"How long do you think Fakir can hold a grudge?" Rue asks.

Mytho shrugs. "Forever if he wants to. I don't think he will, though. I can't imagine anyone holding a grudge against Duck, especially not Fakir."

"He did before."

"He won't. He loves her."

Rue jerks her head around, the move shifting her entire body and nearly taking the picnic blanket they're sitting on with her.

"Funny way to show it if you ask me," she retorts as he sips the lemonade in his glass.

"Fakir didn't want to express it here, though accounts make it sound like he had no choice. It would be better for him to say it in Gold Crown. And to be honest, I'm glad I got to tell you in Gold Crown."

Rue looks down when he takes her hand. "Why?"

"Everything is true here. But Gold Crown is where things are most true for you. And I was able to tell you my heart's truest wish in the place where it could be truest for you."

Mytho reaches to cup his wife's cheek. Rue smiles at the tartness of the lemonade balancing out the sweetness of her husband's kiss.


"Do you mind? This is a library," Autor automatically replies before looking up to find Erina.

"Sorry," she whispers. "I was just wondering how Fakir's been in writing class."

Autor half-shrugs. "He seems all right. He got a haircut."

"That's it?"

"Please," he hisses, shushing her with a finger to his lips. "Yes, that's it. Trust me, haircuts are important."

"Huh! Important how?"

"They're change. Besides that, he's working in the smithy."

"You could've said that instead!"

"Erina please!" he says, just a bit louder than he hissed before.

"Can you two have your lovers' spat somewhere else?" a girl from the next table over whispers. "We're trying to study."

"Oh no, Pique, I want to watch!" the girl's blonde companion coos.

Autor sighs and sits back down. "He's getting better," he whispers to Erina. "Satisfied?"

"I guess so," Erina answers, careful to be quiet.

When she doesn't leave immediately, Autor goes, "And?"


"What else do you want?"

Erina fold her arms at the completely correct presumption. "I need a musician to practice for an audition."

Autor stares at her a moment. "And you want me?"

Erina shrugs. "Might as well get someone I know."

He sighs. What a strange thing it is to have someone to talk to. "Fine. I'll be done soon here anyway."

"Thanks," she goes before giving him a light sock in the shoulder goodbye.

"Easy, I bruise like a grape," he tells her before she's gone.

"Do you miss them?"

Blanchefleur eyes the visiting Auspex at her table. "That's a silly thing to ask."

"I don't think it's so silly," Parsifal goes. "They were nice company to have. It would have been nice had they stayed after the wedding."

"You can't hold back the young, though," Blanchefleur says, pouring the tea.

"True, true," the Auspex agrees. "So he broke Princess Tutu's curse."

"He did," Parsifal nods.

"Are you glad?"

Parsifal hums in thought before nodding again. "If Lohengrin and Tutu weren't already at peace, they surely are now."


The ballroom is a stifling place for the Princess and the Knight, both finding themselves on the cool balcony.

"Ah, Lohengrin," she answers, taking the Knight's offered hand.

"You wouldn't believe the words they're saying about us in there."


He shakes his head fondly. "With my Prince ill, they think the two of us are lovers."

Tutu squeezes his hand. "Does it hurt you? To hear that?"

"No. I would rather be your friend like this than have you as an unwilling lover."

He brings her hand to his lips for a chaste kiss.

"I'll never be able to thank you enough for understanding, Lohengrin."

"I'll never be able to thank you enough for loving me as you do, Tutu."

Tutu takes her hand back and leans on the balcony, Lohengrin stepping closer and putting an arm around her shoulders.

Time and space administer their balm generously when accompanied with action. It made the next encounter, a chance passing in town, easier.


He stops and turns but the urge to run or brush her off is gone. "Duck?"

"Oh my gosh, Fakir, I almost didn't even recognize you!" Duck gushes, running across the street to join him. "How are you?"

Fakir nods and says, "Better. I...I feel more like me."

A smile of relief blossoms on her face. "Good. Good, I'm glad."

"And you? How are you?" he asks back.

"I'm good! Real good! I've been dancing and it, oh Fakir, it's just been wonderful! I can finally be myself. And-and it's reminded me..."


"Reminded me how much I missed you."

Fakir watches Duck rub her hands together. "Me?"

"Mm-hm," she goes, sheepish. "I know things were kind of messed up because of the story but...but now we're both here instead and we can be ourselves and I just- I really missed you!"

Duck throws her arms around him with enough force for Fakir to take a step back before returning the embrace.

"I'm sorry," she says before letting him go. "I just...I wanted to let you know."

"I'm just glad you didn't fall over," Fakir replies in jest. "But I guess you do have my balance now."

"Hey!" she answers, nudging him with her elbow.



Fakir glances down at her. "Would...would it be all right if we start over?"

"Start over?"

Now it's his turn to fiddle with his hands. "I had wanted to ask for a while. Between everything I've ever done and then the newest mess we've been through, I- well, I know it's a lot to ask. And I know I don't deserve it."

Duck looks up at him. "I don't think that matters anymore. And it is kinda like we're new people."

"You think so?"

"Mm-hm," she nods.


"So...so my name's Duck!" she says, offering her hand to shake. "I'm pleased to meet you!"

Fakir smiles back and takes her hand. "My name's Fakir. Likewise."

Once upon a time, there was a ballerina and a blacksmith.

And their story was completely up to them.