If you haven't seen it, Princess Tutu is pretty much a cross between Swan Lake, the Nutcracker, and Sailor Moon. It's a little childish, especially at first, but it sucks you in with the cuteness and then makes you fall for the characters. Hard. And I am totally going to cosplay it just because it gives me an excuse to finally make a tutu for myself instead of for other people, lol.
Title: Dream Come True
Series: Princess Tutu
Warnings: This will pretty much spoil the ENTIRE SERIES for you, so for once I'm going to warn for it. SPOILERS.
The only happy ending he can't write is his own.
She was so close he could touch her, the soft silky feel of her skin like down against the callus on his ink-stained fingers. Holding her brought the scent of fresh, pure water to him, so strong he could have tasted it except that the taste of her mouth drowned out everything else. She moved against him, lithe and graceful, their dance more intimate than ballet could ever be.
He had to come up for air, though he begrudged every inch of separation. Still, it meant he could see the way she looked up at him, love shining clear in her beautiful eyes as he pressed his body against hers. She smiled and opened her mouth, and he strained to hear the words he'd waited so long for...
With a gasp Fakir came awake, sweating hard and aching for the loss of the dream. So close, she'd been so close, and for one shining moment he'd finally had his own damned happy ending.
"Qua? Qua!" The duck perched on his chest nudged his shoulder with her beak, her eyes full of concern. The same big, beautiful blue eyes he'd dreamed of moments before, the only thing left of the girl he'd once known.
It was too much all at once, and all of his anger and frustration came boiling up out of him. "Get out," he snapped. He grabbed a pillow and used it to knock her off him, afraid that if he actually struck her with his hand he might do real damage in his anger. "Damn it, Ahiru, can't I even have a moment's privacy?"
She couldn't cry as a duck, but he saw the way her eyes wobbled with hurt before she lowered her head and quacked mournfully. She jumped off the end of the bed where she'd landed and flapped her wings awkwardly, launching herself into the air and out through his open window.
The moment she was out of sight Fakir let out an explosive breath and rolled over, driving his hips against the firm mattress. He didn't even have to touch himself - he'd been pushed so close to the edge by the dream that it only took two quick thrusts before he spilled himself over the sheets, the pillow muffling his cry.
He lay there panting for a moment, too miserable to even move out of the mess he'd made. This was happening more and more often, and every time it was the same damned dream. And every time, he'd wake to find himself facing a duck once more, instead of the girl he wanted so badly to see.
With a groan he pushed himself up out of the bed, shoving his tangled hair out of his eyes. He knew he should go find her and apologize for hurting her feelings. She'd only been worried about him, probably because he'd been tossing and moaning in his sleep. And she stayed in his room because that was where she'd always slept, from the moment he'd brought her home.
He'd promised he would stay by her side, and sometimes he thought it was only knowing that he'd be there that had given her the courage to give up her human form. The least he could do was sacrifice a bit of his privacy if it made her feel better - though there were increasingly frequent moments like this when he wished he could have just a little distance.
Despite his best intentions he dragged his feet, dressing slowly and brushing his hair, pulling the soiled linens off the bed and replacing them with fresh ones. He didn't want to face her just yet, not until it stopped hurting so much to see her. It took longer every day.
Finally he had no further excuse to delay, and he headed down the creaking stairs to the kitchen. Though he'd expected to find her waiting there for breakfast, perhaps nibbling on the leftover bread from the day before, the room was empty. Frowning, he looked around, checking to see if she was sulking beneath the table or hiding in one of the other rooms, but there was no sign of her.
Opening the front door, he poked his head outside. "Ahiru?" he called, puzzled. She didn't usually stray far from the house without him, not after the day when an unknowing housewife had tried to turn her into that night's dinner.
"Quuuaaaa..." The mournful quack came from above and to his left, and when he turned to look he found her tangled firmly in the laundry he'd left drying over the windowsill. For a moment all he could do was stare incredulously, and then he burst out laughing. "Qua!" she protested, waving her free wing at him and promptly getting it caught as well.
"Hold still, idiot, I'll come get you," Fakir said, wiping tears of laughter from the corners of his eyes. He went back inside and ran lightly up the stairs to his room, still chuckling. How anyone so utterly graceless could once have been Princess Tutu, he still had no idea. The magic of her transformation had obviously done more than just change her appearance.
In his room he threw the window open all the way, and pulled the knot of pants, shirt, and duck inside the room. She looked up at him mournfully, only one eye visible through the cuff of the sleeve she'd shoved her head through. "Moron," he muttered, gently moving her limbs to unwrap the clothes from them. "I'd think you do it on purpose, except I know full well you're really just this useless."
