I turned in Gil's arms and started shaking like a leaf, trying to not cry. This was... ugh. Stupid as it probably is, I wasn't expecting him to come so soon! I thought it'd be at least a month before my father showed up... at least that's when I'd convinced myself he'd come. Gil hugged me tight and was quite obviously sorry for letting him in. Even though tears had started pouring down my cheeks, I stood on my tip-toes and kissed his cheek.
"I-it's okay, Gil... we expected this to h-happen..."
I spoke in even softer a voice than usual, so there was no chance of dad hearing us, considering he was probably still very homophobic. I hugged Gil as tight as I could through my shaking and felt him comfortingly rub my back.
"Sh, Birdie... I'm right here and I'm not going anywhere. If you want, I don't have to say a word"
"Heh... th-that's gonna be pretty hard for you, Gil... y-you do tend to just rush in and say whatever"
He smirked a little at that, knowing I was right.
"Ja, but this is more important. I need to be there for you and we both know it. There needs to be some awesomeness in that room"
I giggled a little. "But I-I'm going to be in there... are you saying I'm not awesome?"
"Wha- nein! N-nein I'm not saying you're not awesome I just- gaaaaaah"
That got a chuckle out of me. Gil was cute when he was flustered like that, and honestly... it helped calm me down. I was very grateful for that. Now I'd almost stopped shaking and my tears had slowed. He saw this and smiled, rolling his eyes playfully. I rolled my eyes back, before wiping them and taking his hand.
"W-we should go see dad now... r-right? When are Ludwig a-and Feli coming back from shopping?"
"The awesome me doesn't know, but hopefully soon... safety in numbers, ja?"
I nodded and gave him a quick peck on the lips, then walked out to the living room with Gil. We sat on the other couch. Gil immediately pulled me in his lap and held me close, being protective as usual. I blushed and smiled a little at that, then got comfy. I rested my head on his shoulder so I could still see dad, but could easily hide if needed. I saw my father frowning at our position, but he didn't say anything about it. He looked around the room and at the various pictures of my new family. He focused on the one of me with the three big dogs laying on or near me. Dad glanced back at me after he'd studied that particular picture, noting the differences. He relaxed on the couch, giving the place one last look over.
"Nice place you got here, rat"
"So... how long have you been living with... what did you call him... Gil? How long have you been living with Gil?"
"I've been living w-with Gilbert and his family for about three or four weeks"
"And when did you start... dating him?"
"A-about a week after I started living here"
"Hm... that's pretty fast to fall in 'love'"
Gil growled a little at the obvious quotation marks around 'love'. We both knew that our love was real and yes, it had been pretty fast, but for us that didn't change a thing. I knew there was defiance somewhere in my posture or my eyes, because my father looked surprised. However, he quickly went back to his detached, almost bored look.
"You know, I didn't expect to see you again, much less alive. How did you manage to survive the five years?"
"I learned to play v-violin and played in the streets for money"
"On your deceased mother's violin?"
"Oui, w-where else would I get a violin?"
"Hm. You're a lot more sassy than when you were younger"
I shrugged. I guess I was more sassy, but now I wasn't living in constant fear of abandonment. Dad went back to the topic of the violin.
"You still have your mother's violin, right?"
"O-of course. I have been playing fairly recently"
"Play something for me. Let's see just how good you managed to get on that thing in five years"
Gil let go of me so I could get up. Back straight and a confident face on (for once) I walked to the basement. Now that I was an adult, and had been through everything I had been... I didn't see a reason to fear dad. As bad as it may sound, he was just another person now. Just another person who was there for my childhood, who first shaped me into a frail and scared child, then kicked me out so the world could shape me into what I am today. Huh... almost poetic, isn't it? I walked downstairs and to my violin case. I opened it and took out the picture of my mother first. I sat on the bed and stared at it, speaking to it for the first time in a while.
"Mama... I d-don't know why you married that man... and I'll probably never know. Maybe he was nice when you were dating... but I-I've only known him as mean and not fit to father anyone. I wish you were alive, or that you could somehow tell him what he d-did was wrong. M-maybe... maybe I'll tell him today. Stand up for younger me? I-I don't know. Je t'aime, mama..."
