A/N: This fic was inspired by Ad Astra Per Alia's "Walking the Perimeter of Feelings." She dropped a hint and I received it with open arms, so this is for her! This fic is also dedicated to the very lovely and talented Misskoum!
The italic parts in between are from Beethoven's "Immortal Beloved" letter(s) (it's like three letters disguised as one!). The dates used in the story are for his death, his First Symphony, the Ninth Symphony, the Immortal Beloved, Napoleon's birthday (former idol of Beethoven's), the premier of his opera "Fidelio," and his birthday. In case you haven't guessed, I am a big old Beethoven fangirl!
The song that Sheldon sings to Penny is obviously already on the radio. I just decided to play with it a little bit.
As usual, I own nothing, my friends. Also, Spoilers for Season 3 up to episode 19, methinks.
That said, I hope everyone enjoys this. Comments are more than welcome!
The Beethoven Bond
You are suffering, my dearest creature.
Sheldon paused outside his door, hand frozen midway to inserting his key into the lock. Someone was inside. Someone who wasn't Leonard, Howard, or Raj, because they were all still in Las Vegas. They had gone for three weeks in order to "cheer Leonard up" after his ugly split from Penny. Sheldon found it odd that Penny's own obviously downcast spirits had not garnered the same sort of respect or attention. After all, it was Leonard who had cheated on Penny.
He would have assumed that the violator of his inner sanctum was Penny—she was the only other person who would possess a key—but whoever it was had obviously commandeered his keyboard and was playing the first movement of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata." As far as he knew, Penny had no interest in Beethoven or musical instruments.
Making sure to keep his cell phone in hand in case he had to dial 9-1-1, he silently turned the key in the lock and opened the door just a crack.
He nearly dropped his phone in shock when he saw that the intruder was indeed Penny. She was sitting in his desk chair with the keyboard on its stand in front of her. Her playing posture was terrible—she was hunched over the keys as if in pain—but each note was spot-on. Her fingers only faltered when she gave a great sniff and her shoulders heaved in a silent sob.
Sheldon put his keys in the bowl.
She practically jumped out of her skin, nearly upsetting the keyboard in her surprise. They both scrambled to right it before it could crash to the floor. Sheldon made to scold her, but the words died in his throat when he caught sight of her face.
She looked tired and pale. The redness around her eyes suggested that she had been crying for some time.
"Why are you crying?"
She sighed heavily and tried to rub the tears from her eyes with the heels of her palms.
"I'm crying because I can't figure out where I went wrong, Sheldon."
"You're going to have to be more specific, I'm afraid."
She walked over to the couch and threw herself down onto the middle cushion. Sheldon had come to think of it as her spot.
"Where I went wrong with Leonard. I'm crying because of Leonard, okay?"
Sheldon frowned, feeling a sudden surge of anger against his former best friend. Ever since they had all returned from the Arctic, Leonard had too often been guilty of making others cry. Sheldon was used to bullies, but making Penny cry was an even more unforgivable offense than tampering with science. No one was allowed to make Penny cry.
He brought her the box of tissues he normally kept on his desk and sat down next to her, unsure of what to say. It seemed that the tissues were enough to invite Penny to elaborate though, so he was spared any awkward "there theres."
"I thought he would be different than the others, you know? Everyone I've ever been with has treated me like I'm this pretty little bauble they can show off to their friends and then toss in the garbage once something prettier and shinier comes along. I thought Leonard liked me for who I was, but I guess for a while now I've just been kidding myself."
She blew her nose loudly and tossed the tissue onto the coffee table. Sheldon made a very concentrated effort to not dissolve into nervous spasms.
"The worst part is, I'm not even crying because I miss him or anything. When I broke things off, I felt this horrible sense of relief!" she shook her head in disgust. "What upsets me most is that I don't think I'm ever going to find someone who just loves me for who I am and not because I remind them of Malibu Barbie."
