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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-15 12:14 pm
Entry tags:

Conservatory, DM/RW; PG-13. Written Pre-HBP.

Summary: Someone had written a revisionist history book claiming that the idea for the piano was stolen from a wizarding instrument of great antiquity. Draco had to admit that anything involving stringing cat's guts on pegs and pounding them with hammers did seem about in the Pureblood line.
Warnings: None.
Notes: Inspired by [ profile] blythely.

Also available at AO3.


He was never allowed to play Muggle composers, of course, despite the piano being a Muggle invention and a not-too-ancient one at that.

His parents ignored that, because there had been a fad for them in the wizarding world and someone had written a revisionist history book claiming that the idea for the piano was stolen from a wizarding instrument of great antiquity. Draco had to admit that anything involving stringing cat's guts on pegs and pounding them with hammers did seem about in the Pureblood line. He'd played all the great wizarding composers from the age of six onwards, and he didn't think he'd ever done too badly at them, given his age. De Bones, Hammershanks, Biscotty, Yapling, Moch...

In the last days of the war -- the last year and a half of school, really, which were hazy in his mind and probably mercifully so -- there had been a piano at Grimmauld Place, where he'd stayed over holidays. Grimmauld Place was rightfully his by law of entailment and rearranging the furniture was his prerogative, which additionally annoyed Potter to no end, so he'd done it quite a bit, including having the piano moved to the back of the house where nobody ever went. He went there to play when Potter and the others and their morality, which was almost a tangible thing with Gryffindors, got to be a little much.

He'd heard passages of Muggle piano music coming from the old magical phonograph in Lupin's room sometimes, and when they were out in Muggle London there would be music in the tube stations, played by filthy men with matted hair who clearly needed the money so they could buy themselves a bath. Most Muggle shops played music too, some better than others.

When it's your only mental refuge you become aware really of how much music there is in the world.

Ron Weasley came to listen to him, once, and Draco had furiously resented the unasked-for invasion, launching into a longish piece of Mozart he'd heard (not that he knew it was Mozart then) and reworked from memory. How dare a Gryffindor come here? How dare Ron Weasley be so oblivious to every bloody social signal Draco Malfoy had ever given him?

But Ron just sat there, lean capable fingers twitching in time to the music, body and face remarkably still in the reflection of the black piano's glossy surface. He looked like a soldier, all of seventeen years old. Draco still looked like a poet. Not that Draco cared.

When he'd finished, Ron got up and stood behind him and said, "That's better than wizarding composers."

"It's in your Muggle-loving genes to think so."

Ron laughed a little, and Draco cursed him silently.

"When everything's over you should make a job out of it. You're good enough to go to one of those conservatory thingummies."

"Mind your own business, Weasley. Malfoys don't have jobs. We're gentlemen."

"Suit yourself," Ron said. He squeezed the back of Draco's neck, affectionately, and after he left it took half an hour of Chopin (known at the time as "the plinky one", Draco never having put names to composers) to get his blush -- and the rest of his body -- under control again.

Once he'd really begun to play on a sort of daily basis, because life was that horrible and nobody else in the house but Lupin knew his father had died, he started writing down the sheet music to the compositions he'd memorized in shops and tube stations and those funny headphone stands in music stores where he finally began to learn names. Mozart, Chopin, Scarlatti, Salieri, Beethoven, Bach, Gershwin, Beiderbecke, Holly, Guthrie, Presley, Lennon and oh, Hendrix, his favourite. He figured Muggles didn't use sheet music, that it was a Wizarding invention, so he'd never looked for sheet music -- just copied down what he heard, sometimes getting it right, sometimes getting a few bars of George mixed in with Wolfgang. Not that anyone who heard him playing noticed.

Perhaps Lupin had. Lupin came to listen but unlike Weasley, who had begun coming back more and more often, Lupin stood outside the door like a decent eavesdropper and didn't speak to him, which was how you did the thing properly.

Except once -- that time, he'd waited until Draco finished Rhapsody in G Major Blue and then knocked politely on the door-frame.

"May I come in?"

"Has that ever stopped a Gryffindor?"

Lupin's quick smile, reflected in the piano's gloss.

"It's very good. I suppose you've been playing a long time."

"Since I was six, and every holiday after school started."


