Qi Mu only stayed in Berlin for a day after Bai Ai's tour in Berlin ended, then left the city afterwards.
When he said goodbye to the sullen man at the airport, Qi Mu looked at him and helplessly said, "Alright, alright. You only took half the day off, you need to go back early. You and Daniel need to deal with Bai Ai's matters before Christmas break, right?"
In the bright, vast airport, tourists from all over the world hurried on their way. Min Chen stood before the security checkpoint in his light black coat with narrow phoenix eyes drooped down, looking at Qi Mu attentively. The latter blinked innocently, as if saying, You're the one who's busy, not me.
With a long sigh, Min Chen said, "Take care of yourself. I heard the temperature in Paris has dropped."
Qi Mu smiled, then raised the end of the scarf hanging down his chest, "I'll just wrap up in this."
Since they were in public, they just hugged each other for a long time before finally separating. Before leaving, the man covertly put a bunch of keys into the youth's pocket. When Qi Mu got the text message after boarding the plane, he really didn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Min Chen: 【The keys are in your pocket. Take care of yourself in Paris. 】
Paris, with its temperate marine climate, was always humid and warm even in winter. The temperature never reached below zero. The silver plane landed steadily at the Charles de Gaulle Airport and when Qi Mu stepped on the ramp, the salty sea breeze brought with it the breath of the English Channel, making him smile.
…And you said the temperature in Paris had dropped?
Even Berlin wasn't as warm as Paris.
This was the first time Qi Mu returned to Paris after he graduated. Two months had passed, but when Qi Mu walked in the Charles de Gaulle Airport, he felt as if he had never left.
Qi Mu took the subway to the station nearest to the Paris National Conservatory of Music. He came with only a small suitcase so he brought it along with him to the college.
Walking through the streets of his old neighborhood, the owner of the 「Love you」 bakery was surprised to see him suddenly appear there. After a brief conversation with the owner, they took the opportunity to stuff him with a baguette.
When Qi Mu passed the flower shop, the shy florist Vina excitedly offered him a bunch of sunflowers. After Qi Mu thanked her, she added one white lily still wet with dew and handed it over to Qi Mu.
When Qi Mu arrived at the gates of the Paris National Conservatory of Music, he carried a baguette and his suitcase in his left hand and a bouquet in the right. The elegant fragrance surrounded the youth and the warm winter afternoon sunshine completed the beautiful scene.
At the time, the college was on its lunch break, so a few people milled on the spacious lawn. When Qi Mu approached the violin department, several students greeted him in surprise and excitedly welcomed him back.
Reaching the long corridor, Qi Mu took out the chocolates he bought early on.
Even during the lunch break, melodies could be heard from the tutors' music rooms. When Qi Mu passed by Dylan's music room, he heard the Swiss boy playing Schubert's 《Serenade》 . The boy had obviously improved his skills in the past two months. He could now control the trill and treble transition more smoothly.
Qi Mu didn't want to disturb Dylan’s practice, so he went straight to Akkad's music room at the end of the corridor.
He hesitated when he got there, but finally opened the door. Looking at the hopelessly empty room, Qi Mu sighed and turned to the lounge.
When he reached it, he heard the soft, comfortable sound of a violin.
After knocking and waiting for permission to enter, the door opened with a squeak. The handsome young man stood at the door with a smile on his face. The light wrapped him in gold as delicately as a cicada's wing.
Akkad immediately stopped the record. He looked at the man standing at the door and his eyes slowly widened. After a few moments of silence, he grumbled, "You came to Paris without even informing me… How outrageous."
Although his words were admonishing, his eyes were watery.
Seeing the old man's appearance, Qi Mu's frown gradually eased. Smiling, he offered the bag of chocolates in his hand and said, "Professor… I'm back."
Now that they had reunited, they each had a lot to talk about.
Not mentioning Luo Yu Sen and Zayev, Qi Mu told his mentor about his experience in Vienna.
When he heard that Qi Mu was the concertmaster of the Palisade Theatre Orchestra and that the opera was fully booked for a month, Akkad raised his eyebrows. "Little Seven is doing well, ah. Why didn't that Lance fellow mention this to me? That guy is really irresponsible!"
