Where: Potions Classroom
What: Teasing and piano playing.
Adrian poked his head into the Potions classroom - dungeon, really - and arched an eyebrow when he caught sight of Severus Snape. Walking the rest of the way inside, he asked, his voice low, "Some sort of extracurricular activity, then? Or do you truly do such things for fun?"
When Adrian walked in, Severus was rather immersed in his work, scribbling down ingredients for a potion he was making furiously. With a sigh of frustration and disgust, he looked up from his work. "Not as if it's any of your business, but I'm making a potion for our professor. For a demonstration." With these words, Severus rose from his chair, walked over to his cauldron and added a precisely measured amount of asphodel. Hurriedly, he went over to his parchment and wrote this down, ignoring his Housemate's presence.
Eyes tracking Severus' movements, Adrian nodded and replied, "Well that's very nice of you, isn't it?" Then, after a short pause, he prodded, "But wouldn't you rather be doing something else? Something that wasn't so terribly similar to every-day school work?"
Though he would never show it, Severus was genuinely confused by the boy's words. 'Like... what?' he wondered to himself, brow furrowing slightly. He stirred the cauldron's contents counterclockwise, counting out the turns and stopping at thirty-three. "Not particularly," Severus answered simply, "I don't derive pleasure from the mindless entertainment that the majority of the ignorant populous of the school seems to enjoy, among such being shouting out streams of obscenties, bludgeoning each other with bewitched balls, et cetera. Besides, why is it your concern about what activites with which I occupy my time?"
Adrian didn't reply immediately, settling his weight back against a convenient table and watching Severus' meticulous movements with some sort of bemusement. Then he shrugged, replying, "Not everyone is so ignorant as to take pleasure from such things. And one does not have to derive one's entertainment from the activities of the masses. But there are other things to do that don't involve school work." Frowning a bit, he asked himself just why he was bothering with Severus Snape - who was notoriously anti-social and slightly waspish - but he couldn't come up with a good answer, so he just tilted his head to the side and finished with, "Besides, I think you could do more interesting things than stir a potion counterclockwise thirty-three times - there has to be more you're capable of."
Severus was beginning to grow more than slightly uncomfortable as Adrian followed his every movements. Measuring out another ingredient in the potion, a few droplets fell from the bottle because of his tremulous fingers. He muttered curses under his breath as they immediately burned holes through the wooden desk. "Lovely," he spat, dumping the contents rather sloppily into the cauldron. "Really, now? I'm sure I could do a great deal more if there wasn't a nagging voice grating at my nerves," the Slytherin snapped exasperatedly, "This isn't entertaining. It's a duty. It's something that's required of me, because, despite what most would believe, gifts come with responsibilities. Do you know what that means?... re-spon-si-bil-ity?" Severus sounded out the syllables of the last word, as if he were teaching a child how to read. As soon as the words left his lips, he immediately regretted it, wondering what bodily harm would await him in the future.
Unable to help himself, Adrian grinned. "Well now - that's actually something I'm almost familiar with - this responsibility you speak of. Admittedly, I tend to avoid it like the plague, but when it befalls me, I try my hardest to keep up the appearance of seeing such things through." Eyeing the newly-burned holes, he continued, "And anyway, I never see you doing anything particularly entertaining. You're always being responsible. You're far too young for it, really. Don't you at least have some sort of...hobby that doesn't involve Potions?"
Severus' lip curled into a sneer as he saw the boy grin, mocking him. "Avoid it like the plague, hm? That doesn't come as much of a surprise," Severus hissed, stirring the potion thirty-seven times clockwise this time. He sighed exasperatedly, "If you absolutely must know, I rather enjoy instruments. I find them calming," he stated in a calmer voice, hoping the boy would now leave him be.
"It shouldn't," Adrian replied, still smiling slightly. "I'm very open about my aversion to most things involving work." Then, counting the number of times Severus stirred the potion - again - he arched his eyebrows. "Instruments, you say?" He tilted his head to the side as he asked, "I rather enjoy them, myself. Which is your favorite?" He's not sure why he's asking, honestly, but he doesn't really have anything else to do and Severus is friends with Rabastan. And he is interesting, if nothing else. And he is talented...
Severus pursed his lips, wondering now if mentioning instruments was the best means of making Adrian shut up. He sighed, adding a powdery substance to his potion, watching with a keen, observing eye as it frothed and changed colour. "A favourite? I...I don't know," Severus stated rather lamely, watching as his mixture calmed. He quickly filled a handful of vials with the stuff, vanishing the rest with a cleaning charm. Without the potion to distract him, he was left without any sort of protection against his conversation, as it were. He leaned against a table, foot bouncing nervously. "I... play piano. So I suppose you could call that a favourite?"
