Love at first sight. It's rare to happen once in a lifetime, but twice? Unheard of. And to happen to three people all at the same time? That doesn't even happen in fairytales. That's the kind of magic that can only happen in real life when all the right circumstances fall in to place at exactly the right time, and all the serendipity in the world centers in one spot.
Today, that spot is right where the lights are the brightest in Central Park.
He knows that there has to be some kind of rule against it, but August doesn't even think about it as he bounds off the front of the stage, jumping to the ground and wrapping his arms around the woman who quickly bends over to meet him, holding him tight enough to affirm the truth right away.
Somewhere in the background, August hears the dean laughing and saying something about him, but he doesn't care enough to listen more than that. Rather he waits until he feels another set of arms wrap around him, the hesitation waning until eventually this hug is even tighter than the first one.
He feels full. Full and complete. And yet he knows this is just the beginning.
It is their first moment alone.
August—Evan? He isn't sure—was taken by a man named Mr. Jeffries. Lyla seemed passionately, if not vehemently, against letting him go. But eventually reason, and a promise that they'd be able to see him tomorrow allowed her to say goodbye for the evening. Louis likes to think that the hand he rubbed along her arm helped a little bit too.
When the "see you laters" finish Lyla is dabbing beneath her eyes with a tissue that Mr. Jeffries had given her even before the first tear fell. Her eyes are still shining, reflecting the moon and all of the bright lights that are only now starting to shut down from the concert.
Lyla turns to him completely for the first time that night. She smiles. "Hi."
After all that happened in the last minutes it seems a strange place to start, but that doesn't stop a flat-out grin from arising on his face as well. "Hi."
"I know this is a lot to take in," she says simply, like she will give him all the time in the world to do so.
"It seems like a lot for you too."
"Yeah, I guess it is."
Lyla wipes absently under her eyes again, this time with the back of her finger, smudging a bit of dampened mascara into a thin wing along her eye. Without a thought, Louis reaches up and clears it away with the thumb on the hand that isn't still holding hers. That hasn't stopped holding hers since he found her.
"It's like magic isn't it?"
The night, the music, this.
"Always 'as been."
August talks to the moon that night.
It's bigger than usual, like its closer to earth. Like it's watching him closer tonight or embracing him more tightly.
He tells it about how they finally heard. How he had been right the whole time.
He tells it about them. How beautiful his mother is and how he thinks that her face looks like it. How he already met his dad and everything was meant to be. Like a fairytale.
But mostly he thanks it, and tells it that he doesn't think he'll be needing it quite so often anymore.
It's the next day when Lyla first feels true surprise.
Lyla should have been surprised when she saw Evan. Or…August. And she should have been surprised when she saw Louis and he laced his fingers with hers. And she should have been surprised when Mr. Jefferies was there, ready to connect all the dots he could.
But she wasn't. It had all seemed to just…fit.
It's that next morning when Louis turns to her and asks the most peculiar question that she could have imagined in light of the current situation, that surprise finally bubbles up in her.
"Lyla…you're not married, are ya?"
Lyla can't help but laugh at the absolute preposterousness of it all. Little does he know that she hasn't even gotten to a second date in the years they've been apart.
"Of course not! Why? Are you?"
She can practically see the words he's not saying dancing on his bobbing Adam's apple. She puts a hand on the side of his throat and caresses it up high on his jaw-line, right next to his mouth as though to pull the words out, rubbing her thumb along his stubble. She smiles at the feeling of his unshaven skin; that was something that he hadn't had twelve years ago.
"I just…talked to a neighbor of yours and she said that you were on your honeymoon."
After wrangling out the interesting information as to why he was in talking to her neighbor in the first place—which she can't help but fall to pieces upon hearing—she explains her side.
"That was my roommate," Lyla clarifies with a laugh, taking joy in the obvious relief that Louis's face is flooded with.
"Thank God," he breaths, kissing her with the gratefulness that only comes with realizing that the love of your life is, in fact, available.
The inevitable question arises days after Lyla would imagined.
But Lyla is surprised about which boy did the asking.
August is at his new school—elementary, not college—and Louis and Lyla are enjoying one of their first moments of calm domesticity. They still have a lot of unfamiliar paperwork to fill out and they have situated themselves at the kitchen table with piles of paper and pens in hand.
For a couple minutes now, Louis has been all but still, only rolling the end of his pen minutely against his lower lip, never touching it to the paper in front of him.