When she didn't say anything more for a few minutes, Sheldon felt that it was safe to speak.
"First of all, you are not Malibu Barbie. That is a Leslie Winkle-ism, and therefore such a notion is not allowed in this home. You are Penny. Just Penny," he said in a stern tone.
She rewarded him with a small smile.
"Secondly, while I agree that the odds should be stacked against your ever finding a 'soul mate' in a sea of billions of other people, they are actually not. Most people actually do find someone that they wish to share a life with. I have every confidence that you will eventually find someone. Research informs me that patience is often the most important factor here."
Penny reached over and squeezed his hand. This was not one of her usual expressions of affection, but she released his fingers before he could even wonder how he was supposed to reciprocate.
"What about all of that prompted you to turn to melodramatic keyboard playing?"
She laughed lightly.
"Sweetie, there are moments when only Beethoven will do."
"That raises more questions than it answers. For instance, since when do you like Beethoven? How long have you been playing? Did you turn to a Beethoven piece because today is the anniversary of his death?"
"Yes. I keep a calendar of important Beethoven dates."
"Okay, first of all, that's weird, but I love you for that. Second, I've loved Beethoven ever since my third grade teacher showed us 'Beethoven Lives Upstairs.' The man who could overcome what he did and still crank out the Ninth Symphony is a hero in my book. To answer your other question, I took piano lessons as a kid and it's always something I fall back on when I need a pick me up."
"Why the calendar?"
Sheldon could feel himself blushing.
"Beethoven is also one of my idols. He came from a broken home and even faced the potential loss of his ability to exercise his genius with the decay of his hearing, but he never let anything stop him. I've often found that to be a great source of inspiration when it comes to my own work, especially since…" he trailed off, not wanting to drag up Leonard's greatest offense to him.
Penny cleared her throat.
"Leonard hasn't done much right by either of us this year."
"Not at all."
Even Sheldon was surprised by the angry edge to his voice.
"Let's…let's just not think about him, okay? The guys are off on their Vegas trip, so why can't we have some fun? What do you usually do on Beethoven days?"
"I normally just permit myself an extra cookie at lunch time."
Sheldon thought hard. His schedule was very important to him, but the crestfallen look on Penny's face was a powerful inducement to want to do something more. He couldn't explain it logically, but he knew that he would do whatever it took to see her smile again. She hadn't really smiled since the night he had rescued her. From then on, her grins had seemed tired and forced, not sunny and carefree. He felt that he would regret what he was about to say, but he knew he was making the right decision.
"Penny, I propose that on all Beethoven days from this point on we suspend the daily schedule."
If her jaw had fallen any harder, it would have hit the floor.
"For real." He nodded decisively. "In fact, I say we do something special for each day, right up to December sixteenth."
"What day is that?"
She bit her lip.
"Sheldon, are you sure about this? I love spending time with you, but are you absolutely positive you want to do this?"
"Penny, I will repeat what I said to you in November: Never let it be said that Sheldon Lee Cooper ignored the pleas of a damsel in distress."
"Sheldon, I'm going to hug you now."
She threw her arms around his neck. He felt that he was getting much better at hugging, so he put his arms around her without hesitation. Resting his cheek on top of her head was a surprising new addition to their embracing paradigm, as well as the strange, fluttery feeling in his stomach. This was only exacerbated by the scent of pomegranate in her hair. He felt himself flush again when he remembered that it was one of the scents he had purchased for her.
She pulled back with a contented sigh.
"So what're we doing today?"
"Well, our options are limited, as it is rather late in the afternoon. However, we could always rent a movie, go out for ice cream, anything, really."
"How about putt-putt?"
"I like the way your mind works."
They shared a smile and Penny went to get her coat.
When I consider myself in relation to the universe…
Sheldon put his windbreaker over his arm, picked up his valise, and took one last look around the apartment to make sure that all was in order before locking the door. Penny was already waiting for him in the hallway with her "Hello Kitty" overnight bag.
