Happily Ever After

By The Scarlet Pencil

Disclaimer: I do not own MÄR: Märchen Awakens Romance. It is the property of Nobuyuki Anzai.

AN: This was written for Werewolf of Fire's Less than Popular contest. Contains 1164 words.

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When Danna married his wife, he promised three things. He would always be faithful to her; he would always support her; and he would always love her. She laughed and called him a romantic.

"Of course! That's why you love me!" he responded.

Really though, he was in love with a world that did not exist. A much more perfect world where everything was either good or bad; and you could fight Evil head on and win. But such a world could only be glimpsed through the fairytales his wife wrote. On the few days when he was feeling particularly melancholy, Danna would wonder if the only reason he had fallen in love with her was because she let him see that elusive world. Then he shook himself, laughed and remembered all the wonderful things she did for him.

They had been comfortably married for a few years when she found out she was pregnant. Danna was ecstatic. He had always loved children and their easy belief in fairytales. He was even more delighted when they found out it was going to be a boy.

On the day Ginta was born, Danna promised two things. First, that he would never be the kind of father who worked so hard he didn't have time to play with his kids. Second, that he would always be there to take care of his family.

Life was wonderful for a time. Ginta would listen starry-eyed to the fairytales his mother had written, always narrated by Danna's booming voice that somehow managed to play all the parts just right, even the princess's. His wife would laugh as Danna and Ginta pretended to spy on the progress of whatever manuscript she was working on. But even as he played with his son and read the fairytales, Danna couldn't help wishing that he was the hero in the stories. That it was his deeds his son was hanging onto, instead of wondering how the hero managed to slay the wyrm.

It had been a brilliantly sunny day, when the world had faded away to reveal an infinite blackness. Danna found himself standing before a door, and the Gate Keeper Clown was laughing, saying that Danna had been chosen to go through and save another world.

And in that moment, Danna Toramizu broke his vows. He was hurtling towards the ground, which was covered with grass so vibrantly green it hurt his eyes, and when he hit, the boulders nearby asked him if he was alright. For the first, glorious day that Danna spent in MÄR, he did not think of his family once. This was his dream, to be the only hope of a world so strange it was beautiful.

The second day, he remembered his wife and son; and a weight settled onto his shoulders that would plague him for the rest of his time in MÄR. Still, Danna thought, how long did it take to save a world? He would be back home regaling Ginta with his own stories soon enough. So he pushed those thoughts away and went onwards.

The thing about fairytales that makes them so fascinating to children is the suffering in them. It is true that everything turns out alright in the end, but there has to be suffering of some sort. Otherwise, the story would be meaningless. Nevertheless, Danna was not at all prepared for real suffering, and his first look at a village the Chess had visited left him vomiting for a long time.

It was during this initial aimless wandering time that another weight began to settle on Danna's shoulders. The weight of responsibility for these suffering people who needed someone to fight and be strong for them. It was because of this that when he first ran into Alan, he was able to say sincerely, "I love MÄR Heaven."

Of course, he loved his wife and Ginta as well; and he had promised to protect them and support them. But honestly, it wouldn't take too long to fight a simple war. Danna would be back home in no time, and he could go back to watching Ginta grow up and prodding his wife to meet deadlines.

Danna had been in MÄR for three weeks before he met Alan. But before Alan took Danna to the Cross Guards, they trained. This took three months in the training gate. Danna felt a little anxious as time passed, but it wasn't anything he couldn't handle. He devoted his time to asking (or, as Alan put it, pestering) about everything in MÄR. He learned about ÄRM and their different uses, the various countries and guilds across the land, and most importantly, about the Chess.

So time passed, and Danna was presented to the Cross Guard. He had been expecting a group of knights in shining armor. He found a group of young men terrified of the crumbling world around them, but connected by a thin thread of courage that never quite shattered, no matter what the Chess threw at it.

It was after a particularly gruesome battle that the Cross Guard unanimously voted Danna the "Boss." For a moment, Danna had considered refusing. He was not the best tactician, surely someone else should lead while he foug—

Alan had caught his eye, and Danna immediately agreed. Later, he would be told that his strength was inspiring to the Cross Guard, and inspiration was all that was holding the organization together.

He would tell stories about his son and wife to the men, coaxing out tales of little children and young sweethearts from them. It was always bittersweet to tell these stories, though. Danna had been in MÄR for an entire year now. But still, his wife and Ginta wouldn't mind. They would wait for him.

Wouldn't they?

A few months later, in the middle of a ruined village, Danna found himself crouching in front of a young boy. The child was a little older than Ginta would be right now. But even through the grief that clouded his eyes, the boy reminded Danna of Ginta so strongly that he couldn't refuse the boy's desperate plea to join the Cross Guard. He knew Alan disapproved, but it was heartening to see the Alviss puttering about the camp, carrying weapons to the smithy or rations to the men. It made him feel better, truthfully.

It was almost two years after Danna had arrived in MÄR when he finally found himself facing a wraithlike enemy with eyes that spoke of insanity. He had fought bravely, because he wanted to tell Ginta stories of a man who fought proudly and without fear to vanquish evil. He wanted to tell stories of a man who saved a world from destruction.

Really though, Danna thought as he kicked away the maniacal ÄRM that Phantom was swinging at him, he just wanted to tell a story that ended with "and they all lived happily ever after." And then everything had gone dark.

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