His brows rising, Adrian made a surprised sort of sound and asked, "Piano? Really now?" He hadn't expected that - to actually have something in common with Severus. He watched the younger boy fidget, wondering if there was something he should say to try to put him at ease, but he wasn't particularly sure what that would be, so instead he asked, "Favorite composer?"
"Yes, piano..." Severus said with a slight hesitance. Why did he mention piano? He did not seem to have much luck today in his quest to avoid all human contact, or at least from those he didn't know. "Er..." he was never asked such questions about his interest in piano. No one knew except for his father, who hardly spoke a word to him. "Beethoven?" he answered, as if being asked for a right answer rather than an opinion.
Giving Severus another, more genuine sort of smile, Adrian murmured, "I'm quite fond of Chopin, actually, though I do love Beethoven's Für Elise." Then, his expression turning a bit more serious, he asked, "Have you found a place to practise here?"
"The Ninth Symphony is the most enjoyable to play for me, actually," Severus answered, his nerves easing slightly as he talked with the boy. Nodding, he said, "Around my third year I devised a charm. When performed properly, it lays out the keys in front of you. Occasionally they're slightly out of tune, but it works fairly well. I found that the Astronomy Tower suffices, especially on weeknights. Those who, ahh, usually occupy it don't come around on Wednesdays," he finished, his gaze moving downward to his shoes.
"Mmm...Augustus found a piano for me. I could show it to you, if you'd like. It is superbly tuned and you won't have to worry about the...usual crowd there." Adrian wasn't sure why, but he felt that he should at least make the offer, if only so that a fellow musician wouldn't have to worry about out-of-tune keys and charms that weren't quite as good as the real thing. He shrugged, eyes following Severus' down to his shoes before flicking to his left.
Severus quickly looked up at the boy. He felt strangely, a fluttering feeling in the pit of his stomach at the prospect of touching the keys of a real piano at school. It was unidentifiable. "Really? Where, if you don't mind my asking, did he come across this?" he queried eagerly.
Looking back toward Severus, Adrian quirked a small smile and murmured, "The eastern wing of the castle - third floor. I've been there quite a bit recently. If you'd like, as I said, I can show you where it is more specifically."
"I w--" Severus stopped himself in mid-sentence, changing his 'I would love to,' to something more watered down. "Yes, that would be fine," he finished with a nod, and a quick look at Adrian before adding a hurried, "Thank you."
Reminding himself that smirking probably wasn't the best way to respond to Severus' halting original sentence, Adrian nodded replied offhandedly, "You're more than welcome." Then, a thought striking him, he asked, "Would you mind if I sat in to listen, or do you prefer practising by yourself?"
The question came completely unexpected to Severus. "I don't really play," was his automatic response to the question, one he had used many times before during parties his father dragged him to, or requests from family. He realised a second too late, however, that this excuse would not work this time. Hurriedly, he tried to retract his words as smoothly as possible. "I mean, I've never played for anyone," Severus stuttered, wondering just how harsh that sounded. "But, there shouldn't be a problem just so long as your expectations aren't high."
His brows rising initially, Adrian let them return to their normal level as he smiled. "Now, now - no self-deprecation. You're good at everything else you do, so I'm quite sure you'll be good with the piano. And it's not as though I'll be judging critically or anything." After a pause, he shrugged a bit and finished, "I think it will be a nice change to listen to the music someone else makes, as opposed to always being the one making it."
Severus looked down once more, feeling his cheeks burn. "It's not self-deprecation, it's truth," he stated quietly, tactfully avoiding the boy's compliment, to which he hadn't the faintest idea how to respond. He shrugged, feeling, as he usually did with others, at a loss for words.
The corner of his lips quirking upward again, Adrian murmured, "Well. I should be the judge of that, don't you think? People rarely recognize their own talent..." He thought it might be wise to changet he subject, though, and so he asked, "Would you like to see it now, or perhaps at some later date? I'm not sure whether or not you're finished with your...obligations..."
Severus glanced over to the vials of potion, before walking over and placing corks in their tops. "I'm quite finished," he said, "Now would be an opportune time for me." A strange sensation was beginning to come over him at the prospect of playing in front of someone, let alone someone whom he knew only by acquaintance.
Nodding, Adrian stood away from the table and gestured for Severus to precede him from the room. He wondered if the younger boy was nervous, if he was beginning to wish he hadn't agreed to play for him. Hoping to keep Severus from retracting the offer, Adrian murmured, "Perhaps, after you've practised, you might be interested in playing something for two?"