"Qua," she replied mournfully, the sound conveying both embarrassment and apology.
He sighed and shook his head, untangling the last knot and pulling her head free, sliding his fingers through the soft feathers there in a brief caress. "Never mind. You can't help being the way you are. Come on, let's go have breakfast."
Spreading her wings, she glided down to the floor, then waddled over to the stairs where she repeated the process to get down to the first floor. She'd traded the downy yellow of adolescence for the full plumage of an adult not long after she'd come to stay with him, and she could fly properly if she wanted, but only with great effort. He wasn't sure if it was something to do with the magic that had made her human and kept her intelligent, or if it was just her natural clumsiness.
At least she didn't need him to carry her everywhere anymore, and she seemed to be aging slower than a normal duck would. He tried not to think about how short a wild duck's lifespan was supposed to be, but it haunted him occasionally.
Despite himself he found he was watching her over breakfast, instead of eating his own food. What would she look like now, if she were still human? She hadn't been beautiful as a young girl, except when she was Tutu, but she'd had a sort of awkward charm that made her seem prettier than she was, once he'd gotten to know her.
When had he fallen in love with her, this silly little duck who had willingly become human in order to perform a role no one should have been forced to bear? He wasn't sure, because he hadn't realized he was in love with her until the dreams had started. By then she was already a duck again, and no matter how hard he fought to change her back, a duck she remained.
And still he loved her, because who else could ever understand him like she did? She'd seen him at his absolute worst, and helped him to fight his fate and find his calling. She'd been the truest friend he'd ever had, or ever would have. She had the most beautiful soul of anyone he'd ever met, and never mind the package it was wrapped in.
Except the package it was wrapped in meant that he couldn't hold her, or touch her, or even talk to her properly. The best he could do was talk at her and try to interpret the tone of her quacks, and occasionally cuddle her tiny body in his arms when the loneliness got to be too much.
The worst part was knowing that even if she had been human, he wouldn't be the one she was pining over. Her feelings for Mytho had been more than clear the night Fakir had nearly died, when he'd watched them dance together. The fact that Mytho had chosen Rue as his princess in the end wouldn't have changed Ahiru's love for him, because she was the sort of person who would willingly give up the one she loved in order for him to be happy.
Disgusted with the morose train his thoughts were insisting on taking, Fakir stood abruptly and dumped the rest of his breakfast into the garbage. "Come on," he said curtly, keeping his eyes on his hands as he gathered his writing materials so he wouldn't have to look at her. "I want to get out of the damned house. Even if it starts raining again later, it will still be good to be outside for a while."
She gave a puzzled quack and hopped down off the table obediently, following him outside and awkwardly launching herself into the air. He headed for the pond where they spent so many of their days, and settled himself onto his customary spot on the dock. He didn't bother to put a fishing line out today; he didn't feel like going to the effort at the moment.
There was a splash out on the water as she landed, submerging briefly before rising to paddle across the surface. He watched her for a moment, biting his lip, then shook his head and switched his attention to the blank pages on the board in his lap.
Dipping his pen in the ink, he set the nib against the paper and tried to force his hand to move. Ahiru transformed into a girl once more... One simple sentence, that was all it would take. Straining and sweating, he fought with the magic that lived inside him, trying to write the story that would give him everything he wanted.
Every day he went through this battle, and every day he failed. Sometimes he got as far as forcing her name out, but not one letter more would emerge. Today he couldn't even manage that much. Growling, he fought the urge to throw paper, ink, and pen into the water. It wouldn't help, it wouldn't even make him feel better - he knew, because he'd done it before.
Finally he gave up, as he always did eventually. He might be a direct descendent of Drosselmeyer, and he might have more power than any other story-spinner alive today, but he just didn't have the strength to change reality so drastically. All he could do was hope that with time and practice he would grow stronger, and that some day he would finally be able to write his own happy ending.
In the meantime, he was responsible for the happy endings of everyone else who'd been trapped in the crazy old man's story world. Sighing, he put pen to paper once more, but the words still wouldn't come. It was hard to take interest in the happiness of others when he was suffering so badly himself. A horrible little part of him wanted to write nasty things, to make everyone else feel as miserable as he did. He wouldn't, it wasn't in his nature to do something like that - but the temptation was there.
"Oh, what the hell," he muttered, and relaxed. Affecting reality took concentration and strength of will, but aside from giving himself a headache he just wasn't accomplishing anything today. Fakir had spent years undoing the tragedies that Drosselmeyer had written into every moment of his stories; one day of not writing surely wouldn't send everything spiralling back into chaos.
