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The Piano Teacher


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A/N: Basically a bit of a fantasy of mine. Also while this isn't necessarily a contagion fic there are aspects of it due to certain character's poor hygiene. :P So I guess consider yourself warned?

Also (fun-fact!) the name of the piano teacher is a play on the name of one of my favorite modern composers, Dario Marianelli (he did the original soundtrack for Pride & Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Atonement, etc.). Anyhoo. On to the fic!

The Piano Teacher

Katie’s piano teacher always seemed a bit tired. Darren Marianelli was a grad student getting his degree in Music Pedagogy and Piano performance. He had classes all day and then taught undergrad students all afternoon to help pay for school. Katie was his last lesson of the day. Despite his obvious and unavoidable end-of-the-day fatigue he was always extremely patient, once they started working.

In her very first lesson though—when she was greeted by his half-curious, half-weary gaze for the very first time—his fatigue had come across as exasperation. This combined with his striking good looks had been extremely intimidating. He’d tiredly directed her to sit beside him and blushing down to her toes she’d complied.

But then she sat next to him on the piano bench in the tiny, cramped practice room and her intimidation melted away. He smelled like honeysuckle under a warm sun, and when her arm rested against the soft jersey of his cardigan, the warmth of his body in its own private intercourse with the heat of hers, she felt so comfortable and calm that it was a battle to keep herself from leaning against him. Thankfully the clipped, weary manner of his speech was enough to pull her from her daydreaming.

Today, though, he seemed unaccountably tired. When she had approached the practice room she saw him slumped against the piano, his posture screaming exhaustion. He’d laboriously pulled himself up when she walked in and she saw him push a crumpled tissue into his cardigan pocket. His straight, chiseled nose looked red and chapped, and his eyes looked bleary and sad. She almost would’ve thought he’d been crying if not for the congested cough he immediately covered with one of his graceful hands. The elegant appendages nearly drove her to distraction when they played, dancing so lovingly across the keys even in the most simple of exercises.

At that moment they were occupied with directing her to her seat beside him. It might’ve been her imagination but he felt warmer than usual at her side.

“We’ll start with the exercises from chapter three today.” He said and his poor voice sounded tired and rough. She passed him her exercise book and he flicked to the correct page before resting it against the stand. She looked at him compassionately for a minute and he looked a bit embarrassed and nodded her to begin. As usual she plodded through the notes. She heard him cough wetly again, and felt the reverberations against her side. Her eyes flitted to him and she missed several notes.

“Sorry.” He said hoarsely, looking rather fed up with himself.

“No it’s my fault.” She said quickly inventing an excuse. “I wasn’t looking between the sheet music and the keys quickly enough.”

“Try slowing the tempo a bit, it’ll give you time to memorize what comes next when you’re still learning a piece.” He suggested, in his usual patient way.

She nodded and played the exercise again—perfectly this time—before moving onto the next section. It was slightly harder and took all of the little concentration she was able to take from her poor teacher. He was sniffling wetly as she played and as she paused for him to turn the page of the music she briefly saw that he had one hand pressed up underneath his nose.

Halfway through the next exercise she felt his breathing change but managed to keep pace when nothing came of it. A few seconds later though she felt it again, his chest expanding and lifting ever so slightly more than before, shivering in the exhale. She stumbled a bit but he didn’t notice and she hazarded a glance. His eyes were at half-mast and his mouth hung open, one hand waiting a couple inches from his face.

hetchishh, chissh, chisshoo!” he sneezed wetly into his waiting palm and Katie shivered at the sensation of his body heaving next to hers with the expulsions. She paused in her playing.

“Bless you.” She said softly as he lowered his hand, sniffling madly. He nodded his thanks and dashed his wrist against his nose.

“Scuse be-HehCHSHH! Scuse be.” He murmured, voice suddenly filled with congestion. He sighed and Katie felt the menthol-scented breath brush against her cheek. “Umb, tob of the page I guess?”

