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Accompanying cold (m, musican, cold)


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More original fic! Musicians are a particular favourite of mine to write, and this is just a quick (probably one-shot, might continue if people like it and I have time) I thought of yesterday. Hope you like!

 

 “Right, let’s get started everyone. It’s our last rehearsal before the concert and Matthew has kindly agreed to play for us so I can really listen and concentrate on conducting. We’ll warm up with Tallis ‘If ye love me’. Everyone stand, please.”

Jo stood up, shuffling so she had enough room for her music and could see Peter’s hands clearly. The church was freezing – it took forever for the antiquating heating system to kick in and it hardly made a difference when it did. Holding her music up, she listened to the chord from the piano and began. They all knew the piece back to front and upside down, but it was nice to be able to listen to the rest of the parts without worrying too much about losing her place. They’d been rehearsing for this concert for three months, and it was just about coming together. Jo turned the page and carried on, but was distracted by the sound of Matthew, seated at the piano, trying to muffle a desperate flurry of sneezes and spectacularly failing.

“Heh’kssch! Hah’Ngtch! Heh’itsch!” Jo threw him a quick glance as they finished the piece. She didn’t know him well; usually Peter, the choir’s musical director, would note-bash when necessary and a lot of their repertoire was unaccompanied anyway. But Matthew was the church’s organist so had performed with them and helped out at rehearsals occasionally, like tonight. He was about her age, late twenties, with curly, light brown hair and round glasses. He had always struck Jo as soft-spoken and a little shy, but with an impressively dry sense of humour which had taken her by surprise the first few times they’d talked.

And it was blatantly obvious that tonight he had a streaming cold: the skin around his nose was pink, his eyes behind his glasses were watery, and his mouth hung slightly open. Sitting at the grand piano, he was side-on to Jo, who sat at the end of the front row of women, and as she leafed through her music for the next piece, she saw him turn away from the choir, his back to her and heard another duo of muffled sneezes.

“H’kssch!! Tschh’u!” Matthew turned wearily back, a crumpled tissue held to his nose. He sniffed a couple of times, then pocketed it and opened his anthem book to ‘Awake thou wintry earth’.

“Ok, so Matthew will give us the introduction and then we’ll just sing it through,” Peter instructed, turning to the piano to give the lead-in.  Matthew nodded, but was still trying to force his hefty anthem book to lie flat, when it was determined to turn pages without him. He got it under control, and played through the introduction. The choir began singing, fairly competently, with Matthew accompanying, although Jo could hear him sniffing frequently in the background. And when he came to turn the page the book began fighting back again so that he was forced to play mostly one handed, holding it open with the other. Luckily, Peter stopped them to discuss the finer points of phrasing, giving Matthew a merciful moment to blow his nose, which made no discernible difference to the frequency of the sniffing when they resumed.

Jo tried to concentrate but kept being distracted by Matthew’s continuing battle with his music. After he had tried and failed to get it to stay open for the fourth time, and they were taking a short, mid-rehearsal break, she got up and went over.

“Budge up, I’ll turn pages.” The choir were sitting on the church pews, so there were no chairs to bring over; they’d have to share the piano stool. Matthew looked up at her uncomprehendingly, then shifted along so she could sit.

“Thanks, but I’m not sure you want to be too close to me at the moment,” he said apologetically, pulling a pack of tissues from his pocket and taking a fresh one. Carefully turning away, he blew his nose.

“I’ll risk it. Why did you agree to play? You sound awful.”

Matthew shrugged. “It just came on today – I was fine this morning when Peter texted.” His voice was husky and congested, consonants slurring into each other. For a moment Jo thought he was going to say something else, but he quickly turned away from her again, clutching the tissue to his nose.

“Heh’Kssch!! H’tsch’u!! Hah’Tschu!! ugh…” He gave a quiet, involuntary moan and blew his nose again.

“Bless you. Hang in there.”

“Thanks.” He managed a weak smile, as Peter clapped his hands to call them back. Jo caught the conductor’s eye and pointed at the book on the piano. He nodded, but wasn’t best pleased.

