Title: "Tabula Rasa"
Author: Wish Wielder
Fandom: Puchi Puri Yucie
Claim / Pairing / Character Focus: General Cast (Amphi / Gurenda)
Challenge: Fanfic 100
Theme / Prompt: #71 (Broken)
Word Count: 3,926
Rating: K/ PG
Summary: He asked her to forget, and that's exactly what she planned to do.
Notes: Set a bit after the end of the show, after they've all grown up nice 'n proper. Focusing on Gurenda's feelings for the froggy prince, 'cause I really don't think she got rid of her feelings that quickly.
Disclaimer: "Puchi Puri Yucie" and all respective properties are © Takami Akai. Meg D. (Wish Wielder) does not, has never, nor will ever own "Puchi Puri Yucie".
"And even though it never worked, I still feel love for you."
- Vertical Horizon, "Sunrays and Saturdays"
Lying to others is easy. It's lying to yourself that's the tricky part.
Even with someone as overbearing as Yucie, enough answers of "I'm fine, really!" will eventually convince her. Sure, she'll still worry, but for the most part she'll back off. It's just how things went; she cared, but she was as thick as bricks. The others were easier to lie to, but she knew it wasn't because they didn't care as much. The five of them were like sisters; surviving something as monstrous as the Eternal Tiara can do that to a girl.
No, they just respected her boundaries more. Kokoru would worry, yes, but she was too timid to ever say anything about it. She would discuss it with Beth, and Beth would assure her she had nothing to worry about. As for the Fairy girl, she would never make much of it. Of all of them, she knew what it meant to have something you needed to deal with on your own. Erumina would be as impassive as ever; she would worry, but she would never let you know.
And Yucie, that over-energetic ball of joy, would worry. She would ask her, when no one else was around, just what was bothering her, but she would sooner tell her father (yeah, like that would ever happen…). So, after another quiet refusal, she would go to Arc, and Arc would listen and be encouraging before telling her that she needed to give her her space. Arc wasn't directly part of their group, but he was close enough thanks to Yucie.
Still, when it all came down to it, she just didn't know how to tell them. As far as she knew, Erumina had never been in this kind of situation. Yucie had had Arc since they were kids, and she knew nothing would be able to come tear those two apart. Beth and Kokoru – while still in denial for the most part – were practically joined at the hip, so they couldn't even sympathize. In reality, she was all alone in this.
You see, she loved someone – a prince. And he loved her. He had even asked her to marry him. And though she had only known him for a few days, she had been ready to say yes. There was just one tiny hitch, and for most people it would probably have been nothing, but…not for her. Her prince was a frog, and while he could turn into a human he liked being a frog. He was born a frog, and he thought human forms were disgusting. His name was Amphi, and they had met when he had come to town searching for a cure to a curse that had been placed on his sister. He had turned himself into a human to make traveling easier, and that's how she had met him. He was human, and she had fallen in love with the human.
A few days may not seem like long enough time to fall for someone so hard, but that's what happened. From the moment he first smiled at her, wedding bells were sounding off in her head. She had known he was the one; she had even told her father about him (causing him to come rushing to prevent his precious baby girl from ever marrying). She had known, and she had loved knowing. She had laughed at Yucie that night at the beach, mocking her for how gaga she had gotten over Arc, but really she had been jealous. And then Amphi had shown up, and it was bliss.
And as soon as it came, it left. She made the cure, he healed his sister, and they both turned into frogs – poof! – right before her eyes. She could face hordes of monstrous demons and not once break a sweat. She could turn people to cinders, not once feeling a pang of remorse for their loss. She could face the world and conquer it all, and never once feel the teensiest shiver of fear.
But she could not, for the life of her, face a frog.
She couldn't even say why. Maybe she had had a traumatic childhood experience with one of the slimy green demons. Maybe one had tried to eat her. She didn't know what caused it, but she knew it was there, a deep, almost irrational psychological fear of frogs. She couldn't stand them, and she could never be near one.
She had learned how a heart breaks in that briefest glimpse of time. When he had taken her hands in his own tiny, green ones, asking her to be his bride, she had snapped. She had screamed in denial, tossing both him and his sister out of the window. She had heaved, screaming and shaking and trying her best to breathe as the world crashed around her. And then she had left, choosing to just walk for as long as it took. Her friends had followed her, concerned, but she wouldn't talk to them. How could they ever understand?
It wasn't even that the man she had loved turned out to be a frog, the one thing in all the worlds she hated. No, that could be understandable.
What they would never understand – what she knew they would never, ever understand – was that she still loved him. After throwing him half-way to Hell and screaming that she hated his tiny green self, she still loved him. And the truly amazing thing?
She knew he still loved her, too.
