Fall From Grace
Notes: The characters are not mine and the story is. This was written for the prompt Nocturne (What do you do in the dark of night, where no one sees) at 18Coda on Livejournal. I keep being rather fascinated by the idea of what would happen if Autor managed to get his hands on some of the power he yearns for in the series. A discussion in the Princess Tutu community on Livejournal largely inspired this experiment. I was told that this music twist has been used by fans before, but I hope it's common enough and mine is different enough that it won't look like I'm stealing from anyone! I have some other possible stories in this verse that I may tinker with and post later. Thanks to everyone who provided plot help!
With Autor's obsessive interest in writing---particularly Drosselmeyer's writing---some had wondered why he had chosen to study music at Kinkan Academy. But music had always interested him a great deal, too---the intricacies of the chords and notes, the wide variety of genres and seemingly endless melodies, and the stories that were told within each piece. Music was also a form of writing, and with Fakir being the one directly descended from Drosselmeyer, Autor had been forced to concede that Fakir was the one to succeed Drosselmeyer as a Story-Spinner. He was not interested in writing novels that would not come true, so he preferred to ignore that idea altogether and focus on musical composition.
Following Drosselmeyer's defeat and the restoration of Kinkan Town to its normal self, Autor had once again busied himself with his music training. He would play for long hours at the school's piano, working with each composer's piece until its performance was perfected. And the more he played, the more thoughts began to creep into his mind, thoughts that he had been considering off and on for years now.
It was time he composed his own masterpiece, wasn't it? He did not intend, after all, to only play other's works throughout his life. He would not receive near as much recognition for that as he would becoming the next brilliant writer of music. And recognition was something he wanted . . . needed, even. He wanted to be acknowledged as having made a great achievement to the world. It was his most fervent and intense desire, and had been ever since he had first started thinking about such things as a child.
He had pushed the ideas of writing music to the side when Fakir had begun growing interested in his powers. But with Drosselmeyer's Story ended, there was no real reason to delay any longer.
And so he started the next day, with a fragment of melody that had already been going through his mind for some time. He worked with it for hours, hitting and missing, suffering frustration as some continuations of notes failed, triumph as still others worked. He did not stop to eat or sleep. It was time-consuming, as any form of composition was, but it was also well worth it. It was his and no one else's. That gave him a strong sense of pride.
As he worked, a story to go with it began developing in his mind, something not unlike one of Drosselmeyer's tragedies. Something involving star-crossed lovers whose relationship would never be. . . . A woman waiting patiently for a man who would never return from battle. . . .
He paused, frowning a bit. Was it really something he wanted to do? The melody was haunting, melancholy, reflective of the woman waiting in vain. The image was clear, as if it belonged with the piece. In fact, he was not sure now that he could ever associate it with anything different.
Well, why not? There was nothing wrong with that. Drosselmeyer had been his idol for so long. If he could not be a Story-Spinner, why shouldn't he at least try something in his music that would be a tribute, a nod, to a great genius?
Yes, he determined, as he scribbled in the next notes. That was what he would do.
It was two days after he completed and played the work in private that he was looking at the newspaper and discovered an odd report. A woman whose significant other had been lost in a gruesome battle was being interviewed for her decision to keep a vigil on the cliff overlooking the port from which his ship had set out.
"I won't believe he's gone," she told the reporter. "Not until I have more proof. So I'm going to stay here and wait for him to come home."
Autor frowned, folding the newspaper on the table. That was an odd coincidence.
. . . It did have to be a coincidence, didn't it? He peered at the article again. He did not have strong enough Story-Spinning powers for something like this, and anyway, he had been writing music, not a story.
Though he had said himself that music also told stories. . . .
The thought was both alarming and dangerously exciting. But he should not get ahead of himself. And even if there was some way it could be true, he did not want to twist people's fates as Drosselmeyer had, dragging them from one tragedy to another and seeing them as little more than his puppets. If he actually did have powers, and had brought his music's story to life, then he was responsible for the battle that had killed that woman's lover. And who knew how many others?
He slumped back, feeling ill.
He would have to try writing something else, something beneficial to someone, to see whether this was all a frightening coincidence or not.
It was only after the third piece that he was fully convinced. Three times he had composed music with definite stories behind it, and three times, to varying degrees, they had come true. Now, as he sat alone at the piano he had purchased for his home, the room lit only by candles, he was awestruck and overwhelmed.
What luck was this, finally shining on his bereaved existence? He did possess the power that he had longed for and sought after for so many years! Or perhaps an even better, more clever version of it. He did not need the Bookmen's, or even the oak tree's, permission to write music. That was out of all of their jurisdiction and expertise. They would probably not even realize what was happening.
