A small, almost apologetic, knock made David look up from the archive box he was packing the remains of his desk drawer into.
"So it's true," Lena murmured. "You're leaving?"
"I'm afraid so," She had been his favourite student. Always attentive, quiet, interested and beautiful. But he was technically not allowed to notice the last point. "It's time for me to move on."
"Just like that? What about us?"
"What?" Perhaps his interest in her had not been as hidden as he had hoped. "Us?"
"Your students," She went on, allowing David a sigh of relief. "You've taught us more than any of the others. I've even seen Brandon doing homework – that's an amazing feat. How are we suppose to finish the year without you?" Her voice was soft but edged with irritated disappointment.
He chuckled quietly and fitted the lid onto the box, "I'm afraid the decision was out of my hands."
"It not fair," She complained, reminding David, uncomfortably, of how much younger than himself she was.
"Well, that's life, isn't it?" He smoothed his tie down. Despite being twelve years her senior, he always felt compelled to work hard for her approval. She leant against the doorframe silently, looking down at the stone floor as though it had personally offended her. "What's the matter?"
"I know you've only been here a little while but ..." She shrugged and looked up at him with sad eyes. He wanted to comfort her but since they were alone, it wouldn't be appropriate. He sat down in the dark, leather desk chair to stop himself from going to her.
"It's going to be so dull without you," She finished.
"Dull?" He smiled at her sweetness. She pushed a length of silky hair behind her ear and nodded. "You always have Kyle to entertain you," He offered.
Gossip circulated even amongst the teachers and it was no secret that the class clown had developed a crush on the endearing Lena. While the other educators laughed jovially at 'young love', David could only feel a sense of grief at the idea that some boy would clumsily make a mess of what should be a perfect romance. If she succumbed to Kyle's boyish charm, he would inevitably break her heart for someone less worthy and it would take him years to realise what he had let slip away.
Lena shrugged again, "His short attention span will move him onto something else soon enough. I think I'm just something of a quirky novelty to him. He doesn't really get me."
In moments like this, David found it easy to forget their mandatory boundaries. She had the wisdom and insight to see through other people's facades, it made her seem his equal in so many ways. He wanted to agree and tell her how much better she would be with someone more like herself; calm, intelligent, thoughtful - someone like him... but he cleared his throat and simply said, "There is time enough to meet someone who gets you."
"It's embarrassing that even the teachers know," She said, gesturing to him.
David chuckled, "As if we have anything better to do with our time."
"What will you do once you leave here?" She asked, pushing off from the doorframe to finally enter his office. "Do you have another position lined up?"
"No, not yet," David stood up to move the archive box over to his suitcase and bags. The boarding school lifestyle had afforded him the ability to pack light which meant the possibilities of the future were infinite. He had considered going to America, it would be nice to get out of grey London. Maybe he would meet someone and find a job at a nearby school, buy a house with a big yard and swimming pool. Do all those things adults were suppose to do when they weren't besotted by someone beyond their reach.
Lena was moving an ornamental vase further from the edge the mantel piece, "If you teach somewhere close by, I could still visit you."
This took David by surprise. He had long suspected that he was her favourite teacher but to want to visit in her spare time suggested that perhaps Lena considered him more than that. However, David knew that it was more likely he was merely seeing his own projected desires. He shook his head and reminded himself that he was her teacher, mentor, and, at a very large stretch, maybe her friend – and that was all.
"Are you not thinking about staying in London?" She asked, attempting to read the silence.
He glanced up to see her sapphire eyes watching him intently. "Uh, no, actually," He said, now focusing on the glowing fire behind her. "I thought I might go overseas."
Lena made a little noise that brought his eyes back to hers. "Why?" She started to move across the room towards him.
David instinctively moved towards his chair, "Change of pace, I suppose."
"Why, really?" She paused at edge of his desk, looking at him with a stern gaze.
Who had he been trying to fool? Of course she would see through his obvious dodge of the question. To the best of Lena's knowledge, David had enjoyed his time at the school, as short as it was, and had no reason to need a complete change of scenery. Little did she know the internal battle he fought on a semi-regular basis to keep himself professional.
