Music Hyperlink: Heart, by IU.
Over the course of what must have only been a few minutes Yuri was dragged all around her apartment by a squawking Yena, so excited was the older girl that she kept pointing at random objects in the house and asking Yuri to identify their colours. “Blue, gray, gray, gray, pink,” Yuri took a moment to roll her eyes before continuing, “gray, gray, green, purple, gray…”
Eventually Yuri and Yena plopped back down at the dining table where their breakfast had long since gone cold. “I’m telling you, it’s not a constant thing. The colours sort of flit in and out like butterflies,” Yuri bemoaned, poking at the sad clump of noodles in her pot with a pair of chopsticks. “I’m nowhere near regaining full colour vision.”
Her disgruntlement did nothing to dampen Yena’s spirits. The older girl grabbed Yuri’s hand and squeezed it tight. “But you could see some, couldn’t you? That still counts! That’s definitely at least one step closer to recovery than before.”
Yuri couldn’t help but crack a compliant smile at Yena’s enthusiasm. “I guess so.”
“I wonder why your vision started coming back,” Yena wondered. After all, it was nothing short of a miracle.
“I think I have an idea,” Yuri muttered.
“What is it?”
“A secret.” Yuri laughed at Yena’s conflicted expression and poked her between the eyes. “Don’t worry about it.”
Yena scrunched up her nose and stuck out her tongue. “Fine.”
As they dug into the cold noodles, the gears in Yena’s brain were whirring at a million revolutions a second. She couldn’t stop thinking of all the places they could go to, all the sights in the country - no, world, that would be so much more beautiful, more brilliant in colour. Just the thought of Yuri being able to fully enjoy and absorb everything around her was unbelievable. And being able to be together with her, being able to revel in all of this together with Yuri?
Cloud freaking nine.
She couldn’t wait to bring Yuri out on the best dates ever.
Has the world always been this beautiful? The sun shining overhead, light breaking through cotton-candy clouds; birds singing as they perch on trees speckled orange and gold; the scent of petals crushed underfoot and the sound of children jumping into piles of dried leaves - everything, everything was so beautiful.
Especially the girl standing next to her, tightly swaddled in a jacket and overcoat, pastel yellow scarf secured to protect her nose from the chilly wind that heralded an approaching winter. Ever so often she would yank down the scarf, breathe out mist, admire the way it would twist and curl before vanishing. Sometimes she would bend down, examine a leaf. Or get on the tips of her toes, catch a petal as it swirled down on an invisible thread.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Yuri commented, turning to Yena. “I nearly forgot how many colours there were in the world. It’s always been shades of black and white, and this! This is amazing!” She spun around, arms outstretched, coat flapping about. Her laugh was giddy, light; she took Yena’s breath away.
Yena strode towards her and cupped Yuri’s face in her hands. Her thumb brushed Yuri’s cheek. Yuri shivered under her touch. “Y-Yena?”
“Yuri, you…” Yena gazed down at Yuri for a while without speaking. Her eyes soft with emotion, Yena started to lean in ever so slowly. She smirked when Yuri’s eyes fluttered shut. Chuckling, she pulled back and plucked the petal off where it rested on Yuri’s head. “You had something in your hair.”
Yuri’s eyes shot open. “Dammit, Yena, I thought you were going to-”
“Hm? What did you think I was going to do?” Yena asked, that cheeky grin never leaving her face.
Pouting, Yuri stomped on Yena’s foot before storming away. “Forget it!”
“Yuri!” Wincing and rubbing her foot, Yena tried her best to hop after her girlfriend who was rapidly walking away too fast for her to catch up. “Hey, Yuri!”
Yena chased her all the way to Gwanghwamun Plaza where families, students, and tour groups alike gathered to gape in awe at the statue of King Sejong that towered over them. Yuri and Yena peered up at the entrance of Gwanghwamun, the mighty gate of the main Joseon palace. In neat calligraphy, framed by a flowery pattern inscribed on wood, were three Hanja characters on parchment.
“I never knew how awesome the palace was,” Yuri whispered to Yena. Even as they stood outside the gates the buildings within grew almost as tall as skyscrapers, each roof tile perfectly placed, shielding royal wooden construction from wind and rain and wear. Balustrades of mythical creatures decorated the pathways; the stone-paved courtyards led to wallpapers of faded reds and forest greens.
“The colours change everything, don’t they?” Yena commented.
“Speaking of colours, there’s something really cool I want to show you.” Yena tugged on Yuri’s sleeve, taking her hand and pulling her away from the palace. Their feet danced across tiled pavements, across the white rectangles painted on black tar; they hopped on the stepping stones in the middle of the Cheonggyecheon stream where couples and tourists alike gathered to take photos, reminiscent of those in romantic dramas.
And to Yena, it did feel like something out of a drama, perhaps a rom-com, as she trailed behind Yuri. It was a delight watching the younger girl marvel at every little thing, like a child discovering the world for the first time. Watching Yuri fall in love with the world made Yena fall even harder for her, if that was even possible considering how absolutely whipped she already was.
When they arrived at their destination, Yuri stared up quizzically at the impressive metal structure that was Dongdaemun Plaza looming over them. “Okay, so why are we at DDP?”
“Because of this.” Yena pulled Yuri around the corner where a piano sat, sheltered by panels of aluminium and steel shimmering with sunlight. The piano was painted a brilliant myriad of colours, each stripe decorated with intricate drawings of music notes.
Yuri gasped. “It’s so pretty!” She took two steps towards it, her hand reaching out to touch it - before suddenly stopping.
Yena looked at her inquiringly. “What’s wrong?”
“Yena, you know I can’t…” Yuri balked under Yena’s gaze. She glanced nervously at the piano again. “I haven’t played one in years, I don’t think I remember how to play it.”
Yena chuckled internally, knowing Yuri was only making excuses. Still, she gently squeezed Yuri’s hand and eased her into the seat. “Then I’ll help you remember.”
Standing behind Yuri, Yena lifted Yuri’s hands and arranged them on the black and white keys. She laid her hands on top of Yuri’s, fingers on fingers. Yuri took a shaky breath.
“No,” Yuri muttered, closing her eyes and bracing herself.
Yena, too, closed her eyes, and together they pressed down their right index finger. The piano key let out a soft creak, like it hadn’t been played for too long a time, and with a sigh sang its quavering note. Yuri’s eyes fluttered open and she let out a weak laugh. “It sounds like an old man waking up,” she commented, amused.
“It sounds like you when you wake up,” Yena tacked on. Yuri stared at her impassively. Yena stuck her tongue out and pressed another key, then another, and another until they were playing a lighthearted melody. As the lilting tune continued, Yena watched with growing wonder as Yuri’s hands flew across the keyboard, fingers dancing on their own accord. Closing her eyes, she felt the knuckles beneath her palms rise and fall, felt the silver ring engraved with their names brush against her own. Outside, their song painted a beautiful rainbow, shimmering in the light as swirling leaves dyed the sky gold.
Autumn was the season of mystery, the season of change. But most importantly, autumn was the season of protection - and Yena thinks she's found the one she wants to protect forever.