I stared down at ivory keys, my fingers running along their edges in complete and utter misery, agony, and any other negative word you could possibly ever think of. Playing the piano? It was impossible! Especially when practicing such a fast-paced and demanding piece. Every time I glanced at the sheet music, filled with the black lines and dots that were supposed to represent music, I could feel pure hatred bubbling up within me for my teacher and parents. How on earth could they possibly be expecting me to do this? How could they just sit me down in front of the instrument as black as their own souls and expect sounds of beauty to just pop up?
These questions only made my head pound faster as a fresh wave of self-hate washed over me. They expected this because it what should have happened. I should have been able to play these pieces without any problem. I was part of a well-established line of musicians, after all. Music was in my blood. Running my fingers along a piano and coaxing out its soft and blissful melodies should have been something I was born with.
But it wasn't. That much was painfully obvious. I was a fail to the family. A reject. Honestly, why did they even continue to bother at this point? I had already been through ten teachers, all of which had quit and told my parents that I was a lost cause. And now, number eleven was beginning to snap as well. If he wasn't able to master this piece then... Well...
My career in music would officially be over and I'd be shunned within the family. They'd probably even force me to change my last name from Edelstein.
I let my head fall down to the ivory keys, a cacophony of discordant notes piercing through the air. Oh please, of all people to walk in on my self-pitiful wallowing, it had to be him.
"Leave me alone Gilbert!" I called out in frustration. My fingers were now running along keys, randomly plucking notes to add to the mess of noise.
Despite my protest, I could still feel his arrogant presence in the room. In fact, I could even hear him coming closer.
"What wrong, little princess?" He asked, sitting down beside me. For once, his tone seemed deadly serious as the teasing in his voice stopped completely. The nickname he had jeered me on with countless of times was now resembling something more of an endearment. At any rate, it was still a moniker I despised.
"Just go away," I huffed, turning from him to face the music sheets once more. The black notes, hung across the lines of musical bars still made just about as much sense as they had when I entered the room-which was none whatsoever.
Before I could begin any attempt to play it, however, the Prussian beside me had brought down his own fingers on the instrument, opening up the piece with a chord. His crimson eyes fluttered only momentarily to read the sheet of paper before him before his hands simply took over, running down the entire piano as a pure and melodic symphony billowed out. I could only sit there in shock as he pressed at ivory keys, releasing the blissful music out into the room. When he stopped, ended with yet another perfectly coordinately chord, everything had gone deathly quiet.
Gilbert Beilschmidt, the rogue, the idiot, the trouble maker, could play the piano better than I could ever hope myself to. How? I hadn't the slightest idea, but he had managed and that much was painfully obvious. Perhaps once I was dropped out of the family, my parents would adopt him instead. Oh yes, they'd simply adore that white-haired scoundrel so long as he kept playing piano like that.
Now he had dared to turn back to me, talking as if nothing had happened.
"Why didn't you tell me?" I could only ask. "Why?"
"You never asked," he shrugged in response. It was as if he couldn't care less about this talent of his, as if playing such a piece with such pure precision was the easiest thing in the world-far too easy for him to even bother with.
I could only stare at him at this point, watching with bewilderment as the person I thought I knew to be good for nothing, had revealed himself to be so much more.
"It's not that much of a biggie," he insisted after a moment. "I learnt a bit from this guy I used to know when I was little."
"A bit?" I asked sourly.
"Alright alright, maybe more than a little bit. Old Fritz was pretty big on music so he made me learn a bunch of this shit."
"It's not 'shit,' Gilbert. It's an art."
"Right, now paint me a picture Mr. Artist. I played for you, so now it's your turn to take me away!"
I looked at him pointedly. Honestly, how could he be so dense? No, it wasn't his fault completely. I was an Edelstein afterall and the family's reputation for excelling at music was practically common knowledge within every household. How would this complete idiot know that I was a failure to such well-respected musicians?
"Are you going to play?" He asked, poking me in the side. It didn't hurt at all, but tears sprang to my eyes nonetheless. Before I could even manage to attempt to stop the flow of salty water, I was completely bawling-a mess of puffy red cheeks and cries.
