Title: Sonata 106 Hammerklavier Must Die
Prompt: Encouragement before a piano concert in front of a large/important audience.
Notes: Beethoven's piano sonata No. 29, also known as Sonata 106 Hammerklavier, is generally agreed to be, in musical terms, Really Freakin' Hard. Here are some Youtube videos.
Austria stared very hard at the score, as if by doing so he could make it and every other copy of Sonata Opus 106 Hammerklavier burst into flames before tomorrow evening and thus be lost to the world forever, thereby freeing him of his promise to perform it. At times like this, he almost envied Spain, lying there on the floor in the sunlight that spilled through the lace curtains.
"I curse this sonata. I curse its ridiculous fughettas, and I curse its impossible trills."
"I told you to learn something easier."
"That's because you're lazy, and can't understand how anyone might want to put effort into something." Austria pushed his glasses up into his hair and rubbed at his eyes. Climbing octaves swam through his vision.
"So put the effort into it." Spain rolled over and curled up. "Or else you're as bad as I am."
Austria pressed his lips together, and plunged his hands back into the music.
As the ray of sunlight had moved toward the piano, so had Spain, until he was close enough for Austria to reach out and tap him on the shoulder. "Spain."
"Do you have any idea what demon might have possessed Herr Beethoven and rendered him incapable of sticking to a reasonable number of themes per movement—or even per phrase?"
"And do you have any idea what it feels like to have your fingertips go numb from striking the same keys in the same patterns, over and over, and to still get those patterns wrong?"
Spain sat up and looked at him. "I know what it's like to hear you talk about it."
"Are you mocking me? I would like to see you try to play this infernal piece."
"You really wouldn't," Spain said with a smile.
"No, probably not. You would be terrible at it. Beethoven requires precision—like so." Austria played a few bars. "You have no precision in anything."
"But all music also requires passion, and I have much more of that than you do."
Austria very carefully did not notice Spain's smirk. "I have passion. Listen—" and he played a few more.
"Now keep going."
Austria tapped the sheet music. "I cannot play these chords."
"You can. Just keep your hands moving. I promise to stay awake for it and everything!"
"Do you really?"
"Yes, I really."
"Well... perhaps the rest of this movement, at least, isn't beyond me."
--------------------Spain, predictably, hadn't stayed awake.
"Your quest for heat has led you onto my foot."
Austria waited for Spain to move.
"I need that foot to work the pedals."
"But you're warm, and the sun's almost all gone." Spain, apparently with great difficulty, dragged himself off the floor and onto the bench to sit beside Austria.
"Don't lean up against me like that; you're probably all dusty."
"But you're warm," Spain said again.
"I'm tired," said Austria. "I'll finish this tomorrow; for now, I think I'm going to bed." He stood up.
"I think I'll join you," said Spain, standing and pulling him close. "But..."
"I think you can keep practicing until the light's all gone."
"I think I can't," Austria murmured into Spain's neck. "I think I need to go to bed now so that I have the energy to practice tomorrow."
"Then I won't keep you up. I'll see you at your concert tomorrow, Austria."
"You can keep me up for a little while."
Spain kissed him. "No, I'll let you go right to sleep..."
"You really don't have to—"
"...Unless you can find the energy to play the whole song through."
"You're very unfair, Spain."
Spain pushed him back onto the bench. "Just once, and then we'll go upstairs."
"Fine." Austria turned his sheet music back to the first page. "I'll play it once, for you, and then I'm done for the night."
"I cannot do this."
"You've performed in public lots of times. And a lot of the people out there in the audience are your friends anyway—look, there's the Italy brothers, and Hungary, and Prussia's kicking France's seat—"
"There are also dignitaries and critics. Spain, I can't play this. I'll perform something else, some Liszt, or one of the Bachs—"
"You can too play this! You played it perfectly for me just this morning!"
"For you, not for an audience." Austria might have walked away if Spain hadn't been between him and the door, but fighting his way past him would almost certainly have wrinkled his tuxedo, and the embarrassment of walking home in disheveled clothing would far outweigh the embarrassment of walking onstage and missing a key change.
"So pretend the audience is me. Just... you'll hit the keys, and you'll hit the right keys, and then afterwards we can laugh about your stage fright."
"It isn't stage fright, it's the knowledge that I am not prepared for this concert!"
Spain put his hands on Austria's shoulders. Austria brushed them off; who knew what they'd touched and what they could be getting on his good clothes. "Deep breaths, Austria. You can do this. You know you can do this. Just close your eyes for a minute—go on, close them—and pretend we're back at your house and you're yelling at me for getting in your light."
He waited until Austria's breathing had calmed down a bit.
"Okay, good. Now go out there and just keep pretending until it's all over. Make me proud! I better get to my seat before the performance starts." He turned away, and began walking out of the wings.
"Any time. Now, go! Go play your song for me!"