I don’t own Nodame Cantabile. If I did, I wouldn’t need to write a fanfic. All rights go to Ninomiya-sensei. I only own the plot.
AU – It doesn't happen YET, manga-verse. It's just my imaginations running wild. There are some references (SPOILERS!) to Opera-hen, and a few chapters towards the end of Nodame Cantabile (the ones before Opera-hen).
Title: Untitled - Yet unpublished at FF.Net, unbeta-ed. Will wait until all 4/5 chapters have finished. =)
Verse: Sequel to Their Promise
Author: C. I.
It had been a while since they last played together. Nodame had become a celebrated pianist, while he had earned more recognition for his conducting.
He vaguely remembered his surprise when she turned up to play the celesta for his first opera. His subsequent close-to-a-proposal speech that came after had somewhat surprised himself, but at the same time, felt right. Then, she went on to continue playing, her sometimes childish whims belaying the fact that she was now more mature than the person she was all those years ago.
He had cancelled some of his engagements in order to study with Viera-sensei. He worked hard, learning the ways of the opera with his sensei, and at the same time, worked with other orchestras. Elize had given him hell for being ‘reckless’ and like Stresemann, would likely drive her nuts again.
‘But then, she drives me nuts too,’ thought Chiaki when Elize had given him one of her lectures.
Yet he managed to overcome all odds. He acknowledged that as a conductor, it would take time for him to be able to work with top-level orchestras. He knew it to be true when Elize told him that, and the same went when he told Nodame about it. He had apologized for being unable to perform together with her at the Philadelphia Orchestra. She had taken it in stride, saying she was sorry and that she would be going first.
But he had kept his promise. The night after their performance with the White Rose Troupe on the opera, Die Zauberflöte, he had told her that their first performance together would be with her playing a concerto.
He recalled saying, “Let’s make a promise, okay?” The words: ‘Because I owe you so much’  was what he told himself – the reason why he had asked her to make that promise with him.
And indeed he had owed her a lot. He owed her for that time, too. For making him realize what had been right in front of his eyes all those times - for making him realize his dreams and to see that he had her right by his side. Inwardly, he was touched when she said that giving up all those other engagements could mean his life. He knew it was a gamble, and that he risked giving up on steadily building his reputation as a renowned conductor. Yet, he knew that he had wanted to learn more about conducting for the opera. Yes, he was chasing something different, but it did not mean that he would give up conducting for the orchestra.
After he finished learning from Viera-sensei, he had given in to Elize’s idea of payback. She had made him perform in orchestras one after another, packing up his schedule like there was no tomorrow. Her face was filled with glee as she announced that she would make him make up for the ‘lost time’, as she put it.
‘Now I know how Stresemann felt. No wonder he was always running away from Elize’s iron fist,’ he thought at the time.
And that paid off. He was finally recognized as a leading conductor, and following that he was able to perform with the best orchestras around the world.
After a while, he found he couldn’t wait anymore. He had made a proper proposal one night. Although he did slip a ruby ring on her finger the night after their first performance for an opera, he felt he should make a more solid proposal. He was not asking her to make a promise with him the way he did before, but that fateful night, he wanted to ask her to be his wife. What better way to ask for her hand in marriage than the very thing that had first brought them together, and that was music. She had answered a ‘yes’ and so he had married Nodame beneath the blossoming Cherry Tree on a day that he recalled had weather that was just right.
So when they finally performed together with the Philadelphia Orchestra just as she dreamt it, he felt content. At the beginning of their relationship, she was persistent on performing with an orchestra together with him. Somehow, as their relationship progressed, he realized that that dream of hers had become his too.
A few days before their scheduled performance, his mother had called. She had bought tickets for Nodame’s parents, even flying over to the States with them to be able to watch them finally perform together.
‘Don’t worry, Chiaki. I’ve bought tickets for her parents. They’ll be on the plane with me and all has been taken care of –even their accommodation. Your uncle Miyoshi and your cousins will be there too.’