"All set then, Penny?"
"All set, mon capitain!" she gave a mock salute and they headed down the stairs and out to the car park.
They were spending a couple of days in San Francisco. Raj had phoned Sheldon the evening before, saying that the guys would be coming home early. Howard was broke and a drunken Leonard had stormed the stage at a performance of "Cats," claiming that Sheldon would want one of those kitties since it was hypoallergenic. Their big Vegas trip had sort of lost its luster after that. They would be home on Easter morning.
Penny had been slightly put out.
"I was looking forward to spending Easter with you!"
"I don't celebrate Easter Penny."
"I know, but I thought I'd at least make us a nice dinner or something."
Sheldon had thought for a moment.
"Well, tomorrow is another Beethoven day. Perhaps we could do something then?"
"What do you have in mind?" she had asked, excited.
Sheldon had looked up special events for that weekend, and had found the perfect solution in San Francisco: there was a planetarium there that would be putting on a special show set to the music of Beethoven.
"Honey that's great! We can go out for Easter dinner and then go to the show!"
She had run back to her apartment to call her manager to say she would not be in that weekend while Sheldon had informed Dr. Gablehouser that he would be taking a personal day.
Now they were on the road, and Sheldon had been put in charge of the radio. Penny was of course choosing the songs, but Sheldon was responsible for turning the dial.
They left so early in the morning that they arrived before noon. They checked themselves into their hotel before heading out to enjoy the city. They rode the street cars for awhile and then grabbed some lunch by the bay so that they could watch the sea lions.
Penny laughed and clapped her hands when one of the animals caused the pontoon to tip over, tossing all of the other sea lions back into the water. Sheldon had to admit that their antics were amusing.
Their next stop was the Golden Gate Bridge, which Penny claimed she had never actually seen sober.
"At least this time I'll be able to picture it clearly in my memory," she laughed.
"Perhaps you would like a photograph? It is an auspicious occasion, being your first sober visit, after all."
She punched him playfully on the arm.
"Why, was that a joke, Dr. Cooper?"
Sheldon felt a wry grin spread across his face.
Penny fished around in her purse and found her camera.
"How about we take a picture of the two of us? It is our first trip with just each other, after all." She felt cheeky mimicking his words of the moment before, but she never got tired of being cheeky with Sheldon. He was so much fun to banter with.
She was surprised when he didn't have a snarky comeback.
"I'd like that." He was softly smiling.
There was a weird, swooping feeling in her stomach when he looked at her like that. She decided she was not going to deal with it at the moment.
They stood with their backs to the bridge and Sheldon held the camera out at arm's length so they would both be in the shot. He pushed the button to take it and then looked at the result on the screen. Penny's hair was blowing in both of their faces, but both were wearing happy grins. Sheldon was satisfied. Her smile was not quite restored to its usual mega-wattage, but this was a step in the right direction.
Later in the day they went to a restaurant near the planetarium. Penny insisted that they toast the holiday. Sheldon raised his glass of Diet Coke and added: "To Beethoven."
"To Beethoven," she agreed.
The food was delicious. Penny wasn't particularly surprised. Sheldon usually had good taste. What did surprise her—in a good way—was how well he held up the conversation. Not that he was boring or anything—Sheldon was never boring—but he had never shown such an interest in what she had to say before when he wasn't getting anything directly out of it. It was really nice.
"Penny, I need your advice."
Her eyebrows shot up so high it was almost comical.
"What for, sweetie?"
"This is rather silly, but my favorite band is having a songwriting contest and I wish to enter."
"Ooo, who's your favorite band?"
"Train," he said, like the answer should have been obvious.
Penny did her best not to squee over how absolutely adorable that was.
"Ok. Where does my advice come in?"
"They are looking for a love song."
He flushed and toyed with the remaining peas on his plate.
"I must admit I am at a loss as to where to begin."
