Author's Notes: Ehe… has it been a while? Scratches back of head Sorry… cheeky smile well… I am dedicating this one to… uuhhh…Everyone who's read this!!!! Haha! Guess what? I saw two people at the bus stop/train station that looked almost exactly like Ruka and Natsume, only, they were, I think, in year 9 or something… so yeah… made me feel short… WAH!! Somebody teach them a lesson for me!!! On with the story, sorry… I felt like writing something that felt quite 'chat-like' hehe…


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- Love's Melody -
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The clock struck 3, we were meant to be at the site, the town square, at 2:30… we were late, but we didn't mind. Sooner or later though, we had to leave, be it now, or later we had to leave. We closed the piano lid and walked out the door, Natsume leading, and I, not far behind. We needed to hurry, but we took our time, making the walk longer than necessary. What was the point of listening to a speech when we all obviously knew the rules. Arriving not much longer than when I had finished thinking my previous statement, the town square was not full, but nearly empty. I had thought that there would be many that would show up, but apparently, there is not a lot, or else they might just be preparing for their show.

Soon, the time had come, and walking up on the shining black stage was nerve wracking. Although I knew that my, no, our performance was bound to be better than that of Sumire Shouda's, singing her original 'song', confessing her undying love to Natsume when clearly, singing 'Natsume, NATSUME!!' was not considered a song, and with that screeching voice of hers, whatever song she sung was to be considered dangerous. The judges had to cut the performance short at 30 seconds so that they could save all the breaking glass. I stepped up on stage, Natsume was already on the seat, flexing his fingers looking at me at the corner of his eyes, his maroon pupils following me walking on the stage and towards the table which held the two wireless microphones that would circle the back of my neck. Navy Blue, and Lemon Yellow. I guess they expected us to choose. I picked up the Yellow one, a 'SONY' logo was visible. I detached it from the stand and put it just on top of my earlobes, the microphone just dangling above my lips as I licked them. I stood in the middle of the stage. Natsume had started already, I opened my mouth, nothing came out.

He started again, a longer intro this time, I opened my mouth, and again, nothing came. I buried my face into my hands. Stage fright. I knew it would come, however much I wanted to deny it, I just couldn't face the truth could I? I felt a tap at my shoulder and I turned around finding Natsume's face just a few inches from mine.

"Hey, are you scared?" A mocking tone, I could hear. Although he might actually want to comfort me, he still had to keep up his cool demeanor.
"I'm… of course I'm not scared! What do you think I am? A girl who has stage fright?!" I snapped back. If I had said anything else, not only would he be mocking me, the whole school would be.
"You are. I'm not bothered or anything. Just…"
"'Just' what Natsume?! You have no problem with stage fright do you?! You're just a natural!"
"'Just' take a deep breath and imagine their all not there, think back to our practices, you did fine then, then you can do even better now."
"Oh whatever Natsume, like that'll work."
"Trust me, it will."

He went back to his seat, gave me a nod and waited for me to do the same. I shook my head violently. I couldn't do it. Not with all of these people here.
"Don't worry, like I said, pretend we're in one of our practices."
"Well then, where's the Howalon that you usually bring for me?"
"Still at the shop, I'll buy them for you later."

I did as he said, I took a deep breath, a few actually, and I pretended we were in one of our practices. And it worked. I imagined the room, the musty smell of old wooden floorboards creaking, the noise the birds would make when we both made our way inside the room, and the turning of the old, yellowy pages that had been touched by our hands constantly these past few days. Yes, I truly enjoyed practicing with him, and I shall, I shall enjoy performing with him as well. I gave him a nod, and the music started. The background music playing, the stars that I could imagine, then a pause, a slight pause that hardly anyone could notice, but I did. I noticed the soft touch he was giving to the music that he normally wouldn't the extra touch of using the damper pedal. Then, I realised it was my cue to start. I opened my mouth, the words flowed, it just seemed… right.

anata marude komorebi no you ni
watashi ni ikiru kibou kureta shiawase ga waratta.

A smile crept onto my lips, and I knew it had crept onto his as well. He's given me the courage to go on, not just on this stage, but… my life. I didn't notice it before, but he has given me strength, he's given me courage.

kioku no naka no nukumori mune ni
nani yori mo tsuyoi kizuna wo kanjite iru wa

watashi ga watashi rashiku irareru no wa anata ga iru kara.

Yes, it truly was because of him. I can be like myself today, because of him. I wonder if he feels the same. Did I erase all of his walls, those tall walls that restrict him from being who he is?

anata wo ai shite umareta uta wo utaou
watashi no ai no akashi ni
shinjite doko made mo todoke watashi no omoi
anata ga ikite iru koto ga shinjitsu

I was born to love you, singing, right now, on top of this stage, I hope this warmth will reach out to everyone, and especially you Natsume, right now, I'm thinking of you.

itooshikute ureshikute kanashikute setsunakute
kuyashikute modokashikute... ai no MERODI-

We've experienced all that haven't we. And we've made our own Melody. Our personal Melody of Love…

karamiatta kokoro no ito wo
tokihogusu mae ni wakareta tsurakutemo nozonda

"kono ai wo tsuranukou" hitorigoto no you ni
永久(towa) ni chikai wo tateru

itooshisa ni tsutsumareru MERODI- maiagare sora ni

We were separated constantly weren't we Natsume, those missions, those terrible missons, the sickness, the departure, the regrets and times we've been through.

