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I hear a symphony.

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Jeong Jinsol is someone who you’ll deem a music prodigy. She could play any musical instrument that she chances upon and the one musical instrument that she’s more well-known amongst her peers is the piano. Her parents uncovered their daughter’s hidden talent for the piano when they brought Jinsol to an orchestra held by one of their close friends. 

They were given the chance to meet up with the orchestra composer and Jinsol got to see a grand piano for the first time in her life. The five-year-old Jinsol walks carefully to the grand piano and reaches out hesitantly towards the keyboard. She’s awed by the beauty of the piano and how majestic it looked. Before she can press on one of the keys on the keyboard, she feels herself getting lifted up by the orchestra composer and placed gingerly on the stool.

“Go ahead and play the piano if you wish, who knows you might discover something new about yourself.” Jinsol hears what the orchestra composer says with a smile on his face. The composer ruffles Jinsol’s hair before stepping away to watch the young girl play the piano.

Her hands reach out to the keyboard again, her fingers outstretched as she presses on the first key of the keyboard. Her eyes widen when she hears the soft sound coming from the piano. Suddenly, it’s like her body has a mind of its own, she starts playing a simple piece that her kindergarten teacher has taught her randomly before her parents came to fetch her from school. Jinsol feels like she’s on cloud nine when she plays the piano. 

That sight of Jinsol catches everyone off guard but not the composer. The smile on his face grew bigger when he could see a new star shining brightly in front of him. Jinsol has a lot of potential in her to become a great pianist and her parents need to help her grow them. He turns to Jinsol’s parents and starts convincing them to get Jinsol enrolled in a piano class to hone Jinsol’s skills. To which her parents did. Since then, her parents poured every money that they could fork out to help Jinsol groom her musical side and it proved to work out when Jinsol wins at numerous piano competitions. 

Whenever Jinsol wins a piano competition, she feels her passion getting fueled with more oil and its burning brightly inside of her. Jinsol finds herself enrolling in the most prestigious music school in the world to help her better improve herself. Before she even steps into the school, her name has become such a hot topic amongst the students and teachers in the school. A child piano prodigy is enrolling into their school. 

Many students in the school look up to her and see her as their inspiration to be a great pianist. She becomes even more well-known in school when she constantly brings back trophies and medals after dominating every piano competition that her school signs her up for.

She was Jeong Jinsol.

That aspiring pianist that many used to look up to as an inspiration. 

However, when something burns too passionately it will burn out immediately. That is what happened to Jinsol. She’s like a candle, she burns so bright that she eventually melts away and her flame disappears. To add salt to her wounds, her mother passed on from an unknown illness and it caused her father to hate music suddenly. She watched her father sell her piano away to pay for their debts and was forbidden to play the piano at home.

That forced Jinsol to build walls around herself to protect herself and keep the love and passion that she once had for piano deep inside of her. She completely stopped playing the piano at home and only played the piano when it’s during a piano examination. Jinsol also started to shun people away and she slowly slipped out of the limelight. She often finds herself hiding in the darkest corner of the school’s empty musical hall, staring at the grand piano sitting in the middle of the stage. 

Jinsol stares at the grand piano right in front of her before looking down to stare at her hands. This pair of hands often itches whenever she stands near a piano. However, they now no longer itch. Her feet that would often bring her to a piano stool, now remain rooted to the ground. Her eyes sparkled when she saw a piano, now no longer sparkle. The stars in her eyes have died, along with her desire to play the piano. She lets out a sigh as she hangs her head low, she wants to do something about it but her body just won’t budge. 

“Are you going to stand there like a mannequin and not do anything?” a loud yell catches her attention. 

Jinsol turns her head back and sees a small figure standing at the entrance of the music hall. A frown forms on her face. She wonders how the person managed to get in when she locked the door from the inside. She keeps quiet as she watches the figure walk towards her, she jumps a little when the door slams shut loudly in the empty musical hall. 

“You’ve been standing there for a while!” 

“Why don’t you play the piano?” the person asks. 

Jinsol’s brows furrowed when she notices a big wine bottle in the person’s hands. The person is stumbling towards her, their hands holding onto the seat to keep themselves from falling over. How does the school allow such a drunkard into the premises? Furthermore, it’s past bedtime and nobody should be allowed in the musical hall. 

“You sneaked your way here and you chose not to do anything?” the person lets out a scoff as they stop in front of the stage. They tilt their head back to catch a good look at Jinsol but quickly look away with the bright light shining into their eyes. 

“AHHHH!” the drunkard screams as they cover their eyes, “turn off those lights! My eyes are burning!”

“What are you? A vampire?” Jinsol asks with a loud scoff as she goes to turn off all the lights, except the one that is shining onto the piano. 

“YES!”

“Weirdo,” Jinsol mumbles under her breath as she walks out from behind and sees the drunkard on the stage. Their limbs sprawled out on the stage as they closed their eyes to rest. Upon closer look, Jinsol can see that the drunkard is a woman. One that doesn’t look too far off her age, maybe a year or two older than her. She walks away and takes a seat a few distances away from the drunkard who is mumbling to herself on the ground.

“Why didn’t you go and play the piano?” 

“Huh?” Jinsol frowns as she looks up at the drunkard who is now sitting on the ground. 

“I said, why didn’t you go and play the piano?” the drunkard asked as she tilted her head to the side to look at Jinsol. Her vision is a little blurry from all the drinking she has had since morning. 

“I didn’t want to,” Jinsol answered shortly.

“Why not?” 

“It doesn’t concern you,” Jinsol answers rudely and it makes the drunkard let out a loud scoff.

“So rude to your elders,” the drunkard comments and starts shaking her head while clicking her tongue against the roof of her mouth, “but I don’t mind.”

“Why are you here?” Jinsol asks, this time it’s her turn to interrogate the drunkard. 

“Because this is my home!” the drunkard yells as she holds up her bottle of wine before bringing it to her lips and down the rest of the content. Jinsol rolls her eyes at the drunkard and turns to stare at the piano not far from her, the people in charge of taking care of this hall haven't moved the piano back backstage after a piano recital that was held two weeks ago. 

“My ex-girlfriend used to love this place,” the drunkard says suddenly, her voice coming out in a soft whisper. 

“Because I used to own this stage,” the drunkard chuckles out sadly as she places her bottle of wine on the floor next to her.

“But I messed up...I fell from grace and she left me,” the drunkard sighs as she struggles to stand up on her feet, “now I’m just someone...someone whom everyone would point their finger and laugh at.”

“What did you do?” Jinsol asks curiously, completely forgetting about being sensitive towards the drunkard’s feelings. 

“I...kicked up a big tantrum for this orchestra because I was replaced by someone who was not as good as me without a reason! I punched the orchestra conductor and decided to hold my own simple orchestra but it didn’t garner any viewers...the media portrayed me as a fool...the tabloids never left my shadows...every day I get news articles of how much of a fool I am and my reputation dropped.”

“You kinda deserved it…” Jinsol whispers under her breath. 

“I...the new composer didn’t even bring out the fullest potential of the orchestra!” the drunkard yells as she punches the air, “but I was so easily replaced...where did I go wrong?”

Jinsol sighs internally as she watches the drunkard hops off the stage and slump into a random seat. She could see the drunkard wearing a sad expression as she stares at the stage with hope in her eyes, hoping one day she can help compose another set of music for another orchestra. She relates to the drunkard. However, there’s no more passion and hope left in her. 

“I told you my story,” the drunkard said, “now tell me yours.”

“I have no reasons to,” Jinsol says quickly as she rises to her feet, wanting to leave. 

“You have,” the drunkard says without looking at Jinsol, which makes Jinsol stop in her tracks, “you’re Jung Jinsol. The piano prodigy that everyone idolizes but now you’re at the bottom.” 

“What happened?” 

“Like I said nothing has hap-”

“You’re lying to yourself,” the drunkard interrupts as she stands up from her seat, still not looking at Jinsol, “I know something has happened and it’s bothering you a lot.”

“You tell yourself to not feel bothered by it and that you’re okay but,” the drunkard pauses as she turns to look at Jinsol, “but you are not and I know you still want to rekindle something for the piano inside of you.”

“Don’t run away,” the drunkard says as she grabs her empty bottle of wine, “Go back and play the piano, you belong there.”

“But what if I don’t make it far?” Jinsol asks out quietly.

“Don’t think too far Ms. Jeong,” the drunkard chuckles out as she walks away, “You haven’t tried it yet so why are you scared of failing?”

“My father doesn’t want me to continue this career path,” Jinsol says loudly when she sees the drunkard walking further and further away from her.

“Then prove it to him! Let him see that being a pianist can make you a successful person and don’t ever become someone like me,” the drunkard says as she waves her hand goodbye in the air. 

“I wish you all the best Ms. Jeong! May fate bring us together again!”

Jinsol watched the drunkard walk out of the music hall and shut the door behind her, leaving her alone in the quiet musical hall. She turns back to look at the piano, wondering if she should go and play a song. 

No, I cannot play the piano. I mustn't. 

Jinsol balls her hand up into a fist by her side and turns to switch off all the lights before rushing to leave the musical hall. She leaves so hurriedly that she fails to see a familiar violinist walking out of the other musical hall and bumps into the girl. A loud yelp escapes the violinist’s mouth and Jinsol quickly reaches over to pull the violinist into her arms. The two of them fall onto the cold hard marble floor of the school’s building. Jinsol winces in pain when her head hits the ground. She feels a heavyweight get lifted off her chest and opens her eyes to see Jung eun standing over her with a concerned look on her face. 

“Oh my god!” Jung eun gasps out and holds a hand out for Jinsol, “are you okay? Did you hit your head too hard against the floor?”

“Urgh, no I didn’t thankfully.” Jung eun hears Jinsol groan out before helping the girl up to stand on her two feet. 

“Why are you still here at such a late time?” Jung eun asks as she watches Jinsol dust away the dust on her clothes before putting a hand on the back of her head to soothe the pain.

“I want to ask the same to you too,” Jinsol says. Jung eun lets out a soft scoff at that and shakes her head at Jinsol. 

“Always avoiding my questions,” Jung eun comments and it earns her a grin from Jinsol.

“It’s been a while since I last saw you, how have you been?” 

Jinsol’s body stiffened at that question, she didn't know how to answer the girl. Jung eun looked at Jinsol expectantly but got silence from the other girl as her answer. She sighs internally before reaching a hand over to give Jinsol’s shoulders a light squeeze. She doesn’t know what has happened to Jinsol but she has heard of the gradual change of Jinsol’s behavior. She’s very concerned for the girl but she doesn’t get the chance to talk to Jinsol because the girl manages to slip out of her grasp before she gets to talk to her. 

“Do you want to go get something to drink? Hopefully, it helps lighten up your mood?” Jung eun suggests suddenly with a grin on her face. 

“You know what Jung eun?” Jinsol starts as she turns to Jung eun with a smile on her face, “that’s a very good idea.”

“I know you’ll love this idea,” Jung eun chuckles as she wraps an arm around Jinsol’s shoulder. She feels Jinsol stiffen in her arms and wants to pull away when the girl relaxes and leans closer to her. She could feel her heart racing at that, she tries to ignore her racing heart rate and walks with Jinsol out of the school campus.

“Beer is on me! We can drink at my place,” Jung eun cheers excitedly and it cracks Jinsol up. She turns to Jinsol and the smile on her face grows bigger when she sees how happy Jinsol looks. It must be a while since Jinsol has a smile like that. For a moment she could see something sparkle in her eyes but it died as fast as she saw them. One day, Jung eun tells herself. She’ll bring the sparkles back into Jinsol’s eyes. 

