Oceans // Dan Howell fanfic

The Royal College of Music is where April Costello has always belonged, but her new life in London is worlds away from her quiet, introverted existence in the tiny Cornish seaside town of St Just. Struggling to fit in and failing to fight the urge to quit everything, April stumbles across Dan - who may just give her the encouragement that childhood dreams are worth fighting for. // A story about crippling stage fright, midnight compositions on an out of tune piano, clumsy first kisses, and the Cornish sea. Because it always, always, always comes back to the sea.

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1. PROLOGUE

The first thing I ever truly fell in love with was the sea.

Growing up in Cornwall, it was virtually impossible to not have some sort of romantic connection to the ocean. If you’re Cornish, saltwater runs in your veins and waves ripple under the surface of your skin. You memorise the pull of the tides off by heart; in fact, it was the first thing I remember being taught at school almost two decades ago and the path of the moon has always seem to stick with me ever since.

As a kid, my childhood best friend Laura and I used to scramble up mazes of crumbling, grassy cliffs to stare down in to endless blue, watching as wave upon wave would bite into the coast below, leaving the stone curved and jagged. It was like you were looking over the end of the world – before I learnt about geography and discovered that the UK wasn’t the only country in the world, I’d just assumed it was. There was nothing else, and that was okay with me, because the path of the moon had led me here and here I was going to stay forever.

But then – I fell in love with the piano. And it was a love affair that pretty much took over my life.

The first piano I ever played was a rainbow-coloured toy one, a gift from a well-meaning auntie that everyone assumed I’d be fascinated with for a few days then quickly move on to something newer and more interesting. But no – little two year old me became almost surgically attached to that rainbow-coloured piano. At first, it was a frantic slamming of tinny plastic keys that drove my parents crazy, particularly when I woke up at 5am and decided to treat them with an early morning rendition of my own, unrefined compositions. They were on the verge of plotting ways to “accidentally” break my new favourite toy when, somehow, I started getting good.

My parents, dad especially, have always been very musical people and despite not particularly liking white noise on a piano made for toddlers, they definitely encouraged me to be creative. My dad had me listening to bands like The Beatles and Duran Duran from a young age, whilst my mum preferred the gentler, child-friendly nursery rhymes you got on brightly coloured tape cassettes. I’d heard Twinkle Twinkle Little Star that many times that eventually, I’d worked out how the tune correlated with the notes on my little rainbow-coloured piano, and my mum had got it into her head that I was going to be some mega-talented child prodigy pianist.

I hated the word prodigy, especially when mum brandied it about everywhere in irrelevant situations – for example “Oh, has your Archie just got his 50m swimming badge, well, April’s a piano prodigy, you know” – like attaching a label to me would help me at all through my school years, yet it has always been the thing that’s made me stand out. Up until the age of eighteen I’d been known by my school, family and random people in my village as April the Pianist and once someone asked me to play a very specific set of Spice Girls’ songs on their wedding day. But then I got a place at the Royal College of Music, and I wasn’t such a dazzling, wonderful rarity anymore.

Everyone at the Royal College was amazing at what they played. They were all the token musical prodigies in their respective hometowns and whilst I understood that I was now just a tiny fish in a freaking huge ocean, it wasn’t the other fish that seemed to bother me.

The ocean was concrete, cramped and expensive, impossible to navigate and thick with urban dust. Ambulance sirens constantly blared, people were drunk all hours of the day and there was a heat that seemed to relentlessly permeate from the building surrounding me, making me feel hot and sweaty and on the verge of fainting. I wanted to play the piano, but I found it hard to believe that my dream had brought me here. To London, miles away from what I loved and cared about and what inspired  me.

But the path of the moon can do funny things, if you believe in it. Mathematically, there was some sort of probability and likelihood that led me to bump into Dan Howell on a number of different occasions in a city as big as London, but the chances seemed so small that the only way I could actually comprehend it was reasoning that the fates had somehow got involved, because he seemed to be right there just as I’d needed him.

Then again, statistics were easier and more comfortable to believe when everything ended. 

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