sono 瞳(me) ni mienai taisetsu na mono wo miseyou
afureru ai no izumi ni
omoi wa doko made mo fukaku toki wo koetemo
ikite yukeru sore ga watashi no ai no uta

I want to show you that there's more to life than just suffering, there is happiness, there is two sides to every coin, just like there's two sides to every story. You've only experienced one, and I'm not going to let you stand by that! I love you so much, I love you Natsume. Tears rolled down my cheeks. This is the song, the song that proves how much I love you. However much you may push me back, I'll just keep on struggling on, walking forward; towards you...

mmm fureru hada wo toiki ga nozoru
"nee mou nechatta no?" sore nara mimimoto de "I love you"

Do you remember Natsume? When I said that to you…? No.. you must not…

anata wo ai shite umareta uta wo utaou
watashi no ai no akashi ni

Did it reach you Natsume? My feelings?

sono 瞳(me) ni mienai taisetsu na mono wo miseyou
afureru ai no izumi ni
anata to deatte nagaredashita kono MERODI-
furuete iru ima kono toki mo ikiteru

This melody, it still exists. It won't be forgotten, not in our lives it won't…

itooshikute ureshikute kanashikute setsunakute
kuyashikute modokashikute... ai no MERODI-

itooshikute ureshikute kanashikute setsunakute
kuyashikute modokashikute... ai no MERODI-

"This, Natsume, is the Melody of Love, I've been dying to tell you, I hope you liked it. We've worked so hard on it together. Haven't you noticed?"
"Yes, I've noticed."
I turned around. My eyes softened up a bit and I smiled.
"You had better."
We got off the stage, the audience still clapping.

"92 keys."
"92 keys?"
"That piano had 92 keys. Amazing… if it were any less, I couldn't have played some parts of the song."
"How many does a regular piano have? 88… I guess… that's what I've grown up with."
'Oh…' "So… did you like the 'Melody of Love' we performed Natsume?"
"Of course I did my dear Mikan."
"You said my name…"
"Is it abnormal for me to call you by your name?"
"Well… not really…actually, yes."
"There was this one part that I especially liked though Mikan."

"Which one?"

"This one." He hugged me close and he moved his lips towards mine, knocking the microphone off first. "Oops." He said. And there it was, that bittersweet taste, of my first kiss. One that I could never let go of. Like a fruit that's just right, just ripe, and just tasty enough that I could want for more. Lucky for me, this was one fruit I can taste over and over again.
"So Natsume, do you think we could practice that bit again, I don't think I've gotten the hang of it."
"Whatever you say Strawberries."

And I guess that was it. One fruit that I had found, that truly was sweet, whichever time of the year I tasted it. Always ripe, and always there for me.
We made our way outside, and there everybody was, cheering, except for Sumire of course. I wonder what made them rowdy.
"We heard everything you two!"
'What?' was practically what I thought.
"The microphone! The microphone! You forgot to take it off Sakura-san!" I heard Ruka shout out.
"Yeah," Natsume said. "Oops. By the way Strawberries, you might want to know that… you left one of your ribbons on stage when you shook your head violently."
"Oh! I should get that!"

He took hold of my wrist and pulled me close.
"Don't. You look better this way Strawberries." He undid the other ribbon and it drifted away. I guess he was right. But still… that was the ribbon he gave to me! He said 'in exchange for not being able to give you Howalons today.'
Oh well, with this 'fruit' of mine, I'll be able to get another ribbon and Howalons any day!
"Fine, hey! The next performance is starting soon!"
"We need seats Idiot."
"Here's two!"
"Oh great, right next to the Ice Queen."
"Don't be mean Natsume!"
"I won't."

"Hey Strawberries, can I taste some more fruit?"
Oh that Natsume… I plopped a strawberry in his mouth. "Sure, I've got a whole basket-ful. Don't finish it all though, I want some. Are they sweet?"
"Sweet enough for me."
"Hey, lovebirds, don't talk during the performance… and anyway, Hotaru's next."
"On a first name basis now huh Ruka-pyon" I sneered.
"Of course he is, after all…" Natsume added.
"They're gonna be lovebirds soon as well...!" we chorused.

Turning red, he hid his face. "Whatever!"

The smiles of that day, I'll never forget, but anyway… we should get on with the Talent Fest, there should be heaps more, and you wouldn't want too miss out too… right? Or do you have a performance to do with your special someone? Well?

Stage 10: Singing
Notes: Executed to perfection
Grade: A+

Author's Notes: Hee hee! Do you like it? I'm sorry, I don't have a love life, so I didn't know how she would feel singing those words. The last bit, with the 'Notes, Grade' bit was… you must not have gotten it… well… there are stages and this is sort of like Mikan Sakura's "Essay" or "Assignment" in life. Lots of different ones really, like one on your love life, or, in business, I'm sure Hotaru will be getting an A+ on that one… but that's my perspective on things. Every aspect of your life has an 'End-of-Life Test' you know… and they come in stages, separating them… Ah well… if you don't get it… that's just… too bad…! Should I do one about Ruka too? Nah… maybe not… IT'S THE HOLIDAYS AFTER ALL!! HAHAHAHA!!!


P.S. please tell me what you think of this story!