The memory of his dream returned to him, and he found his pen moving without any conscious direction from him. She wrapped her arms around his neck and looked up at him, eyes shining. "Fakir..."
He stopped for a moment, struggling with himself. Once, before he'd known the consequences his power could bring, he'd written stories as a way of dealing with things he'd been feeling. Maybe if he could get his obsession onto paper, it would ease some of the pressure within him. He gave in and let the words flow, the story almost seeming to write itself. At least he could be certain it wouldn't affect anything, because he was writing about something he already knew his power couldn't do.
The taste of her mouth was everything he'd dreamed of and more, almost addicting. He pulled her closer, needing the feel of her human body against his as proof...
He wrote feverishly, pen flying across the page. He could feel his cheeks growing warm, a reaction to the shameless things he was describing, but the embarrassment didn't stop him. Nor was that the only reaction; he had to shift to ease the pressure on his rapidly hardening cock. He wouldn't have thought simply writing about the act could create such an intense response in him, but there was no denying that it was affecting him.
Now he regretted the suggestion that they go to the pond. If they'd been at home he could have excused himself, gone out to the privy and taken care of the rapidly increasing need without her being any the wiser. Here, she would be able to hear him clearly if he went behind one of the bushes. Still he kept writing, his heart pounding in his chest harder than it ever had when he'd been dancing.
Only when the pen nib was so worn the letters were blurring did he take a break at last. His hand cramped immediately, shattering the trance-like state he'd been in. Hissing through his teeth, he grabbed his wrist with his other hand, pressing his thumb into the knot in his palm. He'd never written so much in one sitting before.
Now that his concentration was broken, he belatedly became aware of the sound of splashing from the middle of the pond. Startled, he looked around, but Ahiru was nowhere to be seen. There was only a rapidly spreading set of circles in the water, and a faint trail of bubbles rising to the surface from somewhere below.
Now Fakir's heart was pounding for an entirely different reason. "Ahiru!" he shouted, and tossed aside his writing desk to scramble to his feet. He made an awkward dive into the water, more worried about speed than grace, and kicked hard to reach the place where she'd last been. Had something caught her from below? Were there any fish that ate ducks? He didn't think so, but what the hell did he know? He should have been paying more attention to her; he shouldn't have let himself become so focused for so long!
His lungs were starting to burn and panic was setting in when he finally caught a glimpse of something pale through the murky water. Reaching out, he caught... a smooth, slender wrist, the delicate hand grasping frantically at him in turn.
The last of his air escaped him in a shocked rush. Frantically he propelled them both upwards, his mind spinning in little circles but his body instinctively trying to save itself.
They broke through the surface together, both of them coughing and gasping for precious air. The girl he'd rescued clung to him, flailing awkwardly with her feet in an attempt to stay above water. Wrapping his arm around her waist, he started swimming for shore, pulling her along with a powerful sidestroke.
Only when his feet were able to touch bottom did he finally turn to stare at her, still half certain that it would turn out to be a mistake. It would be one of the village children who'd come to swim while he wasn't paying attention, or maybe even someone who'd been trying to catch Ahiru...
But it wasn't. The blue eyes that looked up at him were achingly familiar, framed by the same soft brown hair he remembered, though her face had matured considerably. She wrapped her arms around his neck and looked up at him, eyes shining. "Fakir..."
"A-Ahiru?" he said, still dizzy with shock. "What... how... I didn't..."
"I don't know what you did this time, but it worked, it finally worked!" she said, giving him the same beautiful smile he remembered. She hugged him tightly, bouncing up and down in the water with excitement. "Thank you, thank you, thank you!"
But he hadn't... The rest of the thought was cut off by the feel of her body rubbing against his. Her face wasn't the only thing that had matured, and as before her transformation to human didn't come accompanied with magical clothes. Back then she'd been a pre-adolescent, her body hardly much different from a boy's. Now he could feel soft curves against him, his soaked shirt and pants an inadequate barrier between them.
Groaning, he tightened his arm around her waist and caught the back of her head with his other hand, holding her still long enough to let him do what he'd wanted to do so badly for far too long. She gasped as his lips met hers, allowing him to slip his tongue into her mouth. The taste of her mouth was everything he'd dreamed of and more, almost addicting. He pulled her closer, needing the feel of her human body against his as proof that this was real, and not just a product of his fevered imagination.
She responded as eagerly as he could have asked for, opening her mouth further and shyly letting her tongue flirt with his. Only when he absolutely had to did he pull away for air. She looked up at him, and he waited for the quack that would ruin the illusion, half convinced he'd fallen asleep on the dock and this was just another dream.
