Serenade

Can also be found here.

Summary: Francine is a music major in university. She needs help in math and meets by Albert Martin, an older student working for the school as a tutor. When Francine realizes she has feelings for him, she decides she has to tell him. She uses a song, but will Albert like it? For my collab series “Majoring In Love.” My 250th story on ff.net. I hope you guys enjoy it.

Francine smiled as he entered the room. He was twenty-three, two years older than her, but his wisdom made him seem older. He was Albert Marcus, a math major who’d been tutoring Francine for a few months now. She was a music major, her mind focused on music rather than class. Albert helped ground her, and the mere sight of him made her heart leap for joy and her stomach twist with nervousness.

“Well I see you’re ready for today’s session,” Albert smiled. Francine blushed slightly, surprised that he could somehow miss the fireworks going on inside her. Didn’t he notice how different she was, how her thoughts raced only for him? She eyed her math book, trying to get back into the true purpose of this moment, to help her ailing grades. “Alright, what are we working on today? Ah, another equation is giving you problems. Do we need a recap on factoring?” Albert questioned.

Francine nodded, watching him use the room’s small chalkboard to work through factoring. Somehow she learned from him despite being so distracted by him. While she’d peek away from the chalkboard to study his facial features or see what he was wearing, she managed to pay attention enough to understand what he was trying to teach her. Despite her having a crush on him before their second session even began, her grades had improved across the board. Not only were her math scores higher, but her music marks were on their way up too. The teachers said it was because she’d found a passion, and Francine couldn’t help but agree.

But her sessions with Albert were so short, and the university’s size kept her from seeing him outside of class. He was older anyway, possibly even a grad school student. Francine often felt discouraged because she knew she wouldn’t be enough for him. She was only mediocre at best, and she knew a guy like Albert needed something more. So while she thought of ways to tell him and how their life would be after becoming a couple, she had just as many negative thoughts on the situation. Why would he be with her? She was nothing special, just another girl he ended up tutoring for some community service hours.

Francine returned to the apartment she shared with Muffy. She was studying the social sciences, duel majoring in psychology and sociology. What little experience she already had helped her immediately diagnose Francine with the crush of a century, so seeing her come into the apartment was another opportunity to test her knowledge, both scientific and personal.

“Oh, you’ve had a rough day,” Muffy sighed, looking her over. “Wait, you have your math book. What happened? Did they send someone else? Come on, Francine, stop raiding the fridge and talk to me! What happened today?” Muffy cried, tossing down her highlighter to watch Francine sit down in her favorite chair. Francine popped open her can of soda and eyed Muffy carefully. Muffy groaned loudly, “Come on, Francine! Don’t make me wait any longer!”

“He was there,” Francine murmured. Muffy squealed, but she was immediately back to being suspicious again. Why was Francine so down if her crush was actually there to tutor her? Francine sighed, “I just…I really, really like him, but I don’t think he’d ever want to be with me. I’m probably just another girl to him. I bet it happens all the time, so he’ll give me some practiced speech about how this was all for business, how he couldn’t betray that trust, blah-blah-blah. It just frustrates me,” she said, sinking into her chair.

Muffy shook her head, “You’re doubting yourself for absolutely no reason, Francine. Yes, he tutors a lot of people. I can name five from the last year alone. But he doesn’t normally have this problem. I mean, let’s face it, he’s a little distinctive in the looks department. While you see that as a turn on, a lot of girls don’t give him a second glance.”

“I like him for who he is on the inside, now how he looks on the outside,” Francine countered.

Muffy grinned, “But look at yourself right now. You’re blushing at the thought of his features. While I see a big nose in serious need of a reduction, you see a mark of beauty. Let’s face it, you’re in deep, girl. Looks, personality—all of it is what you’re looking at in him.”

“But what can I do about it, huh? He’s probably a grad student with a big future. He wouldn’t have room in his life for someone like me,” Francine said, sipping her soda. “I mean, look at him. He’s so smart. He’s got to be some kind of genius with bright prospects. I give him nothing in return.”

