Drabbles of White Feathers

Written for the LiveJournal challenge "White Feathers." Seven scenes. Oneshot.

Title: Drabbles of White Feathers

Rating: T

Characters/Pairings: Drosselmeyer, Rue/Kraehe, Fakir, Autor, Mytho, Duck/Tutu

Warnings: Blood, a little.

Word Count: 2718

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and on the windowpane outside,

a new world....

One of his last thoughts was a regret that he could not incorporate all that he saw or felt just now into this tragedy. From the single tiny window of the study, the old man could see the church bell-tower, and gleefully thought that they would never find his secret, and that that secret would be their downfall. Revenge and good riddance.

They had gone, and he was still writing, but it wasn't easy to do this; in fact....

As he slumped, his head lay sideways on his work, smearing the blood that was the only ink he had had for the last few moments. His eyes could no longer see the macabre sight of his hands; of his right hand, cut off at the wrist, still holding the once- white pen made from the feather of a swan that had crossed the ocean three times.

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....memories I hold inside

This year, the decorations would be fake Greek or Roman columns, whichever, contrived of papier- mache and plaster and whitewash, strung with garlands of midsummer flowers. They towered above the young dancer as she strolled among them, not all of them set into place yet around the square. It was easy to tell the new ones from the sturdier ones borrowed from the town theater.

She would dance tomorrow night, of course. She had a costume ready, but she would not compete for the Golden Apple this year. She was supposedly still a little young to grasp certain implications, too young to think of marrying her partner in the year following should they win, although that had been merely a matter for jokes and coarse ribbing for generations. Once upon a time it had been expected, said the old ones, before their grandsire's day. Anyway, her usual partner was not going to appear, no doubt. Fakir would keep Mytho from coming, just to keep him away from her.

And she was not ready, not yet. She was the newest in the Special Class, the youngest at the moment, and she did not intend to leave it until she was hired professionally, or until she could marry her Prince. Preferably both. That way they could be together, and could leave Goldkrone and especially Fakir in the dust. But... she was not ready, just yet, to dance a pas de deux that could compete for the Golden Apple. She had too much to learn yet.

Leave Goldkrone. Why was that thought so strange?

White feathers, small fluffs, drifted across her sight; the boy on the ladder next to her was decorating a column with a papier-mache bird. He was making a mess of things.

A trail of memory was creeping underneath her conscious thought; it had started when she had thought of leaving town. It happened now and again, and one teacher had told her that the feeling meant that someone was walking across her grave. This time... There was something disquieting about the haphazard disarrangement of the columns, and the slowly darkening sky, and a cloud edged in brilliant light. Why should she think that the columns should be huge white feathers?

She jumped when the ever- present crows on the rooftops burst out into hoarse, raucous shrieks.

Rue hurried back across the square, heading for the refuge of her dorm.

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....sleepless nights

When we would read by candlelight

At the Academy, he had a lamp; at Charon's, over term break, it was the salvaged stump of a candle, stuck in an old brass holder. He had yet to fall asleep while it was lit. That was an old adult sort of worry.

It was handy for the nights he couldn't sleep, when Mytho had done something carelessly, stupidly dangerous again. Fakir knew what had to be done now, after years of pondering the problem. If Mytho were returned to his story, he'd have his heart back. He'd be able to defeat the Raven, who would also perforce be returned with him. They'd go back to a point just where the story stopped, because that was where the writer had died. Somehow, copies of Prinz und Rabe were always complete, which (he had learned in class this term) was ironic because it had never had an ending. So many other stories, good or not, were in damaged bindings, the spines broken and the final pages ripped out.

And if Mytho never defeated the Raven, if they were stuck at that point of the unfinished story.... he would always live, unchanging, always with the hope of beating his enemy. Fakir wouldn't have hurt or killed him.

There was an alternative, of course, that Fakir hated to think about. There were no shortcuts in dance, he had learned, no shortcuts to anything worth learning or doing. What he hated to think was that Mytho, as he was now, was still in his own story; that whether written or experienced, he had yet to regain his heart and defeat the Raven.

He hated to think that there was no way back for Mytho, only forward, through all the pain and suffering that that meant. No shortcut.

Because if that were true, if Fakir could never return the Prince to the story as it was, then Fakir would stand by him, taking a predestined blow that it was pointless to even try to avoid. He would die, shredded by the Raven's claws. When he drew sword against the Raven, would he feel hope, and then feel it dashed to the ground amidst his own blood? How long would he live, he often wondered, how long would the pain last? What would it be like, to die?

If that was what would happen, if he were no more than a puppet (and a dispensable one,) then why try to do or be anything? Why even try to be a knight? Knights were courage personified, and fortitude, and strength; they were devotion and duty to a beloved lord. They never quailed at such a prospect of pain or fate or death. It was what they were.

Sometimes he wondered if knights had been able to use a word longer than two syllables or to count beyond ten.

He thought this way every time, he realized. Every night that he couldn't sleep. And every time he thought this way, as he did now, he would look at the pen in its holder. A cheap, common pen. Always the same, a soon- bedraggled white quill, probably from a goose.

A white feather was a sign, and he knew what it meant.

Cowardice.

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Maybe I am falling down

Tell me should I touch the ground?

Odd, she thought, that I never questioned why these were white. Memorials to fallen warriors, her memory supplied; had they been black as in life, instead of dead white, she could not have seen her way so well. They reflected the little light there was in this place. She knew her way among them, although she had not trodden it in years.

It was not far. It was never far to her father, even now. Soon there was the place where she knelt, shadowy white feathers upright behind and before and around her.

Would he, at long last, be proud of something she had done?