"Fakir," she said, her voice choked with emotion but his name clear as a bell. "Oh, Fakir..."
He kissed her again, hungry for the taste of her. He felt dazed, but he decided to stop doubting and just accept the wonderful, impossible gift he'd been given.
He let go of her hair and trailed his hand down over her back. She was trembling - but then, so was he. "Ahiru," he murmured against her lips, his own voice hoarse. "Oh god, please, please..." He wasn't even sure what he was begging for. Everything. Anything.
She seemed to understand, or maybe, somehow, she'd wanted this as badly as he had. Her hands went to the laces that tied his shirt closed at the neck, fumbling with the knots until he reached up and just snapped them. The neck gaped open, and he grabbed the shirt at the back of his neck and yanked it over his head. He barely had the presence of mind to throw it onto the dock instead of into the water.
Then she was tight against him again, and his gasp echoed hers as their bare chests met. The soft curves of her breasts pressed against his chest, close enough that the pounding of his heart seemed to reverberate through both of them. Or perhaps hers was just beating as hard and as fast as his. With a sense of wonder he cupped one of her breasts in his hand, his thumb sliding over the tightly peaked nipple. She shivered against him and made a little sound, like a whimper but with an overtone that made it feel like his blood was suddenly too hot.
He pushed her back, the water supporting them gently, until they ran into one of the large rocks that dotted the pond. The surface was smooth, and when he lifted her to perch on it, she was at the perfect height to wrap her legs around his waist and pull him close to her.
Unfortunately, the one element that had not usually been present in his dreams was his clothing. He growled as the barrier of his pants prevented him from being able to press his aching cock against the warm softness of her. Reaching down with hands that trembled as badly as hers had, he managed to undo his belt and shove his pants down over his hips.
She pulled him back into her arms, her body rocking forward to meet his, and he hissed with the agony of pleasure too long denied. Feeling like his mind had been completely overwhelmed by the fever raging out of control through his body, he slowly pushed forward into her.
She made a distressed noise but didn't fight him, still clinging eagerly to him. He met resistance, but continued unrelentingly. He'd heard that it hurt girls the first time they did this, that it was the proof they were still maidens, but he assumed it was a momentary pain.
The cry she made when he broke through was an unmistakeable, "Qua!" Eyes wide, she clapped a hand over her mouth, too late.
Fakir froze, shaking with the effort of holding himself back, his eyes wide as well. Before, anytime she'd unthinkingly quacked in surprise or pain, she'd turned back into a duck. At the moment, that would be more than just a little awkward, and he had no idea how to change her back to human again.
But one heartbeat passed, and then two, and Fakir let out a relieved breath as nothing happened. Then it was his turn to cry out as she arched her back, drawing him deeper inside her.
He could no more have stopped himself from thrusting than he could have halted his heartbeat. They moved together in a dance so perfect no one could ever choreograph it, and when they reached the climax Fakir thought he might shatter into a thousand pieces.
Afterwards he continued to hold her tight, his face buried in her hair as he panted for breath. Her grip was no looser, but after a moment she slid one hand up and down his back as if trying to soothe him.
With an effort Fakir pulled himself together. Why was it always this girl who saw him at his most vulnerable moments? Now that he could think again he was embarrassed by how desperate and pathetic he'd just made himself look. "Are you all right?" he asked, gruffer than he'd meant to be as he pulled away. He couldn't quite look her in the eyes. God, what must she think of him, jumping her like that?
"U-um." She seemed uncertain, and he could see she was blushing hard. Well, it was probably a match for the flush he could feel on his own cheeks. "Yes. I think. I mean, I'm fine, I just... swallowed some water."
"What kind of duck can't swim, anyway?" he asked, trying to deflect the conversation back onto her.
"It caught me by surprise!" she protested, blushing harder. "And then I couldn't remember how to move my arms and legs at first."
"Idiot." He turned away, adjusting his pants. His belt was gone, lost somewhere in the water, but he could make it home without it.
She, however, could not make it back as she was. "Put some... oh. Damn it." He scowled as he realized she didn't have anything to wear, because she hadn't been a human to start with. Sighing, he waded over to the dock and grabbed his shirt from where it had fallen, holding it out to her without turning to look. "Wear this. It should cover enough to at least get you back to the house."
"Okay," she said, sounding subdued. That made him glance over his shoulder, but all he could see was the top of her head because she'd lowered her eyes. Maybe he was being a little too harsh. It wasn't really her he was mad at.
"Come on," he said when she'd pulled the shirt over her head, forcing his voice to soften a little. "Let's go home."
