Author's Note: Something that always bothered me about Legend of Dragoon was how much of a puppet it makes you later in the game—particularly in regards to Shana. I mean every NPC, except Rose, was treating Dart and Shana like a couple, despite the fact that Dart constantly affirmed that she was like a "baby sister" to him. When I played through I found Rose quite alluring and so would always choose more favorable responses to her such as when Shana first asks who Rose "is to you", I responded: "She is someone who is important to me", earning me a hilarious accusation by Rose of trying to "seduce" her. However I was met by frustration in the later game when it forces you to find Shana, reply favorably toward her and makes you a "couple", a complete reversal of Dart's previous position. So this is what I wished I could have done in the game.

"It seems we can relax for the first time in a while tonight," Dart mused as the seven "heroes" left the throne of King Zior of Fletz.

"I think so too," Albert, the king of Basil abroad, agreed. "We must leave tomorrow so it is a good chance to relax."

"Well, I am going to explore a bit before the party starts," Meru explained cheerfully as she took her leave, whirling her body into a slow, exaggerated spin.

"I have an errand to do as well," Haschel agreed.

"Hey... Where are you going?" Dart protested. At this rate... "Are you going too, Rose?" he asked nervously.

But Rose left without a word.

"Let me go as well," Albert added. "You must appreciate what everyone has done," the king reminded.

Shana turned toward Dart, a hopeful look in her young eyes. "Why don't we go out too?" she asked, rubbing her arm.

Dart nodded and forced a smile. "Sure."

The two made their way up to a bridge resting between the twin towers of the great castle of Fletz and sat down to watch the waning sun.

"I love you, Dart. Since I was little..." Shana began suddenly, dropping the blunt confession on him with a firmness that Dart had never before heard. "It never changed, even when you left for your journey. I started to love you even more... Because while you were gone, I was thinking about you every single day."

"Shana..." Dart breathed, unsure of what to say.

"So, I don't mind being your baby sister," Shana admitted with a weak smile. "Because I can be with you everyday. That's just how I think."

The young girl fell silent, turning her gaze back upon him as if expecting an answer. Dart swallowed hard, but felt quite relieved when Fester, a vassal of King Zior himself, appeared to interrupt the conversation. Shana's shoulders fell and Dart shrugged apologetically.

"Dart! Welcome back!" Fester exclaimed loudly. However, noticing their faces, he asked, "What's wrong? You have such a sour face."

"You, you think so?" Dart stammered.

"Your famous in the city, nay all the land!" Fester exclaimed jubilantly, ignoring the question. "The hero who defeated the dragon that wreaked terror on Tiberoa!"

"It still feels unreal," Dart countered.

"Tis just your modest attitude!" Fester replied, dispelling the young man with a wave of his hand. "You are our times' latest hero."

Dart had absolutely no reply for that proud assertion and so said nothing.

"By the way, the party is starting soon," Fester explained, seemingly returning to his senses. "You should cheer up and be happy! See you later."

With that the man took his leave and Shana turned toward Dart again. Dart stiffened, worrying what she would say next.

However, before she could say anything, Libria, a maiden in the service of Princess Emile, found them. "Mr. Dart! Miss Shana! Why are you here?" she exclaimed in a panicked voice.

"We were waiting for the party to start," Dart explained, slightly taken aback by the intrusive question.

"Well, it's starting soon so please get everyone so I can prepare the dresses! I shall see you later," Libria explained, dashing off.

Shana sighed. "Well, I suppose I shall go look for everybody," she said as she stood to her feet. She did it conspicuously slowly, as if waiting for Dart to rise and follow her.

"Right. I shall look elsewhere as well," Dart agreed, but winced upon looking at her face. The word elsewhere was clearly not welcome. But Shana merely left without a word, leaving Dart alone with his thoughts.

He stood and thought of where the other six would all be. Albert would likely be with Princess Emile, he figured, whose room was at the peak of the tower to his left, just up the stairs. He headed in that direction.

Truthfully, Dart was weary. They had defeated Lenus, slain the Sea Dragon, expelled the Bandits and become famous throughout all Tiberoa...but had lost another Moon artifact and Lloyd had escaped...again.

