symbolism_egg: (nigeyou ; tingly-icons)
[personal profile] symbolism_egg
Series: Shoujo Kakumei Utena
Prompt: February 17 [2011]: And keep my name safe in your mouth.
Summary: Long ago in a dark place, a witch entrusted a secret to a lost princess.
Note: Written for [livejournal.com profile] 31_days.


Once upon a time, a little girl became lost in a dark place. It might have been a cave; it might have been a labyrinth. The girl kept on walking, but as she tried to escape, she wound her way deeper without knowing. Nor did she know that something more horrible than a sharp-toothed dragon or a minotaur with hot, bloody breath waited for her.

In her hand she clutched a treasure that a kind prince had given her. She had already heard too many stories to know there were no such things as princes, so the treasure comforted her as she walked the flat stone path.

Her footsteps awoke the witch.

Now, all the tales say that witches find princesses delicious (and the girl had heard these tales too), so perhaps smell woke her and not sound: the scent of roses that the girl carried with her after being enveloped in the prince's embrace.

Although the girl had heard of witches, she was too young to recognize them. When she turned the corner, then, she saw only another girl, clad in crimson, hanging at the center of a web that stretched its glinting strands from floor to roof.

The witch Anthy opened her eyes and saw the wandering girl. The girl wore a black jumper over a white dress, and her hair was pink. The girl was staring up at her. The rose scent washed over Anthy in a wave, and she felt like she would gag on it, though at the same time it brought memories: her brother galloping far away on horseback, a garter snake sliding out of her rose-and-thorn garden, snails on mossy cobblestones, laughter in the cottage and tea for two.

Anthy was a girl as well as a witch, and she would rather be outside under the sky, even if, when free, she'd burned with jealousy towards the princesses glimpsed in her mirror (which was, of course, magic) while her brother had been away.

Anthy clenched her teeth tight and watched the new arrival with slitted eyes. The girl looked much like a princess.

"Who—who are you!?" cried the girl.

"Who are you?” Anthy turned the question back on her, a blade deflected.

"I'm lost," said the girl. Though dismayed, she showed no fear at being in Anthy’s presence, little knowing that Anthy had once possessed enough power to have her for breakfast. The girl looked around at shadows. "Did you see a prince come this way?"

This blade slid into Anthy's heart, and she convulsed in her web-like cage.

"I'm sorry! What happened to you? No, I shouldn't be asking you questions when you're like this..." The girl lifted her hands and approached, cautious as a sparrow and wide-eyed.

Anthy shuddered and said, weakly, "No...don't bother to try. What are you doing?"

The girl reached towards her and there was a flash of light as the cage repulsed her, throwing her back onto the path, and she cried out. She picked herself up from the ground and looked at Anthy with a frown and budding tears. Anthy stared back. Of course the other girl hadn't done any good, being just a child, and a girl at that, and even had she been another, Anthy's tale no longer contained a prince who might serve as rescuer.

If there had ever been such a prince. Time was telling on Anthy. She could hardly remember living without the swords that pierced her. The last she had seen her brother, his head had been pillowed in her lap and his pain showed with every breath.

She expected the girl to run away from the sight of her. But the girl, foolish little wanderer, stayed where she was with fists clenched. Something shone from her finger. A familiar gleam that made Anthy suddenly uncertain. She struggled with her weariness to say, "You really are lost. You ought to get out of here."

"Shouldn't you get out of here too!?"

Even the frantic concern in the girl's voice did not make the swords move an inch. Hatred must be powerful to pin down a witch, but the world's hatred was strong, having behind it the force of screaming mobs of bitter adults, betrayed princesses, and boys who thought they should have the power of princes.

Or maybe she deserved this punishment for betraying her brother. The longer she suffered, the more she came to believe it.

"I'm a witch," Anthy explained.

"So?" asked the girl, defiant now, and Anthy fell speechless.

Now, a witch trapped in such a cruel cage loses her powers of foresight. Looking at the girl, Anthy could not divine whether her path would end in victory or destruction. As for Anthy's own tale, was she not living the end of it, the punishment of the wicked witch, already?

Still, a witch of any sort possesses more knowledge than an innocent princess, for many a tale shows that too much wisdom stains the innocent, knowledge being power and power begrudged. She could smell the meddling of the once-and-former prince, could see that the other girl was too innocent to die in this dark prison, could hear that she was brave enough to draw more trials than this. Without knowing the end of the girl's road, Anthy knew that it led outwards, for now.

The girl’s expression grew determined. "I'll--look, I'll try again." She marched towards the web and Anthy.

"No! You'll only hurt yourself." Anthy bit her lip. But despite her words, she had come up with an idea, one resembling hope.

The girl paused on the steps. She tilted her head. Anthy could see she wanted to come running up.

"What was that question you asked?” said Anthy. She would answer it, before the rest of her mind fled the swords. Before she forgot the answer.

The girl thought for a moment, then, fighting tears, she asked, "What's your name?"

Anthy told her.

"I'm Utena," the girl replied. "It's nice to meet you...not like this, I wish we were meeting somewhere else, but it's nice to meet you." She gave a neat curtsy, and, upon rising, a look of confusion crossed her face. She then bowed.

Anthy did not expect her moment of hope to bear fruit with this strange girl. Yet still she had entrusted her name and self to her, so one day it might come to pass that the girl would call out her name and pull her back into the world of the living.

With this the girl Utena obtained her second treasure. Weeping, she lost sight of the self-named witch, and when she blinked them open again her feet had turned in another direction, one leading out of the maze.

Having heard too many tales, neither guessed that someday a princess might fall in love with a witch, nor a witch with a princess. They could not be certain they’d meet again.

However, the truth is the tale had already begun to twist, for the lost girl had already conceived the desire to become a prince. In her hand shone the rose prince’s precious ring. In her heart she held the desire to reach her hand out again and save the witch, and in her mouth she held the name she must call when that time came.

In the end the girl found her way back into daylight, carrying with her two treasures, and which of the two were more precious, only time would tell.


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