He had been at the concert her friends and she had put on as part of their Platina Curriculum. He had been there with his sister, jumping up and down in the audience near Yucie's pet friend Mokorin, cheering her on. He had even sent her a present for her graduation. She had been shocked to see the tiny gold statue of him, though it had made her glad to know he still remembered her. She had brushed it off as an old wound when Beth had inquired about it, and as far as they knew it was in a trash heap somewhere, or even melted down for other trinkets. They didn't know it was in her room, tucked away in the drawer of her nightstand. They didn't know she held it close every night as she slept, imagining that – just for one night – he would be beside her, fully human with no traces of his froggy past.
No, that was something they could never, ever know. If she could have it her way, that is. She knew they'd probably figure it out on their own. Some of them were good at things like that. She knew Yucie wouldn't, though, so for the time being she was ok with it. If Yucie figured it out she'd have a problem; Yucie loved to meddle even more than she should when relationships are involved.
And as her thoughts were drawn back to her bubbly friend she found herself sighing. She paused in her stirring of the viscous goop in the black cauldron before her, and she found herself watching the lazy bubbles plip and plop against the surface. It was unsteady and almost reckless, much like herself. In an ironic kind of way, Yucie was the same way. Yet where her rash streak came from demonic roots and a lifetime of being worshipped as the perfect princess, Yucie's almost foolhardy actions sprung from pure emotion and a heart way too big for anyone to safely have. They were both spitfires, roiling under a deceptively calm surface and likely to go off at any moment. Just like her current potion.
Maybe that's what made it so easy for Yucie to see through her. Maybe that's what made it so easy for Yucie to see through everyone.
The bell over the door jangled as a stream of murky, evening streetlight swept into the Magic Shop. She stood straighter and returned to her stirring, trying to appear as professional and commanding as possible.
"We're closed," she said. "Or will be soon, so be quick about whatever it is you want, got it?"
"How quick will a talk be?" the customer asked, and Gurenda looked up to see Arc standing across her cauldron, arms folded over his chest and curious eyes staring down into her brew. She frowned as her stirring paused again.
"What are you doing here?" she asked. He kept his eyes trained on the potion, shrugging slightly.
"Can't a guy stop by for a chat?" he asked. She raised a brow and leaned on the ladle she had been using to stir. She gave him a sneaky grin, and he frowned as he glanced up at her. "What?"
"Normally, sure, but not you," she said. "What's really going on?"
"Well, you've been acting weird lately, and -" he started, and she sighed.
"And Yucie wanted you to come and pry me for information because she knew I'd never talk to her if she did it," she said. "Well what makes her think I'd be any more willing to talk to you, huh?"
"I'm more detached than the others," he said, shrugging. "You could tell me and know that I probably won't be telling them."
"That's a lie and you know it," she said, picking up her stirring to distract herself from the annoyance that made her want to take the ladle and slam it down over the prince's head. "You'd have to tell Yucie by unofficial couples' law."
"And if I told you I was just worried myself and had no attachment to Yucie or anyone else? That I just wanted to make sure you were ok because Yucie keeps saying how distracted and miserable you look?" he asked. She paused and looked down, her eyes flashing a glimpse of some indescribable pain for the briefest of moments.
"I'd say you were a terrible liar," she said stiffly. He sighed and looked back to the potion, biting his lip.
"Well, it's a mix of the two," he said. "What's really going on, Gurenda? You can't lie and brush it off as nothing - too many people are noticing now."
"What if I didn't want to talk about it?" she asked. He threw his eyes skyward, biting back the annoyed snap she knew he wanted to toss her way.
"Stop the mind games, Gurenda," he finally said. "Is it something with your father?"
"Of course not - I can handle that old disgrace!" she said, laughing slightly.
She tensed, though she wasn't entirely sure why. What was that in his voice? Concern? Yes, obviously, but it was a mix of something else, too. What made him care so much? She was just a friend - and a semi-distant friend at that! What did he care if she was treading the millions of tiny shards her heart had burst into almost a year ago? What did he care if she was still pining for some frog?
"A…Amphi," she said after a long moment, and his eyes widened.
"The prince of the Frog Kingdom?" he asked, and she hesitated only once before nodding. He frowned. "Yucie said you hated frogs, though - that you hated him!"
"Yeah, well, she's wrong, ok?!" she snapped, her arms working faster as her agitation grew. Arc frowned, showing - as she knew would happen - he didn't understand.
"I don't get it," he said, confirming her hunch. She sighed and stopped, looking down at the slow boil of the potion.
"How could you?" she finally asked. "How could any of you? You all have someone that you can be with. You'd never understand – you have Yucie, and you're always gonna have her. I…you wouldn't know, Arc, but when you love someone so much that all you can do is think about them, and then they're taken from you…you can't forget that feeling overnight. Do you have any idea how long it takes for a broken heart to heal?"