Lloyd. The memory of Lloyd thrusting his massive sword though Lavitz still haunted the young man. His face turned downcast. The thing that angered him most was the look on the platinum haired man's face-it wasn't one of anger or even arrogance, but rather...disinterest, as if killing Lavitz was nothing.

Dispelling such thoughts, Dart crept up to the door of Princess Emile's room in the tower. He could indeed hear the voice of Albert within.

"Do you know about the Legend of the Mermaid?" Albert baited.

"No... Please tell me about it," Emille replied playfully.

"Well," Albert said, standing to his feet and adopting a dramatic stance. Dart had to force himself to keep from laughing at the display. "The king of some country is gazing out over the waves of the sea and thinking his life is as hollow as the vanishing bubbles. Everything looked like that because the king had never known true love. Under the waves, a mermaid was thinking the same thing while gazing at the clouds in the sky."

"Oh my..." the Princess intoned dramatically. "And what happened to the two of them?"

"Would you like to know?" Albert teased. "This is a secret tale handed down only within the Serdio royal family, so...I cannot tell you anymore. I am sorry, I just can't go on."

"Oh! You are teasing me!" Emille protested with a chuckle. "But I am having so much fun. I don't seem to notice the passage of time when I'm talking with you."

Time... Dart thought. Oh right! The time!

Dart hastily clambered into the plush chamber. "I knew you would be here," he quipped to Albert.

"Is something wrong?" the King of Basil asked, slightly offput by the interruption.

"The party is starting soon. So I am calling everybody down," Dart explained.

"Is it already that time?" Albert asked. Turning toward Emille, he announced in seeming despair. "Unfortunately, I must leave you."

"When can we meet again?" the Princess asked.

"When the stars fill the sky..." Albert replied wistfully.

Dart rolled his eyes. "You can simply say 'tonight'."

Together, Dart and Albert returned to the main hall in search of more members of their party.

They heard a commotion in the kitchen and went over to investigate.

"Just a peek is fine! I want to see the party food!" the high pitched voice of Meru could be heard.

Dart smiled knowingly.

"We are not going to eat now. We just want the food," the voice of Haschel added.

Haschel? He should know better!

Suddenly the two were shoved roughly out the door. "That is eating! Please get out! You are only delaying the preparation," a maid shouted.

"Mr. Dart! Please constrain them!" the maid asked in exasperation, relieved to see the young warrior.

"Wars never choose their time," Haschel protested. "You have to eat whenever you can. That is a basic understanding for a warrior!"

"You want to eat some too, don't you Dart?" Meru asked, giving her platinum hair a gentle flip and beaming a bright smile.

Dart, however, remained unconvinced. "The party is starting soon," he replied coldly. "You can eat as much as you want then, right?"

Meru's smile fell to a scowl.

"Is that true?" Haschel asked. "Why didn't you say so!"

"Y-yes...well I'm here to tell you that," Dart replied.

"Well come one. Let's go!" Meru agreed boisterously as they joined Dart and Albert to seek more of their compatriots.

The company made their way into the training area reserved for Tiberoan Knights, a vaulted room stocked with the best equipment and weapons.

They found Kongol there, swinging his massive axe into one of the practice targets, not even breaking a sweat.

"Kongol has friends," the Giganto muttered in between swings. "Friends of different race."

"Not bad," Dart mused as he came up behind him. "Whoa!" he exclaimed, however, as he was almost waylaid by another swing.

"Don't do that," Kongol scolded, his voice booming.

"That's what I should say!" Dart countered.

"Did you hear Kongol speaking?" the Giganto asked warily.

"Not really..." Dart covered. "By the way, the party is starting."

After Dart led the way back into the main hall, he turned toward the others. "I believe Shana is still out there looking for everyone so you all should probably go find her," Dart suggested. "Let's see... I'll find Rose."

Haschel raised an eyebrow.

"We could all go together," Meru suggested, oblivious.

"I don't think that's a good idea," Dart countered weakly. He looked at their faces, however, and changed tracks. "You know how Rose is," he covered. "She doesn't like to be around a lot of people and she'll already have the party to endure tonight..."

"Oh, well... If that is how she feels," Albert replied, turning to leave, followed by the others.