"Tutor." He'd been a pleasant young man with small spectacles, who has willingly pleased both father and mother and so maintained a razor's edge job stability. Besides, young men couldn't get pregnant, so they'd never had to send him away like they did the chambermaids and nanny.

"Moch and Biscotty and Yapling, I suppose? The usual Pureblood musical course."

Draco turned and raised his eyebrows in surprise. Lupin nodded. "Sirius played."


"He taught me, but I didn't care for wizarding composers. He loved them, though."

"You play?"

"A little."

Draco moved aside on the bench, a tacit invitation. Lupin gave him a querying look, but he sat down warily -- rather as if he were sitting next to a dangerous animal that might maul him at any moment. He began carefully picking out a tune, dee dee DEE dah, DEE dah, DEE dah (bah boom) dee dee dee DEE dah dee dah, dee dah dah...

"What's it called?"

"The Entertainer," Lupin said, and promptly hit a sour note. Talking and playing the piano was not easy.

Draco listened for a little while longer and then began to work a little Bach in around it, uptempo, down in the lower registers. Lupin looked pleased. It started to fit together and for as long as Draco could hold his breath the play was more or less seamless -- then Lupin hit a bridge and it began to fall apart.

"Oh dear," he said, stopping. "I'm afraid ragtime and classical don't really go together on a moment's notice."

"No," Draco said. "I don't suppose they do."

He folded his hands in his lap, sitting up very straight and looking forward, as he'd been taught. Lupin was watching him, luminous brown eyes missing nothing.

"You've not told anyone about your father," he said.

"There didn't seem to be a reason. I assumed you'd told the Headmaster."

"So I have. But you know Harry and the others would be much more understanding if you told them."

"Than the Headmaster?"

"Than they have been. They're not particularly nice to you, don't think I haven't noticed. Though you're friends with Ron now, yes?"


"Funny, he seems to think so."

"You're queer, aren't you?"

Lupin never reacted to anything. It drove Draco nuts. "In most senses, yes."

"So what's the word for the relationship where one person thinks the other is a jolly good mate and a decent chess player and the other person thinks he'd like to find out if the first person's freckles go all over?"

"Ah. I see."

"Even if he were, too, he'd probably be bonking Potter," Draco said gloomily.

"Well, perhaps fortunately for you, Harry's very nearly as heterosexual as it is possible for one to be," Lupin answered. "I don't begrudge him most of the Gryffindor girls in his year but I do think he might draw the line at the Slytherins."


"Converting Pansy Parkinson over to our side via sexual favours does not seem the best way to go about things."

Draco burst into laughter. "You can make hate-fucking sound like a bloody civics lecture, do you know that?"

"Comes of practice," Lupin said with that same small smile. He stroked Draco's sleek pale hair affectionately, just once, much to Draco's surprise. "Don't discount yourself so thoroughly, Malfoy. If you were fifteen years older I'd have been after you myself."

Draco stared at him.

"As it is," Lupin finished, complacently, "It's out of the question, but I always had a soft spot for the Black family nose, which you seem to have inherited. Despite the vigorous Malfoy genes."

"I hate them," Draco said, before he knew the words were forming in his brain.

"I know you do. But you're still allowed to grieve them. He was your father, Draco. Everything you find natural and comforting in this world, you took from your parents."

"Horrible thought."

"There must have been something about him you loved."

Draco was silent, thinking of being a child and illicitly watching his father shave in the mornings.

"You've been very English about it, you know," Lupin continued, bowing his head. "If I were you I would hate me terribly."

"How do you know I don't?"

"Because no seventeen-year-old, no matter how precocious, is that good at hiding things," Lupin said, standing and swiping a bit of dust off one of the keys with his thumb. "What I want to know is why."

"Because if you hadn't done it, I would have had to do it myself," Draco said. "And killing one's own father is bound to give one some kind of complex for life. So it was a mercy that you got there first, really."

Lupin accepted this calmly. "I wonder," he said. "Though the point is moot, now. Draco..."


"I think you should talk to Ron."

"Phenomenally bad idea."

"Well, if you prefer to be Slytherin about it, you might look in the hidden compartment in the lid of his trunk someday while he's out. Harry mentioned it to me, he found it while trying to nick a tie off him," he added, by way of clarification as he left. "I think you'll find the contents interesting."