“You can,” Muffy smirked. “I’ve been thinking of how you can get through to him while showing him what you already know. You’re a music major, Francine. You’re studying the classic periods and whatever, but you’re also learning how to make your own music. You should write a song for him,” Muffy nodded.

Francine shook her head firmly, “No, no, just no! I’m a drummer, Muffy. I specialize in percussion instruments, and the type of song you just mentioned requires singing. Don’t you remember karaoke night? They asked me to leave!”

“Oh, that was a fluke! And I know you can’t sing, Francine, but music isn’t all about singing. Play him a percussion piece like you want to. He’ll either love it or hate it, yes, but it’s the meaning behind it. Maybe it’ll show him how awesome you are, how he can’t live without you,” Muffy sighed, a soft smile on her face. “Besides, it’ll give you something else to focus on for once. Go write him a song or something! Go!” Muffy cried, watching her head into her room.

Within a few minutes, Francine was playing the drums. She started on a traditional drum set, but it wasn’t speaking to her. So, she moved to a few African-style drums she had from one of her classes. Instead of practicing for class, she started forming the beats for her song to Albert. Somehow the process kept the doubts away, and after a few days, she decided she was ready to play it for him.

Albert looked confused as he stepped into the tutoring room. Normally Francine just had her materials for math, but today, a large African drum took up an entire corner of the room. She’d had to push the table over to make it fit, yet it sat there, and Albert couldn’t help but look it over.

He touched the surface and looked up to her, “You know, I always forget you’re a music major. I tutored one a few years ago, and I swear he never stopped beating on the desk. I take you’re a percussionist?” he asked. Francine nodded. Albert nodded too, his face distorted by the unpleasant memory, “Well, thanks for not making it so obvious. I know you’ve got to practice, but it’s hard to do my job when someone is constantly tapping. Anyway, that’s him, not you. I take you just got out of class?”

“Actually, I wanted to play something for you,” Francine said with far more confidence than she thought she had. She still had to clear her throat, “I, um…, I’ve been working on a piece that my friends aren’t interested in. Like you said, it gets annoying to hear drumming all the time. I used up my last card with my best friend, so yeah, I was wondering if you’d mind listening for me. It’s not long.”

“Sure. It’ll be a nice diversion, but I hope it won’t take too long. I have your math test, and we have some work to do,” he smiled, tapping the paper and setting it on her notes. Francine got into position, and after taking a deep breath, she began to play.

Though she was sure Albert wouldn’t know, Francine played beats she’d learned about in her African culture class. It was used by warriors to woo their mates, but Francine just loved the sounds. The passionate background was helpful too, but she knew he wouldn’t notice. She just hope he liked it enough to compliment her without it sounding practiced, as if he were only doing it due to society’s obligations, not true desire.

As Francine finished, she noticed he was captivated by the music. When she stopped, he almost seemed surprised that silence had taken over the room again, that her song had actually come to an end. He seemed lost in the moment, something Francine was hoping for as she took her seat again.

“So, what did you think?” Francine asked, blushing slightly as he shifted in his seat.

“Well, I’m just…I didn’t know you all were that good,” he said, laughing gently, “My last music major wasn’t good at anything, but I can see you’re a passionate student. My father is actually a percussionist. You may’ve heard of him if you go to the symphony sometimes. I think you all go for class, but I don’t think he was there last time.”

Francine thought about it. A face came to mind, but she asked for confirmation. Albert showed her a picture of him from her phone and she nodded. She had met him before, specifically in high school during a field trip to the orchestra for her band class. She’d connected with him, helping her see that she belonged in the industry.

“He’s the reason I’m here, actually,” Francine murmured, sighing heavily. “Wow, I can’t believe this at all.”

Albert was confused, “You seem more confused or something than I expected,” he said, eying her carefully. Francine’s head was on the table. He tapped her shoulder, causing her to look up, “Hey, what’s this about?”

“I never thought you’d be connected to him. I worked with him a lot my senior year to get ready for this place. He got me the audition and everything. It’s just…do you know what I just played you?” Francine asked.

Albert nodded cluelessly, “Yeah, something from your African studies class. It was very nice and executed with such precision.

