IT'S EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO READ THE NOTES BEFORE YOU READ THE FIC.

A/N: Here I AM!! (again) Okay, here it is a new one-shot I came up with the other day. I got inspiration from three different melodies while writing it, so I decided to upload a file with the themes that helped me throughout the fic. It will really help with the feeling of this one-shot if you listen to them while reading.

The melodies are (in order): 1. Love Story Theme, 2. Claude Debussy -Clair de Lune, 3. .Hack – Rain and Storm.

If you happen to have them, then play them in the part when you see the number of the melody, okay? Since I suppose some of you don't have them, I decided to upload a folder with the songs. As a caution I put a password to the file. You can find the link to the file in my profile along with the password.

Thanks to Leebot-sensei for beta-ing this fic.

That would be all for now. Enjoy the fic and don't forget to review!

Onto the story!!

Disclaimer: I don't own Mai Hime, Mai Otome, nor the songs used in this fic. – if I did, I'd be rich by now…


Piano Girl

Note after note, each one played with force and delicacy at the same time, transforming them in a wonderful melody that filled the room. The one playing such a piece was a very young woman. Shizuru had been very talented and gifted since she was a child; her passion for the piano began when she was very little.

When someone asked her how it began, she answered them that it had been all thanks to a record she heard while at her father's studio reading a book when she was little. Her father had put on an old tape; she wasn't listening to the music at all, at least until she heard that piece. (1.) It was such a beautiful melody. The things she felt while hearing it were impossible to describe since there were so many emotions all at once. Yet, she was sure of one thing: she'd been captivated by the theme.

She asked her father about the melody and most importantly, who played it. His response was that the player was only known as N. K., but nothing more about her was known. There were rumors floating around that she was a prodigy - or a Virtuoso, as they call them in the music field.

Shizuru soon became engrossed with that pianist's style, so much so that she searched for all the records she had made. She was amazed at how many melodies of various musicians this Virtuoso had played: Haydn, Mozart, Chopin, Brahms, among many other classical and contemporary composers. Thanks to this, she got inspired to become a pianist too; that would be her dream.

Many years passed, but unfortunately, she couldn't discover more details about this secretive musician. However, she did find out that due to an accident, the musician had retired from the music business. It had been quite discouraging to learn about this tragedy, but she promised herself that she would become a pianist, and she'd do it. For some reason, she thought that if she were to meet this musician, N.K., she'd be disappointed if she were to have given up on her dream. (2.)

Shizuru was playing Debussy's 'Clair de Lune' while remembering her past and how she got where she was now. Everything was going smoothly until she heard a dull "Clink!" coming from the grand piano. Stopping her interpretation, she stood up from the stool and quickly examined the insides of the instrument with her eyes. Hitting some keys with her finger she saw – just as she thought – that a couple of strings were broken.

- "Ara… this is quite troublesome…"

She looked at the clock, it was not even midday when this happened. And to make matters worse, it was a holiday weekend. Certainly, not many music stores were open to contact someone to repair her piano. What to do now? She didn't have many options, so she gracefully walked to the small table near the phone, opened a drawer and took out the phone book. She quickly looked for the page that would have what she needed. There weren't many ads there, and she didn't know why but neither of them seemed to be what she was looking for. That was, until a tiny ad at the bottom of the page caught her attention. It only had the name of the place and the contact number, nothing else.

- "Duran's Piano Repair." – murmured the girl – "Interesting name."

Not pondering about it any longer, Shizuru dialed the number. After two ring tones she heard a voice coming from the other side of the line, which sounded low and husky.

- "Duran's Piano Repair, how can I help you?"

- "Good morning; I'm having a problem with my piano."

- "What is the problem?"

- "A couple of strings are broken."

- "What kind of piano do you have?"

- "A grand piano."

- "Alright."

- "I was wondering if you could come and repair it today. It's very important."

- "There's no problem with that. I'll just need you to give me some information." – Shizuru gave her address and other basic contact information. Once she was done, the voice spoke again – "It'll take thirty minutes to arrive at your place."

- "Very well, thank you."

- "Have a nice day."

After that, the call ended, leaving Shizuru relieved that she'd be able to have her piano repaired that same day. That way she would be able to continue practicing.

