This was written for the LiveJournal tutu_contest challenge "Rebirth." Rated T for violence, blood, and philosophy.

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Renascence

If a story's birth was a happy accident, thought the writer, its rebirth could be a long, arduous, tedious labor.

The original was fairly straightforward. It was meant to be adapted for a ballet, after all, not to provide a challenge to a scholar. Fakir wondered if he would ever reach the stage where an uncompleted story, little more than a fleshed- out plot, could be published as the title feature of an unfinished- and- obscure short- works anthology. He would certainly pass on that sort of fame if it meant being murdered in the same macabre fashion to catch the readers' interest.

And after all, what to do with it? Simply finish it as Drosselmeyer began it? Take a narrative step outward, make it the story of Drosselmeyer and Goldkrone, maybe even in the first person as he knew it? Take a further step back and narrate his own part, impartially, neither monopolizing the tale nor glossing over his own less- than- perfect performance? He might be able to do so, but he was stymied by the fact that his sources were no longer available. Mytho and Rue were long gone; so was Uzura, although trying to interview her for the kind of information he might need was a task he wouldn't really want to face. He and Duck had worked out, slowly and laboriously, the pieces of her story that he hadn't known. As for Drosselmeyer, one encounter had been one too many.

He took up the book, yet again.

"Once upon a time, in a land far away, a prince was born. The kingdom rejoiced at the birth of the heir to the throne–" did that mean that Mytho was a king now? "– and the joyful and elaborate celebrations lasted for many days.

"Time passed, as it ever does, and the handsome Prince grew in stature and wisdom. He was a true Prince, loving all his subjects and loved by all in return. When he saw pain or suffering, he never considered what the cost to himself might be; instead he always put forth every effort to aid the weak and the oppressed.

"In all his adventures Prince Siegfried (for that was his name) was accompanied by his boon companion, a knight loyal and true–" and anonymous, Fakir had noticed the first time he'd read this– "and together they upheld the King's law and kept the peace throughout the realm. Evildoers learnt not to tempt the swords of the Prince or his knight: for the one was bound up with the power of the land itself and of the Crown, and bore the swans that were the device of the royal line; and the other traced its lineage far back in time to the sons of Lohengrin, knight of the Grail and the son of Parszifal lord of Montsalvat himself.

"But the years of order and happiness had a greater price than the Prince had dreamed. For, despite the knight's skill at arms and the Prince's wisdom, the taint of evil in men's hearts could never be erased; ill deeds could be requited or prevented, justice could be served, but men's evil that was the root of such deeds could only be hidden away and buried."

In other words, all of life was a hopeless tragedy. There was sin but never forgiveness or redemption. No wonder Goldkrone's fine church had been abandoned and neglected for all those years; it simply didn't fit into Drosselmeyer's story, except as an occasional setting because every town had a church. Instead of exhortation and scholarship, sublime music and stories in stained glass there had been a machine in the bell tower, writing away, spewing out tragedy.

Fakir had begun to realize that Drosselmeyer's entire philosophy would need to be altered if the actual ending were ever to be written into this tale, and this was the place where it had to start; but how to do that, exactly?

"And so, in a far corner of the land, in a desolate and drear valley, the buried thoughts and memories began to take form. A blight began to spread outward. Then, to the horror of the people, a great black Raven ascended from the depths beneath the happy land of the living, and spread its wings. The call went forth that here was a diabolical new enemy to the King's peace.

"Into the desolation rode the Prince and his knight, and the Prince challenged the monster.

'Who are you, and why have you come? Stop this malevolence, and depart from my lands!'

'I am of this land, even as you,' replied the Raven. 'I am the cast- off sins and evils of your people, and I have found a form to my liking. I will not be denied my place, nor driven forth again!' It then took a black feather and drove it into the ground between itself and the Prince, and the darkness therein drained out as if it had been ink. When the feather was emptied to a ghostly white, the blight had spread.

"Once again the Prince challenged the monster, this time drawing his ancient sword. 'If you are the evils from among my people, then I have already defeated you once, and will do so again! I command you to sink back into the desolation whence you came, or stand and fight me!'