That seemed to cheer her a bit for some reason, and she nodded and gave him the smile he'd missed seeing so much. They waded to the shore together, her with his oversized shirt trailing out behind her in the water like a tail, and him with his boots squelching with mud and water every step.
Out of the water they looked even more ridiculous, and Fakir winced as he realized how this was going to look to anyone who saw them. And they'd be right in their assumptions, too, which just made it impossible to deny. Well, it wasn't like he cared about his reputation. Maybe it would make the idiotic girls who sighed over him decide to find someone else to pine after.
Ahiru was moving awkwardly, like she still wasn't quite certain how to walk. Small wonder, after she'd been a duck for so long. Had she needed to practice when she'd become human the first time? He'd never thought to ask. She winced as she stepped on a sharp rock, and he scowled as he realized another problem. She couldn't walk all the way back to the house in bare feet; she'd be bleeding on the cobblestones before they were halfway there.
She quacked in surprise when he scooped her up, and flailed. "Don't squirm," he ordered her, shifting until her weight was balanced with one of his arms under her knees and the other behind her back. It had been a long time since he'd done any lifts, but he still had the arm and upper body strength of a dancer and she was light for her size. He should be able to carry her as far as the house without any problems.
Obediently she subsided, wrapping her arms around his neck and tucking her head under his chin. It felt good to have her there, solid and real and warm. He wished they hadn't been out at the pond, so he could have just held her and enjoyed it and not worried about anyone else seeing.
Sure enough the moment they were back in the populated area of town, people started staring and whispering. Fakir ignored the reactions with an effort, trying to keep from tightening his grip on Ahiru too much. He didn't really care what they might think of him, but it bothered him to think that Ahiru's reputation was going to suffer badly from this.
"U-um. Fakir?" she murmured, her voice wavering. He grunted a question, keeping his eyes on where he was going. If he looked at her, he was going to start blushing, he just knew it. The lacing on the shirt had broken off too short to be tied even around her smaller neck, and if he glanced down he'd be able to see right inside her shirt. Maybe after what they'd just done it shouldn't have mattered, but he wanted to leave her some dignity.
She seemed to hesitate, then shook her head and buried her face in his shoulder. "Never mind, it's not important."
He frowned, but decided to leave it at that for the moment. He wanted to get inside and out of sight of prying eyes before they talked any further. He owed her an apology for the rough treatment, if nothing else, but he wasn't going to make it in public.
Just as the house came into sight it started to rain again. Thankfully it was just a few scattered, small drops spattering here and there, though from the looks of the clouds it would turn into a downpour soon enough. Not that it mattered, considering they were both already soaked through. He'd better get her into something dry and give her some tea or hot chocolate, and do the same himself, or they'd both catch their death of cold. At least it was just the two of them in the house, Charon having passed away the year before, so there wouldn't be anyone to question why he was bringing a naked girl home with him.
Three steps from the entrance, he stumbled as her weight abruptly disappeared from his arms. For a moment he held a wildly flapping duck instead of a girl, both of them staring at each other in shock and dismay. "Qua!" she cried, nearly braining him with one wing as she panicked.
Then she turned back again. Already off balance, Fakir swore and nearly dropped her, wrenching one arm with the effort it took to support her shifted weight. "What the hell was that?" he demanded, frightened half out of his wits. Surely it wasn't temporary?
"I don't know, it was just qua..." Halfway through the sentence she reverted again. He'd been almost expecting it, and managed to get a better hold on her. This time when she became human he set her down quickly, and managed to push her through the door into the safety of the house.
"Maybe your transformation works backwards this time," he suggested, though he didn't really believe it. If getting hit by the rain was enough to turn her back into a duck, she'd have been switching back and forth the whole time they were in the pond.
"I don't know the rules, I don't know what you did to change me," she said, shivering and obviously terrified. "What did you write in the quaaaaaa..."
He gaped at her, blindsided by his own stupidity. "The story," he breathed out, horrified. "I dropped it on the dock when you started drowning, and just left it there. The rain must be washing out the ink!"
Still a duck, she quacked in dismay and clumsily flapped her wings again. "Stay here," he ordered her, turning and bolting back through the door. He didn't even take the time to slam it shut behind him, too focused on getting back to the pond as quickly as possible. If the story was washed away, she would turn back into a duck and he might never figure out what it was that he'd done to make it work this time.
It was a twenty minute walk to the pond on a good day. Running at his top speed, pushing himself to his limits, he made it in five. His heart was trying to pound its way out of his chest, more from fear than from the exertion. How long would it take for the story to be destroyed? How much had to still be there, for the magic to work?