He looked over the various pages of notes, his brown eyes illuminated by the candles' steady glow. Of course he would have to be careful of what he wrote. The last thing he wanted was for another tragedy such as that battle to come true. The very thought made him grow ill again. He had warned Fakir to be prepared for that possibility if his writing went amiss, yet when his own writing was involved, he had not been prepared at all. Though of course, he had never once dreamed it would start coming true.
He would not be another Drosselmeyer. Even though he still greatly admired the man's abilities, he did not garner any sort of satisfaction from manipulating people and animals to his own whims, crafting one heartbreak after another. No, he would be different. He would control outcomes without people realizing it was happening, but he would do it for the good of all. He would use his powers to remake the world into a better place. And someday all would see his superior powers, his intellect, and his wisdom.
He would be the greatest Story-Spinner possible.
"Oho," Drosselmeyer said to himself as he observed from afar. "This is an interesting twist. Who would have thought that a boy I dismissed would come up with powers such as these?" He grinned, chuckling to himself. "Unfortunately for you, you're much too confident in yourself and sadly lacking any judgment on your susceptibility to corruption. And that makes you vulnerable to the powers of the Story itself, which might not be benevolent. Let's just see how long it will take for the Story to seize control, shall we, Autor, my boy?"
He rocked in his chair, his mad laughter echoing throughout his dimension.
Months passed. Autor drew further away from others and continued to write, at an almost feverish rate as the time went by. And with each song that he finished, something else changed in the world. On the surface, everything looked and felt normal and welcome, and with very few exceptions, no one questioned what was happening. And after all, Autor thought, as he worked late one night, why should they? Everything that was changing was doing so in their favor.
"Soon," he muttered aloud to the empty room, "this will be a perfect world. And it will be by my hand that it will unfold. This is what I've worked for, all that I've wanted ever since I can remember."
His hand trembled as he mapped out the next measure. Wasn't it exciting? To think, that the world was undergoing such a revolutionary and yet unsuspecting rebirth, all because of him and his abilities. He had thought such a thing would only happen in his fantasies.
But then he paused with a frown, the hand with the quill poised above the parchment. The only problem was, no one did know it was him. And he wanted them to know of his accomplishments. He wanted everyone to see what he had done. More than just power, he still wanted recognition. He wanted to be revered, remembered.
When the time was right. It wasn't, not yet. Once he had enough control, then and only then would he reveal his identity as the one who had been setting things right. Humanity would be grateful. Everyone would praise him. Why wouldn't they, considering that their existence had improved all because of him?
And once the time was right, how did he plan to announce himself? It would have to be something fitting . . . a grand performance, perhaps. Maybe he would create a score for an opera or a ballet that, when played in public, would seal his fate as the one worthy to wield his powers over the whole earth---whether or not everyone wanted to accept him as being such.
It was a brilliant idea; he should start work on it right away. After all, it would take some time to complete.
He, of course, did not notice the power-hungry gleam in his eye as he resumed his current composition. Nor was he in the slightest aware of how he was changing.
Perhaps he, more than even the world, was what was different the most right now.
Fakir and Ahiru were two of the questioning few exceptions as the world they lived in changed around them. But while Fakir was more concerned about the world-wide events, Ahiru was largely worried over another matter.
"Doesn't Autor seem weird lately?" she frowned as they walked to school. "I mean . . . weirder than usual?" She kicked a small stone out of her path, watching it scuttle ahead into the fallen autumn leaves.
Fakir grunted. "He's more distant . . . more arrogant. When I see him at all." He kept his hands in his pockets, glowering ahead at the cobblestone street. He and Autor were not close, though they had interacted some after the end of Drosselmeyer's story. Lately, however, Autor had returned to his reclusive ways, even more than usual. It used to be common to find him in the library. Now he was rarely ever there. He spent most of his time in the music room at the piano---or presumably, at his home. He had never boarded at the academy, for reasons unknown to Fakir, but he really did not care, either. Autor could do whatever he wanted.
Ahiru sighed. "I wonder what he's doing." Autor had not been one of her favorite people by any stretch of the imagination, but she had come to think much more highly of him after learning how he had helped Fakir during the final battle against the Raven. He had even started to warm up to her a bit; they had occasionally conversed after Fakir had changed her back into a girl, and Ahiru had found he could be quite nice. She did not want to think that anything was amiss with him now.
"I'm more worried about what the world is doing." Fakir's voice was flat, matter-of-fact, as he stared ahead.
Ahiru blinked, looking up at him. "Is there something weird about it?" she asked.
"I don't know." Fakir finally looked to her. "On the surface, everything seems fine. Things seem to be moving in a good direction everywhere. There's more of an emphasis on education and studying. People are reading more books and gaining better knowledge. But . . ." He paused, considering, then shook his head. "It just doesn't feel right. It's too sudden, too polished . . . too subtle."
