The clock in the entrance hall had struck twelve solemn beats when Severus Snape emerged from the dungeons and crossed the floor on his way to the Room of Requirement. He paused and gazed wearily upon the seventh year students that were still thronging the area. Some pointed looks had some scurrying off in the directions of their dormitories, but most were seemingly oblivious. Hermione, he noted, was not among any of the groups, not that her absence seemed conspicuous to any of them, Potter and Weasley included.

His frown deepened as he entered the silent empty corridor which housed the room of requirement and the piano music, quieter than usual but if he strained his ears Severus could still make out gentle notes he was sure she was playing. Feeling vaguely silly, he walked past where he knew the threshold of the door to be three times whilst concentrating again upon finding the source of the noise, and was relived when the door materialised as it had done previously.

Placing a hand on the door handle, Severus took a deep breath and a moment to gather himself. The events of the evening had unsettled him greatly, and even now he was not sure that he was doing the right thing. When she had asked him to come here, his first and only thoughts had been of her, and heart racing, he had decided to meet her. An hours' silent reflection in his rooms had allowed doubt to creep in, leaving him nervous and unsure. The fact that this was almost certainly her last night in the castle was not lost on him, and he wondered what she wanted of him, he already having made his feelings perfectly clear by his absence.

Until now.

The music within the room stilled unexpectedly, and Severus pushed the door open in sudden fear that he would not find her there at all. He was sure she would hear the hammering of his heart as he entered the room, but her still form at the piano betrayed no knowledge of his being there at all. Hesitating by the door, he observed her shake her head slightly, and then she began to play again.

The first bars of Moonlight Sonata took him by surprise, filling the small room with a solemn intensity before quickly soaring into sorrowful tune that formed an unexpected lump high up in Severus's throat. He swallowed, finding himself unaccountably nervous, and allowed himself to lean slightly against the door, watching her as she played.

The room was lit only by moonlight this night, but it was bright, spilling in through the high, arched windows that lined up unobscured all the way along one wall. The silvery light, seemingly absorbed by her dress robes, made Hermione shine as though she were a star, borrowed from the heavens to play only for him.

Severus sighed and moved upon silent feet towards the piano, staring down at the look of concentration upon her face as her hands flew across the keys. She was playing a difficult, demanding piece, but he knew that she was not simply showing off. He searched his mind for a definition of a sonata and found one with a jolt.

A sonata, he mused, was a musical form consisting of either three or four separate movements, each varying in pace, in tone, in style. If his first meeting with Hermione in this room was the first, their dance earlier the second, and his being here with her now the third, would there be a fourth?

The music died away as Severus considered this, and Hermione twisted a little to look up at him, her eyes unreadable.

"This sonata only has three movements, Professor," she said quietly, getting to her feet, and answering his unspoken question with apparent ease.

From a proximity of only a few feet, Severus stared at her. Her expression was resolute, without any of the sadness or rebuke that he had been expecting. She had prepared herself carefully for this, he sensed, and she knew exactly what she would do, what she would say...

This thought angered him, and determined to upset her carefully orchestrated plans he had no hesitation in reaching out and tugging her smartly into his arms. She stared up at him, and he down at her, astonished by the warmth he found within the depths of her cinnamon eyes, feeling strangely lost when she bit her lip and looked away from him blindly, her eyes casting this way and that. She had stared at the piano, at the door, and out of the window before he found sufficient courage to reach out and hold her face between his hands, feeling her warmth radiating back into his palms.

She closed her eyes then, and leaned into him wearily.

"I am not a child, Professor," she said quietly, without opening her eyes.

"I know that," a glance at her silvery robes, and the gentle curves within them assured him of this. Dipping his head, he placed a chaste kiss against her upturned mouth, pulled away to find that she was staring at him in some confusion, and then inexplicably found himself kissing her again, wrapping her into his arms and parting her lips with his own. For Hermione's part, she returned his kiss enthusiastically, and not without technique of her own. When he finally pulled away from her, Severus was pleasantly, if breathlessly, surprised. She was looking at him again, he realised, with an expression that he could not read.

Looking over her shoulder, Severus felt within the pockets of his robes and after some searching produced his wand. Pointing it at the baby grand with a few well chosen words, it began to play by itself, a lilting tune that he was sure that she would not recognise. Still within the circle of his arms, Hermione tilted her head to one side and closed her eyes briefly. The merest suggestion of a frown flashed across her face and then she opened her eyes again, smiling up at him smugly.

"Gabriel Faure," she named the composer effortlessly, and found herself rewarded with another kiss.

"Correct," Severus breathed. "And the name of the composition, Hermione?"

He liked the way her name sounded on her lips, he decided. It was...really rather lovely. Hermione. The daughter of Helen of Troy. The daughter of the most beautiful woman in the world.

"I don't know," she admitted crossly, after a few moments' hard thought. Severus guided her gently over to one of the windows, and together they stared out over the magnificent grounds bathed in moonlight. Holding her in his arms, the vanilla scent of her all about him, Severus smiled.

"It is called 'Romance Without Words'. I chose it because it is how I have come to think of my relationship with you. We have never, after all, spent a significant amount of time in each others' company, and neither have we ever spoken of this...this..."

"Romance?" Hermione supplied helpfully. The music in the background soared and dipped unexpectedly, bringing equally unexpected tears to her eyes.

"Yes," Severus nodded. "It is also, and I am sure that the irony of this is not lost upon you, arranged as a duet."

"Like 'Heart and Soul'," she breathed. He reached forward to brush a stray curl away from her face.

"More complicated than 'Heart and Soul', Hermione. We cannot yet play it, for instance."

"Oh, but Severus," she whispered, her eyes shining, making his heart beat painfully hard where it was lodged halfway up this throat. "You will teach me, won't you?"

"It may take years...it may take forever," he told her in mock-seriousness, moving her slowly now in time to the music.

"I'm very patient," Hermione said happily.

"You'd better be." Snape muttered.

Then he smiled at her and knew that everything was as it should be.

Then he kissed her.


A/N: This has existed in half-written frustration on my computer for ages now. Listening to some classical music, and the gentle prodding of a reviewer has encouraged me to finally finish it.

The piano duet 'Romance Without Words' does in fact really exist. If you'd like to listen to it, type 'Piano Duets' into a google search and click onto the first link. 'Romance Without Words' is third from the bottom. Click the speaker icon to listen -et voila! It really is a lovely piece, and well worth a listen as it set the tone of this chapter!