache and wore glasses.
"Uh, is Mr. Koriander here?" Bastian asked, surprised to see someone else working in the old man's store.
"You're talking to him." The man said with a smile.
Bastian looked confused but pulled himself together. "Uh, I'm sorry I meant Mr. Koriander Senior."
The man smiled sadly and responded. "I'm afraid my father passed away a couple months ago, I took over his shop. I'm Simon Koriander." He explained.
Bastian frowned. He wanted to yell but held it in; he hadn't been hoping for much, he just wanted to see someone from his childhood. Since his father died he had been so lonely, he just thought Mr. Koriander might just remember who he was. "I'm sorry to hear that." He finally told Simon.
Simon nodded. "My father seemed to be quite well liked in this community; I'm hoping the same can be said about me someday. I didn't catch your name."
"I'm Bastian Bux, I use to shop here when I was a younger." He said
Simon's eyes lit up. "You're Bastian Bux?" Simon smiled. "My father told me you'd be here someday, wait here a minute." Simon vanished into the back room.
Bastian was caught off guard by this. Mr. Koriander mentioned him?
Simon reentered the room holding a large book. "He said you'd be looking for this." He handed the book to Bastian who looked over the cover.
"'The Neverending Story'?" Bastian thought hard for a moment, it seemed familiar. "I think I might have read this before…Why did Mr. Koriander want me to have this?"
Simon simply smiled. "I think the answer for that lies in the book it's self. Give it read Bastian; I think it may help you find something you might have lost." Simon paused. "The thing about books is they can help you remember things you had no idea you forgot."
Bastian cocked an eyebrow. This guy was strange; he really was old man Koriander's kid. "Uh, thanks, how much do I owe you?"
"Oh no, take it, it's free, father knew it would help you. Enjoy Bastian." Simon replied.
Bastian nodded, thanked him again and left quickly. He shook his head as he exited; this guy was more then a little odd.
Bastian sighed and tossed the large heavy book onto his bed. He didn't have time for this; he had to get to work on his next assignment. But as he sat in front of his computer again, he couldn't help but wonder what the book might have been about. Surely he had enough time to read a few pages, see what Mr. Koriander thought was so important about the dumb thing.
He flopped down on his bed and opened the cover of the book. It was quite thick; he picked a random page and read the first paragraph.
'Atreyu and Artax had searched the Silver Mountains, the Desert of Shattered Hopes, and the Crystal Towers without success. And so, there was only one chance left. To find Morla, the ancient one, the wisest being in Fantasia who's home was the Shell Mountain somewhere in the deadly Swamps of Sadness.'
Bastian paused, this seemed quite familiar. Maybe he had read this book before, that name, Atreyu, seemed like he had heard that somewhere else before. He flipped ahead further in the book.
He skimmed a few pages, getting the basic gist of the story. Atreyu was a boy warrior trying to save the land of Fantasia from some sort of force known as the Nothing.
Bastian didn't understand why Mr. Koriander would have wanted him to have this. He was also had trouble understanding the plot. He skipped ahead further deciding to take one final look before going back to work.
'Bastian, why don't you do what you dream, Bastian?'
Bastian's eyes widened. He was in this story? He rationalized that this was why Koriander wanted to give him the book, because there was a character that shared his name.
He closed the book and stood up. 'Enough wasting time, better get back to work.' He thought. But try as he might he found himself unable to concentrate, he soon picked up the book again. He flipped near to the end of the book.
'As the Childlike Empress gazed out on the land of Fantasia from a window of the Ivory tower her thoughts turned to him, as they did very often. Bastian Balthazar Bux, the hero of Fantasia, the boy whose dreams saved her and her world.'
Bastian paused again, his eyes widened. 'Bastian Balthaz Bux'!? That was no coincidence, maybe Mr. Koriander himself had written this novel?
But-but, this Childlike Empress…that name…no it was just imagination. He read further down the page.
'She thought back on when she had first encountered the boy, he was shy and timid, afraid to really dream. When he overcame that he named her. Moon Child, it was such a beautiful name, she was proud to carry it. Others would still call her Empress, but she would always love it when he called her by her true name.'
"Moon Child!?" Bastian said, he knew that name, and that's when it hit him. All of it.
