August 15, 2011
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all related characters, settings, and terminology belong to JK Rowling. I make no money.
Author's note: Written for silverfox98's challenge on the DG Forum. Prompt follows story. I'm not quite sure how I feel about this, but I hope you like it!
He had been a hopeless, musical wreck when he'd walked into her studio seeking piano lessons. She had been skeptical of his interest, sure that he wanted to pay for time to mock her. He'd proven her wrong.
"I'm a slow learner," he had said.
"I can teach any dog a new trick," she had told him.
So the lessons began.
"Did you practice this week?" Ginny asked as she sat down on the bench next to him.
"A little," Draco replied, turning pages of music over until he found the song he was working on.
Ginny frowned. "You'll never get better unless you practice."
"You promised to teach me a new trick," he said, smirking. "You never said anything about practicing."
"Well then, what is the point in taking lessons if you don't want to be any good?" Irate wasn't a good look on her, but she couldn't contain herself. He was so frustrating. They never spoke about their families or the war—or anything about the past, for that matter—but he found ways to irritate the hell out of her anyway.
His brow creased in that way. The way that said he was going to be honest with her—no smirking, no insults, no sarcasm or dodging the truth.
"I... it's soothing to me. I like to hear you play, mostly."
She blushed, her heart racing, but that irritated her too. He was her student, and that was all their relationship would be. All that it could be.
"You can't pay me to play piano for you," she grumbled.
"Why not?" he asked, his smirk back in place. She often wondered what he hid behind those smirks, but then she would realize that there was nothing behind them. They were what they were, and she was silly to romanticize them.
She ignored his question and directed him to middle C. For the rest of the lesson, he was the epitome of a studious pupil, all concentration and focus. He played his scales, with fewer mistakes this week than he'd made the last, and then he'd surprised her with a flawless performance of "Babayaga Babayaga."
"You have been practicing!" Ginny cried happily.
Draco shrugged indifferently, but she could tell that he was proud of himself by the smug look on his face. "Maybe I'm just naturally skilled."
"Maybe you need to deflate your head," she replied with a roll of her eyes. But then her expression softened and she smiled. "Very good job this week, Draco. Why don't you try this song out, and we'll see how you do next week?"
She pulled out a piece of parchment from her stack of music and handed it to him.
As he left, she couldn't help but feel proud of him too.
She'd opened up her studio a few years after the end of the war. Most of her students were pre-Hogwarts age, just like she'd been when she had started learning piano from her mum. Draco Malfoy was her oldest student, and, as much as she loved teaching the children, her favorite.
There was something about seeing him play the songs of their youth with the concentration that she gave a sonata or a minuet, something about seeing his pride when he mastered a song, no matter how juvenile it was. He had been right. He was a slow learner, but he was dedicated, even if he pretended that the lessons were nothing to him—just an amusement.
She could see how he felt in the way he played. That was what she loved about the piano. Emotions erupted from the instrument without thought. The body swayed with the music whether the pianist intended it to or not.
Three months into Draco's lessons, he arrived at the studio with his own sheet of music.
"I want to learn to play this."
Ginny glanced at the parchment, at the complicated notes, time changes, and range. The song was simply called Prelude in G, but despite its simple title, it was not a simple song.
"I've never heard of this," Ginny said, placing the music on the piano and centering herself on the bench.
Her fingertips brushed lightly against the ivory keys, which were cool to the touch and brimming with musical possibility. As she began to play, she forgot that Draco was there, watching her. So absorbed into the music was she, she couldn't feel his eyes on her. Instead, she felt his hands, his light touches tracing her figure up one side and down the other, his whispers against her skin, his breath in tandem with hers.
But they were phantom touches and whispers. They were musical and invisible. The notes filled her up and hollowed her out, brushed against her with the gentlest caresses. She played a song so sweet and uncertain, filled with a love that couldn't possibly exist. Ginny could imagine this song as the prologue to an opera—she could see the story in her head. She longed to be a part of it.
The song ended, and she realized tears were pouring down her face. She wiped them away before standing unsteadily.
"Will you teach me how to play this song?" Draco asked.
She was not one to discourage her students.
"Of course," she replied.
The weeks turned into months, the months into years. She worked diligently to teach Draco, a beginner on the piano, a piece that required the skill of an expert.
He was a slow learner, but he was dedicated and she had patience. Sometimes.
"No, no, no! This finger has to land here. Otherwise your whole hand is out of position and you won't be able to play this triad."
"What do you mean my finger has to go there? How the bloody hell do I get my finger to go there?"
Ginny sighed in exasperation, her temper flaring just a little.
"Like this, you idiotic—"
"—lousy piano sloucher—"
"I do not slouch!"
"My fingers are refined."
She shoved Draco off the bench and proceeded to show him how to get his finger where it needed to be.
"Did you really just call me a hog-monkey?"
"Don't be ridiculous," she answered, her face red as a beat. She kept her eyes glued to the music, her fingers fiddling around on the keys.
"You did, and I don't know if I should be insulted because you called me that or because you couldn't come up with something better."
"Why don't you just get back to practicing before I get physical?" she groused as she made room for him to sit again.
"Don't tempt me with seductive offers," he said as he sat back down.
Ginny wandered out the door muttering to herself about irritating, perverted, pointy-chinned men.
Their lessons continued, rain or shine, through sickness and health. Plenty of Ginny's other students grew up and went off to Hogwarts, or simply outgrew their lessons. She always had new students coming in, but Draco was her constant. Two years turned into three, and Ginny began to wonder what was going to happen when he mastered Prelude in G.
