Once upon a time, there was a prince, and once upon a time there was his sister, and once upon a time they were happy.
And then life happened.
And then life didn't stop.
She's sleeping, in her coffin, and the swords press in against her a little deeper and a little harder and she's stopped weeping and screaming, because after the first century or five you can do that.
There's no point.
Anthy stands and looks out the window, hands clasped behind her back, and ignores Wakaba and Utena talking behind her, watching the ravens fly.
"Is it worth it still?"
"Oh yes," she says blandly, and Utena blinks and says, "Who are you talking to, Himemiya?"
And Anthy glances over her shoulder and smiles and says, "No one."
(and he touches her cheek and she doesn't even flinch now and he says, "Then it will continue," and she still doesn't scream)
She stares at the ceiling as he moves above her, and watches blood drip down grey skin.
"You chose your fate," she says, and Anthy says nothing.
Later she watches the blood drip again as she sits in the hallway, and knows Akio is in there, and Utena is in there, and the same raspy voice says, "You chose this, and you deserve it," and Anthy smiles and says, "Of course," and dips a finger in the blood, tracing a smiley face onto the wall, while Chuchu wipes at her face.
Utena is asleep when she comes in, buttoning her nightgown, the reverse of what Akio had done minutes before.
She takes her glasses off, and sets then silently on the nightstand, and rests her head on the pillow.
It is still worth it. She said so.
(she always lies)
It is worth it, but she reaches out to touch pink hair anyway and Utena's shampoo is like peaches.
(and she sheds her first tear in however many years, because it hurts again)
"I hAd A BrOthEr," she whispers, and if Anthy's shoulders are stiff and unmoving, it's for no reason. She's still smiling, as she fills her watering can.
"I diD. AnD hE lEFT aNd It AlL sTaRtEd To BuRN. I LoVeD hIm BeSt. BuT He LefT. He DiD. AnD I wEnT AwAy."
There is no response more than the faucet being turned.
"BuT yOu StIlL hAvE yOuRs."
And there is no sound but footsteps and water drops falling on the soil.
"I ThInK i'M SoRrY tHaT yOu Do," she says, and, "siblings move away and it's healthy, I think, maybe, a little," she says, and she says, "I tHiNk I'Ll Be AQuAmArInE JeLly TodAy," and Anthy smiles out at nothing and moves on to the next flower.
Anthy looks up, as the duel goes on, at the castle.
She knows it is nothing but light.
She knows it is where destiny lies.
She knows it is home to something eternal.
She looks up and then closes her eyes, and sees nothing, blind, and when she looks back at the duel it hasn't been more than two seconds.
The wind blows petals, when they fall, and it's the same sound as a page turning.
"She was right," says the deep voice, and Anthy looks at the giant.
"It is healthy. It's the second reason that I left. You can't grow up if there's always someone there to catch you. You don't ever learn how to catch yourself. Or to find someone new to fall with."
Utena looks horrified. "Your hand is bleeding!"
Anthy looks down and sees that she's broken her glass and shards are in her palm. "Oh dear." Her voice is bland and unsurprised. "I must have been thinking of something else."
Anthy steps out the gate and begins walking, and thinks she has a very long way to go.
"Yeah, you do, and time to make up for," she says with a smile, and Anthy looks sideways at her companion.
"I knew you."
"Once," the woman agrees, stretching her arms above her head. "Before we parted ways. I was wondering when we'd meet up again. I missed you," and it's truthful. "You're one of those that doesn't accept the book. My sister did that too. It's made your type endearing to the rest of us."
Anthy smiles, a little, with nothing behind it, like she used to. "It didn't work."
"First time, maybe. This time, well. Who knows?"
Anthy says nothing, and then smiles like she only did a few times before, and the kind of way she only ever will again, with everything behind it, and looks straight ahead.
And she walks on.
And then they went from life to living.
And eventually they died.
And it was happy and it was sad and it was life and it was death.
And it was as it should be.