This is now a two-shot; I can't really go on with it without seriously running riot with Miss Puppet's plot; but that's not to say I mightn't write more for these two in the future. Anyway, Miss Puppet requested a chapter from Dr. Wellington's point of view, and I can't really deny her that; she did invent him. Thank you for all of your lovely reviews so far.

Timothy surveyed Celia very clearly over the top of the mug of tea he was holding, trying to take in exactly what she had just said to him. Overall, it wasn't that it was difficult to believe- for a little while now he had just about allowed himself to hope that what she was saying might be true- it was only that he wanted to be very sure that it was before he acted upon it.

"So, just let me get this straight," he told her, holding his hand up a little to prevent her from saying any more for the moment, "You think that over the past few weeks Ruth has been having trouble with her back, but she won't tell me about it because-..."

"Because she fancies the pants off you, yes."

Celia could be wonderfully abrupt when she wanted to. Although he didn't necessarily find it an attractive quality, it was still admirable at the very least. There was one thing puzzling him though.

"Regardless of whether or not she..." he gesticulated vaguely with his hand, trying to think of a way to be more delicate than Celia.

"Fancies the pants off you," Celia supplied, again, evidently unconcerned by the notion of delicacy.

"Fancies the pants off me," he repeated rather reluctantly, moving quickly on, "It doesn't change the fact that I'm still her doctor and she's still my patient."

Celia looked at him as if he was being really rather stupid.

"Of course it changes it," she told him sharply, "It changes everything as far as you're both concerned. Especially this. Can you imagine how difficult it would be for someone like Ruth to be physically examined by someone she's as attracted to as she is to you? How mortifying it would be to her to even ask?"

He raised an eyebrow at that one, trying not to feel too pleased, remembering that at the moment there were more serious matters at hand. Well, if they were not more serious, then they were more solemn at any rate.

"You realise that as you have now informed Ruth's doctor about it, he's duty bound to ensure she's in no serious danger?" he asked her, "Therefore making it highly likely that because of what you've told me, Ruth is going to have to go through the mortification of being examined by me anyway?"

"I haven't told you in any official capacity," Celia pointed out, indicating to their surroundings- his kitchen table at home, as opposed to his consulting room at the surgery-, "You said it yourself when I said there was something I had to tell you: you have your fellow-inhabitant-of-Knapely hat on now, as opposed to your doctor's hat."

"Alright then," he admitted, "If you analysed this case by the book, you'd probably find that I have no legal obligation to examine Ruth or make any extensive enquiries into what's wrong with her. But I care about her very much, and what you've said has made me worried; and there's every chance that I might make use of the fact that I'm her doctor to persuade her to explain to me what the trouble is."

Celia looked maddeningly pleased with herself; the air of a woman successful in her mission.

"Don't you look so happy," he told her warily, "It'll be down to you if Ruth has to undergo the torture of being physically examined by me."

"I said being examined would be difficult for her," Celia corrected him, her smugness quite pronounced by now, "At no point did I say that it would do her any harm."

...

Well, Celia had been right about one thing if nothing else: this was making Ruth very uncomfortable indeed. Her reaction to the mere suggestion of it should have been enough to tell him how awkward it would make her feel. Her back was tensed to the point where there was little chance of him feeling anything at all, let alone ascertaining what was the matter with her. He opened his mouth, about to try to say something that might ease her a little, when he noticed that she had her eyes tightly shut. Reasoning that she was likely to ignore anything that he said in order to make things a easy as possible, he realised that he was probably going to have to calm her without words. Softly, instead of continuing his examination, he smoothed his fingers down the curve of her lower spine in a light massaging motion.

The effect was miraculous. The muscles supporting her spine seemed to unclench instinctively, but he barely had a moment to reflect on this triumph when he heard her let out a quiet moan against the cushion where her head lay. Though he was fairly sure it was not that kind of moan- a suspicion he thought it would be wisest to ignore for the moment- he apologised in case he had hurt her.

Continuing to probe her back as gently as possible, he found some irregular inflammation; probably what was causing her trouble. Unfortunately for his self control, he found that it did not cease before the line of her blue shirt against her brilliant white skin. He took a deep breath, reminding himself that at the moment at least he was supposed to be a professional. That he and this woman were almost certainly mutually attracted to each other- to put it very mildly indeed- was of almost no consequence whatsoever.

