Mal hadn't enjoyed her evening. The fairy lights should have been something she enjoyed with... She sighed. Maybe she really had blown it. Aurora hadn't returned after the confrontation with Stephan, and the look of fear in her eyes was enough to convince Mal that she had finally seen whatever it was the everyone feared in her.
Mal spent the next day waiting and hoping that Aurora would come round. That they could finish what they started. Whatever that moment on the stairs had been Mal found she wanted more of it. She couldn't do anything because she kept thinking about Aurora's breath on her face; about the way she had moved closer and placed her hand on Mal's face. It was stupid to want her, but she did.
Diaval called her once but she kept the conversation short, pretending she still had some last minute work to do. She didn't know why she was letting a girl she barely knew affect her so much. Before bed, Mal decided that the next time she saw Aurora she would be friendly, but not over step boundaries. She would just be casual.
Something she decided she could not be on the Monday, when she was getting ready for work. She slipped her black shirt in to her black dress slacks and slipped her feet in to black heels.
"Black, like my soul." She muttered to herself. After gulping down some hot coffee and grabbing her bag, she headed out of the door. She'd agreed to meet Diaval for breakfast before the department meeting they had both got to attend. As she pulled out of her drive she swore she could see Aurora getting Phillip in to her car, but she turned her head away so she wouldn't accidentally make eye contact.
"Well, cheery look for the first day." Diaval greeted her. "You look like you're ready to kill and term hasn't even started properly yet. What's up?"
"Stephan Thayer." She snarled and sat down at the table.
"Oh, the delightful neighbour. What's he done?"
"Misogynist." She glared at the menu. A waitress came over; she looked young enough to probably go to the University.
"Hi, what can I get you today? Hey Professor Diaval." She grinned at him and he returned the smile. Mal glared at him.
"Erm, sure." The girl nervously scribbled on her pad, eyeing Mal nervously. "Anything for you Prof?" She turned back to Di.
"Coffee with milk, and English Breakfast please. Extra toast if you can please Mel?"
"Sure, coming right up." She cast another grin at Diaval and disappeared.
"If all of the girls are like her around you I'm going to need a bucket to throw up in."
"Jesus Mal, Stephan really got to you huh?" Mal grumbled and looked down at her nails. "Okay, more to the story... Aurora?"
Mal glanced up to scowl at Diaval who chuckled.
"I don't want to talk about it."
"So she was your mystery guest I'm guessing? And then Stephan messed things up for you?"
"No. No I wasn't trying... I... shut up." Mal put her head in her hands.
"Wow. She really got to you."
"Yes Diaval, congrats. The ice queen is melting. But not here, so please refrain from being an asshole on purpose until I've had my coffee?"
"Sure. But just so you know, I think she likes you too."
"She's the very definition of a straight girl, and she's young and-"
"Here's your coffee." The waitress had reappeared, casting Mal a wary glance before beaming at Diaval. "And your food will be right out."
"Thanks Mel." She blushed and hurried away and Mal made a retching noise. "Oh, nice. Real nice."
"What? I'm not prepared for young adults simpering."
"Well drink your coffee and get used to it, because until they realise that it's best to stay out of your way, especially in this mood, you're going to be getting a lot of attention."
"Can't. Wait." Mal said dryly, and took a gulp of burning hot coffee.
Diaval took her to the department meeting where she was announced and welcomed, and then sat listening to everything the department had to know. When the meeting eventually finished, Mal's mood had lifted somewhat. Leave that stuff at home, here is for teaching.
"Good luck!" Diaval muttered as he left her outside her room. His was next door, which she was grateful for. An English Lecturer, she wouldn't get that much time with Diaval, who was a Media and Journalism Lecturer, but with him close at hand she felt like she really had come to the right place. She strode in to the room and began writing on the board. Her first class made their way in and before long she had laid out her expectations and rules. Then she began with their seminar; a discussion of Victorian Literature. It was a first year seminar, nothing too difficult. They all looked as nervous as she had felt on her first day of lecturing years back. If they worked hard for her, they would have nothing to worry about.
She had a free period next and chose to wander around the campus a little, to get to know the layout a little more. Then she returned to her office; a room off her teaching room, and began organising things. She heard the sounds of her second seminar coming in while she was finishing up her organisation. She checked her schedule; third year Gothic and Romantic Literature. She could hear them all chatting through the door which was ajar, and picked up her folder and book: Jane Eyre. She blocked the thoughts rising to the front of her mind and opened the door, striding through to the front. The entire room fell silent before she'd even reached the front.
"Welcome third years. I am Professor Moore and this is Gothic and Romantic Literature. If you are in the wrong room, get out." With that last sentiment she turned around to face the group, her hair sweeping around her shoulders as she did.
Blonde hair and blue eyes. Staring. Mouth open.
Mal stared for a moment, thinking she might be imagining Aurora Rose sitting in front of her. She blinked. The girl was real and clearly struggling with this as much as she was.
Hell is out to get me.
Two guys at the back began muttering and chuckling, drawing Mal from her gaze. She quirked an eyebrow at them and slammed the folder and book on to her desk. The entire class jumped, and she would normally have smiled except Aurora leapt as well. She looked shell shocked.
"As third years I would expect that by now you would know not to talk outside of class discussion." Mal eyed the boys at the back. "If that concept is too difficult to grasp, you shouldn't be in my class."
They shut up.
"Thank you. Now, I will get to know your names as we go, but for now-" She launched in to her lecture, averting her eyes from Aurora's as much as possible. When she had set them up to discuss the differences between the Gothic and Romantic in Jane Eyre, she left the class. Diaval's class was mercifully empty. He was sitting at his desk. He grinned as she walked in.
"Trouble already? Got one to cry?" He saw the look on her face and his dropped. "What's wrong?"
"I thought you didn't believe in mixing home and work? Just work it out with her when you get back tonight."
"No Diaval. She's here. She's a student. Here." Mal said, leaning on his desk. He stared at her for a minute and then burst out laughing.
"This isn't funny."
"Oh come on, it's not like you've known her long. I mean sure you were both looking at each other a lot but I doubt that means you have to have a breakdown now."
"You're right. It's just... friendship. And it can be cut off now."
"I mean, there's nothing wrong with being friends right?"
"No, not at all. I mean, as long as you're careful. Good acquaintances would be better."
"Right. Right." Mal said, and straightened her back. She let her indifferent mask settle over her face. "Here I go."
"Good luck!" Diaval chuckled.