lacewood: (Default)
Pei Yi ([personal profile] lacewood) wrote in [community profile] toxicskyremix2006-03-01 11:20 pm

princess tutu - and they lived

Spoilers for the entire series


And they lived happily ever after.

Rue wishes it were that simple. Why isn't it that simple? After everything everyone has done, now Drosselmeyer has gone, now the story is over - why can't it be that easy? Maybe it's the raven's blood, still beating in their uncertain hearts and veins, that poisons them still. Maybe it's just her she thinks, maybe happiness is just too much for her to bear.

Happily ever after. It's true in stories, isn't it? And this is a story.

She searches her dreams. Where is it, then?

So this is the story. So this is the palace. So this is the prince, and she, she is the princess here. Isn't that lovely? Their carriage of swans, flying through a cloudless sky, Mytho's hand warm and gentle in hers, the light in his eyes.

She thinks her heart will burst. What is this feeling?

They come to the palace, new awakened for the return of its prince, and it is beautiful, so beautiful, banners aflutter from the towers, flowers scattered through the grounds, and everywhere, people, laughing, crying, rejoicing.

Our prince has returned, our kingdom lives again. The raven king is gone, we are free.

And this beautiful, beautiful girl by our prince's side, who looks at us with tears in her eyes, her heart too full to speak.

A princess!

What more could we ask for?

They love him. Beside her, he takes her hand, and smiles, soft. They love you already, he says. She can't believe him. No, they love you, she says. Then they will love you because I love you, he says. Their joy swirls around her, bubbles in a champagne glass. She could drown in this, she thinks, she could forget how to breathe.

But no. He smiles, he holds her close, he won't let her.

Such a palace, this. It could be bigger than Kinkan town, with its long halls, dazzling rooms, glorious gardens, rolling meadows. Beyond the walls, from the highest turrets, she catches glimpses of a world outside.

Would you like to go and see? he asks her, when he finds her standing there, watching.

No, she says. The town outside will not be Kinkan town, she knows, and it's not that she doesn't want to leave or see it, this is Mytho's world, and now it's hers, but for now... for now.

No, she says. I want to stay here for a while. With you.

I'll be with you, he says. I'll always be with you now.

I know. But.. it's safe here. I like it. Not for a while yet.

Of course. You don't have to.

Dance with me? he says.

They left their ballet slippers behind them, their ribbons and leotards and pins, but the palace is filled with ballrooms, wide and sweeping, all mirrored walls, glittering chandeliers, shining windows. She takes his hand and they dance through the halls, prince and princess, and she catches glimpses of their reflections from the corner of her eye.

How happy they look.

Aren't they?

She is, she is, her heart would burst with the beauty, the joy, the love of this story's ending.

Her heart would shatter.

At night, they sleep side by side on satin sheets, her hand in his. He kisses her brow, soft and sweet, as she closes her eyes.

Would that her dreams could be as sweet.

Why does she still dream so?

Daughter, the raven king whispers in her dreams. Daughter daughter my beautiful ugly torn and broken daughter. Did you think you could leave me so easily?

You lie, you lie, you are dead and I am free. I am no daughter of yours.

Fool. You have drunk of my blood, eaten of my hate, grown fat on my rage. I live in your heart as your human parents do not, did you think you could escape me? Did you think your prince could save you?

You are dead, you are gone, you are a ghost, not even a ghost, you are the memory of my fear.

And such fear, useless fear. How sweet it is. Such despair, how it lives still. Did you think happiness was for you? Look at your own black heart and tell me.

She wakes from the edge of the abyss. She wakes suddenly, quietly, never moving, never crying out, her eyes opening, her muscles clenching but - no, she won't wake him.

He sleeps badly enough as it is.

Sometimes it's not the dream that wakes her, but his cries. The raven battles on in his dreams, in the darkest places of his fragile, jigsaw puzzle heart. She wraps her arms around him as he thrashes and roars, calling. Mytho, Mytho, you are dreaming, come back to me, the raven king is dead, Mytho! Come back to me! I love you! Mytho, Mytho, Mytho.

She wraps her arms around him, and feels him shake. She called him back from the darkness once, she will do it again and again, until the darkness no longer calls.

And what if it isn't enough? a traitor voice whispers. Because he heard you once, do you think he will always hear you? She swallows her fear, sour and thick. Mytho.

He opens his eyes. Rue. Oh, Rue.

Mytho. You were dreaming. I am here.

