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Chapter Sixty-One: Fairy Tale
He crumples up yet another piece of paper, sighing in anger. e knows that at the moment, she . . . well, and Toph . . . are at a spa of some sort. She's going to be beautiful when she returns, he muses, not that she isn't already. Just the thought of her makes his cheeks burn, and he is glad that Sokka is in the next room, rummaging around the cupboards and complaining loudly about the lack of meat.
Next to him is a reed flute, the same one that he used for the singing meerhogs, on his vacation. The personal vacation. He grins, remembering her happy smile. On his other side is a pipa. Though he has only had a few lessons from the monks—he is better at the tsungi horn, and even at that he is terrible—he knows enough to be able to strum the chords.
Okay, Aang, focus. You can do this. Writing a song . . . it can't be that hard, right? You just have to rhyme, and . . . it has to sound good.
He gently runs her hands over the body of the instrument, feeling the four strings and plucking each in turn. Sol, re, la, mi, he recalls, and, ever so slowly, he plays an octave, sol to sol, forgetting the fa-sharp and having to start over, until his fingers have worked out the feel of the notes, the sound of the music. Until his fingers glide over the strings, already knowing the half-steps and whole-steps, already knowing the beat.
He hums to himself, playing the pipa almost absentmindedly, his heart beating in time with the melody, experimenting to see what sounds right.
"Maybe . . . do la re la la sol?" he wonders, and he strums the pipa carefully. It seems . . . lacking. Come on, Aang. You can do this. You can write her a song. Just . . . just tell her how you feel. Come on. You can do it.
He lays down the pipa again and takes out another piece of paper, this time cautiously smoothing it before picking up the calligraphy brush.
"You're like a princess from a fairy tale/And I'm like the bumbling serf . . ." He frowns. What rhymes with serf? Surf? But that's practically the same word. Turf? He smacks his forehead with his palm and crumples up the page, tossing it into a wastebasket. When he misses, he angrily leaps up, upsetting the pipa and turning it over, and the floor rubs against the strings.
Somehow, the effect is melodious.
He grabs the instrument, his hands running wildly over the fingerboard, trying desperately to find that beautiful sound.
There it is.
Re ci sol. Three fingers on three upper strings. He plucks them again, adding the lower sol as well, hearing the arpeggio.
"You just step into the room," he sings, "and life's like a fairy tale . . ."
Okay, so, before I start into my notes, I want to apologize to all of you American readers - and possibly others - who were confused about the musical notes. Sorry. I'm Ukrainian, so I did it the Ukrainian way.
This chapter is the start of a four-chapter-long arc, which is interesting. None of my other arcs have spanned more than two chapters, so . . . consider this a . . . four-shot? [shrug]
This chapter was also literally written from my POV. That's through what I went while trying to write the ABCLAF song.
Yes, Aang can play a pipa. I imagine that, along with flower arranging - arraanging? - and Pai Sho, he was taught how to play multiple instruments.
When I saw the name "Fairy Tale", I originally wrote that thing about the bumbling serf; then I promptly tore it in half and started over. I'm really glad with the finished version.
The pipa was based on my own violin . . . so . . . yes. That should give you a hint on the Ukrainian notes.
For the collective works of the author, go here.