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Back to the Beginning.

He lingered behind the late comers and slipped into one of the old stools at the back of the ancient room that was being used for the lecture. He took a moment to take in the other attendants, relieved that not only did there seem to be few witches or vampires, there were a number of demons too, but that none of them were taking an interest in him. He was well aware of the reputation his family garnered, as well as the one he held in his own right, though he had tried his best to only hold one in the area of scientific research during this century.

The senior faculty member called everyone to silence and began her introductory speech. His eyes moved almost immediately from her to the woman who was about to deliver the lecture that morning. She looked slightly nervous and self-conscious, her eyes keeping a careful watch between her visual aids and the senior faculty member. He knew she was not comfortable in this sort environment, preferring to spend her days in a library with ancient tomes, yet it was necessary, not only for the job offer she was about to receive, but because they agreed that the events of the day needed to proceed as they had done, if they were to have any hope of success.

Diana began to speak, relaying her lecture on alchemy once more. Although slightly nervous, he soon saw and sensed her relax when she realised those assembled were listening interestedly to what she was saying. He recalled when they first met and he had tried to set her at ease by telling her what he thought of her published work. Despite his ulterior motives in meeting her, he had actually read her books and articles with intrigue and interest. Listening to this lecture was no different, though he was probably a little more biased now thanks to their relationship. He wondered what he would have made of it had he attended the first time, instead of research in the lab before going to church, the contrast of this encounter to that outside the library, where he saw her being confronted by Gillian before she retreated, putting as much distance between herself and the book as was possible. The moment at the river, when he saw her rowing did not count, for he did not realise it was her until after they had met and he had begun 'stalking' her, as she termed it. She was right of course, he was too much in denial of what he was feeling to acknowledge it at the time.

He turned his focus on her lecture not his thoughts, joining in the applause at the end, rising from his seat like the other attendants. He watched the woman who had introduced her approach Diana and make the job offer, as he lingered with those who were slow to leave. He saw her summon her courage and go to Gillian, greeting her as she had before, as a former friend she once knew during her previous time at Oxford.

Falling into 'stalking' mode once more, he followed the two witches at a distance as they went to a cafe for drinks, food and catch-up over what they had missed in each other's lives since Diana had returned to America and Gillian remained in England. He knew Diana could probably sense him, he hoped it was giving her the confidence to continue as if all of this was happening for the first time.

He didn't join her that night back at her rooms, even though he wished to, desperately. They rarely spent any time apart recently, events being somewhat fraught and causing them to fear being apart in case something happened to the other. Instead he spent an uncomfortable night perched on the roof above, listening to her heart while she slept, keeping an eye on the surroundings, making sure no other creatures were nearby.

Morning came and he followed her to the library, where she talked to Sean and filled in her request form for the books; Ashmole, volumes Thirty-seven, ninety-two, one hundred and eighty-three.

And seven hundred and eighty-two.

He sought the shadows as she went to take her seat, setting out her laptop, talking to Gillian while she waited for the books to arrive. When Sean brought them forth they both breathed a sigh of relief.

Anxiously he waited for Gillian to go back to her seat, then watched as Diana picked up one of the books and placed it in the reading rest. This was the part of the day which would be different, that needed to be different if they hoped to succeed. She began making her notes, while he kept watch on her, the people and creatures in the library and the pile of books beside her.

The opening hours drifted by and soon people and creatures were tidying up and preparing to leave. He kept an eye on them as Diana folded her laptop, gathered the stuff she had brought with it on top before putting it back into her bag. He remained in the shadows watching everyone as she returned the books to Sean, making sure no one noticed that there was one less than before.

He kept himself separate from her until they came to a halt outside his lab, where he finally joined her, taking her hand in his. Together they raised their legs and disappeared into the future.

With the Book of Life.