When the dock came into view, he could clearly see the white papers fluttering in the rapidly increasing wind. He put on a burst of speed, and managed to grab them just in time to keep the top sheets from flying away entirely. Then he had to brake abruptly, flailing a little to keep himself from running right off the end of the dock into the water.
With the papers clutched tight to his chest, he staggered off the dock and under the shelter of the nearest big willow tree. The drooping branches held off the rain, creating a relatively dry spot around the trunk. When the rain let up he could risk going back to the house, but he had nothing to protect the papers with until he got there.
Panting for air, Fakir slid down the trunk to sit on the ground. He regretted now that he'd let himself get so out of shape. Once, that run would have been nothing to him, but he'd stopped dancing when he'd left the academy to write everyone's happy endings. He'd thought often about taking it up again, but that part of his life held too many painful memories. In particular, it had been too sharp a reminder of what he'd lost in Ahiru.
Glancing down at the pages in his hand, Fakir wondered if he could figure out what it was that he'd done differently. He hadn't even been trying to affect reality - was that the secret? But before he'd learned to control his powers, only a few of the things he'd written had come true. Now that he was focused and concentrating, nearly everything did. Why would not focusing make him more powerful?
A half-remembered conversation with Drosselmeyer returned to him, and he frowned. "You're trying to take responsibility for your stories," the old man had taunted him. "You can't do anything that way. You have to set your words and your spirit free."
Determined not to casually play with people's fates the way the old man had, Fakir had ignored him at the time. But perhaps there was something to it. This story was the first time in a long while that he'd felt as if the words were writing themselves, using his hand as an unconnected medium.
Skimming through the pages, he flushed again as he read the words he'd penned. The story was even more shameless than he'd remembered. At the time he'd been caught up in the emotion and need of it, not really paying attention to what he was truly saying, but now it felt like his cheeks were on fire.
His eyes caught on a particular phrase, and he frowned. Her hands went to the laces that tied his shirt closed at the neck, fumbling with the knots until he reached up and just snapped them. The neck gaped open, and he grabbed the shirt at the back of his neck and yanked it over his head.
That was... exactly what had happened, wasn't it? Which wouldn't have surprised him if this had been one of his normal stories, but for some reason it made a shiver run down the back of his neck. Quickly he scanned the rest of the pages, and picked out more eerily familiar passages one after another.
...responded as eagerly as he could have asked for, opening her mouth further and shyly letting her tongue flirt with his. Only when he absolutely had to did he pull away for air...
...pulled him back into her arms, her body rocking forward to meet his, and he hissed with the agony of pleasure too long denied...
...continued to hold her tight, his face buried in her hair as he panted for breath. Her grip was no looser, but after a moment she slid one hand up and down his back...
By the time he reached the end, Fakir was trembling. He shuffled the papers back around and started to go through it again, more carefully this time. It was there, it was all there. Everything he'd written had happened, down to the tiniest detail. Other things had happened as well - he'd mentioned his shirt in the story but forgotten about his pants, but they hadn't vanished off him. Still, it was eerie how exactly the story had been reproduced. This was the first time he'd written about himself since he'd been a child, and at that time nothing had turned out quite the way he'd written it.
It explained why he'd found it so impossible to think, why he'd been so driven to take her right then and there. His utter lack of control was not characteristic, though he certainly couldn't deny that he'd wanted every moment of what had happened.
But had she? Chest aching, Fakir searched the words and his memories, looking for some sign that she hadn't just been compelled to go along with his fantasy, whether she was willing or not. She'd hesitated, and been shaking - he'd attributed it to shyness, but what if it had been reluctance? What if she'd been fighting it the whole time?
Wouldn't she have said something, afterwards?
No... she wouldn't have, because she would have been afraid to hurt him. That was the sort of person she was - she could give so selflessly of herself, doing whatever was needed for the people around her to be happy. That was why she'd been able to sacrifice herself for Mytho, and give him up to Rue without...
Mytho. Cursing, Fakir dropped the pages and hid his face in his hands. How could he have forgotten? She was in love with Mytho; he was the whole reason she'd become human in the first place. Of course she wouldn't have willingly had sex with anyone else.
What had he done? God, how could he ever even begin to make this up to her? How could he even explain? She must be so hurt and bewildered, probably feeling like she'd betrayed Mytho, maybe even scared of Fakir now. Or worse, maybe she would think it was the price she had to pay to stay human. Either way, he'd just raped her and forced her to go along with it.
For the first time, Fakir truly understood what had made the people so terrified of Drosselmeyer's power. It wasn't just because the crazy old man had written tragic endings for everyone. It was because he had complete power over them. He didn't just change their fates, he changed them, their very thoughts and actions dictated by one man's whims.
