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Where Thy Gentle Wing Abides

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"Music is the shorthand of emotion" ~Leo Tolstoy

From Entertainment Weekly

Rumor has it that the dynamic duo of Prince Mytho and Princess Kraehe have once again split up. How that affects tonight's concert at Madison Square garden, no one knows. Their tour manager, Mr. Cat, could not be reached for comment, but an unnamed inside source reports hearing something about 'marriage' in and around his office. No one knows if this is an extension of the well known feud between Mytho and Kraehe's best known collaborator, the Raven, or if Kraehe has begun to get tired of waiting for Mytho to officially acknowledge their relationship. Without his tour partner, will Mytho leave their big hit "Swords in the Sky" or will Mr. cat manage to coax the mysterious Princess Tutu out of hiding again, like the last time this happened?

One hour before the concert

Fakir watches Mytho pace the room. He's still uncertain if it was the best plan to expose Mytho to the heart shards in the middle of the worldwide tour. With Kraehe gone again, Mytho's fear (the last shard they had found) was intensified.

"You must not worry," Edel says. "For within the space of time, there are many measures, and tonight is an hour of great luck."
Fakir shakes his head again. Edel's a cousin of his, and he knows the only reason Mytho hired her is because of Drosselmeyer. The man was one of the most successful songwriters in the business—if not a tad repetitive, Fakir thought—so Mytho tried to please Drosselmeyer when he could.

"I suppose that means I should leave my set list intact," Mytho says.

Edel responds with the barest of nods, and turns to Fakir.

"Valiant friend, it is you who dances upon the wings of success, and even in your darkest hour, will provide the brightest light."

She adjusts her headset and walks out.

"I don't suppose I have to tell you that your stage manger is, odd," Fakir says.

Mytho laughs. "She's your cousin."

Fakir nods. (It's the worst kept secret in the industry that he's Drosselmeyer's son, and Fakir never denies it, he just never admits it either.) He's only on tour because Mytho insisted, and if he had an official job title, it would be 'keep Mytho together,' but he's also been drafted into back-up singing, first aid, and one time even filled in at bass guitar.

"I suppose her last remark means I should go and find you a duet partner."

"If nothing else, I'll make the audience do it," Mytho says.

"Don't worry; I think I can come up with something."

Fakir turns out of the room. He knows who he can get to do it, but first he has to find another heart shard. Another quest. Sometimes, he's more of a knight than a friend, questing for his Prince and riding into battle.

*

(ten minutes until the concert

Ahiru smoothes her skirt again, not even bothering to mess with her hair. It only took three tour stops for her to realize it would do what it wanted, so she left it alone mostly. There's a small pool amongst the other backup singers as to whether or not the duet will happen tonight, and if it does, who will sing it.

Fakir walks into the room, looks at her significantly, and then walks back out.

"Oh you are such a Fakir girl now," Lilie says. "I just knew it. I don't blame you, because you could never catch the eye of Mytho, not a girl like you, and it's very easy to fall for tall dark handsome and broody isn't it?"

"Lilie—"

"Don't tell me it's not true. Now go, find him and confess your love!"

Ahiru trips a little as she runs out the door, and races to catch up with Fakir.

"Is it true that Kraehe isn't coming?" Ahiru asks.

"Edel says someone is. I mean, if I've interpreted her correctly," Fakir says. "But that's later. I found a heart shard, I think. I need you to confirm for me."

Ahiru nods. It's been three weeks since she told Fakir everything. (It wasn't entirely by choice, although Edel would say there was always choice, in the river of time, but Ahiru had chosen to trust Fakir, had taken off her pendant. When she turned into a duck, Fakir's eyes had widened, and then he had smiled and held her closely and carefully in his hands. He's better to her now, and the day after, he sang her one of his secret songs, his eyes never leaving hers, his way of telling her that he trusted her, too.)

"Where?"

Fakir leads her through the twisty paths backstage, his hand warm in hers. Ahiru can hear the strains of the concert beginning. There are five songs until the duet, and if there is a heart shard, maybe Tutu will stay long enough to duet. They stop in one of the corners, where a dancer struggles in front of the mirror, trying not to smile.
"Joyful. She's the feeling of joy," Ahiru whispers. "She smiles all the time, and Mr. Cat hates it because it doesn't always fit the songs."

Ahiru beams at Fakir: something crosses his face, and his lips twitch slightly.

I wonder one day if I could make him smile? Ahiru thinks, and she ducks her head to hide her blush. She closes her eyes, and lets the change come.

"Hello, Sara," Ahiru—Tutu says.

"Princess Tutu?"

"Yes. I have watched you laugh and smile, yet your joy has no depth. Empty joy isn't joy at all, for it must always be paired with some sadness in order for it to be truly felt. Help me take your broken joy and let it take flight. Sing with me?"

As Sara's voice joins hers, Ahiru watches as the heart shard gathers itself and collects into her palm. It seems like moments, but when she looks at Fakir, he shakes his head.

"You have about three minutes to get on stage," he says.

"Then I should go."

"Ahiru—"

He doesn't say it. There are only three more heart shards, and they both know she has the last. She's not ready to be a duck again, and he's not ready to take Drosselmeyer's place, and neither of them want this to end when they've just found their places here, but this isn't their story, so it's not about what they want, but what they have to do, so he simply nods at her, and she makes her way to the stage.

The roar of the crowd is familiar, and Mytho's face when he sees her reminds her of why she agreed to Drosselmeyer's plan in the first place.

"I bring you joy, my Prince," she says, and places her hand on his chest, waiting for the heart shard to fully disappear before turning to the crowd.

The band has already begun "Swords in the Sky," and when Ahiru sings her verse, it's not the thin soprano of her own vocal chords, but Tutu's rich alto that soars throughout the hall, and for three minutes, she has everything she's ever dreamed of. She takes one bow when the song is over, and ignores the thunderous calls for Tutu as she blows a kiss and disappears.

When she comes out of the dressing room, she is Ahiru again, and Fakir is waiting for her.

"I wrote a new song, you know," Fakir says. "I think I'm going to call it 'Joyful Wings'."

Ahiru blinks, and stammers, "Y-y-you wrote a song about me?"

"Well, the best ideas are real ones, and if I'm going to have a chance at beating Drosselmeyer at his own game, then I need to start with the people I like best then."

Ahiru lets herself smile at him, and when he gives her a small smile back, she feels as if perhaps she did not let go of all of the heart shard tonight.

"Well maybe you can teach it to me on the bus to Toronto then?"

"Of course."

Ahiru manages to smile at him and walk away without tripping. She considers this a victory. She manages to rejoin the backup singers at intermission, and only Lillie has noticed her absence. She gushes about seeing Tutu and pretends not to notice how much Mytho is smiling the rest of the concert.

She also pretends not to hear distant laughter, and shudders to think what Drosselmeyer is planning for the next concert.

"Do not worry about time in the future, Ahiru," Edel says later that night, "for that time is now and now is not so bad, so when tomorrow gets here, remember that yesterday was once tomorrow too."

Ahiru blinks, and laughs. Just another day on tour, then.