He didn't come to her very often to ask for help. Penny was a little moved.
"Well, sweetie, the best I can do for you is to tell you to just write what you know."
"I know a lot of things Penny."
She couldn't help but roll her eyes.
"I know there are a lot of things in that beautiful mind of yours Sheldon. What I mean to say is, apply what you know about love to the situation. You don't have to be an expert to come up with something really wonderful. Just be you. Be Sheldon."
She could see the gears turning behind those baby blues.
"Thank you Penny. That is actually quite helpful."
Sheldon insisted on paying for their meal and then they walked the few blocks to the planetarium.
The inside was set up like it would be if they were stargazing in a park. Lawn chairs and blankets had been provided, and everyone was sitting under a large dome-shaped screen.
Penny and Sheldon spread their blanket out right in the center. It had taken them twenty minutes to pick out a blanket that Sheldon had deemed to be clean enough, so they were lucky to get such a choice spot.
The lights dimmed, and a sky full of stars appeared on the screen. There was a collective gasp from the audience. Penny really felt like she was sitting outside.
Then the music began. It wasn't limited to any certain piece. All of the works just seemed to fade into one another as a progression of images appeared on the screen. The stars, the Earth, the Moon, other planets. It was like traversing the Solar System with Beethoven.
The show was only set to last an hour, and it went by much too quickly. Toward the end, a shot of an entire galaxy appeared. Penny heard Sheldon suck in a breath and looked up at him.
His face was filled with absolute awe. Penny wondered if this was what he pictured while he was working on his white boards at home. It was incredible. She began to understand why he loved what he did so much.
Sheldon felt the weight of her gaze and looked down at her. Penny was looking at him with her eyes wide in amazement. He was at an almost total loss for words.
"We're so small Penny…so small," he breathed.
Yeah, maybe there was a lot more to be said for all that science stuff after all.
Back at the hotel, Sheldon escorted her to her room.
"I will be right across the hall, should you need me."
"Just like home."
"Yes…just like at home."
Penny put her arms around his waist and squeezed.
"Thank you for everything, Sheldon."
He had a feeling she was referring to more than the events of the day.
"Happy Easter Penny."
Oh God, why must one be parted from one whom one so loves?
Penny was spending this particular Beethoven Day by herself. At work. Doing a double shift.
She hadn't seen Sheldon much for the last couple of weeks, and she missed him. They had grown so much closer and she now found herself feeling sort of bereft when he wasn't around.
The guys were all attending a gala being held in honor of some visiting professor. Sheldon had been upset when he had found out that he would be missing out on a Beethoven Day with Penny, but there had been to chance of being able to ditch the event. Penny had told him she was working anyway and not to worry about it.
She still felt it was kind of a shame. It was Ninth Symphony Day, which was a pretty big day!
Penny did her best to get over her disappointment and got through the rest of her shift as well as could be expected. The restaurant was very busy, and by the time she punched out and went to her car her feet were absolutely killing her.
She trudged up the stairs to her apartment like a zombie and pulled out her keys. A box lying in front of her door stopped her in her tracks. It looked like it had come from a bakery. She picked it up, found that there was a cake inside, and read the note that had been taped to the lid:
I am sorry we missed out on our Beethoven-themed activity for today. I hope this makes up for it and that you do not mind that I have taken the liberty of drawing your bath. Even though I still maintain that a shower is more pertinent to your cleanliness, I also understand that your feet ache terribly after work.
Sheldon Cooper, Ph.D.
Penny felt her heart fluttering wildly in her chest. She wondered if Sheldon had any idea how romantic this was.
She went inside and found her tub full of bubbles. He had used her favorite pomegranate scent. She made sure the water was still nice and warm and then went to cut herself a piece of cake. Tonight, she would be having dessert in the tub.
My heart is full of so many things to say to you—ah, there are moments when I feel that speech amounts to nothing at all.
