Author's Note: This scene came to me in a dream. Since it was coherent and I remembered it clearly long after I woke up, I decided it was worth a oneshot.

"Rose! You're hurt!"

The black-haired swordswoman grimaced, covering her hand. "It's nothing," she said dismissively. "It wasn't even my sword hand. A Healing Potion will take care of it."

"There's no need to be prideful," Shana insisted. "I'm the White Silver Dragoon - my Dragoon Spirit's power can heal it. Let me get a look."

Dart watched on, frowning and trying to decide whether he wanted to get involved. At last, he said, "It does look pretty deep. Can it hurt to let her inspect your wound?"

Rose looked as though she wanted to object again, then gave in. Gingerly, Shana peeled off her armored glove - which was a wreck after the monster's attack, they'd have to get a new one at the next town - and brought out the White Silver Dragoon Spirit. A white light emanated from it as Shana clasped her hands around it and bowed her head, and the deep wound began to mend.

Rose watched on silently as the flesh knitted itself together, then began to pull her hand away before the process had even finished; Shana opened her eyes, blinking at Rose, then blinked more rapidly as the light faded and something on Rose's hand caught her eye. "Rose - is that a ring? Are you - married?"

The other woman stiffened. "No."

"But you're wearing - "

"It was an engagement ring," she said curtly. "He's dead. He died a very, very long time ago."

"I'm... I'm so sorry," Shana managed, her eyes wide.

Dart had approached, and looked down at the ring on Rose's left hand - a band of interwoven metal strands capped with a small, deep red stone. "What sort of man was he?"

Rose looked at him for a long time. "He was... very much like you."

Then she turned away, her expression indecipherable. Without another word, she started striding ahead; Shana hurried after her, then paused and waited for Dart, who was lagging behind, his expression brooding and thoughtful.

"What is it?" she asked in a hushed voice as she came to walk at his side.

"Just thinking," he said. "My father was like that, too. My... He had someone he loved, before my mother. But she died long before my mom and dad met."


"My parents would have fights about it, sometimes," Dart said, ducking under a tree branch. "Not very often, but all families have fights about something. She'd say that he still loved that woman more, and that he'd never have given her a passing glance if that woman hadn't died..."

"And your father?"

"He'd say she died a long time ago, and that it didn't matter because my mom was the one he was with now. That woman was dead and Mom was alive, and they had me, and... that was what was important..." Dart trailed off, his gaze fixed straight ahead, and nearly tripped over a tree root. He shook his head and regained his balance, then went on. "He... never denied what Mom said, though. I remember that very clearly. My mom would throw that in his face, and... he'd just be silent. He never said anything..."

"I'm so sorry, Dart..."

"It wasn't that important. My mom and dad were happy together. She'd just get insecure, sometimes. Mostly when..." He was silent for a moment. "My dad had a ring like that, too. He didn't wear it like Rose does, because he was married to my mom, but he'd keep it in a box and take it out sometimes..." He shook his head. "I watched him, once. He didn't know I was there. He was just... sitting there, on the side of his bed, looking down at it. Such a little thing - a lot like Rose's, actually, except that the stone was black instead of red - and yet, the way my dad looked at it... you'd think it held the whole world..."

"What happened to it?" Shana asked.

"It would have been... I don't know. Probably melted when the Black Monster..." Dart shook his head again. "It might have been precious to my dad, but for me - it just caused strife between my parents. It... it's something that belonged to the dead." He went silent, gaze somewhere other than his surroundings. "They say when you're about to die, your whole life flashes before your eyes. When my dad died... whose face did he see, in his final moments? My mom, or..."

Shana took his hand and squeezed it. He looked at her in surprise. "I'm sure it was you and your mother," she said. "He said it himself - that woman was dead. You and your mother would have mattered most. That's what I believe..."

He looked to her, then to Rose's silhouette, striding on without a backwards glance, and then back to her. "A life of endless regret... I don't want to live like that, ever. Shana - no matter what happens on this journey, promise me you'll stay safe."

"I promise. And... Dart, I also don't want to live a life of regret. Please promise me that, whatever happens, you too will..."

"...I know. And I will. I promise..."