The Tragic Ending Saves the Day.

That Afternoon. Oh, yes, it had acquired its capital letters since it marked the end of Autor's relative peace and quiet.

Truthfully, it had started not much different than any other Saturday afternoon. He had arrived at Fakir's house around three o'clock, a little past lunch but long before supper, and he had read whatever sorry excuse Fakir had for an advance on his novel, like always, only to then tear it to shreds.

"Your plot is insufferably weak."

"It's not, you just think tragedies are better."

"They are."

"Are not."

"Romeo and Juliet? Hamlet?"

"Two teenagers deciding to die rather than to fight for their love and an egocentric depressive prince are not 'better'. It's tragedy for the sake of tragedy."

"You are such a philistine."

"I have had enough tragedies for a lifetime," Fakir had rolled his eyes, sitting down so that Duck, long used to their discussions, had just swaggered towards Fakir, where the Writer-To-Be scratched her head a little. "I don't care if you think it's cheap, I won't use tragedy as a plot device, not if there is even the slightest chance that these things I write might happen to someone."

And then Autor had rolled his eyes, wondering just in what kind of universe it made sense that he was related - even if distantly - to such a naive person. He had taken off his glasses, wiping them with his handkerchief before sighing, putting them on again.

"Tragedies are part of everyone's life. Wanting to keep everyone happy is pretty much the same as wanting to keep everyone miserable and suffering. It's not natural. A person has to go through hardships to grow up and earn their happily ever after."

Fakir hadn't answered, of course -- the obstinate, hard headed prick, of course he never actually accepted when Autor was right, even when he had acquiesced to Fakir's obstinateness about only writing Happily Ever Afters and The Prince or Princess Always Finding True Love but that, too, had become something usual between them, and Autor knew that the next time he read Fakir's novel there would be some minor improvement.

So Autor had huffed and kept on reading, marking the clichés that Fakir was so fond of so that he could, at least, make them a little less common, scratching Fakir's pitiful attempts at poetry completely off ("If you have to have poetry, please, use Goethe, Byron, even Baudelaire. Do not punish the world with your rhymes and please, notice that I said 'IF'") and, as usual, he was done before supper, with enough time to put on his coat, say goodbye, and back to his room before dark.

However, That Afternoon, as he was finishing the last of his tea before standing up, Fakir had spoken.

"Do you want to stay for supper?"

"I'm sorry?" Autor had asked, curious despite himself.

Fakir had shrugged. "Supper. Charon gave me too much meat. There is no way I'll be able to finish it before it spoils."

Fakir wasn't a good liar and it showed when he was worried about someone. Autor's pride had wanted him to say no, because he wasn't a beggar. His stomach, however, reminded him that at the moment he only had two students to make money at all and that the best thing he would have waiting at his room would be a day old bread roll and some bitter coffee.

So he had sighed, rolling his eyes, saying that he supposed he had the time to spare, and then Fakir had made miracles with the lamb he had and some vegetables (since it had been a while since his last published story, and the Academy didn't exactly pay much to its teachers either, even if that student had been its best danceur), and then had he another cup of tea, Fakir some watered-down coffee.

"I should be going," Autor had said, standing up. Fakir had nodded, putting the cups and dishes away: Duck was already snoozing over the table, not even stirring as Fakir put her in her basket.

But then, as Autor was putting in his coat, he found out that Fakir was putting on his as well. When he looked at him, Fakir had just shrugged.

"Bread is cheaper before they close."

And then they hadn't, actually, said a thing as they walked out. Fakir had nodded his goodbye at the bakery, and Autor had hurried before the owner of the house closed the lodge and then he would have had to ask Fakir if he didn't mind him sleeping at his place.

After that, once in the relative safety of his own room, Autor had worked a bit more on his music, had counted how much money he had left and if he was going to be able to save even a few cents for extra candles and then he had gone to sleep. It should have been the end of That Afternoon.

Instead, he had dreamed: Fakir, Fakir pushing him, at him, pulling at his clothes, callused fingers touching his sides, his arms. Fakir and the hidden strength of his wiry body where he was just lanky, Fakir -- and one of those insufferable clichés Fakir liked so much -- and his smoldering gaze like two lit embers on his face.

Autor had woken up with his heart beating a wild staccato in his chest, sweating, aroused.

"Oh, this has to be some sort of joke," he told himself, if only to listen to the words and see if that made it true. Which didn't happen, by the way.

And that's how That Afternoon won it's capital letters. And that was, also, how Autor acquired a migraine.

Autor was, if nothing, a remarkably smart young man: he had always been, and he was pretty sure he would always be, or at least for most of his life.