Severus stalked past the boy, steps small and staccato, with his head down, much the same way as he walked through the corridors between classes. He slowed his pace slightly to fall next to Adrian. Nodding, he replied in a hushed tone, "Yes, that would be fine." He couldn't begin to imagine what it was like to play next to someone, play with someone. It was a concept that was slightly unnerving and completely foreign to him. Today just seemed to be the day for attempting new things for the Slytherin.
Clasping his hands behind his back, Adrian didn't ask if Severus had any preferences for what they might play, thinking it would probably be easier to come up with something after hearing the younger boy's practise. "Wonderful. Are you going to play the Ninth Symphony?" His lips quirked again, hoping Severus would. He rather liked the Ninth Symphony himself.
Severus nodded. "That was what I had in mind. Its one I'm most familiar with, along with The Blue Danube. But the purpose of knowing that is more for the entertainment of my father's peers than any real enjoyment. It's a trite, tedious piece, and rather dull." He looked away from the boy, remembering the scarce number of times he had played during the parties he would attend. The guests would always be very pleased and entertained by him; he had performed his duty. But, of course, his father would be glaring from a corner of the room, sporting the same dour look he always had on his face during his dealings with his son.
"There are good points to The Blue Danube, though," Adrian replied. "It's a catchy tune, if nothing else. And it's what helps me remember the dative prepositions in German." The words float through his mind before he can stop them and he snorts quietly to himeslf. "Though really it is only good for public entertainment. I'm rather partial to Rachmaninov, if only because his pieces are so complex."
In spite of himself, Severus could not help but upturn the very corners of his lips and chuckle quietly and briefly, a sound which came very rarely and sounded foreign coming from him. "At least it serves some use, then. Yes, it's quite good for public entertainment because simplicity implies comfort and comfort implies pleasure for the masses. If you were to play a Rachmaninov at a ball, people would become quite uneasy. But, I agree, I rather enjoy his style. It's much like that of Kodaly."
Rather pleased with himself for making Severus smile, Adrian nodded his agreement. He was tempted to challenge the younger boy to see who could play certain pieces better, but decided against it. That could wait until Severus was actually comfortable with him. "Up these stairs and to the left," he murmured, gesturing in the direction they're going to need to go in.
Severus nodded, climbing the steps and walking to the left, opening the first door he came upon, wondering whether or not this was where he was supposed to go. He peered inside the dim room, spotting the white and black keys glimmering in the darkness. Stepping inside, he walked over to the piano and stopped right in front of it, placing his hands on the polished wood. He felt for a moment as if he were going to be sick, closing his eyes and swallowing once, twice, before walking around the piano and sitting down on the bench.
Frowning a bit as he looked around the room, Adrian spotted a wooden chair over in a corner and transfigured it into something more comfortable - with cushions. Settling back against the pillows, Adrian let out a quiet sigh and waited for the younger boy to get comfortable enough to play. He knew what it felt like to touch real keys after going months without an actual instrument.
Severus breathed deeply, his fingers dancing over the keys lightly. He pressed down on the high A experimentally, hearing its sweet sound ringing out from the strings. After a brief debate in his mind, he chose to play a simpler version of the symphony, hands finding their position. Before he began, he pushed the bench out further, sitting at the edge, and bowed his head low, closing his eyes. He started with the final measure, the choral measure, with the words streaming through his mind as his lips soundlessly formed the piece's counts, One and two and three...
Watching as Severus began playing, Adrian saw his intensity, noticed how the younger boy's lips were forming silent words. The whole thing had turned out better than he'd have hoped, given Severus' reputation for being abrupt and antisocial. He decided that a bit of persistence was all it took - that and accidentally discovering the things that the other boy was interested in. Humming almost inaudibly with the music, Adrian let his eyes fall almost-closed and just listened, appreciating Severus' skill.
Severus glided easily through the notes and the measure, without faltering once. Effortlessly, he moved into the final measure of the symphony, allowing a small decrescendo as he ended the piece. His back arched slightly as he finished, opening his eyes and realising his hunched position over the piano. Without a word, he sat upright, and looked around for a moment to see where the boy had settled, before coming upon him. "Yes, well..." he said without finishing the thought as he got up from the bench and stood between Adrian and the piano.
Opening his eyes, Adrian murmured, "Very nice, Severus. You do yourself a disservice when you say you're not very good." He gestured toward the piano, then, asking, "Are you not going to continue?"
Severus' eyes darted around nervously as the boy spoke, his hands clasping behind his back. "I... I'm not really sure what else I remember," he mumbled quietly, feeling as if he had exposed too much of himself as it was. It was strange and very, very unnerving for him.