“Alright everyone, back to work. We’ll start with the Bach…”

 

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Oh my gosh, this is so cute! Matthew is so cute, too. I'm a musician myself, so I especially am enjoying this. Please do continue. This is so brilliant. I'd love to see: what happens when Jo sits near him to turn pages? Will he be even more shy about his sneezes since she's there? Oh, I ship Jo and Matthew already!! :blush: 

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this is very cute I like how you explain how shy Matthew is about his sneezing, and how you described the other characters such as Jo

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Wow, thanks! Another short part as I don't have a lot of time at the moment.

 

Jo was impressed with Matthew’s professionalism – despite clearly feeling terrible, he still managed to play well and keep time with Peter’s frankly erratic conducting style. He even managed to avoid sneezing while he was playing, although he still had to sniff almost constantly, and occasionally take a beat to swipe at his increasingly reddening nose with a tissue. While Peter was addressing the choir, however, he more often than not ducked away from her to muffle increasingly insistent sneezes and blow his nose.

H’issch! H’tschu!

“Bless you,” she whispered as Matthew turned back to the music for the third time. He looked up vacantly at Peter, who was waiting to begin. Jo tapped the bar of music he was supposed to be starting from.

“Thanks,” he muttered thickly, picking up from the correct bar and keeping an eye on Peter’s waving hands. Jo turned the page on his nod, flattening the spine out to keep it open, while trying not to get in the way of his playing. It was awkward for her having to lean across him, but Matthew hardly seemed to notice as he concentrated on what he was doing.

The next time there was a break, Matthew rifled through his bag and came back with a pair of fingerless glovers. He blew on his fingers briefly before putting them on. Jo didn’t blame him; the church was freezing, and playing with cold hands was miserable. Catching her eye, he grinned.

“A bit Bob Cratchit, I know, but I think it’s appropriate given the temperature…and Scrooge over there.” He nodded towards Peter, who was busy berating the sopranos. Jo snorted with laughter, and earned herself a personal glare.

At the end of the rehearsal, Jo gradually gathered up her things from her vacant chair and started dressing for the cold outdoors and wishing the rest of the choir goodnight. Matthew did the same, pausing for a second with one hand braced against the lid of the piano, the other holding a tissue to his nose. He took a shaky breath, then doubled over with a wrenching sneeze.

“Heh…H’ESSHU!!” He sniffed and looked around him dazedly.

“Bless you,” Jo offered automatically.

“Thanks. And thanks for page turning, that was really helpful.”

“No worries. I hope you feel better soon.”

 “Thanks.”

 

 

 

 

 

Jo was just getting ready to leave the house on Sunday when her mobile rang; a number she didn’t recognise. She answered it.

“Hi, is that Jo?”

“Yes, speaking.”

“It’s Matthew from St Michael’s. I’m sorry to bother you, Peter gave me your number.”

“No, that’s alright. What can I do for you?” She put the phone against her shoulder as she put on her shoes. Matthew’s voice came through muffled and still croaky.

“I wondered if you were free this afternoon to page turn? I’m playing for a confirmation, so the Bishop’s going to be there, and the junior organ scholar’s off with flu. It wouldn’t normally be a problem, but the voluntary’s Messiaen—”

Jo rolled her eyes. She couldn’t stand the composer, but organists seemed to love him.

“—which I hate, but apparently the Bishop’s a big fan. It’s a huge pain and I could really do with another pair of hands—Eh’tsch!!” Matthew’s voice rose as he struggled to finish his sentence before being interrupted by an insistent sneeze.

“Bless you. Yes, I’m happy to do it. I’m just off to Meeting but I’ll be free from midday. Shall we meet early to practice?”

“Thank you so much. Yes, if we could…” he broke off again, and Jo heard several more muffled sneezes down the phone line. “H’issch!! H’ksch!! Eh’tshu!! ‘scuse me…” he continued thickly. “If we could meet at two that would give us time to have a few runs through. If you give me a ring when you’re at the church I’ll come down and let you in”

“Great, I’ll see you then.”

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This is excellent!! Please do continue. The two seem so adorable, and I love how he got her number from Peter. Does he like her and used this page turn thing as a reason to get her number?? ;) I love this so far!! And Matthew's sneezes are so wonderful, too.