It was Immortal Beloved Day, which was pretty huge in the Beethovenverse. Sheldon said that he had a surprise for Penny. She bounded over to 4A at the appointed time, feeling very excited. If she was totally honest with herself, most of the excitement came from knowing she was spending the day with Sheldon. She had really been falling pretty hard for him. Every moment they spent together opened her eyes a little more. Here was a man she could really love. Not a "nice guy." A man. A good man.
She was also pretty sure that he felt the same way. The look in his eyes was different lately. Sometimes she would catch him watching her and he would quickly look away, cheeks pink. She didn't want to push him though. He could take his time to come to terms with whatever he was feeling. She had waited this long. She could afford a little more patience.
All of the guys were in the living room, but Leonard looked like he was just on his way out.
"Sorry I can't stick around for your surprise Penny, but I have a date!"
She smiled at his enthusiasm.
"Good for you, sweetie! Have fun!"
"Thanks!" he called, trotting out the door.
Penny looked at the three left on the couch. Howard and Raj were sitting on the edge of their seats, practically bouncing in excitement. Sheldon was in his spot, holding a ukulele in his lap.
"Hey guys! So…what's up?"
To her surprise, Raj spoke up.
"We hope you don't mind Penny, but Sheldon told us the news and we just had to come hear."
She sat down in the arm chair.
Now Sheldon was the bouncy one.
"I won the contest Penny."
It took her a moment to realize what contest he was referring to.
"Oh! Oh my God! The Train contest?"
He nodded happily.
"The song is being released on the radio in a couple of weeks."
"Congratulations! Sheldon that's wonderful!"
He bit his lip.
"That's not all. This is actually your surprise. You told me to 'write what I know,' so…so I wrote about you."
Raj clapped his hands delightedly.
"Easy, buddy," Howard patted his back, giving him a look that clearly said: "Mind that nervous bladder of yours!"
Raj nodded solemnly.
"Sheldon, that's wonderful. Thank you."
No one had ever written a song for her before. She was sort of speechless.
"I'd like to perform it for you."
"Honey I'd love that."
He nodded and picked up the ukulele.
"I must warn you, I added some 'pop culture' phraseology to make it more acceptable to general audiences, so I apologize for any strange metaphors."
He cleared his throat, flexed his fingers, and began to play.
Hey-ey, Hey-ey-ey-ey, Hey-ey-ey-ey,
Your lipstick stains
On the front lobe of my left side brains
I knew I wouldn't forget ya
And so I went and let you
Blow my mind
Your sweet moon beam
The smell of you in every
Single dream I dream
I knew when we collided
You're the one I have decided
Who's one of my kind
Hey soul sister
Ain't that Mister Mister
On the radio, stereo
The way you move ain't fair, you know
Hey soul sister
I don't wanna miss
A single thing you do
Penny's heart felt like it was going to explode.
Just in time
I'm so glad you have
A one track mind like me
You gave my life direction
A game show love connection
We can't deny
I'm so obsessed
My heart is bound to beat
Right out my untrimmed chest
I believe in you
Like a virgin, you're Madonna
And I'm always gonna wanna blow your mind
Penny felt tears pooling in her eyes as he launched into the next chorus and then straight into the final verse.
The way you can cut a rug
Watching you is the only drug I need
So gangster, I'm so thug
You're the only one I'm dreaming of
You see, I can be myself now finally
In fact there's nothing I can't be
I want the world to see you be with me
Penny let the tears roll down her cheeks as he sang the chorus a couple more times and came to a finish.
Raj and Howard were gobsmacked.
Sheldon was watching her, chewing his lip.
She launched herself at him and threw her arms around his neck, kissing his cheek and nearly crushing the ukulele between them.
"It's beautiful. Thank you. Thank you."
She was peppering his face with kisses.
He gently returned her embrace. She could feel his hands shaking.
Raj was sniffling loudly.