Oh, he remembered how devious his mother and a certain Nina Lutz had been. They were scheming behind his back, trying to get them together. He had a sneaking suspicion that Elize had a hand in it too, despite her being outwardly against them being together. But he couldn’t bring himself to be angry at them. In fact, if he must be honest with himself, he was rather thankful to them for bringing them together so that they could finally perform together alongside the Philadelphia Orchestra. Some of their friends were able to make it, namely Kuroki, Tanya, Kiyora and Mine. Kuroki was in Boston for a performance and Tanya had followed him, Kiyora had a concert in New York since the R*S Orchestra was on break, and Mine had decided to follow Kiyora since they had been together.
Just a few weeks prior to that memorable night, Nodame was having a concert in Paris, and he was busy with the Roux-Marlet Orchestra. He suspected that it was through Elize’s machinations that they were scheduled to perform together. His suspicions had proven true. In her usual tone, she produced an off-handed comment that more or less affirmed that she had requested the orchestra to collaborate with the both of them in a performance.
When he had asked further, she had gone on to say, ‘I handle her schedules and your schedules. Do the math.’
They had already been married at the time, but their scheduling conflicts always pulled them away from each other almost half of the time. So, he was pleasantly surprised when he found that a performance with Nodame was scheduled with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
He thought marrying her made his world complete, but having her perform a concerto with him guiding the orchestra made the picture perfect. After that, they were frequently paired together, often known as the ‘Golden Pair’. That meant they were able to spend more time together.
As he gazed upon his wife's figure, her hair mussed from sleep, and the unmistakable round stomach, he couldn't help but think of the future. With two people very much in love with music, he wondered if their child would love music too. He didn't care much whether the child would be a girl or a boy, but having the banter they had everyday was quickly fraying his nerves. He had been very tempted to say, 'It's a boy, Nodame!' for Nodame kept insisting that the baby would be a girl, citing the apparent fact that she had been craving for certain foods and how she had been seeing beautiful things in pink. Chiaki didn't think it amusing; in fact he thought it was absurd, but he decided to let his wife indulge in her whims.
Chiaki was very deeply entrenched in his musings that he hadn’t noticed the pair of sleepy brown eyes blinking away the misty call of slumber.
“Shinichi?” Nodame’s wispy voice broke his reverie.
“Uh? Yes… What is it?” Chiaki dazedly replied as he was brought out of his musings.
“I want to hear you play the piano.”
He rubbed his temple in obvious disbelief. Waking up in the middle of the night wanting him to play the piano? Every other pregnant women would have woken up wanting to eat whatever they craved, but here she was, awake and requesting him to play the piano. Sometimes he wondered what planet she came from and at times, felt exasperated. But when he gazed into her eyes he realized that he could never find it within himself to find her anything but endearing -not since he realized his own feelings toward her.
“Oh, alright.” He made a show of grumbling and a little displeasure, but inside, he couldn’t help but feel pleased that instead of wanting to hear other people play for her, she wanted him to play for her. No one else but he had the honor of fulfilling her whims and capturing her heart. Not even Lucas had the pleasure.
Nodame knew that despite that outward display of reluctance, Chiaki was secretly pleased to play for her. There was once piece he played for her after they had woken up the day after their wedding. The piece that was light and carefree, making her see swirls of bright light and making her want to waltz with her Chiaki.
They walked to the sitting room where a grand piano stood gleaming beautifully in black, on one shelf on one side stood a violin, and on another housed music scores arranged according to composers in alphabetical order and below it, discs and albums of classical works were arranged in the same way. Chiaki walked to the piano. He opened the lid, and after arranging it, seated himself on the leather and mahogany bench. Turning to Nodame, he asked, “Nodame, what would you have me play on the piano tonight?”
“Uhm... remember that piece you played the morning after our wedding night?”
