If things had been different, Shulk might have considered hooking up with Melia for a bit while Fiora's body was regenerated. However, events during their fights throughout Bionis and Mechonis, and the aftermath had convinced Shulk that was never going to happen.

So, when Shulk saw that he, Reyn and Dunban were invited to Melia's castle, he wasn't looking forward to it.

"You seem totally enthused about going to Melia's party" Dunban replied sarcastically when Shulk showed Dunban the invite. Shulk shrugged, then said "I guess"

"Alright. So, we'd better get ready to go?" Dunban asked, to which Shulk nodded.

An hour later, Shulk and Dunban headed out towards the castle.

"So, here we are" Shulk said. Suddenly, Shulk hears "Hey guys" and, when he looked around, he saw Reyn and Sharla waving at them. They head over, and Reyn said "Nice to see you guys again"

"Good to see you too" Riki said. The five of them enter, and they find Melia waiting for them.

"Hey guys, make yourself at home. We've got finger food, and we have entertainment available" Melia said, with both her and Shulk almost avoiding each other's gaze. She then smiled at Dunban, and said "Well, I would like for you to join me Dunban"

"Uh, sure Melia" Dunban said, and he followed Melia away. Sharla glanced at Shulk to see his reaction, but Shulk didn't seem to react at all, except for him engaging in communication with someone else.

For Shulk, he noticed that he didn't feel anything negative about Melia wanting Dunban to accompany her, and not him. Although he didn't notice that he had engaged in conversation to avoid looking at her. That confirmed what Shulk had been thinking for the past couple of months.

These thoughts partially occupied Shulk's mind as the party progressed. Mainly, about how he would go about getting this off his chest. He wasn't sure who he could trust to inform him about what he was feeling. After a quick search, he found Dunban talking to a couple of High Entia, all high-ranking officials in Melia's administration.

"Hey Dunban" Shulk said. Dunban turned to face Shulk, then asked "Shulk?"

"I've got a question to ask you" Shulk said. Dunban turned to face Shulk, then asked: "What is it, Shulk?"

"Who would be the best person to ask, if you've got something to get off your chest, but you don't want anyone else to know about it"

"Hmmmmm" Dunban replied, thinking. After about 30 seconds, he turned back, and said "Well, how about Sharla? I'd say she'd be the best person to talk about that sort of stuff to"

"Alright" Shulk replied. He then stood up and departed.

Shulk decided then to go look for Sharla, and he found her talking to a few High Entias and Nopon. Walking over, Shulk said "Sharla"

"Hey Shulk, are you alright?" Sharla asked, to which Shulk replied "I'm OK, I, just need to talk to you, away from everyone else"

"OK" Sharla replied, puzzled by Shulk's behavior. Sharla then turned back to Reyn, and said "I'll be back soon, Shulk wants to talk to me"

"OK, hon" Reyn said. They kiss, then Shulk and Sharla went searching for Melia.

They didn't have to search long, and when they found her, Shulk said "Melia"

"Oh, hi Shulk, Sharla" Melia said, turning to face him and Sharla. Sharla added "Melia, Shulk and I need somewhere to talk privately. Is there such a place?"

"Yes, Whitewing Palace would be a good place" Melia said. Shulk and Sharla both nodded, and they departed.

After a bit, Shulk and Sharla arrive at the Whitewing Palace. It was well away from the party, so they couldn't be overheard.

"Why do you want to talk to me here?" Sharla asked, to which Shulk replied "I wanted to talk to you about, you-know-who"

"You mean Melia?" Sharla asked, to which Shulk replied by nodding.

"Finally" Sharla thought to herself. She then asked, "Well, I was curious about, you and her, you know?"

"What do you mean, by, her and I?" Shulk asked. Sharla replied, hesitating, "Well, you know, about Melia. Do you still like her?"

"Well, as a friend, yes. But, in the way you're implying? Well, there is something I need to say, and the only person I can trust with it is you, Sharla"

"You trust me? Thanks, Shulk" Sharla replied, then added, "Now, as for you, have you had a breakthrough?"

"No, the complete opposite" Shulk said. He then sighed and added "Forget not pursuing Melia, I shouldn't have gotten tangled up with her in the first place"

"Wait, so not only are you not pursuing Melia, even temporarily, you shouldn't have gotten, as you said, tangled up with her?" Sharla asked, shocked, and Shulk nodded. Sharla quickly composed herself, then asked "Have you told her how you feel?" to which Shulk immediately shook his head.

"No. I've caused quite enough pain for Melia as it is, even if I didn't realize until now that I had hurt her. Telling her anything like that would only cause more problems" Shulk replied. Sharla nodded, then said "I understand. Though, you're hurting because of what happened between yourself and Melia"

"How the? How do you do that?" You're like the opposite of me" Shulk replied, shocked. Sharla smiled but didn't say anything.

A brief, awkward silence followed, only broken when Shulk finally said "Alright. Yes, it's been hard. I feel bad about hurting Melia, and not knowing for months that I had hurt her has made everything that much worse"

"That's just something I'm very good at. Reading people and seeing what's really going on" Sharla said. She then sighed and added, "I'm truly sorry Shulk, I should have done more to help" but Shulk immediately replied "There's no need to apologize Sharla, nobody's at fault here. It was a perfect storm mix of circumstances that caused it, and there was little or nothing that you could have done"

"Shulk" Sharla said. After a few moments, Shulk said "I have decided that Melia's better off with Dunban. So, I shall watch them from afar and wish them every happiness, even if Dunban's chances with her have been affected"

"Well, it's a shame, but maybe it's for the best. And I've got no doubt those two will be happy together" Sharla replied, and Shulk nodded.

"Thanks for allowing me to get that off my chest Sharla" Shulk said. Sharla nodded, then said "No worries Shulk. Also, I'm guessing that you don't want me to inform Melia about our conversation?"

"No. I want to keep this conversation between us" Shulk replied. Sharla nodded, then Shulk departed, heading back to the party.

As Shulk spoke to Sharla, as he opened about the thoughts that had been haunting him for the past two months, he felt a heavy weight lift from him. He felt better now, and he could enjoy the party more now that was off his chest.

Sharla looked out over Alcamoth, then said to herself "What a waste of my time and energy. I really, ignorantly, thought they'd be super-cute together, and at least initial interactions were like that. And yet, from what Shulk said, none of that should have ever been a thing he and Melia should never have been a thing. And the worst part of this is, nobody can be blamed for this"

"I can't blame myself or Melia because neither of them knew how close Shulk and Fiora were. I can't blame Reyn or Dunban because they, along with Shulk, thought Fiora to be dead up until that fateful encounter. I can't blame Riki because he had no idea what was going on, I can't blame Shulk because he's so oblivious to even Fiora that she could probably dance naked in front of him and half the time he wouldn't even notice, and I can't blame Fiora because she came back just as it seemed like there Shulk and Melia had something going for them, it was just bad timing when she returned. Shulk seems to blame himself for what happened, but the only thing I could lay any blame on him for is not realizing he'd hurt her any sooner. He probably thinks it's too late to apologize to Melia for hurting her. But, does Melia know that Shulk knows he hurt her without realizing he did for three months? Ugh, this is doing my head in. I'd better get back to the party, Reyn'll be wondering where I got to" and at that, she departed.

Over the course of the next few months, Shulk and Melia re-established a cordial relationship, though any chance of them getting close was completely out the window. The specter of what had happened between them still hung over their interactions, but they were talking.

"Which is at least something" Sharla said.