She saw him look down, and he sighed. He finally shook his head, not bothering to look up at her. She had got him, and for once she knew he didn't know how to respond.
"No," he said. She smiled slightly.
"Too bad," she said, continuing her stirring. "I would have liked to know. It would make the wait for it easier."
But he wasn't leaving, even though she considered the topic closed. He struggled for a moment, maybe trying to think of something to validate an argument he was trying to form. But what could he argue her with? What could he say to make any of it better?
"Gurenda," he started, continuing only once she had looked up at him, providing her undivided attention. "Don't do this to yourself. You're right – I can't possibly know what you're going through. Not first hand, but I've seen it. I've seen people in your situation, and I've seen what that unattainable love does to them. I've watched them waste their life away in misery because of some stupid mistake in their past keeping them apart.
"Don't let yourself get like that, Gurenda," he finally said, and her grip tightened on the wood. "Don't let yourself turn into one of them. Just…it would be better for you if you just forgot him."
Satisfied with his reasoning, and apparently thinking his mission complete, he gave her a nod and walked to the door, opening it to a hazy purple prenight glittering above the rooftops. He paused once more, looking back to her in a moment of hesitance as he said, "Please, at least try to forget him." Then he was gone, and she was left to her brewing.
With a sigh, she released the ladle and turned to the table behind her. She ran a hand along the aged tome spread open before her, and her frown deepened as she read over the final instructions.
"Don't worry, Arc," she said, her hand lingering over the silvery script. "That's exactly what I plan to do."
- W –
The next day was the happiest she had had in a while. There was a new bounce to her step, a new hope twinkling in her eye. She knew – by the end of the day – everything would be better. It couldn't not be.
The others noticed, too; she knew they did. None of them came right out and said it, but they all seemed relieved. Yucie wouldn't stop hounding her, babbling about nonsense for most of the day. The sentiment amused her, to a certain extent, but for the most part just annoyed her. At the end of the day, she had grabbed her hand and had tugged her towards town, asking her to join her on her job. She was working back at the kindergarten, a job she was rather fond of thanks to Rina and Puck. But she just shook her head and declined, telling her she had some more business to finish at the Magic Shop.
"Ugh, that old place? All right, I suppose…but you have to come tomorrow, ok? The kids really miss you!" she had said before running off. She had just smiled at that before waving off the others and heading towards the shop.
Arc hadn't been too far off when he had asked her to forget Amphi. When time's natural course proved too long a wait for her aching heart, she had begun to delve into the realms of the magical. It wasn't long before she found just what she was looking for, a nifty little potion under the header "Tabula Rasa". The title literally translated into "Blank Mind", and its sole purpose was to make its user – or whoever it was cast on – forget. What they forgot was up to whoever was casting the spell, but in her case it was love – or the lack thereof.
She had actually gotten the idea from the Great Magician after the Final Scene. If Magazerent could seal up Yucie's memories of them, why couldn't she – someone just as competent in the field of magicks – seal up her memories of Amphi? Even better, why couldn't she just erase them?
It was a risky plot, she knew, but she had no other options.
It was early afternoon when she arrived at the Magic Shop, but thanks to the surrounding buildings the alley was just as dark and foreboding as ever. She loved it; it helped to add to the shop's mystique and give the faint-hearted that certain sense of danger that scared away anyone not serious enough to accept the consequences of their meddling. Being a demon, magic came natural to her, and as it came natural to her she knew better than anyone the dark roads it could lead you down. Magic was always a risk, one that shouldn't be taken unless all other options had been exhausted.
Or unless you were reckless, just like her.
She pushed the door open and stepped into the shop, smiling as the familiar scents of herbs and preserves blasted her senses. The musty odors of magical ingredients and stewing potions was a comfort, one that was only increased as she stepped around the counter to see her cauldron still simmering where she had left it. She glanced at the spellbook, still open on the back table, and she nodded. Everything was ready.
Once she had a lull in customers – which wasn't too long, as it was turning out to be a very slow day – she went back to the cauldron and looked inside. She took a breath and pulled out a small vile, and with another she scooped out some of the potion with the ladle and poured it into the glass. She held it before her, studying it intensely. It was a bright blue, as electric as the sky and shining with a faint glow. It was thin yet consistent; no bubbles could be found, no matter how hard she looked. It seemed so innocent, but she knew, given the wrong incentive, it could be devastating.
And really, that's just what she needed: a little devastation.
She turned from the door, her face solemn as she continued to hold the potion before her. It was extended to arm's length, though she wasn't really looking at it anymore. Her eyes scanned the page in the book, searching for the incantation. The potion granted no memory, but the spell was the trick of the thing; without the spell, the potion was likely to wipe her entire mind.
