A single note echoed out into the garden, the beautiful tone fluttering over the colorful flowers, bouncing off of the stone decorations, sending ripples though the small pond, and being drowned out as it approached a little waterfall. Once it died out, there was nothing but the usual sounds of nature, with birds chirping lightly in nearly awed reverence.
Sona adjusted the tuning peg on her etwahl, her perfect pitch so skillfully mastered that she only needed the single pluck. She quickly ran her hands over the magical instrument; its strings were perfectly taught, and now it was perfectly tuned. The other champions were all in the middle of their daily training sessions, and she was prepared to begin her's.
From her perch on a thick, low-hanging tree branch, she quietly began to pluck out a simple melody. The Maven of Strings closed her eyes, letting her well trained ears listen to the way the music flowed out into the garden and returned to her.
As she continued, hands gently, slowly, and precisely plucking the strings, the music grew more complex and powerful. Sona mixed strong crescendos, weakening diminuendos that would draw listeners close as the instrument grew whisper quiet, and sudden strong bursts of intense, raw sound. Confident with the technical quality of her music, she gently laid her hands onto the instrument, muting the resonation.
With a deep breath, she began to play out a slow, dark dirge. Her eyes still closed, she could hear the sound of the birds die out. As the depressing music flooded the garden, she carefully listened to the quality of the tone. It was perfectly cold and chilling, devoid of warmth to the point that it could depress the birds into a silent stupor.
This was her practice; even without exerting her magic she had to be able to express emotion perfectly through sound, to make her listeners feel what she wanted. This was particularly important to the mute girl, who had difficulty expressing herself without music.
Since her appearance in the League, many began to make claims that it was her magics and not her talent that gave such powerful, moving performances. Sona was rather frustrated about that; she would never use her magics to make herself seem like a better musician than she was.
Her music took a dramatic, uncontrolled turn. When she began to hear the birds squawking, barely drowning out the sounds of shedding feathers and violence, she quickly slapped her hands down on to her instrument. Sona quickly played a few bars of a soothing lullaby before returning to her dirge.
She closed her eyes once again, intent on ensuring that her music and feelings were both under control. Everything seemed fine once again, until an odd ticking noise began to resonate against the sound she was releasing. It was rather dissonant, and bothered her enough for an improvisational change of key.
When she opened her eyes, she was left speechless; or rather more speechless than she usually was. Her fingers didn't halt, but she found a woman engaged in a melancholic dance in rhythm with her playing. Every movement was perfect, displaying a level of flexibility and skill that Sona had never seen before.
The motions were perfectly expressive, dark, and graceful. They were sluggish in the throes of depression but still on tempo and precise. Sona could simply feel the raw emotion from the visual. She was still shocked as she continue to watch someone she regarded as an emotionless machine express herself through dance.
When Sona halted her playing, Orianna quietly returned a leg that had been raised into the air to the ground. The Lady of Clockwork tilted her head before contorting her arms into bizarre angles, winding the key in her back. The ball came up from its resting place on the ground, floating behind her.
"Sorry, I heard the music and wanted to dance," the woman called up to the Maven. "Are you going to play more? I would like that."
The mechanical, toneless voice was a little disconcerting, but Sona gave a quiet nod. She was very, very curious at this point. Could Orianna feel? It should be impossible otherwise for her dance to so perfectly match the emotion of the music. In a sort of test, Sona began a new song. It started quietly, her hands lightly fluttering across the strings creating a little twinkle that flowed out into the garden. With a strong crescendo, it boomed into a spring-like melody, upbeat and joyous.
After a few moments, Orianna threw a hand into the air and tilted her head back right in unison with the peak of a scale. She immediately began to spring through the air, her movements light and airy, perfectly mirroring the music. The Lady of Clockwork was again expressing herself, an apparent happiness in the movements.
Sona almost felt as though it was more genuine than the previous dance. It seemed like Orianna wasn't just dancing to music, but showing her joy of dance itself. The automaton was truly expressing herself though motion, which seemed amazing to the Maven. Of course, she did the same with music; perhaps Orianna was just as unable to connect with others as herself.
Without skipping a beat, Sona suddenly shifted into a lyrical waltz, pride and confidence swelling through the sound. It was just as upbeat but more physically demanding, with quick powerful notes erupting in sets of three.
Without missing a beat, Orianna quickly adjusted her dance. It became grounded once again, with strong, regal movements that swept side to side. Each change in direction was perfectly on the downbeat.
The Maven continued to challenge the Lady of Clockwork, constantly and drastically changing the tone and tempo, and she was always met with a beautiful, skillful response. As minutes melted into hours, she was amazed at Orianna's endurance, although she occasionally reached her hands back and wound herself she didn't halt her dance.
