Isn't Love Grand
Notes: The characters are not mine and the story is! This was written for the prompt Sometimes Love Is Not Enough at 12 Stories on Livejournal and is a birthday present for Nuitsongeur. I hope she likes it!
It was already late and cold when the loud, almost pleading knock came at the door. Autor frowned, looking up from where he had been heading out of the living room with an empty cup of tea. He set it just inside the kitchen doorway at the edge of the wrap-around counter and turned to the front door, where the knocking was persisting.
Kinkan was not a hotspot for crime, but it was also not a haven of midnight callers. Autor stayed intently alert as he unlocked and unlatched the heavy wooden door and began hauling it open. A robber always could try to plow their way inside. If Autor could stay prepared, he could shove the door right at the unsuspecting criminal and stun him, if need be.
"I was going to bed," he said dryly. "I hope you have a good reason for . . ."
He trailed off at the sight of a disheveled girl, her long red braid loose and coming undone. He stiffened, the door slipping from his grasp.
"Ahiru?" he exclaimed. "What happened? What's wrong?" He leaned out the doorway. "Is Fakir with you?"
"No, and right now I don't care if I never see him again!" Ahiru wailed. Her hands were clenched into tight fists, albeit they were only half-visible at the ends of the coat sleeves that were really too big for her slight frame.
Autor sighed. "I see," he said, pushing up his glasses. "Another argument, I take it."
"This was more than just another argument," Ahiru said. "This was the argument. An argument to end all arguments."
She reached up, brushing some strands of hair away from her face. In the dim light cast by the fire, as well as by the streetlamps outside, it looked like her eyes were red. Her voice quavered slightly as she spoke.
Thoughts of sleep were put aside for now. Autor held the door open wider. "Come in," he said.
Obediently Ahiru shuffled inside and Autor shut and locked the door after her. She crossed the room to the couch and plopped down on it, folding her arms over her chest and stretching her legs out in front of her.
"Won't Fakir wonder where you are?" Autor asked.
"Yeah, I guess," Ahiru sighed. "But it serves him right; he can just sit there and wonder and worry for a while." She looked away.
"It's warm in here," Autor said as he came to the couch. "Do you plan on continuing to wear your coat?"
"Oh." Ahiru glanced at herself. "I didn't even remember." She sat up straight and unbuttoned the heavy winter wear, shrugging out of it as she let it fall back against the couch.
Autor sat next to her. "How long ago did you have this argument?" he queried.
"I don't know. Maybe a little less than an hour?" Ahiru ventured. "I got so upset I ran out of the house and came over here." She stared at her feet.
"You were both staying up late," Autor commented. "And you look frazzled."
"Huh?" Again Ahiru reached up, pushing the loose hair away from her face.
Autor regarded her in disbelief. "Your hair," he said.
"Oh yeah." Ahiru felt behind herself at the unraveling braid. "I guess it started coming undone when I was running. I went really fast."
"I don't doubt that." Autor leaned forward. "Do you want to actually tell me about this argument or simply sit here for a while?"
Ahiru shrugged. "Sit here I guess," she said.
But then, suddenly remembering something, she looked up with a jerk. "You said you were going to bed," she said, stricken with guilt. "And I came barging in like this! Maybe I should go."
"I wouldn't be able to sleep now anyway," Autor said. He rested against the soft couch, allowing it to embrace his tired body. At his side, he could feel Ahiru shifting position.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled. "I wasn't thinking. I just wanted to be with someone who'd listen, and sit with me if I didn't want to talk, and not call me names, and . . ."
"I didn't mean to discourage you," he said, sitting up straighter. "You should know I'm always available if you need me. I wouldn't be able to sleep now because I'm concerned for you and your problem."
Ahiru managed a weak smile. "Really?"
Ahiru glanced down at her coat, picking at a piece of fuzz. "It's so hard sometimes," she said. "We can start screaming at each other about the stupidest things. It's like that's what our whole relationship is built on, yelling and stuff."
"Fakir is difficult," Autor agreed. "And often immature. However, you could stand to do some maturing yourself."
"Yeah, I know," Ahiru said, making a face.
"We're supposed to care about each other," she went on now. "I thought he still cared about me. I guess . . . I still do about him. We've been through so much together." She twisted the edges of her coat in her hands. "But it's just so hard." She looked to him with pleading eyes. "Autor, are all couples like this, fighting so much?"
Autor stared at her in surprise. "All couples quarrel to some extent," he said. "It would be impossible to avoid. Just because they care about each other doesn't mean they will always be able to agree."
"And Fakir and I argue even more than what's normal. I'm sure of it." Ahiru glowered into the fire.
"You are both too short-tempered for your own good," Autor said.
Ahiru slumped deeper into the couch. "Maybe I should forget the whole thing," she said. "Couples and dating and marriage and that stuff."
"So you'd never get married at all?" Autor said in amazement.
"Yeah. Maybe I'll be an old maid." Ahiru looked at him. "Autor, do you want to get married?" she blurted. "When we grow up, I mean."
Again Autor was stunned. "I . . . don't know that I've ever thought that much about it," he said. "If Rue had been interested I would have . . ." He trailed off, deciding he did not want to go into that. "If I find the right person, I imagine I will," he said instead.
"And what if you don't?" she said.
"I'll be content enough," Autor said.
