A/N: For the lovely Natsuko37, 100th reviewer of This Pendent Heart, who asked for a post-series MythosRue drabble. Thanks, Natsuko!
The first time Kraehe learns to regret her name is when she meets her fairytale prince. He is made of light, all amber and gold.
"What's your name?"
And unlike all the rest of Goldcrown Town, he does not ignore the wild child who belongs to no one and runs unheeded through the streets of Goldcrown Town. He sees her and she is dazzled like a crow that has found something so shining that it wants to hoard it away from the rest of the world.
The first time Rue learns to regret her name is when she crosses swords with his knight.
She is eight and has convinced her prince to run away with her. They will find their bespelled magical kingdom where everyone is waiting for their return and they will be the happiest prince and princess ever and the angry voice and the red eyes will never trouble her again.
But the sun sets and the trees close in and they are still within the walls of the town when Rue, footsore and hungry, has to stop to rest among long forgotten ruins, a scattered arch here a pillar holding up the night sky there.
And that is how Fakir finds them, a scowl on his face and fear in his eyes. He takes one look at Mythos before turning his angry gaze on her, all the while relentlessly tugging Mythos away without a word.
"He's my prince!"
"Stop calling him that! You're going to bring him bad luck!"
"No you are!"
"You are bad luck," the would-be knight growls, leading Mythos away. "Come on, Mythos, you have to get dinner. Charon's waiting for us."
Fakir hunts her down the next day because he has learned never to show fear to ravens or they will steal away all you hold dear.
"See, you are bad luck" he says vindictively. "It says so in this book—rue, noun: sorrow regret pity grief remorse regret bitterly wish something had never taken place." He reads in one quick blur without pause or breath, all the sorrows running together. "That's you! So stay away from Mythos."
Snapping the book shut in her face he turns to leave, but not before she manages to trip him. "I'm bad luck for you, not for Mythos!" she shouts back just as fiercely and stamps away, before he can see her tears. But she can't stop the tears from coming and huddles miserably behind her prince's house, hoping he will find her. She doesn't even care anymore that it is the house of that wretched boy Fakir too, and weeps.
The first time Rue learns there is more than one meaning to her name is when she meets a girl who has two loves.
Raetsel follows the sound of muted sobbing from where she has been puttering in Charon's herb garden to find a little girl around Fakir's age hiding behind a tree.
"Oh Fakir," Raetsel sighs with all the world-weariness of an adolescent girl when she unravels the fury and the tears. "Try not to be too angry with him," she advises.
"He says my name means sadness! That I'll bring the prince bad luck."
"There are different types of knowledge. There's the kind in books and there's the kind here" she adds holding up a flower to her heart. "Fakir doesn't know that difference yet."
But Rue doesn't care for thoughts that aren't black and white like ravens and light. "What flower is that?"
"Pansies, for thoughts," and then the older girl laughs suddenly as if she has remembered something, and striking a self-consciously dramatic pose, she declares,
" 'There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray,
love, remember: and there is pansies. that's for thoughts.'" (1)
In her usual, lilting voice she explains, "I've been practicing that scene forever for the drama club!"
Rue is now more puzzled than ever, wondering how flowers can speak just as words do, but the tears on her face have dried and the chestnut-haired girl offers her a smile.
"That reminds me. Do you know," Raetsel asks, "rue, it's the herb of grace? Maybe you will bring your prince grace instead." She smiles her dimpling smile again. "Do you know, there's more than one meaning to grace as well?"
The first time Rue learns the name of her meaning is when she has it given back to her by a stranger.
For all that she and Mythos rode out of Goldcrown Town in a swan-drawn chariot, the life they settle into is much less fantastic and much more content.
They join a ballet troupe. It is small and relatively obscure, but all of its members are filled with such a burning passion for dance that Rue is certain that it is only a matter of time before they make themselves known. As their troupe wends its way through the countryside, living out of a couple of wagons and a series of tents, performing in large towns and cities, they leave behind the memory of their performances like a half-forgotten lovely dream in the hearts of their audiences.
In ballet, the danseur supports the ballerina, giving her the strength she needs in order to fly. In life, they support each other, giving one another the strength they need to live. She has held him through countless nightmares of the raven still in his blood clawing its way out of his heart, transforming him into a monster and it is only because he knows there is an answering darkness within her that he can bear for her to see such weakness in him. He has seen her fall and stumble countless times since they have set out from Goldcrown Town to make a story for themselves, and yet under his steady gentle gaze and with his outstretched hand before her, Rue has found the strength to rise again each time.
At last, Rue can dance to her heart's content and it feels like each pas de deux with Mythos, whether practice or performance, is just another movement in one everlasting dance that she hopes will never end. And all the moments in between, the everyday tasks and intimacy, that is what she treasures the most, more even than their dancing, because it grounds her and makes her realizes it's real.
Which is probably for the best, Rue muses wryly, since otherwise she would scorn to perform such drudging chores as helping prepare costumes and props before each performance. She holds a stack of carefully handpainted bills she has helped make against her chest as she and Mythos walk through the city. They hand them out to interested cityfolk, stopping to ask storeowners if they can put up the bills promoting their troupe's next performance in the storefronts.
"It might be nice," Mythos murmurs as they leave a small shop of antiques, the small bell on its door tinkling behind them, "to see Goldcrown Town again. This almost reminds me of Charon's shop."
Rue hesitates beside him before finally admitting, "I think I might want to keep running away just a little bit longer."
"From bad memories in that place?" He reaches out and grasps her hand in his.
"From who I was there. From who I became."
"You'll always be Rue," he smiles, lifting their linked hands to his lips and kissing the back of her hand.
She's not sure how to explain that she doesn't know any more, perhaps has never known, quite what that means. But for now, even this little bit is more than enough and she curls her fingers around his.
She helps him put up a bill on the wooden door of the small shop, and then the two of them step back to admire their handiwork. It is the two of them, in white and gold costumes, performing a pas de deux, the troupe's and their names emblazoned across the bottom.
"R-Rue," a little girl reads, haltingly, looking at the delicately painted poster of the ballerina en pointe, a leg extended and supported by the pale-haired danseur painted behind her, and then turning to the beautiful darkhaired woman before her, she points, "That's you."
And it is an answer so simple that at first Rue cannot understand it, but like grace, it simply is and she smiles. "Yes."
(1) Ophelia from Hamlet (IV.v):
There's rosemary, that's for remembrance; pray,
love, remember: and there is pansies. that's for thoughts.
[...] There's fennel for you, and columbines: there's rue
for you; and here's some for me: we may call it
herb-grace o' Sundays: O you must wear your rue with