A/N: The lines of italicized phrases are actually supposed to arranged as a poem, only it's really difficult to edit them using the story format. If you can imagine it as poetry, that would be great. :D I hope it doesn't sound too unsettling. Also, I have now enabled anonymous reviews, so please leave them. They're all greatly appreciated.
I don't know why I'm looking for you
To help me find
The sweetest dream, the kindest smile, the truest tale
For me alone
It had been a while since she had worn ballet shoes. She stared down at her webbed feet, flat and wide. They couldn't fit into any sort of shoe now, of course. But she would still appreciate the memory of their feel and how the soft pink velvet would cushion the tips of her toes as she moved to dance, the way the ribbon would wind around her ankles. Even when she wasn't a princess, the standard school ballet shoes were of good quality too. She had loved wearing them. She had loved dancing.
As a matter of fact, she still did.
She jumped back into the river and drifted through the afternoon waters quietly.
She missed it, but it would look so odd to try. Ducks weren't for dancing. Swimming, quacking, yes.
At any rate, she hadn't attempted since that time.
What of the others? Fakir, she knew about. He visited her everyday.
But the prince, his princess, and everyone else…
Did they think about her sometime? Or were their minds a blur of fiction, missing characters here and there? Did she exist?
Was she real to them?
Or was she alone?
Pen me down
The best story
The one I know
I've lived to live
The one that's made for me
"Good afternoon, Ahiru."
She turned her face to the sound of his voice. It never changed. He was always sure now, happy and accepting and peaceful. Very different from how he had acted towards her at first. Cool and brusque, and almost as if there was nothing that could disgust him more than a clumsy ballerina. The thought of it made her want to smile, although it probably shouldn't have, considering how badly he had treated her. It probably had irritated him a lot to see someone tripping over her feet, and with such easy steps too! He was advanced in the art, along with the prince and his princess. But while he had liked dancing, he also had another passion, and that was writing. She had only had dancing. Now she had nothing. Except memories.
He was carrying several leafs of paper and a pen, and as he sat down beside the river, bare feet dipping into the water, she swam up to him. "Good afternoon!"
It was a wonder how they could still communicate. It wasn't exactly in audible terms, but he could understand. It made her so happy. She knew that she was real to him, at least, and more than just bright yellow feathers on the clear blue waters of the village lake. Passing townsfolk would smile and point. "What a cute ducky!"
Well, it was a compliment, but…
She waddled out of the water and settled down on his lap. He patted her soft head.
"Writing a new story?'
She closed her eyes, nestling against the softness of his shirt.
"What's it about?"
The one wherein
Everything turns out
Perfect in the end
No regrets and no tears
Not of sadness,
The truest tale
Some days, when the weather was fine, she would sneak around the village like before. Like she had donewhen she was more than herself. People hardly ever looked down, unless they were looking for something lost. She was rarely seen. It made things a lot easier. She would stare wide-eyed at whatever was ongoing, seated on an empty table in quiet cafes, or on top of the barrels outside every shop, or when her wings could take her, the rooftops. She would watch, and remember what it was like. There were lots of things to see, even when the fairy tales weren't coming true anymore. Village festivals. Dance celebrations put on by the school. Marriages in the town square, and storytelling sessions every afternoon at 3:00, to reminiscence about what was once not just words on paper, but reality. And quiet happenings too, without ceremony. They were also a sight to see. A group of friends sharing tea and biscuits. A man's wife fiercely telling him that today he had better earn more than the measly amount he was bringing home. Two people finding love, unsuspecting of the wide pair of eyes that watched from behind the tree's trunk.
Once she had seen a mother and child. It was the girl's birthday. Her mother had taken her out to the village to shop, and she had told her child, sweetly – "I'll get you anything you want."
"Then, mommy, I want to fly!"
People…they always wanted wings.
Did they know what joy it was to have hands? To be human?
