Disclaimer: Escaflowne and all its derivations belong to Bandai, Sunrise, etc. I stake no claims to the characters, only the plot and writing.
Author’s Note: This is a Folken and Hitomi romance told from Hitomi’s POV…I never thought I’d write a fic about her, but “never” is a flexible word^^ Last thing, towards the middle, the story gets lemony. Please Beware. Merci Sky [Stargazer] for breaking my writer’s block.
Last Revision: March 13, 2001
They called him a traitor. They branded him a coward. They whispered of his crimes, crimes so heinous none dared to confront him about them…or so they claimed.
“He was the force behind Fanelia’s burning, you know.”
“Oh, do tell.”
“I heard he could break a man’s neck with that claw.”
“And I heard he tried to kill his own brother.”
“How utterly unnatural of him.”
“He’s a demon.”
Lies. All lies. Why did they spread the hateful gossip? Why couldn’t they just leave the past be? How could they have believed that a man so honourable, brave and tender…could be capable of those deeds? They didn’t know of the real Folken…because the real Folken Fanel was the gentlest of men, and my very first love.
Folken Fanel had the sort of face that could linger in one’s memory long after the actual encounter. If I want to, I can close my eyes and his image will appear in my mind instantly. How well I can recall his features; chiseled cheekbones, straight nose. Long eyes that always appeared to be melancholy. Such soft and pliable hair, like silk but finer than that.
“Why do you place such faith in me?” Folken once asked me. “Surely, you are aware of the notoriety attached to my name.”
“I…I don’t really know why.” I mumbled, and frowned at my lame response.
Well. I now know the answer to his question--come a lifetime too late. Right from the beginning, I’d been drawn to him, inexorably. He made me feel at peace when I was with him. I think I saw him as the only sane person during those chaotic times of war. Van, Allen…they fought battles after battles, never pausing to even wonder why they needed to fight. But Folken paused. He used his mind to think, not just to react. He was different. And I admired…no…I…loved him for that.
I never thought I’d catch his interest, or if I did somehow, surely the moment would only last briefly and he’d never speak to me again. But on many occasions, he did seek me out, much to my surprise and pleasure. He talked to me about substantial matters. Intelligent topics like the re-building of Palas. The astronomical positioning of the stars, of the two moons. Of politics, of the cultural differences between Asturia and his native Fanelia, and we *even* debated once over the invasive technology of the Zaibach Empire. This was an utterly new experience for me, conversing with a man who truly seemed to respect what I had to say….the foundation for our friendship. Allen…well, *he* never said anything that was out of the ordinary. And Van—I smile at the recollection—he could drive a girl mad trying to get him to admit more than a non-committal grunt. Oh Van. You never said anything to me…and I couldn’t read your mind.
I quickly shake off these nagging feelings of regret. I shall never stand on Gaea’s soil again, I reasoned, why should I torture myself with such sad thoughts?…But my brief time on Gaea was filled with joyful occurrences as well as the heartbreaking ones. Like that smolderingly hot day, midsummer in Palas, Asturia…
Asturian high summers were scorching. No one was foolish enough to be wandering the streets in the early afternoon with the brilliant white-hot sun beating down on you…no one…except me. I kept to the shades though, and walked slowly, taking my time. There was simply *nothing* to do back at the palace. And besides, I wanted to see Folken. His rented rooms were near the harbour, I knew, on the third level of a white-bricked townhouse. His landlady was a vague-looking woman who never bothered her tenants save to remind them of their upcoming house fees.
Just as I stepped into the cool foyer of the house, the landlady came out of her kitchen. I stopped and raised my hand in a little salute. She glanced at me, took stock of my short school uniform dress, surmised that no decent Asturian lady would wear such scandalously revealing garbs, and promptly dismissed me with a shake of her head. I looked away, embarrassed by her rudeness.
“Hi…hi, I’m just here to see—“ I tried to tell her, stuttering a little.
“It’s none of my business. Do whatever you want. Just keep it quiet up there. This is a decent establishment you know.”
I blushed a deep red…she had mistaken me for…for…a…prostitute. God. It was almost funny. I bowed my head, and walked up the stairs. But I could still feel her hawk-like gaze on my back. I quickened my pace.
I finally reached his rooms, in a near run and knocked staccato raps against solid oak.
“Enter.” His voice was slightly muffled by the door. I cautiously eased open the door and stepped into his chambers. He’d opened the windows, and a cool, refreshing sea breeze scented the rooms, ruffling the folds of my skirt flirtatiously. Folken stood tall and straight with his back to me.
He was silent.
“Folken, what’s wrong?” I closed the front door behind me and walked to his side. Tilting my head up, I scanned his face for a sign of what he was feeling then, but as usual, his face was an indiscernible mask.
“Ah. You’re brooding again.” I said flatly. He looked down at me in surprise.
“ ‘Again?’ I wasn’t aware that I was prone to moodiness.” He said lightly.
“Well, I guess you don’t brood as much as Van.”
“How mannerless of Van.” He echoed, sounding distracted. “What were you thinking about, before I disturbed you?” I asked. He assured me that he was glad to see me. Still, I insisted on knowing what it was that made him look so sad. For a very long time, Folken said nothing.
“I was looking at the sea, and remembering the twins.” His voice was clear, almost detached sounding. And how was I supposed to respond to that? They were, I knew, his substitute family after his exile from Fanelia.
“It was my fault you see,” he continued, “I caused their deaths. I thought I could help them, but I didn’t know until too late that I was actually poisoning them. I blame myself entirely for…for everything.”
