gaisce: (Please remember me--fondly)
Flourishing Verdantly ([personal profile] gaisce) wrote2010-03-23 09:51 pm
Entry tags:

[Princess Tutu] Such Shaping Fantasies

Title: Such Shaping Fantasies
Series: Princess Tutu
Spoilers/warnings: Set right after season one. Slight Kraehe/Tutu subtext.
Wordcount: 2,500
Summary: A restless mind makes for foretelling dreams.

Although she disliked the dark, Rue kept the curtains closed because she had grown to fear the waking world more.

Day and night held no meaning for her now, not since she retreated to her room and sealed the door shut. For time’s measure had become inconsistent. It grew fickle as the gears of the story began their inexorable turn, and there was no point in paying time any mind when it had so cruelly abandoned her.

Rue could only watch as the world she knew ground forward, past the aimless routine of before. Just as Mytho moved beyond her. Ah, but what she wanted and what was fated to be were different things. A difference that meant everything to the story, but nothing to her as she lay curled up on her sheets with sore muscles and a bitter heart, aching for everything she couldn’t grasp. Or, if once grasped, could not hold onto well enough.

Instead, she turned upon herself with knees drawn up to her chest and her arms crossed over her legs as if she might stop the wrenching hurt that lay just beneath the breastbone. And she slept—out of exhaustion and a hopeless wish that somehow sleep could bring a different kind of nothingness. One that could replace the wrenching absence with something other than regret.

In part, her wish was granted. Rue’s dreams were filled with darkness. It was past and prologue. The blackness of before, when she had so blissfully forgotten her role. These dreams lingered in the catacombs buried beneath the town and beneath her own conscious mind. Her self-imposed exile took her to back to retrace the scene of her last great loss.

Now she was alone. In the boundless, shapeless dark she stretched her arms and marveled at the paleness of her fingers, the dexterity of her human hands. How ugly they were! How out of place these flimsy arms seemed to be when canvassed in black feathers. Even her hair seemed to fade to a tarnished grey when it fell against the covering of her dress. But she expected to see the flaws become more prominent in the stark landscape. It was the cursed form she had been born into, and of the many bitter truths she had to accept in her life this one was surprisingly natural in her acceptance.

Kraehe extended a hand. Banishing away the falsities she had gathered about her as Rue. They were worthless trimmings, the way a jackdaw adorns its nest with shiny baubles to cover up its true nature. What did she want of compliments, admiration, and least of all friendship?

The gesture grew bolder, her fingers curving into talons and her arms fluttered in time with the crow’s wings as she spun her body in quickening revolutions. Around her, the world blurred until it lost all distinction. The dance grew progressively more ominous, clawing at her surroundings as if she could tear down the starless sky and bring the whole world tumbling down around her.

It felt so freeing to be able to pour her frustration and despair out into action, to destroy anything that stood in her way. Even the obstacles that were made of nothing at all. If this is how her lord father felt when he escaped from the pages of Drosselmeyer’s story, she could only imagine the agony it must have been to be sealed again by the prince’s reckless sacrifice. Just as she felt to be bound so close the prince now, that his presence could push her heart fit to bursting. What a terrible fate to need someone who was your sworn enemy and rival...

As if on time to the beat of her heart, the blackness pulsed and gave way to a faint red glow. Not the glossy red of her lips, or the sharp red of her eyes, but an ephemeral rose unfolding before her. A piece of the prince’s heart stood before her, banishing all the shadows between them with an outstretched hand as if a gentle rebuke.

“My prince,” she thought to say, but the words that echoed were not her voice. They were softer, shaping the sentiment into something foreign and gentle.

She looked up to see Princess Tutu standing on the opposite side of the prince. The words were hers, although her tone held no claim to him. When Tutu spoke it was an offering, so fitting for one whose role was to give the prince back his heart but never own it for herself.

Still, Kraehe’s head rose in disdainful challenge. As if she could presume to take him from her. “Do not listen to her, my prince. She is an imposter. A clumsy girl who borrows the talent of others.”