"You said the pain went higher sometimes?" he asked her, hoping his voice sounded vaguely level.

He felt her nod slightly against the cushion. Cautiously, he lifted her shirt higher, continuing to follow the inflammation up her spine, ignoring that her bra even had a catch for his own sanity. He was pleased to find that the inflammation did not go much further, and had ceased completely by the time he reached her neck. It was almost a relief to be able to draw her shirt back down over her skin, and to help her sit up, although he found his fingertips treacherously missed the feeling of her skin against his.

"It seems to be a pulled muscle," he explained.

"Really? I wouldn't have thought a pulled muscle would feel like that."

Her eyes widened just a fraction in her surprise, their brown reaching out that little bit more, making his breath almost catch in his throat.

"Sometimes, when it's a particularly large muscle in question, or there is a lot of strain placed on it- as there would be with the lower back- there would be considerable tension and that could be quite painful," he managed to explain to her, his voice not catching in his throat enough to impede his speech altogether.

"I see. That makes sense."

She was aware of the way he was watching her, but at the moment he didn't particularly care. At that moment, he was only wondering incredulously to himself what kind of an idiot her husband had been to even think of having an affair when he could have had this beauty; this wonderful, feminine, abashed, unwitting beauty. And that was even before he considered that Ruth was probably the kindest woman he had ever known. Before he considered the infatuated love her had for the person, the soul that Ruth was.

He loved her, of course he did. It seemed stupidly obvious now.

"Ruth?" he finally found the voice to ask, feeling that now he had to say something to her; he could not stand here and say nothing at all, "Why didn't you tell me that your back was hurting you this much?"

...

Kissing her, kissing Ruth, so softly and tenderly, with every ounce of love she deserved; holding her feminine waist in his hands so that she moved closer to him. Kissing her, taking her lower lip between his and gently pressing his tongue along it so that he heard a little moan escape from the back of her throat as, almost shyly, she opened her mouth to allow him to explore her further. Nudging his way, without thinking about it, to stand snugly between her knees.

The feel of her soft hair against his cheek as in her joy she laughed giddily against his chest. Laughter made her seem so young, and made him feel young too when he was holding her like this. Her happiness was infectious as he examined her beautiful face, holding it tenderly in his palm as he stroked her cheek.

"Ruth," he whispered softly, awe-struck, before quickly leaning in to kiss her soft red lips again. He noticed they were slightly swollen as she drew him to her body this time to hold him. They stayed like that for a long time; Ruth relaxed and secure in his arms.

Finally, though, he remembered why he'd come here in the first place.

"It won't be good for your back to stay sitting here for too long," he told her, reluctant as he was to move.

"To hell with my back," she whispered in his ear, in a quiet, serious voice that made him shudder a little. She obviously noticed this, because the next thing he felt was her lips tentatively latching onto his earlobe and sucking it gently. He heard himself moan, his hands tightening involuntarily around her waist.

"Ruth," he told her warningly, "Not that I'm not enjoying what you're doing immensely, I'm rather uneasy about giving your back up to hell. I've just discovered that you have a rather beautiful back."

"Flatterer," she scolded him, but got down anyway, taking his hand in hers and leading him across to the settee.

They settled there, hands still entwined, arms fining their way around each other to sit and hold each other for a while. She amazed him; how it felt to finally be this close to her, how calmly she was taking it. Perhaps she had wanted it for as long as he had. His chest rested in the softness of her hair, her back resting against his chest.

When she spoke now it was in a smaller voice.

"What now?" she asked.

He hesitated only for a second.

"Now I take care of you; as much or as little as you'll let me."

"Couldn't that get you into horrendous amounts of trouble?" she asked him, "From medical boards and so on? I'm still your patient, remember?"

"Are you comfortable with me remaining your doctor?" he asked.

"Yes," she answered immediately.

"Then, though I'm not one hundred percent up to scratch on rules like this, I'd say we're alright for the moment," he told her, "And later, if we do decide for one reason or another, that it would be best for me not to be your doctor, I will find another practice."

"I can't ask tha-..."

"You can ask anything of me that you like, Ruth. I love you."

There was a silence for a moment, before he felt her relax a fraction more into his chest, so that she was practically lying on him.

"I love you too."

End.

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