Would she go back to him, only to receive no more than his forbearance once again? Or even his displeasure, although she had only just remembered what she was? That she had forgotten herself for so long at his suggestion? All those years, whispered a treacherous voice in her mind, all the years when you did nothing but dance and study and court the Prince. All those years without your father, among the humans who whispered that you were beautiful, who called you the most graceful swan among them even if you could not truly fly, who admired you for your intelligence. And now you will be, once again, his ugly daughter. The daughter who cannot think for herself, who never learns how to do the simplest things, who can be trusted only with the smallest part of the Raven's power.

Who am I?

Red light split into being far above her.

"Kraehe."

"Father, here I am. I hope you are well. I have come back."

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so many secrets to be found....

"The feather of a white swan that has crossed the ocean three times is best for the pen, but I substituted a duck's feather."

"So–" said Fakir sharply. Autor's display of his replica of Drosselmeyer's study had Fakir thoroughly bemused, until that last statement sank in. Fakir was not willing to let anything in here be taken for granted. Duck– both of her forms– and Princess Tutu, and the Prince. Could this place, could Autor's duplicated Study be influencing the Story? Duck was nowhere in the tale as he had always read it, but here was something from a duck meant to function as Drosselmeyer would have used it, to write the story of the Swan Prince normally written by a swan's white quill....

Just then Autor splashed cold water over Fakir, calling it 'ritual ablutions' and derailing an intriguing line of thought.

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a million stars that touch the ground

"Good-bye, Mytho, good-bye."

Why was Princess Tutu saying goodbye? He had told her that he intended to make Rue his Princess, and she had understood that, like she always did herself, he needed to place another's welfare before his own desires. It was hard for them both, perhaps, but....

Suddenly she dissolved into light, tiny sparks that burst outward and fell even as he reached for her. Fortunately they had not been far from the street, for the rose- briars she had spun for them to stand upon vanished as well.

Ice froze in his veins as he understood.

He had not asked merely for her pendant. He had asked her for her very life, and she had given it, and he had not known. No wonder she had run when he had first requested it. There was no one there, no one who had played the role, just something yellow flapping away from his feet....

As he regained his balance on the pavement, there was a yellow duckling looking steadily at him. Nothing and no one else.

She couldn't have been... had she? How? How could a tiny bird have done all that Tutu had done?

She understood him as he bowed, managing to convey her embarrassment. It was her. It really had been the duckling....

And then it was time. Princess Tutu was part of him now; he must comprehend that, accept it, or Siegfried the Swan Prince was not whole and could never defeat the Raven.

So, like her, he changed. The remains of his school uniform were transformed into the garb of the Prince, the Sun blazing in glory on his breast, adorned with the white swan's- feathers that bespoke his power.

He exercised that power now. Right hand raised, he called for his servants with all his will; and the two swans came to his hand, merging and diminishing as they circled downward, until the Prince held the swan- hilted sword, and raised it in defiance of his great enemy.

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A million feathers falling down

At last, thought Duck. Boy does it itch though! I wonder how long it'll take, and when I'll know... I don't even know, really, if I'm supposed to be wild or tame! Not that it matters now.

The next morning, and the days thereafter, there were more and more yellow feathers lining her nest. She preened frantically, just wanting the itching to end.

Finally, at long last, the new feathers grew in enough that she could see them.

They were white. She would be white all over, like a swan. She might have to spend even more time trying to keep clean. Still....

Yes!

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remembering a blue moonlight

White feathers, one of them always askew no matter what, hiding her hair; just as the golden egg-crown proclaimed her a Princess, so the feathers gave unspoken witness to her bond with the swans, and to her Prince.

Where she danced was indefinite, which meant that she always had space enough. The light in that place was somehow her own, springing up wherever her feet landed, descending upon her from above, reflected in the white feathers that drifted around her. Whether the bright and finely detailed scenes on the vague walls were lit windows, or doors, or images was immaterial; they were animate, as was she. Perhaps as she could see them, they could see her, and rejoice at what her presence in that place meant.

Who she was... was very definite indeed, now. She was at one with her Prince, and he with her; she was home at long last. Here was where she was meant to dance freely, and so she did. She bound his once- shattered heart together with his own feelings, and she loved him with all her being.

There were memories now, of Before, of the Story as she had lived it; blue- black night and the light that shone around her, memories of despair and loneliness, of hope and companionship, and of her Prince becoming whole with each feeling regained. It had happened, all of it, and now it was part of her. Even as her Prince had lived and fallen and triumphed, so had she.

Princess Tutu danced in the heart of the Swan Prince, at rest in perfect motion, complete and content.

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Introductory lines and phrases (taken out of order and wildly out of context) are from "Amid the falling snow" on the album Amarantine, music composed by Enya/ lyrics by Roma Ryan, copyright 2005 EMI Songs Ltd/ EMI Blackwood Music Inc. BMI; Warner Music UK Ltd. No ownership or claim on said property, copyright or trademark is made or implied by their use in the work(s) of fan fiction presented here. This fan fiction constitutes a personal comment on the aforesaid properties pursuant to doctrines of fair use and fair comment. This fan fiction is non-commercial, not for sale or profit, and may not be sold or reproduced for commercial purposes.

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Disclaimer: Princess Tutu and all related characters and elements are the property, copyright and trademark of HAL– GANSIS/TUTU and Ikukoh Itoh and no ownership or claim on said property, copyright or trademark is made or implied by their use in the work(s) of fan fiction presented here. This fan fiction constitutes a personal comment on the aforesaid properties pursuant to doctrines of fair use and fair comment. This fan fiction is non-commercial, not for sale or profit, and may not be sold or reproduced for commercial purposes.