-

The sun rises from its slumber and the sunlight creeps through the gaps of Jung eun’s curtains to warm up Jung eun’s room. Jinsol stirs in Jung eun’s bed and she snuggles closer to Jung eun’s body when the girl wraps her arms around her body. Her eyes flutter and see Jung eun hugging her in her sleep. Her eyes widen at that and slowly wiggle out Jung eun’s arms. She looks down and heaves out a relieved sigh when she sees herself still in the clothes that she was wearing yesterday. 

She walks out of the girl’s room and sees the mess on the floor. The two of them bought some cans of beer at the convenience store located not far from Jung eun’s dorm. They had a session of catching up, mainly from Jung eun because Jinsol wants to know how the girl is doing. They used to be in the same major until Jung eun decided to change to majoring in violin. They were rivals, often going up against each other during recitals and competitions but Jinsol always won. Jinsol thought it would push Jung eun away from her and make her hate her but Jung eun doesn’t do any of that. Unknown to her, it makes Jung eun feel more drawn towards her. Jung eun would often drop by Jinsol’s piano room and bring the girl late-night snacks as she accompanies the girl till she finishes practicing. If time permits, Jung eun would often walk Jinsol back to the girl’s dorm before heading back to hers which is located a block away from Jinsol’s dorm.

Jinsol would wonder why the girl does all of this but she doesn’t question Jung eun. She took Jung eun’s presence and companion for granted. When Jung eun changed majors, she felt like something was missing in her life and it played a small role in why her passion for piano has slowly died in her. She’s proud of Jung eun for the achievements she has from being a violinist. Although she doesn’t let Jung eun know, she would often attend Jung eun’s competitions and performances. She’ll stand at the back and watch from afar, she watches Jung eun shine brightly like a star. Jung eun could have shined as bright as her if she wasn’t constantly robbing it from the girl. Jung eun was hiding in her shadows until the girl steps out of it. 

A soft sigh escapes her mouth as she picks up the empty can of beers. Dumping all of them into the rubbish bin, Jinsol cleared the rubbish and wiped down Jung eun’s floor. Once she’s done with all of that, she decides to look through Jung eun’s kitchen to see if there’s anything for her to whip up a good meal. It’s been a while since she last cooked something for herself, she has been surviving on cup noodles to get through the day. She raises her eyebrow when she sees the fridge packed with a lot of food. Jung eun must have done her weekly groceries shopping recently. Jinsol pulls out the ingredients she needs to cook up a simple Chinese-style breakfast that can help cure Jung eun’s hangover. Jung eun drank more than she did last night and was the first one to pass out. 

Jung eun is awakened by the delicious smell of the freshly cooked breakfast from the kitchen. The smell drifts into Jung eun’s bedroom and into the girl’s nostrils which jolts her awake. Jung eun quickly freshens herself up before she steps out of her room and into the dining room. She sees Jinsol bringing out a big bowl of soup before looking down at the small spread of food in front of her.

“You cooked all of this for me?!” Jung eun gasps out when she sees a plate of her favorite sweet-sour pork and the sauce at the side. 

“It’s not much,” Jinsol says shyly when Jung eun gives her a quick peck on the cheeks, “it’s the least I could do when you offered to cheer me up.”

“Sollie,” Jung eun calls out and Jinsol looks at her. It’s been a while since she last heard Jung eun calling her by the nickname she had given Jinsol. 

“You look like you needed it and I barely did anything much,” Jung eun says softly as she reaches a hand out to cup Jinsol’s face. 

“It means a lot to me,” Jinsol gives Jung eun a weak smile and pulls Jung eun’s hand away from her face. She remains to hold Jung eun’s hand for a brief moment before she pulls away and takes a seat opposite Jung eun. The two of them start having their breakfast quietly. Jung eun would sneak a few glances of Jinsol to make sure the girl is eating well. She’ll smile to herself when she sees Jinsol taking big bites of her food. 

After a hearty breakfast, Jung eun goes to take a walk with Jinsol. She seized the chance to spend more time with Jinsol by offering to walk the girl back to her dorm. The two of them savor each other’s company as they cut through the school’s park to get to Jinsol’s dorm at the other side of the school dormitories. 

“Why don’t you play the piano anymore?” Jung eun asks suddenly and it makes Jinsol turn to look at her.

“I don’t feel like it anymore,” Jinsol replies quietly as she goes to take a seat at a random bench in the park. She tilts her head back and looks up at the clear blue sky on top of her. She squints her eyes slightly at the bright sun shining onto her face.

“Why not? You used to be so passionate about it...something must have happened when I wasn’t around…what happened?” Jung eun asks softly as she reaches over to hold Jinsol’s hand. Jinsol looks down at their hands and realizes how such a simple gesture from Jung eun brings her so much comfort. 

“A lot of things Jungie...I just don’t know what to do…” Jinsol trails off, “I’ve burned too bright for my own good...I’m so burnt out.”

“Sollie,” Jung eun sighs out as she pulls Jinsol into her hug, “I’m here if you need me...you can always tell me what’s going on. If you’re not ready to tell me, I’ll always be here waiting and I’m willing to help you.”

“Why Jungie?” Jinsol asks with a shaky voice.

“You’ll know why when it’s time Sollie,” Jung eun gives her a small smile as she ruffles Jinsol’s hair, “I don’t have to say it, you’ll know when the time comes.”

“For now…let’s focus on you,” Jung eun says with a determined look on her face, “I want to bring back my long-time rival Jinsol!” 

“And when we do, maybe we can have a duo performance together! I can be your accompianet.”

That makes Jinsol smile and she nods her head, she returns the hug tightly. Jung eun lets out a chuckle at Jinsol, she’s glad that she can be of help for Jinsol. She wonders how long Jinsol has been bottling everything inside of her. Must be god awfully long for Jinsol to behave in such a manner. 

“Oh! I don’t know if you know, our school is going to hold an orchestra for the public to watch!” Jung eun beams as she shares the latest school news she has heard from her peers. 

“There will be a new orchestra conductor and composer coming to help us! I’ll be auditioning for it to get a place in the orchestra,” Jung eun says as she pulls back to look at Jinsol, “I’m wondering if you’ll like to join me.”

“I don’t know…” Jinsol whispers out and Jung eun tries to fight back the disappointment from showing on her face.

“Well, that’s okay! I hope you’ll have a change of heart,” Jung eun smiles again and Jinsol nods her head. 

“Let’s get going, I don’t want you to head back to your dorms super late.” Jung eun nods her head and wants to stand up when she sees Jinsol holding out a hand for her. She gives the girl a smile before taking Jinsol’s hand as they start walking out of the school’s park. Jung eun looks down at their hands and notices that Jinsol’s hold around her isn’t tight. She takes in a deep breath and holds Jinsol’s hand, she interlocks their fingers together. Jinsol straightens herself up in surprise but she doesn’t let go of Jung eun. Instead, she savors this moment with Jung eun. 

-

A week has gone by, the audition for the school’s orchestra has started. Jinsol looks down at her phone and sees Jung eun sending her a few text messages. She looks through them and replies to Jung eun’s messages. She’s so engrossed in her phone that she fails to see someone in front of her. Jinsol bumps into someone and their head knocks against each other. A yelp escapes the person’s mouth and Jinsol quickly bows her head to apologize. The person has their head down which makes it difficult for Jinsol to see their face.

“I’m so sorry!” Jinsol apologizes as she tries to catch a glimpse of the person’s face.

“It’s fine, I wasn’t looking too.” Jinsol wears a thin-lip smile on her face when she hears that. The person looks up and their eyes widen when they recognize each other.

“Drunkard?!” Jinsol gasps out.

“Jeong Jinsol?!” The drunkard gasps with a horrified look on her face.

“Why are you here?” Jinsol asks quickly, “are you even allowed here?”

“Okay Uhm...first of all,” the drunkard starts with a forced smile on her face, “I’m not called a drunkard. I’m Ha Sooyoung, that sad orchestra composer you met that day.”

“Second of all, I’m here because I’m with my mentor. We will be overseeing your school’s coming orchestra.”

“WHAT?!” Jinsol says loudly and it gets unwanted attention from the students surrounding them. She quickly apologizes and hides her face, which makes the students give the two of them a weird look before walking away. Murmurings and whispering could be heard, which makes Jinsol feel sick in the guts. 

“You should be used to it already Ms. Jeong,” Sooyoung snickers when she sees Jinsol hiding her face using her hands, “why are you behaving like this?”

“Shut up!” Jinsol hisses as she pulls her hands away from her face, “you don’t understand!”

“I very much do Hunny,” Sooyoung sighs out as she crosses her arms together in front of her chest.

“Where are you going?” Sooyoung asks Jinsol when she sees the girl carrying a bag on her back.

“School?” Jinsol answers with a small frown on her face.

“Not the musical halls?” Sooyoung asks with a smirk on her face and that earns a glare from Jinsol.

“We do not talk about that!” Jinsol growls out slowly under her breath, “I will slap duct tape over your mouth if you tell anyone about it!” 

“Mm, whatever you say.”

“Yes, back to our conversation just now, I will be composing some music for the orchestra which my mentor would choose. To do that, I would need to know who are the students involved in the orchestra so that I can see their strengths and compose some music that can bring out their fullest potential,” Sooyoung explains as she grabs Jinsol’s bag and tugs it forward so the girl can start walking with her. 

“I’m here today to oversee the audition that will be held for the next three days,” Sooyoung says and lets go of Jinsol after pushing the girl forward so Jinsol is in front of her. 

 

“And I want to see you there when it’s time for the pianist to audition,” Sooyoung finishes and Jinsol’s jaws drop. 

“You can’t do that!” Jinsol argues, “You know very well I don’t want to touch the piano again!”

“You’re lying again,” Sooyoung says as she walks away from the girl. 

Jinsol frowns. She reaches forward to grab Sooyoung’s wrist to stop the girl from walking away from her, “I’ll tell the school that you’re not fit to be an orchestra composer! You cannot just force a student into doing something that they are unwilling to do!”

“I’m one of the best orchestra composers here,” Sooyoung seethes, “I’ve just made some stupid mistakes and I would not let that stop me from climbing back up to take back what I have lost!”

“I have every right to get your name onto that audition list,” Sooyoung adds on as she pulls Jinsol’s hand off her wrist roughly, “I call the shots here not you.”

“You’ll just be wasting your time Ms. Ha,” Jinsol sighs out as she runs her fingers through her brown locks, “I’m not as capable as last time.”

“I’m...I’m just a burnt-out pianist who is unsure whether this is the career path that she wants to take. My father doesn’t even approve of me continuing this,” Jinsol chokes out as she squats down in the middle of the walkway that leads to the school’s main building. 

“Jinsol…” Sooyoung sighs out as she squats down in front of the girl, “You’re a star...you’re meant to shine...even if it burns you out that much...you still got to try to not let it overwhelm you. Whatever is going on around you, you can’t control it. However, you can always control whatever goes on inside of you.”

“Think about it, I’ll still put your name in the list but you can choose whether to turn up for it or not. Stand up and go to class. I’ve held you back enough,” Sooyoung says as she stands up and ruffles Jinsol’s hair. She gives Jinsol a soft squeeze on the shoulder before walking past the girl to head to the school’s musical hall. Jinsol turns back and watches Sooyoung walk away from her, leaving her behind deep in her thoughts. 

“Fuck...what should I do?” Jinsol groans to herself as she rubs her face using both her hands. She heaves out a sigh and starts walking to class. She’s already twenty minutes late for it, she’s not going to bother running into class since whatever that will be taught today she has already learned during her self-study session. 

