A/N: Hey there readers! This is an old story I found on my computer the other day that I decided to share with you. Like I said, it's a couple years old so my writing style has changed quite a bit. It was kind of awkward for me to read because I wanted to rewrite the whole thing! lol. But I decided to edit it a bit and keep it as it is to see what anyone else thought of it. So I hope you enjoy it despite its depressing atmosphere.
The only warning I can think of for this story is the fact that it revolves around death and that the story follows the steps of a Christian funeral procession, so religion is involved. If that makes you feel uncomfortable then please save yourself the grief and don't read. =)
"He's really gone." The young red-headed girl told herself repeatedly within the depths of her mind. She still couldn't believe what had transpired just a few days ago. She stared at the subject of her thoughts, who was peacefully lain out in a rich mahogany coffin near the front of the room. Seeing him lying there, his eyes closed, his skin more pale then the moon, brought fresh tears to the girl's bright blue eyes. "He was still young, he had many years to live but this…"she couldn't continue her thoughts. She tried her hardest to suppress the new onslaught of tears that threatened to consume her.
The young, beautiful girl was non-other than Duck, wearing a simple, yet elegant white dress. Her hair was let down for once out of its usual long braid, the top most portion of her hair was braided and crowned around the top of her head to make her look more formal for the sad occasion. If someone were to look at her now, they wouldn't have believed that, three years ago, she was not a girl but a regular average duck. Well, as average as any duck would be if she didn't have the heart of a human girl.
Duck had once been the beautiful and mysterious Princess Tutu, who saved Gold Crown Town from a powerful and nasty raven who threatened to turn the whole town into crows and devour the Prince's heart. She didn't defeat him alone however. The actual Prince from the story, Mytho, along with his chosen princess, Rue, and the ever noble night-turned-writer, Fakir, helped Duck to vanquish the evil bird. But that was three years ago. After the raven's defeat Duck had turned back into a duck.
A smile slowly formed on the sad girl's lips as she remembered the few months she had been a duck. She remembered being quite unhappy about her situation because: 1. No one seemed to remember her, save the people who were involved with the Raven's defeat, and 2. She practically lost all sense of communication with her knight, Fakir.
They could communicate on a certain level though. Body language and reading each other's eyes were duck's ways of communicating with her friend, but it got tiresome after awhile. Despite the communication problems though, Fakir kept his promise and stayed by her side and even let her live with him at Charon's house. They had to explain the situation to Charon since he forgot who she was (She remembered feeling very sad about that), but after jogging his memory, Charon welcomed Duck into his home just like she was his own daughter, albeit a duck.
It was later that year, Christmas Eve to be exact, when Fakir made it so Duck could turn back into the girl she wished so hard to be. Duck's smile finally reached her eyes as she reminisced.
Fakir had spent most of the month locked up in his room working on a new story. She remembered being frustrated with him because he wouldn't let her read it like she usually did when he wrote his stories for Gold Crown Town. She huffed and looked the other way when the young man came down for dinner in the later evenings, voicing her discontent with him. Her annoyance with him changed when he gave the story to her as a present on Christmas Eve though. The story was about a duck with the heart of a human girl who wished to be human once more, and that by reading that magical story her dreams would be fulfilled.
That was the shortened version of it, of course, Duck mused, "It sounded more fairytalesqe and mystical when I read it." Never the less, Duck turned back into the girl she once was, who actually aged by a couple months by the longer length of her hair, like she was never a duck to begin with.
After a wonderful Christmas, Duck enrolled back into Gold Crown Academy in the ballet department and lived in the dorms again along with her re-acquainted friends, Pique and Lilie. Still, that was three years ago. She was on her last year now at Gold Crown Academy and Fakir was going to Gold Crown University on the other side of town; majoring in English. Charon was the one who paid for both Fakir and Duck's schooling, so when Fakir started to attend college, the poor old blacksmith couldn't make the cut on the knight's tuition bills. This resulted in Fakir deciding to publish the stories he wrote for Gold Crown Town. Fakir was an instant success and had a huge following for his short fairytale stories that, unlike his ancestor Drosselmeyer's stories, ended happily. For the most part the four, including the cute puppet with a heart, Uzura (who had mysteriously reappeared one day), lived happily in the black smith shop like one big happy family. That is, until Charon's heart attack.
The fatal incident was startling and abrupt. The four of them had just sat down for dinner last weekend for their weekly get together, when Charon cried out and clutched his chest directly over his heart. He had collapsed shortly after. Fakir, Duck, and Uzura had been shocked from the outcry, and had wondered what was wrong. The couple seconds that it took to get their bearings on the situation and rush to the fallen man's side was long enough for the old man to cease consciousness. He died shortly later in Fakir's arms.
The recent memories were enough to snap Duck out of her reverie. She scanned the room for the knight of her thoughts. Her eyes finally came to rest on him not too far off from her. He was to her left and all the way across the room with his head bowed, arms crossed, and not looking at the coffin that his "father" forever rested in. It broke Duck's heart to see him like that. She remembered Fakir had been so shocked by Charon's sudden death, that he had secluded himself from Duck and Uzura, and had stopped eating. The girls finally got him to eat two days later, but he still didn't talk and stayed as far away from his living loved ones as much as possible. His secluded behavior wasn't what scared Duck the most though. The fact that she hadn't seen, nor heard him cry over his foster father's death frightened her to unknown levels.