"So then if I don't get married either, we can keep each other company," Ahiru said.
"It's too early to make such a big decision," Autor said. "You could very well end up married. I could as well, even though it's strange to think about."
Ahiru began to study her hands. "Autor . . . do you think Fakir and I really have a chance?" she said. "I thought we loved each other, and Fakir's stuck to his promise to always stand by me, but . . ." Her shoulders rose and fell. "When we argue so much I really start wondering if it's the right thing."
Autor was uncomfortable. He did not like being put into such a position as this. Being the same age as Fakir, and having had even less experience with romantic relationships, he did not feel qualified to give advice like Ahiru wanted right now.
"I don't want to sound too much like Neko-Sensei," he said at last. "Any relationship that's going to work needs love. However, there are other elements that are important too. I don't think that just having love is always enough."
Ahiru frowned, obviously lost. "What do you mean?"
Autor pushed up his glasses. "Well, for instance. . . . What if there was a couple that was supposed to love each other, but one of them was not trustworthy. The other person gave their trust willingly and freely because of their love, yet it was repeatedly proven to be in vain. The person who was not trustworthy continually broke their partner's trust. Do you think they could ever really have a happy relationship?"
Ahiru's frown deepened. "It doesn't sound like it, not unless the person changed and could be trusted." She looked up. "But couldn't love help that happen?"
"Yes," Autor admitted. "It wouldn't in every case, though."
"The one person probably doesn't even love the other too much, to keep breaking trust and stuff," Ahiru said.
Autor allowed himself a moment to marvel at Ahiru's sudden deep insight. "That's true also," he said.
"So if that person just really loved, then there wouldn't be trust-breaking and stuff," Ahiru said.
Autor sighed. "It isn't always that simple."
"It should be," Ahiru stubbornly said.
Autor decided to let that matter drop. "And then there are differences in personalities," he continued. "Some difference is probably healthy and good. But if the differences are far too many and too pronounced, the relationship can be a disaster." He sighed. "Sometimes that's the case if their personalities are too similar as well."
"But what about me and Fakir?" Ahiru protested. "We haven't broken trust, but do you think we can't make it work because we argue all the time and we're too different, or the same, or something?"
Autor sighed. "It's really an individual matter," he said. "You can't judge all couples based on what happens with one or even a few. I'd never want to try."
He could feel himself going a deeper red as he went on, "But yes, I believe you and Fakir could make it work. Actually I suppose any couple technically could make it work, if they would simply put in the right amount of effort."
"Effort," Ahiru repeated. "So does that mean effort is the most important thing?"
"It's definitely one of them," Autor said. "If the person breaking trust would exercise more effort, they could hopefully overcome that undesirable trait."
He shook his head. "Really, Ahiru, I feel like the blind leading the blind. I haven't had experience in this sort of thing."
"Well . . . it sounds like it makes sense anyway," Ahiru said. "I think you're doing good."
She glanced at the clock. "Wow, it's late," she observed.
"You're just noticing that now?" Autor said, raising an eyebrow.
Ahiru shrugged. "Maybe I should go back," she said. "Fakir's probably worried."
Autor allowed a slight, amused smile that she seemed to have completely forgotten her words about not ever wanting to see Fakir again.
"It's too late to walk back alone," he objected. "You shouldn't have come here by yourself to begin with. Now that we're out of Drosselmeyer's bubble it's a lot more likely to find questionable outsiders wandering through town."
"I haven't seen any," Ahiru said.
"Nevertheless, I'll walk you back," Autor said.
"But then you'll be coming back alone," Ahiru said with a frown.
"I can't argue with that," Autor said with a bit of a smile. "However, unless you could become Princess Tutu to attack your adversary, I would be able to handle such an assault better."
"Yeah, I guess." Ahiru perked up. "You should teach me about pressure points and stuff!"
Autor was not sure that was a good idea. "I should?"
"Sure!" Ahiru jumped off the couch and spun around the room. "It would be neat! Then I could fight off the bad guys too, even when I'm not Tutu!"
Autor pondered a moment. "Actually, if anyone tried to abduct you, it would probably be like The Ransom of Red Chief," he said.
Ahiru gave him a blank look. "What's that?"
"A novel about a kidnapped boy who made life Hell for his captors," Autor said. "He was very spirited."
"Oh. Yeah, it might be like that," Ahiru said. "I wouldn't take being kidnapped lying down!"
She headed for the door. "Well, we should probably go now," she said as she started to open it. "Fakir's worried and you need to go to bed. . . ." But then she froze in the doorway. "Fakir!" she exclaimed.
Autor was stunned. "Fakir?" he repeated. "He's here?" He got off the couch to look.
Ahiru was already running out the door. "Fakir!" she called. "Fakir!"
The door swung shut behind her before Autor could hear Fakir's reply. He crossed to the window and pulled back the drape, peering out at them standing on the cobblestones. It looked like they were arguing again. But then Ahiru was diving into Fakir's arms and he was holding her close.
Autor turned away, letting the heavy drape fall back into place. A slightly amused smirk played on his lips.
Throwing all advice and logical reasoning to the wind, he had to admit that he felt Fakir and Ahiru would definitely make it as a couple.
He was also sure that their path together would never be dull. And if he continued to serve as adviser to both of them with their love problems, neither would his.