“Van should’ve been kept away from this damned war. Mother always told me to take care of my little brother, and I swore I would. But I failed to protect him when he needed me most. She would’ve been so ashamed of her eldest son. They tell me that she left soon after my disappearance in search of me. I’m responsible for her death as well.”
“I should just leave. I’m not helping anyone here despite Dryden’s claims of otherwise. I’m a leech on their finances, they don’t trust me at any rate.”
“Please--please don’t speak like that.“
“Would anyone care, I wonder, if I… departed for good? Perhaps it would’ve been best for everyone if I had died on the Vione--”
“Folken! No!” I clutched at his arm desperately. Suddenly, my entire world became dark and oppressive. The tears I had kept bottled up inside of me for all those months…my awful experiences with the war…the many deaths I’d witnessed…they all threatened to overwhelm me. And on top of that, I was desperately homesick. I missed my family and my friends. And then, I was so frightened about the battles to come…all my fears and uncertainties weighed down on my resolve to stay brave. Hot tears tickled down my cheeks even though my eyes were tightly squeezed shut. It was all too much for me…so I cried. I cried for…myself. And it felt good to release the firm control I’d kept over my turbulent feelings. Suddenly, steady arms pull me into a gentle embrace. I buried my head into his shoulder, his good one, and hugged him to me tight. The rhythmic beating of his heart through the thin layer of his shirt quieted my tears. I blinked and slowly let my eyes travel up the length of his chest, to meet his eyes unwaveringly.
I reached up with my right hand, and gently traced the curve of his jaw. “Hitomi…” He whispered my name. Oh what was I doing? Forgive me Van…Allen…Amano…because at that moment, I didn’t care for any of them, only Folken. My Folken. My dearest. I entwined my arms around his neck and leaned into his powerful body. The beating of my heart sounded thunderous to my ears. Tenderly, gently, I drew his head down, and kissed him on his lips. It was a small kiss, a little clumsy because of my inexperience…but he didn’t mind. His good hand stroked my back—a feather-light touch that sent delicious shivers down my spine.
“I…shouldn’t…” He said a little breathless.
“But I want this.” I said.
“I’m not right for you. I’m too old, too jaded…and you’re so innocent and pure.”
“You’re perfect for me.”
“But what about Van, he—“ I hushed him with another kiss, one that was passionate and hungry. He trembled.
“Does that answer your question?” I said quietly.
Folken picked me up in his arms, effortlessly. He brought me into his bedroom and set me tenderly on the bed. Eyes warm, lips looking slightly puffy and pink from my numerous kisses, and hair, such beautiful silky hair, tousled…Folken Fanel looked utterly desirable just then. I smiled at him, and he smiled back and it was a beautiful smile that it freed me completely from all shyness.
I shrugged out of my blouse, and unbuckled my skirt, throwing them cavalierly on a chair. Slowly, I drew him down beside me, and proceeded to remove his clothing, one by one, so that finally his bare skin was available to my wandering fingers. He was warm my touch, smooth muscles stretched tightly across perfectly formed bones. The metallic arm didn’t bother me in the least.
My blood simmered, hot, and my heart pounded, hammering away in my ribcage. With a half-feral grin, I rolled on top of him, straddling his body. Without missing a beat, he cupped his good hand to my breast, rubbing the nipple teasingly, sending tremors of pleasure down to my loins. God, I wanted him to be in me so desperately, but still he continued with the sweet torture. He wrapped his cold and metallic hand around my waist anchoring me to him and drew his finger slowly from my breast toward my navel. I gasp; my skin had never felt so sensitive before: it was as if every single pore in my body was responding wildly to his touch. Suddenly, he reversed our positions so that he looked down on me. His long eyes grew serious again, and a slight frown marred his smooth brows. He searched my eyes deeply, saying the unspoken question…but I had no regrets. I spread my legs in invitation. Slowly, ever so gently, he pushed into me, testing my tightness. My body resisted him, painfully in the beginning, but then I was conquered and soon, even the pain was gone. Good-bye virginity, I shan’t miss you.
We really were very undisciplined that sunny summer afternoon I remember with a fond smile. How we wasted hours away…making love until the sun had almost set. I was sated, lying there in his solid embrace…. and if I hadn’t been so worn out, I would have been deliriously happy. Being fifteen and in love for the first time was a powerful combination. It was wonderful.
All too soon, I had to depart, Millerna insisted on meeting for dinner every night at seven o’clock. Folken helped me get dressed again, buttoning up my rumpled shirt all very properly.
“Thank you Folken.” I murmured when he was done. Thank you for letting me share in your life. Thank you for showing me the pleasures of love. Thank you, above all, for being you, my love.
“You’d better go before—“
“Millerna skins me for my tardiness.” I sighed, resigned. Slowly, I dragged my feet to the door. At the portal, I turned around, and hugged him to me. He kissed my forehead, then my lips lingeringly.
“Go.” Folken commanded me, without any conviction.
“Yep.” With a final look at his beloved, handsome face, I left him.
Just as I was about to make a pass for the front door, the landlady made her appearance again. She threw me a critical look and raised a sagging brow.
“Good night!” I called to her cheerfully, smiling. She only pressed her mouth into a tight line and turned back to the kitchens. I shrugged indifferently: I was much too happy to allow myself to be upset by what she thought of me. *If* she believed, so firmly, that I was a loose woman, then I practically had a *duty* to live up to that reputation--this I reasoned very logically. All the way back to the palace, I was grinning like a lunatic; it’s a wonder that I didn’t start skipping.
Tomorrow, I’ll be back. I’ll see you soon, Folken, that’s a promise.