Howard silently handed him a tissue.
At my age I need a steady, quiet life—can that be so in our connection?
Penny was trying to kill him. In the last month, he had been subjected to a trip to the beach, a hiking trip that had ended with Howard accidentally ingesting a peanut and being rushed to the hospital, a night at the movies for a romantic comedy marathon, and the Herculean task of trying to teach Penny how to make a proper zucchini bread. Throughout it all, he had experienced alarming increases in heart rate and frequent bouts of sudden cold and hot sweats. His constant need to be at Penny's side would be the instrument of his demise.
He had never fallen in love before, so he was unsure how to proceed. Penny had come to have a tremendous importance in his day to day life. A day without her felt like an eternity. She made him want to be a better man than he was, to be able to give her everything he could to make her happy.
To his immense surprise, this new development had not been a detriment to his work. He was making leaps and bounds' worth of progress. For the first time since he had returned from the Arctic he could see a Nobel within his grasp. It seemed that the additional influence of wanting to make Penny proud had spurred him on even more than his own ambitions.
More than anything, he wanted to reveal his feelings to her. He could not help but think and hope that she was feeling the same way, but he did not want to pressure her either. He was not sure how she would react to such an outpouring of emotion from him. So, he would be patient. Wait for the right time. He had waited this long after all.
Today they were going to a screening of "Copying Beethoven." He was spending an afternoon with her. It was enough for now.
I can live only wholly with you or not at all. No one else can ever possess my heart.
Penny's birthday was coming up in a few days, so the guys were having a small dinner in her honor. It had been Sheldon's idea, but the others had gladly agreed to help. They were having take-out of Penny's choice, there would be a "Hello Kitty" birthday cake, and then they were having a marathon Rock Band session. Sheldon also had another surprise for Penny.
"If it's as good as your last one was, she just might ravish you right here in the living room."
Sheldon could feel his cheeks burning.
"Howard, play nice," Leonard admonished.
"That's alright, Leonard. Howard is just jealous because, unlike him, I at least have the remote and unlikely possibility of being 'ravished' by Penny."
Howard looked mildly impressed.
"Touché, buddy." Howard bowed his head in acknowledgment that Sheldon's come back had been pretty good.
Penny arrived moments later, quickly followed by Raj, who had gone out to pick up the food. They all gathered around the television and tucked in.
For the first time in a long time, things felt like they were almost normal. Penny felt herself to be part of a group again. Gone was the angst—Sheldon's work had not only recovered, it was flourishing—and gone were the petty, childish antics that had been keeping everyone apart. The only major differences were how she was feeling and the man who was sitting to her left.
Penny was in love. She had known since…well, she finally figured it out when Sheldon sang her his song, but she knew it had to have been going on for some time before that. He was one serious whackadoodle, but that was a big part of why she loved him so much. She was sure that he was it for her. There would be no one else but Sheldon. Even if nothing ever happened, she just wanted to stay by his side.
Looking up at his profile as he laughed over something Leonard had said, Penny marveled at the great changes that Sheldon had made. He smiled more now, and he seemed really at ease most of the time. He was still the obsessive, nitpicky, exacting man she knew, just more…relaxed. For Sheldon, anyway. She loved seeing him like this.
"Penny, did you hear me?"
She quickly wiped the goofy grin off of her face.
"Obviously not," he huffed.
She rolled her eyes but apologized for not paying attention.
"Sorry honey. What's up?"
"I asked you if you would like your present now or after Rock Band."
"Do you really have to ask?"
"Be right back."
He got up and went to his room. Penny briefly wondered if he would be returning with an armful of gift baskets, but he reappeared with nothing but a small envelope in his hands.
Sheldon sat down and silently handed it to her. He licked his lips nervously. He really hoped Penny liked it.
She pulled out the card and read aloud.
"You're just another friend…" she frowned in confusion.
"Open it," he pressed.
She did so and The Moonlight Sonata started to play.
