Chapter 7 : False Pretense
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The remainder of Draco’s evening was spent working out music for the newly finished apology. Matt was in the corner practicing the Metamorphosis Charm on an old broken quill, attempting to turn the feathers odd colors.
A loud bang brought Draco’s attention away from his guitar, and he burst out laughing. Matt was evidently having trouble with the spell, because the quill had burst momentarily into bright pink flames, and now lay smoldering on the table. Matt looked as though he might pass out.
Draco’s laughter brought him back to reality, and he scowled at his friend.
“Oh, shut up!” he exclaimed, sweeping the charred fragments of the quill into the trash. “Not like you could do much better!”
“Is that a challenge, then?” Draco asked, setting down his guitar and pulling out his wand. A smirk played on his lips as he pulled another quill from his bag and set it on the table.
“You have to concentrate on the change you want to make while you say the incantation,” Matt explained, backing cautiously away from the table. Draco nodded and raised his wand, concentrating hard on changing the feathers to a bright green.
“Mutation vultus,” he said, flicking his wand skillfully. The quill trembled a bit and stilled, the feathers now shining a vibrant green. He grinned triumphantly and turned to look at Matt, who was still in the corner of the room, his arms over his head protectively. Draco cleared his throat, and the dark-haired boy looked back up. His face fell into a look of depressed failure.
“Show off,” he muttered. Draco laughed and thumped his friend supportively on the back.
“Don’t worry, mate. You’ll get it eventually.”
Matt made a face and grabbed his robes, heading for the door.
“Hey, I’ll help you practice if you like!” Draco teased. Matt flipped him off over his shoulder and opened the door, throwing a wink back at his friend.
“See you later, Draco,” he said, closing the door.
Matt joined him again the following evening for practice. When he entered the room, Draco shoved a few pieces of parchment into his hand.
“What’s this?” he asked, glancing down at the papers.
“The new song,” Draco answered quickly, switching on his amp and checking the tuning on his guitar.
“You’ve finished it, then?” Matt restored his set to full size and sat down, tossing his robes across Draco’s bed.
“Stayed up late last night working out the last bit.” He adjusted the volume on his amp before pulling out his wand and casting a silencing charm on the room. “Potter and Weasley are studying with Hermione tonight. We don’t want to risk them hearing us,” he said in response to Matt’s questioning gaze. “You ready?”
Matt nodded. “Go ahead and start, mate. I’ll join in once I pick up the rhythm.” Draco started to play.
Neville Longbottom approached the Gryffindor Common room that evening on a mission. Stepping through the portrait hole, he found the room fairly empty—except for the pair wrapped deeply in their conversation in the corner.
Harry and Ginny didn’t even seem to notice he’d entered the room until he had stopped in front of them and cleared his throat lightly gain their attention. The redhead looked up at him, smiling sweetly.
“Hello, Neville!” she exclaimed. Harry was grinning up at him as well.
“Hey, Neville,” he said. Neville gave them his most confident smile in return and sat down in the empty chair they offered to him.
“Working on plans for the party?” he asked, looking down at the papers strewn across the table.
“Yeah,” Harry replied. “Just smoothing out the final details, really.”
“Are you still looking for some sort of entertainment?”
“Yeah, but I doubt if we’ll manage anything special. We’ll probably just conjure up a sound system,” Ginny explained, shuffling through some of the papers.
“Or steal Dean’s,” Harry offered, chuckling.
“I think I might be able to offer some help in that department, actually,” Neville said, trying to sound confident. The other two Gryffindors looked expectantly at him, so he continued. “I know a couple of guys who have a band.”
“Are they any good?” Harry asked.
“Oh, yeah,” Neville replied. “They’re really good.” Harry seemed thrilled, but Ginny still looked reluctant.
“I don’t know,” she began. “I think we need to hear them first. To be sure they’re what we’re looking for, you know?”
