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Das Resultat sagt alles

Epilogue

~ unendlich ~

 

 

***

 

 

            To deliver the letter I had found to the princess’s grave, I visited the cemetery for the first time.

 

            It was in a place separated a little from town, on top of a low hill. Standing in the middle of a meadow buffeted by rustling wind, as if it were lord of this land, was a single large tree. So that lord could protect it, her grave was erected at the base of the tree’s roots.

 

            It was so well kept it didn’t feel like it held five hundred years of history. The name carved clearly on it was,

 

                        Nanoha Takamachi.

 

            Ahh, this must be it. I put my hands together in front of the grave, then opened my bag so I could leave the letter. Clink, the high-pitched metallic sound echoed in the silence. I felt about inside, and my fingertips confirmed the texture of paper. While taking care not to tear it, I slowly pulled it out of the bag.

 

            And then, when I raised my downturned gaze.

 

            At the spot it landed on, suddenly— I noticed something else carved there. As if to protect her. The name was nestled close to hers.

 

            — Who was it, the name of her companion?

 

            I bent down further to get a closer look at it. The name that was reflected before my eyes— was one I had just seen.

 

            Hurriedly, I turned over the letter I held. I checked the name written in cracked ink, then turned my gaze back to the gravestone. — It was, as I thought, the same name.

 

            The name engraved there was,

 

 

                        Fate T. Harlaown.

 

 

            It was unmistakably— the author of this letter.

 

 

            The moment I realized this.

                        —... For some reason, I couldn’t stop my tears.

 

 

            I had never met them. I didn’t know anything about the age they lived in. What they believed, how they lived. What they thought, how they spent their lives. What they looked like. What their voices were like.

 

                        I didn’t know any of it.

 

 

                                    Of the people living now— no one could.

 

 

            But, among them, there was one who knew.

            — Of the feelings they had carried. Of the bond they had expressed.

 

                        I alone— surely, knew.

 

 

            This letter, showed a glimpse to me. It conveyed to me. Their wishes for happiness with the one they loved, how they lived their lives to the fullest even when they were hurt.

 

            This grave, showed me. It conveyed to me. Proof that even though they were hurt, and shed tears again and again. In the end, they had lived together.

 

 

                        I knew.

 

 

            I wiped away my spilled tears, then placed the letter in front of the grave, and again brought my hands together. — I closed my eyes silently.

 

            Suddenly, a passage from the story read to me when I was a child long ago came into my head. The story that had slowly unfolded in my mother’s gentle voice.

 

            The fairy tale I loved, that made my emotions burst forth time and time again.

 

            — It— hadn’t been a fairy tale after all.

 

            The princess from the story, was right here. Judging from the contents of this letter— that traitorous knight, was right here too.

 

            And.

 

            The knight who helped them, was surely resting peacefully somewhere as well.

 

 

 

            “I’m sorry.”

            I gazed at the name carved on the gravestone, then bowed my head.

 

            When I was young I hated you. “Why did you betray the kingdom? The princess you were supposed to protect?” ... But— I was wrong.

 

            Feelings so deep people like me couldn’t have fathomed them, had been there. Now, I finally knew this.

 

            — I’m truly sorry.

 

 

            I slowly opened my eyes. With my hands joined in front of the princess’s grave, I firmly made this oath.

 

            “Before this time, where we have been raised comfortably...

 

            “There was a time of great pain and sadness, now faded...

            And there, in that time was—... the truth of the story.

 

            “I will tell this tale until the day I die.

 

 

            Fortunately, I had an interest in literature. So, I’d write a book. A one-volume story. Yeah... So that everyone could read it, a fairy tale would be good.

 

            The story of a certain kingdom’s princess, and the nameless knight who served her.

 

            — That part, would follow the fairy tale.

 

            But, in this story, no one like the traitorous knight would appear. The one who would appear was— the knight who gave her all to protect the princess she loved.

 

 

            My thoughts bursting out, I returned home.

 

            I went to my room, and while spreading out a piece of parchment I dipped the tip of my pen in an inkwell. I took a single deep breath, then ran the pen across the surface of the paper.

 

            It was like, I was a bystander watching the story. I don’t think my racing pen halted once. I just, earnestly put it into words.

 

 

            The title of the book would be Das Resultat sagt alles.

