Hello. This was also written for a story swap with jervaulx. I suppose if other people want to do story swaps with me, then I'm game (unless you want a Len x Kahoko/Tsukimori x Hino).
Manami plays a couple of songs, so here're some links just so you can know what they sound like even if she won't be playing them as well as this.
Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rapsody No. 2 in C# minor: youtube…com/watch?v=mkktn2_-gsw.
Franz Schubert's Fantasia in F minor, Op. 103, D. 940: youtube…com/watch?v=XCcIAJlT96k.
Disclaimer: I do not own Kiniro no Corda or any affiliates.
Manami Mori liked lists. Bulleted, numbered, long, or short—she liked them all. She was a girl who knew what she wanted and had the smarts and determination to get it. And lists helped her keep her goals clearly in mind. Outlines were too nit-picky on the details and flowcharts weren't flexible enough for her; she was organized, not fussy. She kept a list of songs to practice tucked into her music folder, lists of homework assignments and their due dates in her books, a list of her chores pinned to the refrigerator—you get the idea.
But if you thought she had a lot of lists already, you haven't seen anything yet. The majority of the lists she kept were mental. They were highly varied in subject matter ranging from the mundane to the whimsically fanciful to just being downright weird. Some, like her list of things she wanted to accomplish in life, she took out often to review, update, and edit. Others, such as her list of weird foods she disliked, she generally tried to not take out if she could help it. At the moment, as she stood outside of Minami Instruments, the only list she expected to revise was her mental list of music shops in the area. But fate had other plans in mind.
When she walked in, a cheerful chime sounded somewhere above her head. That was expected. What was unexpected were the waves of live piano sweeping through the store and crashing on her ears like the ocean against a breaker. Not even thirty seconds went by before her heart skipped a beat. She recognized this playing style. Peeking cautiously around the corner, she was met by the sight of one Ryoutaro Tsuchiura playing on a baby grand.
She watched in silence as she contemplated him. Unfortunately, her list of things she knew about him was far shorter than she would like.
- Second-year General Studies student: Class 2-5
- Member of the Soccer Club: Forward
- 181cm (or somewhere around there; quite tall at any rate)
- Dark green hair in a conservative cut
- Dark gold eyes
- Refreshing smile
- Has a rivalry with Len Tsukimori
- Willing to help people out
- Generally good-natured
- Plays the piano
- Took second place in the music competition
- Has a temper
And…that was about it. She supposed she could add that he played piano here in this shop, but how often? Was this a one-time thing and she just happened to walk in here in time to listen to this performance?
"May I help you with anything?"
She started slightly and turned toward the voice. Before her stood a thin older man with wire-rim glasses and an apron. "He must work here."
"Oh, are you a friend of Ryou's?" he asked, noticing her uniform. He smiled. "Why don't I get him for you." Before she could open her mouth to protest, the man called out, "Ryou, you've got a visitor."
The boy looked up and slid his eyes over to the sheepish-looking girl. His eyebrows raised in mild surprise. "Oh, hey there."
"Hello Tsuchiura-kun." She looked a bit rueful as she pushed a lock of golden-brown hair behind her ear. "I'm sorry for disturbing your practice."
"It's fine," he shrugged, standing to walk toward her. "Did you need help finding something?"
"Not really. I found this shop just a few minutes ago and wanted to poke around. Then I heard you playing and got distracted."
"I see." Giving her a friendly smile, he turned back toward the piano. "Let us know if there's anything you need."
"Ryou…aren't you going to introduce me to your friend?" the older man asked archly.
"Oh, right." This was probably the first time she had ever seen Tsuchiura-kun look apologetic. It was kind of cute. "This is Mori. She was Hino's accompanist in the music competition."
"Ah, I see." The man nodded deeply. "I'm the owner of this shop, Minami. It's a pleasure to meet you Mori-san."
"It's nice to meet you too Minami-san."
He smiled kindly. "As Ryou said, let us know if you need anything."
"Thank you, I will."
As she wandered through the shop, she reviewed the new information she'd gathered.
1. Apparently Tsuchiura-kun came here often, or had in the past, based on how familiar he was with the shop owner.
2. Minami-san seemed to be a family friend of some sort.
3. Since Tsuchiura-kun wasn't helping Minami-san with anything related to the shop really, he must come here mostly to just play. She couldn't blame him; I mean it was a baby grand. It wasn't everyday you had easy access to one, especially as a General Studies student.
Suddenly getting an idea, she searched the shelves for some music. Then, armed with two scores, she emerged to see the two men taking a coffee break. She smiled to herself. "Perfect." It seemed like things were working out nicely for her little plan to try and get closer to him.
Now Manami was not a schemer; she was simply methodical, deliberate, and driven. When she chose to do something, she wanted to see it through to the end or at least as far as she could go. And if that was the case, it usually helped if you had a plan of some sort so you could follow the steps. If you think about it, plans are a kind of list, and she believed in lists.
"Find something?" Ryoutaro asked, turning around as he heard her come up behind.
"I think so." Turning her attention to Minami-san, she said, "I was wondering if I could try them out though."
"Of course," he nodded and motioned to the piano. "Help yourself."
Siting herself and adjusting the seat, she laid out the first score and did a couple quick warm-ups. The piano was in good repair. The keys were neither too sticky nor did they yield too easily beneath her fingers; she was quite pleased. From there, she launched straight into Liszt's Hungarian Rapsody No. 2 in C# minor. Now she was better at sight-reading than playing by ear, but that by no means meant that she could flawlessly play a piece the first time she looked at it, especially if it was as technically demanding as this one. That being said, she had yet to meet a song where she couldn't get a pretty decent gist of how it went the first time around.