“Is she?” The prince’s heart shard asked, looking to Tutu and back again to Kraehe with the same solemn expression. “Then what are you?”

“I am your princess,” she declared, trying to mask her confidence as a disguise for the hurt his question pricked within her chest. Instead, she drew closer to him, offering her hand out to his. “And you are my prince, as promised to me long ago.”

“My princess,” the feeling of love echoed. When she felt his palm rise up to meet hers, it was all Kraehe could do not to dig her nails deep enough to reach his marrow and hold him fast.

Tutu looked on the display with a mournful expression. She did not need to speak, but Kraehe knew it hurt her, the light that shined on tips of white hair and the jewel around her neck seemed to dim in radiance at being overlooked. Anticipating such a response, Kraehe sought to further the other girl’s agony by drawing the prince’s form closer to her.

“It seems he’s chosen already. Poor, pitiful Tutu. Your silence tells me everything. You don’t want him as much as I do.”

Princess Tutu said nothing. Merely shook her head and raised her arms up to encircle each other; the mime for a request to dance with someone. With a vicious tug Kraehe pulled the prince’s face to her, willing him to turn away from the light and keep his gaze only on her.

Mytho’s heart, ever obedient to a desperate plea, continued to stare at her. But Kraehe knew from bitter experience that Princess Tutu would not give up so easily. So she kept her raven sharp eyes focused on her rival, could not tear herself away from the sight as Tutu began her pas de deux alone.

Whatever she had seen before were mere glimpses, marred by her own efforts to keep Tutu from the prince. Now it seemed as if she were the sole audience, as the shade in Mytho’s form seemed blind to Tutu’s plea. But even with the assurance that the prince remained steadfast in her arms, a frenzied panic grew Kraehe’s heart as she watched.

“Disappear...” Kraehe whispered, a word fluttering out of her chest. Even as she stood in perfect balance with every feather poised, she felt the trembling overtake her as Princess Tutu continued to dance. “Go back to that speck of light. This story is mine now.”

Did you choose this role? Tutu’s dance asked, with arms reaching out as if to caress and console. Did you want this pain?

“It’s all your fault.” Kraehe’s arms tensed in concentration. “If not for you, it would have never come to this.”

Princess Tutu held her pose. Every line elegant, every part of her body radiating the emotion she carried, without pretense or affectation. Such a beautiful sentiment that it made all of Kraehe’s attempts seem ugly in comparison.

I only wanted to be by your side... Tutu’s eyes conveyed their silent wish, shimmering with unshed tears.

Kraehe’s hands, or claws, for sometimes she dreamed those too, reached for the phantom image of the prince to draw him to her. And she wondered how substantial he could be, able to hold her so that she did not fall but still so fleeting that she could not feel him.

If she did not need him so, if she did not command his love absolutely, it would be like he was not there at all. He was mere fantasy, a ghost spun from a story told long ago. But so was Tutu, and she could be seen through the rose glow of the prince’s heart, more real than him. More real than anything Kraehe had ever imagined.

“I’ll hide him away in the darkness, where no one can reach and nothing can change him. I’ll kill him before I let you have him, if I must. Then you’ll have nothing left to love.”

“That’s not true,” Princess Tutu said as she stared at her, with the same gentle expression capable of catching even a heartless prince’s attention.

So what could poor Kraehe—now all too painfully aware of that gaze—do but stare back at her?

“You love him...” she said without a trace of doubt. The same bone deep assurance was reflected in Tutu’s stance and it touched upon the corners of her mouth. The certainty lingered until her voice died away, following questions and everything else she could not bear to speak of, which rested within her throat. But she asked anyway. “If you love him so, then why do you cause him such suffering?”

“Because of you,” Kraehe spoke, almost as soft as Tutu’s own voice but still sharp with venomous accusation. “You are to blame, Princess Tutu. You’ve come between us, that you seek to restore a heart he doesn’t need, that he looks to you instead of me, and I—”

The rest of her words were swallowed by the darkness. Aware of her vulnerability, Kraehe resolved to deny Tutu the satisfaction of seeing the hurt she caused her personally. So she lashed out at another, and drew her sharp claws around the prince’s neck. And although she felt no resistance of flesh or will, she heard the illusion gasp with a suddenness of a candlewick snuffed out.