"He shouldn't keep his feelings in like that; he'll keep deteriorating from the inside until he breaks." The once-duck girl thought morosely as she stared at the subject of her thoughts from across the room.
"He looks like he's wilting away doesn't he?" A soft voice spoke sadly, retching Duck from her thoughts.
"That voice!" She exclaimed out loud, turning around faster then she thought was humanly possible to verify the voice she hadn't heard in three years. "Mytho!" She cried in surprise as she flung her arms around the prince's neck and hugged him with all her strength.
The duck-girls actions stirred laughter from deep within the princess being, "It's nice to see you again too, Duck." He chuckled.
"It's been so long Mytho, and for us to meet up again under these circumstances…" Duck replied softly, relinquishing her hold from the prince's neck and looking down dejectedly.
"Yes. It is rather unfortunate that we meet because of this." Prince Mytho sighed, his voice filled to the brim with grief.
The tone of his voice was enough for Duck to look up so their eye's finally met. For one small moment they shared their sadness for the departed blacksmith in silent eye contact, until another person that Duck hadn't seen for three years walked up to the silent grievers.
"I've missed you so much Duck." The feminine voice said softly.
"Oh Rue!" Duck cried as she responded in a similar way as she did to Mytho, but this time with more desperation in her voice.
Rue gathered the girl into her arms like a mother would to a crying child, and just as softly as before replied, "I'm so sorry for your loss Duck. I didn't know Charon at all myself, but Mytho told me so much about him that it felt like I had lost a father figure as well."
Those words coming from Rue meant a lot to Duck. Rue had been kidnapped from her real parents when she was just a baby by The Raven and misleadingly brought up by the evil thing as well. For her to talk like Charon was her own father made Duck feel a sibling like bond forging as the girls continued to hug. The girls didn't have long to bond though as yet another person entered the praying room.
"Is that you Rue?" the new voice exclaimed in shock.
The two girls discontinued their hug to look for the source of this new voice. What they found was the bespectacled Autor, in funeral garb, staring at Rue like he never saw a woman before.
"Hello…Autor wasn't it?" asked the raven princess. She scrunched up her face as if she was trying to remember where she had saw the man before.
"Wow, you actually remembered my name!" The knowledgeable young man stood aghast. "It's been so long since we've seen each other, and back then we only met once." He continued. His eyes softened as he gazed at the girl he immediately fell in love with all those years ago.
"Well, you definitely…," Rue started, trying to find the words that would best describe their encounter. "…made an impression on me." She stated truthfully. After all, it wasn't everyday she met a random person on the street, acted like she was coming on to him to feed his heart to a raven, then have him truly admit that he was in love with her under the whole span of an hour.
"I did?" Autor gasped, his eyes widening in excitement; it was obvious he still had feelings for the young brunette, even though he knew she was already happily married.
"It's nice to see you again Autor," Mytho interrupted as politely as any Prince would, walking up beside his princess and putting his arm around her waist protectively. "But do you mind me asking what you're doing here?"
At the prince's confrontation, Duck noticed Mythos eyes seemed to be slightly narrowed in confusion. She wasn't sure if it was because of Autor's random appearance that confused him, or if it was because of Rue's inclination that the boy had made an impression on her. The swan prince had no idea of their meeting before after all. Or maybe his confusion was coming from his first ever feelings of jealousy because of Autor failing to hide his true feelings for his princess. All in all, Duck felt badly for the slightly confused Mytho, and silently gave her support to him with eyes full of determination.
While Duck was focused on Mytho, Autor was getting over the shock of Mytho appearing out of nowhere like that, (In actuality, Mytho was beside Rue the whole time. Autor just failed to notice him). Once the book fanatic calmed himself down from his slight fright, he looked Mytho in the eyes, sending silent signals of pompousness to the prince.
"Well, if you must know, Fakir has been staying with me ever since Charon's unfortunate accident last weekend, and I'm here to give him my support." Autor replied snootily, pushing his glasses up in a knowledgeable act just to show off. "Besides, Fakir and I are distantly related to begin with, and as seeing that Charon was his uncle, and therefore the reason Fakir lived with him in the first place after his parents' death, I'm also distantly related to him as well. As you can see I have a right to be here." The musician replied while glaring at Mytho accusingly, waiting for the prince to dismiss his claim for being at the funeral home.
"Oh!" Mytho said in surprise. Mytho forgot his prior hostility towards Autor and graced the pianist with a welcoming smile. "I had no idea you and Fakir were related. So in a sense that almost makes us related to since Charon fostered me as well."
"I…suppose…" Autor grunted with slight disgust, not sure if he wanted to consider the man who stole the girl he loved his relative.
There was an awkward silence after that as Mytho and Autor stared each other down. Well, it was more along the lines of Autor trying to stare Mytho down, while Mytho stared back serenely. Rue shook her head in exasperation while the two boys tried to one-up the other through sight alone.