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Moar! I'm glad people are enjoying this. I'm really enjoying writing it :)

 

 

 

Sure enough, when she arrived, Matthew quickly materialised from a hidden staircase in the ante-chapel.

“Hi! Are you feeling better?”

He shrugged, holding the door open for her as she ascended. “More or less. Feeling better and sounding worse, maybe.” On cue, he paused to cough unhealthily, shielding his face with an elbow. “Thanks for coming on such short notice. How was the concert?”

“Good, I think. Plenty of people, seemed to go pretty well. Peter seemed as happy as he generally gets.”

“I would have come, but I didn’t want to cough all the way through it,” Matthew apologised.

“How public-spirited of you.” Jo grinned at him as they reached the top of the tiny spiral staircase and gained the organ loft. “I’m glad it’s over, anyway.”

“You don’t like performing? God, I’m sorry this place is such a tip.” He moved piles of scores and assorted paraphernalia off the stools and flicking switches.

“It’s not my favourite thing to do, no. I like singing for fun better…bless you,” she added as she noticed Matthew fighting a losing battle not to sneeze. Sure enough, a second later he pitched forward with a trio of breathy sneezes.

H’ksssh!! Tssh’u! Hih’ksshu!” Pulling out a tissue, he blew his nose. “Sorry, the dust up here makes me sneeze like mad at the best of times.”

Jo looked at the music on the stand, and then at the many keyboards, pedals, buttons, and levers of the organ apprehensively. “I should warn you, if you’re expecting me to work stops, I don’t know one end of this thing from the other, so you’ll need to explain in words of one syllable.”

Matthew chuckled, taking off his shoes and settling himself down. “Don’t worry, we’ll take it all very slowly. It’s not too difficult as long as you keep an eye on the music.”

“Ok. Show me how it’s done.”

“Right.” He smoothed the first few pages of music out, and set up the organ, pulling out levers and pushing buttons according to some mysterious invisible logic. Satisfied at last, he took a pencil and circled several markings in the score.

“These are the only ones you need to worry about. This one,” he tapped at a circled word, “is this stop.” He tapped an ivory tipped button labelled with the word. “You push it out when we get here,” he circled the note, then moved on to the next marking. When they’d been through the whole lot, Jo’s head was spinning. There were over ten changes, some involving several buttons at once. Matthew was patient, but fairly oblivious to her confusion.

“Shall we give it a go?” He asked, playing a few initial chords. She shrugged.

“If you like. I can’t guarantee I’ll remember any of it.”

“Not to worry. Let’s just bash through and see how we get on.”

Matthew struck up the opening, loud clashing chords with thunderous bass pedals and lots of different timbres competing with each other. Even with the score in front of her, it was hard for Jo to keep track of where they were. The music was extremely dense – huge runs of semiquavers crammed in together making it hard to tell bars apart. The first stop marking almost took her by surprise and she frantically scanned the huge array of buttons for the right one, pushing it just in time. Then Matthew nodded and she turned the page.

They clattered through the middle section with fewer difficulties, but the end fell apart somewhat when she missed both the stop she was supposed to pull out and the page turn and Matthew was left needing four different hands.

“Sorry, sorry,” she muttered, trying to keep up. They careered to the end and sat for a moment, listening to the last chords echo around the empty church.

“Not bad for a first try,” Matthew observed wryly. When she frowned at him, he smiled. “I mean it. It’s a tough piece to follow and keep up with.”

“It’s awful.”

He laughed. “It’s not so bad when you really get into it. It’s not my cup of tea to listen to, though. Shall we have another go?”

Jo made a face. “I suppose so. How long have we got? I’m just worried I won’t find the right stop at the right time and all the trumpet bits will end up being played by piccolo or something.”

“I’ve got an idea.” Matthew got up and started rifling through various shelves, rubbing at his nose. “Lucy’s always leaving her work up here, and I’m sure I saw…” he broke off, triumphantly holding up a packet of brightly-coloured post-it notes. Then his face crumpled and he doubled over with a rapid bout of sneezing that left him flushed and breathless.

