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Pianos, Propriety and Other Tales

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Lawrence was still admiring the piano. It had been three years since his parents had got it for his thirteenth birthday gift and he would still sigh over it, caressing the perfect snowy keys and glossy ebony polish with his eyes as much as his hands. He had even named it, which Victoria adamantly insisted was quite beyond ridiculous. Inanimate objects were not supposed to have names, in her opinion. Lawrence had (impishly) wondered if she was jealous of his affection for "Amelia" and she had become silent upon the matter.

The two pianos now resided in an upstairs room, with a big window on one side and a balcony on another. His parents had wanted to remove the old one but Lawrence insisted that they keep it. He had it tuned and polished, and though he did not play it he sometimes sat reverently on the bench and remembered things (Victoria called this stewing).

He was standing over it today, the heels of his hands pressed into the faded wood, his tousled head bent over the stained keys. Victoria opened the door a bit too agressively and Lawrence could feel her dazzling his back the entire way in. He shifted his lanky frame to face her, ruffling his hair. She had mentioned one day, rather bluntly, that it annoyed her when his hair stuck out in all directions. So of course he had been sure to make it do so as often as possible, specially for her, and at some point the constancy of his teasing had morphed into habit.

"Your parents told me you'd been in here composing the entire time I was gone," Victoria stated, the words as crisp as her dress, which Lawrence privately thought looked exceptional on her... in fact in general she was particularly pretty, or maybe he had only missed her.

"They told you the truth." Lawrence said honestly, clearing his throat to avoid a voice crack.

"You are going to become dusty and hideous if you continue your wretched... hermitism."

He shrugged, deigning to leave her unchallenged on invented word and gave a careless little jerk of his head to flick a lock of silvery hair out of his eyes. Victoria rolled hers and sniffed.

"Want to hear them?"

"No." Victoria said decisively, but she marched over to the new piano anyway and sat down in her designated spot.

Over the years she had been spending a good deal of time at Lawrence's house and a good deal of that was at the piano. So Lawrence had begun to save her a spot on the left of the piano bench, which was really the only thing he didn't leave askew. (Once by accident, he was alone and still sat off center as if she was there.) The bench was as grandly expansive and luxurious as the new piano, but Lawrence still occasionally hit her with his elbow. Whether or not it was intentional was the source of much debate.

Victoria squared her shoulders primly, ankles crossed, and Lawrence took a soft breath and began to play. Victoria watched his fingers. For no other reason than that they were a comfort to her, of course, being the only proper thing about Lawrence. Precise, elegant, and controlled, they wrung the loveliest strings of melodies from the instrument and wove them together into lovelier pieces.

So captivated was Victoria that it caught her rather by surprise to find that the song had ended and Lawrence was watching her stare at him with a rather amused expression on his face. 

He wove his fingers between hers and began to play scales with his right hand as if nothing had happened.