Chapter 11

"piano lessons"

The more she thought upon it the further she became frustrated by his stupid shyness and that stupid guilt he kept mounting on her shoulders.

"If he wants to run away, fine. I only asked a question and he runs and pouts about it like a child. I don't have to take this." She fumed in place, "I don't have to care what he does with himself or how I am always the cause for him to run crying down the halls." Emily thus went about tying sheets and blankets together with a little more force than what was required. She couldn't help that her anger usually made her overly rough.

She finished with the last knot, glancing out the open window with a large sigh. There really wasn't a point to this kind of exit but she had to at least get one good thrill in before breakfast, and before her parents locked her back into a safe little prison so there precious baby never got hurt. Well, what better way to feel alive than to risk it by tossing one's self out a two story?

Just as she took hold, reading herself for the plummet, her mothers voice carried into the chamber, all knowing of what her daughter was up too, "Sweetie, I hope your not going to risk your health this early in the morning. The doctor is getting to old to be making house calls before lunch."

"Mother, I would never do such a thing. It isn't lady like." She lied so smoothly, pulling the sheets back up before being caught.

Cracking the door, Victoria held her hands in front of herself, staring skeptically at the bare mattress. She then focused her eyes upon her daughter, who, at this moment, was kicking the bed linen out of sight. "See, no awkward escape plan today." Emily breathed cheerfully, playing innocent with the one person that knew better.

"Sure, and by the way your nose is growing."

"W-what?" Emily touched the tip, crossing her eyes to see if this was true. She soon became startled by her mothers laughter, giggling right along with the playful woman towards her gullibility, "Well, if it is than I can't help it."

"You could learn to tell the truth once in a while. I'm sure it wont kill you."

"Speaking of death…" Emily turned the subject over, searching the open door to see if Felix was dogging behind Victoria, whimpering and whining of how her daughter refused to play nice with him. Surprisingly, there didn't seem to be any sight of his rotting form lurking in the shadows, quickly sending the girl to sigh and place the finishing touches on her hair this morning.

Victoria helped to tame an unruly curl for her daughter, patting Emily's shoulder as they both gazed at the reflection in the mirror. "There, such a beautiful young woman."

"A spinster you mean." Emily heaved the words, slumping over to distract herself from the truth of the matter. She was far older than most married women, denied the same wonders that regular ladies were lavished with. Always sheltered, always surrounded by, what she fancied, bodyguard servants.

Victoria brought the girls drooping chin up so that they were now eye level, still bestowing that same motherly smile that spoke far more than anything else. "Now Emily, none of that. We simply love you too much to throw you into a strangers arms."

"That didn't stop you from throwing me at Felix. When I said I wanted to meet people and find a husband I sort of had in mind one that had a pulse." The two headed for the door, but her mother held it closed for just a moment longer. Taking a deep sigh, and firming the resolve inside, Victoria gave the girl a very beseeching look that made Emily squirm from discomfort.

"Sometimes, my dear, you have to see beyond into a persons soul."

"But he's decaying and I doubt he even has a- "

"He loves you dearly. I know this is difficult, but you'll see that things will work out in the end. You just have to have hope on the matter and allow Felix to be… well, at least let him be a friend to you. Who knows, it might become more."

Fat chance, but Emily thought on their conversation, bowing her head to absorb all this information. When she glanced back up it was to her mother's ever present grin. "I suppose I can give him that. A chance I mean."

"That's my girl."

"But do I have to touch him, he's disgusting and slimy. You wont believe what he did with his eye this morning."

The day was going along as it always seemed to drag, branching it's golden rays along the earth only to see it gradually slip back into grays. Emily had followed her usually routine, somewhat relieved to discover Felix no where in sight or smell. It was as if he vanished back into whence he came, or perhaps realized how preposterous it was for the living and the departed to be together.

Shrugging her shoulders, Emily simply ignored his absence as when she had ignored his presence. Victor had even popped in a few times to check on her, also puzzled Felix was nowhere to be found, "I'm sure he'll pop up before dinner."

"Thanks for jinxing it, dad, now he's bound too." She grumbled, seating herself in front of the piano. Victor gave a tense chuckle, fidgeting with his tie in his usual nervous habit. He quickly crossed to where his daughter was seated, hovering over a few scores until plucking one of his favorites out and placing it before Emily's eyes.

She groaned once recognizing it, nearly falling on the keys, "Oh father, not this one again."

"Now now, this is the one that brought me and your mother together."

Emily simply rolled her eyes, moaning, "I know, I know. And you and her fell madly in love and lived happily ever after."

"Exactly." He finished, crossing his arms as he leaned his hips against the cool polished surface, stroking the keys lovingly. "There's a lot of soul in this song, a lot of memories. When you get older, you'll understand the importance of sentimental things."

Emily only snorted, flexing her fingers to prepare. She hadn't the opportunity to become sentimental towards anything but her walks in the woods… which now held horrible memories since a corpse ended up following her home one day. "Mom says this is a love song." She eyed her father in a way that said something else lay behind her statement, "Maybe to bring Felix in here, a set up by mother perhaps."

"How did you-" He straitened himself, holding the appearance of a caught rat. "No, hehe no. I just like this piece. Your mother had nothing to do with it what so ever."

She arched a brow, "You're a terrible liar, dad."

Victor only fidgeted, knowing this to be true. "Well… that's neither here nor there. It's time for you to practice."

