By: The Lauderdale. Beware of spoilers for the end of Escaflowne.
Allen brushed the tips of his fingers against the blossoms in the tall vase. It was early evening, and looking out the great window, he gazed down upon a courtyard bathed in the golden glow of an approaching sunset. "Millerna…" he said quietly.
"No, Allen." She was behind him, but he could see her as clearly as if he were facing her: her hands clasped loosely before her, her eyes gentle but firm.
She's grown, he thought to himself.
It was strange for him to realize how much the young princess had changed. He remembered when their positions had been the opposite—her reaching, grabbing for him, and him pushing her away. Eries had put his own thoughts into words: Millerna was looking more and more like Marlene everyday. It was that on which he had based his reservations about loving her.
"Millerna, we could try again. We have no commitments anymore. The war is over. Dryden has set you free."
"Dryden will come back," she said.
He turned his head suddenly, long hair swinging to fall against his cheek in a golden curtain. Hurt-looking blue eyes gazed at her from the shadow of low bangs. "You told him yourself that you wouldn't necessarily be waiting."
"Allen, don't you see? It isn't working. She's too much a part of your life. There's no room for me."
And once, not so long ago, he thought, that would have true. He had held the memory of he and Marlene's doomed relationship between Millerna and him at all times, thinking that any attempt to have a relationship with her…would only end as the one with her older sister had. In sorrow. With a child who would never know his true father, with Marlene's marriage to another man, and with Allen alone. Again.
"I'm done with grief," he said, his voice hoarse with emotion. "I loved Marlene, and I still do, but she's dead. I'm alive, and so are you. We can forge our own destiny, one in which our love will survive. You aren't Marlene!"
Millerna stared at him. One hand came to rest against her cheek. "You—you think I'm talking about—" She shook her head, her mouth an "O" of shock. "My God. Allen, I wasn't talking about Marlene." As Allen stared at her, stunned, she said, "I was talking about Celena."
He could only blink. "Celena? I…I don't understand…."
"Allen, you only have room for one women in your life right now. And Celena is the one."
He laughed, a laugh that was of angry bewilderment rather than any humor. "How can you say that? I'm her brother!"
She shook her head. "Allen, I don't mean it in that sense. I've been with you when she's around. You have eyes only for her." Allen turned away and stared out the window. She sighed and came up behind him, placing a hand on his shoulder. "I know that you're afraid for her, Allen. Afraid that you'll lose her again."
"Of course I am," he said huskily. "I always lose everyone I care about eventually. My father, my mother, Marlene…" he lowered his head. "…you." There was a stillness that followed this last whispered word. Millerna took her hand away from his shoulder and looked down silently at the tiled floor.
After a moment, Allen went on. "Celena is the only one I've lost who has come back to me. And I have to fear losing her again, not only to forces from outside, but forces within her as well. I won't let it happen! I won't let her be taken from me and put through such suffering ever again!" He had straightened, and his body was suddenly cast in an aurora of angry orange red. The sun was going down behind the mountains.
Millerna lifted her head again and looked at the blond knight, seeing past the strength of purpose he was showing to the desperation and pain that lay behind it. Oh, Allen, she thought. Even in this short time you have embraced your sister so tightly….I think, if the two of you were ever divided, it would do you as much harm as she.
Out loud, she said quietly to his back, "Allen, do you remember the day Dryden gave me back his ring? When I told you that we had separated, I said that I couldn't allow myself to rely on you. Allen, I can't allow you to rely on me either. It wouldn't be fair to either of us."
She saw his body stiffen. He turned towards her, surprised and hurt. "Millerna…." he said in a wounded voice, extending a hand towards her. At the look in her eyes, he slowly dropped it.
There was a second silence.
"Another time, Allen," she said quietly.
"I love you, Millerna," he said. She didn't reply. He walked past her and opened the door.
As he stepped out, he heard a soft, "I know." Allen paused, head bowed, eyes and heart shut against the burning approach of tears.
Then he closed the door behind him.
"Another Time" is copyright The Lauderdale (firstname.lastname@example.org), July of 2000. Yes folks, 2000—it was originally posted on the eGroups Escaflowne fanfiction mailing list. This is a stand-alone piece, though if I ever get it finished I will put up some of the connected fiction I've been working on. The series Tenkuu no Escaflowne and the characters therein do not now, never have and never will belong to me.