Disclaimer: As much as I'd love to say I own a piece of Edward or any Cullen for that matter, I can only dream. All characters and everything else belong to the great Stephenie Meyer.
Thank you to RMCC for the beta – much appreciated!
AN: The piece mentioned in this chapter, Aufschwung (Op. 12, #2) by Robert Schumann was one of my favorite songs to perform many years ago. I highly recommend listening to it to fully understand why Edward is so fond of Schumann's works.
"Will you play for me?" Her voice was more euphoric then any piece I could perform. I gazed into her divine brown eyes, unable to deny my Bella any wish she desired.
"What would you like to hear?" I asked as I took a seat in front of my other love, my ebony Kawai grand piano. I held out my hand to her.
Bella placed her warm hand adorned with the engagement ring in mine, and I pulled her gently to sit next to me. "Play me something I haven't heard before. Something you love."
I ran a mental list of possibilities through my mind. Something I loved – there were many to choose from. Bella sat patiently at my side, glancing up at me out of the corner of her eye. Her scent permeated the air. I inhaled deeply, savoring the aching burn in the back of my throat. Her very presence intoxicated me, made me feel like I was weightless and free.
Yes. That is what I'd play for her. But first I'd tell her why I loved it.
"Aufschwung, from Fantasiestucke. Robert Schumann." Bella turned to me, her face curious. She doesn't speak German, I reminded myself. "Aufschwung loosely translates into 'Soaring', or upswing. This particular piece is part of a group of compositions written with specific characters in mind. Eusebius is described as the dreamer, while Florestan is known as the passionate one. Schumann always thought of himself as having a dual-personality, which is most likely why he created these characters. He envisioned his music to be a form of storytelling. Of course his composition genius was eventually overshadowed by mental illness. You know he died in an insane asylum." I watched her reaction closely before continuing.
"Aufschwung was written as a depiction of Florestan. The song is said to represent Florestan's indulgence in his desires." I paused, debating if I should share with her my personal connection to the song.
"Interesting. I think I know why you might like it, even before I hear it," she said softly. I stared at her, temporarily speechless. Her thought process never ceased to amaze me. What I wouldn't give for just a tiny glimpse into her mind.
"You know me well," I joked, trying to lighten the mood. Although I wasn't particularly bothered by her ability to perceive my interest in such a song, I wanted to downplay the deeper connections I felt with Schumann; the battle within myself of good versus evil.
"I will warn you, this song isn't for the fainthearted. But listen past the heavy passages for the hidden melodies under the chords. Think about the title as I play it. Imagine yourself soaring like a bird," I instructed. Then I inhaled one last time before beginning.
To call Aufschwung a passionate song is an understatement. The deluge of dissonant chords at the beginning can be downright frightening before the melody is catapulted from the lower octaves up to the soprano voice which then rapidly transforms into the major key and literally soars above the tumultuous grumblings of the bass notes. I stayed keenly aware of Bella's heart rate as I struck the first notes, hoping she wouldn't jump.
Her body tensed as I began, but once past the initial chord introduction, I felt her begin to relax as the song changed keys and began its happier passage. I allowed the piece to sweep me up in its grandeur; the waves of passion that rang out with each note rippled through me as if the music were a tangible substance. The experience was further heightened by the warmth of Bella sitting so close to me. I moved forward and back with the song, my hands racing quickly across the keys as my right foot pumped the damper pedal repeatedly.
The song ended much too soon. Florestan's final internal battle ended on a minor note, which usually left me somewhat melancholy since the despairing voice got the last say. I let the last chord echo through the room for several seconds before I lifted my hands from the keys and sat back next to Bella. I turned to her, anxious to see her reaction.
"Did you like it?" I asked quietly. Her expression was mixed, which made me nervous. I would have rather seen a look of distaste – at least then I'd have a better idea of what to expect her to say.
She continued to gaze at me, her jaw slightly open. I worried that I was rendering her speechless, so I glanced away, down to her shoulder.
"Edward, that was…" She paused. I looked back up to her face. "…amazing. I've never heard anything like it. Or anything played so…passionately." I allowed myself a small slice of hope as she continued. "It was like you were part of the song, or maybe more like it was a piece of you. It fit so well. The incredible highs…I really did feel like I was soaring through the air during those passages."
I couldn't contain the smile that played across my face. I knew my Bella was intelligent, insightful and observant, but to hear her explain her feelings about the song was absolutely blissful. She truly understood not only Schumann's meaning behind the piece, but also the draw it had for me personally. At that moment I had an overwhelming urge to kiss her, but she wasn't done yet.
"You became Florestan just now. I can see it in my mind. I can also see you acting out the pain that played through portions of the song. It's as if that piece was written for you." She reached up slowly to touch my cheek.
I lost all control at that moment. One hand reached to hold hers as she stroked my face. The other went immediately around her neck, pulling her towards me as I kissed her. The room was already heavy with emotion from the song; once I touched her, the force between us became overpowering. I thought briefly about how ironic it was that I, like Florestan, was indulging in my greatest desires at that moment. But I didn't bother to chide myself about indulgence when I had Bella in my arms.