Francine nodded, “Yes, it was from that class, but I had it last semester. That was a personal composition,” Francine said. Albert immediately blushed. “Yeah, you see now why I’m a little surprised. My idol helped me get here, and now I have a crush on his son. This is just weird now-”

“There’s nothing strange about crushes,” he smiled. “Think about it, Francine. We’ve spent hours together over the last year or two. We work closely together, and, well, it happens. I…I’ve tried to remain professional, but I actually have feelings for you too.”

Francine was stunned. He had feelings for her? And that was before he knew she was a percussionist like his father, before he knew she was a good percussionist. Francine was too shocked to speak, and Albert noticed.

“Yeah,” he nodded. “I kept it to myself to remain professional, but you feeling that way too, well, that just surprises me. Girls don’t seem to like me very much because I’m so driven. I spend my days downtown in the math labs running through theorems and working with equations. I’ve even taken on extra courses just to work with something over again. Most people just don’t get that, and the few girlfriends I’ve had since starting college dumped me for not spending enough time with them.”

“I’ve had the same problem,” Francine smiled. She entered the university with her high school boyfriend, but he soon parted ways with her because she had to spend so much time practicing her music. Francine shook her head, “I just…I really hoped we could work something out. You know how crushes are. You think of ways that the future can go, but…I’ve had so many doubts. I knew you were probably busy. I thought you were a grad student who wouldn’t want to be with someone young like me.”

“Me being a grad student won’t get in the way,” he said. “If you can handle a lot of time apart, I think we can make it work. But, and this is a problem, I can’t tutor you anymore. It’s against university rules if I do it officially. But I can do it unofficially, as your boyfriend.”

Francine laughed, “Wow, you’re now asking me out. I…Yes, just yes,” she cried, her face covered with shock. She never expected this outcome, but she was happy things had worked out. Their study session had to end there, but they exchanged numbers, and he promised to drop by her apartment later that night to do their real session. Francine was excited, and she had a plan.

Francine was curled up on the couch in her oldest, most worn out, pair of pajamas. She was shoving tablespoon-sized globs of ice cream into her mouth as a romantic comedy played on the screen. When Muffy entered the apartment and saw this, she immediately sat down beside her with a sympathetic expression.

“No! Francine, tell me what happened! Did he hate your song? Did he not want to be with you because of your age? Tell me!” Muffy demanded.

Francine pulled the spoon out of her mouth and plopped it into the half-eaten pint. She grinned, “Nah, I just wanted some ice cream. I got some of your favorite, and I got a few tubs of cookie dough. I got chocolate chip and peanut butter, but I’m thinking of mixing them together,” she said as she drifted into the kitchen. “Tell me now if you want them separate. I’m getting the mixing bowl and there’s no turning back.”

“Oh, Francine, you’re so torn that you’re emotionally delusional!” Muffy exclaimed. “I mean, I’m sure that’s not what it’s called, but you look miserable! Just be honest with me, Francine. You’re hurting, and you should tell me everything to help the pain go away.”

Francine cracked, bursting into laughter, “I’m just messing with you! It went way better than I expected. I actually know his father. He’s Mr. Marcus from the symphony, and I don’t know why I never noticed before. He even knew what I played him, and after clarifying that we’re both willing to work with each other’s crazy schedules, we ended our tutoring.”

“But you need his help if you want to pass-”

“Which he’ll provide, but as my boyfriend,” Francine smiled. Both girls squealed at once, jumping up and down with wide smiles on their faces. Muffy was so happy for Francine, and Francine was happy for herself. She finally had a boyfriend again, one who could understand her. And Albert ended up happy for the same reason.

Though the two sometimes went days without meeting up, they remained a close couple. When Albert was done with his Master’s degree, he moved to a small house just outside of Metropolis so that he could take a new position. Francine finished at the same time, and she quickly auditioned for a position in Mr. Marcus’s symphony. She received a spot, and she also began tutoring local musicians at different community centers. And while their paths were different, making the small home their own kept them close. Soon, they were officially married, making Mr. Marcus extremely happy. Everything worked out as Francine and Albert hoped it would, and as typical as it sounds, they did live happily ever after.