"Something the matter?" Lyla asks finally.
"No," Louis says too quickly.
Lyla furrows her thin brows and manages to catch his eye for just a moment—all she needs to pull the truth out of him.
"Well, I've jus' been thinkin' about sumthin'," Louis tells her. But the lack of his usual moxie conveys that they weren't good thoughts.
"Just…" It looks like he's searching for the right words. And Louis isn't a man to whom words come difficultly. "I understand why you couldn't get in contact wit' me all those years ago," he starts. "But why didja give 'im up?"
The fact that Louis had obviously been thinking this about her for some days stings more than the question itself does. As calmly as she can, she tells him about her accident, trying to ignore how her heart swells a little bit at the pain she sees in his big blue eyes at that part of the story and instead moves past it to her father's lie and eventual dying truth.
Again, words don't seem to come to Louis. But it's okay, because he doesn't need them right now. Lyla looks on with confusion as he stands up and reaches for her hand. She holds it, but stands up on her own, drawn up by his magnetic eyes.
And he hugs her. So tightly that she feels air escaping her and, after a moment, she forgets why she even needs air.
They decide to tell August together, understanding that he must have been wondering the same question but just didn't know how to ask.
At the end of it, both parents look at him hopefully and warily, as he looks confused.
"I already knew I could ask you guys anything," August finally says. "But I also knew that that question didn't matter."
Lyla makes sure that this second hug is quick so that she can turn around and let the tears of relief fall.
The next composition is short. No rhapsody, no symphony, no movements, no full orchestra. It begins coming to him as soon as he heard his parents' voices that first night.
His father surprised him by having an accent, his voice dropping out some consonants and heavily aspirating others through his front teeth. Days later, August can't help but put a hand up in front of his father's mouth and feel the abundance of air floating through the words as the consonants popped out between the elongated syllables, which are stretched like he's talking through syrup.
But it's the lilt that catches August's attention most. The rhythmic bounce to the words that makes them rise and fall like notes; something he'd never known the spoken voice to do.
That first night his mother's voice had been filled with wide ranges, mapping her emotions with their pitch and volume. Now he knows it mostly to be soft and quiet, save for when she's really excited.
So for this piece, August needs only two instruments. A cello line for his mother, which seemed only appropriate, usually in a long, silky bow pattern, but switching to pizzicato when it garnered more energy. And while August wanted a bouncing piano part for his father, he knew it belonged on a guitar. At least for now. Maybe he'd dichotomize it for piano if he ever published it.
But right now it was private. It was personal for him and his family.
It was, after all, their voices written by his.
Admittedly, Louis is nervous about August and Lyla meeting the band. Marshall had made his feelings about the situation abundantly clear from the beginning, and the middle brothers tended to follow Marshall's lead.
That does not bode well for Louis.
Lyla suggests having dinner at the apartment, which just goes to show that no matter how well Lyla knows Louis, she doesn't know at all what she's in for with the Connelly brothers. The tight space, for one, is a guaranteed head start for a powder keg brewing between any of the boyos. Dinner, as well, is too sophisticated a concept for the group; Lyla's porcelain plates will turn to shards on the floor in record time.
Catching on quickly, Lyla tries a second suggestion and later that day, the whole crew of them are in the park, picnic food provided for whenever hunger strikes.
But hunger will just have to wait.
Immediately the rough-housing begins, starting with a hearty tackle from Marshall, hitting Louis head-on. Louis can't help but throw Lyla a nervous glance, but he really should have known that she'd take it better than Jen, because she's already laughing at the scene of two of them pounding on each other like kids. Louis knows right then that Lyla has passed the first test.
Then the attention turns to August.
It must be something in his genes, because August stands up well boyo's messing. He laughs joyously at being carried around like a bag of flour, heaved over the brothers' shoulders before being taken off for a quick sprint.
Needless to say, the brothers are won over.
Especially when Louis assures them that he isn't quitting the band. He doesn't say that until the end, though. He had to watch Marshall sweat a little first.
Of course August had needed to start attending elementary school again. He was already a year behind due to the escapades of the last year.
But that didn't meant that he couldn't take Juilliard classes as well.
Lyla and Louis talk to the Reverend—a lovely man to whom they are so grateful that they end up going to his church every Sunday and drop a twenty in the donation plate—who puts them in contact with the dean.
