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Chapter 5: Chapter 5
Unfortunately once I started thinking about the chess game, everything else that took place began replaying in my head. This happened a lot over the past few weeks, but tonight was the worst. I wanted someone to talk to, I should have discussed it more with the Snape inside of me when I had the chance. Tsukino and Kuniye had to know about it too, except I hadn’t seen Kuniye since the night before the third task. There was always the real Snape, but I just couldn’t bring myself to talk about it. How would I even begin to explain?
On top of everything else I had the Shacklebolt mystery. He hadn’t acted differently from when Fred and I saw him at the World Cup. Obviously I wasn’t an expert but it seemed like typical Auror behavior. Yet Snape was so sure that Shacklebolt felt guilty. I felt like…like I had to know. I wasn’t entirely sure why.
It was half past two in the morning and I was not even remotely tired. Eventually I just got up. I turned up the lantern inside my room and set it on the desk as I sat down. I tried to read the book I’d started a few days ago but it didn’t hold my attention for long. Frustrated and bored, I headed down stairs.
The first thing to catch my eye was the set of doors leading into the living room. I’d never been inside there before. Lupin said it was a mess and would probably be the hardest, meaning last, room to clean. I ventured inside anyways, closing both doors firmly behind me.
The room definitely had a creepy feeling. There was buzzing coming from the curtains, doxies most likely. There was also an odd noise in the far left corner. The fabric furniture looked worn out and not the least bit appealing to sit on. The grime on the floor made me glad I’d put on more than a pair of slippers. On the right side of the room there was a piano that I cautiously stepped over to. I wiped the dust off the seat and sat down. Considering the condition of the rest of the room, I doubted the piano still worked. I gently tested a couple keys and was surprised that they sounded fine. I ran through the rest of them thinking maybe I’d just gotten lucky the first time. Nope, it seemed that doxies, Puffskeins, and who knows what else, hadn’t damaged the piano. Though it was covered in dust, a very thick layer of dust.
By now it was only a few minutes after three. I wasn’t tired and with nothing else to do, I slipped out of the room. I went to the kitchen, dampened a rag and brought it back to the living room. Carefully I cleaned each of the piano keys until they stood out from the rest of…well everything in the room.
After that I sat there, unsure of what to do next. I mindlessly tapped a few keys, making a short tune. It had been years since I touched a piano, seven years. Nearly half my life, I realized with a guilty jolt. There was a lot I hadn’t done in seven years. I’m going to save them all. How would I ever save Draco if I couldn’t even pluck up the courage to speak to him?
I started to play a song, the first song I ever learned. Draco and I hadn’t always been like this, there had been a time when we were inseparable, like Fred and George. The twins hadn’t grown up with Lucius Malfoy though. They hadn’t hid at the top of the stairs waiting for Lucius to leave, given a whoop of joy once he disappeared from the Manor grounds, and let out a sigh of defeat every evening he returned home. There were two phases of Draco’s and my day – when Lucius was home and when he wasn’t home. And boy did we enjoy those times when he wasn’t home. The day when we first tried the piano had been a day when Lucius was away because we wouldn’t dare touch valuable Malfoy heirlooms when he was around. Heck, we wouldn’t touch half the stuff when Lucius was gone. That piano in the corner of the ballroom though, that one we took a risk on.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Milly’s with mum,” a five year old Draco announced, “doing –”
“Invitations,” I finished. Stupid party in a month, course Milly would be helping Narcissa with the invitations.
“I reckon we could get those oafs to eat anything,” Draco said thoughtfully.
“Crabbe and Goyle?”
“Uncle Lucy would not like that,” I said, giving Draco a mischievous glance, making him smirk.
“Bugs or mud?”
“Hmm…mud covered bugs?”
Draco laughed and we headed down the stairs to the main floor. “What we doing today?”
I sighed as we both looked out the window. It was pouring rain, the same as it had been for the past two weeks. There were only so many things to do while cooped up in the Manor and it felt like we’d done them all over the past couple weeks. “Well,” I said, getting a burst of inspiration, “to the ballroom.”
Draco sniggered. “Thought you hated that room.”
“Only in poofy dresses,” I replied coolly, glaring at him.
“I’ll tell mum you want a huge, poofy dress,” Draco said, giggling. He started to spin around with his arms stuck out, like he was wearing a dress that I would definitely loath.
“I’ll tell Aunt Cissy you want to dance with Bulstrode,” I threatened. Draco immediately froze with a horrified look on his face.
“You won’t,” he whispered. I laughed at his expression and ran to the ballroom. “Jaaaaaaaaaade!” Draco called out, following me.
I stopped in the middle of a room with a vaulted ceiling and perfectly polished floor. Draco was beside me moments later, looking around the room.
“There,” I exclaimed, eyeing the piano in the corner. I marched over to it, Draco following me. I had never played the piano before, except for a few minutes of key bashing when I was a baby at the Lestrange Estate. That had ended with my father sending a shocking spell at my hands then yelling at me.