"I can't!" I sobbed, my head slamming into the piano once more. Another series of discordant notes flew up into the air, shattering the inside of my mind while doing so. I couldn't do something that Beilschmidt could. This was truly a day of grief. I was supposed to be his superior, better than everything he could even think of.
And yet, here I was practically crying a river because I could not. I was certain that Gilbert would laugh at me, poke fun at my vulnerability and pathetic excuse for music. It was just so much like him. He teased me for wearing glasses after all! Just imagining the terrible nicknames he'd come up with after seeing that I couldn't play a simple piano piece made my head pound and more tears roll down my cheeks.
Thus, I was completely taken aback when I felt his arms wrap around me. It didn't make sense for him to embrace me in this way, especially after I had proved myself so weak and useless.
"Roderich..." He spoke up after a few moments, gently pulling me into an upright sitting position. Red eyes normally filled with laughter and cruel mockery were now bubbling with concern as he gently wiped my eyes with his own shirt sleeve. The salty liquid stained the blue fabric, but it didn't seem to be bothering him in the least. Instead, he simply looked me in the eye and continued to talk. "Just tell me what's wrong. I'm here for you, I promise."
I wanted to laugh, but instead another pathetic sob escaped through my lips as I allowed him to hug me tighter. Oh this was just starting to get pathetic. Was I truly allowing that scum of society to touch me this way? Any other time I would have pulled back in disgust, but now... Now there was nothing more I wanted to do than cuddle closer. His grip was just so comforting, so right. There was no other way to describe it as I allowed my head to fall upon his shoulders, tears slowly beginning to subside.
All the while, he continued to pat my back, murmuring words of reassurance into my ear. Gott, if I had ever even thought he'd be capable of such actions I would have thrown myself out a window. His fingers ran up into my hair, gently tousling brunette strands.
"S'alright Roddy... Everything's okay..." Gilbert whispered, continuing to stroke me even as I shifted to face him properly.
I could still barely comprehend how he was keeping a straight face. It still seemed like he was playing around with me, joking and laughing at my discomfort. I half expected him to suddenly push me down and laugh, teasing me for the fact that I thought I could ever trust him.
Instead, he surprised me in another way-another way that I still find hard to believe.
He gently took my hands from around his own waist and placed them on the piano, rearranging them to form the opening chord.
"Now just press down on that..." he told me. "But do it lightly since the piece is supposed to open quietly."
I nodded, unable to speak, and let the notes ring out across the room. For once, I had managed to make something sound... right. The chord had barely lingered for a few seconds, when Gilbert proceeded in moving my fingers to rearrange the next notes, and then the many after. Each took a painstakingly long time to form, but sounded beautiful nonetheless. With his hands on top of mine, I played the piece. It was slow and messy in a few places, but much better than I had ever done before in my life.
When finished, he give me a smile. Rather than one of his teasing smiles, this was one of pure pride and happiness. It was a smile that said that I had accomplished something.
"Way to go Specs," he whistled. "You kicked ass."
I could only smile in response, intoxicated on the feeling that I had finally achieved something in the world of music. And it was only because of that one silly Prussian.
Another chord rang throughout the hall, a final end to my favorite piece. Every single time I played it, I was immersed in a wave of memories and nostalgia. This piece I was now playing in front of millions, the piece that an entire auditorium full of people were now standing up to applaud to, was my very first and by far the most special to me.
Little fragments of the memory were still flying about in my mind as I bowed to the crowd's increase in cheers. Never would I have ever thought in my entire childhood, that I'd be capable of something like this. Never, if it weren't for my husband of now one year.
He was the first one to greet me once I got off the stage, arms flying around my waist and lips pressing against mine.
That trademark grin of his was still beaming down at me as he handed me a bouquet of roses.
"Great job, princess," He applauded, kissing me once more on the nose. "You remember the first time you played this right"
The noise of the crowd had turned into a distant hum when he spoke, making him the only thing in my focus, my only attention and need. How could I ever forget that day in June when he broke into my living room to teach me the piece I was now famous for? How could I ever forget the way he had slid his hands over mine and guided me through the measures?
With a small nod and a wide smile of my own, I finally responded.
"Every time I play."