Piano players are sexy. I'm sorry, they just are. It doesn't matter what one looks like really, but once you see what a true virtuoso can do with just the working of his hands up and down those lovely 88 keys, you get spellbound.
Now, add to that the fact that the virtuoso in question is a physical prodigy as well, with his bronzed locks, amber, smouldering eyes, a chiseled chest, and well… that other thing you’d like to tickle as well, and I don’t mean his ivories. Put this in a canon-compliant fic that comes with a soundtrack that would make the London Philharmonic proud, and an elegance of prose paired with an understanding of melodic verse that sometimes approaches poetry, and you have Locqua’s “Music Lessons.”
First, a disclosure. I am a music snob. You know how some people say they listen to all kinds of music and what they really mean is that they listen to a little Linkin Park and a little Britney Spears? Yeah, that’s not me. Listening to my iPod would qualify you to earn an honorary PhD in Musical Anthropology. Also, as an ex-opera singer, I know the classics better than most. I discovered Locqua’s masterpiece (pun fully intended) last winter on a random search of FF.net. Serendipity must have been in town that night, because she stopped in just long enough to wink this piece at me.
What sets this story apart from others using the Edward the Pianist (and, yes, I pronounce that word PEE-AN-IST) and Bella the innocent acolyte scenario is the inherent love, appreciation and knowledge that Locqua brings as an author. Each of the 27 chapters (there is also an alternate non-canon ending) uses a different selection from amongst the finest pieces ever written. Consequently, if one wisely reads ML with the appropriate music playing in the background, the musical selection acts as a character in and of itself. It’s extremely fascinating to see Edward and Bella explore their ever-teetering-on-the-edge intimacy with the likes of Sibelius or Offenbach as muses and even conspirators. Locqua excels at melding together her talent for writing with her years of musical performance drawn from her own experience with many of these pieces as either a pianist or cellist.
Another thing I appreciate about Locqua: just as she chooses not to water down her conception by selecting more mainstreamed composers [Mozart is not featured once, despite the fact that I begged her to use “Lacrimosa” fruitlessly whilst she was writing- hey, Locqua! Maybe an outtake?], she also does not shy away from flexing her He-Man like vocabulary muscles. I’m a word witch who’s been known to toss in terms like ‘paludamentum’ on occasion. I appreciate an author who clearly does not try to appeal to the teenie bopper crowd by implementing childish speech. Edward has read how many fricking books over the decades? Do you think his discussion of the musical meter, tone, and style of Ravel’s “Bolero” is going to read along the lines of, “I like it. It’s got a beat I can dance to. I give it a 9?”
Oh, you probably want me to tell you something about the plot… How very discerning you are. Well, this is a tandem piece with very little plodding conflict outside well developed lusty angst and our betrothed couple’s growing need to find release. The binary stars in question here are B/E’s need to develop a physical relationship while correspondingly developing Bella’s music appreciation. And while it almost demeans a work of this eloquence and decorum, it’s so extremely hot so as to leave one panting in later chapters. Combine this with the earlier mentioned elements, and you get splendorous passages such as this one:
As Bella’s hands began to slide gently down the top of my foot, I became aware of how well the music complimented her touch. The cascading arpeggios of Schubert’s Impromptu sang throughout the room, my mind mentally playing along with the piece. As Bella worked her thumb against my arch, I began to hum – not just with the music, but in reaction to her sensuous touch and the waves of pleasure it sent up my legs and through my torso. The lingering tendrils of stress seemed to dissipate with each caress of her hand. I had thought the sensation of her foot against mine had been magnificent, but I was sorely mistaken in thinking that it couldn’t be outdone. Her fragile fingertips seemed to know exactly what areas to stroke, and which to knead. For a second I feared that she would find my hardened skin too difficult to effectively massage, but every one of her actions felt perfectly delightful.
After working thoroughly on every surface of my foot, she traced her fingertips upward to my ankle, still rubbing my cold skin delicately. I opened one eye and peered down at her curiously when I felt her start to slide the hem of my chinos up near my calf.
And it’s that sort of intimacy that makes Locqua’s more citrusy passages so high brow and dignified. This is not a smut fic. It’s clear that each physical action our fated couple engages in is an act of love and not just lust. However, the story stays true to canon insofar as Bella and Edward’s dedication to staying technically pure until after their nuptials. However, with each additional movement (pun, again, fully intended), it gets harder and harder for the other to resist. Much like the coursing runs of Smetana’s “The Moldau”, a musical analogy of the flowing of the river of the same name from his masterpiece work “Ma Vlast”, the lovers get swept away by their passion.
Here’s my suggestion: Put the kids to bed, or the hubbie, or the dog, or the voices in your head. Pour yourself a glass of merlot, find a comfortable spot, and pull up a recording of each chapter’s piece as you read through. You’ll find your own heart moved in time to the works of some of classical music’s masters and the masterful writing of Locqua’s “Music Lessons.”
Hopeful Wager is the author of the post-BD epic “Will You Be Ready When it Comes?” and the AU/AH period piece, “Twice as Long as Yesterday.” She is also a member of Team iFic at Twilighted.net and a contributing member to The Secret Twilight Garden blog.