FINGERING THE KEYS

They had noticed the lack of the usual spark behind his emerald eyes, and the drawn, shadowed look he now carried and had felt the absence of his smile, none of them knew the true extent to which their saviour was dying inside. He rarely ate and when he was forced to, it was little. Sleep was a foreign concept to him; the fear of closing his eyes overwhelmed him and when the exhaustion of his body finally dragged him down into Morpheus's world, all he could see was the flash of green light as Cedric fell dead. It was never-ending nightmare.

Disconnection was the first they felt, though much of that had been their own faults. They should've known he wouldn't do well on his own after that, with no contact other than 'Still alive, can't say much more' and 'Write every three days to let us know Voldemort's not got you'. And he had been so angry when he first saw them. It was like a knife to the heart half the things he said, particularly because they were true. Where had they been when their best friend was suffering? Why did they get to be together when he was left alone? The anger had left as soon as it came, and then just a broken form of their friend told them to fuck off.

The Weasleys, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Alastor Moody, Nymphadora Tonks, Hermione Granger and Kingsley Shacklebolt were all sat round the kitchen table, picking morosely at their food as Harry passed on another meal, claiming he was tired. They had no doubt the teen was exhausted, but that was not the reason he refused to join them. When the twins had asked him to, as Ron and Hermione were barely looked at by their friend anymore, he had turned to them with red eyes and simply stated no and his usual excuse.

Floors above, the teen that was the cause of their quietness was wandering the corridors, his fingertips brushing against the wall, occasionally applying pressure on doors to see if they were open. He was well aware of the warnings that had come with free roam; all sorts of dark creatures had been festering away in the years the house had been abandoned, and the cleaning crew had barely even scratched the surface when freeing the house of them. Harry couldn't find it within him to care.

As he neared the start of the stairs, he pushed lightly on a door, and to his mild surprise it swung slowly inwards with an age old ease revealing perhaps the cleanest room in the house. It was light and airy, decorated sparingly in Slytherin green with a white forest imprinted on the walls. Sat alone, in the centre of the room was a black grand piano and an equally expensive stool.

His breath hitched in his throat. Whilst to many this was simply a room with a piano, to Harry it quite possibly the most terrifying, beautiful, hopeful sight he could've seen in the dark ancestral home. A small battle occurred with himself internally, before he tentatively stepped forward, nearing the piano with a nervous longing.

It had been a year or two since he had last played. His uncle had finally caught onto his charade of pretending to hate to play the piano so that his uncle would pay for him to go. It mattered not, Harry had learnt much in his eight years of bringing about melodies, and his teacher had often called him a prodigy, a talent. It had been that, that got him caught out. Though that was often the case. Everything he was good at, came back to hurt him or make his life more miserable than it already was.

"No," Harry whispered firmly to himself and spun on his heel and fled the room, not noticing the large bulbous eyes of the house-elf had so lovingly cared for the room.

The days crawled slowly, and Harry spent them in much the same way as he had spent the past two weeks he had been at Grimmauld Place. In a daze state with only homework, nagging and cleaning to occupy him. But there was just one added burden. The piano upstairs called to him, pulling at his heart and longing to press the keys of the instrument once more. Some nights it almost won out, getting him as far as sitting on the stool, but then it would always lead to a hasty departure and the curious, sad, unnoticed gaze of a house-elf.

"Harry?"

The teen jolted out of his musings and turned to the doorframe where a bushy haired bookworm was tentatively standing. His eyes merely narrowed slightly before turning away.

"We're having a little cards competition downstairs," Hermione continued. "We were wondering if you wanted to join us?"

He had flinched at the word 'competition', his musings brought back to him in an unwelcome wave as the Tri-Wizard Tournament flew back to him. Remembering his silent promise not to speak to his two ex-best friends, he simply lay down on the bed, his back towards the door. All he got in return was a soft sigh and the sound of fading footsteps.

Tears burned his eyes as the memories and the fears and the guilt washed over him. Numbly, incoherently thinking, he stood and aimlessly walked the house, not even realising where his feet were taking him until he stood in the doorframe, staring at the black grand piano.