And so, he told himself, it made some sort of sense, since it had been more than a year since the last time he had been interested enough in a woman, for not mentioning the five years that had gone by since 'The Prince and the Raven' had ended, five years since Rue had flown towards her happily-ever-after. Five years in which she had simply become his Beatrice, and now he loved the memory he had created of her as much or more than he had ever loved the girl. Autor had made peace with the fact that he was, apparently, destined to always love someone who loved someone else.

And he was a young man, and he was used to sometimes having arousing dreams. It made sense -- in a never-going-to-happen-way -- for him to have those dreams with Fakir. Fakir was, after all, one of the few persons he voluntarily frequented who wasn't a student, and he knew Fakir wasn't much different in that way, always choosing Duck's company to anyone else that wasn't his adoptive father or his adoptive sister. Or his, he had to admit, even if they were only weekly, and he also had to admit that it didn't matter if they fought at all, Fakir always welcomed him to his house and--

Autor didn't allow himself to think more about it, already pondering his new theory: apparently, too much time with a hopelessly romantic like Fakir was, obviously, contagious.

"Autor, if you are sick, you should stay in bed."

Autor looked from the pages Fakir had given him, resisting the urge to throw him his empty tea-cup. For starters, it was Fakir's so he'd have to buy him a new one. For seconds, Fakir didn't know how little sleep he had gotten the past week, and as much as Autor blamed him for it, he knew that was just a little bit unreasonable.

Fakir was frowning as he looked at him, so he turned to look towards Duck, who just quacked and flapped her wings, agreeing with Fakir's words. Autor remembered that Fakir didn't really know how to express concern, since taking care of an emotionless prince when you were young and impressionable apparently stunted your emotional growth to forever being seven. Unless you were a duck or an otherwise adorable animal.

"I'm not sick," he answered, pushing his glasses up his nose.



"I have a page long sonnet and you haven't called me a failed attempt of a bard at all."

"You obviously know what I was going to say, so I see no point on wasting my valuable words."

And he crossed the whole sonnet with his pen with gusto, looking up to see how Fakir rolled his eyes before going towards the other desk to keep on writing, and so he didn't have to know how Autor had been about to completely miss the poetry.

So he went back to the pages he had already checked, just to be sure.

Fakir asked him if he wanted to stay for dinner again and once they finished he walked with him again. Or walked him, rather, since this time he didn't say a thing about buying bread.

"What are you doing?"

"The last thing I need is find out tomorrow is that you fainted because you were being an idiot about your health."

"I'm not sick."

Fakir ignored him and Autor could have punched him for that -- never mind that Fakir was stronger than him as his dreams liked to remind him. At the very least he kept it to walking him at the outside of the house before turning around, cutting an almost elegant figure against the darkening evening with his tanned coat and short dark hair and the elegance that ballet had trained into his posture, even with his hands tucked inside the pockets to keep them warm since he had lost his gloves.

Autor shook his head, reminding himself of his theory that all this was Fakir's philistine ideas rubbing off on him, deciding to forgo any kind of composing for the night, simply craving for a full night of sleep.

Which he had until about three or four am, when his subconscious -- or his libido and why, oh why wasn't there some kind of medicine to take care of that -- had the oh so pleasant idea of making him dream of Fakir against a wall and Autor being the one who pushed him this time, Fakir's trousers and his own undone so that they could press skin against skin. Autor had come with the feeling of release and he had cursed as he realized he was going to have to wash his linens again.

As he stripped the bed off its linens, angry and embarrassed and damn it all, aroused, Autor decided to blame this all on Fakir's terrible sense of pacing or, barring that, a horrible, horrible typo.

"Fakir, could you have used something more boring than comparing your stoic main character to a rock?"

"There is nothing wrong with that simile."

"It's boring, cliché, predictable. I can keep on going."

"It is not."

"And then you keep on going with trees similes. Are you trying to bore me to tears?"

"You are exaggerating."

"And I thought I had told you this: No poetry if you wrote it. At all,"

Two weeks after That Afternoon, Autor did take a fair amount of satisfaction when, at half past five in the morning, after he knocked on Fakir's door, the writer came to open the door looking as sleep deprived as he was and possibly just as pissed. He was barefoot, hair mussed, and he hadn't even bothered with a sweater against the chilly October wind.

"It's Sunday," Fakir almost growled, not opening the door yet. "And it's still dark."

"It's important!" Autor assured.

Fakir kept his hand firm on the door, not opening it an inch more than it needed to be: "Are you dying?"


"If you're not dying, it can wait until the sun comes out at least."

"Of course I'm not dying!" Autor huffed. "But we still have to talk about it right now."

