A note so pure and sweet that it could not have belonged to this world echoed throughout the castle, and Mihawk’s eyes fell closed at the sound.
It sounded like something beyond perfection, a voice so pure that only an angel could hope to rival it. Her singing always made him feel weak- he could only ever focus on her voice and nothing else whenever he heard it.
And when she chose to end her wordless melody and begin her song, Mihawk found his head tipping back in a futile attempt to capture more of the sound- because today Perona was happy.
It was not often that Perona sang so freely, and he relished every time he was allowed a taste of it. Yes she loved to sing, and Mihawk loved every word that left her mouth, but it was only when she was feeling especially content that Perona allowed herself to indulge in her native language.
He had never heard the language before Perona came to his island, and he doubted that he would ever encounter it again. It was a language that sounded perfect coming from her mouth; the words so complicated that he could never hope to understand them, and yet they were unearthly, and so devastatingly beautiful.
The one time he had inquired about it, Perona’s face had closed off into a blank mask that Mihawk never wanted to see again. In a quiet whisper she spoke of a man she no longer remembered, who loved and cared for her before she had been left to fend for herself. “Moria-sama saved me, though I’m pretty sure it was nothing more than a whim. A unique looking child who spoke in a language that no one else could understand. I'm sure he was that thinking I would make an interesting pet.” She didn't sing for months after her explanation, and Mihawk promised himself that he would never bring it up again.
But every time he heard her speak it, it awoke a monstrous longing to know just what she was saying. Her forgotten language was a temptation more heady then the most wonderfully aged wine, and Mihawk was standing and moving toward her without much thought.
“Как мгновение может длиться вечность? Как может история никогда не заканчиваться?”
He couldn't even begin to guess at what she was saying, but he could hear the happiness in her voice. He could also hear a thoughtfulness in her words, as if she were describing something that made her feel nostalgic.
“Мы должны держаться за любовь, Это нелегко, но мы попытаемся.”
The closer he got to the library, the easier it was for him to make out her words- and the sound of the piano playing in the background. Mihawk felt a smile beginning to tug at the corners of his mouth, because those piano chords were such a childish contrast to her beautiful singing- awkward in the way that only a beginner could be.
While Perona and him spent most of their time together (as a consequence of being the only two people on the island), they were both still very independent. Yes they sparred together, occasionally danced, talked, and even cooked together- but in the end they were both used to doing a lot of things by themselves. And after living with each other for so long, it was second nature for them to go off on their own in order to pursue their more solitary habits. Mihawk enjoyed reading in the library and occasionally doing laps in the underground pool; while Perona enjoyed sketching whatever caught her fancy. Mihawk had glanced over a few of her sketches when he had felt curious enough, and found her subjects ranged from dress designs to portraits. She was quite good, and Mihawk sometimes wondered if she had ever drawn him.
And lately, much to his eardrums dismay, she had taken an interest in learning how to play the piano. It had sounded like she was trying to beat the poor thing to death, and so that was why these past few weeks had found Mihawk relocating from the library to a reading nook in the upper part of the castle. It never drowned out the noise completely, but at least he was far enough away that he could ignore it.
And now he was seeking out the very noise that he had been avoiding, and he had to admit that Perona had improved these past few weeks. Mihawk soundlessly slid into the library that housed the piano she was playing on, and kept himself hidden in the shadows of the bookcases.
“Наше счастье останется с нами, Время и место замирают,” His back was to the bookcase that kept her just out of view. A wall between musician and audience, and Mihawk closed his eyes and leaned against the barrier, “Любовь живет в наших в сердцах и будет в них всегда.”
It was magnificent- and even when her fingers stumbled on the keys, Mihawk could not imagine anything else so perfect.
“Минуты превращаются в часы, дни в годы, и про ходят,”
If she had known that he was here, known that he was listening so attentively- she would have stopped. She would have choked on her words, and her fingers would have stopped their shaky rhythm on the piano keys. At first he had not understood her actions- had been confused by her rejection of his presence.
“Но когда обо всем позабудут...”
The first time he had found himself spellbound by her forgotten language, found himself unable to resist following her voice and listening to her song- she had stopped singing and looked at him with open and vulnerable eyes. At the time they had barely known each other, and they did not often find themselves alone together- Zoro had always been nearby.
He was a constant buffer between them, but at that moment in time, he had been outside and far from them and their private moment. Mihawk had thought her shy that day, and his pride had not allowed him to ask for her to continue. Instead, he had sat down and tried to make himself as unobtrusive as possible. He had grabbed a book off of the table, and hid his face behind its cover in order to give her the illusion of privacy even as his ears strained for the smallest of sounds. The awkward air that followed had left them both anxious, and Perona had left that day without saying a word. It was only much later that Mihawk realized that she had been waiting for him to say something.
Your singing is beautiful. I could listen to it every moment until the end of time and never tire of it.
She had been waiting for him to ask her to sing. She had been waiting for him to comment on the language she had spoken.
It sounds like something that was forbidden from this world because when spoken, it could ensnare unsuspecting mortals. How many people have you enslaved with your voice, Perona?
And the next time, she waited again. Her eyes had pleaded for him to show any sign of approval- a sign that he enjoyed listening to her. How stupid had he been, to think that his presence alone was enough of an answer for her.
It’s what heaven sounds like.
Eventually she did sing in his presence, but whether it was out of spite or personal sadness, Perona only ever sang in the common tongue.
“Наша песня будет продолжать жить.”
Mihawk loved everything that she chose to sing, but nothing could compare to this. This was the sound of Perona’s happiness, a sign of how comfortable she felt in his home- with him. It was a sign of how much she trusted him.