I kissed the picture for probably the five thousandth time and put it back, then got my violin and walked upstairs with it. I walked into the living room to see Gil glaring poison-tipped daggers at my father. I... may have smiled a little at that. Dad had obviously made some remark and this was Gil's way of telling him to not do it again. The best part was that no matter how hard he tried, my father couldn't look him in the eye and he looked rather nervous. I stood a little away from the couch and had the instrument in a ready position.
"Uh... n-no, just play whatever"
I looked back and saw Gil smirking. Rolling my eyes, I took a moment to think of what to play. Finally, I thought of a song that made me think of my mother. I started playing My Immortal by Evanescence. Closing my eyes, I focused on every single sound I was getting out of the violin. I played it almost perfectly, besides a timing mistake on the second chorus that I quickly covered and made it sound like part of the song. Halfway through playing, I briefly opened one eye to look at dad. He seemed surprised at my playing, and... almost sad. Then again, I would rank this song pretty high in the list of saddest songs of all time. I finished the song and sat down next to Gil, putting the violin on my lap. I opened my eyes to see dad actually looking impressed. And still not looking Gil in the eye.
"Not bad, not bad at all... It sounded... nice"
Nice. Well, I guessed it was better than having my performance flat-out hated.
Silence fell over the three of us. Dad looked like he was trying to think of something to say, while I was searching for an opportunity to get him to tell exactly why he treated me the way he did. It couldn't have been all because my birth cost my mother her life. Perhaps I reminded him too much of her? Maybe he had depression or something and never got it treated. As cruel as he was when I was growing up, I knew he wasn't all bad. Gil broke the silence (surprisingly not with an insult).
"Why exactly did you come to see Birdie?"
Dad smirked and Gil immediately realised his mistake. He wrapped an arm around my waist and held me close to his side, just in case.
"Aww, isn't that cute! You gave him a nickname. Is that because you couldn't remember his real one?"
Gilbert was ready to fire back, but I spoke first.
"Leave h-him alone, dad. He knows my name"
I spoke calmly, but just beneath the surface there were sparks of anger. Gil knew me well enough to know that all he needed to do now was hold me back if I actually got angry. Insult me all you want, but insult Gil and you better watch out. Father, however, obviously didn't hear the undertone of my voice.
"Oh, really? He doesn't think you're forgettable and shouldn't even be on this planet?"
Dad stood up and so did I. I was actually taller than him... that made me smile for a brief second. Until, of course, I looked at dad's eyes. Thy were ice blue, but not like Ludwig's. Ludwig's eyes had warmth in them. The pair I was staring into now held no warmth at all. The room actually felt a bit colder. He glared at me, and I
"How dare you have sucked the life out of my beautiful Lyra?! The doctors said it was a low-risk pregnancy, and what did you do? You just had to come along and fuck that up. You just had to kill your mother, didn't you, rat?"
Those words stung me. As I've mentioned before, I love my mother even if I never got to meet her. From pictures and things, I knew she would be kind and patient and probably... probably a lot like me. We had the same smile, and the same eyes. I took a deep breath and spoke in a voice almost exactly like Gil's, when he was calm but very threatening.
"I didn't kill Mama. Obviously it was her time to go to heaven. Why can't you accept the fact that she's not with us anymore, that it happened twenty three years ago and just move on?"
"Because I loved her, dammit! You wouldn't understand that, brat!"
"Actually, I would. The second thing I took from the house was a picture of Mama. I love her a lot, and she probably didn't even get to hold me. While on the streets, I fell in love with a guy who ended up crushing my heart into a t-tiny little pile of pulp. I moved on from that, even though it hurt a lot to do so"
"It's not... not the same thing!"
"But it's close enough. Love and complete heartbreak"
Dad got pretty angry at that. The vein on his forehead was bulging and his glare would have normally made me back down. I guess he didn't like me comparing my former love for a man to his love for Mama. Gil was standing by, in case anything happened to me. Dad didn't speak for a few moments, so I jumped in.
"I have a question, father"
"And what might this question be, son?"
