I give you, Facing the Music, 430 words:
(Please note, this has not gone through approvals with the Canon Board and is subject to edits.)
Orimala snapped her mouth around the song, breaking the melody and the mood in a single motion.
"Oh, Purist Gods," Jalan said dramatically, hand pressed to her breast. "Don't ever end a song like that again. You'll make the audience find a bridge to throw themselves off of."
"It was a like a frog swallowing its own foot," Lamilo said, raising an eyebrow.
"A frog? Really?" Jalan was distracted from Orimala's abrupt stop to eye their classmate skeptically.
"One of those chirpy little night frogs from the Rilass Swamp," Lamilo said, completely deadpan. "They swallow their own feet when predators approach. Self-defense."
Orimala had to stifle a giggle, hand firmly over her mouth. Lamilo could spin the craziest tales, but she also knew an amazing amount of bizarre trivia. None of her friends could easily tell when she was doing which.
Jalan snorted, clearly believing it was the former. "Frogs aside," she said icily, "you've got to hold that last note, Orimala."
"I thought I heard something," Orimala confessed.
"You didn't hear anything," Jalan said confidently. "This practice room is never used at this time, and no one could possibly know we were here."
"I was probably imagining things," Orimala agreed. Still, she couldn't resist a surreptitious look at the closed door. They were singing through one of the few pieces of music they had found for three sopranos - and it was music that just happened to have been banned three years ago. Being caught singing unapproved songs wouldn't send them to the time mines, but it certainly would mean a fine, or even getting their entertainment licenses revoked for a month.
"Let's try from the second stanza again," Lamilo suggested with a grin.
Jalan plucked their starting note on a hand harp, and they began again. The song was haunting - a mourning song for a lost culture, which was probably why it had been banned. Orimala took the lead, and the other two were chorus, echoing the grief in her lyrics. They fell away for the last few lines, and Orimala told herself firmly to ignore the little noises that she heard outside the practice room. It was probably only her nervous imagination. She finished the phrasing correctly this time, holding the last melancholy note until her lungs were crying for air.
She turned to look in triumph at her two companions as she drew her breath in - and let it all out again in a squeak.
The door was open, and there stood Calinam, looking smug, their performance teacher like a thundercloud behind her.