Sometimes, Mihawk wondered if his hiding from her was only a ruse- something that they both pretended not to know about in order to dance around the subject. He wondered if she knew that he was here, and what she thought about it. Because she could have called him out and demanded to know what he was doing- but she never spoke a word.
The piano stopped playing, and Perona let out a happy noise as she stood and shut the lid on the piano. “Finally! I have the basics down, and Mihawk can stop avoiding this place like the plague.” Perona cackled as she cracked her knuckles, and then began walking toward the exit. Mihawk stood perfectly still, and she did not give his hiding place a passing glance.
Mihawk thought that today would end like all the others- Perona leaving and him pretending that he hadn't eavesdropped. But then Perona stopped in front of the door leading out of the library, and her hands fell to her sides. This was not what usually happened- this was off-script.
Mihawk stared at her back, and wondered if today would be the day that their charade ended. Would she call him out on his behavior? Perona crossed her arms over her chest, and let out a sigh. She didn’t turn to face him, though at this point it was incredibly obvious that she knew that he was there. What are you thinking?
“Я тебя люблю.”
She turned her head so that she could meet his eyes, a sad smile on her lips. They stared at each other for a suspended moment in time, and Mihawk could only wonder at what she had told him. After a moment, Mihawk finally allowed himself to take a gamble; she wouldn’t have started this conversation in that language without expecting him to ask questions.
“What does that mean?”
Perona hummed, her smile slightly cynical, “Maybe one day I’ll tell you.” She turned to face him completely, her arms tightening defensively across her chest. She swallowed thickly, “Maybe one day you’ll be ready to hear it.”
Mihawk raised an eyebrow, and pushed off of the bookshelf. He walked toward her with purpose in his steps, even if neither of them knew what that purpose was. He stepped in as close as he could without crowding her, and it was at times like this that Mihawk remembered how small she was. He towered over her, but it was always easy to forget her size because her personality made her seem so big. He had never considered himself a particularly tall man, but when he stood almost a full foot taller than her, Mihawk felt his size keenly.
Her head tilted back, and those dangerous eyes of hers were half-lidded, “How does a moment last forever?”
Mihawk let out a shaky sigh at the whispered song, and Perona’s smile softened into something that was more than fond, “How can a story never die?”
Mihawk reached out to cup her cheek gently, his thumb running gently along her cheek. Perona’s breathing hitched, and she closed her eyes, “It is love we must hold on to...”
It was Mihawk’s turn to swallow thickly, and then those eyes opened and glittered like the night sky on a cloudless evening, “Never easy, but we try.” She was leaning into his touch like she was starved for it, and without his consent, his other hand reached out to grasp her hip. He tugged gently, giving her all the time in the world to refuse the gesture, but she leaned into him until she was cradled in his arms and humming against his chest. “Sometimes our happiness is captured, somehow a time and place stand still…”
It was a fleeting embrace however, and all too soon she pulled away without meeting his eyes. She couldn’t bring herself to finish the song, and as a result they ended up standing in heavy silence. Her teeth gnawed on her bottom lip, and Mihawk wished that he had the ability to make everything perfect. He wished that he knew how to talk to her, how to say what he was feeling without coming across as an insensitive asshole. A cold bastard indeed.
But he couldn’t serenade her like a musician on the street, nor could he charm her like Shanks could. Mihawk was not charismatic enough for it, and he had not seen the point in learning what he thought to be a useless skill. And even if he did have the skills to do so, Mihawk didn’t want to charm Perona. He wanted his actions to show her how he honestly felt, because anything less than that would have felt like a deception. It would make him feel like a coward, and while Dracule Mihawk was many things, he was not a coward.
And so Mihawk decided that maybe it was time to reciprocate as best he could.
“¿Qué haría yo sin ti?” Perona’s head shot up so fast that Mihawk could almost hear her neck creak, and she was staring up at him with wide eyes. Mihawk leaned down a placed a small kiss on her head, “Perdóname.”
She was gaping at him like a fish, and Mihawk almost laughed at her gobsmacked expression- but he needed her to understand that he was completely serious. Mihawk wondered if she knew what he was saying, but in the end it didn’t matter. His lips twitched up into an honest smile, because what he was saying didn’t matter. The fact that he was reciprocating mattered.
“No soy bueno en expresarme, y no tengo ni idea de qué decirle- pero...” Mihawk allowed himself a self-indulgent chuckle, “Creo que te amo, mi amada.”
Perona hands reached out to grasp at his shirt, and her eyes held so many questions, and maybe a little bit of hope.
“It was beautiful.” He finally said out loud, and Perona was looking up at him with an indescribable look on her face. Her lip began to tremble, and her eyes were full of wonder and shiny from tears, “Is that the same song you were singing earlier?”
Perona nodded slowly, and Mihawk found himself unable to stop the grin that overtook his face. Perona stared up at him in stunned disbelief.
“How does it end, if I may ask?”
Perona swallowed awkwardly, and silently prayed that her voice wouldn't break, “Love lives on inside our hearts, and always will...”
Mihawk hummed, and his hands reached out to hold Perona, his thumbs caressing her hip bones through her dress. Perona stopped herself from finishing the song, and daringly met his half-lidded gaze, “What did you say to me?”
“... Maybe one day, I’ll be ready to tell you.”
Perona let out a wet sounding laugh that almost sounded like a sob, but her expression was happy.
Minutes turn to hours- days to years and gone .
But when all else has been forgotten-
Still our song lives on…