Close my eyes
And lull me to sleep
With the coolness of your voice
I want to see memories
Of that time
And then, when she had plucked up enough courage, she would toddle on her short orange feet to the school, and creep through its familiar corridors. Looking through the rooms she would see all the things she missed. The piano player was a human now. His fingers would stretch over the keys and lend a hand to the beauty of dance, give a beat to the wonderful melody of a body moving. Mr. Cat was gone. There were more teachers now, talented too, but none, she supposed, would ever be as good as her own teacher. They would instruct the students well, and instead of using threats of marriage they would give more practice. The students in their identical ballet attire would stretch, plie. Twirl on their tiptoes and raise their arms, all in a row and resting their hands on the bars that spanned the length of the room. On lucky days she would see Pike and Ririe. They would be laughing, and her tiny heart seemed to be tugged out of her body. She missed them. Did they miss her?
It seemed an awful lot of empty spaces had sprouted in the school.
Where were the two best students? Their own kingdom far away?
Fakir only came on occasions. His writing was priority to him now.
And what of the beautiful swan some had claimed to have seen before? It never appeared on campus any more.
That fairy tale, as all others, had ended. Life was the same. Dancing was timeless.
She would have to leave eventually. Tracking her inhuman footsteps on the polished wooden floors, she would waddle her way back to the lake. It was home now.
That existed long ago
In some space unimaginable
I could be true
I could rest and see
The sweetest dream
She asked him once.
"Do you ever think about…you know…"
Somehow she couldn't say it. That was the drawback to his always understanding. She didn't have to.
"No. Not really." He stared down hard at the leaf of paper he was scribbling on. His script was neat, rows upon rows of writing piled on each other. Out of his hands, a story would be born. It was something he was good at. Creation. But what of the stories concluded? Were there strings cut, left, uncared for? Everyone wanted a happy ending. But not everyone was entitled to one. What of the villain, if any? The lesser characters, like the villain's henchmen or a sentence or two about some passing stranger? Did they get one too? Only the author could make ascertain. Creation. End.
But heroes, they…deserved happy endings. What of that story?
"Not really, yeah. Do you?"
She blinked. "Sometimes. I spend most of my day thinking, after all." She was floating around in the water. "Stuff like…where are they now? Do you know?"
He paused. "Not exactly. The story was just spilling out of my hand when I wrote it, I wasn't thinking in a conscious way. A tale ends the way it ends, and this one ended with…happily ever after. Somewhere far away, I suppose. But I'm not going looking for Drosselmyer just to find out what he truly intended."
Happily ever after, huh…?
"You're not even curious?"
He was writing again. "I am. But sometimes the best stories leave the ending up to the reader's imagination."
She swam down and bobbed up. "I don't like that kind of story though. I want to know the real ending. What if the one you have in mind isn't right?"
He sighed. "Maybe there aren't any real endings. Maybe the author himself doesn't know."
The duck quacked loudly. "You can't write a story without working out an ending!"
"Hey, who's the author here?"
She shifted, embarrassed. "Well, you are, but…"
"That's right. So I know how the whole system works." He laid down his papers and stretched out his hands to her, smiling.
She swam up to him and allowed herself to be pulled out of the water. "That's true. But I still prefer stories with complete endings."
He raised her to eye level. "Not satisfied with your ending?"
She tried not to look too surprised. "Um. I don't know."
"It's the prince, isn't it?"
She let out a loud quack of surprise. "The prince! Why would that be the reason?"
"Because even if you shouldn't, you still…"
Hold my hand and
Move me to wake
Where dawn bursts alive
Where I can feel happy
Somehow, I feel
There's more to this
She had danced a duet by herself before. Was that even possible, she wondered.
A lot of things actually weren't, but at that time…
…fairy tales did come true.
She hadn't understood everything entirely, moving as if in a dream. When she thought about it now, perhaps it had been. It was so much more than anything of her sort could ever experience. With every emotion she had found, she had learnt more about what feeling really was. She had a heart, and she knew that. A human heart. And with that she had understood so many things. The pain of losing. The joy of gaining. The sadness of hurting another, the happiness of helping someone else, and sometimes, when it was quiet and the ballet room was empty, and she was stuck training more because she was clumsy, the utter irritation of boredom. She had known helplessness, especially when everything was going wrong. Another was the overwhelming feeling of courage, and bravery so strong it didn't matter what happened to you, because you wanted to put a smile on everyone's faces.
