“GYAH—! Ow, owowowow…”
Ahiru pushes herself up in a seating position and winces, cupping her hand over her nose. She’s used to falling and hurting herself—not only is it a part of growing in a ballet career, but she’s also just… Ahiru. It comes with being her.
But the tears dangerously close to blooming behind her eyes are for a different reason than being in pain.
“Ahiru?” Rue’s voice interrupts her thoughts as she dashes over and crouches down to Ahiru’s level, her eyes wide with worry. She gets a good look at her friend’s injured face, one hand rising to her neck as she gasps. “Ahiru, your nose! Are you all right?”
Ahiru stiffens, and then shakes her head. Usually she would start giggling at herself and assuring she’s fine, so when her face remains dejected it concerns Rue all the more. “Ahi…?” Rue hears a sniffle.
“Y-your…” Ahiru’s throat tightens. Her voice quiets to a squeak. “Your shoes…”
Blinking, Rue glances down to her feet, only to see nothing. But then Ahiru points down to her own; the magnificent blue toe shoes adorned with high class silk now sports a large rip around the seams.
“Th-the toe shoes you gave me after I turned into a girl that you got from the best shoemaker in the entire story kingdom that you said were one of a kind and high class that I had to take really really good care of--!”
“Ahiru, hush,” Rue sighs, placing a hand on her friend’s shoulder. “They are only toe shoes, surely we can patch them up.”
“Now your nose,” she interrupts sternly, giving Ahiru a sharp look. “I’m much more concerned about that. It’s beginning to swell.”
Feeling sheepish, Ahiru glances to the hands in her lap. Rue came back all the way from her storybook kingdom to spend time with her and help her dance, and instead they have to now go all the way to the infirmary and sew up her shoes instead of dancing.
But then she feels a dainty pressure on the very tip of her nose, and she gasps as she glances up to see Rue’s face inches from her own. Ahiru freezes in place. She feels her cheeks warm, and as Rue pulls back from the chaste kiss she begins to sputter.
Rue relaxes her hands in her lap, raising a thin eyebrow. “Well?”
The smile that spreads across Rue’s face then brings another flush to Ahiru’s cheeks.
“A kiss from a princess has magical properties. Didn’t you know?”
No, she did not know this at all. But it makes sense, and Ahiru feels a little silly for not realizing it at first.
Rue’s eyes relax, her smile remaining in place. “So… does it feel better now?”
Ahiru is quiet for a moment, her lips parted and fingers reaching up to lightly tap the front of her nose. What felt huge and swelling mere moments before was back to normal, a light tingly feeling in its wake.
Soon enough Ahiru stops sniffling. And then she beams brightly, and there’s yet a new reason for the tears sitting at the corners of her eyes.
The yelp Rue emits when Ahiru leaps over to embrace her could be heard all throughout the practice rooms.