“Jade,” Draco said, sounding apprehensive. He was worried about Lucius coming home and punishing us.
“He has lots of meetings today. He won’t be home till dinner,” I reassured him. Draco cast a nervous look towards the door. “You just listen. I’ll play.”
“You don’t know how,” Draco responded with a laugh.
I turned and gave him an offended glare, feigning outrage. “Never underestimate a witch on a mission,” I declared. Draco burst out laughing at me for trying to act like Narcissa. I wagged a disapproving finger at him. “You are not being proper Mr. Malfoy,” I teased.
“You are so stupid,” he said in between giggles.
“Pfft, piano playing people are smart,” I disagreed.
“So where’s the songs?” Draco challenged. I looked all around for a piece of parchment with a song on it. Nothing. Draco let out a snort and opened the piano bench, revealing a stack of parchment.
“I knew that,” I muttered, making Draco giggle again. I grabbed the top piece of parchment, looking at the strange writing. How the heck did people read this? Draco pulled out a book that had been at the very bottom. He flipped through a couple pages before handing it to me.
“Good luck,” he said, skeptical that I could make sense of it.
Thankfully the book had plenty of drawings, even if I didn’t fully understand them. It took about thirty minutes of going through the book and glancing at the actual piano all while trying to understand the notes of the song I’d chosen. Finally I was ready to give it a go. I closed the bench and climbed on it. Draco sat down beside me, waiting patiently. I spread out my arms so I could reach all of the keys and began.
After I finished the first page of the song I stopped and turned towards Draco. “You sound like you’re killing it,” he said with a serious face. I gave him a small glare but didn’t respond. Yeah, I had to admit he was right, it had been quite awful, nothing like I’d expected it to sound like. I must have been missing something. After going over the book again, I was ready for another try. “Better,” Draco commented when I finished.
I frowned and picked up the parchment with the song. “All these squiggles are hard to read.”
“The end was ok. Just not the start,” Draco added, trying to be helpful.
I tried again but was finding it hard to press the other end of the piano with my small size. “Do this –” I said, hitting a few keys, “after I do this –” I hit the correct keys on my end.
“Which ones?” Draco asked, confused. I showed him again and he practiced a few times until he got it right.
“Ok, both now.”
It took a few times but eventually Draco and I were able to play the first page flawlessly.
“Page two?” Draco suggested.
We sat there for a couple more hours, slowly working our way through the pages. We’d just finished a difficult bit on the fifth page when a voice drifted into the room.
“Draco? Jade?” We both froze before whipping our heads around as Narcissa stepped into the room. “What are you doing?” she questioned immediately.
“Nothing,” we answered at once. Narcissa looked unconvinced, probably because we were still sitting at the piano with parchment on the floor around us and the book left lying open by my foot.
“You know you aren’t supposed to touch family antiques,” she scolded, walking over to us.
“But mum –”
“Draco, you know how your father feels about this.”
“But we learned how to play,” I insisted.
“Jade, you're –”
“Listen mum, please?” Draco pleaded with wide eyes. Narcissa was a sucker for those eyes and Draco and I both knew it.
“One time,” she reluctantly agreed. Draco nodded at me to begin. We played all the way through till the end of the fifth page then looked back up at Narcissa, beaming. “How did you learn that?” she asked, confused.
“Pictures!” I answered excitedly.
“How long have you been –?”
“Since father left.” Draco told her.
“Today?” Narcissa questioned, sounding surprised.
“Mhmm,” Draco said proudly.
Narcissa picked up Draco and sat next to me before placing Draco in her lap. If he hadn’t been so relieved about not getting in trouble, I think he would have put up more of a fuss. “Play it again,” Narcissa instructed us.
The three of us spent the rest of the day sitting in the corner of the ballroom as Draco and I learned the whole song, delighting Narcissa.
It became a tradition for us. Whenever something seemed wrong with Narcissa we would wait until Lucius was gone then pull her into the ballroom and play her a song. Sometimes Draco would even do a small dance with her, instantly bringing a smile to her face.
I always felt a bubble of guilt surface whenever I remembered this day. What if that day a year before had gone as planned? What if Dobby hadn’t checked in on me? What if Narcissa hadn’t convinced Lucius to owl Snape? That first day at the piano certainly would never have happened. None of those days spent playing music would have. Would Narcissa ever have been happy again? I’d almost ripped her son away from her, twice actually. Twice within four years. She would have been left alone. She and Draco were alone now. I’d left them with Lucius, the Dark Lord and who knows how many Death Eaters.
Snape said it wasn’t my job to protect Draco and Narcissa but it didn’t feel that way to me. I owed it to them after everything I’d put them through. How were they coping now? Would they always be stuck with Lucius? And even if I could convince them to leave Malfoy Manor, where would they go?