Disclaimer: The awe-inspiring Stephenie Meyer owns Edward, Rosalie, and all of the wrath that exists between them. I simply give them a playground to fight in.
Thanks again to RMCC for a superb beta!
AN: This little one-shot is actually based on a true story. I performed "Le Carnaval des Animaux" by Camille Saint-Saens with my high school orchestra many years ago. The suite is written for two pianists – but there happened to be three of us who wanted to perform the two piano parts. As much as we tried to divvy up the music evenly, we still had plenty of arguments, name-calling, and temper-tantrums leading up to the concert. I'm also fairly sure we significantly contributed to our teacher/conductor's receding hairline with our drama. Luckily, no pianos were harmed in the rehearsals or the actual performance.
Then when writing "Music Lessons", I just had to reference this one shot (even though it was written AFTER the bulk of "Music Lessons" was drafted) when Edward reveals the repertoire for the San Francisco Symphony concert. Trust me, he had good reason to warn Bella not to ask Rosalie about this incident. Now you'll know why.
One last thing – Hemiones is French for Wild Asses
"Where did you get this?" Rosalie gave me an incredulous look.
I shrugged. "Does it matter? You said you'd be willing to try it. Now that we have two pianos..." I trailed off, gazing at my beautiful new Kawai grand piano. I had only played on it once since it was delivered. My hands frantically itched to try it out again.
Fine. I get to play on the Kawai.
"Absolutely not! I bought it; I get to play on it." I glared at Rosalie. "Besides, you said you liked the Steinway."
She rolled her eyes. Of course I like your mother's Steinway. Who wouldn't? But if you want me to play, I get the Kawai.
I ripped the sheet music out of her hands. "Forget it. It was a bad idea." I didn't want to play the piece badly enough to sacrifice my new piano to her.
Rosalie took a step towards me, reaching for the music. "You know, you can be such a jerk, Edward. Give it to me." I held it out casually, pretending not to notice that my reverse psychology was working like a charm. She grabbed it and marched defiantly to the Steinway.
How do you propose we do the movements that have major orchestra accompaniment? She continued to stare fiercely at me as she sat down on the piano bench across the room.
"Let's start with the ones that are primarily written for the piano. Then we'll throw on the record when we get to the other movements." I sat down smugly in front of the Kawai, surveying its flawless keyboard and immaculate lacquered surface. The two grand pianos were opposite one another, so their respective pianists could see one another clearly.
I want to play the Aquarium movement first.
I shuffled through my copy of the music until arriving at the seventh movement. Rosalie did the same. When she had the sheets situated in front of her, she looked across at me and nodded slightly. Her face was still hostile, but ready nonetheless.
I tapped out a four-count on the ebony wood to give her a sense of the tempo. Then we began.
Our first attempt at dual piano-performance started off well. Both of us quickly fell in synch with one another; the flowing arpeggios rippling off the Steinway and Kawai in perfect unison. I heard soft footsteps on the stairs as we continued to play.
Oh Edward, do you know how beautiful that sounds upstairs?
Esme was approaching us, smiling widely. She took a seat on the far side of the room, moving in time with the music.
How nice that the two of you can play together. I'm so glad you decided to get the Kawai. Two pianos are definitely better then one.
I nodded slightly in Esme's direction, acknowledging her while trying not to distract Rosalie who continued to watch me as we finished the song. I had to admit, she did an excellent job matching my tempo and approach to the movement. Maybe this was going to work after all. I gave her a broad smile at the conclusion of the piece. Her face thawed a little, but I could still sense a hint of contempt in her features.
Now which movement shall we play?
I shuffled through the sheets, trying to find one where the piano was dominant. Rosalie beat me to the punch.
"Let's try the first movement. The runs look challenging and I like the grandeur of the thematic cadence." Rosalie was studying the notes on her copy of the music across from me.
Of course you'd love that movement seeing that you're the queen of grandeur, I thought to myself as I set the first movement up on the stand and waited patiently for Rosalie to indicate that she was ready.
Wait a minute! I'm not playing second piano on this. That part is utterly boring!
I sighed loudly and rolled my eyes. "What are you talking about?"
You gave me the second piano part! I want the first piano score – that's the one that has the soprano portion of this movement.
"Rose, what does it matter?" I scowled at her.
"I don't want to just play the rolling chords the entire time. I want to play the melody line!
"Fine." I jerked my copy of the music off of the Kawai and stomped over to her, dropping it in her lap and grabbing her copy.
I whipped around and caught her sneering at me. She was utterly impossible when she was like this.