And, it may not have been possible, either, but somewhere in her mind she could remember it.
The warmth. How it cut through her heart and at the same time soothed it.
It made her want to cry, both tears of joy and absolute despair.
And I'm never certain
But as long as you're here
I don't care if I doubt
Your glance, can I really say
It is pointed at me?
Your bright eyes
The kindest smile
Had she been the heroine? Honestly? Her name as a princess had been the title of another fairytale.
Did that make her the heroine?
Or...the victim? Of a tragedy so beautiful, everyone would sob their eyes out reading it, and the pages would be soaked full of tears? Which one was it? It wasn't as if the story, her story, had really ended in heartbreak. The ending had been just. The ending hadn't been unfair. She hadn't been crying.
But she had held the same emotion. She had felt it, too. But that wasn't enough to save him. She couldn't have. It wasn't she who freed him. It was another.
The other girl had loved him too. Maybe more. Yes. She had loved him more, hadn't she. Loved him enough to save him, at least. Enough to wake him from when he was deep in a slumber full of dark wings and raven's blood. She had said it openly, too. He didn't have to have a heart. She would have loved him either way. It was her love, in fact, that drove her to be cruel later on. She loved him so much, she didn't want him to be lost to anyone else. He was hers. Only hers. That made her the villain, for a time. But she, too, was saved in the end. By the heroine? What heroine? Did she, the other girl, become the heroine, having saved the prince with her unfailing love? What of the princess bound to sadness, then? The one whose name held the title of a fairytale? She certainly didn't become the villain. Or did she, making herself the odd one out, the only one that couldn't possibly receive a happy ending?
There couldn't be two heroines, now, could there?
Her head spun just thinking about it.
The prince and princess, they had been together since forever. And they would be, now. His chosen princess loved him, she could give him so much more than a duck ever could. There was just one tiny bit that kept her asking, what if? A story without a real ending. A story wherein your own ending was left up to you.
If she had been able to say I love you, would it be different?
I could be fading now
Into the shards of
Broken porcelain wishes.
I could be losing
Myself in delusions
Of these three hopes granted.
Can you help me
"It's about whatever you want me to make it about. For everything you've done."
His shirt was so soft, and so inviting. He was such a good friend.
But nothing like…
"You're writing it? For me?"
"Yes. It'll be a story full of hope."
The truest tale
"Fakir…will it come true? This story, if you write it with your powers, will it come true?"
He frowned at her, surprised. "Well, it might."
She looked down a little hopelessly. "And if it won't, I can always say it was a dream, right?"
"Promise you'll write it no matter what I ask?"
"Then -- once more, I want to be Princess Tutu." He arched his eyebrows skeptically.
"Some stories aren't meant to have sequels, Ahiru."
"I know. But just once," She looked at him, trying to contain the feelings she knew her wide eyes expressed so well. "I think we need an exception. You promised." He knitted his brows together. All right, he had promised. But if she was ever lost, or hurt, well…he didn't want to take the blame.
"And knights always keep their word."
He gave her a hard look. Then he closed his eyes and shrugged. "Okay. It's your story, after all. But please…don't make me regret agreeing." He picked up the duck lying on his lap and hugged her close.
She let herself be squashed tight against him. "Thank you."
"It's nothing." He smiled gently. "I can't believe we're so friendly now. I hated you at first, you know that?"
"Yes, I remember. And I thought you were a stuck up jerk."
"Well, I was." He laughed. "But thanks to you, I found my purpose in this story. And I overcame what everyone thought I couldn't – my death. I owe you a lot. Actually, everyone in this village does." He paused. "I believe that tales shouldn't be tampered with after they're done, but if it's for you, then I'll break that rule." She couldn't smile so well with a beak, but she did rub her cheek against his own in an appreciative manner. He drew in a breath and put her down on the grass.
"Now, go swim or something. I need to concentrate." She nodded and fluttered into the water.
Maybe something would happen. Maybe nothing would.
She had to try. No strings loose. None forgotten.