Sona finally stopped when her hunger finally became an issue; a loud rumbling had interrupted the music, though the Maven didn't actually want to end their impromptu performances. There was a deep blush on Sona's face as she hopped down off of the tree. Orianna, for all her cold demeanor, glanced away slightly, kicking up some dirt off the ground in a nearly bashful manner.
'Is she being– empathetic?'
"That was fun," Orianna finally spoke, her mechanical voice penetrating the otherwise awkward silence.
Sona relaxed a little, giving her a nod and smile in response.
"Could we– do this again sometime?" the mechanical woman asked, in a way that Sona thought was almost nervous.
With a slightly wider smile, the Maven gave an eager nod.
"Good, I will see you again soon," the woman responded, her metal lips actually curving slightly into a smile.
'I didn't even know she could do that,' Sona thought to herself as she walked away.
With quiet anticipation, Sona found herself in her favorite perch once again. The etwahl was tuned, and she was just waiting for her partner to arrive. Without fail they had started to meet everyday, performing and truly enjoying their respective arts together.
It was admittedly fun. Sona had never found herself connecting well with others, her inability to speak hampering her every social encounter. Still, she refused to try to speak through writing; it only made her feel more different. But her inexplicable desire to get to know her newest partner was enough to make her do it.
So, when the Clockwork Lady's ball floated into the garden and up to her, she quickly scrawled a note before resting it gently on Orianna's little companion. It floated back down, carrying the message over to Orianna as she stepped gracefully into view.
She grabbed the note and read it. 'Just like yesterday, dance however you want and I'll play to match,' was written in beautiful, artistic script that Sona had mastered over years of writing in a personal journal.
With a nod, Orianna lowered her head, slowly sweeping her hands out before taking a soft, slow step to the side. The movements were calculated and dark, once again easily expressing sadness, but Sona jumped a little at the occasional temperamental outbursts of motion and fury. The automaton was depressed, moody, and frustrated.
Sona quietly began to play violent, emotionally charged music, building tension and swelling with each of Orianna's sudden, shocking movements. She had seen a few of Orianna's practice matches during the day, and they had not gone well. Misplaced commands everywhere, no teamwork, and no followups on the few accurate shockwaves. Piling on the sheer number of assassins on the fields who targeted her, Sona was aware that Orianna had been having a tough day.
She hoped that she could help.
When the dance and music stopped, Sona picked up her pad once again. The ball floated up and retrieved her message once again.
'You're feeling frustration. I saw that you've had a rough day. It was probably your summoner's fault though, don't blame yourself.'
Orianna nodded for a moment, glancing up at Sona, who smiled reassuringly at her. "Can you play something upbeat?" she asked as tender as her mechanical voice could muster.
Sona stretched her arms out, before gently plucking at her instrument again. This time, the music was suitably cheery, and Orianna quickly joined in. At first the movements were still a little down, but after a few minutes, she seemed to perk up. A soft smile formed on Sona's lips as she watched.
She had figured out that Orianna could in fact feel; she couldn't express it well in words because no one had ever bothered to teach her what her feelings were and they weren't exactly second nature to her, as a mechanical being. So Sona was taking her time and slowly explaining these things to Orianna.
The Lady of Clockwork seemed truly amazing to her. She really was a being evolving beyond their purpose; this was a real woman, with a real heart, who was always misunderstood. With a big smile, Sona released a dreamy sigh as she watched the woman's beautiful movements. Admittedly, Sona did find her beautiful. As a musician, she appreciated the perfectly timed and tuned inner workings. The clockwork was fascinating in its balance and motion. Everything intertwined perfectly and on beat, always, always on beat like a metronome. As human as the woman's emotions were, her ability to be in tempo was perfect in the way only a clock could be.
As a woman, she appreciated the literally sculpted, perfectly crafted lines of Orianna's body. Though she wouldn't complain about her own proportions, Orianna's form was slick, thin and limber. Of course it was artificial, so it was absolutely perfect, although unfortunately cold. Sona blushed a little at her train of thought.
Orianna regarded her with curiosity as the music paused, taking the moment to wind herself again. Embarrassed, Sona quickly restarted before getting lost in thought again.
As time passed, it seemed like Orianna kept becoming more expressive, all together more human. She could smile and she could laugh; Sona found it more delicate and ladylike than she thought it would be, with its giggle-like chime. The musician was greatly enjoying her time with the woman. But it felt like it was becoming more than it should be.