“That’s a good point, Harry replied. “You think you could bring them to the room of requirement Thursday night?”
Neville’s eyes grew wide. He hadn’t expected this. “Er…yeah, I guess I could…,” he mumbled hesitantly.
“Great,” Ginny said, smiling once more. “See you then, Neville.”
He headed upstairs to the dorms, all the while thinking that this was going to be much harder than he’d expected.
The guitar cut off abruptly, drawing a frustrated groan from Matt as he stilled his drums. “Why’d you stop?” he asked. This was the third time Draco had interrupted the song. At this rate, they’d never get through the entire thing.
“It just doesn’t sound right, now that we’ve put it all together,” Draco said. He was standing a few feet away, staring down at the parchment in his hands.
“It sounds find, mate, believe me!
Draco shook his head. “I’m telling you, Matt. There’s just something about it that doesn’t click. I’m just not feeling what I felt when I wrote the lyrics.”
“How have you even had time to feel anything? You won’t let us play long enough!”
“I can feel it, alright? It’s just one of those things.”
Matt rolled his eyes. “Writers…,” he mumbled darkly. Draco ignored him.
“I think…I think maybe it needs…” And as a way of finishing his sentence, he sat down at the piano. His fingers trailed lovingly over the tops of the keys, the shining ivory smooth beneath his fingers as he play through chords in his head, searching for just the right one. That was it! His fingers found the position, and the chord rang out over them. He grinned, throwing a look at Matt over his shoulder. The other boy didn’t seem to catch the excitement.
Draco turned back to the piano, bringing his other hand up to strike a lower note. He began to sing….. “When my time comes, forget the wrong that I’ve done. Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed.” He stopped, turning back to his friend.
“This is it, Matt!” he said. “This is what it’s needed!”
Neville, despite his nerves, had convinced Draco and Matt to come down to the Room of Requirement for ‘audition’. He paced back and forth before the entrance to the Head common room, waiting for the boys to make their appearance. If things didn’t go just right, there would be no chance of them getting the gig. Everything depended on this one performance.
Upstairs, Draco was staring intently into the mirror, trying to decide just how to change his appearance. He gave his wand a flick and his hair turned a bright blue. He wrinkled his nose and thought for a moment before flicking his wand a second time. His hair changed to a deep black. He smirked and gave himself several other changes to make him unrecognizable.
A few more flicks of the wand gave him dark makeup around his eyes and painted his finger nails black. He grinned, satisfied with his appearance, and turned to make sure his guitar was ready to go. The door opened a few moments later, revealing a boy about his height with short, mousy brown hair and glasses. It took a while for Draco to realize who he was.
“Matt?” he asked, grinning. The boy nodded.
“Yep,” Matt replied happily, checking his reflection in the mirror. “Not bad, eh?”
“Not bad at all. I didn’t even recognize you.”
“That’s the point, isn’t it?”
Draco grinned. “Yeah, that’s the point.” Matt stood there for a moment or two, just looking Draco over.
“That’s all your doing?” he asked. Draco raised an eyebrow.
“What do you mean?”
“You got any better ideas, there, bright one?” Draco asked, moving away from his guitar. The door opened again and Neville entered, pausing with his eyes wide. He shook his head, realizing who was actually in the room.
“You two about ready?” he asked. “We’re gonna be late.”
Harry and Ginny were waiting for them when they arrived. The room of require was barely recognizable itself. Streamers hung from the ceiling and a large banner reading ‘Happy Birthday Hermione’ was being hung the back of the room by Seamus and Dean.
“We’ve had to move the party here,” Ginny explained to Neville. “It’s just too hard to get everything set up in the common room. She’s always there!” Neville nodded in understanding. Harry was glancing past him to where Matt and Draco stood waiting.
“Are these the guys?” he asked, grinning. Neville nodded again, too nervous for words. Harry stepped over to introduce himself. “I haven’t seen you guys around before. What house are you in?”