Suddenly Ahiru was worried. "You don't think Drosselmeyer's trying to control everything again, do you?" she said.
"No," Fakir said. "This doesn't seem like his style. There's not any tragedy, not that I can see, anyway."
"Then there shouldn't be anything to worry about," Ahiru said, perking up. "It's probably all just a coincidence. Maybe things were moving along like this before and we just didn't notice because Kinkan Town was sealed in a bubble!"
"Maybe," Fakir said, his tone noncommittal.
"You don't think that's it," Ahiru realized.
"No, I don't," Fakir said. "It feels . . . almost like someone is guiding everything to whatever end they want. Maybe I can sense it because I'm Drosselmeyer's descendant. I just don't know who could be behind it or what end it is they want. . . ." He trailed off, his eyes widening.
"What is it?" Ahiru gasped.
"There's only one other person I know who could possibly be responsible for all this," Fakir said. "Someone we both know."
"Autor?!" Ahiru said in disbelief. "But he . . ."
"I know, he isn't supposed to have strong enough powers," Fakir said. "But I think I'll go see him anyway."
Ahiru fell silent, thinking for a minute. "If he isn't doing it, he should still know it's happening, right?" she said, looking to him again. "And it's weird he wouldn't have said anything about it to you, Fakir."
"Not if he wants to figure it out himself," Fakir said. "Either way, you're right---he knows. He'd have to. I'll look for him at the academy."
Ahiru nodded, wishing she did not have a strange sinking feeling in her stomach. "Fakir?" she said, her voice very small.
He looked to her. "What is it?"
"If Autor's really doing this . . . he's doing something good, isn't he?"
Fakir wished he had the answer.
"I don't know," he said gruffly.
It was starting to look like what he and what Ahiru worried about was the same thing in the end.
As it turned out, Fakir did not have a free moment to search. Classes were full and some ran overtime, leaving barely enough minutes to race to the next one. And by the time the final class of the day was over, Autor had already disappeared from the building and the grounds. But Fakir was undaunted; he could only think of one place Autor would have most likely gone. And so, after leaving Ahiru with an enthusiastic Piké and Lilie, assuring her that it would be better if he went alone, he left the academy.
He continued to ponder on the unusual events as he walked, ignoring the falling and swirling leaves blowing free of their trees. The world was changing, and Autor was changing, but it certainly did not mean it was all connected. There were too many other things that added up, however---first and foremost being the feeling that a Story was being nudged into place. A Story that really was not Drosselmeyer's style. But would it be Autor's style?
Fakir slowed his pace, his eyes narrowed. In spite of what he had told Ahiru, he really felt that Autor would have come to talk to him if he did not know who was responsible for the Story. And that only left a couple of other possibilities.
Either Autor did not sense anything, whether or not something was actually happening, or Fakir was going crazy and he was not sensing anything, either.
Or . . .
He trailed off as he approached Autor's was not a surprise, to hear music being played from within. Autor had probably escaped home as soon as his classes were done. Fakir knocked loudly on the heavy wooden door, wondering if he would be heard at all over the sound of the piano.
But his thoughts were unfounded; the music stopped and footsteps could be heard across the floor. A moment later, Autor opened the door. When he saw Fakir standing outside, his expression dark and unimpressed, he only smirked in reply.
"Fakir," he said, his voice smooth as he stepped aside, "I wondered how long it would be before you'd come."
Fakir entered without bothering to wait for a verbal invitation. "I've been having a funny feeling lately," he said as he walked into the vestibule. He turned, looking to Autor as the other boy shut the door. There was no change in Autor's stance, or in his self-assured expression, as he looked back to Fakir. This only made Fakir more annoyed than ever.
". . . I feel like someone's been writing a Story," he said. "A Story like Drosselmeyer's, that's controlling things."
"And yet you're supposed to be his successor," Autor said. "If anyone's written anything, it should be you."
Fakir felt like grinding his teeth. "Haven't you sensed it?" he said.
"I haven't sensed anything like Drosselmeyer's Story," Autor said as he headed back to the piano. "If there's any controlling going on, it doesn't seem to be a harm to anyone." He sat down on the bench, resuming the piece he had been playing when Fakir had arrived.
Fakir's eyes narrowed. "It's you, isn't it?" he said as he followed the other student. He placed his hands on the piano, glaring at the smug Drosselmeyer fanboy. "You're the one doing this!"
"Would it bother you so much if I was?" Autor said, his fingers flying over the keys. "Maybe you wish you were the one with the ideas and the drive for how to make this world better."