Yes. You're safe. I'm so glad.

How could it be that he is afraid of losing her again? Such relief he finds in waking to her face.

My love, she wants to say, but the words won't come out.

She never asks him anymore. Do you love me? She doesn't need to, she tries to tell herself. He's not her puppet, he is not hers to take the words from his lips.

Not this time.

She can feel it anyway, can't she, in the warmth of his hand, the gentleness of his voice, the light in his eyes. He loves her, he doesn't need to say it.

Such hunger, deep and roiling in her heart. She doesn't need the words. Why does she still hunger for them so?

Are you happy, she asks instead. (Are you happy with me?)

Why, yes. Aren't you? he says.

How could I not, she says.

But they see the shadows in their eyes.


Strange, that she should miss her. But it isn't, is it? It was Ahiru who believed in her, who called her Rue-chan, who fought so hard and gave her her prince, her happy ending. Ahiru, who was the greatest of them all.

Oh, Ahiru. I want to be happy. For Mytho, for you, for all of us. Why can't I?

Teach me how, she wants to say, but Ahiru's not here, she's not even a girl anymore.

How could you give so much? How could you give your happiness for my own? Why can't I still be happy? Ahiru, Ahiru, I'm sorry.

I miss you.

Easy to think the words, here and now where she can't say them.

She kisses him hard and hungry and desperate, her fingers curled tight in his shirt, as if she were afraid she would lose him if she let go. If she could eat him up, heart and all, would he finally be hers? Would his heart then beat in hers, and never be able to leave?

Around the palace, the gardens, vast and unending. Left to its own devices in the prince's absence, it has grown to a wilderness, barely pruned back now by human hands. Here, flowers of every shade and kind; trees, older than time; fountains, gurgling and eternally young.

Here lies the most beautiful labyrinth in the world.

She wanders them recklessly, with no thought for where she is going, where she has been. She loses herself to know that she is never lost here, because he will always find her. One morning, she finds a field of sunflowers, another, a spreading oak that sings to her in a language she can't understand, the third, a lake and two swans, one black, the other white.

It's not the swans she stops to look at, though, it's the ducks.

They come to her when she steps to the lake's edge - she backs away, startled. They mill around, some of them giving expectant looks, before realising she has no food to give. A few of them begin to flap away in disgust.

Greedy things, she thinks, and wonders why she stopped to look.

Behind her, the patter of footsteps. A child bursts from a pathway she hadn't seen, basket in hand, to skid to a halt by the water. The ducks leave her immediately to flock noisily to the girl. Pink-cheeked, brown-haired, the girl scolds and scatters bread from her basket.

She doesn't see Rue until she's come right behind her.

Ah! She jumps.

Could I have one? she asks.

Ah! Ah, ah, Princess! The girl almost falls into the water, she is so flustered.

Careful! Rue says, startled; the girl regains her balance, face red, and dips a low curtsy.

Oh, don't, Rue tells her.

Princess, I did not see you, I'm sorry!

You don't have to be afraid of me, Rue says (does she?) and the girl looks up at her and smiles, shy.

Princess Rue is so pretty, she says, before she can stop herself, and flushes red again.

It's not the first time, she's heard this, of course not. When she was only Rue at Kinkan Academy, only the best dancer in a not-very-ordinary school in an extraordinary town, she heard the whispers, all the time - jealous, envious, wondering, despairing. She's so beautiful. They trailed her every step, so she hardly heard them anymore. Of course she was beautiful, of course they were left in awe, of course -

Had she ever believed it, raven-hearted girl?

Thank you, she says, soft, and tries to smile, half-hearted.

(You are beautiful, you have always been beautiful, you are a girl, a princess, a real princess.)

The girl reaches into her basket and offers her a bun. Her hand is trembling.

Thank you, Rue says again, and takes it. She sweeps her long, silken skirts around her and kneels by the bank. Crumbles the bread slowly. You come to feed them everyday?

Ah! Yes, it's my job!

The ducks seem to like you, Rue says.

That's just because they're greedy. And because I look like one, Han says, but Han's just stupid.

Rue laughs. It surprises even her; she stops and the girls stares at her, wondering.

You remind me of someone, she tells the child after a long moment.

Ah, I do?

Yes. A girl. My... friend.

She must be very nice, to be Princess Rue's friend.

Rue looks at the ducks, finally tosses the crumbs from her cupped hands into the water.

Yes. She was the nicest person I'll ever know.