"Practice practice practice." Emily shook her head, gliding up and down the scales before partaking in the elegant piece. When she had reached the end of warming up, she took one last deep breath and began.

The notes carried so softly, expanding and floating like gentle feathers when caressing the ears. She allowed her lashes to fall, concealing all but the darkly hypnotizing music. Though she hated to admit it, playing the piano relaxed her. She actually enjoyed performing for friends and family, and really considered making a career out of this unique talent. But alas, she was far to stubborn, proud and defiant to go back on her declaration a few years back stating she hated the infernal instrument.

Instead, at moments like this, she simply fell into the memorized piece. It reminded her of two lovers, torn from each other but never from the heart. An image of a dark foggy night swam into her fantasies, a chill that could not dampen a heart that beat with such passion.

She waited for him, or so her imagination went, waiting for eternity. Was it to be, she asked, the waiting woman leaving behind family and fortune for a man that made his fair share of promises. That one man that completed her. And then, when the gray fantasy woman spun around, calling impatiently to the figure that lingered beyond her sight, a cold hand shackled her throat, constricting the breath.

Emily gagged when this sudden image stole her breath, spinning wildly, losing the vague slivers from her minds eye as each puff of air cleansed her thoughts and freed her body of ill things. "Oh God." She breathed, wide eyed and staring nervously up at the startled figure of Felix.

He had jerked back, one hand still extended that, when she rubbed her cold nape, had brushed along her skin to steal it's warmth. Felix immediately threw both bony hands behind his back, looking rather sheepish as he stuttered, "Y-you play b-beautifully."

His sudden appearance startled her even more, causing Emily to pull back while holding the spot he had barely touched. It had been enough to give her haunting illusion, chilling in fact, her mind teeming with the thought of murder smothering the air. Goose flesh spread along her arms, prickling her hair as she again gagged.

He touched me!

Those cold, grimy fingers of his, if you could call some of them fingers anymore, had the audacity to touch her.

Felix brows furrowed seeing the evident disgust streaking along her expression, tightening his lips so that the smile seemed thin and forced. "I didn't mean to disturb you, I just… I-I wanted to see who was playing that sweet song. It reminds me of-"

"Now you know." Emily growled, positioning herself back to the correct keys, but the heart was gone for now. She couldn't very well call up the same blurry images while he was gawking over her shoulder. "Do you have to stand there, it's annoying?"

This sent him to look around, eventually sitting where he once stood. Emily had to try hard to keep from giggling, placing her hands on her hips. "I didn't mean for you to plop down."

"I want to watch you play."

"Why? It's nerve wracking enough to have you… " She collected herself, taking a deep breath to sooth her serpents tongue. Be nice, you promised your mother to be nice to him.

Just peeking at his kicked puppy pout tugged a few heartstrings. Damn him for being so ugly and cute at the same time.

"If you really want to watch than I guess there's no law against it."

His eyes brightened to her softened tone.

"Do you know how to play?" Her expression turned to that of pity at his hesitancy. "I-I… uh…" Felix twiddled with his thumbs, refusing to meet her stare for stare. Before he could kick his tongue into action, or come up with an answer, Emily patted her seat, allowing him an open opportunity to try.

"Since we have plenty of time before dinner, I suppose we can sit and pound a few keys until then."

"I haven't played in-"

"Just push that one over there and you'll be fine. I'll do the rest. Watch a master at work and you might learn something." Felix nodded to her orders, using one finger to poke the indicated key. Sitting so close to him, Emily tried to hold her breath but found it impossible. But to her surprise… he didn't smell half as bad as yesterday.

Just to put her theory to the test, she took a few sniffs of his shoulder, gawking at him in astonishment, "You don't stink."

"I'm flattered you noticed." he grinned, still patting the one note over and over again. "The servants were nice enough to clean my suit and give me some perfume."

"God bless them for that."

She narrowed her attention to the score, pointing out some things to her watchful groom as he studied the piece with such intensity he looked on the verge of eating it. They continued this for a few more minutes, both silent, listening to the sweet music they made together. Felix eventually gave up trying to remember where he had heard this once before, gradually leaning in a little closer to the girl who was placing all her concentration into the melody. His left hand slowly lifted up beside hers, his other fingers branching out to cover more keys the longer they played.

Emily, aware their was another set of hands playing in perfect synchronization to hers, abruptly stopped to stare at Felix taking the lead. She mounted a fierce scowl as he slowed and stopped, he drawing his left hand back into his lap as he went to tap with one finger again.

"You knew how to play the whole time?"

"U-uh…erm… yes." He scrunched his shoulders, on the verge of bawling. Eventually, the corpse brought his eyes up to her heated glare, swallowing a large lump as he continued, "I used to play quite often… at least, it feels that way. My memories are jumbled, some missing entirely, but… there are habits, names, songs and faces that are foggy yet familiar."

"And what do you know of this song in particular?"

"Other then it's very beautiful, it's… it's like…" he slowly stood from the bench, expression wrought with concentration. Thoughtfully tapping his chin, Felix rounded behind her, letting his hands fall around her own, letting his fingers perch just barely above hers as he kept the very serious frown mounted in place. "We used to play like this," He pressed one of her fingers to fall down, creating a single note to flutter into the air, "I instructed you. There was a reason for it, why I was with you. I…"

Suddenly, his back stiffened as he stood erect. Emily turned to see why the sudden change in posture and the sharp gasp, confused to see he appeared shocked. "What? You were what?"

"I was your teacher."