The music for this chapter: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4olBJs6j0rqbELEVyS637B?si=0451f5e16e714eee
(I will put a copy pastable version in the comments)
Power coursed through my entire body after absorbing that pesky wraith.
“You should have allowed me to do that from the start. I told you he was too far gone. You cannot help everyone you meet.”
This power was more than enough to pay back the wraith power I borrowed to defeat him. That is how it works after all. If you win there is nothing to worry about, so it should be used sparingly, and only when you are certain that you are going to win. Not like that madman did, throwing it all over the place all the time.
I noticed Fleure and Lise sitting together. I let out a sigh. Now that this was over, it was time to put an end to this charade. I am sure Fleure would just get in the way if she stayed on this side. I might have to devour them both if she decided to stay…. But I guess I should show my magnanimous side one last time and give Fleure one last chance to choose for life. Otherwise, I would have no choice but to get rid of both of them.
There was no reason for petty feelings or misplaced attachment. This was our deal from the start. Lise was my payment. After all, I needed a soul given up willingly to unbind myself from this accursed cello, and then I would be free again. Lise, Nastya, and Fleure had all three agreed to support this pact and the pact would empower me to the point that those three would be unable to stop me whatever they tried. After all, they had willingly agreed to help me in whatever way to release me from this cursed instrument.
Okay, fine, I admit I misled them by not telling them Lise would become my payment, but that was not on me. They should have thought it through before signing a pact that does not stipulate everything in detail. Hmph!
“Now choose,” I said as commanding as I could to Fleure.
“I had not expected this situation to occur. But now that you are on this side, you can either go back to her,” I pointed at Nastya in the window, “or stay here with Lise. But whatever decision you make will be permanent. Lise won’t be here anymore if you go back. Either way, Lise helped you find your happiness again. She fulfilled her promise, so this is the end of our pact.”
Fleure and Lise looked at each other and I took a step backward and disconnected myself from Lise. This would be their last moment together whatever choice they made so I should at least give them that moment completely to themselves. I was not that heartless.
When a moment later they kissed, I felt a sharp pain in my chest. “How?” I whispered to myself. “I should no longer be connected to Lise. Why am I feeling these kinds of things?”
When a moment later Fleure vanished back to the other side, a sense of relief washed over me as I preferred not having to take Fleure’s soul too.
Lise sat on her knees, tears rolling down her cheeks. We watched Fleure wake up and kiss Nastya.”
“She chose the other girl in the end.”
Lise nodded her head. “I am happy that she embraced life again. I am just sad to have said goodbye to the most important person in my life, but at least now we got to say goodbye. I can’t thank you enough for that.”
“The most important person in your life…” I repeated whispering. For some reason, those words really stung deep.
“But that life is over. That is what Fleure needed to learn to accept, and in a way so did I. I cannot thank you enough for helping us realize that.”
“Don’t. You are making this harder on me.”
“What do you mean.”
I unleashed my powers. I would make short work of this. There was no reason to let this drag out. If I waited this would only become harder and harder and I most certainly did not want to see her beg.
“It is time for your payment. I need your soul as a means to get out of here, and your pact says that you would pay me whatever I needed to that end. Fleure agreed to do whatever was needed to free me, and so did Nastya.” I lifted my hand and unleashed a torrent of my power in her direction.
“So that is how it is.” I could see a sad look in Lise’s eyes, but at the same time, she looked like she had accepted her faith as she closed her eyes embracing for impact.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered watching that sad smile of hers.
The second my power impacted, images of my time with Lise started running through my mind. My chest hurt like crazy. It was almost like I was directing that beam toward myself. With a swipe of my hand, I immediately stopped my attack as I fell to my knees.
Tears started running down my cheeks as I saw that Lise was hurt by my hands.
“How? I severed the connection. I should no longer feel what you are feeling.”
“Why do you think that is me?” Lise answered weakly. How could she still remain so friendly? I just tried to permanently make her soul fade and she was not even angry. Instead, she looked like she was worrying over me while being in that wounded state.
“Because… I am not like that. That is you and Fleure. I never even considered that possibility.”
Even though she was in pain, Lise started laughing.
“I guess in some ways you really are 14.”
Was she trying to get on my nerves? “I am 14 forever. As are you. It is just that I am 200 years better at being 14 than you!”
Lise pushed herself up and hobbled over to me before letting herself drop to her knees right in front of me. It was hard to look her in the eyes since I was responsible for her being in that state. I knew I should have done it swiftly. I got way too attached to her and now my resolve had completely faltered.
“I’ll never get out of this place like this. I was so close. I have never been so close.”
Lise hugged me to comfort me. “I know being alone can’t have been easy. But you aren’t alone now anymore, are you? Or do I not count?”
“But you were just going to leave anyway after the pact was done.” I blurted out.
“Was I now? I’ll show you my deepest feelings. Maybe that will help you understand your own feelings.”
“But we were connected. You sent me plenty of those images already.”
Lise giggled. “I am pretty sure that was all you though, but it did make me start to see you differently.”
“I-idiot! There is just no w..”
Before I could finish my sentence, Lise’s lips touched mine, and I felt our souls connect. I felt warm, a warmth that had been missing for 200 years. The feeling that I had someone I belonged with. The feeling of love. So that was it. I really fell in love with her. I let go and intensified our kiss while dreams of spending eternity with Lise, always together like an inseparable pair flushed my mind. So those were her feelings… Or were they mine? Those feelings felt really nice… Was it really that important whose feelings they were? Wasn’t it more important that thanks to being bound to this cello we could actually make it real? Was this curse turning into a blessing?
