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Halo

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The door opened and Severus looked up.

“Cheers, mate. Good luck.” Came the greeting from the man emerging.

He heard someone call “Next!” from beyond the door. He would wait a second before going in. He could hardly resist a dramatic entrance. After the 10th breath, he got up from the chair he had been sitting on and made his way into the room. The door slammed behind him and his quick steps were full of authority. Inwardly, he smirked, outwardly, he exuded a mix of authority and nonchalance. They would know who held power in this situation.

“I’ve taken the liberty of listening to some of your released materials. I find your technical proficiency to be adequate for what I’m seeking in a band. However, I will need you to be in sync with me and tuned into the slight changes I make in each song. I find that practiced emotion tends to leave my music lacking, and therefore, will need you to be able to pick up and adapt as the need arises.”

He raised his eyebrow, quelling any objections they may have begun sputtering.

“I’ve prepared the song you requested. Let’s just see where that takes us. You may begin whenever you’re ready.”

“Wait a second! We’re auditioning you. You don’t get to call the shots. Who the fuck do you think you are?”

His voice took on a menacing, intimidating quality as he sneered, “I am the best hope you have for making something of this little …group of basement dwelling, odorous miscreants. Either you will play when I tell you to play and we will begin building a professional relationship, or I will walk out of here and you will have to use the screeching cat you just auditioned.”

Silence.

He blinked for effect, then repeated “You. May. Begin.”

-----

It had been two years since he started working with the members of the band. They fell into a routine easily and he found them pleasantly competent and capable of following instructions and even throwing out a good idea every now and then. They were able to match his raw emotion with their own instruments to create a sultry mix, somewhere between pop. Folk, and rock.

On this anniversary, they would be playing at a swanky new music venue in London proper. Somewhere between playing at local dive bars and the casual small music venue, someone of influence had heard them and invited them to play. So, presently, that’s where they found themselves. Sitting backstage, waiting for people to file in, for record agents and emerging artists to settle in to “discover” new talent.

A perk of being a wizard and an accomplished legilimens was the ability to read the room so to speak, without exerting more than minimal effort. He never went deep into the minds of muggles, for fear of causing permanent damage, but he could skim the surface quickly, gather the emotions and hear the thoughts, without them even knowing something was occurring. It didn’t take a whole lot of magical energy to feel the nervous energy of everyone in the room. This would not do. Nervous musicians made a muck of things. This was too important to the band for a simple case of nerves to cause a setback. Dutifully, he put on his most authoritative face and stood.

“Get up. Stand up. Right now.” He snarled.

They jumped but did as they were told. That was a good sign. The trust that they had with each other was a huge asset and would make this a lot easier.

“I can feel you jittering from the fucking hallway. Get yourselves under control. You will not fuck this up. If you want to have any shot of playing somewhere other than a dive bar for the rest of your lives, you will get yourselves together and remember that you are more than capable of playing this set and playing it well.”

They looked more nervous than before. Damn. He couldn’t risk a calming charm, for the very real likelihood that they would be too calm and fall asleep mid set. He’d have to do this the muggle way. Damn again.

“Take a breath.”

“Severus, you’re joking. You’re gonna try to make us fucking meditate? I don’t know what weird rituals you do before a show but having us relax doesn’t fucking work. I’m not gonna go out there and play some fucking mellow jazz –“

“Take. A. Breath.” He paused. “Now,” he added with emphasis. His eyes bore into them as he, himself, took a deep breath, held it, and exhaled slowly.

“Again.”

They all breathed in sync.

“Again.”

They were still in sync.

“Now close your eyes  - don’t fucking fall over, Todd. Close your eyes. Breathe again.”

The tension was slowly subsiding from the room.

“Keep your eyes closed and continue breathing. You do not owe anyone out there anything. Whatever type of performance you think they’re expecting, stop. Whatever pressure you’ve put on yourself to perform, let it go. Let it go. They want to see authenticity. You are all talented musicians. When we’re at our best is when we don’t give a fuck about the audience. Most of the people out there wouldn’t be able to find their way around a guitar if you gave them an instruction manual and a step-by-step guide. You are the experts here. They crave you. Now open your eyes.”

Five faces stared back at him.

“We’re going to walk out there, do that stupid fucking cover, and then unleash some fucking magic on them. And then I’ll buy you all a pint.”

Severus, himself, felt much calmer. It’s amazing what a few breaths and a simple pep talk could do.

He stepped out onto the stage.

---

As the music began, he checked in on his bandmates. He could still feel nerves, but there was also concentration and a steadiness that was lacking before.

He paced the stage and took a sip of water before heading to the mic.

Remember those walls I built?

Well, baby they tumblin’ down.

Didn’t even put up a fight

They didn’t even make a sound.

Severus reigned in a snarl. It was necessary to cover a song, he knew, for technicality’s sake, but fuck if he didn’t hate it. And fuck if he wouldn’t put his own spin on it. That would probably loosen up his frigid band mates, as well.

I found a way to let you win

But I never really had a doubt.

Standin’ in the light of your halo

I got my angel now.

 

He could feel the tension begin to dissipate. They were loosening up, starting to feel it.

