Title: Every Happy Family is Happy in its Own Way
Tiamat's Child
Princess Tutu
Ahiru, Fakir, ensemble
Not mine!
After the story stops, life goes on.
Spoilers for the whole of the series. Also, FFNet makes the formatting on this not work too well, for which I apologize.

Every Happy Family is Happy in its Own Way

In the little cottage on the lake the days pass slowly, warmly, freely, fully, and Fakir complains loudly, but without force, when Ahiru dances underfoot while he makes pancakes until, at last, he gives in and dances too.

"I'm so glad," Ahiru says, some days, and Fakir raises a hand in acknowledgment even though, Ahiru knows, it's the general sense getting through to him, and not the specifics.

(This is less frustrating than she'd expected - as a girl she'd always had so much trouble with words that the general sense was usually the best she could manage anyway.)

"I'm so glad," Ahiru says, and takes a few quick steps, one two three, and Fakir looks up from his painfully mundane yellow tablet and watches her swirl across the floor, onto the bench, onto the long plank table and - somewhat less gracefully than she'd probably intended - out the window.

"Quack!" Ahiru says, and Fakir bites his lip a little to keep from laughing.

A customer gives Hans an old upright and Rachel laughs about it when she comes down to bring them some fresh made bread. "A piano!" she says. "Where will we put it?"

She breaks off some bread for Ahiru, and gently tosses it out. "Quack!" says Ahiru.

"I've been meaning to learn to play," Fakir says, slowly, slowly, because he still can't quite trust the good things that come unexpectedly. He has been too long out of the habit of grace for it to be natural and easy now.

"Oh!" says Rachel. "Oh! Then that's good!" And she kisses him on the cheek and they'll bring it by soon, and he and Ahiru stay on the dock and he feels strange and hides his eyes behind his hand because he cannot quite help crying. Just a little, just a little, because the world is so real and so good.

"Quack," says Ahiru, and he says, "It's not that I'm sad," and that's that.

"Let us be gentle with each other," Ahiru said once, and often says now, dancing her way through earnest, if largely one sided, conversations. (Fakir still doesn't talk much.)

"You are the cutest duck I've ever seen," Autor informs Ahiru the first time he meets her as she is, his voice climbing over an octave. "You are just adorable! So sweet and round and ye - Er."

"No, no," Fakir says, "do go on. She hasn't died of embarrassment yet."

"Quack," says Ahiru, from underneath her wing.

To live is holy, Fakir writes, an epigram across the top of the page, to be is a blessing, and pale wings flash in the kitchen garden as Ahiru dances with sparrows. There is light off the water through the other window and a breeze coursing across the room.

Fakir is writing as if possessed, but he is not, he knows how that feels and it is horrible, no, this is only the story moving through him, and he writes of baking, of tears as bread is kneaded and long, long moments of waiting for the dough to rise and your heart beating out - He is gone. I am living. He is gone. I am living. I love him. Live, then. And the bread tastes good.

"A writer of infinite compassion," the review says, and Rue laughs at him.

"How little they know!" she says, and waves the paper in front of them. "Ha! The compassion comes from Ahiru!"

"Quaaaaaack!" Ahiru says, meaning, "That's not true!" Meaning, "Don't pick fights with Fakir!"

"Ahiru's right, Rue," Mytho says as he lifts Rue's suitcase. "Don't pick fights with Fakir."

Sometimes Fakir plays the old upright and his posture is excellent, but his finger work is a little shaky, and Ahiru dances because she likes to dance and Rue and Mytho dance too, and Rue says, "I take it all back, Mytho, we are not the strangest couple we know," and Fakir just rolls his eyes.

"Let us be gentle with each other, with ourselves," Ahiru said once, and says now, in the tilt of her wings, the angle of her neck, and Fakir tries, Fakir is trying, he raises his hands and his hands are open, broad and strong, palms held out, never threatening.

"You were always made for building things up," Ahiru says when he puts new shingles on the cottage, and he looks at her and colors.

It is hard to be gentle with himself. But he is learning. It is practice that teaches, practice that instructs, their teacher always said. Practice, practice, practice, and practice they both have.

Meet me, meet me, here, here, here, a whipporwhill sings and Ahiru quacks gently along, "quack, quack, quack," and the pine floor smells sweet in the dusk, and Fakir thinks he can live this way, with no regrets, with only this day, and the next, and the next, until they find where they are going, in this life with no plot at all.