 

            However hard things are. However insurmountable the obstacles seem to be. If you have a heart and mind of unyielding resolve, then whatever happens, there is nothing you can’t do. I wanted to write the kind of story that would prove this, convey this to the people who read it.

 

            — Surely, this wasn’t some nonsense, or a beautiful lie.

 

            Because.

 

 

            Because the result, for these two who didn’t care about appearances, or lie to themselves. Who just struggled desperately for the future they earnestly desired, says it all.

 

            Of course, there was strong resistance to it being published. But I wasn’t discouraged. And then— it was ten years since I had finished writing it.

 

            The book finally reached publication. As I gazed at the newly made leather-covered binding, I just thought.

 

            If— they were reincarnated, born into this world again.

            If that happened, would they pick up this book?

 

            — It didn’t matter. But, I earnestly wished.

            If it did happen.

 

 

                        — That even in a new world, they would meet, take one another’s hand.

 

                                    And, live with unending smiles.

 

 

***

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        A day in March ~ Japan, Uminari City Public Library ~

 

 

 

            “Hmmm.”

 

            Standing in front of a large bookshelf, Fate lowered her eyebrows troubledly.

 

            Since she had begun the task of taking books from the shelves, looking at their covers, and flipping through their pages, an hour had already passed. — She was still empty-handed.

 

            The sun had gradually descended, and the room had begun to be dyed a subdued madder red. Because it was only early spring it was bright, but... time wise, wouldn’t it be closing time soon?

 

            Since she had to hurry, her eyes crawled over the shelves with greater urgency.

 

 

            Tomorrow would be the start of her second spring break since she began to live in Uminari City, and attend elementary school there. Amidst the cheerful, almost ticklish mood, from the teacher’s mouth had come the word, “homework.”

 

            Specifically, something called— a book report.

 

            While looking at the words on the blackboard and puzzling over which of her books she would report on, she received a telepathic message from Nanoha. “If you’d like, why don’t we stop by the library together on the way home?”

 

            Fate, who felt happy to spend even a little more time together with Nanoha, nodded twice in response. When they were about to leave, Arisa spoke with an amazed expression, “You look like you’re on cloud nine~,” and as Fate’s face flushed red and she denied this, she tried to control her heart that was beating so strongly it seemed it would burst, and headed toward the library with Nanoha—.

 

 

            And we arrive at the present.

 

 

 

            — Although she could now read a lot of Japanese, it still couldn’t be called perfect.

 

            For someone such as her, every single book she picked up looked difficult. She hadn’t found one that seemed to declare to her, “You can read this pretty easily by yourself!”

 

 

            “... Haa.”

 

            She breathed a sigh, and returned a book to its original spot.

 

            “Fate-chan, have you found anything?”

 

            Hearing Nanoha’s hushed voice, Fate turned her gaze to her. Nanoha was carrying several books in her arms.

 

            “No... not yet...”

 

            Fate, who felt sorry for still not deciding on anything, lowered her gaze. Then, suddenly. It was caught by the spine of a book.

 

            “... Hm?”

 

            The pages were a little thicker than the other books. Furthermore, the binding wasn’t particularly fancy. She slowly pulled the book from the shelf, and looked at the front cover. There was a rugged feel to it as well.

 

            But for some reason, she felt oddly drawn to it.

 

            “What is it, Fate-chan?”

 

            At Fate’s voice, Nanoha also peered at it.

 

 

            “Uh... the title is... How do you read it? ... Dasu... re...? Mmm...”

 

            Sounding out the letters that didn’t seem to be English or Japanese, Nanoha frowned and tilted her head to the side. Still a girl in elementary school, she had no way of knowing what language it was, or what it meant. She tried deciphering it for a little while with Fate, but despite this, the two weren’t able to make sense of it.

 

            “— Ah, but it looks like the inside is translated, Fate-chan.”

 

            Nanoha turned open the front cover. The stale, distinct smell of old books swept over her nose. On yellowed, worn pages, a clear Japanese translation was also written.

 

            “Let’s see... Ah. It seems it’s a fairy tale.”

 

            Flipping through it, Nanoha confirmed this in a quiet voice. It began with the standard phrase, “Once upon a time.”

 

            In the illustrations, there was a princess wearing a pretty dress, and a knight dressed in a suit of armor.