While she was waiting for the repair person to arrive, she was thinking about her mysterious pianist. Any time she thought about her, she smiled; it helped her to forget about the pressures and - as bluntly as it sounded - the bitching from her family and peers. They were always around telling her to continue practicing from sunrise to dusk, to enter to any contest she could, to reach the top without fail. Of course she'd listen to them, sometimes that is. Why couldn't they understand that what she did was always for herself and her pianist? – Even if she didn't know her in person. She just didn't care about fame and reputation like those around her. She decided to become a pianist to fulfill her dream and simply be happy, nothing more.

Without her noticing, time flew by. The sound of the doorbell announced the arrival of the person who would check up her piano. She got up from the sofa and went to answer the door. She was left breathless when she caught the sight of the person standing in front of her. It was a woman, older than her by some years and a bit taller; she had dark hair, skin that looked as fine as porcelain yet as soft as a petal of a rose; but what captivated her the most were her eyes. She'd never seen such a shade of green, they were like emeralds.

What she didn't know was that this woman was having the same thoughts as her, of how she'd never seen such a gorgeous woman in all her life, much less one that so resembled a goddess. The staring lasted less than five seconds, but it was enough for them both to note that they had a beauty before them.

The voice of the raven-haired woman yanked Shizuru out from her thoughts.

- "Hello, I come from Duran's piano repairs."

- "Oh yes, I was expecting you. Please, come inside." – Shizuru moved aside to let the woman in.

- "Thanks."

Shizuru closed the door behind her and said.

- "This way please."

Shizuru guided the woman to the studio where the broken piano was. The green-eyed woman stepped closer to the instrument, marveling at the beauty of it.

- "A Bechstein, huh?" – whispered the girl. Then she said – "I'll check it right now."

- "Alright. If there is anything you need, don't hesitate to call me miss…"

- "Natsuki."

- "Okay, Miss Natsuki."

- "Please, just Natsuki." – said the woman – "And I'll keep that in mind, Miss…" – she was about to call Shizuru by her last name but the girl spoke before she could do it.

- "Please, I'd prefer if you call me Shizuru."

- "Okay. Now Shizuru, I'll check this beauty right now; it might take a while."

- "Take your time."

Shizuru walked out of the studio, leaving Natsuki alone so she could repair the grand piano. She decided to go to the kitchen and prepare some tea while waiting. All the time, she couldn't help but think of Natsuki; there was an intriguing and familiar aura around her that made Shizuru feel comfortable with her. The sensation was unreal but very much welcomed by the chestnut-haired girl. While sipping from her cup, images from earlier assaulted her mind, particularly one; the way Natsuki's face lit up while looking at the piano. Her face was adorned by an imperceptive smile at that time, although her eyes were clouded by a tint of sadness.

- "Such a strange display…" – thought Shizuru.

So lost was she in her thoughts that she didn't notice that an hour had already passed since Natsuki arrived; she only took note of it when she absentmindedly glanced at the wall-clock she had in the kitchen.

- "Ara… this time already?" – placing her cup down she thought – "Maybe I'll go and see the progress so far."

Shizuru left the kitchen and headed to the studio. As she was getting closer, her finely trained hearing caught up some noises coming from it; she recognized the sound immediately, the piano was being tuned. That only meant that Natsuki had already finished changing the strings and was now tuning it so the sound would be perfect. Upon reaching the door, she opened it without making a sound. As she stepped inside, her gaze soon was fixed on the raven haired woman. She was now sitting on the stool while her hand lay carefully over the ivory keys, barely touching them. Taking some air and relaxing her shoulders, the raven-haired woman closed her emerald orbs and pressed a key, the sound of the note soon filled the room. (3.)

Natsuki didn't stop there; after she hit that key, she continued. She couldn't let go of the keyboard; she let her body go with the flow as she was now playing an exquisite melody superbly. The feelings she was merging in her playing were too intense, and Shizuru could feel them. It was a powerful melody, just like the performer. However, the content - the essence - was filled with melancholy, frustration, hopelessness - emotions that Shizuru had perceived from Natsuki when she looked at her eyes moments ago. The chestnut-haired girl was left speechless and dazed at hearing such a performance – and not only due to the emotions and the way Natsuki looked while playing it – Shizuru had heard this style before; she knew it perfectly, just like the back of her hand, as she had listened to it for years. It was her! The secretive virtuoso was sitting right in front of her. It was Natsuki!

