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Monday, May 26, 2008

Memories of Sound

Memories of Sound
Author: Lady Cosmos

It was a cool summer night; a dull moon hung in the sky as a warm breeze drifted up and down the streets, playing with the few drapes hung on shops. The soft chirp of crickets and a few night birds told the village that the night would be a peaceful one. The few sentries posted around the walls dozed, half-alert to any strange sound or movement. Everything seemed suspended in a cozy listlessness.

For some reason, Sasuke found he couldn’t sleep that night. It was the perfect setting for a deep, comfortable sleep, yet a strange restlessness stirred him, keeping him awake. He had long since given up hope of rest and was currently sitting by the window, allowing the breeze to caress his bare chest.

Thoughtfully, Sasuke touched the instrument in his lap. Just as he didn’t know what was keeping him awake, he didn’t know what had made him take the thing out. Usually, it only brought back painful reminders of what he had lost; it had been his mother’s. So he had hidden it for years. Now that it was out, however, Sasuke found that the memories didn’t hurt as much this time. He could look back on them with a sort of wistful fondness.

The flute had been his mother’s favorite. She had loved the soft, weedy sound of it and practiced hard at its mastering. When the children had been born, it had been Sasuke that was pressured into learning it. Itachi had flat out refused, saying it would get in the way of his training and it was stupid, anyway.

Slowly, Sasuke raised the instrument to his lips, looking out at the moon as he blew softly into the mouthpiece. An off-key wail issued forth causing him to wince and take a glance back at the bed; it would be wrong to wake someone with bad music. He adjusted the mouthpiece and tried again. Closer. One more adjustment and it was as in tune as it would get.

Closing his eyes, Sasuke took a deep breath and began to play a song he would have claimed he had forgotten.

In some regards, his mother had been more rigorous and forceful in his training on the flute than his father had been about his shinobi training. Two hours every day in practice and scales, finger exercises, breathing exercises, tongue exercises and then, some of the damn hardest songs she could find. Then he had to clean the thing, making sure there was no water, spit or fingerprints in or on it; this was to keep it in perfect condition.

He had hated it, come to despise it, but it made his mother happy to listen to him play and improve. So he kept playing.

Back then, he had been ashamed of his skill and had kept it a secret. How would anyone respect him if they knew he played the flute? Not some great, intimidating instrument like a drum, but a flute!

The song ended and Sasuke took a few deep breaths, feeling as if he had just sprinted a few miles. He was sorely out of practice. Just a couple of days were enough to make you out of breath after a few simple songs; a couple of years were certainly worse.

A moment later, he raised the flute to his lips again.

He was barely four notes into the song when a soft moan and the sound of rustling fabric stopped him. A disheveled head of hair poked out from underneath the sheets, barely noticeable in the soft light. Sasuke lowered the flute as he turned his attention on the newly woken person.

“Sasuke,” a sleepy voice drawled, “what’re ya doin’?”

“Did I wake you?” Sasuke played with the instrument in his lap as the other person turned towards him, eyes squinted as if in an attempt to keep from being too awake.

There was a loud yawn before the answer.

“Not really.”

Sasuke stared for a moment before letting his eyes wander back out the window.

“Wha’ ‘ere ya ‘oin’?” The question was muffled by another yawn.

“Nothing.” Sasuke’s fingers tightened around the flute.

“Qui’ lyin’.” Came the petulant reply, sounding a tad childish.

Sasuke smirked as he turned towards the bed.

“You should be asleep, Naruto.”

“And so should you.” Naruto sounded more and more awake with each reply. There was a moment of silence as Sasuke regarded his bedmate.

“I couldn’t sleep.” He finally admitted, turning to face the breeze coming in the window.

Naruto just hummed in the back of his throat, not pressing the issue. Sasuke couldn’t tell if he was glad about that or not. When nothing was said after awhile, Sasuke assumed Naruto had fallen back asleep. Stifling a sigh, Sasuke ran his fingers through his hair, scratching at his scalp as he did so, then leaned back against the window frame.

He was just about to lay the flute on the ground when Naruto’s voice startled him.

“Play something.”

“What?” To say he was a little surprised by the request would have been an understatement.

Naruto just stretched, uncurling some as he blinked lazily at Sasuke.

“I liked what you were playing before. So play me something.” It was more of a demand than a request. Sasuke smirked as he looked out the window.

“Yeah, whatever.” He pressed the instrument to his chin; he frowned as he thought.

What should he play? Most of the songs he had learned had either been forgotten or he never liked them enough to learn them properly. Also, he really wanted to play a nice song for Naruto.

Sasuke took a breath and began to play.

It had been his mother’s favorite; he could still remember hearing it as he fell asleep. A soft, low melody, never quick but yet not slow either. He had thought it was sad at first; to an extent, he still did.

He had come to like the song because his mother made it pretty. She had always seemed most at peace when playing it. He remembered how she would play it for him during his practicing, and he would just watch her, content. In those moments, he felt special – like what he was doing was important, that he would one day be able to bring that look to his mother’s face by playing so sweetly. That one unguarded look from his mother did more to motivate him than any show of appreciation from his teachers or father. It was something only he saw.

After his family was gone, he had tried to play the song again in some vain hope it would bring them back; or, at least his mother. Because it was her favorite. But he would never get it right and it became just another painful reminder - sharper than the others.

So he had stopped playing.

He didn’t know what had made him find the flute that night, or why he was playing. But whatever the reason, he was glad.

The sound of snoring surprised Sasuke. He jerked his head around to stare at the source. Naruto was sleeping, again. Only louder this time.

Sasuke hesitated for a moment before lowering the flute. He watched Naruto for a while, deep in thought before raising the flute once more, taking a breath and continuing. Although he knew he should be annoyed at Naruto, Sasuke found he wasn’t too greatly bothered.

He was playing as his mother had.

AN: This is my try at a subtle introspective piece. The idea came from a chat with Ky – actually, I should say it was stolen. Ugh…I really hate Author’s Notes. I really don’t have any more to say about this piece. The ending isn’t exactly what I wanted, but it’ll do for now. I’m currently working on a bunch of stories and have lots of ideas for fics once I get a chance to write them. I’d always love any feedback; feel free to contact me for anything…like, maybe if you have tips for Author’s Notes . Please?

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