-

A day has gone by, most of the people on the audition list have auditioned except for Jinsol and a few others. Jinsol has been dreading going to the music hall because of it, she doesn’t want to feel the pressure to do exceptionally well and steal the spot from someone more deserving of it than her. However, she finds herself standing on the stage again. The same grand piano from a week ago still sits in the middle of the stage. A sigh escapes her mouth as she wonders what she should do. She’s playing mind games with herself at this point in time. Jinsol wants to give it another try. She wants to play the piano again but her mind and body just forbid her from doing it. Every time she tries, she feels like throwing up. 

Just as she wants to turn and walk away, the musical hall doors open and reveal an out-of-breath Jung eun. She frowns as she jumps down from the stage and walks towards Jung eun who is panting heavily. Jinsol quickens up her pace so she can get to the girl and help the girl to sit down to catch her breath. Jung eun takes Jinsol’s hands that are outstretched for her and takes a seat on one of the chairs by her side. She takes a deep breath and tries to regulate her breathing so she can talk to Jinsol properly. 

“Breathe Jungie,” Jinsol whispers out as she helps the girl to regulate her breathing, she has no idea why Jung eun is out of breath. 

“I knew you would be here,” Jung eun said after a while, “I came to look for you.”

“Why?”

“The audition...I saw your name on the list...I didn’t know you wanted to join,” Jung eun says with a big smile on her face.

“You should have told me, we could have gone together!” Jung eun adds on as she squeezes Jinsol’s hands in hers. Jinsol’s heart drops at that, she doesn’t know how to tell the girl that she doesn’t want to go at all. Her name was put on the list by Sooyoung and not her. 

“You’re always full of surprises you know,” Jung eun chuckles as she lets go of Jinsol and turns to look at the grand piano on the stage.

“Do you have a song in mind? One that can charm the judges during your audition?” Jung eun asks as she stands up and starts walking towards the stage. She doesn’t look back to see whether Jinsol is following her. Jinsol watches Jung eun walk away from her and she puts a hand over her chest when she feels it aching. 

“I don’t know,” Jinsol says quietly, loud enough for Jung eun to hear. Jung eun stops in her tracks and turns to look at Jinsol with a small smile on her face. She turns her feet around and starts walking towards Jinsol. She could see so much hesitant plaster all over Jinsol’s face, it made her heart shatter. 

“Let’s play that song that you had worked on before I changed to the violin. How does that sound?” Jung eun suggests, hoping getting Jinsol to play something that she has worked hard on would help pull Jinsol out of her shell. It also has been a while since she has last played this piece with Jinsol. They wrote it during one of the days when they were practicing for a competition. Jinsol has nothing to work on and Jung eun suggests that she should compose something for herself. 

“I don’t think I can do it Jungie,” Jinsol chuckles as she starts pressing on random keys of the piano. Jung eun raises an eyebrow at that. She stands up from her stool and walks towards Jinsol with her chin up high. 

“You look like a thug,” Jinsol laughs out when she sees Jung eun cross her arms together in front of her chest and starts tapping on the ground using her feet. 

“I just want you to feel threatened!” Jung eun says with a low rough voice. Jinsol wears an amused look on her face before she stands up and cups Jung eun’s face using both her hands. She starts making baby noises and smooches sound which makes Jung eun swat her hands away with a disgusted look on her face. 

“That’s so disgusting sol,” Jung eun gags out and Jinsol laughs out loud while pointing her finger at her. Jung eun rolls her eyes and lets the girl laugh at her until she stops. 

“Man,” Jinsol chuckles out as she wipes away the tears that have escaped her eyes, “you got me laughing real good today.”

“Now that I have made you laugh, does it make you feel better and relaxed?” 

“Definitely,” Jinsol replies with a big grin on her face as she goes back to take a seat on her stool, “but it doesn’t really help with figuring out what to do to kill time!”

“As I said, you can always compose something and who knows you might use it for the coming competition. You’ll never know Jinsol, you’re always full of surprises so surprise me!” Jung eun beams as she skips towards Jinsol and gives the girl a quick peck on the cheeks before turning to leave the piano room.

“Where are you going?” Jinsol asks when she sees Jung eun skipping away happily.

“Getting us your favorite snack!”

Jinsol lets out a snort and shakes her head at that. She turns to look at her piano and press on one of the black keys. She tilts her head to the side and places her other hand on the piano. She starts playing around with the notes before she comes to a melody that she likes. Jinsol quickly reached for her bag to get a paper and a pen to jot down the notes. She places the pen and paper on the music desk before going back to the piano and finding how to piece everything up to make it sound good. 

Jung eun walks back to the piano room with snacks in her hands. She opens the door quietly and leans against the door frame as she watches Jinsol get lost in her own world. Her eyes watch those delicate and dainty hands glide down each key of the piano. The relaxed and slouched posture of Jinsol tells Jung eun that the girl is really feeling the emotions of the song that she’s playing. A proud smile forms on her face as she walks into the piano room when Jinsol stops playing.

“You’re really a child prodigy,” Jung eun compliments as she claps her hands together.

Jinsol turns to her shyly and scratches the back of her neck, “I’m not…”

“There you go again!” Jung eun frowns as she passes Jinsol her favorite drink and snacks, “humbling yourself again!”

“What is this piece about?” Jung eun asks, her hands reaching out wanting to take the paper to see when Jinsol hides it behind her back. 

“It’s nothing!” Jinsol squeals out as she holds a hand out to push Jung eun back. Jung eun frowns and wants to reach for the paper when she loses balance and falls on top of JInsol. Jinsol falls off her stool and lands on the ground with Jung eun on top of her. Jung eun’s eyes widen when she sees Jinsol under her. She wants to stand up when she feels a pair of arms around her.

“Are you okay?” Jinsol asks with a pained look on her face, she hits her head hard against the floor.

“Yeah,” Jung eun scrambles to her feet and helps Jinsol up, “what about you?”

“I’m fine,” Jinsol chuckles out as she stands up, “I’ll let you know what this piece is about when I’m done.”

“Promise?” Jung eun says and holds up her pinky for Jinsol.

“Pinky promise,” Jinsol smiles as she hooks her pinky around Jung eun’s one. Their thumbs meet to seal the promise. An act that brings butterflies to Jung eun’s stomach and an act that makes Jinsol’s heart race.

“I didn’t hear that work of yours after that day, I hope it’s finished!” Jung eun says softly as she holds Jinsol’s hands in hers, she runs her thumb over the girl’s knuckles. Jinsol’s heart stops at that, she remembers why she composed that song. She composed that for Jung eun because she thinks Jung eun will like it and she’ll never play it to anyone else but the girl. They made a promise ages ago but with what has happened around Jinsol, it slipped out of her mind and she never touched it again.

“It is,” Jinsol whispers out and Jung eun smiles wider. Jinsol lets Jung eun lead her up the stage and sits down on the stool next to the girl. The stool is wide enough for the two of them to sit on but they choose to sit close to one another so that their arms are touching each other. 

“Do you remember how it goes?” Jung eun asks and this makes Jinsol crack up. 

“I’ll never forget a piece that I composed specially for y-” Jinsol stops immediately when she realizes what she’s going to say. Jung eun raises an eyebrow when she sees Jinsol stop talking, she wonders what makes the girl stop talking suddenly.

Jinsol clears her throat and continues with a forced smile on her face, “that I compose specially for us to play together.”

“Wow...you thought far huh,” Jung eun teases as she lightly shoves Jinsol in the shoulder. Jinsol’s eyes widened and her arms started flailing around when she nearly lost her balance. Jung eun quickly reaches forward and pulls the girl back up, which makes Jinsol fall into Jung eun’s arms. 

“Nearly lost you there,” Jung eun grins as she lets go of Jinsol and turns back to the piano with a pinkish blush on her face. Jinsol clears her throat and tries to shake off the unfamiliar blooming inside of her. 

“Come on, show me how it goes, Sol.”

“There’s singing involved...you don’t mind right?” Jinsol says and Jung eun nods her head. 

“I used to hear a simple song~” Jinsol starts softly as she starts playing the piano. Jung eun wears a small smile at that, her eyes watching Jinsol’s fingers glide down each key of the piano. 

“That was until you came along~” Jinsol continues as she turns to give Jung eun a glance. That makes Jung eun straighten up and a surprise look forms on her face. She fights back the urge to give Jinsol a toothy grin from how happy she is. 

“Now in its place is somethin’ new, I hear it when I look at you.” 

“With simple songs, I wanted more~” Jinsol sings out, a little louder than before. Jung eun could see Jinsol is immersing herself in the song that she has composed for her. Her heart races as she watches Jinsol flutter her eyes close with a smile on her face.

“Perfection is so quick to bore~”

“You are my beautiful, by far~” Jinsol sings as she turns to look at Jung eun. Jung eun’s eyes widen at that and she wears a shy smile on her face. Jinsol really is full of surprises, always doing stuff that catches her off guard. 

Maybe it’s because of that, I find Jinsol very intriguing and I slowly find myself falling for the girl.

“Our flaws are who we really are.” Jung eun grins as she reaches both her hands out and starts playing the piano with Jinsol. Their hands move together rhythmically, their keys complement each other. Jinsol smiles wider when she sees Jung eun playing with her, she knew Jung eun would love such a song. She doesn’t even need to show the girl the piano sheet, Jung eun would catch the melody and slip in effortlessly. 

“You’re a prodigy too Jungie,” Jinsol whispers out and it makes Jung eun turn to look at her with a big smile. One that makes Jung eun’s eyes crinkle and Jinsol’s heart swell. 

“I learn from the best,” Jung eun whispers back as she turns back to the piano.

I used to hear a simple song.

That was until you came along.

You took my broken melody.

And now, I hear a symphony.

  And now, I hear a symphony~” Jinsol finishes with a shocked look on her face.

She turns to Jung eun and exclaims, “I played the piano.”

“You did,” Jung eun grins as she ruffles Jinsol’s hair.

“No. It’s different...it’s not like last time,” Jinsol explains quietly as she looks down at her hands. The competitive feeling and desire to perfect her skills are now gone. Now she feels a sense of relief wash over her.

“I don’t...I feel...I feel different Jungie,” Jinsol whispers out.

“What is the difference?”

 “A good difference…It’s like...I finally connected with the music. I couldn’t connect with the music last time...it took me a while to bring it out but now...it just comes out instantly!” Jinsol gasps out with a disbelief look on her face.

“Can we play another piece of song together? I think it’s helping me,” Jinsol asks and Jung eun smiles wider.

“You don’t have to ask Sol, I’m glad that I’m able to help you.”

Jinsol beams and Jung eun smiles wider. The pair of alluring brown orbs that Jinsol has. They finally sparkle again. She manages to bring back the rival that she once looked up to. A proud tear escapes her mouth and it catches Jinsol’s attention.

“Why are you crying?” Jinsol chuckles as she wipes the tears on Jung eun’s face away.

“I’m just,” Jung eun chokes out with a smile on her face, “super proud of you.

“Awh, thank you!” Jinsol coos as she gives Jung eun a side hug. Jung eun returns the hug tightly and rests her head on the girl’s shoulder. Jinsol doesn’t move and uses one hand to play another piece of music for Jung eun while her other hand rests comfortably on Jung eun’s shoulder. Jung eun savors this precious intimate moment with Jinsol quietly as she listens to the piece of song Jinsol is playing. She recognizes this song. It's one of her favorite songs and she taught Jinsol that song before she changed majors. Her heart races at that. Jinsol’s more romantic than what Jung eun expects. 

-

It’s the last day of the audition, all of the pianists have finished their audition except for Jinsol. Sooyoung looks down at her watch when the time of the audition draws nearer to the end, she wonders if the girl is coming. She hopes the girl is coming. Her mentor turns to look at her and asks whether the last person on the list would come for the audition. 