Hih’ksssh! Eh’tschu! Tsshoo! Heh’kssh! Ksshu!! Hah’tschu!!” Clutching a tissue to his nose he muttered thickly. “Bloody dust.”

“Wow, bless you.”

“Thanks. Anyway, these are for you. Let’s colour code things.”

Five minutes later they had plastered the relevant buttons with sticky markers, and Jo felt confident enough to have another stab at the piece. It went much better, and she was still smiling as they reached the end.

“Very good!” Matthew said approvingly. “Your first lesson in organ stops. And just in time.” He nodded to the balustrade, where the congregation was just starting to assemble.

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SQUEEEE!!!! :wub::wub:

 

Just found this!!  Love the characters :heart:  Musicians are a particular fav of mine (musicians and profs - lol!!), and Matthew is just too adorable!  This is a wonderful holiday treat :wub:

 

 

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I love this so much! I actually read it the other day but forgot to respond. :blush: Well done, and I agree, please do continue! They get cuter and cuter with every moment together!!

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  • 4 weeks later...

Thank you so much for the lovely feedback! I haven't forgotten about this story, and I've done a bit more, but I got distracted by writing some Drabbles about fandoms I have recently gotten back into, so I wasn't writing this as well.

 

Not being a regular church-goer, Jo found it difficult to follow what was going on as the confirmation progressed, but Matthew was more than able to keep up, sorting out the various pieces of music and managing the changes between stops. The Messiaen was the closing voluntary so apart from the odd page turn she had little to do while the Bishop carried out whatever rituals were going on below. It was quite interesting watching from above, unseen by the congregation, and she leaned over the balustrade to try and watch.

K’ttch!” Turning back, Jo saw Matthew hunched over, one hand braced on the side of the organ, the other pinching his nose in a desperate attempt to be as quiet as possible. As she watched, his shoulders shook with another stifled sneeze, this time a little louder. “H’ktch!!

“Bless you,” Jo whispered, but Matthew still hadn’t regained control. Another few seconds passed as he took a quick breath, then pinched his nose shut again before two more painful-sounding stifles. ‘Hih’ktch! N’tch!!” Finally, fishing a tissue from his pocket, he sat up and readied his music for the next hymn. Jo noticed him blushing and felt her own face warm in sympathy.

Overall, she thought the service must have gone pretty well. The Messiaen had sounded…like Messiaen, which to her ear was still incomprehensible mush, but hopefully the Bishop had enjoyed it. She hadn’t missed any important stop changes or made everything sound like a trombone, and Matthew was smiling as he put the music away in various folders.

“Thank you so much for helping,” he said as they finished tidying up. “The sun’s not exactly over the yard-arm, but can I offer you a cup of tea as payment? I live in the curate’s flat just next door.”

“Thanks, that’d be lovely. Doesn’t the curate need it?”

“There isn’t one at the moment – it’s complicated. But I don’t think they can boot me out even if they get one now, it’s part of the contract.” Distracted suddenly, he turned away from her. “Heh’kssh!!” He sneezed into his fist.

“Bless you.”

“Thanks,” he said, sniffing, digging in his pocket for yet another tissue.

Matthew’s flat turned out to be neat, clean, and sparsely decorated. A desk, sofa, a few bookshelves, a tiny kitchenette, and a door through to a bedroom with an ensuite. Letting her in, he went to fill the kettle.

“Make yourself at home, have a seat. Milk and sugar?” he called back through to her.

“Just milk, thanks.”  Through the bubbling sound of water boiling, she heard him coughing again. She amused herself by looking through his bookshelves – a lot of musical scores and academic music books, but also a fair amount of science fiction and fantasy novels, most of which seemed to have been picked up second hand. A lot of battered paperback copies of Terry Pratchett, Ursula Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Tolkien. A good start.

Matthew came back through, two mugs of tea and a selection box of biscuits.

“Left over from Christmas,” he explained. “Please save me from myself.” Laughing, she took her mug from him and a chocolate one from the proffered box. They sat on the sofa together.

“Did you study music at university?” She asked, gesturing at the books.

“Yes, for my sins. I keep them in the vague hope I’ll go back to it one day, but I prefer playing and teaching music more than reading and writing about it.” He took a sip of tea and sniffed, pushing a strand of hair out of his eyes.

