Chapter Nineteen, Part Two: Set PieceMature

“Of course I did,” he muses, as he takes the book, flipping to a page. He launches then, into quiet recitation. It is a passage he knows quite well. “When the rose dies, one makes perfume,” he reads, running a thumb down the once-oiled vellum, “… and there are always roses somewhere, usually grey ones. The kind with full, fruited blossoms- best for tilting at windmills… or the clearing of nostrils if one wishes to avoid the smell of burning flesh and ash.” 

“Doctor? Are you all right?” There is that olive hand again, settling on his shoulder like a shroud. He’s had enough of those. 

How dare she pretend to it. How dare her! 

The Doctor turns. He looks into the deep amber-brown eyes with hints of forest, reflecting on comely flesh worn like clay slip on a dumpy statue that’s trying too hard to look pretty and just… smiles. The set of his teeth does not invite welcome, and he does not let… damn him. He desires to know, even after all of this. Is she smiling? 

“What do you call yourself, child? Haven’t seen you before.” 

The thing called woman, infernal creature, grins as she answers, “Nemontiarla. I’m a drab little Dromiean,” like a child caught out for stealing butter mints. 

Well, he thinks sullenly, butter mints are perfection- as a rule, she’s no right to them. 

He sticks a hand in the pocket of his trousers, because his tweed jacket is still on the console room floor. A white bag comes out in his hand, smelling of the book by now. On purpose, maybe. He doesn’t know anymore. 

“Care for a purple jelly baby, you mouldy old witch?” he grits through a tiger’s grinning teeth. Ah, Hitchemus.

The End

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