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ancient melodies

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The night was damp. Lily Chen tilted her head back to stare at the-not quite full-silvery moon. Her hair swung as she turned her head. There was no wind tonight, and the air had a slight chill that smelled like the tang of dirty city water.

She wondered what Maia was doing. She seemed to be wondering that a lot lately. Ever since Maia had walked her home after a meeting in the New York institute and kissed her under a street light.

If Lily’s heart had been beating, it would have been going a million miles an hour. Maia had laughed nervously and tucked a dark curl behind her ear. Lily had been speechless. She hadn’t been speechless since she’d died, it was exhilarating. The fact that Maia could make her blood rush was scary and amazing at the same time. Lily had been on a roller coaster once, loving Maia was a bit like that.

Love. Lily started up, pulling her heavy silk curtains closed across her window, blocking out the light. Once she’d forgotten to close them and had been awoken by the sunlight burning her hand.

Maia had moved into her own apartment two weeks ago. A small cozy space with soft carpet and the smell of coffee permanently in the air. Sometimes Lily would come in through the window and cuddle with Maia on the couch until Maia fell asleep, her head resting on Lily’s shoulder. Lily would stay there throughout the night, feeling Maia’s heartbeat like her own. More than once she’d been trapped there after the sun came up.

Lily had never attempted to do something romantic. Maia made her want to, so she was giving it a shot.

The piano was heavy, the polished wood shone in the moonlight. It took all of Lily’s vampire strength to haul it to the neighborhood where Maia lived. Every once in awhile Lily would set the piano down on the gray sidewalk, taking care not to scratch it.

A bird rustled overhead. Lily could smell it, all small bones, delicate feathers, and sweet blood. Her eyes picked out each detail of the street, the cracks in the pavement, the peeling facades of signs. Every streetlight was a small sun.

The lot behind Maia’s apartment was empty. No light but the moon filtered into the small square. Lily set the piano down with a soft thump. The neighbors wouldn’t think anything of it, they couldn’t see her, and she doubted that their ears would be able to pick up piano music.

A small nervous rush went through Lily’s blood. Was she actually nervous? She pushed her silky hair behind her ear and began to play.

“I hear the drums echoing tonight
But she hears only whispers of some quiet conversation…”

She hoped Maia’s werewolf senses would pick up the tune soon. It was embarrassing playing to no one on an empty square of concrete.

“She's coming in, twelve-thirty flight
The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation…”

The song flitted into the corners of the lot and bounced back to Lily in a haunting echo. The moonlight was dancing across her fingers as she moved them across the keys.

“I stopped an old man along the way
Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies
He turned to me as if to say, Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you…”

The window above her slid open. Lily risked a glance up and saw Maia, her eyes reflecting green in the moonlight, staring down at her from her sill.

“It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had…”

Maia was wearing faded cotton pajamas. Her eyes were bleary, but she was smiling faintly. Lily’s stomach filled with butterflies. She hadn’t felt butterflies like this since she was fifteen and watching her best friend laugh and twirl around their tiny cramped apartment in the slums. Almost a hundred years ago.

“The wild dogs cry out in the night
As they grow restless, longing for some solitary company
I know that I must do what's right
As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti
I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become…”

Maia gave a small laugh. The sound bubbled down to Lily and mixed with the lilting piano music.

“It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never had…”

Lily finished the song and let her hands come to a rest on the ivory keys. She looked up at Maia who was watching her with something that Lily couldn’t recognize.

Maia leapt down from the window, landing gracefully and straightening up. She moved silently to the piano where she touched Lily’s shoulder gently.

The moonlight shone down around her in a silvery curtain.

“No one’s ever serenaded me before.” She said finally. Her voice was small, but so full of hope.

Lily felt like words had lodged in her throat. She didn’t want to break the silence. She wanted to keep Maia’s soft hand on her shoulder.

“Well you deserve it.” She murmured in barely a whisper. “Plus, no one’s ever made me want to serenade them before.”

Maia laughed again, very softly, as if she didn’t want to disturb their bubble of quiet. “You’re such a cliche you know that right?”

And then they were kissing. Maia tasted like mint toothpaste and smelled like jasmine and mortality. Lily pulled her closer and was suddenly backing into the piano keys with a soft clang of notes. Lily wanted to live and breathe in this moment. With Maia pressed against her in a square of buildings, the moonlight covering them in silver, a soft promise of things to come.