Mytho finds her still there, by the lake's edge, the girl long gone to other chores and duties. She doesn't turn when he sits on the grass beside her.

I'd forgotten this place, he says; he is prince here, but he has been a long time gone. Some memories wake slowly.

It's beautiful, she says, and it's true, even in this world, this story, where every blade of grass, every pebble, is a work of art.

He looks at the swans, the ducks. What are you looking at? he asks.

I was thinking, she says, after a pause.

For a moment, he is silent; together, they watch the lake with its reeds and willows and swans.

What were you thinking of? he asks.

Kinkan, she whispers.

Ah, he says.

She rests her head on his shoulder. Do you ever think of them? she asks.

Yes. Sometimes.

Do you miss them? she wants to ask. Instead, she closes her eyes.

His fingers, warm against her cheek as he brushes a strand of hair from her lips.

Peacocks strut the lawns, sparrows nestle high in the eaves, pigeons scatter the courtyards here. Ducks and swans and geese drift on the lakes and ponds, chickens and turkeys flap and squawk in the kitchen coops. Hummingbirds buzz in the gardens, and nightingales trill under their window. Sometimes, a falcon wings across the sky, black in the corner of her eye.

There are no ravens here.

Once, in the rose garden, a glimpse of black wings flapping in her shadow's wake made her start. She stumbled, fell, caught a stone in her hand -

The bird shrieked, spread white-speckled wings, and flew away.

A starling.

She shook.

There are no ravens here, she says to Mytho later.

No, they're gone. They left with the monster raven, they'll never come back now.

Good, she murmurs.

(Don't you miss them, daughter? Don't you feel lonely in your golden aviary, my ugly little raven girl?)

No, no, no.

This is your heart, the Raven King rasps in her dreams. Black and bloodied, bruised and torn - why did you think I spared you, why did you think I did not rip it from your chest? It would have tasted of ash and dirt, it would have been poison, even ravens would not feast on a heart such as this.

Is this the heart you would offer to your prince?

Foolish one.

It is mine, she says. It is mine, not yours, and it is all I have and he takes it.

And what will you do when it is no longer enough? What will you give him then? You have no more feathers, no more wings, what will you give him? Your kidneys, your lungs, your flesh, your blood, your bone?


She gasps.


She wakes, to Mytho's arms, Mytho's voice.

You are dreaming, I am here, he says. You're safe.

She shakes, and cannot stop weeping.

It is only a dream, he says. Only a dream. He can't hurt you anymore.

No. No, she says, tears still running down her face. Can't you see? I'm scared, so scared, I can't remember how to not be afraid, even here. But the words won't come out.

I'm still so scared, she whispers.

Hush. I'm here. We're here. You're not alone anymore, you'll never be alone. His lips, warm against her bitter tears.

Mytho. Mytho. Don't leave me.

They leave the palace and its grounds for the first time a boy in a plain white shirt and a girl in a yellow cotton dress. He carries a basket, she holds his hand, and they walk the cobbled road to a small, sleeping town by a river. Across the river, past a moss-covered stone bridge, a wood, quiet and cool.

Sitting in a clearing, listening to the whine of crickets, she says, Dance for me.

He smiles. Not with you?

Dance for me, she says, a hint of her old imperious manner back in her voice. His smile deepens, and he sweeps her a bow.

As my princess wishes.

Sunlight dapples his face, tints his pale hair gold as he spreads his arms. He is real here, she thinks, watching him, real as he never was in Kinkan, as he never could be.

And what is she, here? Was she ever real?

He dances for her with familiar grace, but where he was etheral before, he is gentle now, where he seemed to float, now he flies. Such beauty, such wonder, that they should be in this place, that he should dance for her so.

Her heart, she thinks. Was her heart made for such happiness? What is this feeling?

He sweeps her up before she can protest, draws her into his dance. Their bare feet on the grass, the sun on her skin; where she leads, he follows, and where he goes, she will be. Would that they could never end; why is it so much easier for them to dance than to live?

He laughs, and the sound is sweet, so sweet, clear and glorious and now, she thinks, now her heart breaks, now it ends, in this one perfect moment.

It doesn't.

Rue, he says. I love you.

I know, she says, standing in the circle of his arms.

I know. I wanted to tell you anyway.

I love you, she says.

I love you, I love you, I love you.

Is it enough? It has to be.

Is this a happy ending?

No. Not yet.

But one day... who knows?

That's what stories are for, aren't they?