"The Story-Spinning powers aren't supposed to be used like this!" Fakir exclaimed. "This is too widespread. Even Drosselmeyer never tried to control the whole world!" He gripped the varnished wood tighter. "The Bookmen will never accept this. They'll cut off your hands just like they did to Drosselmeyer!"
Autor looked up, a wild grin twisting his features in a way that made Fakir's heart drop. "I'm more ambitious than Drosselmeyer!" he declared. "And the Bookmen can't do anything about it. I'm out of their jurisdiction!"
Fakir let go of the piano, taken aback. "What?" he said in disbelief. "What do you mean, you're out of their jurisdiction?!" He shook his head. "And there's only supposed to be one Story-Spinner at a time. You taught me that yourself! You can't use your powers if someone else has already been chosen to use theirs. Yours aren't even supposed to be strong enough to do this in the first place!"
Autor's fingers slammed on the keys in an angry burst of chords. "Are you jealous?" he said. Smirking, he began to expertly move his fingers to once again perform the complicated piece. "You are the only Story-Spinner, Fakir. What I told you is true. I'm not writing the way you write."
Again Fakir was confused. "Not the way I write?" he muttered. But even as he spoke, the answer came to him. "You're using music," he gasped. "You're writing something right now, aren't you?!"
"Maybe I am," Autor said. "And you're the only person who knows it." He smirked. "It's not time yet for my public debut."
Fakir brought his hand down hard on the piano's shelf, jostling the sheets of music. "You'll never get away with this," he exclaimed. "Whether it's in their jurisdiction or not, the Bookmen won't stand for you using any kind of Story-Spinning powers, especially on the whole world. Idiot, what are you thinking?!"
"Even if they try, they won't be able to lay a hand on me!" Autor vowed. "My fate won't be the same as Drosselmeyer's." He looked at Fakir, raising an eyebrow in a self-assured way. "But I hope you don't plan to tell them what I've been doing." His expression darkened. "I'd hate to have to make certain that you can't, now or ever."
Fakir's eyes widened in disbelief and shock at these words. He had been about to say that he would not tell them anything, but now it seemed irrelevant. He reached over, grabbing Autor by the ruffled scarf around his neck and pulling him off the bench.
"Do you mean what you just said?!" he growled, the underlying anger and betrayal in his voice cutting the air like a dagger.
Autor's eyes flickered in surprise, but whether from Fakir's actions or his words, it was not clear. But then they darkened. "Yes," he said. "I won't let anyone stand in my way, not now. I almost have everything where I want it. After years of dreaming and planning in vain, all that I wanted is coming to fruition."
Fakir let him go, sending him crashing unceremoniously back to the piano bench. "Then you're a stranger to me," he said. "And I won't let you get away with this. What you're doing may look honorable now, but you have some selfish motive underneath it."
Autor merely glared at his former ally, his glasses slipping down his nose. "We're enemies now," he said. "You should get out."
"Gladly." Fakir whirled, stalking to the entryway and throwing open the door. But as he stepped outside and pulled the door closed behind him, he paused, his hand still gripping the knob.
Ahiru, of course, would protest his leaving, once she knew what had happened. She would want to figure out if there was still a way to get through to Autor. And maybe once Fakir cooled down, he would feel different---but at this moment he was angry, shaken, and hurt. He did not want to stay another minute. Seeing how Autor had changed over the last few months haunted him. The threat on his life was the final straw.
"Idiot!" he muttered under his breath. "So this is why the oak tree never chose you. It knew that if you had any power, it would go right to your head. It knew the power would destroy you." He clenched a fist. "I didn't even recognize you in there."
He let go of the knob, stalking away.
"Oh dear, oh dear!" Drosselmeyer sneered. "So one of your only friends has turned against you already, has he?" His cruelly amused grin widened. "He didn't even stop to think that it could be the Story talking and not you. Of course, why would he consider such a thing, since you're supposed to be the one writing and controlling the Story? The Story isn't supposed to write and control you! Oh, this is shaping into an excellent tragedy. And without me doing a thing. Imagine that."
Inside the house, Autor was still sitting at the bench, visibly shaken by what had transpired. He stared off at the door without seeing it, his eyes wide and his skin pale.
"Did I . . . really say that?" he whispered. "Did I mean it?"
But then his eyes darkened and he drew a deep breath, attempting to return his attention to the piano keys. The notes he played now were a confused, angry tumult echoing off the walls. The candles around him flickered.
"I don't need him," he muttered. "I don't need anyone."
His hands were faintly trembling.
Drosselmeyer was delighted. "Just wait, Autor, my boy," he said. "You will be left all alone in the end, and even though the Story is making you think you want that, let's see how it will feel to have no one to stand beside you.
"That is . . . if you ever wake up from under the Story's influence enough to care!"