This little story was written for the Secret Santa Exchange on the Princess Tutu communtiy over at LiveJournal. So this goes out to my giftee... I hope you enjoy it, and Happy Holidays. :o)

This takes place after the anime has ended. And, as always, as wonderful as Princess Tutu is, it does not, nor ever will, belong to me.


Waking

Ahiru woke slowly. The sun was warm on her body, gently waking her up like usual. Fakir always kept the curtains open during the night. Whether it was letting in the moonlight and starlight, or the bright sunshine in the morning, it always made the room look bigger and, he had thought, let in a little bit more of the nature Ahiru in her duck form might crave.

Despite what they had tried at first, neither had been content to keep Ahiru out of doors. She had been a human too long, still had too many human emotions and standards, it seemed, to stay out all night and sleep beside the pond. Her time as a human had ruined her; she was neither completely duck, nor completely human.

For five years they had lived together. And as time wore on, Ahiru had found herself abandoning the tiny pillow Fakir had put on the windowsill for her. Instead, every night she had sat next to Fakir in his bed as he read through manuscripts of what he had written or stories he had borrowed from the library.

The first night she had fallen asleep on his bed was still vivid in her memory.

Fakir had stayed up until all hours of the night, pouring over an old, tattered book from the library. It was written in an old language Ahiru couldn't read, and she was too weary that night to try to crawl up onto the pillows behind Fakir's back and peak over his shoulder to try to read what he was so intent upon. It was getting colder out, and her tiny form was more affected by the cold. So she lay huddled on the bed, perhaps too close to Fakir, but not really caring as long as she was warm.

She had inadvertently fallen asleep, and when she had woken up it was to the morning sun gently prying her eyelids opened. She had ruffled her feathers, gently quacked, and gazed around at the room with half-closed eyes. When she realized where she was, however, she froze.

Fakir was asleep, curled up right next to her.

There had been a moment of panic, but after her heart had stopped racing and a very-human blush had risen to her face, she had calmed down. Fakir looked peaceful in sleep. His brow was no longer creased in worry or contemplation. His lips were softer, somehow, and even though there was still a slight downward curve to his lips, it was softer. Less disappointed.

And so Ahiru had stayed, curled up next to the writer and watched him until his eyes had slid slowly open, his gaze not really focused on anything before falling upon her tiny form. Her head titled sideways, a small apologetic quack escaping her.

Fakir took it rather well. After the blush had disappeared for finding Ahiru in his bed in the morning, staring at him as he woke up, he sat up slowly, sputtered something about breakfast, and climbed out of bed.

Despite the nerves of the two that first morning, ever since then Ahiru had shared Fakir's bed, either sitting on his pillow or curled up near his chin or stomach. They had grown comfortable with each other like that, and if Ahiru's heart grew more and more pained as each morning and night went by, falling asleep and waking up next to the man that she could never truly talk to, well then, so be it. This would have to be enough.

Thus, upon waking, Ahiru sighed, the familiar pang in her chest reminding her that she still had too many human habits and emotions left over from her time as a human. But I'm here, she reminded herself. I'm with Fakir. That's all that matters.

Stretching muscles still stiff with sleep, Ahiru yawned. She smiled, in a sleepy daze, when she felt her back give a satisfying pop, her muscles relaxing as she drifted bonelessly back into Fakir's mattress. She chuckled, turning her nose into the scent of Fakir's pillow and breathing in deep. It smelled like him; spring grass and water and ink.

Ahiru froze. Her back had cracked?

Ahiru's eyes flew open, her heart nearly stopping. Fakir's face was even with hers, his eyes still closed even as the sun started to creep up to his chin. But Ahiru's head was on its side, and it couldn't have been if she was still a duck.

Trembling now, Ahiru raised what she thought was a wing, only to find five fingers meeting her gaze. She moved the muscles in her hand and saw the fingers waggle back and forth.

"Oh… what…"

Fakir sighed, and Ahiru froze. Quickly, she looked down, and saw her fears had been realized. She was naked. Completely and utterly stark naked.