Haschel flashed a suspicious smile at the young warrior, however, before taking his leave. Dart scowled. He didn't like what was behind that smile at all. But there was nothing he could do about it.

Alone once more, Dart made his way toward the guest bedroom. He was pretty sure that Rose would be there. Carefully, he opened the door and checked.

"I am...a hero? He would laugh at me...," Rose was muttering, while staring out the stained glass window. She chuckled slightly, surprising herself. "I laughed just now! I did laugh... Since I have started to wear this choker I have not laughed...for years." She chuckled again just for the hell of it. "It was worth the wait..."

"So here you are," Dart said, making his presence known. "I am here to tell you that the party is starting."

"It'll be a fun party," the dark Dragoon offered weakly. "You should find Shana. Don't keep her waiting on my account. I can make my way there on my own."

"But...I don't want Shana," Dart countered, staring at her intently.

Rose froze. "W-What are you talking about?" she demanded, looking him in the eyes for the first time since he had walked in.

"Haven't I always maintained that she is like a baby sister to me?" Dark reminded her.

", you have said that before, I suppose. Honestly, I always assumed you were simply oblivious," Rose replied. "Surely you are aware of how she feels toward you?"

Dart nodded. "I know. And many times I don't know what to tell her, afraid I would break her heart. But neither can I force my feelings to change."

Rose nodded. "I understand... But I can't help you. Is that all?" she prompted.

"Well're the one I came for Rose," Dart ventured.

Rose regarded him, confusion evident on her features.

Stepping closer, he added, "When we were separated from the others in Lideira, didn't you feel something between us?" Dart asked, straining to read her statuesque features.

Her face clouded over guardedly at that question. "What do you mean?" Rose pressed. He was supposed to be asleep!

Dart looked down nervously for a moment before bringing his faultless blue eyes back to hers. "Well, when you caught hold of me as the ship sank, I just remember staring up at your face in awe at your..." he struggled to find the words. "Strength. You saved my life and...well, I've fallen in love with you, Rose," Dart confessed with a shy smile, nervously running a hand through his sandy hair.

Rose bit her lip, placing a hand on her hip to brace herself. Why am I so helpless when he smiles?

"Dart I... I would be lying if to you if I said that there wasn't something about you that...attracts me," Rose admitted. "You're a good person, partner, friend but..." her voice trailed off. "But we...we can be no more than that."

"So, you do have feelings for me too then?" Dart asked, brightening but ignoring her conclusion.

"Wait a moment... I said 'attracted'-" Rose began to protest but was cut off.

"—Well why not?" Dart demanded.

"If we pursue this, sooner or later, you would learn things about me-horrible, painful things that would ruin it. I can't be in a relationship built on a lie," Rose explained, her voice genuinely sympathetic.

"What things?" Dart asked skeptically.

Rose shook her head. "I am not going to tell you!" she replied, exasperated.

Dart shuffled uncomfortably. "Mystery and intrigue have surrounded you ever since I met you. I keep wanting to know more about you," the young warrior explained.

At this, Rose said nothing, however, and Dart's shoulders fell. Suddenly, however, he stepped forward and wrapped his strong arms around her waist, pulling her close, bringing his ear a breath away from her lips. Rose went still as warmth spread down her body. Warmth she had not felt in millenia.

"Tell me," Dart whispered tenderly. "Just tell me. I don't want there to be any more secrets between us."

Rose made a sound that sounded almost like a whimper and closed her twilight eyes. No, I can't... I just can't... When she opened them, Dart perceived pain mixed with sadness swirling within them.

"It will be alright," Dart assured her.

"Dart," Rose began abruptly, surrendering.

Dart nodded.

"You know the monster that...destroyed your home," Rose asked, holding her breath.

Dart's eyes narrowed sharply as a fire burned deep within at the reference to the fiend. "The Black Monster..." he forced himself to say.

Rose nodded. "I... I am the Black Monster," she confessed.

Dart pulled his ear away and stared hard at her face in bewilderment. Rose never spoke in jest and such a thing would never be a joke regardless, so Dart knew that she was completely serious. But nonetheless he couldn't believe what he had just heard.

"W-Why?" Dart stammered.

