Disclaimer All characters and some situations belong to Stephenie Meyer.
Many thanks to my amazing betas fragilehuman, K_InTheFlo, and amcas!
Also blame Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and mostly Chopin for putting this story in my head…and especially for Edward.
I am not a music expert by any means, I simply enjoy classical music.
Play lists for the chapters can be found in my profile. Thanks for reading!
Nocturne - Chapter 1
I never gave much thought to my career after college. I just knew one thing for certain: I loved music. Every part of me loved music. I loved listening to it, writing about it, talking about it, but most of all I loved singing.
My erratic mom, Renee, pushed me into as many activities as possible when I was a child. I still remember the black eye I received in softball. I left after that game and never went back. The ballet lessons were another disaster. I still have terrible memories from when I was seven of the time I tripped and fell and knocked over two other girls with me; girls who could actually dance, instead of stomp around like they had lead in their feet like me. Nothing serious happened, but you would have thought I murdered them from the evil disapproving glare I got from the instructor. Mom was politely pulled aside after that lesson, and I was asked not to return to class the next week. Funny thing was I couldn't have been happier about being kicked out of ballet school. I smiled the entire way home, for once my clumsiness worked in my favor.
Then there were the summer camps Mom forced me to attend every summer near Forks, Washington. I would spend one week at camp and then one month with my dad. I grew up in a typical divorced family, but the distance only allowed me to spend summer vacations with my dad, Charlie. He was chief of police in the town of Forks.
Can I tell you how horrible camp was? I refused to try horseback riding. Seriously, could you imagine me, with my luck, getting on a one-ton animal? Clearly, they had a death wish for me. So they made me go hiking instead. I sprained my ankle on the first day because I tripped over some tree roots. I was forced to do the indoor science activities with kids who didn't shower very often after that. Every summer following, I only signed up for the indoor activities just to be safe. I'd count down the days until Charlie would pick me up, and then I had a month with nothing to do but my summer reading.
Most kids in town kept away from me. I was always an outsider to them, the quiet girl who showed up one month out of the year then disappeared again. I was never given the time of day by any of them especially as I grew older because Charlie was the Chief of Police in Forks. They probably thought I'd always snitch on whatever slightly illegal activities they were trying to attempt. I didn't mind though. Doing donuts in Newton's Outdoor Goods parking lot was probably the antithesis of fun in my opinion. Nothing ever happened in that crummy little town anyway.
Except one summer I finally made a friend. I heard a beautiful sound coming from Charlie's neighbors house one afternoon. I can't remember which summer it was. I was barely in middle school, but I remember the day. It was actually sunny in Forks, so it was one of those rare afternoons where I could read outside as opposed to sitting in my room. I wasn't sure which instrument it was, but I never heard anything quite like it before. I closed my book and glanced through the shrubs on the property line where the sound was coming from.
There was a girl who looked to be about my age playing some string instrument in the screened in sun room. I pushed through the brush and came into their yard to listen. When the song ended I clapped for her, and the girl looked at me in shock then amusement.
"That was really pretty," I said.
"Thanks." She smiled awkwardly, and then looked at me strangely. "Where did you come from?"
"Oh. Are you Chief Swan's daughter?"
"Yeah, I'm Bella Swan. I didn't know there were any kids in this neighborhood. Are you visiting too?"
"No, I'm Angela Weber, I usually go to band camp every summer." She pushed her glasses back up her nose with her index finger then started fidgeting with the tension on her bow. She was dwarfed by the size on the instrument leaning against her.
"How come you're not at camp then?"
"I broke my leg so my Mom and Dad made me stay home." She frowned.
"Yeah, tell me about it."
"So what is that thing?" I gestured to her instrument.
"It's a cello. Do you want to try it?" She invited me into the sun room.
She handed me the instrument and the bow and told me how to place it properly on the strings. When I dragged it across on the first stroke, we both cringed at the odd flat sound that croaked from the instrument. Angela giggled at me, and I quickly handed it back to her, relieved I didn't break it in the five minutes I was holding it.
"It takes a lot of practice," she said as she moved the bow across the strings, emitting a beautiful note that soared around us as she started to play another song.
"It's beautiful." I sighed.
"It's Bach." She smiled down at her instrument.
"I wish I had a talent."
She stopped playing abruptly and offered me another smile. "I'm sure you have a talent for something."
"I don't believe that; everyone has a talent."
"Not me!" I said with a smug grin like I was proud of that or something.
She asked me a whole list of questions: drawing, sports, dancing, karate. No, no, no and no.
"Can you curl your tongue?"
"Wow." She thought for a minute. "I have an idea. Can you hand me my crutches?"
I followed her as she hobbled into the house and went to a small den. There was a small upright piano against one wall.
"Um, I definitely can't play the piano."
"It's ok Bella, I'm going to teach you something anyone can play."
"Trust me, I think I'm better off listening to music."
