Mal was sipping at her coffee and reading through her book. She kept glancing up to check that her students were discussing their own books, and making notes to present back to the rest of the group. Her eyes rested on Aurora. The blonde was chewing her lip, looking down at her notes and scribbling, hard. Mal smirked a little, and shook her head. They hadn't seen each other since the weekend, each trying to make things easier on the other. But the weekly seminar on Gothic and Romantic Literature had come around, and Mal couldn't help but remember those kisses.
"Time's up." She interrupted the group, and Aurora looked at her with a small grin which she couldn't return. "Discuss."
As she listened to them bring their findings and comparisons between Dracula and Frankenstein to the group, Mal continued to drink her coffee. It was strong, and slightly bitter, and the warmth was settling in her stomach quite pleasurably. It was when Aurora spoke that the warmth became fire.
"They both show an appreciation and understanding of life. I think that's ultimately what it comes down to, really. They both want life, and love, the kind that their enemies have. That's why Dracula is so fixated on Mina, on blood. And why the monster understands how to manipulate Frankenstein. They both understand how reliant we are on love." Mal nodded her head, not trusting herself to speak without a waver in her throat. Aurora grinned, and looked down at her notebook. "I mean really, that's what everything in these books come down to. Love, or the absence of it. It's the main force in our world."
"Very good." Mal replied, clearing her throat. "Anyone else want to pitch in?"
"I agree," Emily, Aurora's friend replied. "I think that Dracula especially feels the pain, because he needs people to live; he needs the vital parts of humans. So he understands how vital it is for others to exist in life. Frankenstein, I think, is lonely and only understands that through his observation of humans."
"I think maybe it isn't so much observation... he begins life like a child. What we're reading is him growing like a child. His mental ability doesn't match his physical." Aurora added. "It's like anyone with a new experience in life, or of life. Like love. You take tentative steps until you're sure and then you're rolling straight in to it."
Mal hid her small smile behind her mug. Aurora had thrown that one in there for her, she was sure. She remembered the roll down the hill and this kiss at the bottom, and had to stop another smile. God this really was harder than she'd thought.
"Yes, well, thank you Miss Rose, Miss Vause. Interesting points. That level of analysis in to the psychology of a character will get you the higher grades, provided you back up your theories with textual evidence and secondary sources."
Aurora grinned at her then, and Mal glanced down at her book for a moment to stop herself from returning the look. The class discussed the two books for a further ten minutes, and then the class was finished.
"Hey, Professor Moore?"
Mal looked up to see Emily looking down at her, and Aurora standing behind her, biting her lip. She quickly adjusted her eyes to Emily again.
"Yes Miss Vause?"
"I was wondering if I could set up a meeting with you? I want to talk about my dissertation."
"You're not on my list." Mal frowned.
"No, but I want to swap. I don't... well I don't really get on with Professor Stamson."
Emily blushed and looked down at her feet.
"I don't... uh... I'm not very comfortable around him."
"Has he done something to make you feel like this?" Mal asked.
"No I just... well I don't know. He says things that make him sound... well basically he sounds like a misogynist and after reading my initial proposal he asked if I was sure that I could cope with such a heavy topic." She frowned. "He made it sound like women shouldn't really be dealing with the heavier analysis. Like I should be reading the romantic novels and talking about love."
"I see. Well, you could put in a request to swap tutor. I have enough time for one more, since one of the three... boys, were on my list."
"Thank you, thank you so much!" Emily grinned. "How do I do that?"
"Just email Professor Pollock. He'll sort it."
"Thank you Professor. You're my new favourite."
"I wasn't before?" Mal raised her eyebrow, but her lip twitched and Emily grinned back at her. Aurora was staring, open mouthed, behind her friend. "If that's all?" Mal asked.
"Yes. Thank you." Emily grabbed Aurora and hauled her out of the room.
Aurora had been thoughtful and quiet for the first twenty minutes of their marking session that evening. Mal kept staring at her; neither of them were really paying any attention to work. She sighed, and threw down her pen.
"Are you alright?" She asked, and Aurora looked up, surprised.
"Oh... yes. Fine."
"Fine? You're quiet, and that never happens." Mal gave her a gentle smirk over steepled fingers. "What's the matter?"
Aurora put down her work and twisted to face Mal.
"You were... nice, to Emily today."
"And?" Mal frowned, perplexed.
"Well you're not normally pleasant... or jokey, here. And you said that I wouldn't have to share this you here. Because it was just for home."
Mal finally understood and shook her head. She stood from her chair, and went to sit next to Aurora, making sure they weren't actually touching.
"She was your friend Aurora... and I've dealt with people like Stamson before. Throughout my life. If what she says is true, and I wouldn't know because I've never talked to the man, then it's best she's moved away from that. It shouldn't affect her work."
"Your mask is slipping." Aurora smirked. Mal shrugged.
"Maybe I don't mind so much, not around you. And besides, I'll deny it if you ever say anything."
"What if Emily goes around saying how nice you are?"
"Well I assume that people will think it's because I've accepted her as my student and gotten her away from someone she doesn't like. If they think there is any merit to her story a class with me would set them straight," she chuckled.
"It didn't work on me." Aurora sent her a sideways smirk and Mal found herself laughing as she shook her head.
"No my pet, it didn't." She smoothed the skin on the back of Aurora's hand with her thumb once, and then stood to return to her desk. "Now, back to work."