~End


 

Theme 38: Melody, Theme 40: Making Music

Themes are from my Infinite Arthur Theme List Challenge. Let me know if you’d like more information

This piece is for my collab series, Majoring in Love. To see other stories from the collaborative series, see my community, Arthur Collab Projects, and my deviantArt group. For more info about my collab serieses, let me know. If you have a piece that fits any of the serieses, let me know so I can add them to the community.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed.

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4 Comments

  1. Took me a while to get to this, but I think you did really well on this story.
    The story flowed nicely, Francine’s doubts were believable, and the way you progressed the story went well. The end was a tiny bit rushed, would have been better if this was expanded, but I like it.

    The story itself had some really “lucky” moments if you will. One that comes to mind is Albert’s father, and the connection with Francine. Also, Albert’s apparent naivety regarding Francine’s song is weird, considering that his dad is a musician, not only that, if he knew that it was African, he should’ve had some idea about what it meant.

    But still, good job. 9.5/10

    Like

    • Thanks for the response. It’s been forever since I touched this piece, but I gave it a reread when I posted. Your note about my ending is one you can probably make on 3/4 of my stories–I am notorious for rushing my endings. But you know my history with not finishing things, so that’s probably why I do that:) As for the lucky things, I love stuff like that. It’s kind of how the world seems to work most of the time–everything is connected even if you can’t see it. I will definitely keep that up in other pieces, especially romance ones, to give them that magic.
      Hopefully we can get more response in the group so we can do more discussions on each other’s pieces. I guess I could post a link to this today to see if I get more takers, but so far, it’s crickets and you’re the only one. I kinda expected it but it does kinda blow a little. I was hoping for more response.

      I will get to your piece later, by the way. I currently have up 3 windows and like 40 tabs on Chrome and it’s suffering. I have got to get started on this internship so I know what I’m doing with my life.

      Like

      • Yeah, sometimes rushed endings are necessary, you can’t ever truly end a piece “properly”, there’ll always be more that people will want to know. I don’t think the world works quite that lucky, but in the realm of fiction it does add to the romance. Though it does remind me that PG’s my best friend’s sister…

        How many people have you told about the reading club? The more you talk to on a personal level, the more people you reach. Maybe journals aren’t enough.

        Get to my piece when you can!

        Like

      • Exactly–sometimes you just need to get the piece finished and worry about the details later. That’s what editing and sequels are for anyway, to fill in the gaps. I don’t mind leaving some things unfinished though. It’s too stressful to finish everything, especially when it feels forced. A truly supportive reader won’t mind, though sometimes they could help us get finished:) And yes, rushed endings work really well in the romance genre because you know things are working out. It can work in mystery and drama sometimes too, so yeah, I use it a lot:D
        And your crush being your best friend’s sister is totally normal. People fall for who they know, whether it makes sense or not. That’s why people fall for that dude on the bus, that random guy who always sits at “that table over there” in the cafeteria, etc. They’re there, you see them, crush forms, life gets pretty good for a while, etc.

        I need to spread the word at a personal level with the reading club, but I’ve lost a good chunk of time. As you may’ve noticed, I went missing. I started my internship and I just don’t want to use the internet there for personal use. More info on the internship will come in a journal. Last week was *exhales* Whew, glad it’s over. And yeah, because it takes over an hour to get to the place, I’ll only have internet Mondays, Tuesdays, and maybe Saturdays if I decide to leave home. So yeah, my time just got sliced, and since I desperately need to get a job, sometimes tells me that won’t get any better. But I’ll get to your piece when I can, and I’ll promote the club when I can.
        But omg am I tired of reading online. I’ve been researching a North Vietnam general for my boss and it just keeps going and going and going. The only thing that keeps me reading is that I keep finding random tidbits about the guy (some I don’t trust because there are discrepencies in info alongside the new stuff, but others I want to look into more). But I’ve looked at so many sites and it’s exhausting. I think that’s why I hate reading on my laptop–it drains my brain for some reason. My tablet doesn’t drain me at all, but my laptop? My energy drains like a sieve. It’s not fun, but I’ll get there. Give me some time:)

        Like

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