The Dance of Swan and Raven
This was written for the LiveJournal challenge "Rivals." Rated T. A retelling of the final events of AKT 13 and Season 1. Notes, Program Notes, and disclaimer at end. Lots of Spoilers for Season 1.
"FAKIR! FAKIR!" This time, there was no answer. No hand, no gasping for breath, no body floating to the surface.
"Stupid knight," came a mutter from Kraehe's direction. He had gone too far, and now he was– gone. The part of her that had been Rue might have been horrified. As it was, Kraehe would have let him walk out of here, after suitable humiliation, but instead he had had to be the hero. Now he was a martyr. Tutu– or at least Duck, preferably stripped of Tutu's powers– could have departed as well so long as she left Mytho with Kraehe.
But now the stakes had been raised. He might be dead. Kraehe had never caused a man's death before, and raven though she was, she had lived among humans long enough to be shaken. She'd known Fakir since childhood.
There was no time for weakness, though, and Tutu had just given away her own flaw. She was only a child in an adult's body, and she needed Fakir to think for her. It would take only wit to keep this a battle of wits that Tutu couldn't win.
"Come on out, heart shard of my beloved Mytho... Good boy."
Princess Tutu eventually regained possession of herself, after a little prodding. If having to persuade your enemy to participate in her own battle wasn't pathetic, Kraehe didn't know what was.
Tutu would not leave the Prince.
Had Duck had her way, she would have gone after Fakir, either as girl or duck, no matter what Kraehe found out about her, no matter what Fakir wanted. Kraehe wouldn't harm Mytho, thought Duck, not beyond the damage she'd already inflicted on his heart; but for the first time Tutu would not let her go, and after a few moments she knew it didn't matter. Fakir had chosen to do what he had done. He was gone, alive or– She couldn't think of it.
He was probably right, too, she realized after a time. Tutu needed to get Mytho away from the Raven Princess, now, before he could be hidden somewhere that Tutu could never find by herself.
Grief must wait; now she had to fight for the Prince.
Tutu never fought.
She rose to her feet. Kraehe wanted her to speak, to confess her feelings and thereupon vanish.
Don't take what a crow says seriously.
"No. I refuse to vanish."
Don't let Kraehe set all the terms of this– contest. Princess Tutu was, above all, a ballerina; there was another way for her to speak. Silently she mimed to the heart shard: Dance with me.
She began to dance. Kraehe spoke, but only her question held any meaning to Tutu: "I wonder whose dance will charm the heart shard?"
Kraehe met Tutu halfway, every inch the Raven, threatening and vicious, and Tutu retreated; but it was a dance now, not a fight, a mere illustration that could not cause harm, and Kraehe saw that at once. And so the terms changed; now Tutu had only to entice a heart shard to her, and that was her reason to exist. Kraehe would never leave it that way, though; it was too easy. Somewhere there was a catch....
Kraehe broke it off. A direct confrontation would be useless. But, while she had effectively muzzled Tutu, she felt no need to remain silent herself, and her weapon was one she herself had suffered from in the past weeks. She merely reminded Tutu of the girl who was playing her, poor, clumsy Duck, and the confusion she sowed reaped spectacular results. More than Kraehe expected. Was Princess Tutu really such an insecure, fragile thing?
It might not even have been necessary to call the heart shard to her, but Kraehe did, silently extending her hand, as Tutu faltered. If Tutu would not vanish– and there was hope again, now, that she would truly surrender, and speak, and let herself disappear– she would leave here, utterly shamed and defeated, and incidentally lost at the bottom of a labyrinth of caves and excavations, without light. Kraehe ruthlessly quashed the twinge of– what?– provoked by that thought. Tutu did this to herself, after all, trying to win a piece of Mytho's heart that Kraehe had had for more than enough time now, never questioning what the Raven's daughter might have done with it while in her possession.
It was time to make clear to Tutu what she had lost. Kraehe addressed the heart shard's manifestation of Mytho.
"I am your true Princess."
"You are my Princess," repeated the manifestation.
"Wait!" cried Princess Tutu; a most satisfying reaction, thought Kraehe.
"Give it up! It's over now, Princess Tutu." She turned to the shard of her Prince's heart. "I will put you to sleep at the bottom of eternal darkness. No matter who interferes, you need never awaken again."
"Okay," said the shard vaguely.
The Prince's voice resounded through Princess Tutu's memory. Restore my heart to me, Tutu... What do you think of me? I want to know.... The voice changed to Fakir's, and his last words: Princess Tutu– you must see to Mytho's future.
Fakir, I won't give up, she vowed. Because my feelings are my own, and right now, I am Princess Tutu. If I give up, I will only go back to being a duck.
Something was wrong. Had the heart shard had ever had its attention on her, once Kraehe had begun to dance? Win the heart shard, win the Prince. How did Kraehe expect to restore the shard without Tutu to do so? Would the rest of his heart reawaken at the touch of another of its fragments?
Maybe Kraehe really would be content to let Mytho remain as he was. Of course she would. He'd do as she said then, as he had for years, but also– he would never, if properly supervised, betray her. Kraehe had no need of heart fragments, even of Love; no need of a restored heart, which might reject her.
