A/N- I'm sure some of you Whovians out there are worried that I may be drifting away from this fandom. No worries! Once a Whovian, always a Whovian. I just have side interests. Also, this one is much shorter than the previous two. Sorry about that. The Academy years are kinda... well, dull. And to make matters worse, they cover a long period of time, so I had to slightly alter my format to make my vision for this chapter work.

3. Academy

Romanadvoratrelundar still loves books. Anything she could possibly want to know is available on computer or data crystal, but there's something magical about the feeling of books in her hands. The silvery paper on which Gallifreyan books are printed feels nice against her skin as she flicks through the pages. Most electronic information is now written in the elegant script of interlocking circles developed by a certain Meddling Monk (whose- unfortunately- very impressive contributions to society are almost always pawned off on lesser minds), but there's something alluring about the characters of traditional high Gallifreyan. There's also something about the smell, that distinctive bitter-sour smell of the pulp of the imbria tree (a preferred material for paper production) which appeals to her.

And so she reads quite a lot. Everyone does, of course. You can't survive the Academy without absolutely burying yourself in the standard literature. Romanadvoratrelundar, though, actually reads hard-bound books. She pilfers them from the Academy's collection and reads them- usually several times- before returning them in time to avoid detection. After so many years of losing herself- secretly, mind you- in the realms of beautiful fiction, she's a very fast reader.

Her friends are few. Her avid devotion to her studies intimidates most of those who might otherwise have approached her. The few with whom she does spend time are all so... ordinary. They're fine enough, she supposes, but they are neither interesting nor particularly intelligent. She frequently finds that in order to maintain even the barest semblance of an interpersonal relationship, it is necessary to reign in her own intellect.

Sometimes, she only feels half-real. She'll pick up a book and dream of the stars and grand deeds of valor and glory and her hearts send her blood racing through her veins and she doesn't just sympathize with her characters. She becomes them. Her spirit rises up in her and chokes her and she knows that this is so, so wrong, because a proper Time Lady doesn't feel these things, doesn't have these grand and dangerous delusions. Then, when she determines that she must get back on track, she sets the story aside and goes back to her reality. It's so ordinary it breaks her heart. She lives in a world where everything is shades of gray. It is only in her dreams, inspired by her novels, that reality becomes vivid and prismatic.

It's as though she's drifting, sometimes. Oh, she's as diligent as ever in her studies (Lord Braxiatel's words still echo in her mind, and sometimes she swears she can feel the words Lady President pulsing in time to her hearts), but it seems pointless. She can feel Gallifrey turning in its slow revolutions around the twin suns and it feels like at any moment she might be ripped from its surface. The young Time Lady called Romanadvoratrelundar is there, but she feels transparent and insubstantial, and she's just waiting for the moment that inertia takes hold and pries her free from her student's life on Gallifrey and hurls her out into the void between the stars.

And then, one day, she cannot stand it anymore. It is the most ordinary day in the world. She is, as usual, sitting in her comfortably appointed cell, a book in her lap, staring out the window as Mila sinks below the horizon, staining the orange sky with a flush of scarlet. She has stopped reading. She had to, because the poignant ache in her soul at the prospect of being here instead of striding across the worlds in the far-gone days of legend is so raw and maddening that she cannot continue. Her green eyes turn hard and she surges to her feet and with a wordless cry, hurls the book across the room. As it crashes into the wall, she has already turned and upended the little chair on which she was sitting, and gives it a solid kick for good measure. All she achieves is a stubbed toe for her trouble.

That's the moment when she knows.

She knows she cannot do this any more. She cannot dream any longer, because it will kill her. The overwhelming need for all that will eat at her until it destroys her beyond even regeneration's ability to repair. She has to give it up.

Carefully, she sets the chair upright again. Then she cautiously retrieves the book from where it lay at the bottom of the gentle curve of the wall. She returns it to the library, and does not return there again except for strictly academic pursuits.

She thinks she has done well for herself.

The trouble is, you see, that we rarely see ourselves clearly. Giving up something which brings us joy is a painful process, and it leaves scars on the heart. Without that elation to light up our lives, our little flames we all carry inside flicker and die, and we become icy and bitter on the outside. This is what happened to Romanadvoratrelundar.