Chiaki didn’t need anymore prompt after that. He clearly remembered the piece he had played for her, and it was also the piece that she had played after the fact in her own singing style. And so, the tune of Chopin’s Valse in A flat major echoed throughout the house they both resided.
Nodame sat on the armchair placed on the corner of the room beside the shelf housing Chiaki’s violin. As she listened to the flowing rhythm of the valse, she softly rubbed her belly.
“Listen to that, darling. That’s your father playing for us,” she whispered to her yet unborn child.
When the song ended, Chiaki turned to Nodame.
“Nodame, are you going to the final rehearsal this Thursday? I heard from Kuroki that you’re coming. His girlfriend told him. You’ve been spending your time with Tanya, haven’t you?”
“About Tanya, yes, I have. And as for the rehearsal, why not? It would be fun. I can’t stand sitting alone at home doing nothing.”
“Well, you won’t exactly do ‘nothing’. Remember that meeting that you need to have with Elize? You’re due soon, as Asakawa-sensei reminded us recently, so she needs to be informed. Then Elize could clear your schedule for the next few months or if you want, until the next year.”
“Come on, Chiaki. If I can make time for Puri Gorota and some piano, who says I can’t make time for your rehearsal? I’m your wife, and Elize can wait.”
“I tell you what: you can call Elize tomorrow morning and ask to see her in the evening. The dress rehearsal is on Thursday, and tomorrow’s Wednesday. That’s plenty of time to talk to her.”
“All right, I’ll do that -if only to get Elize off my back. She’s been so annoying lately -always asking me to quickly start playing soon. I have a feeling she’d want to drag me halfway ‘round the world if she had her way. But I don’t want that. Soon, we’ll have our baby and I don’t want to be halfway across the ocean if I can help it. Who’s going to spend time with little Riona if I’m not around while you’re busy?”
“Nodame! Stop naming our child that! I don’t want our baby to grow up knowing that her parents named her after a character from her mother’s favorite anime.”
“It’s perfect! She’s going to have the name whether you like it or not.”
“You don’t even know if it’s a girl or a boy!”
“Well it was you who didn’t want to know the gender in the first place. And I have a hunch. It’s going to be a girl and that’s that. Now why don’t you play me another song?”
Chiaki shook his head in exasperation, all the while muttering under his breath, “You’re really impossible.”
As he turned to face the piano again, Chiaki asked Nodame, “Any particular song that you’d want me to play now?”
“Anything you want.”
And so, Chiaki placed a finger from his left hand on E flat, and began the affectionate Liebesträume no.3 that was composed by Franz Liszt. It had become one of his favorite compositions ever since he married her. The song, also called Dreams of Love, was the song he played when he needed a reminder through his music on how much she mattered to him. Outside of that, he would always look for that part of her he always loved; the part that had also brought him to love her unconditionally.
When dawn broke, Chiaki, having slept little the previous night fulfilling Nodame’s sudden request to have him play the piano was a little grouchy. Despite that, he went through with the sudden urge to run his hand through his wife’s hair and leant a little to peck her on her cheek, and wished her a good morning. She only mumbled an incoherent response and resumed her slumber.
He checked the time; it was already 8 a.m. and if he didn’t get a move on, he would definitely be late for the day’s rehearsal. His steps were silent as he opened the window to let the morning air in as he made it to the closet and prepared for the day, picking out a simple white shirt and a pair of dress pants. After a refreshing shower and clearing the muck out of his mouth, he finally dressed for the day and prepared the necessary items before making his way to the kitchen to make the much needed espresso. That espresso machine he got himself had been especially useful since he hadn’t had the time to make his morning visits to the cafe he used to frequent since two months ago.
His morning caffeine fix helped him wake up some and he fixed breakfast for both of them, knowing that his wife would likely make onigiri all day if she had her way. Having done that and eaten his portion, he wrote a short note to Nodame to let her know that he would be back before dinner. So with the car keys on hand, Chiaki left his slumbering wife to her dreams of Puri Gorota.