"Come on, you'll never know unless you try."
Angela then attempted to teach me "Chopsticks". It was easy enough, but, when she tried to teach me "Heart and Soul", I messed up at every try. She was holding her stomach laughing after ten minutes.
"See, told you. Why don't you just play something for me?" I flopped onto a recliner still laughing.
Angela flipped through some sheet music and chose a song. She started playing. The tune was familiar, but I didn't know what it was called. "What is this?" I asked casually.
Angela's fingers missed a note, and she turned to look at me. "What? You don't know this piece?"
I shrugged in response.
"It's Beethoven. Für Elise."
"What do you mean you don't know Beethoven?"
"I don't know... What's Beethoven?" I offered lamely.
Angela looked at me with a horrified expression. "Ok, crutches." She ordered with a laugh. We went across the room to a cabinet, and she started pulling out CDs. "You have to listen to this music. Trust me, it will rock your world. Mozart, Beethoven, Chopin, Bach...."
I looked distastefully at the growing stack of CDs in my hands.
"We'll save Rachmaninoff for later." She flipped through some more. "Ah, opera!" She practically squealed.
"Gross!" Yet that didn't deter Angela. The stack kept growing.
"You mean amazing! Just try it; I swear you'll like it!"
I went home that evening with an assignment from Angela. She started me on the Bach then had me work my way forward. I shrugged as I popped in the first CD. I had nothing better to do than read or watch sports with Charlie, neither of which was particularly appealing to me. So I put on my headphones and settled in for an evening of "expanding my horizons," as Angela termed it. I fell asleep surrounded by swirling strings and soaring winds; it was utterly breathtaking.
I returned the CDs to Angela the next day and borrowed more. Two weeks later, we were hanging out in her living room, and I was humming along to Beethoven's 6th Symphony when Angela tapped my shoulder and pulled me back to the present world.
"Bella! I figured out your talent."
I looked at her strangely.
"You can sing!"
"What?" I stuttered over the next few words. "N-no way Angela! I can't...that's crazy...I can't sing!"
"Don't be silly you have a voice; you can sing."
"So, doesn't mean I'll be good at it."
"But you hummed perfectly in tune." She grabbed her crutches and went over to the piano. "See if you can sing this note."
"Come on Bella. Please? It's only us here. My mom's at the store remember." She hit the note again persistently.
I tried to get my voice to match the note, but it ended up sounding more like a frog croaking. "See, I can't sing."
"Stand up and don't slouch. Now try again."
Softly a note strangled from my throat. "Stronger, louder!" She encouraged. So I did it. Before I knew it, my voice was filling the room. She switched notes, and I matched that note as well and the next one and the next. Then she took me up and down a scale.
"Wow, Bella you've got some pipes on you!"
I blushed at her compliment. "Thanks, erm. I guess. I've never tried to sing before."
"Well, I think now you should more often. You're really good at it!"
"You really think so?" I looked at her in disbelief.
"I know so." She smiled.
All too soon, my month in Forks that summer was over. By the end of summer, I was hooked on classical music and opera. My posters of Kurt Cobain were replaced by posters of Beethoven and Mozart, or "Wolfie" as I jokingly referred to him. I enrolled in Chorus that fall, and I haven't stopped singing ever since. Angela was at summer band camp when I visited all summers after that. I stopped going to Forks altogether when I was 16. I flat out told my Mom I refused to spend my summers sitting around that boring town. Charlie was forced to meet me half way in California after that, so our time together was even shorter. I always thought about Angela. I always wanted the chance to tell her how much she inspired me, but I never saw her again. That is until I entered college, and, by some twist of fate, she was there at freshman orientation. We've been best friends and roommates ever since.
There was one thing that my teachers always told me kept me from being a great singer. I had performance anxiety, or stage fright...whatever you want to call it. I hyperventilated and basically shut down if I had to sing in front of a crowd solo. I just couldn't handle being in the spot light, but I also knew I loved music. I never gave another thought to studying anything else, so I decided to study music history and minor in vocal performance. I convinced my parents if nothing else I could always go for my masters and teach, and they agreed to help a little with my tuition. The rest I took upon myself. Angela is a performance major for string instruments, and she is also the president of the Chamber Music Society on campus.
That's what brought me here, standing outside of a dingy rock club, a little over a week from the start of my junior year at Northwestern Conservatory for Music just outside of Seattle. Even though we were complete classical dorks we both liked some indie rock. Angela and I were going to this concert to get the last days of summer out of our systems before we had to get serious and hit the books...or the strings in her case. I was excited because I heard the opener Alice Cullen, a local performer, had an amazing voice. Angela, on the other hand, had a crush on the bass player in the headlining band; she told me his name but I didn't remember. They were another local group that was on the verge of getting big. She knew I was going to tease her mercilessly tonight about it, especially if her wish of talking to this guy came true. The line started to move and we were finally headed in to the show.