Chapter 1

The airport was filled with busy people rushing about the place and those waiting for their plane to arrive. Two of these people were Franz and Victor, best friends who were about to go their separate ways to fulfill their life-long dreams.

" Here." Victor Strauss pulled out his airplane ticket. His companion did the same and they made an exchange.

" This might be the last crazy plan we'll do together." Franz Josef Seitz, a boy with light brown hair who had an aura of a little child, said.

" Don't say that, Franz! We'll make more crazy plans in the future after we reach our goals."

" Be sure to call, ok?"

" You too."

" ..please proceed to gate 15" a voice announced.

" It looks like I have to go." Franz picked his bags up.

" Good luck." Victor waved.

" Good luck to you too." He smiled back.

......

The old buildings of the conservatory stood like monuments. Students were making their way through the gate. Some of them carried around their instruments, while others had music sheets.

It was not the beginning of the first semester yet, but the freshmen were required to present their talents on the first day through a recital done by pair. They were required to practice two weeks before classes would start. If they would do well, recognition would be given. Otherwise, they would have to do another performance.

Neri Verdi stepped inside the campus and stared at her new school. She carried her violin on her left hand. The wind blew her long black hair every once in a while so she had to fix it every now and then.

I wonder if I'll fit in here, she thought.

As she headed towards the bulletin board to find the name of her partner and the practice room she was to use, she heard a familiar voice shout her name.

" NERI!!" Grey Vitard, a former classmate of hers who was well known for being a complete asshole, shouted. He was short ( about Neri's height ), had emo looking hair covered with a green beanie and had a guitar on his back. He was the last person she wanted to see.

Neri rubbed her eyes hoping it was just a hallucination. It had to be. Why would someone addicted to video games and who only listens to rock study at a school for classical music?

" You ok?" he approached her.

Neri pointed a finger at him. " What the hell are you doing here?!"

" See this? I'm gonna be a musician!" He pointed at his guitar.

She paused for a moment before bursting into laughter. " You have got to be kidding me."

" I am not to be kidding you!"

She still couldn't stop laughing at him.

" Well, whatever. I'm going to see who my partner is right now." Grey walked towards the bulletin board and scanned the list for his name. The crowd that was there a minute ago already moved to their respective practice rooms.

It didn't take long for Neri to find her and her partner's name. " Franz Josef, a piano major. Room 13C." She read aloud. " He sounds like a virtuoso." She had on an excited face.

Piano and violin is a good combination. There are so many things we can play, Neri thought and began enumerating the pieces she wanted to play.

" I got Po Lan. Room 12L. His name sounds like some Chinese noodle vendor. " Grey folded his arms.

" Whose name sounds like a Chinese noodle vendor?" a Chinese stranger appeared behind Grey and nearly made him jump. He had on a creepy smile purposely designed to scare his partner.

" You must be Po Lan, am I right?" Neri asked the stranger.

" Why yes I am. What is your name, Miss?" he replied.

" I'm Neri Verdi." She said then pointed at her former classmate." This idiot is Grey Vitard."

" Nice to meet you, Miss Neri." Po Lan shook her hand.

" What about me?" Grey asked.

" You too, Gay Vitard."

" It's GREY!"

" We cannot bear to waste a second of our precious time. Let's go practice." Po Lan dragged Grey away. " Goodbye, Miss Neri."

" See you around!" Grey waved.

" Bye!" Neri waved back and stared at the bulletin board. I guess I should be heading to the practice room. Franz might be waiting.

She walked through the halls looking for the right room and wondered: What kind of person is Franz? Is he someone who grew up surrounded by music? Is he better than she is?

There it is! She found their practice room and looked in though the door's window. The room was empty. It was pretty disappointing for her since she wanted to meet Franz as soon as possible and get started on their practice.

She went in the room and stared at the black grand piano sitting there in the middle of the room. Remembering how she used to play the piano, she placed her violin case on the table near the door, opened the piano and ran her fingers on the keys.

I think I'll play a bit while waiting. She smiled and sat on the chair.

.......

" This is bad. I'm late!!!" Franz Josef ran through the street as fast as he could and dashed through the school gates. He stopped and caught his breath when he reached the bulletin board. It took a short while for him to find his name.

" Neri.. Practice room 13C." He read aloud. " Ok."

He then rushed, attempted to find his way and ended up getting lost. Once he realized his situation, he began making strange hand and head movements in panic.

" Ah! I should ask someone for directions." He decided.

He peeked into the nearest practice room and saw two people talking.

" Are you sure it's ok?" One of them asked.

" It should be fine."

" Alright then."

Franz was about to barge into the room but stopped himself when they began playing their instruments. Instead, he was drawn into the music.

" They're so good. It'd be nice if I could play like they can." He pressed his palms on the door's window and closed his eyes.

" Hey Gay.." Po Lan noticed Franz.

" It's Grey." Grey corrected him.

" There's a strange person behind the door."

Grey looked at the door. " What's he doing?"

" Probably someone who enjoys music." Po Lan stopped playing and opened the door, making Franz fall flat on the floor.

" Ouch." Franz slowly got up.

" How may we help you?" Po Lan helped him up.

" I'm looking for Practice Room 13C."

" That's two rooms away from this one to the left." Po Lan pointed to his left.

" Thank you very much!" Franz smiled brightly. Before he left the room, he added: " You two play really well!"

When the door closed, Grey commented, " Strange kid."

