Closed Settling In
Dr. Dietrich had considered staying in the inn the first night back in Madsmoor. His home was hardly habitable with all the boxes freshly shipped and waiting to get unpacked. He hardly knew what to do with the kitchen, and there was little comfort in the drafty, unfamiliar house that would eventually become his home. By the time evening had rolled around, however, he was exhausted enough to fall asleep on the couch, half-buried in books he was trying to sort through.

Morning light stirred Oliver from his sleep. He groped around for his pocket watch… quarter past ten!! He scrambled up and rummaged through some boxes to find some clean clothes to freshen up in. Philomena wanted to meet him this morning, it would be lovely to see her again. Her enthusiasm for learning did not seem diminished in the slightest if her letters were any indication.

He was in the middle of trying to figure out the tea kettle… there must be some missing component that was still buried in a box somewhere- when there was a knock at the door. “Good morning, Miss. Muzuran!” He greeted cordially before a smile started to grow. “It’s good to see you again!”
Philomena fairly flung herself at the doctor, just barely refraining from flinging her arms around him and giving him a bone crushing embrace. In lieu of, knowing how Oliver typically shied away from such intimacies, she contented herself with grabbing both his work worn hands in her much plumper, softer ones, and giving his a squeeze of delight, which sentiment was reflected fully in her radiant expression and joyful smile. ”Oliver!” she exclaimed, foregoing any formalities that time might have tried to reinstate between them. ”Oh, Oliver….I am so very glad to see you again!”

There was no hyperbole in that statement. The doctor’s departure from her current home had been devastating, and she had, in fact, written an excess of letters to him. Mainly they were framed in terms of questions or observations upon topics which she was reading up on. But a secondary impetus for the many sheaves of paper which she had filled in the intervening weeks had been her need to keep that one lifeline intact. For her existence at Madswitte castle was dreary and dull and bereft of intellectual stimulation of any kind. Her fantasy of ever fulfilling her dream of one day escaping her father’s medieval outlook on a woman’s role in perpetuating her family’s fortune by the sole means of marriage had seemed dashed, destined to expire without the breath of life giving air with which the medical researcher had imbued it during his brief time ensconced in the bosom of the Madswitte family. With his return, Oliver had brought back not only an immediate outlet for her academic aspirations, but also…hope. If only one person believed in her abilities, perhaps, one day, she would somehow find the means to attend university.

Thus her joy was  both for his person, and for what he symbolized, to her, and, unable to restrain herself as she gazed at his scholarly, slightly saturnine, far from dashing, dear, dear face, she impulsively hugged him, breathing out excitedly and with complete contentment, ”You have no idea…”
In his absence, Oliver had forgotten what an enthusiastic pupil Philomena could be. It was contagious- through her eyes he could find a renewed passion for his practice and excitement in scientific curiosity. He could compare clearly now- her hunger for knowledge against the dull jaded politics of the faculty at the university. Oliver knew how much she wanted to attend, but even with all other matters aside, they didn’t deserve her.

As she threw her arms around him, Oliver couldn’t help but wonder if this was how parents were supposed to feel about their children. Having someone who missed you. Someone that made the world a little warmer. “Oh, my dear.” He put a hand on her head. Though most of her complaints about her own father were about his reluctance to send her to school, Oliver had seen occasions where he was downright cruel. Even at the masquerade, in front of all the guests. It concerned him more than she might realize, the thought that he still may have no idea.

Oliver swung open the door and stepped aside to let her in. “I’d offer you tea, but I’m having some trouble brewing it at the moment.” He led her to the kitchen. “There are scones, however.” He gestured to a box of pastries he picked up the day before.
She let herself be set aside, quite gently, by the good man, and with her face still beaming, entered further into the dwelling, unbuttoning her coat and moving to take the pins out her hat, to release it from her hair. ”Perhaps I can help you figure it out,” she said with a laugh, following him to the kitchen. ”I’m sure between the two of us we can get some water to boil, don’t you think?” Ah, she felt so light hearted and merry, as different as day is from light, compared to the girl she had been these last long, dreary weeks.

Her outer habillement removed, she tossed both items aside, carelessly onto an unpacked crate, as she glanced at the premade scones. ”You shall need a cook, Oliver! You bachelors are so notorious for failing to take care of yourselves.” She shook her head like a scolding school marm. ”I’d apply for the position, except for the fact that I have no idea how to cook! I’d probably wind up poisoning you!” She said it so cheerfully, but it was meant as a joke, of course.

She crossed to the stove and looked at the kettle. ”Isn’t there supposed to be a bit that goes in the spout? The part that has the whistle?” Without waiting for an answer she began to root around in the closest box. It would seem that the young woman was well accustomed to making herself at home, messing about in Oliver’s things.

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