Draco had never seen wizarding soft-core gay porn. He wasn't even aware it existed. He thought that was what servants were there to provide.

Certainly it was useful, however, in clarifying one or two things; Draco did discover that Ron had a particularly charming pattern of freckles near his navel. He was still mortified that the discovery was made in the piano room with a tightly-warded-shut door, but piano benches were awfully useful pieces of furniture sometimes.


The auditioner had been gone for nearly twenty minutes, and Draco was halfway to developing some kind of nervous tic. He'd come to the audition and had to go last because of some paperwork mixup, and he'd never auditioned for anything before (Malfoys didn't need to try out, they were simply, recognisably superior), but he was nearly positive that most auditioners didn't ask for your sheet music and then leave the room while you sat there wondering if they'd noticed you missed a note in the third bar.

He hadn't told Ron or Potter or Lupin about any of this. As certain as he was of his success, if for some reason the Muggles didn't recognise his genius then Ron would be patronisingly affectionate, Potter would never let him live it down, and Lupin would say something that would make it impossible for him to wallow in his failure. Not that he was going to fail, but that was the way things were, now that the war was over; Harry impossibly hard-edged and unwilling to show affection, Ron still a soldier but only when necessary, Lupin unchanging now and ever. And Draco, quiet and nervous and still recovering after the...episode at the end of the war. Trying to be normal, for Ron's sake, because Ron had put up with an awful lot from him.

Was he supposed to leave now?

No; the man had come back with another, elderly man in tow. The elderly man was studying the sheet music. Draco had written it out himself, and while he wasn't positive that it was all Bach, he was sure most of it was.

"Mr. Malfoy, you may leave the piano if you wish," the auditioner said. "Come down, come down."

He gestured for Draco to join them in the main aisle of the auditorium. Their hushed voices boomed up against the high, accoustically perfect ceiling.

"I, ah. Normally things aren't done this way," the man said. "But I'm afraid we don't really....have a place for you at the conservatory."

Of course. Nobody who attended a conservatory missed a note in an audition. He was nothing more than a gentleman, playing at being an artist.

"That is to say..." the man saw his face fall, and stammered. "We, we don't think that it's the uh, proper place for you -- you don't really...need that sort of education."

"I understand," Draco said, wearing his Lupin face.

"No, no, I don't think -- this is Professor Delaroche, he's the head of the classical piano programme here at the school," he said, introducing the elderly man, who was still reading the sheet music. "He has...requested to take you as a private student, along with Maestro Bianni, our composition master."

"Not since Gould have I seen such things," Delaroche said absently. "Bianni will be beside himself. Why did your parents not send you to the conservatory as a child?"

Draco didn't really have anything to say to that.

"Were they not musical people themselves?" Delaroche asked, with an understanding tone not dissimilar to Lupin's.

"No," Draco said. "I suppose you could say they weren't musical."

"This -- this passage here -- you are very brave to rewrite Bach."

"Umm, it seemed the to put that bit," Draco said. For only the second time in his entire life he felt that he was not, perhaps, master of his situation -- and the first time had gotten him a nice little stay in the St Mungo's Mental Health Ward for a few weeks.

Both men were staring at him.

"And this, what is this here?" Delaroche finally asked, pointing to another passage. Draco examined it, then laughed despite himself.

"Oh -- of course. That's Hendrix. That doesn't belong there at all. But it sounds rather nice, don't you think?"

Later, once he'd learned all the proper words for tone and composition and such, he would look back and wince at the idea of telling the foremost pianist in the British Isles that "it sounds rather nice".

"You will stay here," Delaroche said seriously.

"What, right now? I have dinner with my -- friend," Draco finished lamely, thinking of the cosy cafe in Sosi Alley where he had planned on getting stupendously drunk on champagne with Ron and where Ron was probably currently sitting, wondering where he was.

"No -- not now, after today. Tomorrow, you will come and stay, and we will talk."

"Oh...all right then," Draco said, and left in a confused haze.


When Bianni read the sheet music for the first time, he turned very gravely to Draco and said, in his inimitable Italian way, "To rewrite Bach -- your testicles, they are the sizes of cantaloupes, yes?"

Draco just smiled. "I'm a Malfoy," he replied.


