variations on a theme

To write, one must imagine.

Fakir is wrestling with imagination and temptation. He knows what he has to do - release the Prince, write a happy ending, make it all work out. Avoid a tragedy.

Temptation is hovering at his shoulder. Temptation is pointing out that he can give the Prince all the happy endings anyone could possibly ask for. The Prince's faithful knight will always be with him, always ready to serve him -

"Your highness," Fakir says, going to his knees in front of Mytho and taking Mytho's hand between his own - he would speak, but as he looks up at the Prince he is lost for words, and he feels an unaccustomed tightness -

Is it wrong if he only writes it about himself? Would it be wrong if it made Mytho happy?

Mytho smiles with true, genuine release and acceptance as the weight of so many years is lifted off his shoulders, and finally he can be at ease, finally he can accept the love of someone who loves him -

He could write anything at all, if only it would make Mytho happy.

"On your knees," Mytho commands. "Prove that you are still my faithful knight -"

No. That one's wrong. The tone's off. So what would Mytho say?

"I have no words for this." Mytho's voice is ragged. "Let my mouth instead -"

No, not right.

"Let me instead use my mouth -"

No, not that either.

Mytho said nothing, but his mouth spoke whole volumes in silence as he pressed hot kisses against Fakir's pale


against Fakir's trembling

Would he?

against Fakir's stoic

Oh come now.

against Fakir's muscled shoulder

He prods it absently, then presses his quill pen against his lips, trying to imagine it.

against Fakir's starving lips, and Fakir devours him as a hungry man would a feast, as a desperate man would seize on his hope of salvation

Yes, that's the flow of it.

and Mytho smiles, finally safe in the arms of the one who loves him most. The evening sun falls in warm light across their naked bodies

It's dark outside now. How would it look? Would they be under a tree, so that thepatterns of light and shade fell across their bodies and trembled with the leaves in each passing wind? Or down by the lake, in the long grass, listening to the sound of the birds?

There's Duck. This isn't fair to her.

He could write her in, of course. Give her a nice little bit part, a brief moment that she can treasure happily for the rest of her life, but of course she'll realise that the Prince isn't really for her, that he loves another person, and she'll be happy with that, because of course she cares about him so she'll want the best for him. He'll write her a happy ending too. Someone who loves her, and she'll love him back.

He's much better than Drosselmeyer, he'll give everyone happy endings . . .

Slowly and with dawning horror Fakir stares at his pen, at his hands.

"We complete each other," the Prince murmured into his knight's naked shoulder. "Together we will be heroes. I'll never leave you, Fakir, I love you -"

Happy stories all have to end, Drosselmeyer's voice whispers in the tick of the clock, in the silence of the room. Write as many as you want, boy. I'll still be waiting here when you come back, and I'd never ask you to take out the love. The love is the best part! Love is what makes us write the stories in the first place, because we can't bear to let the characters go . . .

The pen snaps in Fakir's hand.

He picks up a new one, focusing on clarity, on determination, on a happy ending for the Prince.

Temptation whispers in his ear.

"Fakir," the Prince says, coming up behind him, resting his hands on Fakir's shoulders. "Fakir, you work too hard. Come to bed with me. I'm tired, Fakir. Hold me for a little while so I can sleep in peace."

Just for a little while.

"Fakir, I need you."

The Prince's hands would be elegant and fine, with callouses from swordplay and short nails. He would turn his head to see them resting on his shoulders, and he would look up to see Mytho's face.


And he knows just how Mytho's voice would sound.

A happy ending, he thinks, and it circles in his mind like ravens.