“I’m sure she will,” Sooyoung whispers out with a frown on her face. She clicks her pen frustratedly as she waits. 

Where is she?!

An hour passed, and there's only half an hour left for the audition. Her mentor lets out a sigh as he removes his glasses, they have been waiting for nearly two hours for Jinsol. Sooyoung turns to her mentor and tells him to wait a little longer for Jinsol. Her mentor turns to look at her and nods his head, telling the girl he will only wait for another half an hour. Sooyoung nods her head and raises to stand up. She jogs out of the music hall and runs out of the school building. Her eyes scan for her surroundings, hoping to find Jinsol somewhere when a voice calls out for her.

“MS HA!”

“Jinsol?” Sooyoung yells out and turns to the voice. Her eyes widen when she sees Jinsol running to her with disheveled hair and blood trickling down from the corner of the girl’s mouth. She runs to the girl and stops Jinsol from running past her.

“What happened?!” Sooyoung gasps out when she sees a reddening mark on the girl’s cheeks. 

“Just an argument with my dad,” Jinsol says as she wipes off the blood at the corner of her mouth, “no big deal.”

“Argument?” Sooyoung asks with a frown.

“I told him I’m going to audition for this orchestra and I’ll not back out of this career path that I have chosen for myself. He flared up and gave me a tight slap across the face saying I will bring great disappointment to the Jung family,” Jinsol chuckles out sadly as she runs her fingers through her hair to straighten them.

“It’s no big deal...I’m used to it anyway,” Jinsol sighs out as she starts walking towards the school building where the music halls are. 

“He told me to never come home, I’m not his daughter anymore. I thought I would be sad about it,” Jinsol shares more and Sooyoung wears a pained look on her face when she hears what Jinsol has said.

“But I’m not...surprisingly I feel relieved?” Jinsol says uncertainty with a small smile on her face.

“Anyways I’ll share more with you later,” Jinsol sighs as she takes a deep breath, “I got an audition to attend to.”

Sooyoung nods her head and starts jogging into the music hall with Jinsol. She takes her seat next to her mentor and tells him that the last person has arrived for their audition. She gives her mentor a brief explanation of why the girl is late. His eyes widen for a moment before it’s being replaced with an unreadable one. They give Jinsol a moment to gather herself before she starts playing the piano. Jinsol is playing an original work that she has composed with Jung eun a while ago.












Once Jinsol finishes, Sooyoung turns to her mentor. She could see his mentor wearing a small smile on his face. Jinsol has impressed her mentor. Her mentor turns to her and whispers something into her ear which makes her eyes widen.

“She’s good, she’s a star. Get her on the orchestra team.”

Before she can reply, she sees her mentor stand up to give Jinsol a standing ovation. That sight catches Jinsol off guard and she turns to Sooyoung with a shocked look on her face. Sooyoung shoots her a thumbs up and mouths out, ‘I knew you'd do well.’

“Welcome to the orchestra team Jinsol,” Sooyoung’s mentor says after finishing clapping, “You’ll make a great addition to the team.”

“Thank you so much!” Jinsol thanks profusely as she bows her head down.

Sooyoung’s mentor lets out a chuckle and turns to Sooyoung, “She’s worth the wait.”

“I told you,” Sooyoung grins as she turns to look at a Jinsol who is grinning so wide. 

Sooyoung and Jinsol step out of the music hall with Sooyoung’s mentor. They bid Sooyoung’s mentor goodbye before they head to the school park to talk about what has happened just now. 

“I can’t believe that just happened Ms. Ha,” Jinsoul gasps out as she slaps her face to make sure she’s not dreaming. 

“I’m not surprised,” Sooyoung chuckles out, “I knew you’d ace it.”

“Anyways, what song is that? I’ve never heard it before,” Sooyoung asks curiously, she enjoys the melody of the song. It’s slow and very soothing to hear. 

“It’s an original work that I have composed...it’s for a very close friend of mine,” Jinsol shares with a fond smile on her face, “I composed that because I know she’ll love songs like this, and I got to play it to her yesterday.”

“Sounds like she’s someone very special to you,” Sooyoung comments with a smile on her face. Whoever this person that Jinsol is talking about, they must have a special place in the girl’s heart. She has never seen Jinsol’s face light up this quickly before, not even after hearing that she has a spot in the orchestra team. 

“Well...she is someone very close to me, of course, she’s special. She has been with me through my ups and downs,” Jinsol adds on shyly. 

“Do you like her?” Sooyoung asks curiously and an amused look forms on her face when she sees Jinsol’s eyes widen.

“N-No! I don’t think so,” Jinsol says quickly with a frown on her face. 

“Really?” Sooyoung asks when she notices Jinsol’s cheeks turning red.

“Yeah!” 

“Mm, whatever you say then.” 

“Anyways...what happened between you and your dad?” Sooyoung asks when she remembers how Jinsol looked before the audition.

“Oh…” Jinsol trails off softly when she hears Sooyoung’s question.

“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” Sooyoung interjects quickly, “I shouldn’t ask too.”

“No no it’s fine...it’s just...I don’t know how to start,” Jinsol sighs as she takes a seat next to Sooyoung on the bench. 

“I got time to spare,” Sooyoung whispers out and Jinsol nods her head.

“It all started when my mom passed on…” Jinsol starts softly, her eyes glistening already when she mentions her mother. 

“My mother loves orchestra and operas, she often brings me and my dad whenever there’s an orchestra or an opera in our hometown. She loves classical music and she’s the one that got me into it. She also loves playing the piano but stopped after her family sees her wanting to make playing the piano a career. It’s a shame...she was really good at it,” Jinsol sighs out as she remembers the times where she played the piano with her mother. Those are the remaining memories Jinsol has left of her mother and she holds them close to her heart. Sooyoung’s heart aches when she hears that.

“When my mother realized I have a special talent for playing the piano during one of our visits to an orchestra in which her close friend was the conductor. My mother was over the moon because she could share her love for the piano with me. After every piano lesson, my mother would ask me to play with her. Playing the piano with my mother slowly became something I looked forward to after piano lessons,” Jinsol shares with a fond smile on her face. She looks down at her hands and clasps them together. 

“Hence...after my mom passed on, my dad forbade me from playing the piano. Playing the piano reminded my dad of my mom, the woman that he loves the most. That was fine because I can always play the piano behind his back when he wasn’t around at home but it got worse with time. My dad was in debt from the hospitalization fees and the only thing he could sell to help settle the debt was the grand piano. Despite my mom telling him before she passed that he must not touch the grand piano no matter the circumstances...he still sold it away.”

“I remember begging him to not sell the piano because it’s the last thing that I have that reminds me of my mother but he refuses to listen. I even offered to work and study but he gave me no room for argument when he walked out of the house to bring the piano to the buyer. That was the last time I played the piano. I would often play in school but with whatever happened, it slowly died out. I felt like I wasn’t enough...I felt like I shined too brightly and burnt too passionately for my own good. I’m like what my father says, ``I'll never make it in this cut-throat industry.” 

Sooyoung’s heart drops. She places a hand on top of Jinsol’s clasped hands and gives them a soft squeeze. Jinsol nods her head and turns to give her a weak smile. Sooyoung sees Jinsol’s eyes glisten, the girl is holding her tears back. 

“Because of my father, I often ask myself if I can make a breakthrough in this industry. Everyone tells me that I’m a star, I’m a prodigy, I’m made for this...but am I really meant to be a pianist? I don’t know Ms. Ha...I really don’t,” Jinsol chokes out as she covers her face using her hands.

“My long-time rival, she tells me how she aspires to be a pianist too but she still changed major. Does she not like playing the piano? Or was it because I kept stealing her spotlight that’s why she felt like she wouldn’t be able to last a day in this career? I don’t know Ms. Ha, I’m so lost. I-I don’t know if I want to continue,” Jinsol sobs out and she feels a pair of arms wrap around her body. She hugs Sooyoung tightly and grabs a handful of the woman’s shirt as she cries her heart out. 

“What made you come to this audition then?” Sooyoung asks, and she wonders what made Jinsol have a change of mind. 

“My rival...she’s the close friend that I was talking about just now...she was the only one who believed in me,” Jinsol cries out when she thinks back about her interactions with Jung eun. Never did once Jung eun make her feel shit about herself and the girl would often help Jinsol pick herself back up when she feels down. Jung eun would be her listening ear and help shoulder the things she goes through. The girl has unknowingly become Jinsol’s own pillar of support. 

“She...she plays a big part in your life huh,” Sooyoung whispers out and Jinsol nods her head. She wears a small smile on her face and caresses Jinsol’s head gently, hoping that can calm the girl down a little. 

“I don’t think she might just be a close friend to you Jinsol...whatever she does and how you see her...I feel like she’s someone who is meant for you. She accepts you for who you are and even sticks by yourself to get through the rough days together. I think the reason why she left playing the piano is that she feels that she’s hindering you from soaring up high into the sky. She feels like she might be holding you back from hitting your fullest potential and she feels that you haven’t stepped out of your comfort zone,” Sooyoung says softly. Jinsol listens quietly and thinks through Sooyoung’s words from how she sees her and Jung eun as a third person. 

“Jinsol...have more confidence in yourself...you’re doing great okay? Keep it up...don’t lose hope,” Sooyoung encourages as she pulls back from the hug. She looks at a tired-looking Jinsol and she sighs internally. The girl must have gone through a lot on her own. Sooyoung ruffles Jinsol’s hair gently and uses her fingers to bring up the corner of Jinsol’s mouth.

“Smile,” Sooyoung says, “focus on proving your father wrong by doing well in this orchestra and let your closest friend know that her choice of changing majors is worth it.”

“Thank you for believing in me also Ms. Ha,” Jinsol says with a soft hiccup.

“I’ve been through it before and I know how important it is for someone to know that there are people who believe in them,” Sooyoung chuckles when she sees a younger version of herself in Jinsol. However, she didn’t have the luxury of having a close friend that stuck with her throughout her journey into becoming a successful orchestra composer. 

That fall from grace was her wake-up call, she soared too high and became too egoistic. From that incident, she realizes that she will never be the best and she can only strive to be the best. Seeing Jinsol like this, she feels like she’s seeing reality in front of her and she needs to play a role in guiding and mentoring future musicians like Jinsol into making it big in the industry. Sooyoung is determined to pull Jinsol out of her shell and polish the girl up so she can shine brightly with the stars in the industry. 

“You can do this,” Sooyoung says with a determined nod. 

“I can do this,” Jinsol whispers and nods her head back at Sooyoung, which makes Sooyoung smile.

-

A week has passed since the audition. Jinsol receives a letter from the school that tells her that she has been selected for the orchestra team. She immediately runs to Jung eun’s dorm early in the morning and wakes the girl up by ringing the girl’s dorm doorbell multiple times. Jung eun opens the door grumpily and wants to snap at the person who woke her up when she sees a beaming Jinsol in front of her. Her anger dissipates immediately at that sight. Before she gets to greet the girl, she feels the air getting knocked out of her lungs when Jinsol pounces on her for a tight hug.

“I GOT INTO THE AUDITION!” Jinsol squeals out as she pulls back from the hug and sees Jung eun’s eyes widening. 

“OH MY GOD!” Jung eun gasps loudly and pulls Jinsol in for another hug. The two of them jump up and down in the middle of Jung eun’s dorm room happily as they celebrate. 

“WAIT!” Jung eun says loudly and the two of them stop jumping. Jinsol wears a small frown on her face when she hears that.

“I HAVEN’T CHECKED MY LETTERBOX!”