“Ravenclaw,” Matt said with ease. Draco was grateful—he’d had no idea what to say. “We don’t get out much, you know. Practicing.” Harry nodded, smiling.
“Well, you guys can go ahead and set up in the corner over there. Ginny and I’ve got a few things to check in on and then we’ll be over to hear what you’ve got. That should give you time to warm up.”
The moved to the indicated corner of the room, and Matt set about restoring his set to its full size. Draco did the same with his amp and guitar, plugging both in and checking the tuning.
“You scared, mate?” Matt asked, grinning at Draco.
“No,” Draco lied. He was terrified. This was his last chance to apologize to Hermione. If they blew this audition….
“Don’t be. With your lyrics and my amazing drum solos, we’ll knock ‘em dead,” Matt replied. He sat down behind his set and gave everything a once over. “Anything you wanna run through before they get over here?”
“Yeah,” Draco said, moving over to him. “Let’s go through the bridge on ‘Fantasy’. Part of it just doesn’t seem to flow right.”
“Alright, ‘Fantasy’ it is…”
By the time they’d run through a few bits of the songs they’d chosen to play, Harry and Ginny were making their way over to them.
“You guys ready?” Ginny asked.
“I think so,” Matt replied. Harry grinned.
“Show us what you’ve got,” he said.
Draco nodded to Matt, who counted off. Draco started playing, and any bit of nervousness he’d felt flew out the window. This was his life—music held his confidence. Matt joined him, pouring everything he had into his drums.
“You can’t quit until you try,” Draco sang. “You can’t live until you die. You can’t learn to tell the truth until you learn to lie. You can breathe until you choke. You gotta laugh when you’re the joke. There’s nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive!”
Matt joined him for the chorus. “Just open your eyes! Just open your eyes and see that life is beautiful! Will you swear on your life that no one will cry at my funeral?”
Draco took back over. “I know some things that you don’t. I’ve done things that you won’t. There’s nothing like a trail of blood to find your way back home. I was waiting for my hearse. What came next was so much worse. It took a funeral to make me feel alive.”
“Just open your eyes! Just open your eyes and see that life is beautiful! Will you swear on your life that no one will cry at my funeral?” Draco’s guitar solo followed, and it caused several people to stop their work and gather around the band.
“Alive. Just open your eyes. Just open your eyes and see that life is beautiful. Will you swear on your life that no one will cry at my funeral? Just open your eyes! Just open your eyes and see that life is beautiful! Will you swear on your life that no one will cry at my funeral?” They played hard, driving on until the end. The last chord rang out over them, and applause met the ending.
Draco looked around the room. Seamus and Dean had moved over to stand beside Ginny and Harry. All of them seemed pleased. Neville was beaming at him from across the room.
“You guys are good,” Ginny said, smiling brightly at the boys. “Is there anything else you want to play for us before we make our decision?” Draco looked to Matt, who nodded.
“There’s one more I think he wants to play,” Draco said, nodding in Matt’s direction.
“Let’s hear it,” Harry replied.
Draco nodded to Matt, who started to play. Draco joined in after a moment, giving long drawn out chords.
“Hey girl, you know you drive me crazy,” Draco sang, his eyes closing as the words left his mouth. This is for you, Mum, he thought. “One look puts the rhythm in my head. Still I’ll never understand why you hang around. I see what’s going down. Cover up with makeup in the mirror. Tell yourself it’s never gonna happen again. You cry alone and then he swears he loves you!”
Matt joined in. “Do you feel like a man when you push her around? Do you feel better now as she falls to the ground? Well, I’ll tell you, my friend, one day this world’s going to end. As your lies crumble down, a new life she has found.”
“A pebble in the water makes a ripple effect. Every action in this world will bear a consequence. If you wade around forever you will surely drown. I see what’s going down. I see the way you say you’re right again. Say you’re right again, heed my lecture!”
