Written for the March 2012 dA contest "Pique and Lillie." The girls miss their friend. Post- series, oneshot.

The two girls walked down the street, chatting and laughing. Out of habit both of them turned to the third, before remembering that she wasn't there any more.

No one they knew had seen Duck at all since the night of that... Neither of them had ever been exactly clear about that night. Lillie remembered it as an impromptu street dance, but upon Pique it had made a different impression, as if she'd taken part in a riot. But how likely was either of those to happen in sleepy, stuffy Goldkrone? There had been no trace of either the next morning, after the crowds had dispersed.

The two of them had beaten the subject into the ground, really, but only between themselves. Why hadn't they ever found out Duck's last name? They couldn't track her down without it, even to write. Where had she gone? Surely not with Mytho and Rue, who had... been hired by a ballet company, right? Was that where Mr. Cat had gone too? Lillie especially missed their teacher. Daily threats of marriage simply slid off of Lillie like, well, water off a duck's back, and for her (and her alone, thought Pique to herself) he had lent practice a spice that was missing now.

Somehow, Pique thought, that night was the key. The day after marked the day that she and Lillie had had to Grow Up. No more Mytho- or- Fakir- girl silliness, with Mytho just... gone, and none of the other senior danseurs quite so accomplished or good- looking. No more Duck to explain commonplace Goldkrone and ballet things to. No more Mr. Cat to make ballet interesting in a thankfully- unique way. No more Rue to look up to.

"I wonder where Duck went," said Pique aloud.

"Why don't we ask?" said Lillie.


"Come on, let's run!" giggled Lillie, pigtails bouncing as she took off.

So of course I get to do the talking, thought Pique. How silly was it being a Fakir- girl? He's rude. Plain and simple.

At least he dresses better now, though.

And how did Lillie know where to find him? We haven't been outside the walls, hardly ever.

"Um... Senior Fakir?"

He had looked up from his book as soon as he heard their feet on the dock, but hadn't risen. "Yes?"

"Um. I, er, we don't want to bother you, but..." What on earth to say? Should she introduce herself and Lillie? That would be silly, he knew who they were, he saw them in class all the time. "That is, Lillie and I have been wondering..."

He said nothing, but his expression clearly said: Get to the point, or go away. Irritation gave Pique the courage she wanted; she hated feeling intimidated.

"Duck has been gone a long time now. We were hoping she'd write someone so we could get an address, but we haven't heard anything. We were wondering if you knew where she went."

If she expected anything from him, it would have been a curt "And why do you think I would know?" But his face had gone blank. He turned to look out over the water.

"I only know that she won't have a permanent address for some time. If I hear anything, I'll tell you."

He seemed to make up his mind about something then, and stood, and whistled sharply. He was answered by a sleepy quack from the bank, and a yellow duckling poked her head out from under a bush and waddled into view. It caught sight of the three of them.

"Ohhh, how cute!" Lillie squealed as the duckling wasted no time, running and flapping until it was on the dock with them. Fakir bent to pick it up. It looked to Pique almost as if he had whispered something to it, when the quacking paused.

"Duck... was helping to take care of her," he said as the excited wakwakwak resumed. "Feel free to introduce yourselves, she's friendly." He handed her to Pique.

Pique had never held a bird before, and found the down to be softer than she had imagined. It was impossible not to smile; the bird was obviously ecstatic over her visitors. Lillie seemed fascinated, and the duckling rubbed her head on the fingers that stroked her back. Fakir looked relieved, as if he'd expected Lillie to ruffle the feathers the wrong way.

"Once you know each other, she'll probably come to you," said Fakir. "Sometimes she comes into town or visits the Academy, but mostly she's stayed out here."

"What's her name?"

Was Fakir, the wonderful Fakir, hesitating? "Duck," he said at last.

"Oh, that's so touching!" Lillie piped, patting Fakir on the shoulder. "It's okay if you don't have enough imagination to think up an interesting name. We miss her too."

A/N: Against all odds, Lillie retains her hand.

I have always had a harder time getting a handle on Lillie than Pique, so I decided to try this month's challenge and see if I couldn't at least give her a few lines.

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