Notes: The characters are not mine and the story is! This was commissioned by Nuitsongeur, who won my fic auction in the Lightning Round at the HelptheSouth community on Livejournal. I hope she likes it. It takes place post-series, and there's a brief reference to my story Fall From Grace, but I don't think it or any other previous stories of mine have to be read first to understand it.
Cemeteries were not among Fakir's favorite places. In fact, he would go so far as to say that they were among his least favorite places. Oh, he was not afraid of them; not anything so stupid. But he was not in the mood to go there and be around the memorials of so many concluded lives.
Nevertheless, he still went at times, to deliver flowers to his parents' graves. Sometimes he was alone, which suited him just fine. But other times he caught glimpses of others visiting graves or some who just seemed to be walking through. He ignored them and they usually did the same for him.
As much as he did not want to think about them, nowadays memories he had blocked for years came forth with frustrating and agonizing frequency. He remembered the day his parents were killed. He remembered the crows, his terror, his mother shielding him while his father did battle with the vicious birds.
And he remembered that it had all come about because of a Story he had innocently written, wanting to be a hero.
He sighed as he straightened up from setting the latest flowers by the cold stones. He had never wanted to write again after that. He had occupied his thoughts and imagination with other things, such as playing knight. Then Mytho had come along and Fakir had devoted all of his time and energy to looking after him. And in the end, writing—not being a knight in battle—had been how he had helped save Mytho.
Now here he was, after having taken up the mantle of Drosselmeyer's successor. It was both strange and frightening to think about sometimes—how he, in essence, could control the whole town, and maybe more, if he wanted. His power was not strong enough, yet, to bring to pass anything he willed. But according to Autor, that could and would come with enough training and willpower.
Had Drosselmeyer ever been sane? If he had, what had made him lose it? Just being drunk with power and the desire to be entertained?
What if Fakir ever lost his mind and became another Drosselmeyer? What then? Would there be any turning back? Would the Bookmen come out of the woodwork and cut off his hands? He knew they were still watching him, worrying.
Maybe they had reason to worry. What if they knew something he did not? He had wondered sometimes—was this a power that could be used without the user completely losing it? Or would that eventually happen to every Story-Spinner, were he to live long enough? Autor had never told him any such thing. But maybe Autor did not know.
"I must say, I didn't expect to run into you here."
Fakir stiffened at the nasal voice. Speak of the devil. He turned to face his editor. "I guess we've just missed each other before," he said.
"I suppose so," Autor said, adjusting his glasses. Clearly he was not about to volunteer any information, but it was surely unnecessary anyway. He was likely there visiting his own parents' graves.
Fakir sighed, sticking his hands in his pockets. "Tell me something, Autor," he said. "How much do you know about Drosselmeyer's insanity?"
Autor blinked in surprise. "Not much at all, other than what's common knowledge," he said. "And what we've personally witnessed."
"You don't have any idea what pushed him over the edge?" Fakir pressed.
"Quite frankly, no. Even the biographies of Drosselmeyer don't get into it and really mostly gloss over any of his unstable tendencies." Autor peered at Fakir. "Why do you want to know?"
Fakir gave him a flat look. "I was just wondering."
Autor's response was a smug smirk as he crossed his arms. "Are you afraid his madness is hereditary?"
Fakir glowered. "No. I'm wondering if madness comes with the Story-Spinning package," he retorted.
Autor turned to walk over the grass. "I couldn't say," he said. "Drosselmeyer is the only Story-Spinner I've heard about who went insane. But he's also the one whose exploits are most widely documented. Unless, of course, the Bookmen have records on the others that are being kept secret, which I wouldn't be surprised about at all."
Fakir followed him. "So there's really no answers," he said.
"None that I know of," Autor said. "Have you been starting to feel the pull of madness?"
"Like it can be felt," Fakir said. "You must've not felt anything when your desire to be a Story-Spinner eclipsed everything else and your Story took you over."
Autor stiffened. ". . . I felt something," he said at last. "But I ignored it."
"Tch. That figures." Fakir came alongside. "I haven't felt anything."
"No strange urges to write people into tragedies or to just see what might happen if you did thus and so?"
"Then I wouldn't be concerned." Autor gave Fakir a sidelong glance.
"Thanks for the vote of confidence. I think," Fakir muttered.
"You're welcome," Autor said smoothly.
The sound of a drum stopped them both in their tracks. Autor stared ahead, aghast. "Fakir, you didn't!" he exclaimed.
"No, I didn't," Fakir shot back. "She must've decided to come on her own from Drosselmeyer's world."
"It's unfortunate for you that she likely doesn't know the answer to your question," Autor said.
"It's unfortunate for you that she's here at all," Fakir returned.
Autor had no comeback to that.
Soon Uzura marched into view with her ever-present drum. "Fakir-zura!" she cried. "And Autor-zura! Why are you in the weird park-zura?"
Fakir sighed. "This isn't a park, Uzura," he said. "Don't you remember, you were told about cemeteries?"
Uzura frowned, staring off into the distance as she considered this. "The park where they put people who don't wake up-zura?" she concluded.
Well, that was matter-of-fact and childlike both. So like Uzura. "That's right," Fakir said.
Uzura was not satisfied. "So why are you here-zura?" she asked.
"Why are you here?" Autor spoke. "Don't you tend to stay with Drosselmeyer in his world?"
Uzura nodded. "I saw you in the gear and I wanted to visit-zura," she said.
Fakir managed a smile. "Let's visit somewhere else," he said. "Come on, Uzura." He gestured for her to come with them.
"Ohh. You're leaving the weird park-zura?" Uzura fell into step beside the boys.
"Yeah," Fakir said. He looked to Autor, questions in his eyes. Was he going to come with them?
Autor shrugged. "My business here is done anyway," he said. "I'll walk with you to the gate."
Uzura pouted. "Then you're leaving-zura?"
"There are other things I need to get done," Autor said.
Fakir could not help but be amused. Autor really just wanted to get away from Uzura. Kids, and especially this one, made him uncomfortable.
"What about Ahiru?" he said.
Autor frowned. "What about her?"
"She might feel hurt if you don't come with us long enough to at least say Hello," Fakir said.
Uzura nodded enthusiastically. "Come with us, Autor-zura!" she chirped.
Autor let out a huge sigh, shooting a discreet glare at Fakir as he did. ". . . Just long enough to say Hello," he consented.
"Yay-zura!" Uzura exclaimed, and proceeded to beat out a happy tune on her drum as they walked.
Autor cringed. Fakir smirked.