"…like Beethoven was just another composer," she finished.
Penny's eyes welled up.
"Sheldon, that's lovely."
"That's not all."
He pulled another envelope out of his pocket.
She opened it excitedly and pulled out two small pieces of paper. She read what they said, her mouth silently forming the words.
Her eyes nearly popped out of her head.
"Oh my God."
The others were looking on curiously.
"Oh. My. God."
Now Sheldon was concerned.
He placed a hand on her arm.
She got up and did a little happy dance.
"I take it that means you are content with your gift?"
She plopped back down on the couch, all smiles, and nodded.
"What did you get?" Leonard asked.
"Two tickets to a performance of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony on December sixteenth!" Penny squealed.
"We should've figured it was a Beethoven thing," Howard joked.
"Ooo! I just realized! That's another Beethoven Day, isn't it Sheldon?"
"His birthday, to be precise."
"Sheldon, this is incredible. I can't wait!"
He leaned over and kissed her cheek.
"Happy birthday Penny."
He put his arms around her.
Penny leaned into his touch, basking in the glow of the moment. This was the third time since she had met him that he had initiated a hug with her. She was also the only person she knew that he had ever spontaneously embraced. When Sheldon hugged you, it was a big deal. Besides, a Sheldon hug was usually pretty close to perfect. She was so far gone into a state of bliss that she barely heard Howard's crack about maybe there being a ravishing after all and the subsequent whack that was Raj swatting him upside the head.
My angel, my all, my very self…
Sheldon nervously adjusted his tie one last time. He was wearing the suit he had purchased at Penny's behest earlier in the year—hopefully he would be coming home with his trousers on this time.
Leonard handed him the small bouquet of flowers he had purchased for Penny earlier—wild yellow roses interspersed with honeysuckle. It had preposterously reminded him of her hair and he had purchased it before he could think twice.
"Have a great time Sheldon."
"Thank you, Leonard."
He went across the hall and performed his usual triple-knock. Penny opened the door with a smile and he wordlessly handed her the flowers.
Sheldon felt like he had been punched in the gut. She was wearing an aqua colored dress with an empire waist that fell to mid-calf and looked like it was made of air. Penny had piled her hair in curls on top of her head and stuck a Penny Blossom into the mix.
He realized she had been saying something when she put a hand on his arm, looking confused.
"Honey are you alright?"
He shook the clouds from his head.
"Yes…yes." He swallowed. "Penny, you look breathtaking."
Her cheeks turned a becoming shade of pink.
"Thanks Sheldon. I've said it before, but you look very handsome in your suit."
He helped her put her white shawl around her shoulders and offered her his arm.
The symphony was being performed at a nearby music hall and the weather was unseasonably balmy, so they walked there. Neither said much, beyond wishing the other a happy Beethoven Day.
It was also Anything Can Happen Thursday. As an usher led them to their seats—they would be fairly close to the orchestra—Sheldon could not squash the feeling that something wonderful was going to happen that night.
They didn't have long to wait before the house lights flickered on and off and everyone rushed to their seats. Then, the music began.
Penny couldn't believe this was really happening. She was finally experiencing her favorite music in person. Better, she was with Sheldon. There was no way she was ever forgetting tonight.
The first movement passed quickly into the second. Next to the finale, this was the part Penny enjoyed most. Most people thought it was like walking music, but this movement had always reminded her of something very different.
She leaned over and whispered into Sheldon's ear.
"You know, this always makes me think of pirates for some reason."
Sheldon shivered as he felt her breath on his ear. He was also highly amused.
"You are the only other person besides myself who has ever said that!" he smiled down at her.
It always delighted him, how in sync they were with one another.
They enjoyed the rest of the movement and then stood to stretch when it was time for intermission.
"Penny, would you care for some refreshment?"
She nodded and they went to the lobby, where Sheldon managed to get them both hot chocolate.