She was soon dragged out from her surprise and joy when she noticed how Natsuki rubbed her right hand after playing the melody. Shizuru remembered about the accident that she had read about many years ago.

- "So it was true…" – thought the girl bitterly.

Natsuki was already up and placing her tools back in her case; apparently she didn't notice when Shizuru had entered the room, much less that she watched her interpretation. Natsuki's lips were curved up in a bitter smile. She couldn't figure out why she did that, why did she feel the urge to play anything in that piano? With her line of work she was in contact with many types and brands of pianos almost every day, so, why? Out of all of them, why this one? Indeed it was a wonderful piano, but it didn't have anything outstanding that could make it different from the rest, could it?

- "Maybe… it's not the piano itself…" – thought Natsuki.

Shizuru's eyes were fixed on the older woman. On how relieved she looked after performing such an incredible piece, yet she looked lonely. This made her heart skip a beat. She didn't want to see Natsuki that way; she didn't want to see her emerald eyes clouded by suffering and loneliness. Even if she just had met the woman personally barely an hour ago, she was sure of one thing.

- "I can't let her go…" – thought Shizuru.

Walking with light steps she approached Natsuki. Once she was behind her, she wrapped her arms around Natsuki's waist and rested her head against the back of the older woman. Shizuru felt how Natsuki's body tensed up a bit from the contact, but the raven-haired girl didn't pull away. Shizuru smiled, and with a soft and caring tone, pouring all her feelings in her voice she said.

- "You can let go now, N. K. … I'm right here… for you. "

Natsuki's mind was taken aback by the words. Shizuru had discovered who she was, but it didn't matter at all. She felt safe and finally at peace, after all these years of living in the darkness and in pain which followed that atrocious accident that took everything from her. And now, she was able to see the light again, thanks to the presence of this young girl behind her. It didn't make any sense to her, how this could become so clear so quickly, but her heart had found security, even if her mind didn't understand it. Placing a hand over Shizuru's, she squeezed it lightly. At the same time she thought.

- "I see… it wasn't the piano."

Natsuki remembered what her mother used to say while she was little; that an instrument is like a treasure chest of the musician, since it collects all the precious feelings and emotions one experiments with while playing it, and so, at the end, a part of one's soul is attached to it.

- "It was her… all this time."

Natsuki closed her eyes in agreement, allowing her stocked up tears, built up from the many years she couldn't practice her love, flow freely down her cheeks.

The minutes that went by didn't matter as both of them found reassurance in the arms of their respective 'piano girl'.

-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x-x

After they met, Natsuki agreed to become Shizuru's personal piano tutor when the chestnut haired girl asked her. Shizuru was in bliss when she got a positive answer. With Natsuki's help she was able to fulfill her dreams. Yes, dreams. One of them was being a pianist. The other was one not a single person knew about: to meet and love her secretive virtuoso. Which, truth be told, she never thought could be possible. Thankfully, she never gave up either of her dreams.

More years passed since the couple met at Shizuru's place. They got to know more about each other. How Shizuru admired Natsuki since she was little, how Natsuki was surprised to find out that Shizuru had won many awards in various contests, among other things. In no time they become a couple, and very much in love. Their bonds were stronger than others, since – without their knowing – they'd been tied up for years thanks to music and a piano.

They were seated on the stool playing a melody together in the Bechstein grand piano when Shizuru gave a quick glance to her side, only to find Natsuki with her eyes closed in delight, her features expressing pure serenity. Shizuru smiled at the sight as one thought formed in her mind.

- "You came early that day to repair my piano. Later, before you could go, I had repaired something very important too… your heart."

END


I hope you liked it. Maybe some of you are thinking why I didn't specify if they were Kuga-Fujino or Kruger-Viola, or any other possible combination. Well, I wanted to simply use Shizuru and Natsuki here.

Choose one of the two if you want.

Don't forget to review!

See you around.

Shezaei neko