The need for release, the need to feel, to escape pushed him towards the stool. He sat delicately on it as though he was afraid to break it, before absently tracing the keys with the ghost of his touch.

"Half-blood touches Master Regulus's piano," the scratchy voice of Kreacher commented, making Harry leap a little.

"I'm sorry," he murmured, before turning to the house-elf. "Do you mind?" he asked nervously, "If I play? It's been so long…"

Kreacher nodded his head rapidly, his bat like ears flapping with the insistence. A brief smile crossed Harry's near tearful face, and the teen directed his attention back to it. Fingering the keys, he placed his hands in position for simple scales; to remind him, and his body, just how to properly treat the instrument before him. Releasing a breath, he began.

The simple exercise flowed through him as a melody, and unknowingly to him, startling the small group with cards in their hands below. Sitting at the head of the table, was Sirius Black. The man had gone perfectly still, his playing cards having tumbled out of his hands with the first note.

"Reg's piano…" he said hoarsely.

"Whose playing?" Hermione asked, her voice echoing in the small room.

Moody's eye rolled up to the ceiling, and the ex-auror grunted, "Potter. Elf's watching him."

"How come we can hear it?" Fred questioned.

"Mother loved to hear Regulus play," Sirius answered, his voice raw with emotion. "So she charmed it so that it could be heard all over the house."

The scales ended, but the daze was not broken, as the teen upstairs moved on.

Harry had been surprised to find the piano still perfectly in tune after all this time but relished in the undamaged notes. It was simply scales but to him it was like a cool balm being placed over a long itching burn. His eyes fluttered shut for a moment before he more confidently flicked out his hands and put them in place again. For a song this time…

The first notes echoed in a soft, strong warning for the song ahead; a sad one that would speak a thousand words about Harry that he would never be able to portray himself.

"It's beautiful…" Ginny murmured, looking up at the ceiling from her cards, the game long discarded.

"They think you're crazy.

"They think you're mad.

"They call you stupid, worthless, tell you you're not worth it."

The voice, was perhaps, better than the notes that ran along to it. It was haunting in all the chilling ways with the amount of pure, raw, unregulated emotion poured into it. The small group in the kitchen were frozen in their spots as the melody, the words washed over them.

"With a warning to help me see myself clearer

"And now you're walkin' back to a place you call home,

"But you feel so alone.

"The same hurtful hits, it's your darker place.

"In your virgin ears, the remarks they make."

"Oh Harry," Hermione's voice cracked, as her own tears welled up.

"And if they, if they really knew all of those things.

That you do in your room to hide the pain

I bet their minds would change.

I'll bet their minds would change."

The pace had quickened, and they could all hear the emotional frustration and hurt and pain and anger in the hardened, quickened notes and the cracking voice. Moody's eye rolled towards Sirius, who seemed to be trying so hard not to cry…

"Go to him Sirius," he ordered. "The kid needs his godfather…"

"They'd change if they knew the pain.

"Change

"'Cause I believe in these scars

"'Cause I believe."

Sirius got up from his feet and walked up through the house, silence still reigning. It was slow and painful and every step made his heart ache and scream in pain as the lingering magic of Harry's own pain danced in the house. A hand pushed open the door to the music room he had so purposely avoided, steeling himself for the sight.

Harry sobbed over the piano, his body shaking with the unsuppressed tears, and hand dangling to the side, to which Kreacher clung desperately, damp with his own tears. Sirius felt a pang at the sight of his hated house-elf comforting his godson, when he himself had been too caught in the floors below to be the shoulder to cry on.

"Harry?" he said softly.

The emerald green eyes swung to him, red and puffy. Harry's voice was broken as he spoke; a desperate admittance in the form of a plea. "I can't do this anymore Sirius! I can't… I just can't."

Sirius swallowed painfully. "We'll get through this Prongslet," he promised. "You'll get through this. Together. We'll do this together."


A/N-Just a short one-shot about Harry getting over what happened in the third task. The song is called 'If You Knew' and is by Joel Faviere, for those of you who are interested.

-HazelVex