Now he questioned the wisdom of what he'd been doing all this time, trying to write people happy endings. What if the ending he chose for someone wasn't what that person wanted? Would they go along with it anyway, wondering all their lives why they hadn't had the courage to take the risk or make the sacrifice they'd wanted to? Or would they even realize that something was wrong, after he'd changed their emotions to match his story?
God, he was no better than Drosselmeyer. He didn't make people suffer as blatantly as the old man had, but he was just as manipulative, just as full of hubris.
And Ahiru was the one who had suffered for it.
Caught up in the storm of his emotions, Fakir nearly missed the soft sound of his name. When the willow branches rustled, he glanced up in surprise to find Ahiru standing there, thankfully human again. She'd dug out an old pair of his ballet tights from somewhere, and found another shirt and belt. The tunic was long enough on her that it almost looked like a dress, though it was still obvious that she was wearing his clothing.
"I told you to stay there," he snapped, guilt making him harsh once more. He wasn't ready to face her yet - he might never be ready, not after what he'd done to her.
"I was worried about you," she said, stammering a little but holding her ground bravely. She even took a few more steps forward, reaching out to him. "It's been nearly an hour."
Had it? He'd barely noticed the time passing. "I didn't want the story to get any wetter," he said, clutching it against his chest again. She probably couldn't read any of it from where she was standing, but he didn't want her to know just how perverted he'd really been, writing about doing those things with her. "I'll keep it safe. You shouldn't turn back again."
"That's good," she said, but she didn't sound certain. "Fakir... what is it? What's wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong," he told her, summoning the coldest voice he could manage. Would it make her feel better to know that what she'd done had been against her will, or worse? What if she hated him for it? If she didn't know, she might feel guilty for 'betraying' her love of Mytho, but she wouldn't blame him. Once again he was a coward, running from the punishment he deserved.
"But..." She stepped closer again and sank to her knees in front of him, her extended hand brushing against his cheek. "You're crying."
"What?" Startled, Fakir rubbed his own hand over his face, and realized she was right. There was water on his cheeks, too warm to be blamed on the rain. Damn it.
"Please tell me what's wrong," she begged. "You know I'd do anything for you."
Yes, he did know, and that was exactly the problem. "I'm... sorry," he grated out, struggling with himself for every word. She looked surprised, and he clarified. "For... doing that to you. In the pond. I lost control of myself, and it was inexcusable."
"Wha?" Her startled noise was still close to a quack, and he flinched. "You didn't do anything. I mean," she blushed and looked away. "You didn't do anything I didn't... want you to." She finished in a voice barely above a whisper, and she clearly couldn't look him in the eyes.
Just as he'd expected, she was trying to save his pride, sacrificing her own feelings so that he wouldn't be hurt. Lying to him, just like when she'd smiled at Mytho and said she didn't mind becoming a duck again if it meant he would be safe and happy. She was too giving for her own damned good, and Fakir hated it even as he loved her for it.
"Bullshit." He couldn't look at her either, glaring at the ground between them because if he did meet her eyes he was afraid he might start crying again. "You didn't want that, you just went along with it. Idiot, how many times have I told you that you shouldn't do unnecessary things like that?"
"It wasn't! I didn't," she said, shaking her head frantically.
Her continued protests were just making him angrier, upset that he was only hurting her more and couldn't seem to find the way to make her understand that it hadn't been her fault. "You don't love me, you love Mytho," he said bluntly, ignoring the sharp stab of pain in his heart as he said the words.
"No, I.." she started, eyes wide, then clapped a hand over her mouth. She stared at him with a distressed expression, and tried again. "Fakir, I... I..."
"See? You can't lie about this," he said, forcing himself to his feet. He put his back to her, not wanting her to see how much this hurt him. At least he hadn't forced her to say those words, in his story. For her, that would have been the ultimate betrayal. He'd spared her that much, if nothing else.
She was silent for so long he almost wondered if she'd snuck away. Finally he couldn't stand it any longer, and glanced back over his shoulder.
To his shock, she was standing there in fifth position, feet turned opposite each other and arms raised above her head. Her pose was a little shaky, and she looked more like a raw beginner trying to copy a prima donna than the girl who had once been Princess Tutu, but it was recognizable. When she saw that he was looking, she twirled her hands around each other and then reached one out towards him, the age-old signal for an invitation to dance. "Dance with me?" she pleaded, her eyes bright.
"What... are you crazy?" He stared at her, completely floored. "Here? Now?"
"Please," she begged. "Dance with me?"
