Under a Willow Tree

Under a Willow Tree

Beginning of August. England. Afternoon.

When you take a walk along one of the chic, residential areas in London, you would see a lot of beautiful mansions with large, pruned lawns and beautifully maintained trees and gardens reminiscent of the renaissance period sprawled in abundance. Among them was a charming villa, a sight to behold, and yet it seemed more sober than the others. It belonged to foreigners who usually came twice a year. But for some reason, for more than four months already, the house had been occupied.

The people who passed by noticed an open window on the first floor where they would occassionaly hear someone skillfully playing the violin. Each found the music absolutely magnificent; it was of an exquisite delicacy and all those who heard it felt taken by a feeling of misery from the person who produced so melancholic a melody.

Tsukimori Len leaned against the hard window pane and raised his eyes to the sky. The birds perched on a nearby tree seemed to observe him; their heads cocked to one side as if they were wondering what he could be thinking. He sighed and bent his head to meticulously lose himself on his books.

He had a lot of things to do and was almost happy about the whole thing. Having arrived at the end of the school year, he had refused to spend his time doing nothing, almost obsessively hunting for things to do in between diligently working on his practices, studying and getting used to his English surroundings.

For the time being, he had spent his summer holidays studying to be at the same level as the students he would be with for the next year.

Luckily, he didn't need to put that much of an effort, thanks to his clever and logical nature. And, as he had worked hard not to let it happen, he hadn't so much as a minute to think about his life in Japan. And what he left behind.

Today, however, was an exception. Today was the hottest day of the summer, and the violinist had done everything in his power not to let the heat get to him, but, defeated, he admitted that he indeed would have a hard time concentrating.

‘Well..I guess a little repose won't hurt...’

He inhaled what little fresh air the window provided, and he laid himself down on the bed, staring at the ceiling with a mixture of contemplation and fascination. He had not realized how tired he was until now. But after giving a second thought on it, he realized that it wasn't actually that surprising. With a stern command, he forced himself to keep his lucidity for the rest of the day.

In fact, he was afraid. He was afraid that in a dazing moment, in a single moment when he would allow his mind to wander, his mind would lead him back to his country, the blossoming Cherry Trees, the peaceful sound of the Ave Maria...scarlet hair dancing in the mid-summer breeze...

The moment he opened his eyes again, the day light had already lowered. Len felt sick; he felt too hot, and he sweated a lot. The heat was never good for him. At the sight of his messy sheets, he had deduced he had been a little...delirious in his slumber. Lost in the memories he had tried to leave behind.

He regretted losing to his tiredness--he hated those moments of weaknesses when his memories would come back in a flash. He felt alone...and sad.

To get rid of those undesirable and unwanted feelings, the young man took a quick, cold shower before going out to breathe the fresh air in the neighborhood. His parents had spent a week in Germany; nobody would get worried in his absence. No one would ever worry.

With that temper of his, Len always prefered the cool evening air and he rather liked it when the light of the moon bathed and reflected on his pale skin. But right now, it was summer, and the sun would only begin to set then. By that time, the streets were almost deserted of life; families were gathered either on their gardens or the terraces to eat supper together. Together.

Len could only wander quietly, his violin case on hand, as he emptied his mind of mundane thoughts by listening to the sound of the leaves in the light wind. His steps lead him to a circular park surrounded by oak trees. There were several straggling lawns and flower beds.

Even the usually surly and cold-hearted Tsukimori Len couldn't help but feel awe at the beauty of the place. Even he couldn't resist its charm.

In the middle stood a colossal and majestic Willow Tree; the tree which would probably agree the best to the sound of his violin. He had a sudden desire to play.

Len approached the tree slowly, admiring the fall of each leaf, only to stop on his tracks...only to close his eyes, at the sound of the melody he just heard. The light wind which accompanied him and his violin at the beginning of his promenade brought him back the faint notes of a pristine music...

‘That reminds me...of something...of somebody...’

The notes were not distinct enough for him to recognize the piece which is undoubtedly being played by...a violin. A violin.

And at that moment, he was filled with the immeasurable hope of seeing the person whom he missed the most in the world. What he would give to see her again...

He began to walk again...quite uncertainly...taking care of his steps...slowly...very slowly. He didn't want to miss a note of the piece that he cherished the most among the others.

'The Ave Maria...Don't be silly, Len, you must be dreaming! You are still delirious because of the warmth of this afternoon!'

And yet; the music was for real, and it was coming from the curtain of leaves of the Willow Tree--on the other side of its massive trunk. His heart was beating faster and louder by the minute...It couldn't be...It couldn't--

‘That manner of playing...No, it's impossible, Len! Pull yourself together! The person who's playing right now can't possibly be...’

“Hino...”

He couldn't help but whisper her name. It was her; he would recognize her playing among another thousand. He drew the branches back and didn't dare move from his side of the tree. He didn't want to look yet, not now, by fear of letting his hopes down. He turned his back to the trunk, took his violin out of the case, and tenderly...he began to accompany the other person playing the Ave Maria. It was exactly like that unforgettable night at the Fuyuumi Villa.

Feelings...more than ever.

For the first time in more than four months, he felt himself live through his music; and he missed it more than he could have thought he would.


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