Her heart melted at hearing him so out of sorts. “Sure.”

Again, half-way through the page he broke out in quiet, wet sneezes. “huh... chishh! itchsssh! God I’b sorry Kadie. Jusd keep blaying.”

She nodded, feeling awkward as he had spoken over her quiet, “Bless you”, but kept playing, even when he turned away from her slightly to cough a deep, congested cough toward the wall. There wasn’t room for him to move much away so he’d ended up pressing his back warmly against her side, enough that she felt the tired convulsions.

When he didn’t stop coughing by the time she finished the exercise she pulled out her water bottle, and placing one gentle hand on his shoulder, gestured that he should take it. Through watering eyes he reluctantly took the canister. Before drinking from it he choked out a warning.

“I should dell you—I’ve god a cold.” As if it weren’t obvious.

“I figured. It’s alright though.” She said and he gratefully drank the water, spluttering a bit at first then slowly regaining control.

“Are you alright?” she asked quietly.

“Fide, fide, just a cold.” He assured her weakly.

“But…if you want to call it quits for today I’d more than understand.” She supplied reluctantly. She hated giving up her time with him but he clearly needed bed-rest. Unfortunately he seemed to sense her reluctance, or maybe he was just too silly to take care of himself properly but either way he shook his head.

“I’ll be fine. Why don’t we work on your piece for the recital?” he spoke with less congestion again.

“What piece?” Katie asked feeling a thrill of nervous excitement—finally a real piece. Darren’s tired, ill face softened at her tone.

“Gymnopedie Number 1 by Eric Satie.” He said, smiling ever so slightly. Her eyes widened.

“That sounds so professional!” she gasped. He laughed a little, quieting when it obviously bothered his throat.

“With a good deal of practice you should do alright. Besides, you’ll be more willing to practice if you’re playing something so beautiful.” He said, a bit of his passion shining through his fatigue. “Have you ever heard it?”

She had of course but she would never miss an opportunity to hear him play so she shook her head. He smiled again and he pulled out the sheet music. He coughed into his hands quickly but then set them on he keys.

All of exhaustion seemed to drain away as he played, his eyes falling a bit closed as he swayed with the music. It was achingly wonderful but Katie could see from the first little twitch in his damp, red nose that there would be a problem. He kept playing but he sniffled a bit and Katie saw a bit of moisture leak out above his upperlip. He seemed to determined to ignore it of course and Katie almost felt she knew what would happen before he did.

CHUSHISShisshhihh!”One of the wettest sneezes Katie’d ever heard burst out across the piano and a bit on Katie herself. He cursed quietly and apologized before sniffling and resuming the piece. The mood was broken though and not a few second later he turned his head to muffle another sneeze into his shoulder. “chssmmphisshh!”

It went only downhill from there. A few more notes were played before the music ground to a halt and Darren’s hand flew to cover his nose as sneeze after sneeze wracked his frame.

tschisssssh, chussh, hutchishhh, hutchishhh, itchushhh! I’b so—h'tchishh! h'tchishh! uunh—sorry Katie—tchiSHEEW!—I can’d stop—”

Darren gasped a little, apparently having difficulty catching his breath and Katie worriedly put a hand on his heaving back.

“Try and blow your nose, it might help.” She suggested worriedly. He pulled the raggedy tissue out of his pocket, a few sneezes spraying the piano in the interim and gave his nose a wet, gurgling blow.

“God I’b so sorry Kadie. This cold.” He said, clearly embarrassed, and completely congested once again.

“Don’t worry, it’s that season.” She said awkward once again, and removing her hand. He sat for a moment, catching his breath before sighing and giving a great burbling sniffle. Finally he turned his drained eyes to her.

“Do you wand to have a go ad the first few beasures before calling id a day?” he asked, sounding defeated. Knowing that telling him they could simply stop right then would only embarrass him further she nodded. He swiped a hand under his nose—even redder now, the flush mirrored in his cheeks suggesting feverishness—and demonstrated the first few notes one-by-one.