Feeling the tension rising in the already tense funeral home, Duck scanned the area for a distraction. Luckily for her she found one immediately. For walking towards the group right now was Raetsel, another of Charon's foster children, along with her new husband. Duck hadn't seen Fakir's step-sister since her wedding two and a half years ago. Raetsel's appearance hadn't changed much since then. She still had pretty tan skin, and long brown hair in a shoulder ponytail. The only noticeable difference about her was the ever protruding bulge from her stomach region, which meant…
"Oh my gosh Raetsel, your pregnant!" were the first words that came out of Ducks mouth as she ran over to the older woman and grabbed her hands. "Congratulations!" the red head practically quacked in happiness and giggled with excitement. Her outburst broke the tense atmosphere between the royals and the musician who also looked at Raetsel in question. Mytho's eyes lit up once he saw his good friend and rushed over to greet her; Rue and Autor following.
"It's so nice seeing you again Duck." Raetsel smiled sweetly down at the red headed girl, meaning every word that she said. Her husband repeated what she said to Duck too, with a little more shyness.
"Oh my, it's been so long since I felt this happy." The duck-girl thought, as she looked between Raetsel, her husband, and Raetsel's bulging stomach. She hadn't felt a stroke of happiness since Charon had passed. That week had been the longest in her life with the sadness that followed Charon's death, school work that still had to be done, and Fakir's withdrawal…
Duck's thoughts ended with her knight, her good mood quickly dissipating. She stopped giggling and stared over at the young man in question.
Raetsel noticed how quickly Duck's mood changed and followed the young girls eyes to the lonely knight, who hadn't moved once since the beginning, or acknowledged that anyone else was in the room with him despite all the loud noise. The older woman had to stop herself from crying out once she saw her brother-like figure.
"He looks so…broken," Raetsel whispered uncertainly, like she was trying to believe the words as they came out of her mouth. She continued, the sadness never leaving her voice, "To see his parents die right in front of his eyes, and now for the same fate to happen to Charon…it must be reopening old wounds."
Duck's head snapped back to face Raetsel so quickly she would probably be sore for days. "I hadn't thought of that!" She whispered, astounded. "This must be so painful for him. No wonder he's avoiding me!" She nearly cried out and hung her head in shame. She had been angry and worried because of his behavior but he had more reason than anybody else to be acting the way he was. Sure, she felt horrible after Charon's death. Uzura and Mytho had been upset too because they were his foster children as well. Even Raetsel must have been completely upset over Charon's death because she once had stronger feelings for the man and also considered him a father, but Fakir…
The emotions Duck was feeling at the moment were mind reeling. She never felt so many emotions bombard her at once. Shame, regret, anger, sadness, along with realization and shock were among the many that plagued her as she mulled over this new information.
"I should have noticed this. I shouldn't have been angry at him!" she screamed over and over in her mind, beating herself up for her stupidity. If it wasn't for the gentle hand that soon rested on her shoulder, Duck would have spiraled into a self-pitying depression.
"It's okay Duck," Mytho whispered to her as he squeezed her shoulder in comfort. "We should have all known why he was acting more upset than usual."
"Yes, now that I think of it, he does seem a little more angsty than usual." Autor duly noted.
Rue looked at the book wiz critically. "You just noticed this? Haven't you been living with him for the past week?"
Autor blushed in embarrassment, "Well he kept to the guest room a lot and told me to stay out of his way." Trying to save face the musician mumbled, "I thought he would want to grieve after what happened, so I let him be. Sorry if I didn't notice before."
"It doesn't matter who just noticed his behavior. What truly matters is trying to bring him back." Raetsel spoke matter-of-factly. "And I think the best person to do that is you, Duck."
Duck looked up at Raetsel in surprise, "Me?"
"Yes, you." Raetsel spoke as she smiled down at her. "You've inspired him to change Duck. If he's going to listen to anyone it would probably be you."
"But…he's been avoiding me." Duck replied dejectedly, her eyes downcast.
"That's because he had places where he could hide away." Raetsel added in. "I've known him most of his life, so I know his patterns for hiding from his problems a little more than you do, but since he's here he has nowhere to hide. He wouldn't leave the prayer service; it would be too much of a disrespect towards Charon."
"…Maybe you're right." Duck thought out loud after a minute of silence. Then with renewed vigor she clenched her fists in determination. "Alright, I'll go talk with him!" And with that, Duck marched off to the other side of the room to talk to Fakir.
"Well, maybe we should go visit Charon now." Mytho said quietly after Duck's departure, as he looked down at his wife for confirmation.
Rue gazed back into her prince's eyes. "Yes, lets." She said with determination, and the two walked down towards the casket.
"Let's join them as well, Honey." Stated Raetsel's husband.
Raetsel only nodded, showing that she heard her husband's words and walked with him towards the casket, fresh tears already clouding her eyes. Autor didn't want to feel stupid standing there all by himself, so he walked with them to the casket and looked on as the two couples grieved for a fallen father and friend.