Fakir glared, and Autor was quite aware that he was amazing at that, but Autor, also, had become pretty much insensitive to them. Further more, he was Fakir's editor, which meant that he, too, had learned to do a pretty impressive glare, so he simply crossed his arms and glared back.

A quack below them made them break apart from that: Duck kept on quacking angrily, flapping her wings, scolding Fakir and Autor would have worried more about the fact that now he pretty much understood duckese, but Fakir simply sighed and rolled his eyes, pushing the door open and turning around, shaking his head. Autor walked inside, shivering a bit. Yawning, Fakir had gone to light up some of the lamps, since his house didn't have any kind of electric light and Fakir didn't seem in any kind of hurry to change that. He puttered around the stove for a moment, putting on a keetle, before he turned to look at Autor, still completely and absolutely pissed off.

"What's so important, then," he challenged, though it lost some of its edge as Fakir yawned around it, covering his mouth with his fist.

"Have you been Writing?" Autor asked.


"Have you been Writing at all?"

Fakir looked at him as if he had just said that the sky was green with yellow dots and bright pink clouds. Then he turned around, marching towards the one room his tiny house had.


"Turn off the stove and the lamps when you go out."

"Fakir, I meant Writing like Drosselmeyer!"

There were few precious words that made Fakir freeze like that. Duck, Mytho, Uzura, Charon. At the mention of their late ancestor, Fakir stopped dead for a moment before he turned around. He had paled a bit though his expression remained the same.

"Why? Has something happened?"

Autor opened his mouth and then closed it: he wasn't going to admit anything about his dreams unless he absolutely had to, and somehow he was sure that Fakir wouldn't be writing about Autor having erotic dreams with him. So instead he focused on Fakir's body language, the way he had glanced towards Duck for a moment as he waited for him to say anything at all.

Autor smirked. "You have been writing."

"... it's nothing, yet," Fakir murmured, rubbing at his face. "A few days ago I suddenly had this new idea and... it feels like a Story."

"Let me see?"

Fakir nodded, going towards his room. Autor meanwhile did the tea. When Fakir came back carrying one of the binded notebooks he used as a journal, Autor realized just how new this whole thing was. And yet, Fakir had said 'a few days ago'...

Author opened the notebook, starting from the back to see the most recent, then going backwards.

- D. turns back into human.

- Magic spell? Pas de deux?

- Plot: fire. No, accident.

- Casualties? To consider.

- Promise of eternal love
No, I can already hear Autor.

- New heart shard? Could be,
if how to break a heart without becoming broken.

- Traveling? Princesses always saved/found after a quest...

- D. wants to be a princess?

It was no surprising that Fakir was sleep deprived: when he started a new story, let it be a Story or not, he always planned it during the night. And since the Prince and the Raven, Fakir had only really Written another story, for the Prince and Rue and their little daughter, only because they had needed it. Of course that a story that might Write Duck back into a human girl would have to be even more considered. Author counted almost ten pages filled with possible details for this story, and something told him that Fakir was barely starting.

Of course, Autor thought, he should have expected something like this. It really seemed that he was destined to always pine for the ones who were already in love, one way or another.

"I would, definitely, complain if I have to read about a story that revolves itself around such a stupid plot, so please, don't. And may I add that it's never going to happen you insist on keeping those awful verses, so you can scratch that idea right out" Autor said, closing the journal with a snap and giving it back, taking a sip of his tea before he smirked at Fakir. "You are, at times, a decent writer, but you are not a poet."

"Says you," Fakir snorted, but then he frowned, worried. "Is it happening?"

"I was being paranoid," Autor said, shrugging as he said no. "Lack of sleep can do that, I suppose."

"I know," Fakir said with an obvious glare (which Autor chose to ignore) before he stood up, taking his notebook towards the room. Autor wasn't expecting him to come back, but when he did, Fakir was carrying a cover and a pillow, and he handed them over. "The sofa is comfortable enough, if it's for a few hours."


"Sleep," Fakir said, once gain looking at him as if he had to explain that the sky was blue. "You need it. I need it. And I'm not walking you at this hour."

"You don't need to walk me."

"Are you even going to be able to sleep anything less than ten minutes if you go back?"

Autor glared at Fakir before he went towards the couch, taking off his boots and glasses and laying down on the couch. Fakir muttered something about obstinate pricks before he put the lights off. Eve without his glasses and with the bad light, Autor was able to see the way Fakir knelt to take Duck in his arms, walking towards the room.

No sense to be bitter, really. He had been more than aware of the facts. Just another tab in his incredibly short romantic life. Besides, Fakir. Autor knew what he considered romantic, and he shuddered at the idea of being subjected to that. So Autor rolled to his side, took a deep breath and finally, finally, slept.

And thankfully, this time, there were no dreams.