"How did you finagle this?" Penny asked, gratefully accepting the steaming cup.
"Penny, I am known in this area for being very demanding. When I go to the theatre and request cocoa, there will be cocoa."
She nearly snorted said cocoa all over the place as she burst into giggles.
"Honey, you've got to be on a list or something of the kind in every place of business in Pasadena."
After they returned to their seats and the third movement was struck up, there seemed to be a new sort of tension in the air. Everyone knew what was coming next, and Penny was not the only one who was practically on the edge of her seat.
It felt like an eternity, but then the tenor stepped forward and the first booming notes of the fourth movement started. She felt Sheldon tense up next to her and looked up at his face. His eyes were sparkling in the low light.
Sheldon let out a gasp and clutched her arm. Penny quickly looked forward and barely contained a flail.
Behind the orchestra and the choir, a screen had been lowered, showing scenes from the movie "Immortal Beloved." Penny covered her mouth, trying not to squeal out loud in delight.
The music started to sync up with the Ode to Joy scene in the film. It was all there: Beethoven's father taking out his frustrations on his brilliant son, the composer as a young man running through the woods and away from the tyrant at home, an older Beethoven, closing his eyes and remembering those sweet moments of freedom and then…and then…
There was a moment of utter silence as the boy on the screen floated on his back out into the lake and became immersed in a sea of stars.
Then, the chorus burst into an explosion of sound.
Penny recalled Sheldon's marveling at how small people were in relation to the universe and felt a great swelling sensation in her chest. For the first time, she really understood the absolute enormity of this music. She felt like something beyond herself. She and this sound were part of a mechanism that was so huge that she couldn't even begin to fathom how it all worked.
Next to her, Sheldon had gone awfully still. She wanted to share this moment, this transcendent feeling, but when she turned to him the words died in her throat.
Sheldon's eyes were closed and there were tears running down his cheeks. He looked like he was feeling some of the same things as Penny was. The usual frown and worry lines were gone from his face and his full lower lip was curled softly in a smile.
It was that, more than the music, that made Penny cry.
Sheldon's hand was sitting on the armrest between them. She placed her hand over his, her fingers trembling with the enormity of the moment. To her surprise, Sheldon interlaced his fingers with hers and brought their joined hands up to rest over his heart.
Penny leaned her head against his shoulder and they let the rest of the symphony wash over them. When the chorus came to its triumphant end, Penny, Sheldon, and the rest of the audience surged to their feet and clapped until their hands hurt and they had shouted themselves hoarse.
It was a little chilly outside, so Sheldon gave Penny his coat on the walk home. He took her hand in his again, since he had enjoyed the sensation so much earlier.
"That was absolutely incredible, Sheldon. Thank you so much for taking me with you."
"You're very welcome Penny. I have been to a couple of performances of this same symphony, but tonight's was the best. You were with me this time," he said, his voice getting softer and more full of Texas with every passing moment.
He held Penny's hand right until they got to her door. She moved to hug him and thank him again for a wonderful time, but he stopped her by putting a hand on her shoulder. He reached up and pulled the Penny Blossom from her curls.
"This is the first one that you and I made together."
It wasn't a question. He knew that it was.
Penny blushed but continued to hold his gaze.
"I couldn't exactly sell something that precious, now could I?" she murmured.
He cupped her face in his hands.
"Penny I love you."
A sharp intake of breath, then:
"My God Sheldon, I love you so much."
He leaned down and kissed her forehead.
He kissed the corner of her mouth.
His lips hovered over hers for the smallest of moments.
"Penny," he sighed.
Then he kissed her.
They were both shaking with the intensity of it. Sheldon's lips moved against hers with all of the pent up emotion that had been building over the last year. Penny smiled against his mouth, knowing that this was only the first of many perfect kisses yet to come.
Continue to love me. Never misjudge the most faithful heart of your beloved. Ever thine. Ever mine. Ever ours.