"I remember…" He whispered.
How could he have forgotten? Atreyu, Falkor, Urgl, Engywood, Nimbly, The Rock Biter, and Moon Child…he remember all of his friends, all of his adventures, everything.
Tears began streaking down his cheeks it all came back. So long, he had been without Fantasia for so long, how could he have forgotten it, how could he have forgotten her?
He willed himself to pick up the book again.
"Moon Child, I remember. MOON CHILD, I REMEMBER!" He yelled. The world became darker around him, and Bastian vanished.
After her vision, the Empress sat on her throne and wept. She demanded she be left alone so that she could deal with her sad realization. Bastian wasn't coming back, her refusal to accept it had gained her nothing.
But the belief Bastian would return had been all that had kept her going for so long. The position of Empress was a lonely one; she rarely left the Ivory Tower as she was so often needed by her people to provide guidance. Undoubtedly she had spent to long in this tower, she longed to leave it behind and travel the many lands and cities of Fantasia. She just didn't want to do it alone. She always pictured she would take the journey with Bastian at her side.
She wondered why she had never told him that sooner. She also wondered why she had never been able to put into words her love for him. Now the chance was gone.
She was so wrapped up in her despair she didn't notice the young man appear in her throne room.
Bastian didn't realize where he was or what had happened at first. He was distracted when he spotted his reflection a window. It was him, but…younger, like he had been when he last visited Fantasia.
He looked around quickly, could he be?
He spotted the Empress on her throne crying, and approached her slowly. For the first time in a very long time Bastian smiled. "Why is someone so beautiful crying?"
The Empress opened her eyes and gasped. Could it really be him? "Bastian?"
Bastian nodded and he stepped forward and wiped away her tears.
The Empress threw her arms around him, taking a moment to make sure he was really there. "Yo-you came back!"
"I'm just sorry for taking this long." Bastian whispered to her.
"B-but I saw you, you forgot, no Keeper has ever regained their memory after forgetting!"
Bastian returned the hug and looked her in the eyes. "I heard you Moon Child, I heard you pleading for me to remember. You helped me find my way back. Thank you."
The Empress finally allowed herself to believe that he wasn't an illusion. "I believed you be back Bastian, I did. But when I saw you…I thought I'd lost you forever."
Bastian nodded. "My father died a few years ago Empress, I guess when something like that happens you stop believe in fairy tales and dreams. I was miserable, I-I don't think I could ever go back."
The Empress brought her hand to Bastian's cheek. "I am sorry Bastian, the pain of your loss must have been terrible. But I wouldn't allow you to return to your world anyway, your home is here now with me."
Bastian had to let out a bit of a laugh. "You 'wouldn't allow me to' Empress?"
She gave a mock serious expression. "I am the ruler of all Fantasia, and I hereby decree you shall stay in Fantasia at my side for all time, peasant." They both laughed at this.
"I'm sorry it took me so long to tell you this Empress, but I love you." Bastian told, and held his breath waiting for her response. It came in the form of her pressing her lips against his.
They had both spent the last few years alone, neither was going to let this opportunity slip by.
"Bastian, make me a promise." The Empress said after breaking the kiss.
"Promise you'll never leave me again." She said in a meek tone.
"I will never leave you again Empress, this is my home now. If don't mind the company of course." Bastian responded.
"You know I wouldn't, but Bastian I have one Final decree." She stated in a more serious tone.
"What?" He asked curiously.
"Never call me Empress again." She said.
He chuckled. "You've got it Moon Child."
And the two knew that they would never be alone again.
Simon Koriander whistled as he opened up his shop. He smiled when he noticed the Neverending Story had somehow returned to the selves, as it always did after it complete whatever it needed to do.
Simon understood the book well, and had had his own adventures in Fantasia when he was younger. His father had told him Bastian would come some day, and he did.
Simon also understood that some day another young boy or girl, who was lonely, bullied, misunderstood by their parents, would come in the door and be drawn to the book. Until that day came he would continue watching over the store as his father did.
That child would come to Simon's shop one day.
The Empress would finally travel with Bastian at her side throughout the many lands of Fantasia.
And of course Bastian and the Empress would have many more adventures together.
But these are all stories that shall be told another time.