Yes. Tenkuu no Escaflowne belongs to me... and right now, I'm planning an alternate reality where Gaddes gets the girl, Allen learns how to serve chamomile tea, and Dornkirk sits in the garden as the garden gnome...

::sees men in white suits holding out a peculiar jacket:: Wait, wait, wait… you mean it doesn't belong to me…?! Drats...


===

Ame

===

It's raining outside…

I warned Van-sama… I really did…!! I warned him not to go out… I warned him not to look for Hitomi…

And where has that led him…? Where? Where?!

::sigh::

He doesn't need to tell me. I already know. Something has happened – something concerning Hitomi. That is why Van-sama is so depressed…

Ooh, how dare that girl…!! Wait till I find her, nyao…!! I'll rake my claws through her hair and scratch her eyes out and rip her into ribbo—

But… Van-sama likes her…

I can't do anything to her because Van-sama likes her so much…

::sigh::

I've lost him, haven't I…?

Baka… I never had him before…

It hurts. It hurts so badly. I want to break something… to cry… to hide in corner… to scream… I hurts, it hurts, it hurts…

I love Van-sama so much… so much…

::sniff::

But he doesn't want me… He wants Hitomi… In his eyes, there is only one image. On his lips, there is only one name…

Hitomi…

… Hitomi…

… … Hitomi… …

And where there is Hitomi, there is no place for Merle…

A tear…?

::drip:: ::drop::

He tells me he will always protect me… and I know he will never forsake his duty. He tells me he will always be there for me… and I know he will never betray his word. He tells me he will always love me…

… and I know he will never lie – never to me, never to me…

… never, ever to me… Me, Merle, his beloved sister…

::sob::

… his sister…

… nothing more…

… only his sister…

::sniffle::

So I will learn to accept it, because I love him. And with love comes great sacrifice, so I will sacrifice this…

If you love him, let him go…

===

"Van-sama…?"

He sits up, but does not turn. He does not have to… it would break my heart…

"Ah, it's you, Merle…"

He looks so sad. I canna bear him so sad…

"What's wrong, Van-sama…? You don't seem yourself…"

A sigh.

"It's nothing…"

My heart clenches uneasily, but I must tell him this…

"A lie…"

He startles…

"I've always been by your side, Van-sama… I know you better than anyone…" I bow my head, "You're thinking about her…"

A sniffle, "You love her, don't you…?"

I crawl beside him and take his arm. He stiffens within my embrace, but I know just what to do now. "You haven't know how you really feel, have you, Van-sama? I do… I've known for a long time…"

I nuzzle his arm, "Hitomi said it once, did she not? People return your feelings. I know you feel for her, Van-sama

"Hitomi feels the same…"

He stares up at the Mystic Moon. My whole being weeps at his singular gesture, but I know I've done right.

Be happy, Van-sama

===

It's raining again…

… and I remember…

It was raining when Balgus-sama found me, a dirty mess amidst a muddy puddle of murky water…

It was raining when Varie-sama found me, an unruly kitten needing care and guidance…

It was raining when Folken-sama found me, a shivering ball of fur having climbed the tallest tree…

It's raining now…

I step into the refreshing rain.

And I realize I have found myself…

It's time to move on…

===

The wars are over…

We are home…

He smiles from over yonder, watching his people rebuilt this land… He's smiling because he can finally be happy… He has everything he could ever want – the reestablishment of his kingdom, the loyalty of his subjects…

But most of all, the heart of his beloved…

Van-sama is happy.

::nyao::

That's enough for me…

::smile::

… and for some odd reason, I am content…


===

Aoi Akiko rambles:

Dedicated to Jonny... Thanks for showing me a side to Merle I would never have thought of before...

In the end, everyone seems to have earned their own slice of happiness, ne...? Van has Hitomi, and vice versa; Van gains Fanelia, Hitomi goes home; Allen has Celena, Celena is herself; Millerna has Eries, with the promise of Dryden; Dryden has his career, with the promise of Millerna; even Folken has his (piece?) peace, Naria and Eriya by his side...
Where did that leave Merle...?

Unfortunately, as I thought about it: very, very alone...

But Merle moves on (thanks again, Jonny...!!). She gives up a lot, but gains a lot more... Finding herself for the first time, I think that what really mattered to her in the end...

Notes:
Events made to coincide with chronological scenes from the series:-
[a] 1st downpour (Ep19, Operation: Golden Rule of Love): Probably after Merle comforts Van, depressed seeing Hitomi with Allen...
[b] Conversation with Van (Ep24, Fateful Decision): Conversation translated from Japanese by author, with very sketchy memory at that... Akiko apologizes for any mistakes in advance...
[c] 2nd downpour (Ep25, Zone of Absolute Fortune): The same downpour during which Allen tells Hitomi this is the first time any woman has refused his advances (::sigh:: as much as I love Allen, I thought that line was a little low...)
[d] Fanelia (Ep26, Eternal Love): Merle musing during her rounds helping the community...

Um... review kudasai...?
::bows:: Arigatou gozaimasu...