Before Ahiru could move, Fakir's arm came up, jerked suddenly at the contact he made with her bare hip. Ahiru couldn't move. Maybe he'd just go back to sleep. Yeah, that was it… he'd go back to sleep. But she knew it was useless. Once Fakir woke up, he never went back to sleep.

Fakir's eyes opened just a crack, and Ahiru could only stare. She wasn't even breathing.

A groan was forced out of Fakir's throat, just as his eyes closed again.

"Not this dream again," he muttered, and Ahiru almost sputtered her surprise.

Dream? Again?

And then a hand was flowing over her hip, tugging, and she found herself pressed against Fakir's body. He sighed, and his breath ruffled the hair on the top of her head. Ahiru held herself ram-rod straight, her hands fisted between Fakir's body and her own. His body was warm, though, and despite her panic she found that this wouldn't have been all that bad if she wasn't stark naked. And wondering how she'd turned back into a girl.

Fakir, though, didn't seem to care at all. Ahiru might have found it funny, that the normally stoic writer had been able to casually reach across the bed and tug a naked duck-turned-girl across the blankets to snuggle against his side. But she was too dazed at being human again, on Fakir's bed, in Fakir's arms, with Fakir sleepily muttering something about dreams, to really give humor any thought.

Her thoughts spun in circles as she lay there. It felt like hours, but it could have been no more than a few minutes. No more time than it took for the sun to move completely over Fakir's form, warming their bodies as they lay so close together. The heat, after all, couldn't only have been the heat of her blush or the heat from Fakir's body.

After a few moments Fakir stirred. His hand flexed where it was still lightly gripping her hip. His body shuffled closer to Ahiru's. Ahiru pulled her head back, enough to see his face. His eyes were still closed. She sucked in a slow breath, held it, and tried to slide her body out of his grasp. Then his eyebrows twitched, pulled down in consternation, and his eyes flickered open.

Ahiru saw the moment when dreams faded out of his eyes. It was followed slowly by confusion, then surprise, and then a dawning horror. His eyes flickered down, and his face turned as red as she'd ever seen it.

The next moment he was sitting up, and she was rolling away, and both seemed to be uttering some expletives or quack-like-sounding yells of confusion, respectively, as they fell to the ground on opposite sides of the bed.

"Ahiru?" His voice cracked with sleep, and she risked a peek over the edge of the bed where she was huddled on the floor. The bed was a mess now, the quilt thrown half-off the bed and the pillows scattered from their hasty leaps off the mattress. But she clearly saw Fakir glancing over the other side of the bed.

"Fakir?"

"Why are you in human form? How are you in human form?!"

She paused at the wonder that crept through the panic that colored his voice. "I didn't do anything!" At least, she didn't think she had.

"What-? How-?" He seemed at a loss for words suddenly.

"I don't know how this happened!"

She frantically rifled through her memory of last night. Fakir was scratching at a story on his bed. She had known it was a new one because he always got the little crease in his forehead when he started a new story. It had been late when he'd started on the story, and she'd been too tired to see what the new story was about. She drifted in and out of sleep, watching him. It wasn't long before she noticed his focus was drifting away from the story. His eyelids had been drifting shut as he lost the battle to sleep, but his hand was still moving, still writing the words of the story. She'd pecked lightly at his hand before he'd noticed he was falling asleep. He'd mumbled something she didn't quite catch, tossed the story onto the floor beside the bed with barely a cursory glance, and blown out the candle on his bedside table. And she'd fallen asleep nestled against his shoulder.

"All I did last night was fall asleep," she said. "In duck form. I didn't do anything wr-" She stopped.

Fakir watched as her eyes grew wide.

"Fakir… what did you write last night?"

It looked as if his every muscled snapped taught as her words sunk in.

"Fakir?"

His head disappeared, and she heard the wrinkling of paper as he rifled through the papers on the floor where he'd dumped them last night before blowing out the candle and falling asleep.

His muttered curse had her craning her neck to see his form over the bed.

"Fakir?"