She mirrored his movements and felt a thrill of happiness when he smiled encouragingly. He was strangely more warmer to her now that the jig was up with his cold—maybe he felt guilty for cutting the lesson short and was making up for it in kindness? Or maybe he was simply happy to be playing something that resembled music again. She wasn’t sure but she concentrated on the notes even harder when she felt that he had begun shivering, wanting to let him get home as quickly as possible.

“You have a bid of a habid of ledding your wrists droop afder the first few beasures when we blay.” He commented gently. “Why don’d we try ad exercise by teacher used? I’ll hold ub your wrists while you blay.”

Her heart fluttered a bit when he placed his warm hands under wrists, an awkward arrangement for sure, but thankfully his arms were long enough that it wasn’t too terrible a stretch for him to reach across her body. The notes flowed more easily despite the ostensibly hampering position and she smiled a bit. The feeling of his warm breath softly puffing against her neck was putting her strangely at ease.

She heard him muffle another quiet “etchissmphsh!” sneeze in his shoulder but only spared it a brief glance and a quiet ‘Bless you’, for which he seemed grateful.

When she eventually finished he pulled back his hands and sighed before coughing damply into them.

“You did well today. I’b sorry I’b cutting this shord.” He began reluctantly. “I’b just feeling…”

He trailed off, seemingly unwilling to say any more on his illness.

“It’s fine. I’m sorry you’re unwell.” She said and he squeezed her shoulder softly before jerking away in a sneeze.

Hehtchshh! Unh...”

“Bless you.”

“Scuse me…Thangs.” He sniffled tiredly before standing, leaning a bit against the piano. She stood too and observed him worriedly.

“Are you going to be alright getting home?” she asked as he shakily hauled his bag over his shoulder.

“Yeah I’ll be fide. Dod’t worry about be.” He said smiling weakly and stumbled to the hallway. Heart aching in sympathy, Katie followed.

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OooOoooooOOoooh! :P Musicians sneezing. :laugh: Poor guy sounds so miserable. I would have felt so awkward if I was his student but it'd totally be worth it to witness all those lovely-sounding sneezes. I love how he tried to soldier on through the song even though he kept sneezing.

Did you plan on continuing this?

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This sounds amazing! I love the idea, sneezy piano teacher.... :laugh: poor guy..... but.... :D the sneezes were..... :P:laugh::hug: thanks so much for writing this and hope there's more :boom:

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Oh holy hell. :laugh: It's like reading a description of what heaven must be like. *contented sigh*

I kept being reminded of my choir director from high school, who had excellent piano hands and a long, straight nose. Oh, what I would've given to have experienced something like this with him. I'd probably have died with a big ol' smile on my face! :twisted:

Ahhhh...I think I'm gonna read this again, now. :heart:

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Oh holy hell. :P It's like reading a description of what heaven must be like. *contented sigh*

I kept being reminded of my choir director from high school, who had excellent piano hands and a long, straight nose. Oh, what I would've given to have experienced something like this with him. I'd probably have died with a big ol' smile on my face! :P

Ahhhh...I think I'm gonna read this again, now. B)

I'm in total agreement! Im a musician, so anything music related is great, but this is brilliant! thanks for sharing! :drool:

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A/N: Thank you to everyone who reviewed!!! I'm so happy that people liked this! Since a couple people asked I've written a part 2 with a bit of contagion at the end--so if you don't like F sneezing just leave off the last bit. Also the relationship between Darren and his roommate could be considered slashy, but it isn't necessarily.

Part 2

Katie had intended to take Darren’s word when he said he was able to get home by himself but when she entered the corridor and saw him slumped against the wall she had a change of plans.

“Darren?” she called nervously as she approached him. She walked around to face him and saw that his eyes were clenched shut and his cheeks were flushed a deep red. She put a hand on his cheek and sure enough it was hot as an oven.