"I was searching for the Moon Child. To kill it," Rose explained, all emotion gone, her eyes like steel.

"But I thought the Moon Child was supposed to be a blessing for this world?" Dart said, struggling to understand. He was losing control of his tone.

"No," Rose countered. "The legend was invented to conceal what truly happens when the Moon Child is revealed."

Dart released his grip from her waist and stepped back. Rose said nothing further, cursing herself in her mind.

Dart's hand trembled over the pommel of his sword as seething rage overtook him, his grim face a stark contrast to the cold regret emanating from Rose. You...only you! How many years have I spent searching for that evil Your're the one!

A tear spilt down her cheek then but she brushed it away. She raised her head slightly to expose her throat, ready, perhaps even eager, to meet her fate. I should have died so many times before...

But Dart's head fell low and he released his claymore, gripping her shoulders tightly instead. Tears fought for liberation from his tightly closed azure eyes as his shoulders began to heave. Unable and unwilling to fight it any longer, Dart buried his face into Rose's armored chest, weeping bitterly. Rose shuffled uncomfortably, but nonetheless put her arms around him and held him there. It's the least I can do for him, I suppose, she reasoned.

At that moment, however, the door burst open and Meru strode in. "Dart, Shana is waiting for y-" her voiced trailed off in shock.

Rose instinctively tried to pull away, but Dart's grip remained firm. There was nothing for it, so she just stood there, blushing as she forced an awkward smile on her face to greet Meru.

"Wha-What's going on here?" Meru stammered. Rose offered no explanation. Any words she could say would only make it worse.

"Meru..." Dart intoned hoarsely. "Please just leave."

Meru's mouth opened in protest but something about his voice kept her silent. Rose looked at the platinum haired girl apologetically as she left the room, closing the door carefully. After a moment, Rose noticed the strangest sound—chuckling?

She looked down at Dart but his head remained down. Nevertheless, he was definitely...laughing?

Unable to stand it any longer, Rose demanded, "Why are you laughing of all things?", her eyes smouldering.

Dart looked up into her inhumanly beautiful face again,-her streaming raven hair, glittering skin, icy twilight eyes and full lilac lips were enough steal the breath from him-a weary smile on his young features. "Rose, I have sought to kill the Black Monster for many years," Dart confessed. "Hatred was all I knew. It filled me, driving me to throw my life away in search of it. But that quest ends now. Thank you for telling me the truth. It was incredibly brave. Your courage is something else that I love about you."

"What are you saying?" Rose demanded, taken aback by the sudden change.

"Rose, I...forgive you," Dart explained, his cheeks still wet.

"How can you say that?" Roe replied, flustered. "I killed your parents, burned your home to ground and lied to you everytime you brought it up. You cannot just forgive me like that!"

"Rose, I'll admit when you first told me, it was very painful. For a moment, I even contemplated killing you where you stand," Dart admitted.

"Yeah, I noticed," Rose quipped. "But no one would miss me if you did."

"I would miss you," Dart countered. "I told you. I love you. My wrath, my thirst for revenge, has left me."

Rose turned away, unable to accept his words.

But Dart wasn't finished with her yet. He put his hand to her delicate pale chin and turned her head back toward him forcefully. Upon meeting his gaze once more, she saw that same great fire burning within. Dart returned an arm around her waist to pull her closer and the other he placed in her raven hair, straining her neck closer and pulling her forehead into his. "Rose," he whispered, splaying her face with hot breath.

Her frosty violet eyes rose and in that moment he pressed his lips to hers in a fervent kiss. The kiss reached down into her soul, if she still had such a thing, and spread out. At first her mouth remained tightly closed, but, softening, she at last breathed him in, her shoulders falling in release. He pulled away for a moment to brush aside the salty trail his own tears had made on her cheek, but this time she surged forward to kiss him back and he felt overcome by the fierce, dazzling energy, eager to take away the centuries of pain and heartbreak she had borne.

In that magically transcendent moment, the words of Shirley came back to her.

Rose, I see your future. The young man there will awaken the old you and lead you to the future.

Tell him now Rose...right now! her mind screamed as her mauve hair fell over his face. The words of Pete, the young native from Lideira came to her then as well: Rose, you gotta confess to him!