It was a little after nine in the morning when Nodame finally woke. The sun shone through the open window. She hummed in contentment as she basked in the warmth of the sunlight.
‘Hmm... Chiaki must have opened the window. Strange, he’s been doing that often these days.’
She stretched a little, getting rid of the kinks in her joints.
‘It’s a wonderful day to get some fresh air,’ she thought.
So she got ready for the day, and went down to the kitchen to satisfy her grumbling stomach. She saw a covered plate on the kitchen island and a note next to it.
Going for the rehearsals. Will be back before dinner, so don’t worry. I’ll fix dinner tonight. For now, eat your breakfast. And until I come back, make sure that you’ve called Elise and settle everything between you two before I come home. I’ll see you soon.
She ate the mushroom and cheese omelet Chiaki had prepared for her, and filled her glass with juice. Yet, she craved for more. After rummaging the shelves for the package her mother had sent her a few days ago, she went about making the onigiri that, as she put it, ‘she never failed at.’
Chiaki had a bad feeling as he packed his suitcase.
“Chiaki…” a voice shook him back to the present. He swiveled his head at the mention of his name.
“You okay?” asked Mine.
“Yeah, I’m fine. It’s just a weird feeling I had. I’m guessing it’s something to do with Nodame.”
“What makes you say that?”
“Call me crazy, but I only get this feeling when it’s got to do with Nodame.”
“What is it with you and your Nodame radar?” Mine ran his hand through his hair, the gesture bespoke his exasperation. After a beat, he turned back to Chiaki. “Then what’re you waiting for man? Get a move on. You’re done for the day anyway. There’s no need to linger anymore. Go home to Nodame.”
“Yeah, yeah… I’m going. No need to tell me to get moving.”
The car ride back to their home gave him time to calm his runaway thoughts. Knowing Nodame, she probably had turned the house upside down -again. As he made his way through the gates, he saw that the bedroom lights were off, and the kitchen and sitting room were bright as day.
‘I wonder what on earth is she doing? I told her I’ll be back on time to cook dinner,’ thought Chiaki as he stepped into the house.
Nodame, who was busy hunting for ice cream in the freezer, abandoned her quest. She went to the door and welcomed Chiaki home.
“Okaeri. How did the rehearsals go?”
“It went alright. There’s nothing to worry about. We’ll be ready on time,” he replied as he placed his coat on the coat hanger by the front door and his suitcase by the table standing next to the coat hanger.
“Mmm… I can’t wait to watch the opera on Friday night.”
“Hmm… I’ve got a ticket for you, so you don’t have to buy one. By the way, did you call Elize?”
Nodame’s eyes widened as one word came out of her lips, “Gyabo!”
Chiaki sighed in exasperation. “I take it you didn’t do it,” Chiaki panned.
“Never mind… I’ll call Elize early tomorrow… wait. She’s coming to the rehearsals tomorrow. Said she wants to discuss something with me. You’ll discuss your schedules with her then since you’re attending the rehearsals tomorrow.”
He just knew she would forget to do it. These days, she was more preoccupied in raiding the kitchen…
Speaking of which… “Nodame, I’m going to make dinner,” he announced as he made his way to the kitchen while rolling up his sleeves.
Chiaki was prepared to make a great dinner for the night, but he wasn’t prepared for the utter chaos that greeted him as soon as he stepped foot into the kitchen.
Pots and pans were all over the kitchen. On the floor, in the sink, on the table, on the kitchen island... and was that nori on the counter? He brought up a hand to his head and felt an impending headache coming its way. The rice cooker was open and a familiar looking box sat next to it.
Nodame couldn’t have chosen the worst time to enter the kitchen.
“Nodame, what have you done with the kitchen?”
“I was so hungry so I made onigiri. Yes, I know you made me breakfast, but I still felt hungry. I’m eating for two, you know.”