“I…I think I’ll need…yeah.” He said tightly, voice barely audible.

“What is it Darren?” Katie pressed concernedly. He looked terrible after all.

“C-could you call by roobbate and ask hib to pig be up?” he began blearily. “He’s od speed dial, 5.”

“Where’s your phone?”

“Um… tsssshewww! In the frond bocket of by bag.” He sniffled after sneezing wetly onto the wall.

“Bless you.” She murmured and quickly found the phone. As she called Darren’s roommate her poor teacher slid down the wall to sit on the floor and direct a few more tired sneezes at his lap.

Tchishh! Itchishh! Ish, ishhoosh!! Ugh..Scuse be.”

She patted his shoulder absently as the phone rang. Darren’s roommate answered almost immediately.

“Darren what’s up?” asked a deep, male voice on the other end.

“Oh sorry, this isn’t Darren. Um, I’m a student of his and well,” Katie paused, wanting to convey that Darren was really unwell but not wanting to embarrass him. “He’s pretty sick. Could you pick him up at Philips Hall?”

“Of course, of course. Jeez poor guy, I told him he should’ve stayed in bed today. He looked wrecked this morning. Okay I’ll be right there. Give me like 10 minutes.” And with that he hung up.

Katie closed the phone and put it back in Darren’s bag. Her teacher was sitting with his head resting on his knees, shivering and looking groggy and vulnerable and miserable. Her heart nearly broke at the sight.

“He’s on his way.” She said, sitting beside him. He pulled his head from between his knees to spare her a grateful look.

“Thags.” He croaked, then after coughing freely for a moment, continued. “You dod’t have to stay you with be. Not that I bind the cobpany.”

“I’ll stay, it’s fine. I don’t have much work tonight anyway.” She said smiling a bit. He nodded a bit, looking grateful again, then leant his head against the wall and closed his eyes with a pained expression. His breathing began to become labored as well, sounding uneven and congested.

“You alright?” she asked, nervous once again. It seemed like he only had a bad cold but maybe he needed more serious medical attention. He lifted his head from his knees which he’d drawn up against himself, and she immediately saw he needed to sneeze. His mouth was hanging open and his eyes were drooping closed against the tickly sensation in his twitching nose.

“Yeh-yeah, juh-husd god to sdeheheh—heeiishhooshh! sdeeze—Hetchmphishh!” he sneezed first freely and then buried his face in his knees to muffle the next sneeze.

“Bless you!” she said surprised at the volume of the sneezes. He nodded, nostrils still flaring a bit.

“Thags, I--h'chssmmphh!” he interrupted himself with yet another sneeze that he muffled into his knees. Looking exasperated pinched his nose roughly to ward against any further sneezes. Unfortunately it only seemed to irritate the damp, red, appendage further as seconds later he clamped his eyes shut to sneeze once more.

hggxxstt! kxxtgsshttm! h'chxxzssissh!” He sneezed through his pinched nose, jerking forward slightly until the last sneeze burst messily across his fingers. His already flushed face turned redder and his other hand flew to cover the lower half of his face.

“Oh by god. I’b so sorry Kadie. I deed a dissue or-or sobthig to...” He trailed off coughing wetly again. Katie quickly pulled out the napkins she’d had from her lunch and handed them to Darren. He angled himself away from her to clean his hands and face up and then give a series of thick, burbling blows into the napkin.

When he turned back his face was simply lined with exhaustion and mortification, a rather miserable combination that seemed to summarize his feelings about his cold.

“Bless you.” She said quietly and he snorted, then grimaced when it made his nose run again. He rubbed at it with his already damp sleeve before responding.

“Thags. Ad thags for sdaying wid be. I do I'b predy disgusdig ride dow.” He was almost incomprehensible he was so congested.

“It’s really okay. You’re sick, it happens.” She murmured in a hopefully comforting manner. He didn’t seem much appeased unfortunately.

