The street was located not far from a busy district in the city. At certain hours, it would be packed by people dressed in neat dresses and suits, walking hurriedly to their offices with minds filled with works and other important things. None of them had the time or thought to stop for a while and pay a little attention to the street.
Seo Joohyun was an exception. To her, there was something … magical about this street – she couldn’t find a better word to describe it. She found the street by accident a year ago, only two months after she moved to London to get her master degree. She was enjoying her usual evening walk by herself one day, trying to forget how much she missed her home and family in Korea, when she realized that she had lost her way back home. And before she knew it, she already found herself standing at the corner of the street.
One thing that immediately caught her attention at that time was the street lamps that lined up along the sidewalk. She didn’t even understand why exactly she was attracted to those lamps – almost all streets and parks in London were filled with prettier street lamps anyway. But for some unknown reasons, she just couldn’t stop admiring those old Victorian-looking street lamps.
She couldn’t decide why she loved the street or what she loved the most from it. She just … loved being there. She loved setting her foot on the familiar stone sidewalk. She loved strolling around only accompanied by afternoon breeze. She loved sitting on the bench and watching people passing by in hurry. In short, she loved spending her spare time there.
Her most favorite time was definitely in the evening, where the sun was about to set. Every time she had the chance to, she would always go to the café and sat on her favorite spot – accompanied by a cup of hot tea latte and a stack of books – only to watch the color of red slowly covering every inch of the street before the sky gradually went dark and the orange glow of the street lamps replaced the sun to illuminate her surroundings.
Oh, how she loved that street.
And she had no idea – yet – how much she was going to love the street even more.
Cho Kyuhyun stepped unsteadily in the middle of cold night air. It was the first day of February and London was still shrouded in winter’s icy air, especially at night. He was lucky enough for not forgetting to bring a thicker coat to work this morning for he knew that he would come home late that day. And he was right – it was already 7PM and he just left his office 5 minutes ago, thanks to the new project he was currently working on.
He sighed out loud as he tightened up his coat firmly. The air was inexplicably chilly that night, even colder than the nights before, and he found it a bit odd.
“I guess I need to buy a cup of hot drink on my way home,” he muttered to himself.
But much to his disappointment, the take-away food and drink stall which he often stopped by after work was already closed. It was another odd thing he found that day for usually the stall was still open at that hour. After grumbling for a moment, he finally spun around and decided to look for another place where he could buy hot drink he needed.
And that was when a faint yet melodious strain of violin reached his hearing, coming from a short distance.
He looked around, trying to find the source of the sound but to no avail. He then saw a narrow alley nearby and somehow he knew that the violin sound was coming from there. Without thinking, he stepped into the alley and walked along it until he came to a street which was located at the end of the alley.
An old man was standing not far away, gracefully playing an old song with his violin. Kyuhyun could see a small smile on his wrinkled face, clear evidence that he was enjoying what he loved to do the most. And maybe that was why his performance became more enjoyable for those who watched it.
Almost a full ten minutes passed without Kyuhyun doing anything but standing and watching the old man’s performance in awe. He only came back to his senses when the old musician stopped his performance to rest his arms for a while. With a quick move, he approached the man to put a pound into the violin case on the ground. And when he turned around to leave and go home, something – or rather someone – stopped him.
A girl was sitting by herself on a bench under a street lamp on the sidewalk right across from where he stood. She was oblivious to his presence – in fact he was sure she was oblivious to everything around her for she had her complete attention at the old musician who was just laid his violin back on his shoulder and once again filled the night with his beautiful music.
Kyuhyun couldn’t decide what it was from her that caught his attention the most. Maybe it was her pair of round eyes that sparkling brighter than the stars. Or maybe it was her beautiful smile which made him unconsciously smile back at her even though she wasn’t exactly smiling at him at that moment. Or maybe it was how the light from the street lamp above her gently fell on her milky white skin and illuminated her beauty even more.
Or maybe there was no plausible reason that could explain why he suddenly seemed bewitched and unable to think of anything but appreciated the beauty that was displayed right before his eyes, completely mesmerizing him under the music and light.
The girl did nothing but sat there calmly by herself. Once in a while, her head would sway gently along the music and every time the musician finished playing a song, she would clap her hands like an excited little girl, her eyes shimmered beautifully.
Kyuhyun really had no idea why such simple scene could take his breath away and make his heart began to thump faster without permission.
There was no such thing as falling in love at the first sight – this was one of many things he had believed in since he was younger. Being a clever person that he was and someone who was exceptionally good at math, he had grown into a man of logic who never believed in such dreamy things.
But then he watched in silence as the girl suddenly glanced at her watch and jolted at her seat as if she remembered something. She hastily gathered all of her things before standing up from the bench and leaving the place in a hurry within a minute, clearly unaware of Kyuhyun’s croaked words, “Hey, wait!” and disappeared into the night.
Kyuhyun stood motionlessly. He kept staring at the same spot where her back was disappearing from his sight a moment ago, couldn’t understand why his heart suddenly filled with a feeling of disappointment. Or how the girl was still smiling softly in his head even when he already left the street and walked home mindlessly a few minutes later.