Chiaki almost smacked his head. ‘How could I have forgotten that she’s eating a lot more these days? Oh right, I was on a rush this morning since I overslept.’ Normally, he would prepare her a larger meal to whet her appetite. Normally, Miyabi-san, their neighbor, would come over to accompany his wife whenever he had long rehearsals, even help with lunch. But as luck would have it, those two normal things didn’t happen today.
“And you decided to leave the kitchen like this?”
“Well, I was going to clean this up later... ”
He scolded himself for asking her that question, and kneaded his temple to relieve his headache.
‘Why did I even ask that question? I knew she was going to say that.’
“Never mind, I’ll clean this up and make dinner. You, Nodame, should go and watch Puri Gorota or something while I cook.”
“But I don’t want to watch Puri Gorota. They’re all previous episodes that I’ve watch too many times! If I have to watch them, I’ll need new episodes.”
“Well, why don’t you play the piano instead?”
“I don’t want to play the piano tonight,” Nodame mumbled as she fiddled with her fingers.
Chiaki felt his head tick. He wasn’t going to get dinner ready on time at this rate.
“Well, what do you want to do?”
“I want to watch you cook.”
His wife had been rather moody lately, and he recognized defeat when he saw one. There are battles that should be fought, but he knew that this wasn’t one of them.
“Alright, you can stay. But sit and eat your onigiri while I cook,” he said as he eyed the mountain of onigiri on the dining table. He knew that those onigiri wouldn’t really satisfy her hunger. But just as well, it would serve as a distraction until dinner was served.
“And don’t move from there unless there is an emergency.”
Nodame pouted in response.
Chiaki worked diligently, cleaning the mess Nodame had left in her wake and made dinner in record time.
“Nodame, dinner’s ready. Are you still hungry? If you’re not, I’ll warm them for you later.”
“Chiaki, I’m almost always hungry these days.
“So what’s this?” she asked as she nonchalantly pushed aside the half-finished mountain of onigiri.
“Chicken Cordon Bleu.”
“Why? You don’t like it?”
“No! I mean, I like it. It’s just that I’ve wanted to have this for dinner since I saw a chef make it on TV
the other day. It looks different.”
“Yeah, it’s tastier… because you made it.”
He had to refrain from being too affected by the comment.
“And I don’t suppose you’d tell me about that tiny bit of information – about wanting to have this for dinner?” he asked.
“No! Why would I? What if you end up in one of your weird moods and make canned dinner again? Especially if you’re irritated on a particular day,” she blurted before adding, “Nope! Better to wait for you to make your great dinner when you’re particularly happy!”
Chiaki couldn’t help but raise his eyebrows at her reasoning.
‘Weird? Who’s weird? You’re the weird one, crazy woman.’
It was much like all those times when he had called her a crazy woman when he was irritated at a particular thing that she did. Yet, he couldn’t help the affectionate tone, even if it was only his inner voice talking. He couldn’t help but also think at the same time that it was the same crazy woman who had wormed her way into his life and caught his heart.
He shook his head, willing himself back to the present time. He scolded himself for constantly letting his mind wander to memories of old.
A sigh escaped him. ‘Shouldn’t have asked her that in the first place,’ he muttered.
Then, turning to Nodame, he pushed the plate closer to her. “Come on, let’s eat. The food’s getting cold.”
As they enjoyed their dinner, Chiaki couldn’t help but blurt, “You know I haven’t made canned dinner since last year, remember?”
“Ah... but judging from your moods recently, I’d rather not take my chances.”
‘Besides, that lady reporter once said that it’s always better to wait,’ thought she as she dug into her meal, oblivious to the pointed look Chiaki was giving her.
 From Nodame Cantabile Opera-hen, Chapter 10, page 28.
 Riona is a female character from Puri Gorota, a fictional anime that Nodame likes to watch.
 The lady reporter who partners with Sakuma Manabu, working on the Classical Life magazine. She said that to Nodame in Opera-hen.