Note: I honestly don't know how long this little story of mine is going to go - talk about making it up as you go! But every now and again I just get an urge to write, so we'll see how this turns out.
The Story's Only Just Begun
"I love you, Fakir..."
Fakir reached for her, but no matter how fast he ran, he couldn't quite seem to reach her...
"Duck! Don't go!"
Fakir came awake with a gasp, his hands still half-reaching out for the girl in his dream, when he noticed Duck perched on the bedpost, quacking at him. Apparently she had been trying to get his attention for some time. A quick glance at the clock over the mantel showed it was just after seven. Time to get up and begin his daily chores.
"Five more minutes," he grumbled, turning and burying his face in the pillow. Duck gave a huffy quack and stormed off.
For a few moments, he thought she'd gone back outside and closed his eyes again, trying to recapture the dream he'd been having.
And she'd been saying something...
With a startled yell, Fakir lunged away from the unexpected sound, got tangled up in his sheets, and fell to the floor with a thud and a muffled curse. When he finally managed to extricate himself, he looked up and saw Uzura standing on his bed looking down at him, with Duck nonchalantly perched on top of her head.
"Duck says it's time to get up zura!" Uzura announced brightly, banging on her drum once again.
"Why you little..." Fakir growled, struggling to his feet and glaring down at them both.
"QUACK!" Duck stood up on Uzura's head and gave him her best wide-eyed innocent look.
"Duck says don't be mad zura!"
"Don't be mad?! You just scared ten years off my life-" He paused, then blinked. "Uzura, what do you mean, 'Duck says don't be mad'?"
"Duck says don't be mad zura!" Uzura repeated, staring up at Fakir.
"You... can understand Duck?" His eyes went from Uzura to the little duck on top of Uzura's head, watching him with wide blue eyes. "Duck, when did you and I first meet?"
Duck tilted her head and gave him a confused look, but began quacking in response.
"Duck says when you were being mean zura!"
Fakir's legs gave out and he sat on the floor with a thump.
"But... how? How is this possible?"
Uzura watched him with unblinking eyes, but Fakir ignored her, his mind racing. He knew that somehow Karon had worked a miracle in even creating Uzura from the remains of Edel, but this was beyond anything he or Duck had ever seen Uzura do.
"Did... did Autor do this, too? Or did I...?"
He stared down at his hands, still showing the faint inkstains from his writing efforts the day before.
As he mulled over this new revelation during breakfast, he noticed that Duck was watching him intently. While part of him was thrilled that Duck at least had some way now of expressing herself, another part of him was just horrendously depressed at the reinforcement of all Duck had lost.
Duck gave an odd little frown, then she flapped her wings so that she landed on the table. Lifting up her wings, she began dancing like the ballerina she had once been, but in mid-pirouette, her webbed feet slipped on the newly polished table, and she slid right off the edge to land on the floor in a heap.
That startled a laugh out of Fakir, which was quickly checked as he bent down to make sure Duck hadn't hurt herself with her fall.
"What did you do that for?"
"Quack!" She tilted her head, giving him the martyred look he so often had given her in the past.
"Duck says you should laugh more zura."
"Give me one good reason why I should," he grumbled, staring moodily into his coffee.
"Duck says that you're handsomer when you smile zura."
Fakir blushed, and Duck gave a laughing little quack.
Later on that afternoon, Fakir went to sit by the pond and write for a little while. Uzura tagged along, and watched as Duck swam happily on the water. Fakir, however, had to explain to Uzura for the umpteenth time that throwing water at Duck wasn't going to turn her back into a girl.
"But why not zura?"
"Because she doesn't have the pendant anymore. That's why she has to stay as a duck."
"But that's sad zura."
Fakir sighed. "Yes, Uzura, it is. But that's the way it has to be."
"Duck says stop moping zura."
Fakir shot Duck a glare that he didn't really mean. "You stay out of this!"
"QUACK!" She turned and swam off indignantly, presenting her tailfeathers to Fakir in a decidedly explicit manner.
"I don't think I want to know," Fakir cut her off hurriedly.
Much later that night, Fakir was blowing out his candle to prepare for bed when he looked over and saw Uzura sleeping on her little cot. He glanced over to the corner where Duck's little washtub was and saw her asleep as well, her head under her wing as she slept.
For a moment, he smiled sadly, then he blew out the candle, then he stretched out on his bed. He couldn't get comfortable, though, and he rolled onto his stomach and hid his face in his pillow.
"It's not fair," he whispered to himself. "Where is my happy ending? Why did everyone get one but me?"
Before he could stop himself, he drove his fist into the pillow, striking it again and again as the tears he'd been keeping inside for so long finally began to fall.
The quack was so soft that he wasn't even sure he'd heard it, but the soft warmth of feathers against the back of his neck made him stop hitting the pillow.
He paused before turning around, and saw Duck land lightly on the covers beside him, her own eyes filled with tears.
"Duck says I love you zura."
"What?" He sat bolt upright as his gaze shot to Uzura, who was now sitting up and rubbing her eyes. "What did you just say, Uzura?"
Duck waddled over, stretched out her wings, and put them as far as she could around Fakir's waist, which wasn't all that far.
"Quack..." she said again, and Uzura looked at Fakir.
"Duck says I love you zura."
Abruptly he was aware of Duck nuzzling her beak against his cheek, and he looked down at her in surprise.
"What are you doing?"
"Duck says don't cry zura."
Fakir reached up and felt tears on his cheeks, then giving in to impulse, he scooped Duck up in his arms and held her close.
"Sorry, I just couldn't help it."
"Duck says it's okay zura."
For a long time they sat there, holding one another, then he felt Duck poke her beak against his chest and look up at him expectantly.
"What?" he asked her.
"Duck says you're forgetting something zura."
"Forgetting something? Like what?"
Uzura blinked. "Duck says you're an idiot zura."
Fakir laughed for what felt like the first time in ages, falling onto his back and holding Duck to his chest. "Oh... I love you, too, Duck."
"Quack." Duck leaned her head against his chest in satisfaction.
"Are you going to be all lovey-dovey with Duck zura?"
"Shut up!" Then he stopped, and getting up off the bed, still holding Duck, he walked over to Uzura's cot and hugged her.
"Never mind, Uzura. You can say whatever you want."
"Duck says you say that now zura..."
To be continued...