"Healers of me, hear my plea. Healers of me, hear my plea," she read, her voice heavy and solid. "Break the bonds and churn the mind, erasing heart and thought and time. Hear the plea of spell sublime, and wash away the thoughts you find. Healers of me, hear my plea. Healers of me, hear my plea."
She took another steadying breath, bringing her eyes up to rest on the glowing vile. With a final, steadying breath, she whispered, "Please…let me forget him."
The potion was nearly to her lips when the voice cut through the room, sounding terrified and confused and hopeless all in one.
She whirled around, the vile slipping from her hand in her surprise. Her eyes shot open as she saw him, and a strangled gasp tore from her throat. It was impossible. It couldn't be happening – and now, of all times. How could her mind torture her like this?
There he stood in the doorway, outlined by the gloom of the alley beyond. His pastel eyes were marred with confusion, and his face – framed by that gorgeous sandy hair of his – was torn with the same emotion. His hand was gripping the doorknob tightly, as if to steady his shaking body.
And it was a body – a human body! No tiny, green frog shape. No slime or bumps, or bulging black eyes. No high-pitched, croaky voice. Just Amphi, as she had met him that first day, only looking like she had just ripped his heart out.
"What are you doing?" he asked, taking a step forward. She took a step back, an action of pure instinct, shaking her head at him.
"What am I doing? What are you? What have you done?" she asked, confusion and fear mixing with her hope and joy. And there it was, back all the stronger. There was love.
"I…I couldn't do it, Gurenda," he said, looking down. Her arms drooped, the defensive position they had taken melting away with them. "It took time, but….I'm human now, Gurenda. For good. For you."
"But you loved being a frog!" she cried, stepping forward. He looked up at her, smiling slightly.
"Not as much as I loved you," he said, and she bit her lip. She hesitantly walked around the counter and over to him, placing a hand on his cheek as she stopped.
"But…your kingdom…" she said, and he smiled, taking her hand in his own.
"I have a sister," he said. "She'll be fine. They don't need me."
"Amphi…" she whispered, her heart ripping at the gravity of his sacrifice.
"Will I do, Gurenda?" he asked. "Can you say yes, now that I'm like this?"
"How can you be ok with this, Amphi?" she asked. "How can you give up so much for me? I'm so horrible for this…how can you love me knowing I can only accept you like this? Like you weren't meant to be?"
"Lots of fairy tales tell of frog princes becoming human for the women they love," he said, shrugging.
"But they were human to begin with, placed under a curse!" she shot back. He smiled, his light eyes taking on a certain twinkle.
"Is that how you humans tell it?" he asked, and she laughed. It felt good to laugh again – to laugh with him again.
"I'm so sorry, Amphi," she finally said, and he shrugged.
"I don't mind so much," he said. "So…"
"So," she said, and she smiled at him, taking a step closer. His smile turned from sheepish to confident – gentle and loving – and with a laugh she threw her arms around his neck, her squeals increasing as he picked her up and twirled her round. It felt good to be a girl sometimes.
He settled her down, and before she could say or do anything more he was kissing her. And that part of her, that part that had been dead for so long, burst back to the front of her mind in an explosion of fireworks and something she could describe as nothing short of magic. She grinned at him as he pulled back, her eyes dazed from the unadulterated feeling of mirth.
"I love you, Gurenda," he said. She bit her lip, her mouth threatening to split her face in its urge to grin like a fool.
"I love you, too, Amphi," she said. "And yes. I say yes."
He grinned and swept her into a hug, and she laughed as she felt his lips press against cheek. Her mind barely registered the simmering cauldron and open spellbook behind the counter, though the part that remembered the memory spell suddenly didn't care for it anymore. With him there, holding her and kissing her and loving her for the messed up fool she was, she didn't need it anymore. All she needed was him, and for the first time in almost a year, that was perfectly ok.
A.n.: Hee….I really enjoyed this one. Ok, yes, I did get the idea for a memory spell called "Tabula Rasa" from Buffy, but if my fellow Scoobies will remember that involved some crystals and a fireplace – not a potion. Really, what made me think of it first (which is so rare where Buffy's concerned) is the politics behind the phrase. The Tabula Rasa ("Blank Mind") theory of governmental philosophy.
Anyway, I like the Levi/Gurenda pairing a bit more than Amphi/Gurenda, but I still enjoyed this. It was nice toying with some PPY charas other than Arc and Yucie (and boy am I sure they're glad of it! xP), and I think this little break has got me out of my block for the other Arc/Yucie ficlets I need to finish.
And yes, this does start my unofficial Fanfic 100 claim of PPY. What can I say? When it comes to thememunities, I'm starting to like the unofficial way of claiming things. A lot more relaxed, y'know? xD