“I guess I’ll put off my plans of escaping this cello for the time being.”
Lise giggled again. “We’ll have an eternity to make those plans, but I won’t let you go anywhere without me.”
I felt my head flush completely red at that embarrassing line.
“You better keep that promise! Hmph!”
It had been 3 years since that day I made my choice, but I never heard from Lise or Rosalinde again afterward. Although I could still feel their presence while I played my cello, and people said that my sound had never been so beautiful, to the point that it had even been called otherworldly. I never got to repay Rosalinde for helping me and Lise.
Even though Nastya and I never played Sibelius’ violin concerto, since Nastya had adamantly refused to touch the piece ever again after all that happened, the fact that I almost died on stage and the fact that Nastya had saved my life had caused quite the stir in the classical music community.
Weirdly enough, even though the school had suffered greatly under that incident, for Nastya and me, it had changed everything. Not only had we been a couple ever since, but the scandal had caused our careers to take off at tremendous speeds.
We had been on tour ever since and had performed in some of the most beautiful music halls around the world. Me on my cello and Nastya on her violin. The newspapers called us the golden duo.
As a favor to our friends, we often met up with the old Saint Cecila students to perform together and whenever we needed a piano, I was sure to say that I wanted it to be Axelle.
Sara always traveled with her, and those two were still our best friends. We met up whenever we could. Even though that was only a couple of times a year, I always was up to date about everything that happened in their lives thanks to Sara that made sure I kept in contact through messages and she called often.
Aleksei had been the one the most difficult about our relationship both professionally and romantically.
Professionally he thought we were acting too commercial and weren’t being true to the music. He was furious when he heard we signed a contract for some recordings together. Even though I agree with him that live music is a completely different experience than recorded music, that does not mean recorded music should be abolished. I for one was happy that I could still hear my father’s music at the push of a button. I could hardly ask him to play it live for me. That argument had shut up Aleksei since even he did not dare to attack dead people and my father had been someone he respected.
For our romantic relationship, Aleksei really had been a pain at the start. He even tried to separate us, even though we were both of age. That was until Aunt Christina found out about that. I had never seen her so furious. When she was done with Aleksei, he just gave us our blessing and he even sincerely apologized admitting he was wrong, but he had refused to meet Aunt Christina ever since. The look in his eyes when I mentioned her reminded me of how Frank used to look whenever Aunt Christina got mentioned.
Even though Nastya and I weren’t living together officially, for the last three years, we had been sharing rooms in hotels and had hardly ever been home, so technically it felt like we had been living together all this time.
Today was the first time in three years that I was walking around in Tienen. Aunt Christina had been so happy when she found out that we would be in Belgium for the holiday season and had insisted that we stayed at her place instead of going to a hotel, but before we were going there, we decided to pay a visit to Frank's store.
Frank had been the one to take the blame for the wraith attack because he was the one that delivered and installed those lamps. He had been fired the next day. It still left a bad taste in my mouth. I mean he could be creepy, but he wasn’t a bad person either. He taught me a lot in that short time at the academy. Due to the fact that both Nastya and I knew what really happened, but we weren’t able to talk to anyone about it, we supported Frank as well as we could. We refused any sort of legal action against him and showed everywhere that we did not blame him for the “accident”.
When we entered his shop, Frank immediately invited us to the back of his store for a cup of coffee and we talked a bit about everything that happened over the last few years until he needed to get up to serve a customer.
Not a minute later we heard him call us “Fleure, Nastya, could the two of you come here for a second?”
Curious, the two of us made our way to the front, where a girl that I estimated to be around 15 years old in a hoodie carrying a violin case was standing.
“This cute girl is asking about violin scores for international contests, could the two of you help her.”
The girl looked at us, and I could see she immediately recognized us, but her eyes of amazement immediately turned down and I could see a hint of sadness that I recognized all too well behind those eyes, while she whispered, “I wish Amber could have met you too. We always wanted to be just like the two of you.”
The feeling of déjà vu hit me hard. I noticed that Nastya looked at her with her strict eyes. I just knew that she was going to admonish the girl just like Aleksei had done to me back then, so I put a hand on her shoulder and shook my head. Nastya looked at me and probably saw my emotional state. It must have been clear that I wanted to be the one to continue this conversation because Nastya immediately let me take care of it while watching over us intensely. I asked the girl “Can you play for us, so we can hear what level you are at?”
That would give us all we needed to know.
The girl turned serious and started to tune her violin before she started playing Elgar's violin sonata in E minor for us.
Even though she was no Nastya, I could feel the deep sorrow and sadness of loss emanating from her play. There was most certainly potential here. But that sadness… Something in me just wanted to give her a hug, but I knew that would do no good. I knew that sadness all too well. She was just like me all those years ago, so with a whiff of nostalgia, I said to her.
“I am sorry for your loss. I understand what you want to do, and I recognize it immediately. It is commendable that you have understood music as a language at your age. But what you are trying to do… it does not work that way. If you want, we can help you.”
Thank you all for reading my second story: Phantom Adagio! I hope you enjoyed Fleure's story.
It has been quite the journey, and I think I learned a lot while writing this, which I will take with me to my next story.
Maybe one day I will return to this musical universe, but for now, it is goodbye.
My next story will be a yuri-pirate adventure story which I will start publishing in a couple of months. Make sure to follow me if you want to be notified automatically when it releases.
If you got to this point, do leave me a comment, it's always motivating to see people finish the story.
A big digital hug for you all! And I hope to see you as readers in the "The Pirate and the Princess" too when it starts publishing!