Qi Mu didn't know whether to laugh or cry. "Professor, Mr. Lance helped me a lot. He personally introduced Mr. Wallace to me. Otherwise, how else could I enter the Palisade Theatre so smoothly?"
Although his lovely student said good things about Lance, the old Akkad still made a note of it in his mind.
As the mentor and the disciple chatted, the sun started to reach the western horizon, the sky outside the window dyed it in the colorful sunset.
However, Qi Mu couldn't stay in Min Chen's apartment in Paris, because when Akkad saw his student carrying his suitcase, he invited him to stay at his place.
In his words, "You cancelled your rent a long time ago. Instead of spending money on a hotel room, just stay at my house! By the way, Little Seven, what shall we have for dinner tonight?"
In fact, Qi Mu already planned to spend more time with his old teacher, so he wouldn't stay at a hotel anyway, let alone stay at Min Chen's apartment. Taking his luggage and following his teacher to the parking lot, he heard Akkad's words and couldn't help but laugh. "Professor, whatever you want to eat… I'll cook it for you, alright?"
Akkad acted humble, saying, "No, you're a guest after all…"
"Professor, I'm your student, so you can't treat me as a guest!"
With that, Akkad ate a delicious, home-made Chinese meal. , , and some basic filled his stomach. All of these made the old professor smile so wide, he even ate three bowls of rice.
The next day, Qi Mu and Akkad repeated the routine they had when they had first met.
The two carried their heavy DSLR cameras, passing the Eiffel Tower, Château de Fontainebleau, the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile and lastly, Louvre. Qi Mu took countless photos of the familiar, beautiful places and sometimes even asked passers-by to take some of him and Akkad.
In the photos, the grey-haired man smiled so wide, his eyes were curved into crescents while the handsome young man beside him smiled happily.
More than half a year had passed since Akkad first forced Qi Mu to do it all. Back then, he couldn't let himself go completely and looked awkward and uncomfortable in every photograph.
Today, Qi Mu found only relief and contentment in the activity——The taste of freedom lingered over the beautiful sky, it didn't even need a Statue of Liberty.
At the end of the two-day holiday, Qi Mu sat on a stair step and watched the doves flying in the square. A cool breeze blew and a dove suddenly took off, blocking the sun with its back. It was amazing, the way the light streaked around it.
"Little Seven, what kind of chocolate do you want?"
Akkad's voice woke Qi Mu up from his reverie. Turning to the old man, he smiled and said, "I'll have some dark chocolate, professor. You used to say that when your heart is bitter, keep your mouth sweet. I'm very happy these days, my heart is really sweet, so I need to neutralize it."
Seeing the young man remembered his words, Akkad laughed and took a small dark chocolate from the gift bag he kept with him most of the day.
They sat on the steps for a long time. When the setting sun casted a gold light on the Eiffel Tower, Qi Mu looked at the beautiful scenery he’d been missing. In a low voice, he said, "Professor… You told me last month that you took in a new student."
Qi Mu stopped there and didn't go on.
After a long while, Akkad hummed softly and said, "Well, yes. But, she asked for a leave to go home. That little girl really cares for me, she cooks delicious meals for me every day!"
Hearing this, Qi Mu turned to Akkad and saw the old man looking up at the sky, unable to hide his pride. Qi Mu couldn't ignore the loss that was deeply buried in his eyes.
The moment he left Paris, he felt…
Professor won't accept any more students.
Akkad was 70 that year and it was very taxing to teach students. To be honest, Qi Mu was also surprised when he was told that this maestro accepted him as a student. After that, Qi Mu made a good effort to manage his time and seize opportunities to keep Akkad from worrying.
For many violinists, death was the end of a long music career. Few would have great students and pass on their mantle, further enhancing their status.
Resolutely taking in a student towards the end of his life, let alone taking in Qi Mu, not many musicians would allow it to happen.
Akkad had a bad temper and was quite rebellious. However, he decided to devote his efforts to teach a student for the last time in his life. Not many maestros possessed such sentiments.
Cultivating a student, guiding every single detail in their techniques, opening his connections, and even traveling around for the student, all of those things could exhaust an old man.
Bitter dark chocolate filling his mouth, Qi Mu finally looked at his mentor and softly said, "Professor, would you like to… leave Paris with me?"