ACKERLEY, STEWART EDWARD
B. February 19, 1981
D. May 2, 1998
He had been shocked when he was sorted into Ravenclaw.
Really, he had expected Gryffindor, and not because he considered himself any kind of a hero. But he had never been particularly academic, in fact, his marks in primary school had bordered on awful. The reason he had thought he would be Gryffindor was because he loved the spotlight so much, because the best thing in the world was being on stage, having a crowd in the palm of your hand, being able to make people dance and cry and scream and clap along with your music. He planned on being a rock star, like his father, the lead guitarist and vocalist for Burnt Potions, and he knew he was well on his way.
The whole Ackerley family was musical. His grandmother had been a concert violinist, his mother, a backup singer at Sonorus Records, and that didn't seem like much, maybe, but you could hear her voice on half the number-one hits on the WWN, and she had refused a dozen times to go solo when she could work with every great musical group in the wizarding world with what she already did. Stewart himself had shown his first sign of magic at age three, summoning his father's guitar off a high shelf where it had been put – they had hoped – out of the toddler's reach. This had resulted in a trip to St. Mungo's and a thin white scar that he still carried by his hairline, but it had also not really come as a surprise to anyone.
By four, he had one of his own that his father had reduced to be the right size, and by eight he could play not only that, but bass, drums, piano, and he was making headway on the violin as well. He supposed, really, that was what had lead to Ravenclaw. Books weren't his thing, but he could listen to any song and put it into sheet music within the hour, and his thoughts came in frets and half-measures, meter and chords , minor keys and quarter-rests. Maybe he barely scraped by most of his classes, but he could make Terry's head spin with technical music information in less than five minutes.
He was in his sixth year now, but he had a lot of free time considering that he'd only managed to make N.E.W.T by the edge of his robes in three classes: Divination, Astronomy, and History of Magic, and the latter only because he had coped with the mind-numbing course by putting the information into lyrics.
The Goblin Rebellion came in thirteen forty-eight
When Gradnack decided their rights couldn't wait…
His first album had been almost completely written, but of course, he'd scrapped it now. Maybe it wasn't the most noble motivation for joining a revolution, but Stewart had jumped at the chance to be part of the D.A., because he knew there would be so much material there. Any movement always inspired music, was driven in part by music, and the records would be flying off the shelves in Diagon Alley if Dark Lord's Downfall had actually been written and performed by someone who'd been on the front lines.
Stewart already looked like a musician well enough, he knew. He wasn't a stunning young man, but he had lean, rangy good looks, tall and wiry with a smile that could snap your wand when he turned it on full-force. He'd grown his hair long, halfway down his back, and he didn't think it was really cheating – he was naturally kind of a dishwater blonde – to lighten it a few shades to a proper honey gold. It went better with the blue-gray eyes, and it suited a rock star more. When he wasn't in his uniform, he favored band shirts with the sleeves torn off and jeans that were clinging to life by their last few threads, and he had come to kind of like the triple-takes people gave him when they heard what House he was in.
His music had suffered a little more than he had expected with the training schedule the D.A. demanded, but he had still found time to jot notations and ideas for songs, and the Muffliato spell Ginny had taught them was incredibly useful when it came to practicing after curfew. He didn't need light, after all – he could play anything in the dark – and with the sound deadened to any ears but his own, he had taken to staying up until two, even three in the morning every night, working on the album.
It had worried him a little that the others might not think he was taking it seriously. Not the music, but the D.A. because of the music. That they might even kick him out or something if they knew he was in it primarily for inspiration, so he hadn't shared any of it at first. Oh, he certainly wanted You-Know-Who defeated, and he loathed Snape and the Carrows as much as anyone, and he was fully willing to fight as hard as the rest of them. People just got funny about things sometimes. Jennifer Lindsey still hadn't spoken to him since they broke up, and that was just because he'd used the month where things were falling apart between them to write three songs about it. It wasn't like he'd used her name or anything.
Stewart had been heartsick to have to leave his guitar and his notebook behind when he fled the Carrows after they'd gotten Nott to pick a fight with him outside Divination, and he'd hated himself for rising to the Slytherin's taunts. After all, his very existence was pretty conclusive evidence against what the other boy had said about his father, and rock music was a strong exception to the usual rule about wizards and eyeliner. Still, there were some things a guy couldn't just let pass. But the thought of those horrible people getting their stubby, nasty hands on his instrument made him sick.
Yet to his surprise, the month spent in the Room of Requirement had been one of the best in his life, almost as good as the previous summer when his father had taken him on tour and let him do bass for three shows when their regular bassist sprained his finger. Nothing could top that, of course, not until he had his own tour, but an entire month with a willing audience, all the time you wanted to practice, and a Xavier Burton Troubador Signature Series…hell, if Neville had mentioned that at the first meeting, he'd have beat Ginny to the front of the room. It literally brought tears to his eyes to know that he'd never be able to take it out of there. Maybe, just maybe, if he were able to get the room to understand that he NEEDED that guitar….
Dying had never really occurred to him. It was odd, because he certainly had written about it enough. Watching the others prepare for it was such a font of emotions and reactions, everything from amazing nobility and bravery to the ones who smiled tightly and then wept into their pillows with fear after they thought everyone else was asleep. There were even some great love stories going on, and he wanted to practically kiss Colin Creevey for being such a perfect Coming-of-Age tale. But although he could spin off a dozen different things that rhymed with death, the thought of it applying to him had just not happened.
Even in the battle itself, he hadn't considered his own mortality. There was little difference in the shape of a drumstick or a wand in your hand, and he had always been able to throw spells with a speed and precision that boggled those who had never tried to follow the drum line on a Six Times Splinched album. He'd held his own right there alongside Shacklebolt, but a jinx had gotten him in the knee while he was dueling four of the bastards.
The pain had been like nothing he had ever imagined a human being could endure. He had screamed, vomited, but they'd almost gotten him, and it was just as impossible that such pain could stop mattering entirely, but Neville had been right. Adrenaline was an amazing substance. Stewart had actually managed to stand on the ruined joint again, to keep fighting, to even make it almost all the way back to the castle in slow, limping paces, but then it had given out for good, and he wasn't at all angry or bitter that Shacklebolt and Parvati had no choice but to close ranks and leave him behind.
In the end, though, the Sorting Hat had been right, and maybe it wasn't just his affinity for the technical side of music or how quickly he could write complex chord structures. After all, a Gryffindor, even wounded and unable to stand, even with his wand cracked when he had gone down, probably would have fought the werewolf that had come running at the fallen boy, howling and grinning and licking those awful, sharp teeth. But Stewart wasn't a Gryffindor, and he shoved the wand back in his mouth as far as it would go, and he didn't even realize that his last thought was also the name of a band.