"I suppose you'd like to dictate the tempo as well, since you're now the first piano." I couldn't hide the sarcasm in my voice, but why would I want to? When Rosalie was in a mood like this I couldn't help but reciprocate it, no matter how childish it seemed.
She gave me an icy grin. "Of course." She began tapping out the four-count before we both began. With Rosalie in the lead position, she chose to take liberties to the music without cluing me in with eye contact or mental thoughts. I struggled to keep up with her as she let the tempo ebb and flow at will. I gritted my teeth in frustration, but kept playing. Esme watched us cautiously.
As the movement ended, Rosalie finally looked up at me pompously.
I can lead just as well as you, dear brother.
I rolled my eyes, refusing to grace her with a retort.
"Which movement next?" I asked cattily.
Movement three. Hemiones. Rather befitting for you, don't you think?
I snorted. "It takes two of us to play it Rose. Don't count yourself out."
She huffed loudly as she glanced through the music. I saw her eyes narrow.
Let's trade parts again. I would rather play second piano on this one.
I stood up and threw my arms in the air. "Are you crazy? I'm not going to keep running back and forth just so you can play the more desirable part!"
"Fine! I'll bring it to youthis time!" She marched over and literally threw her portion of the sheet music at me. The individual pieces went flying in all directions as she snatched my copy off the Kawai and stalked back to the Steinway.
I hissed at her before stooping to retrieve the fallen sheets. "Honestly Rose, this isn't worth my time. Forget I suggested we even attempt to play together."
"Edward, please. You both play so well together." Esme's quiet plea softened the anger that was rapidly building inside of me. I turned to look at her.
Please, for me? Just let Rose have her way.
I sighed dejectedly, knowing I couldn't deny Esme her wishes.
I turned to Rosalie. "I lead. You follow."
She sniffed, but appeared to cooperate. Once again, we began.
This time we were unable to make it to the end of the piece. Halfway through, Rosalie started to slow down, inadvertently flubbing the wicked runs that dictated the movement. I lifted my hands from the keys angrily.
"If you can't keep up, then what's the point of playing together?" I spit at her.
I'd like to see your part please. I think I'd be better playing first piano on this one.
Rose shot daggers at me. "Does it really matter Edward?" She mocked viciously. "If you want me to play, then give me the liberty to decide which part is best suited for my artistic abilities." Her speech easily translated into I want the showier part, or else.
"Absolutely not! They're not that different. Tough it out!" I was fuming at this point.
"Give me your part!" her voice grew louder and rougher.
"No, you callous sycophant!"
"Stop it!" Esme stood and interrupted our tantrum. "Why don't you find a movement with equal parts," she suggested. Rosalie and I continued to stare ferociously at one another, neither one of us wanting to back down.
You're completely impossible Edward.
I think it bugs you that I play as well as you do now.
I coughed out a laugh. Conceited was too kind of a word for Rosalie.
It's true you know. Even Esme thinks so. Why don't you ask her?
I rolled my eyes again. "Which movement has equal representation for both pianos?" I snickered, attempting to follow Esme's suggestion, yet refusing to sink to Rosalie's level and barrage her with the ever-growing number of insults that pelted my brain.
Movement eleven. I'm surprised you didn't know that. You act like you know everything else.
"Put a sock in it Rose."
"Please, for me." Esme was pleading with us to stop fighting. I heard more footsteps approaching; this time it was Carlisle.
What's going on?
I shook my head at him, refusing to answer. He'd figure it out in due time.
Why is Esme upset? I continued to ignore his mental questions.
"Movement eleven then, Rose." I kept my eyes on her as I took a seat again in front of the piano. She mimicked my movements exactly.
"Please, dear brother. You're first piano. Give me the tempo." Her voice was sickeningly sweet and dripping with hatred. I fought back the urge to launch myself over both pianos and knock the smirk off her face once and for all.
I saw Carlisle put his arm protectively around Esme as they both sat down slowly to watch the show. I feared they were going to get more then they bargained for on this movement.
I appraised Rosalie again before tapping the correct tempo on the wood. To emphasize my leadership, I actually counted out loud this time.
"One, two three, four." Our hands hit the keys simultaneously to attack the farce of this particular movement. Pianistes. A supposed tribute to pianists such as us, practicing scales. I still couldn't believe Rosalie was going to stoop to perform such an elementary movement.
We began together, first running the five-noted scales in the key of C, then extending to the full octave, followed by an explosive chord. Then we modulated to the key of D flat, repeating the exercise. The movement was so incredibly easy to play that I kept my eyes on Rosalie the entire time. She did the same. Her thoughts bombarded me like automatic rifle fire.