Princess Tutu wouldn't be able to drag or carry Mytho out of this dark maze, even if she knew the way, not with the crows ready to attack at any instant. Therefore he would have to walk. Kraehe would have to be kept at bay for a while.
So– why was she wasting her time on a game, on Kraehe's game? She should be getting the Prince out of here. If only the Prince's sword could shatter his heart or break a piece of it– Fakir had seen to that. The more pieces of the Prince's heart that Tutu found, the more attuned to their presence she became; therefore Kraehe couldn't hide a heart- piece from Tutu for long; so even the shard of Love wasn't that important at the moment.
The other feelings lay dormant – Disappointment, Loneliness, Sorrow, Happiness, Fear, Inquisitiveness, Devotion, Regret... She remembered each of them as she had held them–
Would they remember her?
She began to dance, again. This time she overbalanced, stumbled, recovered, kept on. Kraehe realized what Tutu was attempting and imperiously re- entered the fray, unceremoniously grabbing the hand of the heart shard and dragging it out onto the surface, keeping its attention from Tutu. Tutu heard Kraehe's exclamation, and she was absolutely correct: it was impossible to dance a pas de deux alone.
Kraehe's pas de deux was, as Rue's always had been, a display of exquisite perfection, even if her partner was substantial only to a magical Princess. Tutu looked at Mytho standing on the tangle of bleached limbs, staring blankly, and her own heart called out to his in grief and hope as she kept on, wanting with all her being for him to be there with her.
There was a point at the apex of every jump where effort and momentum yielded to gravity, and a dancer could apparently stretch that point for a few instants. It was only illusion. Kraehe knew it was no more than that, even when she saw Tutu positioned not for a jump but for a lift; and then watched as she fell, hitting hard–
But it hadn't been an illusion. Hadn't there been a shadowy form beneath her, holding her? Tutu had fallen, they had both known she would, but something had held her body in the air for a tiny bit longer than it should have been, and just before it had ended her position had changed from someone merely jumping to someone being held up. For just an instant. What was Tutu doing? She would never even spark the brief attention of this heart shard that way. So what...?
Kraehe managed to keep her tone derisory as she spoke to her partner. "How pitiful. There's no need for us to watch such dancing."
Once again Tutu rose, and faced her Prince, and danced. She could not speak, lest she vanish, but still she called to his incomplete heart with all of hers.
She could almost feel him holding her, now, dancing with her as she yearned for him to do. She let her own feelings flood her, and let them flow out through her dance: admiration for the Prince who had given his heart for others, pity at his state... adoration, the love that would see her die if she spoke of it.
The Prince moved.
Tutu, and then Kraehe, stopped and stared as he descended to the water's surface. His eyes were on Princess Tutu, and she saw them looking into her own, his cleared gaze truly seeing her, and he spoke.
"I'm right here, Princess Tutu."
"MYTHO!" She ran to him, almost knocking him over, but he managed to remain upright for her.
That was all; this was the end of the game. Tutu watched sadly as Kraehe retreated: could Tutu still not help her...? And then the lake and its island vanished, all of it mere glamour, and the heart shard was there, ready to be returned.
Tutu looked, scanning the bared rock. If there was no lake, just a stone surface, where was Fakir?
She'd search, she vowed, if she had to explore every inch of this place; but now she had to see the Prince safely out of here, and he was obviously thinking the same of her. They would need light and help in any case.
She had won, at what cost she didn't know for certain. Even when they finally followed a will-o'-the-wisp light upwards, even when they emerged to find Fakir rescued and Miss Edel dying, even when Tutu put aside her tears with all else to dance, red- eyed, the pas de deux with her Prince that Edel requested, there was the uneasy knowledge she must deal with later.
Kraehe would not go away. She was not the Raven himself, and neither the Raven nor the Prince had died, therefore the story surely could not be over. Princess Kraehe would never give up the Prince, any more than Princess Tutu could.
Program Notes: As this follows episode 13, the music is already in place: Scheherezade, the Siegfried Idyll, the Waltz and Scene (Moonlight) from Swan Lake, The Swan from Carnival of the Animals, the Coriolan Overture, and the Prelude to Act III of Lohengrin... Use as needed; I didn't include the action for all of them.
Author's notes: I did not attempt to include all the dialogue (inner or outward) from the anime, nor did I follow the script exactly as performed. I intended it to read as if it were a scene from a novel. It spans roughly the second half of the episode.
There is, as I recall, a little confusion about the heart shard borne by the lamp. In the episode it is named Affection, but Drosselmeyer then calls it Happiness, which I think works better in the context of the other episodes; afterward, for instance, we have both Devotion and Love crop up, and nothing else quite like Happiness. (The five shards in the town gates are never named; I suspect Anger and Joy and something like Duty, and two others. In any case, those must perforce be his strongest feelings.) Since I wasn't plugging the script into this I used the one I like.
Here is where I have to confess that I enjoy the DVD commentary on this episode, where this is called a 'dance- off.' I wish I could have used that for the title but it ought to wait for the parody.
Lucky_Ladybug: I started this *last* weekend! Really! Before you posted yours! (Seriously, I did. But we got an extension so I've just been polishing a bit.) Fortunately we ended up with two entirely different emphases for the same scene. But yes, I had that question too, why there was no query about Fakir or his body; therefore it must have been immediately obvious that he was gone. Somewhere.
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.