Duck awoke slowly, light drifting sleepily through her half closed eyelids. Yawning absentmindedly, she glanced down at her yellow wing and felt s flicker of disappointment cross her heart. So it had been a dream after all-She really was only a duck again.
Under the irresistible spell of the final dregs of sleep, Duck snuggled down onto the soft something she was resting on in an attempt to shelter herself from a cool breeze coming off the lake. Just then she felt her resting place shift under her and soon found she was being wrapped in a warm something or other that felt like a blanket. Reluctantly, she squinted up to find the source of the donor and found (much to her shock and embarrassment) that she had fallen asleep on Fakir's lap, and he was not only wrapping her in his jacket but had been quietly-and intently-watching her.
"Qua..." Duck felt her face redden as Fakir smiled down at her. "Wondered when you'd wake up," he said, cradling her as he stood and stretched. "I would've woken you earlier, but you looked so peaceful...unlike your usual self," he added sarcastically. Duck stuck her tongue out at him: embarrassment turning to irritation. Fakir merely shot her a victorious look, and hopped carefully off the dock with Duck in his arms.
Shortly after the defeat of the Raven, the two had moved into a lodging Carron owned that was at the edge of town, on the lake. Duck's battle wounds hadn't completely healed yet, so Fakir had been making sure she didn't exert herself too much.
Just then, a cool breeze blew off the lake and ruffled the pair. "It's getting colder," Fakir remarked. "It won't be too long now before the lake's frozen over." Unintentionally, Duck shivered against the thought and snuggled closer against Fakir's chest. "You cold?" Fakir asked, concern not quite hidden in his voice. He bundled her up more securely in the jacket and said "Don't worry, we're almost there." Duck hadn't noticed until now that since Fakir gave up his jacket to her he only had a light t-shirt on, and although he kept the same steadfast pace he had goosebumps all over.
Duck looked up sadly at Fakir's face. I'm sorry Fakir, I'm only causing you trouble and you're always so kind to me. Duck wished she could say it. She couldn't.
The rest of the day was passed by the quiet warmth of the woodstove in the lodge. The unlikely duo ate their meals together, and Duck listened as Fakir read his stories aloud. Since the Raven's defeat, Fakir seemed to be quite happy spending his time writing stories-and Duck thought they were quite wonderful. How Duck longed to speak her thoughts to Fakir. But it seemed that that time had come and gone. A solitary tear rolled down Duck's cheek as she considered what it would mean for Fakir if she wasn't around. Surely he'd be happier. Wouldn't he?
Fakir awoke abruptly in the darkness. He had had that dream again. The one of Muyto dancing with Princess Tutu. The day that everything changed...
Fakir sat up slowly, thinking back to the day his heart started to change. Being with Duck, seeing her kind compassionate nature up close like that, softened Fakir's guard and made him want to see her smile always-to always be with her like this. Even though he knew she wanted Muyto, not Fakir.
"Dammit!" he proclaimed, clenched fist hitting his bed as he shook with the effort of containing his thoughts.
Fakir crept from his bed to the cold wood floor until he reached Duck's room. Slowly opening the door, he stood there listening to her soft breathing and worried to himself. These past few days she'd seemed unbearably sad...she was barely touching her food (which was troubling as she was a voracious eater), and whenever Fakir looked her way she was gazing sadly into the distance. What could he do for her? He doubted his ability to make her happy-was he really so insufficient compared to the Prince? Was Duck pining away for Muyto? She had to know by now how much Fakir cared for her, didn't she? Fakir gripped the door handle more tightly, shoulders shaking from grief, or was it jealousy? All Fakir wished for was Duck's happiness, and he was fairly certain-no, positive that if it were Muyto in his place Duck would be perfectly blissful. "What-what can I do for her?"
Fakir's voice in darkness caused Duck to stir slightly. "I only want her to be happy!" Duck opened her eyes, frozen in the shadows. Fakir? "But she's always so sad."
Hearing Fakir's footsteps approach the bed, Duck squeezed her eyes shut tight. "Oh, Duck..."
Duck could feel the bed shift as Fakir leaned over her and thought for sure her thundering heartbeat would give her away. Then, gently, she felt Fakir's lips affectionately touching her head, then away.
She listened, waiting-each second it's own eternity. Finally, Fakir's footsteps crossed the room and echoed down the hall, then the resolute click of his bedroom door betrayed his location. Slowly, Duck opened her eyes. Oh Fakir...
Determined, Duck clenched her beak and jumped up, forgetting about the pain of her injuries in her haste. Wincing, she waddled over to her window and lifted the latch quietly. Somehow she would find a way that she could help Fakir, to make him happy. She had to.
Somewhere on the lake a bird fluttered it's glossy white wings, a murmur in the quiet morning sun that had begun bleeding it's colour into world. And if one were to pass by a cottage on the lake, they would see a slightly open window swaying gently on a passing fall breeze. One would also notice, should they have the eyes to see it, that in the one room in the cottage an empty bed sat waiting-a single yellow feather lay on it's sheets.