[identity profile] 2005-08-20 05:44 am (UTC)(link)
Please, please - don't apologise for fic-dumpage. It gives me an opportunity to find gems like this.

"So what's the word for the relationship where one person thinks the other is a jolly good mate and a decent chess player and the other person thinks he'd like to find out if the first person's freckles go all over?"

Hehehe! I adore your Draco.

[identity profile] 2005-08-20 11:47 am (UTC)(link)
So much LOVE. this was brilliant!

[identity profile] 2005-08-20 11:49 pm (UTC)(link)
"Oh -- of course. That's Hendrix. That doesn't belong there at all. But it sounds rather nice, don't you think?"

lol, I wish I could hear Malfoy's version of Bach, the idea is fascinating, but I'm a musical imbicile when it comes to instruments and would never be able to tinker like that.

laughing quietly to myself

[identity profile] 2005-08-21 08:41 pm (UTC)(link)
over this, probably the most genius line I have seen applied to Draco Malfoy in all the fanfic I have read
your testicles, they are the sizes of cantaloupes, yes?"


[identity profile] 2005-08-21 09:39 pm (UTC)(link)
Wonderful. I loved Draco and the scene with Lupin - superb. Thanks!


[identity profile] 2005-10-20 06:09 am (UTC)(link)
The system worked - I found this again.
*happy sigh*
Beautiful tone, and you do Draco's point of view so well.

[identity profile] 2005-11-04 03:18 am (UTC)(link)
I like the way you've made Draco not just a performer, not just an improviser but a truly creative musician. But my favorite part of the story:

When Bianni read the sheet music for the first time, he turned very gravely to Draco and said, in his inimitable Italian way, "To rewrite Bach -- your testicles, they are the sizes of cantaloupes, yes?"

Draco just smiled. "I'm a Malfoy," he replied.

[identity profile] 2006-05-21 03:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, I absolutely love your Draco! I wouldn't mind hearing his version of Bach, too. I imagine it would be quite something. Love the last part, absolutely brilliant.

[identity profile] 2006-08-19 11:08 am (UTC)(link)
Your cantaloupe balls, they have killed me.

[identity profile] 2006-12-12 07:51 am (UTC)(link)
Fwah. I want the Malfoy version of Bach... I imagine it'd be loads more interesting to play, especially if he's stuck Hendrix in it...

Gothic Author

[identity profile] 2007-03-28 04:10 am (UTC)(link)
I loved this :D.

[identity profile] 2008-05-10 11:54 am (UTC)(link)
*quirks eyebrow in amused enjoyment*

tell me, did you ever happen across a certain Patrick Pennington in your line of work?

(...yes, I am almost certainly the only person who read this and focused upon the music. I cant help it. I have a chronic musical idee fixe...)

[identity profile] 2008-05-10 12:10 pm (UTC)(link)
I...actually have no idea who that is. I'm not very musically well-educated. :D Enlighten?

[identity profile] 2008-05-10 01:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh Pat! well, firstly he is, despite all my pleas to any deity that might be listening, Fundamentally Fictional. Basically a thug (in his own words) who also happens to be an overwhelmingly amazing pianist. Spends 90% of the time in a thundering bad mood and puts all the furious passion driving him into music. Maestros keep having to get him on bail, that sort of thing... I only wondered because the professor at the end sounded remarkably simnilar to Pat's professor. Well, that and because the idea of him & Draco meeting was a very interesting one

[identity profile] 2008-05-25 08:27 am (UTC)(link)
I so enjoy your insight into the characters minds and the way you capture them in words. They are all so much themselves, with their faults and their virtues. You don't sugarcoat them or make them anything other than they essentially are. This fic just illustrates that once again for me. Lupin is insightful and somewhat naughty, Draco a product of his upbringing but developing himself emotionally...

There wouldn't be a sequel somewhere, would there? I'll go and read some of your other stuff now...
lokifan: black Converse against a black background (Default)

[personal profile] lokifan 2011-01-24 09:56 am (UTC)(link)
Draco and Remus sitting together was really lovely, and I like that he developed a 'Lupin face'. Loads of quotable lines and Draco not telling anyone his father died - ! Love it.

(Anonymous) 2011-02-17 04:04 am (UTC)(link)
there is not one part of this story that i did not adore. thank you for this writing.