They stood there in frozen tableaux for a moment, him disbelieving, her entreating. Finally he set the pages of the story down in the driest spot he could find, anchoring them there with a rock, before reaching out to take her hand. "This is insane," he muttered, but he let her pull him out of the shelter of the willow into the rain-soaked clearing.
He was four years out of practice, but it hardly mattered - she was even worse than he remembered her being, and that was saying something. Despite her awkward movements and frequent stumbles, however, one thing remained of her power as Princess Tutu - her emotions still came through her dance, loud and clear.
As she moved against him and turned in his arms, as he dipped her and lifted her and swung her around, it was like being wrapped in a blanket of warmth and love and affection. He'd seen her do this with other people, seen her call the shattered fragments of Mytho's heart out of them with the sheer power of her love, but he'd never had it directed at him before. It was awe-inspiring, and he found himself pushing harder to dance well, trying to match her with his own jumbled emotions.
Halfway through, he recognized the dance - it was the same pas de deux he'd watched her dance with Mytho, the one that had won the prince free of Kraehe's control the night Fakir had almost died. He nearly dropped her out of a lift in shock at the realization. That dance had been one of longing and passionate love, of the heartbreak of being denied the one thing she wanted most in the world and the joy of having it given to her at last.
There had been no mistaking the emotion in her dance then - and there was no mistaking it now, nor any doubt that it was aimed at Fakir himself. No spoken declaration of love could ever have been as eloquent, or as moving.
He caught her in his arms and stopped moving, forcing her to stop as well. She looked up at him, eyes brimming with something that might have been tears - or might have been hope and love. He had to try twice before he could speak, because the first time he opened his mouth his throat closed and he couldn't get anything to come out. "But you... Mytho..."
Shaking her head, she blushed lightly but didn't look away from his eyes this time. "Mytho loved Princess Tutu," she said softly. "He barely even knew me. The one who saw me, Ahiru, the clumsy, useless duck who can't do anything right, and loved me anyway... that was you, Fakir."
He went stiff and might have tried to reflexively deny it, except that he knew she'd just seen straight into his heart as they danced. "You knew?" he asked instead, trying not to be as awkward as he felt. He'd thought he'd kept it hidden from her - he'd certainly kept it hidden from himself long enough.
She smiled, the shy little smile that warmed him all the way through. "I knew you cared about me. You always took such good care of me, even though I was just a duck and it wasn't like I could help you at all. I was surprised when... um." Her blush darkened and she stumbled, but kept going bravely. "It's not at all that I didn't want it! I, er, really wouldn't mind. Doing it. Again."
Now it seemed her embarrassment had overcome her ability to speak, but he'd heard what he needed to. Pulling her close, he wrapped his arms around her and just held on, face in her hair and the rain streaming over both of them. He hadn't forced her. It hadn't just been the magic. "Idiot," he said, his voice rough with the effort it took not to do something stupid like cry with relief. "Why didn't you just answer my damned question, then?"
Her grip tightened, and she clung to him like a lifeline. "I don't want to disappear," she whispered, and he felt her shiver against him.
Confused, he drew back enough to be able to see her again. "What do you mean, disa-" Memory struck with the force of a canon ball, and he actually gasped in realization. That night, when she'd danced with Mytho - Kraehe had been taunting her, trying to force her into declaring her love for the prince, and she'd chosen to demonstrate it with dance instead. Kraehe had set it up that way because she was trying to make Tutu disappear.
Just as Fakir was fated to be the knight who fell uselessly in battle against the Raven, so Ahiru was fated to confess her feelings and disappear in a burst of light. Drosselmeyer had set up the story to deliberately put her in that position, to force her to make the horrible choice. She'd avoided it in the end, sacrificing her human self but not her life - but that didn't mean the magic wasn't still there, hanging over her head waiting for a chance to fall.
"I'm sorry," he blurted out, horrified by how close he'd come to losing her forever, because of his stupid insecurity. If she had answered him, thinking that it was the only way to reassure him... "I forgot, I didn't think, I'm sorry. Ah God, how could I forget?"
"It's okay," she reassured him hastily. "Really, it is. But... you know, now?" She looked up at him, and this time he knew the expression in her eyes was hope.
"You may be a klutz, but there are prima donnas who would kill for your ability to convey emotion through your dance," he told her, holding her tight again. He slid one hand through the hair at the base of her neck and tugged lightly. She willingly lifted her face, and he closed the distance between them for a long, sweet kiss.
One turned into two, and two into more, and it was a long time before Fakir remembered to think of anything but the girl in his arms.
No ending he'd written himself could have been more perfect.