Disclaimer: Meine Liebe belongs to the talented Yuki Kaori and Konami, not I. The characters and setting will be returned unharmed after I've borrowed them for a while.
Summary: An AU take on the events of the first PS2 game (Yuubinaru Kioku), still told from an Erika-centric viewpoint.

Nearing Towards You: Prologue

Strangely fitting, she thought, that the gifts he had given her could stay by her side during her last moments of life since he could not. The last news she received of him said his country's officials had seen to his welfare, and she held no delusions about the true meaning of those words.

The overcast late October sky colored the lake before her a hazy gray, much like the color of his uniform. It seemed that everything reminded her of him in one way or another, more so since her return home. Tears streamed down her face, as they had when her father forcibly drew her to her feet and pulled her away so that even their tightly clasped fingers had been torn from each other. She had been unable to do anything then except weep as her lover remained on his knees, dark eyes watching her. His lips had moved, and the gentle eastern wind had carried the words to her ears. Those last words, the most beautiful promise she had ever received, still echoed in her mind.

We will meet again.

That same wind ruffled her hair, bringing to mind memories of his fingers brushing through the long strands as he artfully placed a comb. Her tears beaded on the white roses held between her hands, and the sleeves of her kimono, the first present he had given her, fluttered as she stepped closer to the water's edge. Ripples spread across its surface, disturbed gently by the breeze. Even though the bottom of the lake could not be seen, she knew it was deep enough that once her clothes took in water she would not rise to the air again.

A strange kind of calm settled over her. One by one, she thought over the times they had spent together, from the first meeting of their families arranged by their countries' respective embassies to their forced parting in the garden of his family's estate, each memory more precious than the previous. Grief rose swift and cold within her, and a strong shiver shook her body as a desperate longing for the man she would never see again consumed her. If his vow could not be fulfilled during their lifetime, then she knew he would keep his word in a life to come. With that one hope in her heart, she walked into the chilled lake and did not stop until the waves lapped at her shoulders. Slowly, she leaned back and let herself sink under the surface, coughing as she sucked in a lungful of water. Her body panicked and struggled for air, but her mind set itself stubbornly. As her vision grew dim, scenes rose in her mind and played out the first time he had spoken her name, taken her hand in his, said he loved her.

His voice always lilted when he spoke her language, rising and falling over certain sounds, but he always knew how to say what he wanted. She was far less fluent in his native tongue, and when he spoke to her in it, the syllables washed over her as the melody did on the few occasions she had heard him playing his flute. It enchanted her so thoroughly that she had not minded when he scolded her affectionately for not paying attention to his makeshift teaching session while losing herself in the sound of his words.

The last memory she recalled was a time she happened upon him practicing his archery. Several arrows already lodged in the distant target spoke of his skill, and the intensity on his face made her hold her breath. It had seemed like an eternity passed between when he drew the string back and when the arrow flew to its destination, and the suddeness of the impact coincided with the air rushing from her lungs. The look of surprise on his face when he had noticed her then delighted her just as much as the arrow's impact at the perfect center of the target.

A faint smile crossed lips that had ceased trying to breathe as she closed her eyes for the last time.