"Oh, I think I recognize you two," she says, her smile revealing her age on her face, but also showing lines of kindness. "You were the ones with August after the concert."
"Yes, we're his parents," Lyla says, putting a hand on August's shoulder. She isn't at all able to so much as try to hide the pride bursting in her voice.
The dean's smile falters for a moment. "But…" she turned to Louis, "you don't seem like the man described to be August's father."
"What man?" Louis asks, his voice colder than Lyla or August have ever heard it.
"Oh, I didn't see him," the dean admits. "But red hair. Certainly older than you."
Everyone turned to August, who looks as innocent as could be. "That man wasn't my father," he says simply.
"But—" the dean began before Louis interrupts her.
"I think we're goin' to have to finish at another time," he says firmly. "We need to have a family meetin'."
The way home is tense; the first uncomfortable silence any of them can ever remember having with each other. Lyla is holding the forms that the dean had handed them, as Louis had begun to wrinkle them in his fist when he had been holding them.
When they get home, August explains to them the whole story, months after the fact.
At the end, Lyla asks, "Why didn't you tell us before."
"I didn't think it was important anymore."
By then, Louis is filled with the kind of rage that only comes from someone else endangering your child. He goes out for a walk, and Lyla knows that part of him is hoping that he runs into this Wizard character so that he can bloody him up but good.
Lyla's mad too. But it's softer, yet heavier, keeping her still and near her child while for Louis it jerks up and down, pulling him towards the one who caused his child pain. So while Louis lets off steam, she holds her child closely, sure as she is every time they embrace that she never wants to let him go.
And here she had thought she'd already known how much love could be born out of worry for one's child.
It turns out that that this love, like any true love, is boundless.
August wants to be around his parents all the time. He wants to make up for the time lost and he knows that it's what they want too. But he also realizes that they have the added complication of having a lot of time lost between just the two of them as well.
So he likes to give them some time alone.
He tries not to let them know that he's doing it—he doesn't ever want them to think that he's avoiding them—but every once in a while, he makes an excuse to slip away and leave them together.
It's harder than he would have expected because they keep him on a short leash. He's not used to it; having parents this watchful is a far cry from the street kid he'd been not too long ago. Even Wizard had maintained a strange hybrid of hands-off parenting and an eagle eye that kept after August more than the rest.
They're worried any time that they see him off that it's going to be the last time that they see him. And, if August is honest with himself, he has the same fear sometimes. But he knows how to handle himself and manages to gift them a few moments of togetherness here and there. Sometimes he plays guitar while they sit back on the sidelines out by the arch, sometimes he goes to the church to meet up with Hope, and sometimes he hides when he sees his parents talking while they're waiting to pick him up from school, if it looks like they're having a particularly good conversation.
He's sure he'll tell them the truth later. When it seems like they've fully caught up with all that they've missed.
It takes them longer than expected to realize that none of them has seen one another perform, save for August's Rhapsody. August and Louis have the memory of their duet in the park that they will always treasure, but that was not where either of them truly shone.
So when Louis tells them he's got another gig lined up with the Connelly Brothers, Lyla and August are ready to celebrate right there. Louis is shocked to see that they're even more excited than Marshall had been. And Marshall wasn't one to wear his emotions lightly.
Lyla knows from experience how hard it is to see beyond the blinding lights that come with the stage. But somehow from the minute the show starts, Louis sees straight through them, and manages to sing every song that could conceivably be about the two of them to her. She breaks. But in the good way. The oh, so good way.
It had been hard to get August into the club. He wasn't exactly going to be passing for twenty-one or even eighteen any time soon. But luckily some pleading and heavy convincing to the manager from Louis was enough to break the rule, just this once.
And while Lyla couldn't say that she was happy to see her son in a club (Louis, however, was slightly proud. He was an Irishman, after all) where the smell of alcohol carried heavily along with the haze in the air, reflecting the neon lights on to everyone's faces, she was content to say that it didn't faze him. He was there for the music and his parents, nothing else.
But then, they had all already known that, hadn't they?
Of course they get engaged eventually. But Louis isn't the one to ask.
August has been badgering them for months. At first he had asked why they weren't married to begin with. That had needed…explanation. Then he started asking why they weren't married yet.
That was a little harder to explain.
August made it sound so simple. And it felt so simple. But everyone keeps telling them over and over again that, no, it's not simple.