The sweetest dream
It must have come true. As she awoke from the stillness of the evening, she found herself fully clothed, lying on the lake – no, floating on it, almost as if she were as light as a feather. She had hands, feet. Ballet shoes supported her toes and pink ribbons wove their way around her heels and ankles. She felt tall. She couldn't breathe underwater. She couldn't fly. But she could dance. And that was enough in terms of wings for her, enough to get her soaring.
She moved across the surface of the lake, feeling the grace that flowed within her and poured out in ballet.
She was a princess again.
As if in a dream, and this well may have been one, moonlight shone its way down into the waters where she stood and created a spiral staircase of light. It shot up straight past the clouds, beyond where she could see. Past the moon. Maybe even past the sky. So that was where they lived. The prince and his princess. With a curtsy and a rustle of her white dress she started her way up the stairs, dancing through it step by step. It seemed like a long way to go, but time seemed to hold still for her and she found herself at the last step faster than she had expected. She had missed the heavens when she danced by. She couldn't tell how far up she was now. Perhaps her eyes had been closed. But this was probably a dream. In dreams, anything can happen. In fairytales, too.
There was a castle, its turrets and flags outlined in milky silver.
She couldn't possibly find her way through it all, to their bedroom. But the dream was making things easy for her again. She didn't have to say. She didn't have to think. Only move, to where the story led her. Only dance, to where no music heard by ears, only felt by heart, could play. And she was there at last.
A crowd of hair, soft as feathers and just as white. And his face, peaceful. Beautiful.
The prince was dreaming.
The kindest smile
She spun towards him and bowed low. Then, hardly daring, she touched his face, cool as the night wind blowing outside the window. She had danced a duet alone. She had returned his heart to him. Even when she was a duck, she had tried her best to give the villagers the one thing they needed most: hope. And she had succeeded.
But I don't want to dance a duet alone.
And I wonder, if I could say it, would things be different?
If she could say it, would she be happy?
Would it be the real ending?
Her happy ending?
She felt the tears crowding behind her eyes before they spilled out onto her cheeks.
It makes me want to cry, both of joy and absolute despair…
Her fingers lifted off his face and rested lightly on his hand instead.
I want to dance with you, but that wouldn't be fair.
Because I couldn't love you enough. She can. And I'm happy for both of you.
But for me? Just for me…without thinking of anyone else, I want to dance a duet with you
I don't want to dance a duet alone…they aren't meant to be danced alone.
But she was the heroine. And the heroine always did…what was right for everyone. Unmindful of herself.
The heroine had to possess bravery so strong it didn't matter what happened to her, because she wanted to put a smile on everyone's faces…
"I came here to tell you…something which I never could say before."
She pulled up his hand and let it touch her cheek, the sheet of tears steadily falling on it. Would he awake now?
He didn't have to. He shouldn't.
I can be happy…
No more what if's…
She smiled down at his perfect face.
"I love you…"
The truest tale
He opened his eyes and saw a flash of white, a burst of light, but nothing more.
His hand was wet.
"My prince? What's happened?" His princess wrapped her arms around him and leant against his back. "What's wrong? Did something wake you?" He turned to smile at her.
"No, its nothing."
"All right." She yawned. "Well, I'm going back to sleep now, if you're sure."
"Yes." She rolled over and closed her eyes.
The prince climbed out of his bed and made his way to the window. He leaned out against it and closed his eyes.
It was a cold night, rimmed in silver. It was a night full of dreaming.
He usually visited her in the afternoon, but today he was a little worried.
Fakir reached the foot of the lake and stared out at the morning mist.
These three wishes granted
Are all I need
To be happy
Ballet shoes. Love. Happiness. Hope. All the things she liked best.
The perfect ending.
A/N: I've always wondered how things would've turned out otherwise, because I felt that the real ending of Tutu was a little, well, sad. However, I never said that Ahiru really disappeared, in the end...it might have just been a dream, and maybe she didn't see Myuto at all, and maybe after a moment or two she'll swim out of the mist and greet Fakir again. Maybe. :D How did it end for you?
Also, in response to Shai-shai: I never meant to disprove Ahiru/Fakir as a coupling. I prefer them as friends, is all. I think she really did love Myuto, enough to try her hardest to piece his heart together and protect him, anyways. But thank you for your very thorough comment.