A/N: This is my entry for Hurdles in the 2012 Hogwarts Games, and also to PotterIsMyPatronus' Mystery Character Challenge where my character was Astoria and my prompt was "keyboard".
Her parents made her play the piano.
They tied her up in puppet strings and ran her fingers over the ivory keys because that's what good little girls should do. They stood behind her and watched for every misplaced finger and every wrong note, and they murmured their disapproval but said nothing aloud until the music had stopped.
Then the tirade came.
"Astoria, dear, have we wasted all this time? Have you learned nothing?"
"The music, Astoria, why can't you feel the music?"
"Sometimes I wonder if you'll ever be as good as your sister."
That last one hurt the most. She was not Daphne and she was not a pianist but she did love music, and she could feel it trickle slowly through her veins, painting her insides with treble clefs and never-ending staves.
She did not waste this time.
She learnt so much, and they knew she learnt because they'd been standing behind her, watching her pour her heart and soul into the music, watching her taint the pale white keys with the blood of her overworked fingers, watching her forget how to breathe sometimes because it was so beautiful it hurt.
And still, she wasn't good enough.
Maybe that's why she stopped. She hit seventeen and she turned around to them, her fingers clutching the edge of her piano bench, knuckles as ivory as the keys she was abandoning. Looking her mother in the eyes, Astoria told her that music isn't fun or exciting or, God forbid, enjoyable when you can feel hot breath and disappointment on the back of your neck.
She stood gracefully and left the room.
She didn't sit back at the piano the next day and play again as if nothing had happened. They didn't demand that she do so. They didn't even mention it.
And so Astoria just...stopped.
(But she'd be lying if she said she didn't miss the music.)
She fell in love at twenty two, and Draco was the only person she ever told about her lost love.
She couldn't look him in the eyes as she did though, because somehow her vision seemed blurred and her eyes were misty, so she buried her face in his collar and whispered to his throat.
"I loved it. And I suppose I should thank them for it but all I can remember from my lessons is the two of them just fucking breathing down my neck, you know? But I miss it."
"You don't have to," he whispered back, and she had nothing to say, so she stayed quiet.
They fell asleep that night with those words trapped between them.
The next day she woke alone.
She dragged herself from the bed and walked across the cold, wooden floor of their room, still bleary eyed and sleep soaked.
And there he was.
In the sitting room, he sat with a keyboard on his lap, an honest to God keyboard, and he just stared at her and waited for something, anything.
"I- I- I love it. You. I love you," she stammered, and ran to him, suddenly wide awake.
"You don't have to miss music. Maybe we don't have enough room for a piano, but one day you'll have one. I promise," and he sealed it with a kiss.
She took the keyboard in her hands, feeling the denseness of it, running her fingers along the dark plastic, tracing the lines between each perfect key.
"It's so perfect," she said, and kissed him again.
"Play for me."
And she did.