The frame was warm ruddy mahogany, gleaming and sleek, piped in twenty-four carat gold, the mat a lush ebony. Mounted in its precise centre was the cream parchment that announced to the world in flowing black script:.
On the recommendation of the Academic Board and by the authority of the University Council HARLEEN QUINZEL has today been admitted to the degree of Doctorate of Psychiatry.
The Gotham University emblem blazed in carmine in the uppermost left corner and she used to touch it reverently with her fingertips.
Then she would wipe the glass carefully, so no greasy smudges dulled its shine.
Her father had laughed when she announced her intentions to become a psychiatrist. 'Stick to something you're good at, sweetheart.' He had advised.
Her mother had shrieked. 'But we're going to the Olympics! The Olympics! You can't do this to me, Leeny!'
But He. He had understood. 'You needed to show them all,' He murmured tenderly, His shackled wrists tight around her waist as she leaned into Him on the padded leather of her office couch. 'Not just a pretty face. Not my little pumpkin pie. Daddy knows. More special than that. Fate, baby. Fate told you to become a Doctor, so that you could be brought here. For me, cupcake. All for Daddy.' His hands on her neck, high Peter-Pan collars to hide the bruises, her lips nibbled red and swollen. 'You're mine, you always were meant to be.'
When she'd freed Him, when He sat on her couch with His arms up behind Hishead, grinning so beautifully and her veins had been burning with adrenalin, she'd heaved the large frame off her wall where it hung in its prized place, directly across from the doorway it could be seen straight away.
It smashed easily.
Glass and splintered wood had gone flying and the carmine emblem suddenly blotched and ran, spreading its thick redness all over that heavy, cream paper. It was wet and sticky and her hands stung for some reason but she ignored it as she tore that parchment from the frame and ripped it into pieces in front of Him. She didn't say anything and He didn't ask. He didn't have to. He always understood.
His laughter had made her shiver with bliss.
The new certificate was in a black frame, this time piped in silver and mounted in dusky rose-pink mat. But it said something a little bit different.
On the recommendation of the Asylum Board and by the authority of the Gotham Council HARLEEN QUINZEL has today been declared mentally sane and competent.
It, too, was hung in the living room, directly opposite the doorway, and she often had to wipe her greasy fingerprints off the glass.
He hadn't needed to say anything, when He wandered in. He looked at the certificate and then He looked at her and His smile had burned right into her heart, reminding her love was the only purpose for anything.
That frame smashed just as easily.