“GO CHECK GO GO!” Jinsol says quickly as she pushes Jung eun out of the dorm room. Jung eun nods her head and quickly takes the lift down to her letterbox. Jinsol lets out a relieved sigh and places her letter down on the dining table. She takes the chance when Jung eun is not around and sneaks into a room that she has never gone in before. She opens the door and sees a piano by the wall while two violins are hanging on the wall.

Jinsol closes the door quietly behind her and walks towards the piano. She wants to lift up the cover when she sees a letter on top of the piano. She takes the letter and opens it up, her eyes widen at the written content. It was a letter from The Juilliard School wanting to offer Jung eun a place in their school as a pianist. That school was what Jinsol aimed to attend after finishing her studies in this school. That prestigious school could help bring up Jinsol’s reputation and bring her even more opportunities as a pianist. 

Jinsol frowns at that, why did Jung eun not take the offer? Instead of going to another better school, Jung eun chose to stick by her side. She places the note back at its original position before she leaves the room with a heavy heart. Was she the one who is actually holding Jung eun back? A sigh escapes her mouth as she takes her seat on the dining chair while she waits for Jung eun. 

It doesn’t take long before Jung eun walks into her dorm room with a solemn look on her face. Jinsol’s eyes widen at that and she rushes towards the girl. She doesn’t say a word and pulls Jung eun into her tight hug. Jung eun’s face breaks out into a big smile when she manages to fool Jinsol into thinking that she never got into the orchestra.

“It’s okay that you didn’t get in Jungie,” Jinsol whispers out as she runs her hand up and down Jung eun’s back, “there’s always another chance. So don’t let this setback hold you back okay?”

“Pff-mm I will,” Jung eun fake chokes out and wipes away her non-existent tears. 

“Are you…” Jinsol trails off when she hears Jung eun sound like she wants to laugh, “are you tricking me?”

“Oh NO!” Jung eun says quickly and fakes crying in front of Jinsol. Jinsol frowns at that and lightly slaps Jung eun’s head which cracks Jung eun up. She smiles when she sees Jung eun laughing and holding an ‘L’ on her forehead to tease Jinsol when she manages to fool the girl.

“I’m glad you got into the team Jungie,” Jinsol sighs out contently as she pulls Jung eun back into her arms.

“It feels like a dream,” Jinsol adds on and it makes Jung eun’s swoon even more for the girl.

“What do you mean sol?” Jung eun asks curiously as she leans back from the hug.

“I’ve dreamt of sharing a stage with you...not as competitors...but as classmates or more,” Jinsol says shyly and Jung eun fights back the urge to cup Jinsol’s face in her hands to give the girl a peck on the lips. 

“Well...your dream came true and I hope mine comes true too,” Jung eun smiles and she tucks Jinsol’s hair behind her ears so she can lean in to give the girl a peck on the cheeks. Jinsol’s face immediately turns red at that act, she turns her head to face the side so Jung eun won’t see her red face. 

“Let’s go out for a celebration!” Jung eun cheers as she lets go of Jinsol, “but first! Let me wash up.”

Jinsol lets out a chuckle when she realizes Jung eun is still in her pajamas, “go-go, I’ll wait here.”

-

“ALRIGHT, EVERYONE!” Sooyoung yells as she claps her hand together. The students, who are selected for the orchestra, sit on their seats and look up to see Sooyoung on the stage. 

“I would like to say congratulations for passing the audition! Each and every one of you has worked hard to earn a place here so please give yourself a pat on the back,” Sooyoung says into her microphone and the students erupt into a loud cheer. Jinsol and Jung eun turn to look at each other, they flash each other a proud smile. Sooyoung’s eyes catch that sight, she now knows the mysterious identity of Jinsol’s closest friend.

“Today is our first day of training but the instruments are not here yet so we won’t be playing any songs as a warm-up,” Sooyoung informs and she could see some disappointment on some student’s faces. 

“But!” Sooyoung says quickly and this catches everyone’s attention, “We will be doing something fun! We shall start with some introductions so we would know each other’s name before we get started on the games.”

“We will start with getting to know people in your group,” Sooyoung continues as she gets off the stage to assign the seats to the groups, “violinists would be there! The Fluistist would be at the back but not too far from me.”











“Lastly...the pianist,” Sooyoung says as she turns to look at Jinsol who is sitting alone in front of her, she flashes the girl a mischievous grin. 

“You can join the violinist since you’re alone,” Sooyoung says as she points at Jung eun’s group at the other side of the music hall. Jinsol’s eyes widen at that and want to thank Sooyoung when she hears what Sooyoung says again.

“But after that, you have to move to the other groups so you can get to know them.” 

“Yes ma’am!” Jinsol says quickly and flashes Sooyoung a big smile before she walks quickly towards Jung eun who is patting on the empty spot next to her. Sooyoung lets out a soft chuckle and shakes her head at the two, she can’t believe the two of them aren’t together yet. 












“Alright! I hope everyone now knows each other, you will be stuck with one another for the next two months and I do not want any arguments from any of you. Is that clear?” Sooyoung says after gathering everyone back from the activities. 

They had a few games like icebreakers and two truths, one lie, to get to know each other. The two truths, one lie, is by far the funniest one for Sooyoung as she gets to hear different sides of the students. One of the students actually had a septum piercing but didn’t want to let her family know so she lied to her younger brother that a cow gave her that piercing. 

“Everyone needs to work together so we can all coordinate and synchronize with each other,” Sooyoung adds on, “We are a team so I do not want any internal competitions and rivalry between any of you.”

“Yes!” all the students agreed loudly and Sooyoung wore a smile on her face.

“If you do not have any questions, you are dismissed. I would see everyone again the coming Friday,” Sooyoung says and holds her hand up to wave the students goodbye. She watches most of them stand up and bid her goodbye before leaving the music hall with newfound friends. She stays for a while until she notices Jung eun and Jinsol are still in the musical hall, she raises an eyebrow at that. 

“Why are you two still here? Don’t y’all want to leave?” Sooyoung asks as she approaches the two girls.

“Hi, Sooyoung!” Jung eun beams and waves her hand at Sooyoung, which makes Jinsol’s eyes go wide.

“Ms. Ha Jungie! Call her Ms. Ha!” Jinsol whispers out quickly as she tries to correct Jung eun.

“It’s fine! Ms. Ha sounds so old and I don’t think Sooyoung would mind if I called her by her name. Am I right Sooyoung?” Jung eun says before turning to look at Sooyoung. 

“Sigh...what can I do with you anyway...you’ve been calling me Sooyoung ever since you first saw me,” Sooyoung sighs out when she remembers after leaving the audition room when the violinist have finished auditioning. She hears a voice calling for her and she turns back to see Jung eun running after her while holding onto her violin bag tightly.

“Sooyoung! Sooyoung!” Jung eun calls out as she runs to Sooyoung, one of the judges during the audition.

“Yes?” Sooyoung asks when Jung eun stops right in front of her.

“When would the pianist start auditioning?” Jung eun asks curiously, before she leaves she catches sight of the audition list and sees Jinsol’s name on it. 

“It would be tomorrow if I’m not wrong, why?”

“Oh, nothing! I just happen to know someone who might come for the audition,” Jung eun says with a big smile on her face.

“There’s no restriction as to what song they could play right?” Jung eun asks again and Sooyoung nods her head, “no restrictions.”

“GREAT!” Jung eun beams and stops herself from jumping for joy.

“I’ll see you again! Of course, that is if I do get into the orchestra team,” Jung eun chuckles out before waving Sooyoung goodbye. Sooyoung raises an eyebrow at the girl’s behavior, she watches the girl run away to somewhere that she doesn’t know. 

“You’re bold Jungie,” Jinsol whispers out under her breath for Jung eun to hear but Sooyoung picks it up and she fights back the urge to tease the girl when she hears the use of nicknames. 

“She doesn’t mind anyways,” Jung eun flashes Jinsol a cheeky grin before she stands up and holds a hand out for Jinsol.

“We’ll get going now!” Jung eun bids Sooyoung goodbye and leaves the music hall with Jinsol following behind her. Sooyoung looks at the two’s hands glued to each other, she shakes her head at that. Behaving in such an intimate manner but has no games to ask each other out.

“What a bunch of useless gays,” Sooyoung mutters under her breath as she goes to pack her stuff to leave the musical hall. 

-

Just like that, a month flies by. Jung eun and Jinsol are already halfway into their training. They follow a fixed routine; wake up, go to school, have a hearty lunch, go to the music hall for training, have a simple dinner at each other’s dorm, sleepover at each other’s place, and repeat the same thing again. 

Today is supposed to be their training date but because they have been training so intensively for the past few weeks, Sooyoung decided to give everyone a break before they continue training again. Jung eun and Jinsol were spending time at Jung eun’s dorm. Jinsol sits on Jung eun’s bed with her music sheet in her hand as she mimics playing the piano by drumming her fingers on Jung eun’s bed. Jung eun lies on the carpet of her room with her limbs outstretched to cool herself down under the air conditioner. 

“It’s so hot Sol,” Jung eun grumbles out as she fans her face using her hand. 

“You wouldn’t feel hot if you don’t think about it,” Jinsol replies shortly without looking at her best friend melting away on the floor. Jung eun wears a scowl on her face as she sits up. She decides to listen to Jinsol’s words and tries to trick her into thinking that she’s in a cold place. To her surprise, it worked somehow when she started to feel herself cooling down from the heat. 

“Do you have no other plans for today’s break?” Jung eun asks Jinsol suddenly. Jinsol feels a dip on her mattress and she looks away from her music sheet to see Jung eun resting half her body on the bed, her arms pressed onto her mattress to prop herself up.

Jinsol shakes her head quietly to herself as she turns back to look at her music sheet, “I have nothing much to do anyway...not like I have any place I have in mind to go to too.”

“Not even wanting to hang out with me outside of my dorms?” Jung eun questions the girl when she hears that.

“I…” Jinsol pauses in her reply when she replays Jung eun’s question in her mind.

“Nope.”

“Lies~” Jung eun taunts as she climbs onto Jinsol’s bed and squats in front of the girl, “I can see it written all over your face. I see the ‘I want to hang out with Jungie but I don’t know how to ask her out' on your face!”

“Don’t you feel the same too?” Junge eun’s smile drops off her face when she hears Jinsol asking her back the same question. 

“You’ve been spending most of your time with me, don’t you feel lonely and bored?” Jinsol asks with a smug look on her face.

“I don’t…” Jung eun whispers out as she looks away. Jinsol’s smugness drops when she hears what Jung eun says.

“I enjoy spending time with you,” Jung eun adds as she turns back to look at Jinsol. Jinsol raises an eyebrow at that, her heart races at that and she tries to not wear a shy smile on her face.

“Anyways, do you want to go for a walk along the beach?” Jinsol asks. Jung eun quickly nods her head and stands up to pick up her stuff. Jinsol lets out a snort when she sees the eagerness on Jung eun’s face. The girl looks like an excited puppy wagging his tail to her. 

-

The sound of the waves crashing is heard in the late afternoons of the day. Jung eun has her hand in the pockets of her shorts as she enjoys the rare late afternoon breeze blowing on her. Jinsol walks a little ahead of her which allows Jung eun to look at her quietly at the back. Her feet come to a stop when Jinsol stops walking suddenly. She watches Jinsol stare out into the ocean. The girl watches the sea, lost in the rhythmic percussion of waves on sand. A small smile forms on her face when she sees Jinsol enjoying herself.

Jung eun slowly moves closer to Jinsol, just close enough for the girl to feel her presence. The two of them remain quiet as they savor the rare peaceful moment a while longer. They only start walking when Jinsol starts moving again. They loiter around the beach as the world purple down into darkness quietly. They find themselves sitting on the big rock clusters at the shore of the beach. Jinsol has her feet dip into the water while Jung eun has her legs crossed together.