He did seem to brighten when his roommate showed up not a minute later. A look of relief and apology came across Darren’s face as he staggered up to meet the other young man.

His roommate, seeing him struggle, immediately put a helping arm around Darren’s waist. Upon feeling his friend’s shivering, he pulled him a bit closer.

“Oh man you look terrible. Poor guy I told you you should’ve stayed in bed today.” The man berated softly. Darren looked even guiltier at this.

“I’b sorry Briad. I thoughd I’d be ogay.” He croaked hoarsely then, eyes falling slightly shut, turned away from Brian and sneezed into his shoulder. “h'tchushhmmph!

Brian shook his head and gave Darren a quick, comforting squeeze.

“Bless you. And it’s all good. Let’s get you back to the dorm though, yeah? We still have meds from that flu you had back in September I think.” Brian said thoughtfully. He then turned to Katie.

“Thanks for looking after him. He’s not good with taking care of himself.” He said sounding fond and exasperated at once.

“It was no problem. Feel better Darren.” Katie called as she watched them trundle down the hall, Brian still supporting Darren. They paused once or twice when Darren broke into a fit of coughing or had to sneeze and it was a slow procession. Shaking her head a bit at the spectacle Katie gathered her stuff and headed back to her dorm.


It was inevitable, she supposed that she caught his cold. Fond as she was of her young teacher she could see that his hygiene skills hadn’t been very good. He’d sneezed and coughed into those lovely hands of his and then touched the piano, and he’d also sneezed on the piano without covering at all, and then a bit on Katie herself—she couldn’t feel too annoyed though since he’d obviously been miserable with cold.

By the time her next lesson rolled around she was thankfully reaching the tail end of her borrowed cold but Darren figured her out when she suddenly stop playing to sneeze lightly into steepled hands.


“Oh bless you! I hope I didn’t give you my cold.” He said worriedly. She couldn’t respond though, her breath still shakily puffing against her palms as she prepared for another sneeze.

Ish! T’ish! issshew!” She sniffled and discretely rubbed her hands on her jeans.

“Bless you, bless you, bless you!” Darren said guiltily. “I did give you my cold. You and Brian both. I’m so sorry. A poor way for me to repay you for being so sweet last week.”

He put one of his large warm hands on Katie’s back and handed her a tissue from his pocket with the other. He rubbed her back firmly as she quietly blew her nose, making her blush.

“It’s fine, I’m nearly better now.” She said and Darren smiled.

“I’m glad. Brian’s mostly better too. That cold had me out for days though. ‘Spose my immune system’s just weak. I get these stupid colds almost once a month in the winter .Every year, it’s horrible.”

“That does sound awful.” Katie agreed with a wet cough. But then again, upon thinking on all that had happened the week before—if she were the one who got to coddle him through each illness, she probably wouldn’t find it too terrible.

The End!

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thank you soooo much for a 2nd part it was soooo lovely!!! :bleh:

i´m sad :laugh: that´s over now

darren is so adorable and his sneezes just yummy :):shy::D

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This was really good I loved it! thanks so much for writing this! haha Brian ended up getting sick too. :naughty: thanks again for writing this! :lol:

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Aww, I'm sooooo in love with this story <3

Thank you so much for writing it!

It was always one of my favourite sneezing scenarios, and you...

youuuuu made it a story :lol:

I'm so glad, I think I owe you some cookies :laugh:

Wonderful work <3

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  • 2 months later...
  • 2 months later...

Aww. I love this story. The way you wrote Katie's crush on her teacher is spot on, and the rest of the story is perfect too. I love the way he feels so guilty when she catches his cold, and I like the minor details that flesh out his character, like his exhaustion and his room mate. Great fic!

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  • 1 year later...


Oh my Frank, this is amazing!!!

I swear, my body temperature just went a bit higher. Thank you for sharing this. :yes:

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