Symphony

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Chapter Five

Alejandro wasn’t sure what fascinated him about Leo. Maybe it was how soft yet mature his voice sounded, or maybe it was the beautiful music they were able to piece together when they played. It could also be the small rubs of encouragement Leonardo gave Al’s back when he was clearly frustrated with himself, or it could be the way Leonardo placed his hand over Al’s when offering guidance.

Also knew he didn’t need it really — the guidance that is. He knew where all the keys were and only lost his place when he was frustrated. He could never bring himself to tell Leo that he didn’t need his help, and maybe, maybe sometimes he felt the action was mind soothing.

Al had come to the conclusion that something was utterly wrong with him. He’d tried to ask Easterphina about it but had only ended up going on and on about Leonardo. Only Easter’s odd silence had made Al stop talking and turn his head towards his sister. Ester had given him an odd hum before simply stating that he probably liked Leo.

Things had started to make sense after his discussion with his sister. He’d never actually had thought of the possibility if Ester hadn’t mentioned it.

Him liking People would explain why he was a little careful with his playing when Leo was around, it was as if he was unconsciously trying to please the man. Al couldn’t possibly exaggerate how he smiled till it was clearly painful when he and Leo talked casually.

It was odd- liking someone that is. Al had spent most of his adolescent years practicing and perfecting his skills that his mind hadn’t quite had time for things of that sort.

Al saw the whole thing as a slight yet interesting distraction. He might as well dwell in its existence until it wore off like Ester said it most likely would.

“Al?”

“Hmm?” Al muttered as he was pulled out of his personal thoughts. Apparently, he’d been fixated with Leonardo’s voice more than the conversation that had been taking place on the table.

Al heard a voice that was most likely Claire’s chuckle before it was suddenly stopped with an ‘ouch’, He guessed Marie must have stepped on her the way she always did when Clarke fell out of line.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t exactly paying attention...” Al admitted. He’d been put into this same situation a time too many. Leonardo would start talking and he would blank out, paying the same attention to his voice as he would a piece of music he was studying.

“It must be disheartening to find someone that doesn’t hang on to your every word,” James said, teasing an already salty Leonardo.

“It’s not like that,” Al chipped in, not wanting to get on Leonardo’s bad side. He might be friendly to his group of friends but had a very bad habit of keeping grudges and keeping a distance from everyone else.

“God, I hope so,” Leo said with a small chuckle. Al was definitely one of the most interesting people he’d meet. They weren’t many people who didn’t treat him like a role model or highly respected him just because the teachers and the rest of the student body did.

Al had basically had no opinion on Leonardo when they had met, and it had been wonderful for Leonardo to get to know someone who wasn’t constantly trying to impress him.

“Like most narcissists, Leo is not ashamed to admit that he’s one,” Marie said, directing her comment to Al. Leo grinned widely at her, earning an eye roll in return.

It was presently lunch break and it was one of those odd periods when the masters, madams, and instructors held a general staff meeting right after so no one was on a hurry to get back to any lesson.

“What are you guys up to after lunch?” James said, asking a general question.

“I’ll be off to practice. Mr. Charles has been giving me that odd look lately...” Claire trailed, earning a chuckle from Leo.

“It’s your fault!” Claire said, making Leo chuckle the more. “If you hadn’t left we’d both be victims of his bullying.”

“I never want to share any form of that man’s attention,” Leonardo said, making everyone, including Al laugh.

“Do you know master Charles Al?” Marie asked, turning her attention to the long-haired man that was awkwardly handling a cup in his hands.

“No, I haven’t had any masters apart from master Rutherford and master Constantine.”

“Master Constantine? You mean the instructor of that show of sax player?” James said, interrupting Al.

“His name is Kenneth,” Al said, making James sigh as he used his hand to make a ‘so-so’ gesture.

“I don’t bother to remember the name of scum,” he muttered, earning a surprised gasp from Al. Sure, he’d figured out James wasn’t the friendliest. To be honest, he was quite rude. But he’d never expected James to air his opinions out like that.

“James is just pained that Kenneth is ranked as the number one sax player in school why he’s somewhere between eleventh and fifteenth,” Claire said, earning a glare from the ginger head.

James took pride in his work and frankly felt that he was underappreciated to an extent.

“I don’t think that’s something to elaborate on. We all dislike Kenneth to an extent,” Marie chipped in, trying to stray the group from the discussion at hand.

“I don’t exactly dislike him...” Leo trailed.

Al was having a hard time keeping up with the conversation, even while straining his ears he couldn’t distinguish the voices when they overlapped. His brows came together in a frown as he tried to concentrate on what Marie was presently saying.

“Obviously. You were ranked as number one when you were a violin student, and I’m sure you’ll soon rise to number one in conducting. Kenneth really only terrorizes people he feels he’s better than, and in that case anyone who isn’t at the top,” Marie said as she turned the ill-looking spaghetti in her plate with a plastic fork. The break was coming to a close, and many people were already making their leave to look for what to do with the free time.

Al just sat there listening as the members of the table continued to complain about Kenneth. What they were saying about him was true. He was boastful and a little over dedicated in his mission to bring people down.

Al would know that. They used to share the same master even if it was only for a few months.

“Al we should go and practice like we promised master Rutherford.”

Leo’s voice pulled Al out of his thoughts. To be honest he was grateful. He never enjoyed being mentally put back in his first few months at Dansol. He avoided Kenneth like the plague since his training responsibility was pushed to Master Rutherford.

“Yes, of course,” Al muttered, getting up from the table. He soon felt a hand rest on his shoulder.

“Gosh, be careful,” Leo muttered as he balanced a shaky Al by the shoulders. Al nodded. Although he was perfectly fine on his own Leo still insisted on policing him.

They left the others on the table soon after to head for practice, moving against the stream of students.

Al wrinkled his nose as they managed to get past the crowded cafeteria door and out into the hallway. The music that was flooding the corridors obviously belonged to Kenneth’s sax. Al could determine the narcissistic playing anywhere. It was loud and a little too fast for anyone who wasn’t overconfident in their ability not to make a mistake.

“He’s playing,” Leo muttered, making Al respond with a small hum as they passed the studio door the music was coming from. Al involuntarily shivered when his mind wandered to the time he used to be behind that same studio door. All the talk about Kenneth had spoilt his mood and invoked memories that were better left under the rug. Al wished he could literally wash his active memory with soap.

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