So it comes a few months down the line. Lyla had expected it to come any one of a number of ways (because surely it is coming, right?), mostly because Louis had let it slip a while back that he had dreamed of proposing to her back shortly after they'd met. He had imagined these romantic plans that, honestly, twenty-year-old Lyla would have died for.
And they don't sound so bad to thirty-year-old Lyla either.
What she doesn't expect was for August to be there.
All of Louis's stories had been intimate settings in which they were totally alone. Often he had written her a song.
Well, the song part ends up being right.
The day it happens, Lyla walks into their apartment with the lights dim and candles lit and the sound of an acoustic guitar. August playing something new, as usual. Louis gets down on one knee before she even sets down her purse and begins declaring all the romance of their story that she can imagine.
And before he can even pop the question, August blurts it out for him, not missing a strum or pausing his music for a minute.
And, well, how can Lyla say no to that?
Lyla doesn't like to admit it, but she's a little jealous of Louis and August's relationship
They have the guitar to bond them. They have daily jam sessions; Louis teaches August picking and August teaches Louis slapping. Or at least he tries to; Louis isn't the quick study that August is and he usually falls back on strumming with a good-natured laugh.
So today Lyla does something outlandish. Or rather, buys something outlandish—large and rather expensive that she'll surely have to discuss with Louis later.
She buys a ¾ size cello.
She could have rented one, but she buys one with the hope that August will love it. If Louis and Lyla's gift of music was what brought them all together, then she wanted to give August the physical version of it. And for her, that was a cello.
Maybe he won't even want it. He already has the guitar, the piano, he still visits the church and sits at the organ, Juilliard, and he still composes with all the sounds on the street.
But Lyla's surprised when August takes the well-rosined bow awkwardly in his hand and allows her to place his thumb in the frog before bowing his first stroke. He smiles gleefully as he experiments with the fingering, finding where the notes are in tune using his absolute pitch and catches on quickly.
"Do you like it?" Lyla asks, trying to sound like she doesn't care, but allowing threads of hope in with the bow strokes.
"Of course," August answers like it was a ridiculous question. "I want to learn how to play every instrument."
Lyla's face splits into a smile and a breath seeps out on a light laugh.
Of course he does.
The wedding is small and only a couple of months after their engagement.
Nobody is surprised.
The thing that takes the longest time is finding the dress. This being because Lyla realizes that the greatest moments in hers and Louis's relationship have taken place in a white dress. The party, the concert, even the day of their engagement she had been wearing a simple white sundress. This dress has to be the best of all of them.
And it is.
Louis admits later that he honestly wasn't even looking at the dress as she was walking down the aisle. But August says that she looked beautiful. He also says that she looks that beautiful every day.
August is the one to walk her down the aisle. With her father gone, it's only right. Even if her father had been around, Lyla's sure that she would have picked August.
It's quick. It's quiet. But not to August, because nothing is ever truly quiet to him. Only the dearest of friends and family are there and all are happy because this event is twelve years in the making.
And it simply sings.
Lyla's actual honeymoon marks the longest time that either she or Louis have been away from August since finding each other. In the past they both had taken trips of two days max for work. But this is a whole week.
August would be fine. Lizzy and her husband are watching him. 'Practicing,' since Lizzy, apparently, was now a couple months pregnant.
Lizzy had shoved them off with force, saying, "Now go have fun." Lyla feels like Lizzy has been telling her that for the past fifteen years.
Well, she has.
And, well, she does. They both do.
As much as it is a dream to both Lyla and Louis to have August with them all the time, the fact that he's around all the time made it hard for them to be a young couple. So the second the honeymoon starts, they begin where they had left off that night on the roof.
Only this time with plenty of protection.
And for just a week, they get that part of their relationship that they never got to have.
At the end of that week, they arrive home a little more in love, but mostly they can't wait to have their son in their arms again.
A couple of years down the line, Lyla and Louis ask August what he would think about a baby. And just like with every other question they ask, he answers like it shouldn't have even been a question.
Of course he wants them to have another baby.
Her name is Luna for so many reasons. August helps choose the name.
August composes a song for her the day she's born and when she cries, it's the only lullaby that will sooth her. Her father sings it, making up new words for it every time, his mother hums it, and August whistles it, making her laugh and purse her lips along with him.
She ends up being a dancer, but that's a different story.
As they all grow up, they look back on the moments in life that made them fall a little more in love with each other. Life's staccato moments where the note was short but hit perfectly right, reverberating through all time to remember before finally fading out.