Author: Tripleguess PM
Drosselmeyer never gave anything away.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Humor - Fakir & Ahiru - Chapters: 3 - Words: 4,173 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 26 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 09-19-07 - Published: 08-01-07 - Status: Complete - id: 3696426
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
a Princess Tutu fanfiction by Tripleguess
[Post-Series; possible mild spoilers for Princess Tutu
July 27, 2007
Summary: They say Drosselmeyer never gave anything away.
"In other words, the fact that I was a duck... or how long I've been me as a girl... and before that, what I was then...? Ah... I don't understand at all!"
-Ahiru, Episode 2
White halls. White walls. Pale curtains against the moon.
A silhouette against the window. Looking away, outside, to the endless landscape beyond the glass.
Glass and bars. A pristine room; a spotless tower.
The silhouette turned, and he knew her. Her dress was a dream of lace. Her hair flowed in glossy locks from perfect ribbons.
She looked so sad.
X X X
He jolted upright, tangling with the covers as he tried to get his bearings in the darkness.
"Qua?" The sound was sleepy. He'd been crying out in his sleep, he realized. His throat hurt.
"Sorry to wake you..." He groped for a candle and lit it, as much to reassure himself as her. Guileless eyes blinked back at him. She was fine. He managed a smile for the sleepy bird on the dresser. "It's okay. I just... had a dream."
He blew out the candle.
Just a dream. That's all.
X X X
It was hard to sleep after that. He rose before the sun and slipped out, leaving her dozing in her basket. Sometimes she did come and watch through the windows, but more often she preferred not to obsess over her old life.
At least, that was how he interpreted her usual preference for staying with Charon. Without spoken words... it was hard to tell.
He missed those arguments.
No one else was there. No surprise, that, really; dawn was still just a tint on the clouds. He went through his dance exercises on autopilot. It was a little like what they'd both been doing... just carrying on as best they could with the way things were. It was hard not to look back; hard to face every day and know that some things weren't going to change anytime soon.
He was checking his spins in the mirror when it happened.
The mirrors were often frosty in the winter mornings, graceful ice patterns scattered across them in patches. It was so today. He was counting spins with part of his mind while the other assigned identities to the patches, like seeing shapes in the clouds. Birds, dragons, castles, towers. Full moons and half moons. Curtains blowing in the wind...
He blinked. His spin wobbled. The curtains were blowing.
It was a ballet hall this time, barre and all, awash with the light of a sunless dawn. White walls. White floors. Pale shoes lingering near a silhouette, dancing shoes begging to be worn.
She turned away from them, and he knew her.
"I don't want to dance by myself."
X X X
It couldn't be helped. That night, when all the chores were done and she was nestled on his shoulder, he started writing.
She cocked at her head at the scratching of the pen and gave him a long look... then pecked him gently on the nose, as though to say I trust you, and wandered off to her basket so she wouldn't distract him.
At least, that was what he thought. She knew that he often stayed up to the wee hours with his stories. It was just easier to write while the rest of the world was asleep.
"It was a bleak landscape, marred by bomb pits and the broken outlines of skeleton houses."
He re-read the words in surprise. What did that have to do with anything?
More words crowded, wanting their turn on the paper. He kept writing, curiosity getting the better of him.
"It was almost lifeless, too. Except..."
X X X
Except for a short little shadow, wandering from ruined house to ruined house like a timid mouse.
"Nothing here, either," the shadow murmured tiredly, as she finished poking through the third gutted pantry of the day. Almost everything edible had already been spirited away by other war orphans. Or rats. She shuddered at the thought. The rats were awfully big these days. Big enough to be a danger at night. Evening was coming on, too. If she was going to find anything, she needed to find it quickly.
"Bah, I'm so hungry." She plopped down beside the lifeless fireplace, not looking at the hearth. There was something comforting about the rough stones, a familiar feel that brought back the warmth of better days. She was careful not to touch more than the edges of those memories. Now... it was just too much. Living day to day was hard enough.
A rustle started her. A rat was scuffling through the ashes, picking out bits of paper to line her nest.
"Oh!" The shadow startled backward; the frightened rat dashed across her ankles and disappeared into a hole in the wall.
It hadn't even been a big rat. She put a hand over her heart to calm it.
A twinkle of color from the fireplace caught her eye. She tugged at a corner of paper, and squealed in delighted surprise when an almost new magazine slid from the ashes. Someone must have rolled it up for tinder before... before...
She shunted that line of thought aside. Magazines were almost as good as a meal. She flipped hungrily through the crisp pages, devouring the bright pictures with her eyes. It was some kind of dancing publication: men and women in sleek costumes, balancing in impossibly graceful positions.
"Ba...llet," she sounded out, mispronouncing it. She couldn't remember having heard the word out loud before. People didn't talk about dancing these days. "A theatrical re... rep...representation of a story performed to music by ba-llet dancers."
She sat back on her heels, pondering. She wasn't sure what representation meant, but music, story and dancers sounded good to her. "I wish I could be a ba-llet dancer. I'd practice all week and give performances every Saturday. On Sunday I'd rest up like the Good Book says, and practice some more."
She closed her eyes as the vision grew clearer, smiling faintly at the unseen. "My manager would give me three good meals a day, and ice cream for desert at night. I'd buy myself a new dress once a month, and give the old ones away to orphans like m- like the kids in this city. I'd work really hard and be famous, and people would put up posters with my name on them..."
She sighed. "I'd love to be a dancer in a story. I wonder if The Twelve Dancing Princesses danced ba-llet? I bet they weren't hungry, even if they were so tired all the time!"
Would you really?
Her eyes popped open. "What?"
The voice was aged, rich with many undertones. Would you like to be a ballerina in my story?
She craned her neck, looking back and forth. "Where are you?"
I'm under the ashes, my dear. See for yourself.
Wary of more rats, she took a stick and poked through the ashes.
Tink.The stick hit something hard and flat. She pried it up and dusted it off with her dress. The cloth was so dirty already; a little ash wouldn't make any difference.
It was a mirror, oval like a teardrop. She rubbed at the ash caked along its edge and uncovered the border... a delicate silver filigree of swans, intertwining along the edge. She sat back on her heels, cradling it in admiration. That anything so fragile and beautiful could survive the bombs was amazing.
Looking back at her was the most beautiful person she'd ever seen. She had short, fluffy hair and wide azure eyes. She inhaled with longing. To be so clean, so pretty... "Is she a ballerina?"
She's the ballerina in my story. Would you like to be her?
She jumped to her feet. "Can I? Can I? Oh, yes, yes, please!"
A chuckle. So eager... very well, my dear. Step into the mirror.
And suddenly the mirror was flat on the floor, like a lake. Its surface was gleaming with sun-kissed wavelets. It spread across the ground, lapping at her ankles, drawing her in.
"To be in a story..." She stepped in deeper, willingly. Away from the bleakness, the ashes, the desolation. "To be a ballerina..."
The water swirled around her hands, her wrists. "I'd do... almost anything..."
More raspy mirth. I'm sure you would.
X X X
The pen stilled in his hand, momentarily dry of words. It wasn't that he put anything past the old man. It was just that...
He shook his head. Stories were all about the impossible, or at least the improbable. Things that had so little likelihood in succeeding that you hunted through every page to see how they'd pulled it off.
Could it be that Drosselmeyer, with all his talent, had also been guilty of plagiarism?
Could it be that he'd borrowed one of his characters from another story?