Orianna was a machine! Of course, she was sentient, had emotions, and personality. She seemed so cold and deadly on the fields, but was so warm and human in their private little garden. Sona couldn't help but lament her own growing feelings for the Lady of Clockwork. She couldn't help but wonder whether Orianna could even love another being. Feeling happy or sad was one thing, but the capacity to love was another.
Sona shook herself out of that train of thought. At least they were going to be good friends; it felt good to have a friend that she could really communicate with. Orianna could so easily read the music and tone, becoming aware of the emotions, thoughts, and feelings that Sona was trying to express.
Some things required her little notepad, but what Sona really wanted to express was beautifully entwined with her music. How their day had been, how the weather was– all their small talk was exchanged in their talented, skilled performance. Someone watching may just see the pretty show, but to them it was an eloquent private conversation.
Sona tilted her head back and just let the music flow.
Sona quietly opened her eyes from a brief rest. Her eyes slowly adjusted to the soft runic lighting of the medical ward of the Institute. The bed wasn't as soft as the fluffy, luxurious one in her room, and she almost regretted coming here instead of resting off her illness on her own.
The Maven of Strings grimaced a little, taking a stretch and testing the limits of her stomach. She had evidently been lightly poisoned during a dinner with Ashe, having taken a little taste of the Frost Archer's meal. From what she knew, Lulu's hijinks had been growing more dangerous and darker ever since the appearance of her mysterious friend that everyone knew simply as Fluffy. Most thought that the Fae Sorceress had transformed a cat into a person, and that the cat must've had a mischievous streak.
Ashe had taken the brunt of the illness, having been confined in another room and pumped full of replenishing fluids. Sona was simply in moderate discomfort, the worst of which had passed quickly overnight. She was a little disappointed that she hadn't recovered in time for her usual session with Orianna and had no way to get a message to her. This was the first time she couldn't make it to the garden. It only took a few brief moments for her mind to drift, quietly contemplating whether the other woman had missed her.
As if on cue, there was a light knocking on the door to her room. Her well-trained ears could hear the soft ticking of clockwork on the other side. Sona was unsure of what to do, unable to call out for the woman to enter. Hoping that Orianna would understand, she reached out and tapped the edge of a glass of water on her bedside table. Unable to manipulate the sound with skill alone, she let her magic resonate through the cup, giving the clinks a warm, inviting tone.
The door slid open and Orianna stepped in, slowly approaching the side of the bed. "I heard what happened," the woman started, her voice still as flat and mechanical as ever, "how are you?"
Sona tapped the glass again, infusing the sound with a positive feeling.
"I am very happy to hear that," Orianna stated.
With a wide smile, Sona gave her a nod. Since she learned what the words were for her emotions, Orianna loved to say them aloud and with an odd directness.
"I was sad when you weren't in the garden. I do so enjoy dancing to your music. Your safety is greatly relieving." Orianna took a long, almost hesitant pause. "I have an emotional query."
Sona gave her a slight nod, urging her to continue.
"When you were not there today, I was affected greatly. Whenever I am around you, I am happy, my gears turn faster, and I do not wish to part, though I understand your body requires frequent maintenance. I was both angry and sad when I heard that you had been harmed."
It took a few moments for Orianna's words to sink in.
"I have this feeling, directed towards you alone. I do not know what it is, and I cannot express it in dance. There is no choreography that readily comes to mind that would portray this." Orianna reached a hand out, laying it gently onto Sona's cheek, drawing a deep blush. "What is this feeling?"
Without a pad of paper, Sona couldn't just write the simple answer, and even if she had her etwahl, she couldn't think of a good way to express it. The Maven settled for quietly reaching a hand up and resting it onto Orianna's. She would have to give her the answer later.
"I apologize, I understand that you have no way to answer now. It can wait, and you are still unwell. Is there anything I can do for you?"
Sona glanced over to an empty chair in the corner of the room, and then back to her bedside.
"You wish me to stay? I can do that," Orianna answered, quickly dragging the chair over. "It makes me happy that you do not wish to part as well," she expressed, sitting beside her and putting her hand quietly into the musician's lap.
She gave a slight nod in agreement, smiling as she gripped the hand. The woman's clockwork body hummed and ticked with increasing speed; Sona found the sound reassuring as she began to drift off again. She knew that it would be difficult to find a way to explain what Orianna was feeling for her, and to tell her that she felt the same. For now, she would simply enjoy the company, but she was felt reassured knowing that Orianna and her would come to have a much deeper relationship.
A/N: This is a pairing I feel should be obvious, I mean it's the musician and the dancer. I'm kinda shocked I haven't seen much of it around. I shall call it 'music box.' And sorry if the musical terms bothered you, but I have a lot of musical training and they just kinda came out.