Summary: Taylor could not play the flute or, indeed, any wind instrument really. Her talents could be found elsewhere, but that was not to say she was completely void of musical talent entirely.
When she was young, Taylor had adored her mother's flute, and the sounds that the woman could pull out of it. Really, there wasn't much more to it than that. Even when she was an infant, Taylor had always been brought up around music, frequently her mother singing to her or playing her soothing melodies with the beloved instrument.
That had been why the theft of it had struck her so, why the idea that her once best friend would destroy something so sacred and then steal it had shook her so. Why she had cried again, as if her mother had been stolen from her again, even though she had long thought her tears dried and gone.
Oh, how she had tried to be like her mother, in that if in nothing else. She had tried the flute, clarinet, trumpet and assorted wind instruments. No matter how many different instruments she tried, she had not found any for which she had any affinity whatsoever. Amongst wind instruments, that was.
It was strange to find that she actually had musical talent. She wasn't tonedeaf in the least, she could carry her tunes very well, and she had agile and deft fingers. She had no problem picking up the guitar, the piano and even the violin, but none had quite grabbed her like her mother's flute had.
That was until the music teacher and her mother had shown her a very large harp. It had a proper name, but Taylor had never been able to pronounce it at that age, and even when she grew, it had always just been -her harp-, and that had been all there was to it. Her mother had even tried to purchase it off of the music teacher, when Taylor fell in love with the instrument.
And then Annette had died, and Taylor had buried any idea of ever owning, let alone playing, a harp again.
Needless to say, to find a harp waiting for her at the PRT building was not exactly something she expected.
But there it was. Apparently, it belonged to none other than the director herself. The woman had apparently started to play the piano and harp purely for the purpose of training her fingers to move them more quickly and methodically. She displayed her finger ability, despite the fact that they were much chubbier than what they'd once been, by promptly taking apart an assault rifle that Taylor thought looked fairly similar to the stereotypical M16 that she'd seen in countless military ads.
She did this much to the approval and respect of Taylor's own troops. Hell, she might have deliberately done it to remind them that she was not just a washed up desk jockey, Taylor would later suspect.
As for why the woman had the harp in a guest room at the PRT's main building, the explanation had been rather simple.
It was stress relief, and being the PRT Director of Brockton Bay was an extraordinarily stressful job. Admittedly, this was where the instrument was stored while not in use, as she would normally practice it while undergoing the process of hemodialysis, as she explained. She had, while directing them to a place where they could rest for a moment while she took care of a few pressing matters, taken a few moments to explain how they would proceed from there.
Apparently, Director Piggot had to converse with her Deputy, and the Heberts would be able to wait in the room until a Lawyer could arrive to go over the contract in more detail. Really, the amount of bureaucracy there was to doing anything in the PRT was starting to be a little concerning, Taylor mused, though she was thankful that the Director had taken time out of her day to direct them to the room herself.
Admittedly, it was on the way to the Deputy's office and more importantly a water cooler, but it was the thought that counted.
Really, so many strange things had happened in so little time. So much, so many new things...
At the time, however, Taylor could think of none of that, as her throat had caught in a knot and she had to rub her eyes and screw them tightly shut in order to not fear tears leaking out. She took a deep breath.
"Miss Hebert?" the Director seemed a bit surprised.
"Lord?" Knight tried.
"Taylor," dad interrupted, "are you okay?"
"I-" I couldn't continue, I stopped and tried to swallow the knot that had formed in my throat. Why now? I hadn't seen one in so long. Ever since that day, really, I hadn't even thought about it. "I'm sorry," I said, shaking my head, "I'm okay."
"Ah," Dad said, probably catching on. "It's just..."
"Bad memories?" Knight asked, looking directly at me.
Were they really?
I shook my head. "No, sorry, no," I answered, "good memories, actually. I... er, I used to play the harp before my mom..."
The Director nodded then shook her head. "It's an old hobby," she explained. "A man I once knew recommended picking up an instrument for a variety of reasons, including my finger agility," she explained. "Mostly as stress relief."
I nodded. I could use some of that right now.
"Do you still-"
Taking a moment to think, I nodded. At least, in my mind, it came easily. I experimentally wiggled my fingers a little. I don't think I'm terribly out of shape... it's been so long, though, since I've even looked at a string, let alone a full harp. Still... the oddly, almost heart shaped, instrument beckoned me.
"Show me, please," the Director said, arguably the softest I'd ever heard her voice.
Nodding, I sat on the small wooden stool that had been placed next to the concave side. I had been too short and small before, my arms couldn't reach the other side. But now, I experimentally plucked the last few strings. I had to stretch my fingers a bit, but... yes, I could reach all the way. I could feel the slight sting of entirely too sensitive fingertips against the tight strings. Taking a deep breath, I let my mind wander, and my body perform motions it had performed a million times before, thankful for how much more comfortable it was now, done properly.
My fingers danced, from one end to the other, from the most grave to the most acute, the thickest to the thinnest, back and forth. I'd never been one to know much about technique or detail or even the very name of the instrument I was playing. I didn't know the first thing about musical theory. I'd barely gotten to Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Si Do. I hadn't gotten enough lessons, I realized.
And yet... half forgotten lessons came back, quickly and seamlessly. Fingers that should've been bleeding, no longer calloused, danced across the strings, performing a soothing, if repetitive, motion.
My mind completely drifted, and I was no longer there.
Five female voices, singing in perfect synchronization, not one note out of place, a worldless aria, accompanying each stroke, each note I plucked. Not long after, as my mind drifted further, I could hear the perfect notes once produced by the music teacher that had helped me refine my every motion, that had helped me put the song that played in my mind to life, to bring it into the world, his violin joining in at the perfect time, as I had known it would.
And so I found myself sitting in front of my mother, back in grade school, as her flute joined, and I played for hours upon hours, just basking in her presence, dreaming of a far away land. I played and played, as my mother and teacher accompanied me. I could feel dad's hand on my shoulder, keeping me steady as I overreached.
It was only when I felt a hand upon my shoulder that I was taken away from my happy place, that I was awakened from my waking sleep, from the wonderful dream that had consumed me.
I felt it now. The sting in my eyes, the burning feeling. I could feel now, I was having difficulty breathing properly, as my nose had clogged up. I knew, without needing a mirror, that I was a mess. I knew because I could feel the tears rolling down my cheeks. I have seen something beautiful, something that I will never be able to attain.
For a fleeting moment, I was once more happy, and that made me despair, because I know that I have lost this happiness, this simple joy.
They say that we can only appreciate what we have once we have lost it.
I agree wholeheartedly.
Dad's arms encircled me, and I continued to cry into his shoulder.
He, too, was crying.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he murmured, "I'm so sorry Taylor, I'm so sorry," he continued.
I didn't know what to say. What could I have said?
I'm sorry, too?
He squeezed me almost to the point I couldn't breathe, but I didn't care.
I don't know how long I just sat there, hugging dad and being hugged in return.
All I knew was that I didn't want to let go.
So this is just a short little piece.
The only important bit you need to know? Taylor was playing the Final Fantasy Prelude.
If it wasn't obvious enough, Final Fantasy is not a thing in either Bet or Aleph.