"Tell me exactly why you treated me like you did growing up. You only fed me enough to make teachers not suspicious, you tried to give me away to almost everyone, you forgot me at the airport, you screamed and yelled at me for things that weren't my fault and, on occasion, you beat me. Tell me exactly what I did to deserve those things. Oh, wait. I can answer that myself. I did absolutely nothing! My grades were good, better than Alfred's, I rarely disobeyed you, unlike Alfred, and my mother... if I had it my way, I wouldn't have been born to you and Lyra. You are obviously not fit to be a father to anyone"
By the end of my little speech thing, I was growling and glaring as hard as I could. My anger had finally boiled over. It was time to stand up for myself, to try to get dad to see that what he did to me was wrong and should never have happened. He looked very surprised, and actually backed off a little. Gil took a small step toward me, ready to restrain me if dad's answer was much less than satisfactory. My father still looked shocked... and since he wasn't talking I decided to deliver the final blow.
"Dad. Is that what mom would have wanted? If she saw you while she was looking down from heaven, I think she'd be glad that she was away from the empty husk of the man she married. Her only problem would be that her children, who she would have loved equally and paid equal attention to, were with that empty husk until one got kicked out and the other went to America"
My voice was low, but pretty angry sounding. Kind of like the low sound a cat makes, which is usually the final warning for you to back off. My words must have gotten to dad. He opened and closed his mouth as he tried to think of a retort. But... I'm not sure that there was a retort to what I said. Everything was true. Dad took a few minutes to dissect everything I said and compare it with what he'd done to me when I was younger. He was probably thinking back to when mom was still alive and all the promises of love he'd made to her and their unborn children. His face became slightly horrified and sad as he realised his mistakes, one after the other. Eventually he couldn't stand anymore. He sat back on the couch and looked me over.
"But... your birth took her life..."
I felt the anger in my body slowly leave when I heard the sorrow in his voice. It wasn't even an attempt to get me angry anymore. He was trying to make himself believe it now. I sat beside my father and put an arm around him.
"That happens sometimes, dad. Mom was j-just the one in a couple thousand that didn't make it"
He nodded and sighed, not fighting back against that.
"Do... do you really think your mom would be that disgusted by me?"
"Um... well, if she was anything l-like me-"
Dad looked at me now, his cruel, cold gaze turned to sorrow as he realised all his mistakes. Just looking at his eyes I knew that every memory he had of me as a child and later a teenager was playing, and this time he knew why I was crying when he said a sharp word to me or when I was showing him a test and he totally blew me off, or showed me one of Alfred's sporting trophies instead.
"She was a lot like you, Matthew... all she ever wanted was to have a loving family, with a few kids, a-a husband who would always care for them... and then, after the kids were big enough she'd go back to school and get a degree in music and start teaching it at a professional place... a-a-and she'd teach you and Al all about music... she was always a bright one in school, but... she was pretty athletic too... she would have been proud of you... she probably is proud of you..."
He was tearing up as he said that. I looked over at Gil and he had taken a seat again, but he was still watching carefully. I smiled at him and he gave me a smirk back. Dad must have seen, because he huffed a little.
"I still don't understand why exactly you're in love with another man, nor will I ever, but... obviously he's given you the things I couldn't. As long as you're not making out in front of me, he's...f-fine by me"
I gave a bright smile at that and Gil's smirk grew. I think... that might have been the first time dad saw me genuinely smile. He gave a quick smile back, before he got on his coat and left. I smiled as wide as I could manage as soon as the door was shut and jumped in Gil's arms, laughing happily and snuggling close. Mon amour held me tight to him and I looked up at him with big, loving grin. Dad... well, he at least saw my side of the story now, and while I think him accepting Gil was just because he was so overwhelmed by emotion, I was very, very happy. All the stuff I had been through to get up to this point seemed at least a little worth it now. And thanks to this conversation, and everything that had happened in the last three or four weeks... Silent Music was silent no more.
((This is the final chapter of Silent Music! Thank you to absolutely everyone who reviewed, favourited, or followed, because honestly... you guys are what's kept me going. I am willing to write an extra thing for this, but I'll need ideas from you guys. Also... I did write smut for this, so I'll post that shortly (once I stop blushing). And I know we probably won't hit this, but... 400th reviewer gets a free one-shot. Same rules apply as last time. Again, thanks to everyone, and I hope you liked the story!))