"I...I love you too, Dart," Rose intoned as she held him tightly, fear still gripping her. The same fear she had borne for 11,000 years since the death of her last love. "But I'm scared... of what might happen now."

Dart smiled. That was all he needed to hear.

Meru walked from the door confused by what she had just seen.

Shana came to her and Meru froze. "Meru, have you seen Dart? The party is starting now," the brown haired girl asked.

" N-no," Meru lied.

But something about her tone wasn't right and Shana looked at her suspiciously. "Is he in that room?" she asked.

Meru couldn't take the pressure any longer. "He's-He's with Rose," she confessed.

"Rose?" Shana repeated confused.

Meru nodded apologetically.

"Rose... So then..." Shana repeated as her shoulders fell. Turning away, she left, tears welling up in her gentle eyes.

"Hey! Where are you going?" Meru shouted after her.

But she said nothing. Her night was ruined.

As they separated, Dart and Rose regarded each other.

"Shall we go to the party, now?" Dart suggested.

Rose nodded, drying her eyes again. "I guess now we have to put up with what everyone else will say."

"Don't worry too much about that," Dart assured her as he took her arm.

Together the pair made their way into the throne room of King Zior, which was now filled with tables of lavish food and drink and occupied by throngs of dancing couples. There was Meru up ahead, dancing by herself in a style no one could possibly keep up with.

Near her, King Albert danced with Princess Emille while King Zior looked on contentedly, romance and politics merging into a powerful force.

Kongol stood at the table, eating heartily; the weight of the chairs unable to support him.

Haschel was entertaining several young ladies from the court, his sly eyes roaming over their bodies eagerly.

All of them, however, stared when they saw Dart and Rose enter, arm in arm. Rose fought to maintain her composure. All these eyes on me...

Dart gave her hand a loving squeeze however and they continued down to the main floor.

Shana was nowhere to be seen, and Dart began to worry. True, she had grown up now and Dart couldn't continue to ignore her advances, but he had wished to be gentle toward her.

"Hey you two," Haschel greeted cheerfully.

"Looks like you're doing well tonight," Dart remarked, noting the woman on each arm.

"Well, what can I say?" Haschel replied with a suggestive chuckle, causing the two ladies to laugh dramatically.

Both Dart and Rose rolled their eyes.

"Looks like you're not doing too bad yourself," Haschel observed. "I always knew you would eventually pick one of them to be your sweetheart. Poor Shana though..."

Dart shifted uncomfortably.

"Where is she? I... I need to talk to her," Dart asked.

"You bet you do," Haschel agreed. "I think she is out on the balcony, though."

However, just then, Shana herself walked in, wearing an elegant dress fashioned by the weavers of Fletz. Her eyes were red and her face wet. She had obviously been crying. Dart swallowed hard.

Shana walked right up to Dart and Rose, looking at their hands as they held each other. Rose tried to leave but Shana stopped her. "Don't bother, Rose," she scolded. Haschel took his leave and the other denizens of the floor did their best to look away.

"Shana..." Dart began, but no words would come.

"Dart, I know now that you truly do not love me," Shana said.

"That's not true. But you're like—" Dart protested.

"—A baby sister? I know," Shana interjected.

"Shana... I'm sorry," Dart offered.

"There is nothing to apologize for," Shana countered. "You cannot change the way you feel and I wouldn't dream of making you." She turned towards Rose. "Rose, please do me a favor and take good care of him."

Rose nodded.

"Shana, are we still friends?" Dart asked.

"...Of course," Shana replied, forcing a smile. "We will always be friends. However, I need to leave you two alone so you can enjoy yourselves, so please do."

With that she took her leave and made her way over to Meru.

Dart turned toward Rose once more. Her dark eyes were dazzling as she stared at the entrance to the balcony.

"Let's go there," Dart said, noting her interest.

Together, the pair made their way out into the cool night of the balcony. The Moon beamed brightly overhead, casting its alluring glow on them both. It's perfect, Rose thought and Dart couldn't agree more.

They held each other tightly, swaying gently with the wind in a kind of dance, showering each other with warm kisses for the rest of the night.