There is no such thing as falling in love at the first sight, he kept repeating to himself as he drifted off to sleep that night. Yes, there is no such thing.
February 14th fell on Thursday. Seohyun’s class ended at 3PM, which meant she would have much free time until night. However, almost all of her close friends and classmates were already engaged in appointment with their boy/girlfriend or family, leaving her by herself since she had no boyfriend and no relatives who lived in London. She sighed at the thought of spending another Valentine’s Day by herself but then she remembered her favorite street and the frown immediately left her face.
No matter how lonely or sad she felt, the street somehow could always make her feel better even only a bit. She had been busy for the past weeks so she didn’t have time to go to that street as often as before. And besides, she just bought another novel yesterday, this was definitely the perfect time to read it and there would be no better place for it than her favorite café on the corner of the street.
After bidding goodbye to her friends and wishing them to have some fun, Seohyun packed her bag and went along the path she was already familiar with. In less than 20 minutes, she arrived at the café and quickly sat on her favorite spot where she could get the best view to the street. The owner of the café, a chubby and friendly middle-aged woman, didn’t even need to ask for her order because she had memorized it.
“The usual tea latte with carrot cake, sweetie?” And Seohyun would only smile and nod to her before reaching out for her novel and starting to read.
Three hours had passed without Seohyun realizing it. The sun had set, the street lamps already on, more people could be seen walking past the café to return to their homes after work, and Seohyun knew it was her time to leave. She was suddenly hit by a desire to call her parents in Seoul just to simply say hello and talk to them for a while. She glanced at her watch. Hopefully they aren’t busy at this time.
And just when she was busy packing her things, a melodious strain of violin reached her hearing senses. She looked up to an old man who was standing under a street light, clad in his signature old grey suit and just started playing his violin. Seohyun then paused whatever she was doing and smiled widely. It was him, her favorite street musician!
Another thing that made Seohyun like the street even more was him, the musician with his old violin. He often came to the street at night, occupying a certain spot on the sidewalk near the café and filling the night with his music. He would usually play some British folk songs or simply melancholy songs – whatever it was, the music he created could always make Seohyun felt calm and enthralled.
“He is really good, isn’t he?”
An unfamiliar voice softly greeted her, making her slightly startled. She turned her head at the source of the voice and involuntarily stunned at what she saw. Staring back at her was a pair of black, warm eyes belonging to a very good-looking Asian guy who sat on a chair not far on her left side. He had short, dark brown hair which was a little bit messy yet did nothing to make him less attractive. His neat appearance – black-rimmed glasses, long black pants, striped formal shirt covered with dark blue sweater and winter coat – and a leather bag on the seat next to him told Seohyun that he just off from work.
“N-ne … I—I mean, yes, he is.”
“Oh, are you Korean? Me too!” the guy’s eyes widened in excitement behind his glasses and he gave Seohyun a very charming smile which made her insides twirled immediately. “It’s nice to meet another people from the same country in this foreign land.”
Although her dazzled state still made her unable to think clearly for a moment, Seohyun quickly recovered and smiled back at him. “I have only met a few Koreans who live in London before. It is wonderful to find someone whom you can have a conversation in your mother language with.”
The guy grinned. “I was actually afraid I was starting to forget how to speak Korean.”
“Really? How long have you lived in London?”
“Hmmm, let’s see. Almost four years, I guess? I got a job in London soon after I graduated from a university in Seoul. I’ve been living in this city ever since.”
“Four years is quite a long time indeed. But don’t worry, I still understand your Korean perfectly.”
“That’s a relief,” he laughed. “By the way, do you mind if I sit beside you? I want to get a better view of our musician. It seems like I’ll be able to see him more clearly from your table.”
Seohyun’s heart did another somersault at his unexpected request. For a long, slow motioned heartbeat, she could only stare at those warm eyes of his without knowing what or how to reply to his words properly. But then she felt herself managed to smile and gave him a nod. “Sure.”
Without wasting time, the guy immediately got up and sat on the chair next to Seohyun, his bright smile never left his handsome face.
They then sat side by side in silence. It was a very awkward silence for Seohyun as she repeatedly scolded her own heart inwardly for beating even faster than before without warning. The close proximity between her and the handsome stranger allowed her to smell his fragrant scent – a mixture of perfume he wore and his own unique masculine scent – which inevitably intoxicating. She couldn’t even focus on the old man’s violin street performance anymore, for she was trying so hard not to steal more glances at him.
In which she failed miserably.
Not that she had never met handsome men before, but there were only few of them who could make her feel like this. She carefully took a glance at her side again to observe him more. He had a gorgeous side profile with a perfect-shaped nose, a pair of cheekbones which protruded out whenever he smiled and—
Her heartbeat came to a halt when suddenly the guy glanced at her and caught her watching him quietly.
