A/N: ...Been a long while since I updated this one, huh? Well, I had a stroke of inspiration at around three in the morning and I decided that I didn't want to let it go to waste on the chance that I might sleep and not feel as motivated/inspired when I woke up. So I went ahead and wrote it out in one sitting.

This isn't very fleshed-out, I'm afraid. I did some editing after writing it, of course, but I didn't go into a lot of extreme details in things - I just wanted the reader to get the main concept and for the theme to really come out. That was my intention, anyway.

Hope you enjoy it!

Disclaimer: Princess Tutu and all of its characters do not belong to me. They belong to the wonderful Itoh Ikuko and HAL Films.

101 Kisses - Theme #11: The Endless And Faraway Sky

Arise, Fair Sun

Whenever Fakir was worried that he had made the wrong decision, or his doubts weighed so heavily on him that he felt like he could collapse into bottomless uncertainty and fear, he turned his eyes to her.

Ahiru was the very picture of life. Her smile alone shone as brightly as the sun - and to him, who had lived so long in the dark and the shadows, he did not consider that to be an exaggeration. Fakir could not help but feel a warmth inside just from looking at her. She could be simply standing there, running around like a moron, singing terribly off-key, flapping her arms around in a panic... it didn't matter - she was still filled to the brim with the very essence of life.

It hadn't always been that way, after the story's end. Things were peaceful and tranquil in the town of Kinkan and beyond, but there was almost a staleness left behind once the magic had dispersed. There was a spark missing. That was the only way the writer could think of to put it.

Most of all, he noticed its lack in her.

She was not visibly upset; far be it for him to say something like that. She appeared to be content to float on the lake and enjoy the simple pleasures of being a duck. And he was content just keep his promise and to watch over her from his chair on the dock.

He wasn't sure when the first time was that an errant, unsure thought crossed his mind amidst that calm and tranquil atmosphere.

'Is this really happiness?'

Of course it was, he had assured himself with a vehement scoff, as if the thought shouldn't have ever dared itself into existence within his head. Everything was as meant to be and there were no words wrapped around their lives like vices or chains that could not be removed. This was a thousand times better than worrying about being sliced in two or vanishing into thin air.

Where would such a terrible thought even come from?

Yet... Fakir knew the answer to that. The answer came in form of a little duck who did not dance, who did not quack excitedly, who cast melancholy glances toward the Academy when she thought he wasn't looking, and who had shut herself up inside of her little duck body and locked up tight.

It was almost ironic, in a way. How many times had he closed in on himself and put forward the mask of confidence and even arrogance, when he was really nothing but afraid? He hid himself in such a way that now he could recognize when the once-open Ahiru shut her doors in the same way.

There was a difference, though - a very obvious one: Ahiru was not a coward. Her reasons for wearing her mask were for the sake of not worrying or concerning others - in this case, himself. She wasn't very good at being stealthy or subtle, however. As hard as she tried to be discreet, her behavior spoke very clearly to Fakir.

And the once-knight couldn't sit back and do nothing - not anymore. Perhaps he would have in the past. Perhaps he would have shoved his personal feelings aside and stubbornly insisted that things were fine this way and that no change was needed. This must have been what was best for them both, he would have convinced himself. Change brought pain and more uncertainty and birthed fear anew in his veins. It was a useless thing.

That was a mistake he did not intend on making again. If not for change, how could Fate be defied? If not for change, how could she have reached his heart at all?

Ahiru gave him hope. She gave him many things, but hope was the one thing that truly kept fear at bay.

And now, it beckoned him to face the facts: This is not the way her story had to be.

It was becoming more and more painfully obvious to him that she was not truly happy to remain as a duck. She did not try to befriend other birds or even venture further out into the lake. He had even lost her in the marketplace one spring day and found her rather tellingly close to the pizzeria where he swore he spotted two rather familiar females that once flanked her at the Academy.

And some months after that, when he had fallen ill in winter, she had fretted over him relentlessly in her own duck way, and yet been unable to help Charon tend to him, unable to do anything but sit and watch and worry. Her eyes spoke to him what her lack of words could not. Though he'd patted her and rubbed his fingers just beneath her feathered chin while consoling her with hoarse, soft words, they did nothing to reassure her. The way she had fluttered down off of his bed with that dejected look only made that birth of uncertainty turn into an aching pain in his chest that had nothing to do with his sickness.

Ahiru felt useless - another feeling he knew and recognized all too well.

That had been the final straw for Fakir. Her light was a brightness that she bared openly, and it had dimmed so far that she hadn't even tried to hide it any longer. He couldn't watch that sunshine become clouded over into gray and gloomy skies. He couldn't let this happen to her.

And so, he'd done it. He still isn't certain of just how he did, as that night had come after so many frustrations and failures, to the point that he had spilled his tears - as well as his heart - into the paper, but his own written words brought her back into humanity by some miraculous chance.

As if re-birthed with the girl herself, that once-dimming sun practically glowed with a fierce intensity from every pore in her body. It was like she had never been closed or fading at all.

That is why Fakir only had to look, to glance in her direction, and he instantly remembered that no matter what darkened the path, no matter what dreadful thoughts tried to creep into his conscience about what he had done, no matter how he had gone against the current of reality itself...

It was worth it. Her light, her hope, her entire self, was boundless and it was something that she shared with the world around her. Fakir would have sworn that the town itself became more alive when she returned with her head of ridiculously bright red hair and smiles for everyone. The baker would laugh with fond amusement when she tripped over herself to try his new bread. The widow who owned the diner on the far side of town waved from the deck whenever they walked by. The students at the Academy welcomed her back as though she'd never left.

She gave a little light to the hearts of every person she met.

And if the darkness came, if problems arose, they would work it out - not he, but they. Fakir believed in her and in the hope she carried with her and shared with him by extension - he had faith in their ability to overcome all obstacles.

He had been mistaken before, when he spoke to her in the deep waters of Despair. The future was not something to be shaped and constricted into a set form and path. The future was ahead of them and as wide as the open sky above. And Ahiru's wings would carry her. Whether she was in the form of a duck, a girl, or Princess Tutu, she soared in a way that no other bird could match.

Ahiru flew with the wings of her heart. And as long as he stayed by her side, Fakir felt that he too, could fly. All he had to do was spread his own wings and join her.

There was good in the world. There was kindness. There were smiles. There was simply too much to let fear keep your feet glued to the ground. And most of all, for Fakir, there was a girl with endless blue eyes as wide and bright as the sky who brought true light into his once-dismal life.

Her happiness was his happiness.

A/N: And that's it! This one was definitely meant to be an uplifting littl fic, so I hope it it achieved that to some extent! I really enjoyed writing it, despite staying up ridiculously late to do so.

And I have a special request (Or perhaps it's more like a mission!). To everyone reading this: We all have a light inside of us, I believe. Today (whatever day you are reading this), make it a priority to share your light with someone else. Anyone. A family member, a friend, a loved one, or even a stranger - give them a kind word, tell them how much they mean to you, anything to shed just a little bit more light into their world. In this day and age, I think everyone could use that. Let's all be a part of sharing it. (And if you have a story regarding this request, by all means, please share it!)

I hope you all have a wonderful day.

Thank you for reading!