It hurt to realize that she would miss him if he stopped taking his lessons. He really had been the one constant in her life for the past three years. Every Wednesday at 5 o'clock, he was there, waiting to show her how much he had practiced over the course of a week, ready to receive her criticism and suggestions, even though he didn't receive them graciously. There was always some insult, some comment, some joke to make Ginny want to pull out her hair—or pull out his.
But it was entertaining. No matter how bad her day had been, her lessons with Draco were a release from the stress and the tension.
She didn't realize that she was playing the piano until he interrupted her. That's what music was for her, an extension of herself, another outlet for her emotions, like crying or laughing or dancing or screaming.
Her final notes wavered in the silence of the studio, piercing the heart. She wondered if he could read the feelings in the music as well as she could. Had she revealed too much?
"You don't have to stop," he said.
Ginny rubbed her cheeks and turned around, a smile plastered to her face unnaturally. "It's time for your lesson."
He seemed ready to argue, his mouth opening, his brows furrowing. Instead, he took a seat on the piano bench as she stood up, more focused than she had ever seen him at the beginning of a lesson. He warmed up with a few scales and then dove straight into Prelude in G, and as he played, Ginny watched him.
His strong hands and his long fingers were gentle on the keys, only exerting as much pressure as he needed to produce the right volume—no more, no less. A lock of hair had fallen into his eyes, and she wanted so badly to reach out and tuck it behind his ear, to feel the smoothness of his skin and the roughness of the stubble on his chin. His body rocked with the force of his playing, of his hands gliding up and down the keys, his feet pressing the pedals.
When she stopped for a moment to pay attention to the music, she nearly stopped breathing. The melody struck her directly in the heart, making it beat faster, making her face heat and her cheeks flush. The harmony floated around her skin, stroking teasingly, enticingly. The rhythm throbbed within her, a beat so sensual and pulling, she felt like she was being tugged from different directions.
This was Prelude in G. This was the story of a love so deep and heartfelt that nothing could possibly compare—not even the music itself. What Ginny had played for Draco those three years ago might have been the same notes—she might have been reading the same music—but this was a different song, a harsher, truer, more sincere song.
It pained her, and it pained her even more to realize why it hurt so much to listen.
"Are you all right?" Draco asked, startling her. She hadn't realized that he had stopped playing.
"It's perfect," she said. "You've mastered it. It's... it's perfect."
"I guess you can teach an old dog a new trick," he replied, grinning.
"Yes," she said, still reeling from the music he had just played. Hadn't he felt it too? He seemed unaffected.
"You know, this song is meant to be played as a duet."
"How do you know that?" she asked, her eyes darting to the sheet music sitting innocuously on the piano.
"Because that's how I intended it when I wrote it." There was a glint in his eye, something serious and dangerous that made Ginny tremble.
"You... couldn't possibly have written that," she said, uncertain but growing angry. Did he take her for a fool? He'd come to her without any notion of how to play a piano. How could he have written such an advanced piece of music?
Draco stood and approached her, but she took a step back for his every step forward.
"I studied violin growing up. You taught me how to play the piano, but I learned to read music when I was seven."
He backed her into a wall. Ginny wanted to close her eyes, but that look in his kept her gaze glued to his face.
"I didn't expect you to be so... inspirational when I came here for lessons," he said. "I lose myself in your music and never want to come back out."
Words failed her. Was this a dream? She had to be dreaming. This wasn't real. Who was this person standing before her, claiming to have written the most beautiful piece of music she had ever heard?
"Will you play it with me?" he asked.
"What?" she croaked, her voice gone.
"Will you play this duet with me?"
There was an expectation in his eyes, and Ginny feared she would disappoint him.
"I... I can't. I can't. Not that song."
He frowned, looking a tad bit petulant, if Ginny did say so.
"Tired of it after three years? That certainly wasn't in the plan."
Ginny's head spun. Something was going on here and she just couldn't follow it. "I'm not tired of it! Wait, what plan?"
"Why won't you play it with me?" he asked—no, demanded.
Gaping, Ginny struggled for the words to describe what the song did to her, to explain why she couldn't possibly play it with him. Music had power. It was magic. Not the kind of magic they had studied at Hogwarts, but something more subtle. The thing about music was that no non-verbal version of it existed. It was auditory, and any person who heard music playing could know what the player was feeling in that moment.
"It's... too... intimate," she replied.
The git smirked at her. "That's the point," he said. And then he backed away, giving her back her space—and her comfort.
"Now that I've shown you what a natural talent I am at piano, I think it's time to start something a little more difficult."
"A—a little more difficult? More difficult than Prelude in G?"
"Of course. Just because I've learned to play two songs doesn't mean I'm an expert, Ginevra." Draco rolled his eyes.
"But... but... it took you three years to learn Prelude!"
He looked thoughtful as he stroked his chin. "Yes. Let's see if we can't learn something new in two years, instead. Maybe by that time, you'll be ready to play that duet with me. You'd better keep practicing. Our performance must be perfect."
When he strode out of the room, confident with the success of learning two songs on a new (so to speak) instrument, Ginny couldn't help but smile.
And next time he asked her to play Prelude in G with him, she would accept. But hopefully by then, they will already have passed the prologue of their relationship.
Guidelines and/or Requirements: Base the story on one of the "arts" ex. painting, dance, music, etc. Can be Hogwarts era or Post Hogwarts. I'm not picky. Draco/Ginny centered...obviously :)
Bonus Points (not mandatory):
-Any kind of jewel (diamonds, emeralds, etc.) makes an appearance, whether as jewelery worn or as a theme for the story
-The phrase, "I loose myself in (whatever, you choose) and never want to come back out." You can modify it, but that's the idea.
-Draco or Ginny eating a "muggle candy"
Length: min. 500 max. none!
Rating: No higher than T
Deadline: Monday, August 15th, midnight forum time.