And then there were pages flying through the air, over the bed. Ahiru grabbed one that fluttered within reach and scanned the page. Her face turned pale, then red. As her shock started to fade away she tore her eyes from the page, let it drop to the bed before glancing at Fakir to see him watching for her reaction.

"You wrote a story about me." Her words were barely a whisper.

"I was half-asleep. I didn't know what I was writing."

Ahiru continued to stare at him. As she did, her confusion and shock faded away, to be replaced with a kind of nervous excitement.

"Fakir," she asked after the silence grew heavy between them, "will I turn back into a duck now?"

Fakir's eyes flickered down. "Not in this story. But I can write another one-"

"No!"

And Fakir's face had disappeared again. Ahiru stared at the empty space.

"Fakir?"

"Sit down, idiot!"

She looked down at herself, saw that she was standing. Her quack of surprise was a shock even to her as she crashed to the floor. Her hand flew to her mouth as she realized what she'd said. She opened her eyes a moment later, pulled her hand away from her mouth, and stared at the hand that met her stare. It was a human hand. She really wasn't going to turn into a duck again. At least not by the usual method.

"Ahiru, I can write another story today," Fakir was saying. "Now if you want." She heard the rustling of papers, the scratching of a quill-tip against paper.

"No! Stop!" And she was up again, only this time she was sprawled across the bed, her head dangling over the opposite side with her hand extended, grasping the quill Fakir had poised over the paper. The heat of a blush rose to her face, and she saw Fakir's face beside her own turning rose-red.

"No," she said, less calmly, working past the embarrassment of lying sprawled, naked and human, across Fakir's bed. "Don't write another story, Fakir. I… I want to stay like this."

"You want-" He stopped. He had started to turn to look at her, but froze when he seemed to remember her state of undress. "This is what you want?"

His words were soft, and she heard, for the first time since knowing him, disbelief coloring his voice.

"Yes." She nodded. "This is what I want. And-" She paused. He was still so close to her, his gaze looking at his desk, his chair, the window, anything to keep from falling upon her. "Thank you, Fakir."

If possible, he seemed to turn even redder. Then his eyes closed, and the quill dropped from his grip. Ahiru slowly pulled her hand back. He scoffed, and stood, keeping his eyes closed. Without opening them he started to walk away. And promptly tripped over his desk-chair. Ahiru couldn't stop the laugh that burst out of her, and despite her human form they both realized there were still parts of her that were very duck-like.

Fakir paused for a moment before Ahiru saw him open his eyes just enough to squint.

"Idiot," he mumbled, "get some clothes on."

"I don't have any-"

"Use mine."

"They're too big-"

"Just do it."

"Fakir-"

"What?" He bumped into the door frame before he realized he had shut his eyes again.

She studied him a moment before asking, "What did you mean when you said 'not that dream again'?"

She didn't think he'd ever get the red tint out of his skin. He all but sprinted out of his room. She smiled as she climbed out of bed, opened the chest Fakir kept his clothes in. As she stood and stepped into a pair of brown trousers, Ahiru's hands were less than steady in her excitement. She was human again. To stay this time. Without realizing it, Fakir had written the story she had secretly, desperately wanted. And perhaps he had wanted the same thing.

As she shuffled through the contents of the chest, picked out a shirt she hadn't seen Fakir wear for a while, she heard the banging of a pot on the stove. After a moment she heard him call from the kitchen, announcing breakfast. She slipped the shirt over her head, turned to the door, and sprinted through the hallway leading to the kitchen. She stopped in the doorway, watching as Fakir put not one, but two plates onto the table.

"Are you going to eat or not?" Fakir asked when she didn't move. She glanced up, met his eyes, and his face turned red again. "Or would you prefer bread instead?"

He was mocking her, she knew, but she scrambled to sit, almost overturning the pitcher of water on the table.

"You haven't changed at all," he muttered, but when she looked up there was no trace of a frown on his face. He wasn't smiling either, but that alone told her all she needed to know. She smiled, and when his blush returned she laughed. Being a girl again was going to be fun.