Disclaimer:  Anything you recognize belongs to the goddess, JKR.  This takes place several years after Hermione's graduation.  Based on the fact that Albus Dumbledore's chocolate frog card states his interests as tenpin bowling and chamber music.

Dissonance and Harmony

Well, it was a little more civilized.  Even Severus Snape had to admit that.  And the Muggles were better at this sort of thing.

However, it did not make up for the fact that he had to wear…this…form of medieval torture.  It was like wearing a Shrinking Potion…he felt confined and barely able to breathe.

Oh, the horror of it all.

"Why, Professor Snape, you look quite extraordinary in your tuxedo," an annoyingly familiar voice grated on his already frayed nerves.

Turning around, he paused for a moment…not placing the person in front of him with the voice he just heard.

Recovering himself quickly, he adjusted his bowtie with exaggerated ease.

"Professor Granger…if I may…where did you leave the rest of your dress?" He drawled.

"Honestly, if that is what women are expected to wear to a recital of chamber music…Albus and his ridiculous notions of outings with the other staff…" Severus thought to himself scathingly.  Hermione Granger, know-it-all extraordinaire and newest Charms professor, was wearing what could only be described as a bit of black cloth that seemed strategically placed to…well…it was strategically placed.  She wore no ornament except for a strand of pearls around her neck.  Over her arm, she carried a wrap of some shimmering grey fabric.  Glancing down at her feet, he was certain she was using a Levitation Charm…no person could walk in heels that high.  They almost brought her to nose level.

"Professor Snape…if I may…where did you leave the rest of your manners," she smirked back at him, turning to greet Remus Lupin warmly.  Remus, Severus noted with satisfaction, looked as uncomfortable as he did.  The two professors chatted amicably for a few moments and Severus found that he became quickly annoyed at how well they looked together.  Not that it mattered, mind you.

"Are you looking forward to tonight's performance, Severus?" Remus asked, pulling at his collar.

"As a matter of fact, Remus, yes.  I happen to enjoy an evening at the Centre for the Performing Arts…especially when Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" is being played by one of the finest string quartets in the country.  It is a favourite composition of mine," Severus replied.

Remus smiled.  "Sirius was still struggling to get into his tuxedo.  Honestly…it is such an uncomfortable piece of clothing.  It's a wonder the Muggles can stand it."

"I quite agree…being subjected to such torture must surely delight the Headmaster to no small degree," Severus sighed mockingly.

Remus chuckled.  "Well, it seems that it is in the Muggle custom to confine the men and not the women.  Hermione, you look lovely in that gown."

"You are being charitable, Remus.  I would have called it a scrap of cloth," Severus replied scathingly, all the more because of a glint of something bordering on amusement in Remus' eyes. 

"Professor Granger," Severus turned to the young woman suddenly.  "I hope that you have a small vial of Pepper Up Potion in your tiny purse as I believe your lack of proper attire might cause you to catch a cold."

"Why Professor Snape…I never knew you cared so much," she smiled boldly at his shocked gaze.

Remus laughed again.  "Do try not to be such an overgrown bat, Severus."

"He can't help himself, Remus," Sirius Black appeared in his tuxedo, brushing off his sleeves every so often.  "Peeves decided I needed some tidying up…got at me with a feather duster," Sirius answered the questioning look in Remus' eyes.

"Good to see that Peeves is useful for something," Severus thought wryly.

"To be honest…this isn't the sort of music I go in for but we must make allowances for our Headmaster," Sirius sighed.

"A little too mature for you, Black?" Severus smirked.

"Something written by someone who died hundreds of years ago is hardly inspiring," Sirius shot back.

"I believe that you just insulted Professor Granger whose favourite work of literature is 'Hogwarts:  A History'," The Potions Master replied coolly.

Sirius turned to Hermione and goggled for a moment.

"Yes, Sirius.  It is me," Hermione giggled.

"You look a lot different…without so many books," Sirius stammered slightly.

"Honestly, Black.  Don't make such a fool out of yourself," Severus reprimanded the newest History of Magic Professor.  "She is a woman, after all.  I thought even a dunderhead such as you might have figured it out."

Hermione looked at Severus curiously but he turned away and stomped off (wishing that he had at least a tuxedo with tails so that it would mimic, to some small degree, the billowing of his robes) to look at a portrait of a former head of Slytherin House.

"What is his problem?"  Sirius asked Remus.

Remus said nothing and Hermione suddenly thought it might be a good idea after all to throw the wrap over her shoulders.