" Isn't Room 13C where Miss Neri is?" Po Lan asked after a moment of thought.

" You're right. So that must be Franz Josef?!" Grey exclaimed. " I expected him to be much taller and more mature looking."

" But he seems rather interesting." Po Lan said and paused for a moment. " Well, enough of this. Let's get back to practice."

Franz stopped in front of practice room 13C. He heard the sound of a piano. " Someone is inside?" He went closer to the door and peeked in. The first thing he saw was a girl with long black hair playing the piano.

The piece she was playing was jolly and calm at first. He enjoyed listening to the playful notes. Then, the mood switched to a bit of sadness and back again to the previous happy mood. It was a lovely composition.

When the piece ended, Franz let himself in and asked, " What piece was that?"

Neri was caught by surprise. She turned and replied, " Humoresque by Dvorak."

" Really? I want to play it too." Franz stared at the piano.

" I have the sheets right here." Neri got her bag and pulled out the piano sheet for Humoresque. She handed it to Franz. " You can sightread, right? Have a seat." She stood up and offered him the chair.

Franz looked troubled as he stared at the music sheets.

" Is something wrong?" Neri asked.

Franz swallowed hard. " I can't play the piano."

" Are your fingers injured or something?!" She asked in panic.

" No, no. It's not like that. I don't know how."

" Huh?" Neri narrowed her eyes. " Of course you can play the piano. How else could you have gotten into this conservatory? Now, if you can't sightread then you can play another piece for me."

" I really don't know how."

Neri was starting to get pissed off. " Here." She handed him the sheets for Chaconne by Tomaso. " I was thinking of doing this piece, unless you have another suggestion."

" You know how to play the piano, right? Please teach me!" Franz pleaded. The next thing he knew, he was whacked with the sheets.

" Stop playing around with me." Neri gave a death glare which scared him. " How can someone who doesn't know how to play the piano pass the entrance exam of this conservatory?"

Franz looked down at the piano keys. " There is a way actually.."

She stared at him in silence with a frown, waiting for him to go on.

" Someone took the exam in my place and got accepted."

" Why are you here?" She folded her arms.

" I want to be a pianist."

" Then why didn't you take lessons before coming here?" she said in an angry tone.

" It was impossible for me.." his voice trailed away as he stared blankly at the piano.

There was a brief moment of silence before Neri moved to the door. " I don't believe this." She opened it. " I'm reporting you to the headmaster."

Hearing those words, Franz jumped and hugged Neri's legs, pinning her to the floor. " No!! Please don't!"

" Let me go!!" Neri tried to push him off with her hands but he remained on her . She then grabbed some music sheets, rolled them up and whacked him with it several times. " Get off me!! I have to report you."

" NO! I want to stay!" Franz tightened his grip.

" Cheaters don't belong here! Now get off me." Neri attempted to move a step and ended up falling forward. Franz accidentally let go of her, so she took the chance and dashed through the hallway.

" Wait!" Franz chased after her.

" Stop following me!" Neri shouted.

" Then stop running!" He shouted back.

" Truth rules all!" She increased her speed.

" Wait! Don't run so fast!"

This is bad. I don't even know where the headmaster's office is. She looked back at Franz. I guess I'll have to keep running until I reach—

BAM! Neri collided with a door that someone opened and fell back unconscious.

" Sorry about that." The person who opened the door apologized.

" Neri!" Franz ran to her and shook her. " Don't die yet! I still haven't heard you play the violin yet!"

" I-I think you shouldn't shake an unconscious person."

Why did I come to this conservatory?

What is music to me?

I hear something.. A piano?

Neri's eyes flicked open and she found herself on the practice room's floor. There was a bag underneath her head in place of a pillow. She slowly got up and saw Franz attempting to read and play Humoresque on the piano. There was a notebook beside the music sheets full of music theory notes. He barely got through the first measure of the piece.

She walked towards the piano and played the first measure for him. It took him by suprise. " It'll take you forever to learn the piece if you read it." She said.

" How's your head?" He had on a worried look filled with child-like innocence.

" It's fine." Her gaze was fixed on the notebook. " Is that yours?"

He nodded. " My best friend lent it to me. He said it was for reading music sheets."

" Was your best friend the one who took the entrance exam for you?"

He nodded once more. " And I took the entrance exam of his school for him."

" Why would you do something crazy like that?" Neri raised her eyebrow.

" For the sake of our dreams." Franz smiled peacefully and made another attempt to play the first measure. This time, he managed to get it right. " Ah. I did it."

Dream, huh? To do a thing like that to reach it, he must be serious about what he's doing.

" What exactly is your dream?" Neri asked out of curiosity.

" To become a really good pianist. That's all." He replied and paused.

That's all? Aren't dreams usually more complicated than that?

" Do you have dream, Neri?"

Neri remained silent for a while before answering. " My dream is to be part of an orchestra and maybe do a jazz piece with an ensemble. It'd be nice." She glanced at the window. " I'm still far away."

" That makes two of us." Franz looked down in gloom.

" Practice this. It's your level." She handed him a sheet for Minuet. " Study it tonight. I'll have you play it tomorrow."

Franz smiled brightly and his eyes sparkled with happiness. " You'll teach me? Thank you!" He threw his arms around her.

" Get off me!!" She whacked him off as hard as she could.

We only have two weeks before the recital. It's not enough time, but it's worth a try.

I hope.