 

It’s like I’ve been awakened

Every rule I had, you break it..

It’s the risk that I’m takin’.

I ain’t never gonna shut you out.

 

Everywhere I’m lookin’ now

I’m surrounded by your embrace.

Baby I can feel your halo.

You know you’re my savin’ grace.

 

A quick check told him they were stiffening again. He searched the crowd. They were into it. He’d give them a little tease and then they’d let loose.

 

You’re everything I need and more

It’s written all over your face

Baby I can see your halo – ooh ooh

I pray it won’t fade away

They hadn’t practiced holding that last note and the atmosphere behind him instantly shifted. He’d pulled them out of their heads and made them pay attention to the actual music. Fucking finally.

Just have fun, damnit, he snarled to himself.

I can feel your halo, halo, halo

I can see your halo, halo, halo

I can feel your halo, halo, halo

I can see your halo, halo, halo

 

Letting go of his worry, he let loose and allowed himself to immerse himself the music, the performance, the feeling of the bass in his veins and the steady thud under his feet. His eyes closed. His body relaxed. This is what he lived for.

Hit me like a ray of sun

Burnin through my darkest night

You’re the only one that I want

Think I’m addicted TO your light.

He smirked and began interacting with the crowd more. He knew how to work them, how to coax out their interest, tease them until they felt like they couldn’t take it any longer. Then back down and bring them to the edge again.

Entertaining a crowd was similar to enticing a lover. He caressed the microphone, his voice taking on a slightly more gravelly tone.

I swore I’d never fall again

But this don’t really feel like fallin’

Gravity can’t forget

To pull me back to the ground again

 

He loved this part of playing in front of a crowd. Where the band melds together, no longer individual players, but one cohesive force of creation, emotion, and sound. His eyes closed as he dipped his body along with the music.

 

Feels like I've been awakened

Every rule I had you break it

The risk that I'm taking

I'm never gonna shut you out

 

The high notes were his favorite. They felt like silk on his vocal chords and never failed to receive a reaction. Mostly known for a deep rumble, it never failed to make him smirk when the look of utter surprise unfailingly fell onto the faces listening to him.

 

Everywhere I'm looking now

I'm surrounded by your embrace

Baby, I can see your halo

You know you're my saving grace

 

You're everything I need and more

It's written all over your face

Baby, I can feel your halo

Pray it won't fade away

As if a tidal wave swept over him, he let his voice crest and fall in time with his emotions. He dug deep, the catharsis creating a sense of euphoria. It welcomed him with open arms, and he ran into them. Here, now, he wasn’t expected to be stoic and unmovable.

Freedom, honesty. Things he was known distinctly not to have, were his only defining characteristics when he sang. Jubilation took over.

 

I can feel your halo (halo) halo

I can see your halo (halo) halo

I can feel your halo (halo) halo

I can see your halo (halo) halo

I can feel your halo (halo) halo

I can see your halo (halo) halo

 

I can feel your halo (halo) halo

I can see your halo (halo) halo

Halo, halo

The people in this room saw him as he chose to be. Not as his reputation suggested. This identity, this Severus Snape, truer to himself than any other identity he’d had over the years, was desired.

Even now, every time he faced a crowd, he was taken aback by their open reception, their willingness to let him in, their trust to allow him to manipulate their feelings and take them on a journey with every song.

But it wasn’t just him. His entire band, they all played a part in transfixing their audience.

Stepping back, Severus admired them. They had come a long way, and they continued to support him, even through his surly, dramatic waves of prized prickishness when things weren’t lining up the way he wanted.

Everywhere I'm looking now

I'm surrounded by your embrace

Baby, I can see your halo

You know you're my saving grace

It stunned him thinking about it. His band accepted him for who he was and kept coming back. He stood, letting that thought wash through him, and almost missed his next lyric.

 

You're everything I need and more

It's written all over your face

Baby, I can feel your halo

Pray it won't fade

Caught in the music, Severus didn’t notice that he was improvising.

He walked into the crowd. Never before had he let his guard down this much. While he would flirt and interact with the crowd, he kept to the stage, a safe distance from people. It was easier that way. It was more comfortable to keep everyone that far away. He was good at it, too. At least, he thought he was. It was troubling how effortlessly he let his band in, how close they had gotten. He would have froze to the spot at that revelation, had he not been performing.

Right now, though, he felt his legs moving in time to the beat, carrying him through waves of people. He felt their energy and absorbed it, fueling his voice.

 

I can feel your halo (halo) halo

I can see your halo (halo) halo

I can feel your halo (halo) halo

I can see your halo (halo) halo

He could hear his band faintly in the distance, feeding off the energy as well. 

I can feel your halo (halo) halo

I can see your halo (halo) halo

I can feel your halo (halo) halo

I can see your halo (halo) halo

 

 This is what it was all about. Years of secrecy, of hatred, were worth these five minutes of unadulterated bliss. In this moment, if he had no other happiness in his life, this would be enough.

 

Remember those walls I built

Baby, they’re tumbling down

They didn’t even put up a fight

Didn’t even make a sound.