I heard you slip on that G.
My scales are more even; more controlled.
Admit it; you finally met your match when it comes to performing.
No wonder you're so moody all the time – you can't stand to be shown up by a girl!
As the song escalated up through the key of D and then to E flat, the music noted for us to actually slow the tempo as we ascended the keyboard. I followed those instructions; Rosalie did not. Her scales continued to race faster and faster, giving me no choice but to keep up.
"Slow down!" I hissed.
No! Keep up!
"That's not how this piece was meant to be played!"
Sure it was. How could anyone play slower while repeating the same boring scales over and over?
Now her fingers bolted through the passages. I had to fight to keep up with her.
"Rosalie, this is ridiculous!"
"Ha! I told you I was better then you!" She was racing at an alarming speed, and I couldn't believe the Steinway could keep up with her. I barely could.
"Admit it!" She was shouting now.
Edward, I finally found something I'm better at then you!
I hissed again, almost ready to explode in anger. I was pounding on my precious Kawai, trying to drown out her scales. Rosalie picked up on my tactic immediately, and reciprocated the abuse to her keyboard tenfold. Amazingly, she was actually squeezing more volume out of the Steinway.
"I'm warning you Rose!" I growled.
Warn all you want. I'm better then you!
I couldn't take it anymore. I pushed down even harder on the Kawai, forcing the hammers to strike the strings rapidly and forcefully enough to overtake the Steinway.
I should have known better - Rosalie refused to give up. Suddenly I heard a distinct snap, then another. I knew immediately what had happened, and I shot up off the bench and flew over to the side of the Steinway.
"You broke the keys on my mother's Steinway!" I roared. The ivory on two keys was cracked and sunken from the pounding of Rosalie's fingers.
She jumped up from the bench, pointing her finger at me and shouting in my face. "You started it! You're the one who insisted we try to play together!"
"You are the poorest excuse for a pianist; no, for a vampire; that I've ever laid eyes on!" I could care less that I was hitting below the belt. Rose had pushed me too far this time with the endless taunting and her cantankerous attitude, and I was sick and tired of playing the helpful brother role. Carlisle had made an enormous mistake changing her for me. Not only was I not even remotely interested in her as a romantic companion, but I could barely stomach being cordial to such an insolent hussy. I was getting dangerously close to ripping every last perfect piece of blonde hair out of her head.
"Oh yeah? You just can't admit that I am actually a better pianist then you! For once, someone beat you at something!" Her face was flushed, and I could almost see the smoke coming out of her ears.
"If you know what's best for you, you'll apologize now before I wrap the Steinway around your skinny little neck!"
Suddenly I felt a pair of hands pushing into my chest.
"Enough!" I had never heard Carlisle use such a monstrous tone in my life, his features snarled in anger. If I didn't know better, I'd think he was ready to behead us both.
He turned to Rosalie first. "Outside. Now!" She started to open her mouth to protest.
Don't you even think about it!
Carlisle's thoughts were so strong that Rosalie must have heard them too. She paused for a second, giving me one last dirty look, then turned to stomp out of the house.
I hate you Edward!
I wished she could read my mind – I had many more creative insults for her then that.
Carlisle turned to me. He was still extremely upset, and wasn't about to let me off the hook as easily as Rosalie.
"And you! You know better then to let her get the best of you!"
My jaw dropped. "But she snapped the keys on my mother's piano!" I tried to keep the whine out of my words, but it was next to impossible.
Carlisle gave me a disparaging look.
Whose idea was it to attempt to play together in the first place?
I blinked and closed my jaw. "Mine," I admitted reluctantly.
"Well, sometimes the greatest intentions have the most disastrous results." You should have known better.
"So this is my fault?" I retorted loudly.
Yes, to some degree. I will ask her to apologize and help you pay to fix the piano. But remember, you are older then her. You have better control over your emotions.
I sneered towards the door she had left through, still wanting to teach her a lesson for wrecking my beloved Steinway.
"She has no appreciation for sentimental belongings," I seethed at no one in particular.
Maybe so. After you have the keys repaired, I suggest you put the Steinway in storage now that you have your new piano.
I turned back to Carlisle, shocked by his thoughts. "Put the Steinway in storage?" I repeated sadly.
"Yes. If you want to prevent further damage, it's the best thing to do. Plus, I don't think we have room in this house for two pianos any longer." His tone was definitive. There would be no more discussion.
And that was the first and last time Rosalie and I attempted to play together.
By the way, I'm still the better pianist.