 

            It seemed somehow familiar. Vaguely, something grazed the edge of her memory. But it was blurred, and before it could take shape, a haze descended over it.

 

            Maybe I saw something like it in a movie or something, Nanoha thought.

 

 

            “I see.”

 

            As Nanoha thought this, she heard Fate’s voice which sounded somehow relieved. — Ahh, Fate-chan must be interested in this book, Nanoha instantly realized.

 

            But Fate was just looking at the illustrations, and didn’t propose borrowing it.

 

            Since she only recently came to this world, she probably thinks there are kanji or letters in it that she can’t read. That must be why she isn’t saying anything about borrowing it.

 

            Nanoha scanned through it again. There were certainly a few difficult kanji, but it looked like she could read it with some effort.

 

            “Fate-chan, why don’t we borrow this?”

            “— Eh?”

 

            “Would you read it with me?”

 

            Nanoha pulled Fate along by the hand as she protested, “Eh, but...” and handed the book to the young woman at the counter.

 

            As she listened to Fate’s voice quietly apologizing several times, “I’m sorry,” mingled with the electronic beeping of the bar code being read, she said, “Not at all, I want to read it too.” Then, she smiled softly at Fate.

 

 

            The first day of spring break had begun.

 

            Fate was running hurriedly toward Nanoha’s house. Carried over her right shoulder was an overnight bag, and in her left hand was a bag of sweets she had bought as a present from a convenience store.

 

            The bag, filled only with things about which Nanoha had said, “This is delicious,” as if matching its owner’s bounding heart, made a cheerful rustling sound like it was dancing.

 

 

            “Pardon my intrusion.”

            “Welcome, Fate-chan.”

 

            The front door was opened, and Nanoha’s smiling face greeted Fate.

 

            She handed the bag of sweets she had brought to Nanoha, who smiled happily. At that smiling face, Fate’s smile also deepened.

 

 

            “Now, let’s start reading~.”

            “Alright.”

 

            Nanoha sat down on one of the cushions she had laid out, and opened the book they had borrowed. So she could see inside, and so she could sit close to Nanoha. Fate sat down on another cushion beside her.

 

            “Once upon a time, in a flourishing land—,”

 

            They had just begun reading, when they suddenly heard the sound of the doorbell.

 

            “Oh? Who could that be?”

 

            “Sorry, Fate-chan, just a minute.” To Nanoha who said this, she nodded, “Yes.” To calm her heart that had been beating violently since she arrived in Nanoha’s room, Fate tried the cup of orange juice Nanoha had prepared for her.

 

            Gulp, she took a sip. When she swallowed, she could smell the refreshing scent of oranges passing over her throat, and feel the cool temperature pouring over it.

 

            “Ah, Hayate-chan! Hello-”

 

            As she took another mouthful, from the entranceway she could hear Nanoha’s voice, and.

 

            “I was in the neighborhood, so I thought I’d drop by.”

 

            Hayate’s voice.

 

            “We just started reading a book we borrowed~.”

            “Ooh. What book? Can I read it with you?”

 

            “Of course~. Come in, come in.”

 

            She heard that cheerful conversation, and after a few moments the door to the room opened. — There was Hayate, who also looked rather cheerful.

 

            “... Hello, Hayate.”

            “Oh, Fate-chan’s here too, hello~.”

 

            For the conversation she had just heard, she greeted Hayate shortly. When she did so, Hayate laughed, “You don’t have to make such a scary face~.”

 

            “Now now, you two. Let’s keep reading~.”

            “Alriiight.”

 

 

            “Once upon a time, in a flourishing land, there lay a kingdom...”

 

 

            The curtains swayed in the breeze, and the trees, as if singing, rustled as their leaves shook. The deep blue sky peeked in from the widely opened window, the backs of the three whose shoulders were joined as they looked into the book, were wrapped only in warm sunlight.

 

            Within this gentle atmosphere, the princess, the knight, the knight who was their friend, and. The story they wove with everything they had, were traced over by Nanoha’s gentle voice.

 

            It was like she was telling them of old memories, truly bringing them to life, and Fate and Hayate who should have been mere listeners, were drawn into that story.

 

 

            The story the girls were slowly weaving,

 

 

 

 

                                                has still— only begun.

 

 

 

 

 

~ END ~

 

 

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