Oh my God, this is so embarrassing! Seohyun was sure she had never felt embarrassed and ashamed of herself like that before. Face turning crimson within seconds, she abruptly stood up and gave him a bow without looking at his eyes. “I—I have to go now. G-goodbye!” she stuttered out before putting her money on the table and hurriedly left the café.
For a moment, Kyuhyun could only gape as the girl rose hurriedly and rushed away. The very same girl he saw a few days ago on the street near the café, the stranger who had been occupying his mind for the past weeks, the main reason why he kept coming to the street every time he had the chance to.
Yes, ever since that night when he saw her for the first time at the street, he couldn’t seem to forget the mysterious girl. Her sparkling eyes and beautiful smile kept appearing before his eyes as if teasing him. Couldn’t take it any longer, he found himself walking to the street on the next day. And the day after. And the next following days. And every time he did it, he carried a hope within him, a hope that he could finally see her again.
Unfortunately, fate wasn’t on his side.
He kept going to the street every evening after work but he didn’t catch any glimpse of her each time. He sat on the same bench the girl was sitting on that night, but she didn’t show up. He did it for the first three nights before he finally decided to wait in a small yet nice café at the end of the street for the next nights. He always waited and waited for nights until the café closed, but what he had been waiting for never came.
Two weeks had passed after that fateful night of their first meeting and Kyuhyun was starting to lose hope. He even began to think that the girl wasn’t real and what he saw that night was only his imagination.
Yet what was waiting for him at the café made him dismiss the nonsense thought in an instant. In fact, it was also dismissing anything from his mind.
There she was – the mysterious girl who had captured his heart in the most nonsensical way he could ever imagine – reading her book calmly in one corner.
She was too immersed in reading her book that she didn’t pay attention to anything around her. And so did Kyuhyun. For almost a full minute, he could only stare at her from where he was standing. He could have stayed in that position much longer if only the owner of the café didn’t cleared her throat from her place behind the counter. The chubby lady threw him a teasing look along with a mischievous grin on her lips, silently signaling him to take a seat at the empty table next to the reading girl’s. Cheeks flushing slightly, he grinned back at the lady before heading to the said table.
“She even looks prettier up close,” he thought as he watched the girl gently tucked strands of silky hair behind her ear and continued reading without noticing his presence. And that was how both of them spent the next hours – her reading her book and him admiring her silently.
On the previous night, he thanked the old musician for bringing him to the street and to her. That night, he thanked him for making the girl stay and encouraging him to finally start a conversation with her.
“He is really good, isn’t he?”
Again, another inexplicable illogical thing happened, just like that night when he saw her sitting on the bench. His heart fluttered at her sweet voice and how her face blushed adorably. Suddenly there was nothing he would rather do than pulling her into his embrace, burying her inside his warm coat, and whispering sweet words to her ears.
The sudden thought kind of scared him, though. A stranger whom he just met only one time in a deserted street could cast such effect on him.
But what scared him more was when the girl abruptly rose from her seat and bid goodbye to him. He felt like that night was once again coming back to him – of her mesmerizing him in such a short time and leaving him in a heartbeat later.
No, I’m not going to let this happen again!
Without thinking twice, he stood up and ran after her. “Hey, wait!”
She didn’t stop and kept walking away in a rush that Kyuhyun had to run faster to catch her arm. “I said, wait! Please.”
They were now standing face to face on the sidewalk of the street. The street lamp above them illuminated her pale face. She looked a bit shaken at his sudden action, but much to his relief she also didn’t try to pull away from his grab.
“You … you haven’t told me your name.”
“Eh?” her eyes widened in surprise.
“You haven’t told me your name,” Kyuhyun repeated more clearly, his heart beating loudly in his chest. “I have no intention to scare you but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to let you go again this time. Not without any trace from you.”
“S-sir, I don’t understand—”
“It’s Kyuhyun,” he interrupted. “My name is Cho Kyuhyun and … to tell you the truth, I—this isn’t our first meeting.”
Kyuhyun sighed before proceeding. “I saw you that night. You—you were sitting by yourself on that bench and … and I can’t even understand why but … I couldn’t forget about what I saw at that moment and I—I regret why I didn’t even try to talk to you that night. Oh God, this is so embarrassing. I—I’ve never done something like this before, please forgive me.”
His face was now completely felt hot and he didn’t dare to look into her eyes anymore. Both of them were unable to utter anymore words and they were just standing facing each other in an awkward silence.
Before she finally broke it with a low whisper.
Kyuhyun looked up at her blushing face. “What?”
“Please don’t say such sweet things. It … it might make me sad quickly for it makes me expecting too high.”
His heart leaped with joy. Does this mean that she is also—?
She was smiling shyly now and Kyuhyun could feel his whole body relaxed in relief. This was also a new thing for him but this time he really didn’t want to question it further because whatever he was experiencing right now gave him a very, very good feeling.
“So … do you mind to tell me your name, beautiful lady?” he asked her one more time with eyes full of mischievous glints.
“… Seo Joohyun. My name is Seo Joohyun.”
And that was how their sweet love began in an unknown, quiet street in one corner of London.
A/N: happy belated valentine's day, wires ♥