“Please stop!” Tutu cried, stumbling in her haste to keep him safe. The beautiful glamour seemed to vanish the moment her foot fell in misstep. And despite the trappings of her appearance she could be seen for the gangly, awkward girl that Rue once dance with, the one whose look of uncomprehending worry still lingered in her memory.

Pathetic, thought Kraehe. So pathetic and weak.

“No playacting this time, or foolish self-sacrificing knights to help you. Now I hold his love in my hands, and you can be sure I’ll never let you have it.” To emphasize her point, she turned her head and kissed the bareness of his neck, his breath fluttering like a bird trapped beneath her hands. “If you care for the prince so much, you’ll protect this fragile love of his and disappear.”

“Rue, please...”

“There is no one by the name of Rue,” she seethed and dug her nails in deep enough for blood. “I am Princess Kraehe, and I take what I want even if it is by force! Now disappear!”

“I will!” Princess Tutu cried and collapsed to the ground. When she found the strength to lift her head there were tears freely streaming down her cheeks. Each one that fell caused a ripple in the dark, a circle that ebbed in the wake of her agony and lapped at the other girl’s feet. “I will do what you ask. But you must promise me one thing.”

Kraehe, for reasons she did not know, lessened her grip on the prince’s throat. “What promise?”

“That you love him after I’m gone, so you won’t hurt him anymore.”

“Only that?” she laughed. “Very well. I will love him so fully that he will forget everything about you. Each passing day I will love him more than the last, until your feelings are no more than a speck in comparison mine. I will fill his empty heart with my feelings so that he will never notice a lack of it. He will not miss you at all, not even remember your name or the two worthless lines that brought you out of the story to follow him...”

“And you?”

Her lips pursed. “What of me?”

“Will you remember me, Princess Kraehe?” the young girl asked, “And your promise?”

“You didn’t ask me to remember you,” the crow princess said curtly. “But I will keep my promise for forever and the day after that. You can vanish knowing he will be in the care of his destined princess, and we will live happily ever after...”

Tutu drew herself up, once again the forlorn maiden borne of the story. Only Princess Tutu could bear such a horrible fate with the serenity as seen in the girl who stood before Kraehe. Only she could smile so kindly at the one who sought to destroy her. “Please, may I look at him directly when I say goodbye?”

Fear seized up in Kraehe’s chest, although she did not know for what reason. The heart shard of Mytho was still in her arms and his face was staring at her expectantly. Not angry, not sad, not with longing, not even afraid, just waiting for her answer. And unable to continue with her fingers clutching at him so helplessly, she let him turn and look at Tutu.

“Say it quickly,” she whispered, her arms still wrapped around his body and pinning his arms. From behind she pressed her face into the opened collar, trying to bury herself into the illusion. Yet no matter how solid his form had become in Kraehe’s arms, she could see Princess Tutu through his transparent, hollow chest.

“My prince,” Princess Tutu touched the pendant that hung around her neck, her hands curving over her heart. “Whatever happens, please do not worry about me. This may be the only comfort I can offer you now. At the start, I only wanted to make you smile again, but it seems all I caused was further hurt. Please know that...”

“Say it,” Kraehe hissed, wishing she could close her eyes. But she had to watch. She had to make sure. And Tutu would not look away.

“Know that is why I did everything I’ve done. And if it has caused you pain it is only that I could do more. My prince...”

“I love you,” she whispered in the softest voice. And all was light.

Rue woke up clawing at sheets, her heart beating frantically and chest tight with labored breathing. It was only a dream, she told herself, meaning nothing and signifying nothing. That it managed to affect her so was only because it had not come true in reality. She would have been happy if Mytho was by her side, a careless doll once again. She would be happy yet to see Tutu vanish. What did it matter that paltry victory?

But there was no answer in the dark.