Now this part wasn't too bad. Oops! That was a sharp, not a natural. She went back and fixed it, playing it a couple of times to cement the proper sound in her head before continuing. Ooh, interesting. She picked her way carefully around the fingering. As she worked through the song, she snuck glances at the pair by the counter every so often, and was pleased to see that they were listening attentively. Bolstered by the knowledge that she had caught his attention, she finished the song with a flourish.
Both of them clapped.
"You're quite talented," Minami-san complimented. "Most people can't play it that fluently the first time around."
Ryoutaro nodded in agreement. "Now that I think about it, I think this is the first time I've heard her play solo."
"Thank you," she grinned and inclined her head deeply in acknowledgement. Putting the music aside, she murmured aloud, "I think that should work nicely for my upcoming exam."
"Got a practical or something?"
She smiled back at her fellow schoolmate. "In a couple of months."
"You start early."
"I don't like to procrastinate." Her piercing blue eyes were just a touch defiant.
A smile tugged at his lips. "I see. The other one for the same practical?"
"Nope," she held it up, "this is for fun."
Both men's eyebrows winged up in surprise.
"Franz Schubert's Fantasia in F minor, Op. 103, D. 940? Isn't that a duet?" the older man pushed his glasses up his nose.
"I'm attending a four-hands piano event at the community center next month," she explained. "Pianists of all ages come to just play and have fun hearing new songs and connecting with other musicians. Each duo is supposed to play their favorite four-hands piece as part of an informal competition/concert. Some of them are original compositions by local composers in the area. It's kind of like a free-for-all master class, concert, competition, and networking session."
"That sounds quite interesting Mori-san."
"It should be." She laughed, "Although I wonder how many of the kids will play Heart and Soul."
Ryoutaro shuddered. "Maybe not so interesting."
She shrugged. "I'm sure the rest of it would make up for that."
Okay, small talk, check. Now for the next step.
"Actually…are you busy right now, Tsuchiura-kun?"
"Would you be able to play this with me? I'd like to know how it sounds. Since it's four-hands…" she trailed off.
"Oh, yeah, sure." He set down his mug and walked over.
"Thanks," she grinned as she spread out the music. "Have you played this before?"
"No," his eyes lit up with the fire of a challenge, "but that makes it more interesting."
She chuckled. "Indeed. High or low?"
"I'll take the lower half," he said as he sat down on her left and warmed up a little.
He started off, the fluid notes flowing out of the instrument with a grave, pensive air to them. She then joined, her staccato lightly tripping over and around his as if inviting them to perform an intricate dance.
Despite both of them making a lot of mistakes and having to stop and restart a lot as they moved from section to section and when they turned the page, she recognized an undeniable fact: he was good. He was really, really good. Not that she didn't think so before, but it's one thing to play a song that you've been practicing a lot and quite another to play something you've never seen before in your life, especially something as fine as this Schubert piece. And he did both masterfully. His playing showed a strong physicality. There was a firm connection between his deep thinking about the music and his articulation. It excited her to be playing something this challenging with him.
As the final notes faded into nothingness, Ryoutaro nodded approvingly at her. "You know your stuff."
"Piano is my forte, you know," she tossed back with a laugh.
He shrugged with that easy smile of his that felt like a cool drink on a hot and humid day. As he folded up the music, he looked at it with a slight crinkle of wistfulness around the eyes. "It's a great piece. If you and your partner get this down, you'll cream the competition for sure."
There was the opening she was looking for. She took a calming breath and responded, "Actually, I don't have a partner yet." She gave him a friendly smile and crossed her fingers (and a few toes). "Would you be willing to consider playing with me? It would really help me out, and I'd really recommend going to one of these events at some point if you haven't in the past."
He leaned back and scrutinized the music in his hands. "It would be challenging to perform this, and the event sounds pretty interesting. But do I have time?" He thought about it some more. He supposed he did. He nodded with a grin. "Sounds good, partner."
"Great!" She barely managed to keep the excitement in her voice to an acceptable level. It wouldn't do for him to think she was some sort of weird fangirl. Taking the music from him, she walked her purchases up to the counter and had them rung up while they worked out a practice schedule. Then, with a smile, she took her leave. "Well, it's getting late, so I'd better get going. It was nice to meet you, Minami-san. I'll see you at school, Tsuchiura-kun."
"Wait," Ryoutaro glanced out the window, "it's pretty dark. I'll walk you home."
"It's fine; I don't live that far from here."
"I'd feel better if I saw you home."
Chivalrous," she added to her mental list of things she knew about him. A small smile ghosted over her lips. Certainly not a bad trait at all. "Well, alright then." She bowed graciously. "Thank you very much."
As she waited for him to finish closing up the piano, she looked at him and smiled, adding walking home together to her list of things to do that day. She was really looking forward to having more days like this one.
And that's a wrap. Since Manami doesn't really show up in the anime and there's very little written about her in the memory book, I don't really know if she could be considered in character here. I suppose it would've been safer to make a story mostly from Ryoutaro's point of view in that case, but I can get into girls' heads better than boys', so…this is how it turned out. (^^; ) Since jervaulx is almost the authority on Manami Mori, I shall bow to her superior judgement. (^_~)
I hope you liked it jervaulx, sorry if it wasn't that romantic, but there's plenty of room for potential. (^_^)