"I can't really get into it, actually," David said, reminding himself that teachers were allowed to be distant and evasive. "Let's just leave it at that, shall we?"
Lena looked affronted and he immediately regretted it.
"I guess this is goodbye then," She said, an iciness edging her tone.
"Lena, that's not..." He stepped towards her, reaching out to her take her shoulder. "I just mean that I shouldn't get into it."
Turning to face him better, her expression softened. "Why is that?"
"It's not really appropriate," He hated drawing attention to the obvious boundaries that separated them. She continued to eye him, confused, and he became increasingly aware of how close they had become. He cleared his throat and let his hand fall away. "You don't need to worry about the problems of –."
Suddenly, her arms had wrapped themselves around his body and her head had come to rest against his shoulder. "I'm going to miss you." Lena whispered into his neck.
David's arms hung awkwardly in the air before his brain caught up and he allowed himself permission to return the hold. It was only a hug, after all. Before he had time to consider his actions, his hand had moved to gently stroke her hair, it was soft and smooth. He closed his eyes and felt her warm breath lightly on his neck, he let his cheek come to rest against the top of her head. "I'll miss you too, Lena," He told her quietly.
"It's not going to be the same without you," She murmured.
He smiled, keeping his eyes closed, "It's only a few months until you graduate. You will barely notice I'm gone."
Lena's arms relaxed and she pulled away only enough to look him in the face, "I very much doubt that."
They were still holding one another and David's conscience ached as desire and obligation battled within. He knew he needed to let go, step away, wish her well in her studies. It was so simple and suitable, the proper way to behave. Why couldn't he force his arms to drop?
As the conflict raged on, Lena had become focused on David's mouth. "What?" He asked, momentarily distracted from the internal war to wonder what had caught her attention.
Her lips were on his before David could fully comprehend what had happened. She kissed him with gentle force, quelling any and all conflict, and he impulsively returned the ardor. Rather than a burning combat zone, his mind suddenly felt awash with confusion, extinguishing of all sense of should and focusing entirely on the realization that his affections were not one sided.
He could hardly comprehend the possibility that such a beautiful, sweet girl would regard him as anything more than a teacher and yet, here she was, wrapped in his arms. Lena moved her hands up to his shoulders and pushed his jacket away. It fell to the floor behind him and David kicked it as they stumbled over to his desk chair. He dropped onto the soft leather and Lena moved to sit astride him.
"Lena, hold on," David said. The moment they had broken the embrace, his mind flared with new doubt. "What… what are we doing?"
She looked down at him frowning and breathing quickly, "What?"
"I… don't… what's going on?" He had never found his thoughts so scattered. "I shouldn't be doing this."
"You're not," She answered simply. "I am." Her mouth curled into a mischievous smile David had never seen before and he fought to remember what he had been saying.
"Wait a moment," he tore his eyes away from her. Unconsciously, his hands hadn't left her hips and she moved her leg against his, tempting him cruelly. He took a deep breath and plunged into the reality he had been avoiding drawing attention to until now. "I can't, it's not right. I'm your teacher."
It sounded so offensive, so distasteful, so … illegal. How had he gotten here?
One look at Lena's still smiling face reminded him. "What's funny?" He asked, confused
"Sir," She said with amused formality. "I do believe those are your boxes and bags packed up by that wall over there. Correct?"
David nodded, not quite following.
"And they would be there because you're leaving," She purred. "You're not actually my teacher anymore."
"Oh," he murmured, allowing her to move onto his lap.
"So now," She went on, sliding her hands up his chest and over his shoulders, delicate fingers moving up his neck and into his hair. "I can finally do this." Her warm lips pressed against his softly.
"Finally?" He asked, when she broke away to start unbuttoning his shirt. Lena merely nodded, biting her bottom lip. "Did you know?"
"Know what?" She whispered, moving in to kiss his neck.
"How I felt about you?" With the last of his restraint, he had to know if he had influenced this, if he had abused his position and encouraged this.
Lena sat back up and smirked, "Not until you kissed me back."
Relief washed over his conscience.
"Now, if you'll kindly stop talking," She grinned and pulled his shirt away.
"Yes, ma'am," He replied, finally at ease, and took her face in his hands to kiss her beautiful lips.