This story will make more sense if you've read my fanfic "Meier and Charlotte: A Beginning" (on the Long Fics page), but it's probably clear enough to anyone who's seen Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. The story takes place not too long after Meier and Charlotte have started seeing each other. No warnings except perhaps WAFF (Warm And Fuzzy Feeling).
Charlotte stopped when she pointed, and Meier stopped half a pace ahead of her. It had rained most of the day, but the sky had cleared around sunset. Now the moon was very bright, which was probably why the tiny gleam in the not-quite-mud by the path had caught her attention.
"Just a pebble, I think," Meier said, but Charlotte shook her head.
"It's too shiny." Fine gravel crunched under her feet as she crouched at the edge of the path.
"Here, then, let me get it." Meier practically swooped down and worked one long nail, then another, around and under a small object still mostly covered with earth. It was a sphere a bit larger than the ball of his thumb, and he polished it in the tips of his fingers to remove all traces of dirt. "You're right. It's not a pebble."
"Oh!" Charlotte reached out, and Meier let the object roll into her hand. "So that's where it's been. I wondered what happened to it."
"What is it?"
"It's a marble, Meier." Charlotte rose, and Meier did likewise. She continued: "When I was littleoh, I must have been about fourAlan had a whole bag of marbles and I didn't have any, so I kept following him around pestering him to give me some. He kept saying that girls aren't supposed to play with marbles, but try to make a four-year-old understand that. And finally he gave me this one." She grinned at the memory. "I wish you could have heard him saying, 'It's a yucky, girly marble, anyway; my hand slipped when I won it off Ren instead of his candy stripe.'"
"'A yucky, girly marble'?" Meier repeated.
"Mm-hm. But I liked it because it had the cutest bunny inside, though it's a little hard to see. See the bunny?"
She handed it back to Meier so he could examine it. There was indeed a small, three-dimensional rabbit crouching at the center of what was otherwise a transparent (if somewhat scuffed) glass sphere.
"It's a lovely little rabbit," said Meier, and he sounded as if he meant it.
"I thought so. But I think Alan wasn't just saying sour grapes when he called it a girly marble. He didn't have any others like that; most of them were solid colors or had some kind of swirls."
Meier nodded. "That sounds more like the marbles I had when I was a boy. I think I was more interested in using them for projectiles than their intended purpose, at least until I put a hole in my father's study window."
"Well, I didn't mean to. Anybody's hand can slip. Anyway, I had some marbles that were clear with swirls inside themcat's-eyesbut I'm sure I never heard of anything like this." He was turning the marble over and looking at the rabbit from all angles.
"That was my doll family's pet for a long time. I couldn't have a pet rabbit, but they did, and it was in its own little house that could go with it anywhere and keep it safe from dogs and grimfinches. My friend Mira actually had a little ball like that for her hamster, so it could run around outside its cage without getting eaten by the cat."
"Yes, but one day she put it out in the yard in the ball and a grimfinch got it. It just grabbed the ball in its claws and flew off with it, ball and everything. But I don't know if the grimfinch figured out how to get inside the ball. Maybe it dropped it somewhere and somebody found it and Honeypearl got a new home after all. I'd rather think that's what happened."
"I'm sure a grimfinch didn't get this one."
"No, I lost it when I was playing with my dolls outside. I don't even remember whether it rolled away or I just forgot it. I know I did look for it a lot of times, and Mother always said that if I looked for it long enough, it would show up." Charlotte smiled. "I guess she was right."
"That's trueyou're the one who saw it. I took it for a pebble." Meier held the marble close to his face, still studying it. "Someone put work into that rabbit. There are little folds in the ears. And whiskers. You can even see hair texture."
"You really like it, don't you?"
Meier smiled and looked down, suddenly self-conscious. "I suppose I do. As I said, I've never heard of anything like this. I've certainly never seen one before. It's a novelty."
He moved to hand it back to her, but Charlotte's hand met his and wrapped around it and the marble. "Why don't you keep it?"
"Me?" Meier was more struck by the warmth of Charlotte's hand around his than the offer it emphasized. Being with a human was still rather new to him, and Charlotte's grasp was a far more appealing novelty than the marble with its well-wrought but unliving rabbit.
"Mm-hm. You like it ... anyway, I'm a little old for marbles now."
"You really want me to have it?"
"It's mine?" Meier disengaged his hand from hers and, in a genteel caricature of possessiveness, fisted one hand inside the other and held them tight to his chest. "Really, truly mine?"
Charlotte had to laugh at him, though silently, a hand to her mouth. "Yes, you big silly."
"Thank you," said Meier, voice suddenly gentle. "Now, hold out your hand."
Charlotte was smiling too much to look really puzzled as she complied. Meier put his free hand under hers; with the other, he pressed the marble into her palm.
"I want to give you this," he said very earnestly. "No, listen, please. I want so much to give you something, and you've always refused: you've always told me someone would find it, and you'd never be able to explain how you got anythingjewelry, flowers, anything. This is mine, and I want you to have it. And if anyone finds it, you can tell the truth: you lost it a long time ago. You found it again. And it has ... sentimental value." His voice fell to a whisper. "It does, doesn't it?"
"Oh, Meier." She put her hand over his, and her voice was also a whisper. "It does. It does now."