Chapter 1 : The Door Never Opened
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“Footfalls echo in the memory/ Down the passage which we did not take/ Towards the door we never opened/ Into the rose-garden.”- T.S. Eliot
A slow, lazy sort of smile turns up the corners of the boy’s mouth, giving a bit of life to his pale, aristocratic features. The smile does not shine with the laughter echoing around him, nor sparkle with the warmth that seems to surround the place he occupies. Nor is it full of jaded malice to rebuke those who laugh and shine around him. It is, in fact, the sort of smile that is forced and put on to mimic some absent emotion he wishes to project. Those around him do not notice this, they see only the boy smiling at their antics and providing them with the recognition they crave from him. Only one girl does not smile in return nor look to him for attention. She bears no illusions of his behavior, and in truth, cares not for his attentions, real or not.
The girl with the perfect posture spares only a short, cursory glance for the boy’s followers, her brief attention drawn by the noise they make. She glances up, assesses that it matters not to her, and returns to her book. Poetry: the only real luxury that she affords herself, for even one such as she cannot read only textbooks forever. She is a practical, no nonsense sort of person, making the flowery words seem the slightest bit out of character for her, a pleasure enjoyed by romantics and dreamers, two things she most certainly is not. But enjoy it she does, and so very little distracts her. Paying the other occupants of that corner no mind, she continues reading. As the small cluster surrounding the boy at his feet goes on in their attempts to impress him and draw him out, she draws his attention. Something real flickers behind his eyes, but the only one who might have seen is not looking.
Giving neither warning nor word of explanation to those nearby, the prim young woman rises and walks out of the library. In one hand she clutches her book of poetry, with the other she pushes open the door, letting it fall shut behind her. Her carefully polished shoes click down the stone corridor in a steady, staccato rhythm, echoing her abrupt and sensible manner of life. Neatly pressed robes swish about her ankles, not daring to form the slightest crease. Likewise, her hair remains firmly in its tidy bun, pulled tight and without a single strand out of place. He watches her go, his eyes remaining on the door long after her form has disappeared from view and her footsteps have faded from hearing.
She is bent studiously over her books and parchment. Most of the class has turned their attention to gossip and other pointless conversation, but she works diligently. While they laugh and chatter, she scribbles furiously, though really it is not scribbling at all but small, neat handwriting, readily legible. Every so often she glances at her textbook, reading quickly, her eyes darting from side to side as she scans for the answer before returning to her parchment and writing once more. There was a quarter of an hour given at the end of the lesson and when the bell signaling the end of class rings everyone files out, while she rolls up her parchment, tucking it, along with her textbook, into her bag before finally following everyone else. Alone, she hurries to her next class, breezing in with plenty of time and settling into a seat near the front of the room, pulling out a new book and a fresh bit of parchment. She sets her inkwell just above her parchment; far enough from the edge of the table it won’t fall but not so close to her parchment that she’ll bump it. She sharpens her quill before titling and dating her notes, and then she is poised and ready to go, with minutes left before the professor begins.
The rest of the students finish filing in, the boy who had been watching her in the library a week ago sitting in the middle of the room, on the opposite side from her. He can see her; watch her, from there without anyone noticing. There is a flurry of activity as the professor enters and students slide back into their seats and the chattering grows quiet. The professor pauses a moment behind his desk, letting everyone get settled. A smile draws across his face, a familiar twinkle in his blue eyes, and the students smile back at one of their favorite professors. Except for the boy, he is not smiling. He gives the professor a short look, his face blank and emotionless, before turning his subtle attention to the girl.
He knows he can get the notes from someone else later, and knows he can pass just fine without them as well. His attention never wavers, though no classmate suspects the direction of his thoughts or gaze. He watches her as she writes diligently, copying down important points from the professor’s lecture and everything he writes on the blackboard. Her hair is pulled back into the tight, neat bun that it is in every day and the boy wonders what she looks like with her hair loose and flowing. He wonders many things, but mostly he just watches her.
The young woman carefully places everything in her bag after class; the neat order of it all pleases her. She glances toward the professor, and he catches her eye, giving her a smile and a nod of acknowledgement before she leaves, the last out of the door. Her gait is rather slow for she has nowhere to hurry to now, at the end of the day. Done with class, done with learning for the day, she lets her mind wander. Even a girl such as she has fancies and dreams. A small trace of a smile ghosts across her lips as she looks down, looking at the stones beneath her feet but not really seeing them. She does not see the person directly in her path. At her slow pace the collision is not violent, but it startles her. Her eyes are drawn upward, wide and round.
“Sorry.” She says. “I did not see you there. Excuse me.” Giving him no further conversation she steps around him and continues on her way, watching the corridor before her now, though she is still caught up in her fanciful thoughts.
The boy simply nods when she apologizes, giving no change to his expression. He saw her coming, stood still as she walked toward him, never moving even as she collided with his person. He looked into her startled eyes, seeing no special flicker of reaction to his identity. A slight blush spread across her fair cheeks, unmarred by freckle. Her dark eyes caught his for a moment, fancies fading from them, long enough to utter her apology, before sliding past him as she stepped by and continued on, lost once more in thought. He turns to watch her go, her head now held straight, but her steps still slow and contemplative. She reaches the end of the corridor and he watches as she disappears, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear knocked loose by their encounter.
He watches a moment more before he begins breathing, turning away, bringing his sleeve to his nose. The arm she had run into. He breathes the warmth and scent of flowers, and then walks away.
A/N: This is my first ever Tom/Minerva, and I hope you liked it! The quote is from T.S. Eliot's 'Burnt Norton', a poem from The Four Quartets. The title also is derived from the poem. I'd love to hear from you about it :)
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