“How are you?” Jung eun asks suddenly and it makes Jinsol turn to look at her, “We’ve been so busy with the training that I haven’t got the chance to ask how you’ve been doing.”

“I’m fine...I’m enjoying myself a lot,” Jinsol says with a smile on her face, “It feels nice to come back playing the piano again...this time there’s no competition...just playing the piano for leisure and to let people enjoy listening to us playing in the orchestra.”

“What about you Jungie?” Jinsol asks the same question back and she sees Jung eun pursing her lips together.

“I enjoy spending my time with my groupmates! We’ve been practicing hard and we played hard too,” Jung eun says with a fond smile. She remembers playing ‘toxic’ by Britney Spears with her groupmates in different notes and intensity which cracks all of them up. It was a nice warm-up before they started playing the song Sooyoung composed. 

“You know Henry?” Jung eun asks Jinsol, “he is that tall funny guy who is great at playing the violin. He came up to me and started playing that song which got me playing too. We were going against each other to see who can play the song most dramatically when the rest join in. It slowly became who can play it most funnily!”

Jinsol wears a smile when she hears Jung eun sharing about her moments with her violin mates in the orchestra. She doesn’t enjoy such a privilege since she’s a soloist for this orchestra, she’ll often spend her time alone or mingle around with the other groups. She’ll walk to the violin room and peek at Jung eun through the window. There’s one thing about Jinsol that Jung eun realizes recently is that the girl cannot hide her jealousy well. Whenever she turns to look out, she’ll spot Jinsol looking at them and she could see jealousy hiding behind the girl’s almond eyes when she gets too close to someone. 

“Wow, you’re enjoying yourself a lot. I hope you’re not tiring yourself out too much from training hard,” Jinsol says as she gives Jung eun a small smile. Jung eun nods her head profusely and she climbs down from the rock that she was sitting on. 

“I can’t believe I got through it,” Jung eun muses to herself as she sits next to Jinsol, “I thought I couldn’t make it but I got through half of the training and enjoyed my time there!”

“Yeah you did and I’m so proud of you,” Jinsol smiles as she reaches over to hold Jung eun’s hands in hers. 

“I like spending time with you like this, can we do this more often?” Jinsol asks.

“Of course,” Jung eun whispers out as she interlocks their fingers together. Jinsol looks down and sees their hands, they fit perfectly like puzzle pieces. She turns away and looks at the open sea, she feels at peace with Jung eun. 

I think I like Jungie. Jinsol thought to herself when she felt warmth blooming inside of her and the hollow feeling inside her heart getting filled up by Jung eun. 

They sat there in the same position for a while more, they watched the sunset before they decided to head back to the dorms. Jinsol has her hand outstretched for Jung eun, waiting for her to hold on to. Jung eun flashes Jinsol a smile and walks towards the girl. She takes the girl’s hands and the two of them start making their way back to Jinsol’s dorm hand in hand. Jung eun stares at Jinsol’s side profile and a small smile forms on her face when she sees how ethereal Jinsol looks with the moonlight shining onto the girl’s face.

I don’t think I like Soul anymore….



















I think I love her.











-

Time flies by in a flash when you’re having a whale of your time. Another month has passed and the live performance is just around the corner. Their training gets even more intensive as Sooyoung pushes the students to play as well as they can. Perfection is what Sooyoung seeks and she will do whatever it takes to push her students to hit perfection. Jinsol has been having a difficult time meeting Sooyoung’s expectations and the older girl hasn’t let her off the hook for not performing up to par. 

“Jeong Jinsol!” Sooyoung calls out angrily as she storms towards Jinsol who is shaking in her seat.

“What is up with you today?” Sooyoung asks angrily when Jinsol misses the note again, it has been the fifth time and the whole team is getting frustrated. 

“I’m sorry,” Jinsol whispers out under her breath, tears threatening to spill from her eyes. Sooyoung sees that and she lets out a loud sigh.

“We’ll take a short break, see all of you back in 20 minutes!” 

“Yes!” 

Everyone quickly stands up and places their instruments aside so they can all go out to get some fresh air. With Sooyoung and Jinsol in the same room as them, they bring the tension up high and it makes it difficult for everyone to breathe. However, only one person remains in her seat. Jung eun stays behind as she glares at Sooyoung. If her glare contained daggers, Sooyoung would have dropped dead on the spot.

“What is going on with you Jinsol? Your standards have dropped and all...you’re not performing as well as last time!” Sooyoung says frustratedly as she rubs her temples. 

“I’m so sorry,” Jinsol whispers over and over again, loud enough for Sooyoung to hear.

“Stop apologizing to me!” Sooyoung yells out frustratedly, Jinsol’s constant apologizing has started to irk her. 

“You should be apologizing to the rest of the members in this orchestra! Do you know because of you we have to keep restarting from the start?! Does it not occur to you that your behavior is bringing everyone so many frustrations!” Sooyoung yells again as she throws her sheets onto the ground. 

“Do not yell at Jinsol like that!” Jung eun growls as she stands up from her seat and storms towards Sooyoung and Jinsol.

“I’m sure she has her reasons for why she’s behaving like that! Nobody is faulting her right now so why are you yelling at her?!” Jung eun snarls as she pushes Sooyoung away from Jinsol. She stands in between the two ladies, her shoulders move up and down quickly from how fast she’s breathing. Jinsol looks at Jung eun and sees the girl seething in anger.

“Are you okay?” Jung eun asks softly as she turns back to look at Jinsol, she cups the girl’s face in hers and wipes the tears on the girl’s face away.

“This doesn’t concern you Jung eun!” Sooyoung says angrily as she walks towards Jung eun. Before she can even touch the girl, Jung eun grabs Jinsol by the arms and walk away from an angry Sooyoung.

“It does concern me,” Jung eun says loudly, this time not as angry as just now because of how tightly Jinsol is holding her arm.

“I’m Jinsol’s best friend and I do not like seeing the way you’re treating her, doesn’t mean you’re a teacher to us means you can treat us like that! Why can’t you just calm down and ask Jinsol what is going on, what is happening to her surroundings that is making her that way?” Jung eun calls out Sooyoung’s behavior. She has always been the bolder one in the friendship and she’ll do whatever it takes to protect Jinsol from anyone. Even if it means she might get kicked out of the orchestra team for going against Sooyoung, she doesn’t mind. As long as she gives Sooyoung a piece of her mind and gets the girl to treat Jinsol properly, Jung eun would gladly leave the orchestra team if needed. 

“Jungie…” Jinsol calls out softly as she tugs on the girl’s shirt.

“It’s okay, I’m not scared. I don’t mind,” Jung eun whispers back and places a hand on top of Jinsol’s hand. 

“Fine,” Sooyoung sighs out as she puts both her hands up, “I’ll go calm myself down and I’ll ask Jinsol what is going on. I’ll see you back in 2 minutes.”

Jung eun nods her head and watches Sooyoung pick up her stuff before leaving the musical hall. Jung eun heaves out a relieved sigh and puts her arm that is protecting Jinsol down. Jinsol doesn’t say a word and turns Jung eun around so she can pull the girl in her tight hug.

“Thank you,” Jinsol cries out loudly as she hugs a shocked Jung eun tightly in her arms.

“Thanks for standing up for me!” Jinsol cries, “I thought I had nobody...I really thought I had nobody…”

“What’s wrong Sol?” Jung eun asks out as she quickly returns the hug and runs her hand up and down Jinsol’s back.

“My dad! He got admitted into the hospital and things aren’t looking good,” Jinsol wails out, “Most of our savings have gone into his hospitalization fee and his medication but it’s not enough. I’ve been absent recently because I’ve been working after training to earn some allowance and money to pay the hospital bills.”

“Sol…” Jung eun trails off with a shaky voice, “you should have told me.”

“I don’t want to burden you…” Jinsol wails out, “you have your own life to take care of...I’m not someone who you should invest your time on…”

“Sol...don’t say that,” Jung eun whispers.

“You’re someone who means so much to me,” Jung eun continues, “you have no idea how much I want to be there for you by your side. I want to shoulder some responsibilities with you...I don’t mind it because...I...I...I’m your best friend.”

“Even if the whole world gives up on you, I’ll never give you up. I would give you 24 hours of my life,” Jung eun finishes. Jinsol wants to touch Jung eun but she balls her hands up into a fist on Jung eun’s back. She could hear sincerity in Jung eun’s voice and the amount of love behind the girl’s words. She’s thankful to have Jung eun by her side and she doesn’t know if she’s ready to give Jung eun the things she wants.

“I’m just a burnt-out pianist who is trying to make a comeback but I can’t even get myself together for this orchestra because my mind is constantly thinking about my father and the bills. I’m not a good person Jungie,” Jinsol sobs out.

“Why didn’t you come and tell me,” Sooyoung asks suddenly, which catches the two girls off guard.

“What?” 

“I said...why didn’t you come and tell me,” Sooyoung sighs out as she approaches them. She went to wash her face and berates herself in the toilet for lashing out at Jinsol. She shouldn’t have done that, she feels guilty. Sooyoung has been wanting to get everything in a tip-top condition which makes her fail to see what is going on with her students. She thinks the student really needs a break after today, a break to relax and calm themselves down. 

“You could have come to me and tell me...we can figure out a way to help you…” Sooyoung adds on, “I could help you too…”

“I’m so-”

“Stop apologizing,” Sooyoung interrupts, “like I said...you can’t control what is happening around you so don’t apologize for the things you can’t control.”

“Yes,” Jinsol chokes out and Jung eun wears a sad look on her face. 

“I will cancel tomorrow’s training...let’s go see your father together,” Sooyoung says before turning to look at Jung eun, “you too.”

“We’ll talk tomorrow, the rest of the students will be coming back. Go wash up before joining us back here,” Sooyoung instructs and Jung eun nods her head. She watches Jung eun bring Jinsol out of the musical hall quietly. She lets out a soft sigh and rubs her face using her hands, she needs to work on keeping her anger and frustrations in check.

-

Taking a quick glance at her wristwatch, a soft sigh escapes her mouth. Jinsol has been inside the doctor’s office for quite some time, it’s taking longer than usual and it worries Jung eun. She wonders if the doctor is finally able to deliver some good news for Jinsol. Her heart has been torn over and over again by the bad news from her previous diagnosis. She’s not sure if she’s able to handle another bad news from the doctor. Jung eun takes in a sniff and her face scrunches up as she cringes at the strong scent of sanitizers. She pushes herself off the wall and takes a seat outside the doctor’s office as she waits for Jinsol. 

“I’m sorry that I came so late,” Sooyoung apologizes as she jogs towards Jung eun sitting outside the doctor’s office. 

“It’s fine...she hasn’t come out yet,” Jung eun says as she pats on the empty seat next to her, “her father’s heartbeat suddenly went flat and the doctors came to assess his condition. There wasn’t any good news coming from the doctor after hearing from Jinsol.”

“Oh…” Sooyoung trails off and Jung eun nods her head quietly. 

“We’ll just wait here then…” Sooyoung says and Jung eun nods her head again.

Another half an hour goes by before Jinsol steps outside of the doctor’s office. Jung eun doesn’t say a word when she sees Jinsol’s defeated stance and slumped shoulders, she pulls the girl into her tight hug. Sooyoung bites on her bottom lips and pats Jinsol’s shoulder in a comforting manner. Jinsol breaks out crying and hugs Jung eun so tightly as her life depends on it. Jung eun forces her eyes shut when she hears Jinsol’s cries, it breaks her heart hearing the girl’s cries. 