His brows rising, he asked, "Would you like me to play a bit?" Then, blinking, he finished, "I could have the House Elves owl some sheet music, if you'd like. We have multiple copies of various pieces - that's what happens when you travel a lot as a child. I was always losing copies and then finding them later..."
Severus nodded, mentally breathing a sigh of relief as the pressure was lifted off of him. "Yes, please," he stated simply. The fluttering feeling that he had experienced earlier returned to the pit of his stomach when queried by Adrian if he would like sheet music. The answer was painfully obvious to him, "That would be greatly appreciated. I lost most of my sheet music when I was nine. I've been playing from memory since then."
"I'll send home for the music, then, tonight. It should be here in the morning." Adrian pushed himself up, out of the chair, and moved toward the piano. "Please, sit. Is there anything in particular you would like to hear?"
Severus nodded, sitting himself down in the chair, hands folded in his lap. Watching Adrian move towards the piano, he shrugged, and said, "I have no preference. It's entirely up to you."
Deciding on a simple piece by Chopin, Adrian seated himself and ran through a few arpeggios before beginning the opening notes. He was actually rather relaxed, even though he'd really only played for Augustus and his father - as well as various and sundry nurses throughout his childhood - to date. He'd learned early on that, as long as he was pleased with his performance, their opinions didn't really matter. But, all the same, he hoped Severus was at least enjoying himself a bit. Otherwise the entire exercise would have been pointless.
Severus leaned over, resting his arms across his legs. His foot began to rhythmically tap out the counts of the piece. Keeping his head bent low, his eyes gazed upward, watching his Housemate through each of the piece's movements and measures. Unlike Severus himself, he seemed to be quite at ease and relaxed as he played, something that puzzled the boy.
Back straight, fingers moving easily over the keys, Adrian tilted his head to the side a bit, listening critically to the flow of notes, the melody. He really was enjoying this particular piano. He finished the final key strokes with a bit of a flourish and turned to smile at Severus.
Severus' foot immediately ceased, and he straightened himself up. Clapping politely, he offered a small, lopsided grin, and said, "That was most enjoyable. It's been quite some time since I listened to another play. You're.... very good."
Giving Severus a teasing half-bow, Adrian chuckled and asked, "Compliments? Flattery? Oh, I will simply have to entertain you more often, Severus, if a song on the piano can make you smile." Then, standing, he finished, "Shall we adjourn for dinner, or would you, perhaps, like to play something else? Something simple - I'm sure a bit of Heart and Soul could do the both of us good." He was tempted to wiggle his eyebrows, but he refrained, unsure how the younger boy would take the gesture.
A furious rush of crimson flooded Severus' pallid, sunken cheeks. "It's just..." he paused, choosing different words, "I find the piano a source of entertainment, as I said before." The Slytherin stood up abruptly, hands finding their way into his pockets, curling into tight fists in a feeble effort to combat his discomfort. "I'm quite hungry, actually," he said in a quiet tone, wondering if such words would be considered rude of him. He hadn't the faintest idea.
Realizing that teasing might not have been the best tactic, Adrian allowed his expression to relax and murmured, "As am I." He offered Severus a smile and motioned toward the door. Then, wondering if he was making the right move, Adrian finished, "I hadn't meant to make you uncomfortable, Severus. I'm sorry, if I did."
Quickly, Severus walked over to to the door. Listening to the boy, he wondered what exactly he was getting at. He was infamous for his awkwardness, his discomfort. It was no more than the natural course of events when around others. Why was Adrian wasting his time trying to apologise for it? Instead of voicing any of this, he stated simply, "That's not necessary."
Shrugging, Adrian replied, "Nevertheless, I am sorry. I didn't mean to upset you - in fact, I'd hoped you would enjoy this, as you're the only other person I've met so far who plays."
Severus turned to Adrian, and said with a slight eagerness in his tone, "I did enjoy this, very much so. I don't know any others who even show the slightest interest in such things." Turning away, he walked down the corridor, turning to descend the steps into the Entrance Hall. As he came to the bottom, he said to Adrian, "I'll be entering the Great Hall in a few minutes. I have some business I have to attend to first."
Nodding, Adrian gave Severus another smile and murmured, "I'll see you in a few minutes then, I suppose. We should discuss practising, then, I think."
love on ave Q: Nodding, Severus turned and began traveling to the door in the Entrance Hall that led down into the dungeons. With some effort he pulled open the heavy, oaken door, and disappeared into the darkness, going toward the Slytherin Common Room, where he would remain for the rest of the evening.