“Do you compose as well?”

“From time to time – I’ve played a few of my own compositions as voluntaries here; they’re very accepting at St. Margaret’s.” His expression turned inward for a moment, and he took a shaky breath in, reaching into his pocket. “’scuse…” he managed in a choked voice. Jo quickly reached over and took his mug as he pulled out a tissue and hastily muffled several breathy sneezes.

Heh’tshh! Eh’tschu! Heh’kssh!!

“Bless you.” The fit apparently over, she handed his tea back again.

“Thank you. That was close.” He was blushing again.

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Bit more! More to come.

 

After a few minutes’ chatting about their degrees, choirs, orchestra, and anything else they could think of, Matthew pushed his glasses up on his nose and cleared his throat.

“I wondered if you’d, um, like to go out for a drink sometime, maybe?” With effort, he met her eyes, his cheeks pink.

“Oh. Um, yes, that would be lovely.” It was Jo’s turn to feel awkward, but she fought through it. “In fact, I’ve got an idea. There’s a folk music session I go to most months, at the White Hart on Brewer street, do you know it?” He shook his head. “Well, anyway, it might not be your sort of thing, but it’s very fun. People bring their instruments and play and sing, or just sit and listen in the pub. It’s tomorrow night at 8. Do you fancy it?”

“Sure, that sounds great.” Matthew smiled, relieved.

“I can lend you a bodhrán if you like. You don’t need to play it, but you’re welcome to try.”

“That’s a kind of drum, isn’t it?”

“That’s right. It has a beater, but you can just hit it. I find it’s just nice to have something to hold when everyone else is playing, even if I’m not using it. I usually sing a few things, though.”

“Great. I’ll-“ his voice broke suddenly and he had to pause to cough. He took a sip of tea, his eyes watering. “Sorry. I’ll see you tomorrow night then.”

“Cool. Um, unless you’d rather do it another time.” Jo didn’t want to put too fine a point on the fact that still wasn’t very well.

“No, tomorrow is fine. Shall I meet you at the pub?” As she started to respond he raised a hand and wearily rolled his eyes, then turned away with a wrenching sneeze. “Heh’ESSHH!! Excuse me.”

“Bless you. See you there.”

 

 

 

Matthew arrived a little early at the pub and found a table reasonably close to the circle of musicians, most of whom were getting out instruments and tuning up. It was freezing, but the table was close to an open fire, so he soon warmed up and took off his coat. He was wearing a maroon jumper and jeans, his glasses reflecting the firelight as he looked around for Jo to arrive. After a couple of minutes he saw her and waved.

“Hi!” She was red-cheeked from the cold wind outside, bundled up in a big coat and scarf. “Glad you could come.” She passed him a large bag. “The bodhrán,” she explained.

“Thanks. Can I get you a drink?” He stood up to go to the bar, but had to stand still to stifle several insistent sneezes. “H’ktch! Hih’tchu! N’KTCH!!

“Bless you. I’ll have a pint of cider please.”

As he came back to the table the musicians were starting up their first tune set, a lively hornpipe led by three fiddle players, a melodeon and a guitarist. Matthew just had time to settle the drinks on the table before he had to sneeze again.

K’tchu! Hih’tchu! N’ktch!!” Sniffing, he pinched the bridge of his nose as he sat down.

“Bless you. How’s the cold?” Jo asked sympathetically, taking a sip of her drink.

“I thought it was fine, basically gone. I think it must be the smoke.” He gestured vaguely toward the fire, still feeling an insistent tickle at the back of his nose. Sure enough, a second later he ducked forward again, pinching his nose shut. “N’ktch’u!” In the small, crowded pub, so close to Jo, especially on something approaching a date, he was too embarrassed to sneeze freely, although his head was starting to ache from the pressure of stifling, as well as the smoke from the fire. He tried to concentrate on the music.

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Oh, this is just amazing!! I love these two and would love to see what happens with Matthew with both his cold and the smoke. This is a nice set-up for a great next part! I look forward to the next update. :) 

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  • 2 weeks later...

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