"At that the Raven laughed. 'I need not obey you, Prince! Out of shadows I have created myself, and by my own will I am free!' So saying, the Raven took flight. As it flew the Raven scratched itself with its beak until blood dripped from the wound. As the blood rained down upon the land, all the people it touched were remade into the image of the Raven and became crows themselves, crying out in their sudden agony and despair.

"Prince Siegfried and his companion gave chase as swiftly as they could, for the Raven's course was straight for the heart of the kingdom. As they neared the castle itself, the Prince challenged the Raven for the third time. 'Stop and fight, Raven, if you will not depart! Restore my people stained by your foulness!'

That sounded good, but from childhood Fakir had thought the Prince had said that backwards. He didn't realize that even now, after the story had ended for them all, he was taking a deep breath before reading the next part.

"Before it made a reply the Raven swept a swath with its talons, catching the hearts of men and eating them. 'I will do the same to you, O foolish Prince,' commented the Raven. 'These are good to savor, but your own pure heart will taste the best of all, and will make me immortal!'

"At that, the Prince's companion knight charged the Raven; but even before he could strike one blow with his powerful sword, a single swipe of the Raven's claw tore him in two.

"Upon seeing the death of his friend the Prince readied himself both for battle and for a desperate and forbidden act of magic. He knew that he, and he alone, could use his sword to pierce his own heart, shattering it and scattering the pieces far and wide, where the Raven could never find them. And as the Raven embodied the evil against which the Prince had fought for so long– the darkness from the hearts of men– so could the pieces of the Prince's heart imprison the Raven. Then, when the time came that the Prince should fight again, Princess Tutu would appear to gather the wandering shards of the Prince's heart and return them to her Prince. Blest with beauty, cleverness, and strength, still she could never confess her own love for the Prince lest she vanish into a speck of light; and when her role was finished she was bound to depart, for she was fated never to be with her Prince."

There it was, all of two sentences for Princess Tutu. Twice the amount of exposition devoted to the swords. It was one of the faults that made the whole work incomplete; at least he could do something about it now. A lot.

"The Prince dodged the first blow of the Raven's claws. 'I tire of this!' roared the Raven. 'I have had enough of you!' shouted the Prince; and so they fought, in and out...."

That was where the manuscript had ended in a smear of blood that Fakir could only imagine. The Bookmen had buried the page, but too late. The final half- line had allowed the characters to leave the story for a decades- long existence in Goldkrone. There was no hint of the fate of Mytho's kingdom or his parents.

But now, how to give the story its life back, and finish it as it had actually happened, without invoking the hopeless tragedy of Drosselmeyer's version? "Then suddenly the author was murdered" was perfectly accurate but, well, too much cheese. Fakir knew very well how the story would have gone. The Prince would have taken his heart out, as he had; he would have betrothed Princess Tutu to himself, as could easily have happened. She would have eventually vanished, leaving him with whoever had fulfilled the role– and in the event only a duckling had been ignorant enough of this story to take that on.

In any case, it would have hardly mattered to Drosselmeyer whether or not the Raven was finally defeated, or if the story ended with a bigger reprise of the Festival of Crows. The important part would be that the Prince, bereft of friend, love, and kingdom, was killed in the most valiant and futile manner possible; or worse, faced with the prospect of cycling through the process of shattering his own heart time and again to keep the undefeated Raven perpetually at bay.

Well. It hadn't happened like that. Drossselmeyer was no longer the hand behind the story, and the Prince still lived.

Fakir took up his duck- feather pen, having an idea now how to imprison the old story within a new one that reflected the truth of what had happened.

"Once upon a time, there was a man who died...."

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Author's Notes: Some of the elements of The Prince and the Raven are gleaned from imperfect memory, as I haven't had time to check a lot of things from PT in the past week. The rest is pure invention and does not mesh with anyone else's version I've read. Until someone composes music for a ballet based on Drosselmeyer's story, I won't really suggest anything for a soundtrack that wasn't in the anime.

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.