“The doctor...he said my father has only a few weeks to live!” Jinsol cries out. 

“His condition is getting from bad to worse in such a short period that the medication prescribed to him isn’t helping,” Jinsol adds. Jung eun feels her shoulders getting wet from Jinsol’s tears. She doesn’t mind if her shirt gets drenched from Jinsol’s tears, as long as Jinsol feels better after crying her heart out, Jung eun is fine going home with a completely drenched shirt.

“What do I do?!” Jinsol wails out.

“Breathe Jinsol,” Sooyoung whispers out when she notices Jinsol taking a short intake of breath more frequently.

“Calm down...we can work out something,” Sooyoung adds on and Jinsol nods her head while wiping her tears away. 
















“Do you feel better?” Jung eun asks softly and Jinsol nods her head quietly. They decided to go to the rooftop garden of the hospital to get some fresh air. Sooyoung stands aside, not far from the two girls, giving Jinsol and Jung eun some space. Jinsol is holding onto Jung eun’s hand tightly while she stares out into the open. Her heart aches at that sight. 

“Thank you for coming,” Jinsol sniffs out as she looks at Sooyoung and Jung eun. Jung eun gives the girl a small smile while Sooyoung gives Jinsol a nod. 

“My dad’s condition isn’t getting better...doctors told me to prepare myself emotionally for any bad news,” Jinsol whispers while looking down at her hands. 

“Is there nothing that can prolong time?” Jung eun asks softly and Jinsol shakes her head.

“I think it’s better if he passes on peacefully in his sleep,” Sooyoung says as she squats down in front of Jinsol. 

“He is probably in a lot of pain...he doesn’t want to see you like this too,” Sooyoung adds as she places a hand on top of Jinsol’s hand. 

“There’s nothing much that we can do but to make him feel happy before he passes on, tell him about the orchestra again and show him that you’re capable of bringing wonderful melodies to people. You can touch their hearts and make them happy with your music.”

“You’re Jeong Jinsol,” Sooyoung reiterates, “everyone has seen the way you play the piano...you might not know but your music has touched the hearts of others...mine included.” 

“You’re capable of doing things that you don’t know you can do, take this leap of faith. You mustn't let your father hold you back...you have to move on no matter what. The last thing you want is to make your father feel worried about you,” Sooyoung whispers out and Jinsol nods her head with tears brimming in her eyes. She gives Jinsol a thin-lipped smile and caresses Jinsol’s head gently. 

“Remember what you said when you talked to me the other time?” Sooyoung asks.

“I-I can do it.”

“You can do it Jinsol,” Sooyoung says with a smile on her face. Jinsol nods her head and she feels Jung eun tightening her hold around her hand. 

“Thank you,” Jinsol sniffs out and Sooyoung nods her head. 

“You’re welcome.”













“Sooyoung,” Jung eun called out suddenly. Sooyoung stops in her tracks and turns to look at Jung eun who is standing behind her. They walked Jinsol back to her father’s ward and paid their visit. They chat for a while and Sooyoung could see some traits of Jinsol’s father on Jinsol. From their short interactions, Jinsol’s father actually thinks a lot for Jinsol. He is scared that his daughter wouldn’t be able to ‘survive’ in this world without getting a proper job. Sooyoung understands his concerns because she used to live day to day with barely any money in her pocket. It takes a while to build a name for yourself but it’s worth it when you make it big in the industry. Jinsol’s father also doesn’t ask much for JInsol. He looked so sorry and guilty when he looked at Jinsol, he didn't want his daughter to shoulder so much responsibility at such an age. 

“Thank you...thank you for coming,” Jung eun says as she looks down at her feet, “I thought I could help Jinsol but...I realized sometimes I cannot do that...I’m glad that you came and help be Jinsol’s listening ear. You gave Jinsol good advice and comforted her.”

“Jung eun...I didn’t do much actually,” Sooyoung says with a small smile, “it’s because you’re there with us. Jinsol felt comfortable...she felt at ease to take in my advice and know that no matter what choices she makes...you’ll always be there for her.”

“You mean so much to Jinsol, you just have no idea,” Sooyoung chuckles out softly as she holds a hand out and waves for Jung eun to come in for a hug. Jung eun rushes to Sooyoung and hugs the girl tightly which makes Sooyoung shake her head with a smile on her face.

“You’re like a bear, you know?” Jung eun comments and it makes Sooyoung look at her with a raised eyebrow, “you look so scary on the outside but so soft and nice on the inside.”

“Go back and stay by Jinsol’s side, she needs you now.” 

“What about you?” Jung eun asks as she pulls back from the hug.

“I’m going to do something that might make Jinsol stuck with me and my mentor for the rest of her life,” Sooyoung says with a grin on her face as she walks away.

“Goodbye, Jung eun,” Sooyoung bids Jung eun goodbye and waves her hand in the air. She walks to the check-in counter of the hospital and requests for a nurse, she asks the nurse for Jinsol’s father’s hospital bills and offers to settle the current payment. She also asks the nurse to bill the future hospital bills to her and not to Jinsol. 

“If the daughter asks who is paying for this, don’t tell her it’s me. Just say a good samaritan is paying it,” Sooyoung says as she slips her business card to the nurse. The nurse nods her head and passes Sooyoung the receipt for the payment of the current hospital bills. Sooyoung doesn’t look at the amount and folds the paper before putting it into her coat. She will start convincing her mentor to hire Jinsol and start working under them. 

-

A week has passed and today is the day of the orchestra. Ever since the visit to the hospital, Jinsol has become better. She has been performing well and often exceeds Sooyoung’s expectations. With Jinsol’s improvement and better performance, everyone can progress quickly and their time spent for training shortens. Jung eun and Jinsol often stay back after training since they have a duo performance amid the orchestra so they have been trying to perfect it. Sooyoung would stay back and watch so she can correct the two and let them connect with each other. 

With Jinsol and Jung eun’s relationship, connecting isn’t an issue but they get their feelings to get the best of them and they start playing out of what they are supposed to be playing. Sooyoung would often bring the two back and start from the beginning again. She gets the chance to be the orchestra conductor after her mentor saw how she led the students. Needless to say, she impressed her mentor and the media a lot. 

Everyone is now gathered backstage to compose themselves before they get on stage for the orchestra. Jinsol could hear loud murmurings in the musical hall, she’s not used to it. She often spends a lot of time in the quiet musical hall but now it’s filled with many people and it intimidates her a lot. Jung eun quietly stands next to Jinsol and slides her hand into the girl’s hand. Jinsol turns to look at Jung eun who flashes her a smile before interlocking their fingers together.

“Relax Sol,” Jung eun whispers out, “it’s your time to shine.”

“I’ll try,” Jinsol says jittery with a grin on her face which cracks Jung eun up.

“Turn and look at me.”

“Your tie is not tied properly,” Jung eun chuckles as she helps adjust Jinsol’s tie. Jinsol looks down and sees Jung eun helping her to tie her tie again. She watches Jung eun cross the wider part of the tie over the thinner part before running it under the tie and pulling it across again. 

“We look like a married couple and the wife is helping their partner adjust their tie because someone can’t tie a tie properly,” Jung eun teases as she pulls the wider end through the center and loops through the knot.

“Hey! I do know how to tie,” Jinsol murmurs out, “I just cannot function well today.”

“Lies,” Jung eun snickers as she pulls down the wider end to tighten the knot, she gives the knot a pat once she’s satisfied with how it looks. 

“Get a room, you two.”

Jung eun and Jinsol jump apart when they hear Sooyoung’s voice. Jung eun glares at Sooyoung while Jinsol looks away shyly, both reactions crack Sooyoung up. Jung eun is wearing a long black dress that hugs her body nicely, it helps show off Jung eun’s curves nicely. While Jinsol, on the other hand, is wearing a black suit with a simple black tie like the other male students in the orchestra. 

“Orchestra starting in 5 minutes, once the curtain draws open we must get ready to play. Go to your position and get ready,” Sooyoung says as she starts ushering the rest of the students to get to their seats. Jung eun rolls her eyes while Jinsol gives Sooyoung a small smile before the two walk away. Jung eun wishes Jinsol good luck and gives the girl a quick peck on the cheek before she joins her fellow violinist. Jinsol cups her cheeks with a red face while she stares at the piano. 

Sooyoung shakes her head at that and walks to the rostrum and picks up her baton. Her eyes scan the stage and she flashes everyone an encouraging smile. They have done this numerous times and they have never failed to give their best performance each time they perform together. 

“Welcome to Korea National University of Arts, We are pleased to have you today to watch our live orchestra. Students involved in this school orchestra have gone through auditions and were handpicked to join this orchestra by our one and only Ms. Ha Sooyoung. Ms. Ha Sooyoung is the conductor and the composer for this orchestra. Please give it up for the students in the orchestra and Ms. Ha, sit back and enjoy.” 

Sooyoung takes a deep breath when she hears loud clappings from the other side of the curtains. The curtains draw open slowly and she raises her right hand that is holding the baton. With a small swipe of her left hand, everyone hears a soft melody playing from the flutist. The violinist has their violins up and pulls onto their bow gently, following Sooyoung’s hand gestures. Sooyoung’s right-hand moves around to keep the rhythm and beat, her pinky lifts up as her hand moves gracefully. 

Jinsol watches Sooyoung’s hand gesture before playing the piano accordingly. Jung eun sees Sooyoung’s left hand moving faster, the speed of her pulling the bow quickens. Sooyoung turns to the percussion team and lifts both her hands up, the percussion starts playing. Jinsol plays quickly on the piano, following the beat of her fellow percussion mates. Sooyoung’s hand moves around more and each gesture gets more intense, the percussion team plays even louder and the melody of the music gets intense. 

Sooyoung continues conducting with closed eyes as she feels with the music. Her body sways gently as she moves a little in her place to turn to each team. Her eyes only flutter open when it’s time for the violinist and the pianist to play together. She starts tapping her baton in the air and moves her left hand gently to guide the violinist on how fast they should play the violin. Jinsol's hands glide down the keys of the piano and she feels herself connecting with the melodies of the music. Jung eun gives JInsol a quick glance before turning her attention back onto Sooyoung. Sooyoung gives her a nod and she plays a little louder than the rest. The other violinist plays a note lower than Jung eun, complementing Jung eun’s melodies. 

Jinsol’s father watches the orchestra live in his hospital ward through a zoom call with Sooyoung’s mentor. His eyes brim with tears when he sees how beautiful his daughter looks. His daughter looks so happy and is enjoying herself. He wipes his proud tears away when he hears his daughter play the piano again after not hearing them for the longest time. He sees his wife inside of Jinsol. They both share a strong loving passion for piano and the pieces they play often touch his heartstrings. Jinsol looks different now, she’s made for the stage and to play marvelous music for the masses to enjoy. 

As the song comes to an end, that marks the end of the orchestra. Sooyoung’s hands move slowly now before they slowly come down to signal the end of the song. She places her baton down and flashes her students a proud smile before turning around to face the crowd. The students follow after and stand up, they all bow down together with Sooyoung before exiting the stage when the curtains close. Jung eun and Jinsol rush to each other with big smiles on their faces. Jung eun jumps into Jinsol’s arms as they let out a soft squeal to celebrate the end of their performance together. 

“Everyone gather please!” Sooyoung says loudly but not loud enough the crowd outside could hear. The students huddle close to Sooyoung and they all whisper ‘good job’, ‘well done’, and ‘we did it!’ to each other. Sooyoung watches that sight with a smile on her face, she’ll miss these students after today since they won’t meet again. 