“Do you feel like a man when you push her around? Do you feel better now as she falls to the ground? Well, I’ll tell you, my friend, one day this world’s going to end. As your lies crumble down, a new life she has found. Face down in the dirt she said, ‘This doesn’t hurt.’ She said, ‘I’ve finally had enough.’ Face down in the dirt she said, ‘This doesn’t hurt.’ She said, ‘I’ve finally had enough.’ One day she will tell you that she has had enough! He’s coming ‘round again!
“Do you feel like a man when you push her around? Do you feel better now as she falls to the ground? Well, I’ll tell you, my friend, one day this world’s going to end. As your lies crumble down, a new life she has found! Do you feel like a man when you push her around? Do you feel better now as she falls to the ground? Well, I’ll tell you, my friend, one day this world’s going to end. As your lies crumble down, a new life she has found!”
Draco took the last bit alone. “Face down in the dirt she says, ‘This doesn’t hurt.’ She says, ‘I’ve finally had enough!’” Applause broke out around them again, and Draco couldn’t help but turn and grin at his friend. Matt was doing the same. They’d done it.
“Alright, back to work you guys!” Ginny called around to every in the room. She and Harry made their way over to the boys. “That was incredible!”
“Glad you liked it,” Draco replied.
“You’ve got the job, if you want it,” Harry said. Matt and Draco exchanged looks.
“Of course!” Matt exclaimed, not giving Draco the chance to answer.
“Alright, see you on Saturday, then. Six o’clock.”
“Oh, hey,” Ginny said, stepping over to them. “What’s the name of your band? I want to know how to introduce you.”
“Absolution,” Draco replied quickly. Ginny smiled and nodded, scribbling the name down on the parchment she held.
“Alright, see you Saturday, boys.”
Matt and Draco grinned at each other as Harry and Ginny walked away. “We did it, mate!” Matt exclaimed, clapping Draco hard on the back. “A real gig! We’ll finally know just how good we are!”
“And I’ll finally be able to apologize…,” Draco whispered. Neville joined them, smiling broadly.
“You guys were really good,” he said.
“We owe you, Neville,” Matt declared. “You’re the one that got us this far!” Neville blushed and stared at floor. “We’ve got two days until this party, and we’ve got to be perfect!” Matt continued, pacing back and forth. “I say major practice sessions tomorrow and Saturday until time to set up.”
Draco wasn’t listening anymore. All he thought of was Hermione, and the song he hoped would bring her back to him.
Friday passed in a blur, leaving both Draco and Matt a nervous wreck as the day of the party dawned. The met up around ten that morning, practicing every song they’d written until they were satisfied. At five till six, they donned their disguises a second time and packed up their equipment, heading for the room of requirement.
There were people everywhere trying to put the finishing touches on the decorations. There were balloons in every corner, and a large cake held the place of honor on the far wall. The boys made their way to the corner they had been in Thursday night. A make-shift stage has been placed there for their use.
Harry came over to help them set up, pausing to admire Draco’s grand piano sitting in the right-hand corner of the stage.
“You lot play everything, don’t you?” he asked. Matt grinned.
“That’s his specialty,” he said, nodding to Draco. “I’m just the drummer.”
Having succeeded in setting everything up, Draco moved over to the piano, running his fingers along the keys while Matt checked his set in the back.
“You want to run through your song, mate?” Matt asked. Draco shook his head.
“No,” he replied. “No one hears it until we play it for her. I promised her she’d be the first to hear it.”
There it is, guys! Chapter 7, just like I promised you. I know it doesn’t have the party and all of Draco’s song in it (did you catch the little snippet earlier? A hint!), but I feel like I need to hold off till the next chapter for it. : ) Anyway….Big pat on the back for those of you who can guess what song I’m using for Draco’s apology. : )
Alright, time to credit some people…. Sixx:A.M. for Life is Beautiful and The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus for Face Down and the chapter title False Pretense. There. : )
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