It’s all so quiet when she comes home.
She never realised it before.
She never had to.
After he left, she was gone too.
She had to leave, all of them did.
There was no choice with the mechon invading their homes, she needed to save lives.
So did he.
So they had said goodbye, with promises to meet once his job was finished.
She had been crying when they said their farewells, but hope for a new future had burned bright within her heart.
She would be fine.
He would be fine.
It was all okay.
She hadn’t missed him that much at the beginning, he was just on a mission.
A normal, every day mission.
Or at least, that’s what she told herself.
It would only take a few days, then she’d see him, wearing a bright smile, coming over the horizon.
Just a few days, and they’d all be back.
Then a week passed.
He never came home.
But, even still, she held on to that hope, the very same hope that had got her to where she was now.
He was alive.
He had to be.
It’s exactly five months and three days since she last saw him, she’s been keeping count, scratching little lines onto the cave’s walls.
That’s when they arrive and everything changes.
Two boys, one named Shulk, the other Reyn.
They’re young, far too young, to have tiredness dragging down their mouths and sorrow behind their eyes.
She doesn’t know what has happened to them, but she knows that things are getting worse.
Lives are changing, and people are dying.
Maybe he’s dea-
He’s not, he can’t be.
Reyn and Shulk stay for a while, they help them.
They help with the monsters, they help take out the ones near the camp and the ones causing problems for the remaining refugees.
They help make a picture book for one of the children, they retrieve clothes stolen by the Tirkin tribe, they befriend the survivors.
For a while, things seem to be looking up.
Her brother, Juju, is angry.
He’s so angry, and he’s so young.
He doesn’t understand, yet he knows too much.
He’s reckless and silly, with noble ideas and grand schemes, but lacking in common sense and the harsh truth of reality.
He’s just a teenager, and he feels like the world, his sister, is working against him.
When he runs, she doesn’t know what to do.
She broke her promise, the one she had made as her mother took her last breath.
Now it was two people that she could not save.
But sometimes things change, and she had changed, this time she’s not going to sit around and let her only remaining family member disappear.
So when Reyn and Shulk help her, and they get him back...
Well, it meant the world to her.
But, of course, things in her life don’t work out.
Her happiness was brief, short-lived, before her luck cought up with her and it all went wrong.
For a brief moment, Juju is saved, and then seconds later he’s gone again.
She feels tears build up behind her eyes, and she feels fatigue deep within her bones.
She’s so sick of this, all of it.
She tried so hard to save him, yet it was all for nothing.
He’s gone again, and Gadolt is still nowhere to be found.
It feels like she’s a million years old, and the world is crumbling around her.
She doesn’t know why, but Reyn hugs her.
Maybe she’s not as good at hiding her feelings as she thought.
Maybe Reyn just understands.
His arms are wrapped around her, strong and secure.
For the first time in months, Sharla feels safe.
He whispers things in her hair, tells her it’s all going to be okay, and they’ll get him back.
It’s empty words, Sharla knows that better than anyone, but, she flashes him a genuine smile, and she helps them make plans to invade the ether mines, no matter how much she doesn’t want to go there.
It might give her a truth that she isn’t ready to hear, not just yet.
But Reyn’s bright smile, so similar to Gadolt’s, and Shulk’s bright eyes have captivated her.
She wants to help them.
She wants her brother back.
This time she won’t just sit around and wait.
She’ll scrap those damn mechon.
She’ll find him.
Time passes like a blur.
Before long she’s helped a strange, uppity lady, recruited a loud, child-like Nopon and killed a massive bird... telethia... thing.
It seems like such a long time ago when she watched Xord fall to his death, down deep into the ether river.
It seems even longer ago since she last saw Gadolt.
Maybe it’s time to move on.
Maybe he really is gone.
But she can’t lose hope.
Fiora is the white mechon.
Mumkhar is Metal Face.
She doesn’t know who these people are, but she knows that they were alive, homs, at one point.
And now they’re here.
Where is he?
In the end, it didn’t even matter.
He died anyway.
He died protecting her.
Because, once again, she wasn’t strong enough.
She wasn’t good enough.
And now he was gone.
But this time, he’ll never come back.
She wasn’t ready to let go.
But she had to.
They can’t stop now.
They’re so close.
Soon, it’ll all be over.
They’ve all lost something.
Friends, family, their homes...
Yet they can’t give up now.
Because there’s still things they’ve got left to lose.
She tries to remember Juju and Otharon, when the days get particularly hard.
She can’t even remember what they look like.
It’s been so long.
She can’t remember a life where she wasn’t like this.
She can’t remember there ever being a person before all of this.
Who was she?
Who would she be, after it’s all over?
She tells Reyn about it at some point.
She can’t remember when she realised, but she does know that, while everyone in their group is close, she likes Reyn the best.
He’s a bit of an idiot, and he’s loud and rude, but he makes her laugh till her sides hurt, and he gives her big smiles and warm hugs.
He feels safe and secure, he’s something that doesn’t change.
In a world where Sharla feels lost, he keeps her grounded.
When she tells Reyn all her fears, all he feelings, everything, he doesn’t say anything for a while.
And then, without warning, he pulls her into a tight hug.
He whispers into her hair, telling her it’s all going to be okay.
In that moment, she’s transported back to that day on Spiral Valley.
A day when they were all younger, and the world was still so big.
She cries into Reyn’s shoulder.
She doesn’t even need to say anything, he understands.
He holds her through the night.
Now she’s here, in her empty house.
It’s all over, it’s been over for ages.
But some things never heal, no matter how much time passes.
But things change.
She looks out her window, seeing the familiar face of Reyn, flushed with a bright bouquet of flowers clasped in his hands.
She opens the door, smiling as Reyn, upon seeing her, walks just a bit quicker.
She steps out to meet him, her eyes crinkling at the corners and her heart light.
He hands the bouquet to her, his cheeks stained a bright red.
They lean in, a soft, yet tender, brush of the lips.
While this life she has now isn’t what she had imagined years ago, it’s all she could ever want.
Reyn makes her so happy.
So damn happy.
And lord knows she needs happiness in her life.
As they kiss one more time, Sharla wrapping her arms around Reyn’s neck, the bouquet of flowers handing from her fingertips, she feels complete.
And she knows for certain that, wherever he is,
Gadolt will be happy for her.