"Has Albus arrived yet?" Minerva McGonagall appeared in a lovely black gown.

"You look beautiful…is that silk?" Hermione asked.

"Madame Malkin placed a special order for me," the older woman smiled.  "After all these years, a new ball gown was a welcome indulgence.  Besides, we have much to celebrate.  The Dark Lord has been defeated and the world is now safe."

"Safe from the Dark Lord…we still have to put up with the witty sarcasm of Snape," Sirius grumbled, pulling at his tie once again.

"Really, Black…at least I have a wit," Severus replied blandly.

"Twit would be more like it," Sirius muttered under his breath.

"Honestly, Sirius…play nice with the other wizards," Hermione pouted.

Sirius, still not able to grasp the fact that the beautiful woman in front of him was Hermione Granger, said nothing.  How had that escaped his notice?  He must be getting old.

"I see that we have all assembled," Albus Dumbledore appeared, resplendent in his tuxedo…a jaunty red and gold bowtie completing the ensemble.

"Eliza sends her regrets," Minerva tried not to giggle.  "She remembered a prior engagement."

Hermione turned to Severus.  "I wonder what his name is?"

"Who?"

"Her prior engagement." Hermione grinned. 

Severus chuckled simply because he couldn't help himself.

"Here are your tickets.  The portkey is waiting outside the gates.  And Sirius?" The Headmaster called as he stepped through the doorway.

"Yes?"

"Try not to fall asleep this time.  I give Severus permission to jab you in the ribs with a prodding spell if you start snoring."

Severus looked at the retreating form with amazement then turned to Sirius with a smirk on his face.  "I am sorely tempted to cast a "Nazurchio" spell on you just for the joy of jabbing you in the ribs."

Sirius glared at the Potions Master.  "Hermione," he turned to the young woman, "make certain he behaves himself…or I'll be jabbing at more than his ribs."

Hermione grinned at Sirius as he followed the Headmaster and the others out the door and towards the gates.

"It would appear," she slyly placed her hand in the crook of his arm, "that I am responsible for you tonight."

"You have my condolences," he replied, as they joined the others.

Remus looked at them curiously but no one said a word as they joined the others.  Within moments, they found themselves outside the Weasley Centre for the Performing Arts.

Albus expertly negotiated their small group through the crowd of people and they soon were sitting in their seats. 

"We seem to have been singled out," Hermione noticed; as their box was empty, save for the two of them.

"Eliza and…her prior engagement were to sit with us," Severus replied as he glared at the Headmaster in the next box.  Albus simply smiled and turned his attention back to the stage where the quartet was warming up.

"So that is who it was?  I didn't think the new Herbology professor would be her type," Hermione smiled.

"Eliza is easily pleased…if a man is breathing, he is her type," Severus drawled.

"She's a woman who knows what she wants…there is nothing wrong with that."

"I never implied that there was…simpering ninnies never held any attraction for me.  I prefer someone with more substance."

Hermione turned to him with a wistful expression.  "I quite agree, Severus."

Severus found himself unable to answer and, coughing slightly, turned his attention back to the stage.

The lights began to dim and the music soon began.

Severus, for all his mumblings and grumblings about the outing, was entranced.  He loved chamber music almost as much as Albus and the haunting strains of the "Four Seasons" never failed to provoke a deep, internal reaction…it filled him with hope…it made him feel at peace with the world.  He closed his eyes and took in the music…felt the swell of each crescendo…the crispness of each staccato…the smoothness of each rallentando.  Each note.  Each strain.  Each bar.  Each chord.  Perfect…it was far too perfect.

He soon became aware of a sudden warmth on his hand.  Opening his eyes, he saw that Hermione had placed her hand on his.  For a moment, he simply looked at it.  It was smaller…the fingers felt less rough…and her nails were short…appropriate for someone who regularly delved into his Potions storeroom.

And her hand felt so warm…felt rather nice, actually.

Turning to look at her, he noticed that her eyes were closed as well.  Tears were meandering down her cheeks.  She looked so beautiful.

"She feels the music…just as I do," he thought to himself.

He gave her hand a gentle squeeze and she opened her eyes to look at him.  What he saw…startled him.  Had it been there all along and he had simply been too blind to see it?  Or had he not kept his own feelings as secret as he might have thought?

She leaned over to him.  "Would it be all right if we left during the intermission?"

"Why?"

"I just realized that I have a prior engagement," she smiled. 

"Oh? What sort of prior engagement?"

She reached over to touch his cheek shyly.  "You."

A/N:  Nazurchio means "snore" in my dialect of Italian.