“I want to thank everyone for putting in so much effort and hard work for the past two months and today. Today’s orchestra went super well and I’m sure the crowd enjoyed it. I enjoyed spending my time with all of you and I hope you all have something to take away from this short experience,” Sooyoung says with a proud smile.

“We’ll miss you, Ms. Ha,” a student sniffs out and it makes her wear a sad pout on her face. She makes it a point to not cry today but seeing that student on the verge of tears, she finds it hard to not cry. 

“We’ve enjoyed spending our time with you Ms. Ha!”

“If we have to go through this again, I don’t mind going through it again and again!”

“We love you, Ms. Ha!”

“We hope we can work with you again!” 

“My my all of you are going to make me cry,” Sooyoung chokes out as she wipes her tears forming in her eyes, “I don’t want to destroy my makeup!”

“I have been harsh and tough on everyone when we are nearing the orchestra date so I would like to apologize,” Sooyoung chuckles out and the students wear a grin on their face, “I hope you all don’t take it to heart okay? All of you here are wonderful to work with and seeing how passionate you all are with the instruments you play, makes me want to play the piano again.”

“What is stopping you, Ms. Ha?” Jinsol asks cheekily and Sooyoung squints her eyes at Jinsol. 

“Thank you everyone once again for this wonderful experience!” Sooyoung says as she pulls everyone into a group hug. 

“We’ll miss you!” 

“Come and visit us again!”

“Hold another orchestra so we can audition again!”

“Let’s stay in contact!”

“Go and enjoy yourself!” Sooyoung says after the group hug. Everyone bids Sooyoung goodbye and leaves with their friends. She decides to stay back for a while longer to savor this moment. She lets out a sigh as she takes a seat on the piano stool, her fingers graze the keys of the piano.

-

Loud panting escapes Jung eun and Jinsol’s mouth as they run into the hospital. Just after Jinsol teases Sooyoung, she receives a phone call from the hospital to say goodbye to her father. She doesn’t say goodbye to Sooyoung before she turns to run out of the music hall from backstage. Jung eun follows suit and runs as fast as she can with Jinsol. They flag down for a taxi and make their way to the hospital. Everyone turns their head towards the two sweating girls wearing all black. Jung eun flashes them an apologetic smile before taking off again with Jinsol for the lift. 

“Come on,” Jinsol whispers under her breath as she presses the lift button quickly, hoping that would get the lift to reach the ground floor quickly. Once the lift opens, Jinsol slips through the gaps of the elevator and presses on the fifth floor. Jung eun stands beside Jinsol and holds the girl’s hand tightly in hers. She gives Jinsol a soft squeeze, hoping that can help calm Jinsol down a bit. 

“Thanks,” Jinsol says with a thin-lip smile before turning to look at the lift monitor. Once they reach the fifth floor, they bolt out of the lift and down the corridor. Jinsol pushes the door open roughly and sees her father’s doctor standing by the bedside talking to her father. She lets go of Jung eun and walks slowly towards her father. She sees the wires that were once attached to her father are now gone. She takes a seat on the chair by the bedside and holds her father’s hand in hers. 

“I’m here,” Jinsol says with a shaky voice. Her father turns to her slowly and gives her the biggest smile that he could muster.

“You remind me...of your mother now...she used to wear something like this during her younger days performing,” her father says fondly when he remembers the first time he met his wife. They were young, like Jung eun and Jinsol, when they first met. He chanced upon a musical performance and his eyes caught sight of the beautiful pianist playing the piano. He stayed back after the performance and talked to Jinsol’s mother. They hit it off from there. Like Jung eun and Jinsol, he connected with Jinsol’s mother through music. 

“You two reflect each other well,” her father chuckles out softly before coughing hard. Jinsol’s eyes widened at that and urged her father to not do that again. Jung eun wears a sad smile at that interaction. 

“I’m...so...proud of you,” her father says slowly. Her tears start falling off the corner of her eyes when she hears what her father said. Jinsol nods her head and holds her father’s hand tightly in hers.

“I saw...saw you on stage...you look so happy,” her father adds on, “I’m sorry for holding you back...holding you back from doing something...that makes you happy.”

“I won’t stop you anymore...do whatever you like...be a great pianist Sol…” her father says and Jinsol nods her head. She rests her head on her father’s hands as she cries quietly to herself. Those words that she longs to hear from her father are now being said to her but why are they bringing her so much sadness. Jung eun slaps a hand over her mouth when she watches the interactions. Jinsol doesn’t see it but her father is crying with her too and it makes Jung eun cry harder. 

“I will support you in everything you do...I will look over you with your mother...so don’t be afraid,” her father says as he shakingly brings Jinsol’s hands to his lips to give them a peck, “you and your mother...will be the only two great pianists...that I love a lot.”

“I love you a lot Jinsol...know that…'' her father trails off slowly before his eyes flutter close. His hands slip out of Jinsol’s hold and the flatline sound of the heart monitor fills the room. Jung eun and Jinsol’s eyes widened at that. Jung eun rushes to the other side of the bed and holds Jinsol’s father’s hand in hers.

“DAD!” Jinsol cries out as she lightly shakes her father’s lifeless body. Her father doesn’t move an inch and there is no more warmth left in his body. She rests her head on her father’s lifeless arm as she cries to herself, she didn’t even get to say much to her father before he passed on. There are so many things that she wants to tell him but no words can come out of her mouth when she sees her father on his deathbed. She could only cry while he listens to what he wants to say. At least...at least she knows that before her father passed on, she made him proud. She made him realize that this career path was the one for her and there are no more objections from her loved ones. 












“Just sign this paper and everything would be taken care of by the hospital...we’ll contact you again later to let you know when you can come and retrieve his body,” the doctor says and Jinsol nods her head. She signs the paper quietly and passes the form back to the doctor. Once the doctor leaves, she lets out a deep sigh and rubs her face using both her hands.

“Hey…” Jung eun calls out softly and that makes Jinsol turn to look at her.

“Hey,” Jinsol says weakly.

“Let’s go to the rooftop garden...you need to catch a breather,” Jung eun says and Jinsol nods her head. She lets Jung eun hold her hand and leads her to the rooftop garden. Once they reach, they take a seat on a random bench and stare out into the night sky. Jung eun doesn’t let go of Jinsol until they take a seat. Jinsol hunches over and looks at her hands, she clasps them together and shuts her eyes. 

“You can relax here,” Jung eun says as she counts the stars that she can find in the night sky, “it must be suffocating over there.”

“Hey, Jungie…” Jinsol calls for the girl and turns to look at Jung eun.

“Yeah?”

“Thank you,” Jinsol says with a smile on her face, “thank you for sticking by my side through all my ups and downs...I’m thankful to have you here by my side.”

Jung eun returns the smile and sees Jinsol reaching over to hold her hand. Her heart races when Jinsol interlocks their fingers together. She watches Jinsol pull her hand to her lap and the girl places her other hand on top of their clasped hands. 

“I’ll always stick by your side till death do us apart Sol,” Jung eun whispers out. 

Jinsol looks up and sees so much love in Jung eun’s eyes. Now she understands why Jung eun has never once left her side even with all the downs that they have gone through together. She finally understands them and she can feel them clearly. She scolds herself for not picking up on those signs early but she’s thankful she finally sees them now. She wouldn’t know what to do if she took even longer to pick up on those signs. She doesn’t even want to think about it. Not ever. 

“I’ll say the same to you too Jungie,” Jinsol whispers back and lifts Jung eun’s hand up, she presses a soft kiss on the back of Jung eun’s hand. Her heart races when she does that, it’s her first time doing this kind of stuff. 

I love you Jungie.

“Thank you for fixing my broken melody and letting me hear a symphony,” Jinsol says with a grin on her face. Jung eun’s smile grows bigger on her face and it makes her eyes crinkle. She lightly shoves Jinsol's shoulder when the girl says such things to her, she’ll have to start getting used to such a Jinsol now. 

I love you too Sol.

They don’t have to say a word more to each other because they know and understand each other well enough to know without saying more. It feels like they have known each other for a long long time even though they have known each other for not more than five years. They are soulmates, like what Sooyoung says, they are meant for each other. Their bond doesn’t waver whenever things go sour between them. Instead, it grows stronger and it pulls them closer. 











-

A yawn escapes Sooyoung’s mouth when she steps out of the music hall. She takes her time to change out of her dress and to pack up to leave. She turns back and gives the musical hall one last look before she steps out into the school foyer. She’ll miss this place, she hopes to come back again someday. Before she can even step out of the school building, a soft bubbly voice calls for her.

“Ms. Ha Sooyoung!”

“Yes?” Sooyoung says as she turns back. Her eyes widen at the sight of a big bouquet of flowers in front of her, she has to take a step back from how close the bouquet is to her. 

“You did well Sooyoung-ssi! It’s my first time seeing you be a conductor since you’ve always been the one composing music for orchestras. I’m so proud of you!” 

Sooyoung wears a grin on her face and tilts her head to the side when she hears what the person says. She wonders who is hiding behind the bouquet of flowers, she’s very curious who that person is. It’s just some sweet words that she hears often but it sounds different coming from this person. 

“This bouquet is for you! Please accept it!” the person says and Sooyoung raises an eyebrow at that.

“Oh wow thank you,” Sooyoung chuckles as she takes the flower from the person, “may I know who you are?”

“I’m Jiwoo! Kim Jiwoo!” the auburn hair girl introduces as she peeks out from the bouquet of the flower, “and I aspire to be like you one day! A great composer who can conduct too!”

“Jiwoo…” Sooyoung trails off with pursed lips, “that name rings a bell…”

“Oo! Really?” Jiwoo questions with wide eyes. Sooyoung lets out a chuckle when she sees how Jiwoo is. The girl has her hand behind her back as she leans forward with a curious look on her face. Jiwoo tilts her head to the side when she sees Sooyoung chuckling to herself, she wonders what is so funny. That head tilt reminds Sooyoung so much of a cute puppy, she’s fighting back the urge to squish Jiwoo’s cheeks. 

“Are you pengsooprotector by any chance?” Sooyoung asks and that makes Jiwoo jump back in surprise. 

“Ahh! How did you know?” Jiwoo says shyly as she covers her face.

“I’ve seen you fighting the haters for me on Twitter during my incident...you’re a long fan and I’ve been curious to know what you look like. I guess it’s fated huh,” Sooyoung says as she gives Jiwoo a warm smile. Just as Sooyoung thought she had nobody when she was at the lowest of her career, Jiwoo came through like a hero and defended her. Sooyoung read through every tweet Jiwoo made and she feels heartened to know she has fans like Jiwoo around. Jiwoo also sent her personal DMs, which she never responded to because she couldn’t, and she would read them over and over again if she needed some encouragement to get through the day. 

“You were flaming the haters and roasting them,” Sooyoung laughs out and that makes Jiwoo’s face turn into a darker shade of red. 

“Thank you for that...really...it means a lot to me,” Sooyoung says after a while, her laughter dies down and silence takes over them. Jiwoo nods her head shyly with a red face which makes Sooyoung raise her eyebrow.

“Do you want to get something light to eat or drink? We can talk more,” Sooyoung suggests and Jiwoo’s eyes light up.

“Really?! We could do something like that?!”

“I’m not that popular now Jiwoo, I don’t think the tabloids would care about me now. Let’s go,” Sooyoung smiles as she waves her hand to motion for Jiwoo to follow her. Jiwoo beams and jumps in happiness before jogging to join Sooyoung. Sooyoung turns to Jiwoo and wears a small smile, it’s been a while since she has seen such a gleeful person.

She’s cute, and she has such a nice name...Jiwoo...Kim Jiwoo.

Pengsooprotector...Kim Ji Woo.





















The end.