Another ballet story, another challenge. This was written for the third Fireplace Writing Challenge, and is based on Pierre Lacotte's Ondine, which was created for the Mariinsky Ballet in 2006. On the Mariinsky Theatre's website, there is a ballet section, which has the ballet company's repertoire. On my profile, I have a link to the synopsis for Ondine. If you don't know the ballet, I suggest that you read the synopsis first, in order to understand the change.

The third Fireplace Writing Challenge is about writing a Butterfly Effect, which will be revealed during the story. As you won't know the Butterfly Effect unless you know the libretto, I strongly suggest you read the synopsis provided by the Mariinsky Ballet.

Disclaimer: I don't own the story/plot/libretto for Lacotte's Ondine, not do I own the characters used in the story.

Matteo watched the simple, delicate rose corsage on Ondine's wrist; it dropped each petal, one by one, as though savoring its final moments. The petals, left on the floorboards, blackened slowly.

He knew that the rose was important to her. She hadn't ever let it go, not since he had first seen her. Even when she had been posing as a boy, she had it with her. Perhaps that was why he had hated her so much; she had been able to keep something from her past life with her.

"I love you." Ondine's soft voice echoed in the room as she again declared her love for him.

She got up suddenly, leaving the room, although there weren't a lot of places to go on the ship. He sat tiredly, wondering where she had gone, before he spied the ring he had given her. It was sitting the table innocently, as though it had always been there, and he had never given it to her. Like he had never been with Giannina, his ex-fiancé, his former love.

He laid back in his chair a moment longer, trying to figure out why she had taken it off. If anyone knew she had let it go, they wouldn't think she was Giannina, and they'd get rid of her.

He knew how to find her. She left a trail of rose petals behind her; she shouldn't be so hard to find. He looked for each rose-pink, satin-soft petal, thinking that it would lead to her. He thought he knew her so well.

He gasped in dismay as it lead towards the main deck. He leaned over the rail, shading his eyes with one hand, gripping the rail with the other. It took a while, but he saw her, dressed like she had before, floating on the waves.

He felt a pang of loss, for first he had lost Giannina for Ondine. Now, both were gone, no longer a part of his life. He was alone. It was a strange feeling for him now; he had been alone before, but he hadn't been alone for such a long time.

Matteo loved them both. He knew he had loved Giannina, long before he had fallen in love with Ondine. Giannina was a sweet girl, as was Ondine, but Giannina had never told him how much she loved him.

Maybe he was just being stupid. Maybe Giannina loved him, but she was afraid. Maybe Ondine didn't love him, but was just trying to escape from the captivity of love.

This was all wrong. Giannina didn't really love him. She had left him behind for the nymphs, Ondine's sisters, while Ondine had come ashore to be with him, to love him.

"Stop thinking like this," he muttered to himself, as he watched Ondine float in the ocean. "She loves you as much as you love her."

But he knew that if Ondine had really loved him, she wouldn't have come ashore and wreaked such havoc in his life.

Still, he knew he loved her. Maybe she didn't love him as much as she said, because he saw the guilt in her eyes when she looked at the ocean, her sad smile.

Ondine looked uneasy. She was constantly turning around, looking behind her. Her eyes darted back and forth as she followed Matteo off the boat.

"Ondine?" Matteo asked,curiously looking at the young girl, formerly a nymph. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing..." She stared at her shadow when she saw it. Her eyes were wide and afraid, like she had never seen or had a shadow before.

"It's a shadow," Matteo explained. "It follows you."

"Why?" Ondine asked, watching him curiously, her eyes wide.

"I don't know," he admitted. He was, after all, a sailor. He hadn't been trained in anything like this, hadn't learned anything.

He stopped thinking about her. His hands gripped the edge of the ship, the wood cutting into his hands. Even though she had just died, it still hurt him, because he had never felt real, heart-clenching pain. Loosing Giannina, first, hadn't been so bad. He had had Ondine with him; why should he care? But now, without her, he was lost.

It was hard for him to deal with it, only because he hadn't been whole until she came along. Giannina had made him think he was whole, but he wasn't...

Giannina was his first love. He had loved her, knew he had loved her, but was unable to tell her. Proposing hadn't been too hard, he knew. Now he knew why.

Speak of the devil, and the devil shall appear. And so it happened. She was there, now, just sitting on the beach, swinging her legs in the water. She was dressed in a soft, blue dress, smiling happily as she watched the waves. He approached her cautiously; he didn't really care much for ghosts, but how was he to know she was alive?

"Giannina?" His voice was soft, careful.

"Matteo!" She ran to him, hugging him tightly and holding him close.

As her arms encircled him, he felt happier than he had been without Ondine. Ondine was his second love, after Giannina.

With Giannina back, he didn't know who he loved anymore, or who he was going to marry.

"Giannina!" His mother's sharp voice cut through the silence, which had begun only moments before.

"Hello," she replied respectfully.

"Why are you standing there, Matteo? Go! We must prepare for the wedding!" At least that answered his question.

His eyes followed Giannina, who was, in turn, following his mother. Maybe he knew who he really loved.

Maybe he was complete, centered. Maybe he was whole.

Ondine glared at her friends as she "flew" through the ocean, trying to get rid of them. They had saved her from death, not knowing that she now welcomed it.

They didn't know how much she had changed. And now that she was different, they couldn't figure out why.

Ondine had always been carefree, a cheerful flirt. Now that she had fallen in love, she couldn't be the same.

Matteo completed her. She had been empty, never knowing it until she met him. Without him, she was nothing.

Thank you for reading.