Ahiru stared at the ravens around her. Her friends, teachers, classmates… All minions for the raven to use as he saw fit. It hurt, it hurt so much, deep in her heart. And then a thought crawled into her head, forcing its way to the front of her mind. Wouldn't it just be easier to just let him win? She was a duck, there was no point in fighting anymore. She did more than anyone could have expected of her. She would still be a bird, but this might be an improvement. She'd be just like everyone else this time. She'd fit in and maybe, maybe for once she wouldn't be made fun of or questioned. Maybe she could just let go and be.
Rue, Mytho, and Fakir all felt it as the small golden duck let her mind be taken and turned into that of a raven's. Mytho turned to see the change happen. Where a golden duck had stood poised and ready to fight, those around her tilted their heads curiously, but without seeming to register that the raven that stood there with a large feather sticking up had been anything but another raven. Mytho felt something change in him. His hope just… died. He fell from his mount of flower petals and plummeted towards the ground. Rue felt her despair take over and wept as she just stopped dancing mid-step. Fakir stopped writing, gasping as pain shot through his heart. It was… Over? Ahiru had just given up?
The Raven wouldn't let the four of them end there though. He made sure that when they weren't paying attention, too distracted by their sudden grief, that they were all turned into intelligent ravens, capable of basic thought, but with locked memories. He called upon his daughter, who had purple markings around his eyes, the writer, a satchel containing quills and books over his shoulder, the prince, wearing a golden crown tilted on his head, and the duck girl, with that huge feather standing up and a braid of feathers trailing down around her knees. The four stood before him, looking at one another in mild curiosity. Soon though, the Raven gave them ideas and memories. The four of them worked as a squad, patrolling the town to make sure that there were no people missed, no raven minions out of line. This was what they had been doing since they were born, it was their specific task. It was all they needed to know; they had no other thoughts.
The Raven woke his special command up earlier than the other ravens. They had a specific task to do and he liked to make sure they met with him on a daily basis at least. He had to tell Ahiru to get up an hour earlier than everyone else to make sure she'd get there on time though. By the time a week was over and Ahiru's clumsiness had managed to stay within her, regardless of her new, sleek form, the Raven wondered how she could have ever thought she could beat him in the first place.
He paired them off and sent them on their way in the morning, letting Ahiru and Fakir wander together in the center of the village, Rue and Mytho patrolling around the edges of the town. They could talk to one another and did sometimes, although it wasn't ever about anything important.
"Did you see that person come in? We have to report it."
"I'll do it; you keep an eye on them."
"I'm hungry, want to take lunch?"
For almost a month this went on with none of them growing any wiser. Ahiru sometimes ate with Pike and Lilie, or got weird looks from Cat, but mostly she ate with her own group. The four of them often ate alone by a lake by the edge of town, far away from the dumber ravens. One day Ahiru was flying down alone after Fakir took the latest person who they found wandering in to the Raven. She landed by the lake and sat with a small basket that contained her lunch, settling down under a tree. She stared out at the lake and sighed, feeling peaceful. While she was sitting there, strange things began to happen.
She could've sworn she saw large orange eyes staring at her from the shadow that a tree made… And a duck who turned into a girl. Then a weird doll offered her a pendant and they went off together. The duck came back and dropped her pendant… And then mist descended and a strange tune began to play. Ahiru tilted her head, listening. Abandoning her food, she stood and walked onto the lake, surprised she hadn't sunk, but at the same time she was not alarmed. She lifted her wings and began to move slowly, thinking that something was missing… but what?
The raven turned and saw Fakir standing there, his satchel on his shoulder as always. She seemed to smile, as muh as ravens could smile, blue birds eyes closing before she offered him the tip of her wing and began to move towards him. Fakir moved back, looking a bit annoyed. But he began to look curious too. Behind Ahiru, he saw odd things. A pink haired girl that was always bothering him, but he stayed close to her anyway. They walked together down a path looking for Mytho and Rue. She danced with Mytho, but they looked different… None of them were birds, but Fakir knew that the raven in front of him was Ahiru, and the white haired boy was Mytho. He watched his own battle with ravens and stared as a doll brought him from the lake to a fire before she told him to use her body as kindling. The stab of jealousy as the pink haired girl talked about loving the Prince.
Annoyed, Fakir grabbed Ahirus's wing and the two ravens danced on the lake, memories swirling around them that neither understood. They weren't ravens, they were trying to fight the Raven. The Raven!
Ahiru's eyes opened and she seemed to change. She stopped, staring at Fakir and seeing him, really seeing him. She suddenly remembered what he had once said while they were in the library and she was trying to read a book. "Pandora unleashed all the evils upon the world, but the worst and last she released was Hope, because Man will always have it and it will always doom him."
Hope… That world played around Ahiru's mind. Something about it made her stop and stare at the raven she was standing with. Fakir… Hope… A story… Rue and Mytho…
A light began to form around Ahiru and she stepped back, shuddering. The feathers that covered her body slowly fell from it, revealing the pink haired, blue eyed girl beneath. Fakir jerked back, the raven in him crying out, but the man in him shushing it. This girl… she was hope… She was Hope! As the girl changed into a duck before him, Fakir changed in front of her. His feathers fell away from him and he picked up Ahiru, holding her to his breast.
"Ahiru, what happened?" Fakir could feel it in his heart though; the hope that had once been lost had finally been restored. Across town, Mytho and Rue felt it returning as well. The warmth that Ahiru gave them, the hope she kept stored inside of her was overflowing, deadly, never ending once more. The two stood, human once more, and walked slowly back towards the town square where their battle had once ended, ready to start it over and win this time.
Fakir stood, holding Ahiru close, and went to his house. He set her down and nodded before he went inside. He began to write, and Ahiru went to finish the battle she had left, knowing that she and her friends wouldn't be tempted to give up again.
A/N: Another bonus story? YES. I was thinking about Ahiru last night and what if she had lost her hope? Well, first I thought about Pandora and that damnable box, THEN I thought of Ahiru. This was just a quick bonus, not very thoughtful or anything, or any real story, just a kind of… don't give up, even when you lost sort of thing? I'll shut up now. The only reason I'm writing so much is because I have nothing at all to do at the moment and I'm stressed. So I write. Even if it tanks. Which I hope this didn't too badly?
2016 A/N ...I still have another old story brewing. I may add it soon, but right now I'm going to sleep. This concludes my 2016 author notes!