The Doctor no longer dines with the other fellows at high table, but in his rooms, alone with his friend. There is not an inch of wall where the dark oak panelling is visible, because they are all stacked to the ceiling with books. The Doctor used to read a lot, devouring knowledge like a glutton at a feast, but he has not touched his library for weeks. He feels uncomfortable when he realises that, but tells himself he now has the key to a source of knowledge vaster than all the libraries in the world. He only has to turn it, and that he can do at any time.
The furniture also made of dark oak, solid, uncomfortable and sparse – two chairs and a table, with a bed in another room, and a third room with no furniture at all. Since the friend's arrival there have been silk cushions too – pink, purple and gold, but the Doctor usually forgets about them and sits on the bare wooden seat, as he has always done.
After they have eaten, they smoke their pipes together, and talk. The homely smell of tobacco mingles with the other more exotic fumes that fill the place.
"…I just don't like him," said the Doctor of one of his students. "He is arrogant and self-obsessed. He has no respect for authority."
He notices his friend suppressing a smile. This irritates him. He doesn't like being compared to the pale, quiet young man from the north.
"And he's weak," the Doctor, who does not consider himself at all weak, adds. "Weak-willed, and weak-minded."
"Weak-minded?" The friend's bright eyes become even brighter. "Then surely it will be easy to have a bit of fun with him?"
"A bit of fun?" The Doctor's eyes narrow. He feels a little sick with the thought of what his friend might mean by this, but he suppresses that feeling. The last few weeks have been fun, and no one has got anything they didn't deserve.
The friend licks his lips, and the Doctor wonders whether he imagined a forked tongue.A fortnight later, the Doctor sits alone in his study. It has been snowing, and the quadrangle beneath is covered in white, silent and unearthly. The Doctor is reminded of the young man from the north, and doesn't like that.
As if summoned by this thought, a figure all in black walks diagonally across the quadrangle, spoiling the pristine white. This annoys the Doctor even more, and he turns away.
But the student stops at the entrance to the Doctor's staircase, and soon there's the sound of footsteps coming up the narrow stairs.
The outer door is open, so the student knocks on the inner door. The Doctor opens it.
"Magister…" the student begins. He has been crying. His pale skin is all blotched and his eyes are red. The Doctor is slightly repulsed. Then he remembers. A bit of fun. Suddenly he goes cold.
"Come in," he says, and gestures to one of the hard oak chairs.
"Magister," the student continues. "Last night I received some bad news."
The Doctor doesn't nod or say "go on" or "I'm sorry to hear that." He sits and stares at the student, feeling the blood drain from his face.
"My father has died."
Still nothing. The student feels uncomfortable.
"I have to go home for a while. I don't know when I'll be back."
At last the Doctor nods, slowly. "I'm very sorry to hear that," he says, which is true. "Was it… expected?"
The student starts to cry again, tears leaking silent out of his eyes. The Doctor wishes he'd leave. "No," he says. "Very sudden. There was a snake… in the garden…"
"There always is."
The student twitches in surprise. He had not noticed there is third person in the room, sitting on the floor in the shadows in the corner. At first the student gets the impression he is young, barely more than a boy, with light brown curls like a Greek god. <>
The student knows the Doctor's reputation and wonders whether he is some kind of catamite. He feels embarrassed and a bit disgusted. But when he looks again, he sees that the man – though short – is a man, about the Doctor's age, with a tiny brown beard and fashionably pointed moustache.
The student recovers himself. "I don't believe we've met," he says, offering his hand to the Doctor's friend. "I'm afraid you find me at a difficult time."
The friend looks closely at the student, and the student finds he is unable to look away. "Do you get on well with the rest of your family?" asks the friend.
"I have no-one but my mother and my uncle," says the student, "but I get on very well with both of them."
The friend looks into the student's mind and sees that this is true. They are a close family, who love and respect one another in equal measure. He reaches in with invisible hands, as careful as a watchmaker tweaking cogs almost too small to see.
"No you don't," he says. "You suspect that your uncle is evil. He murdered your father and is going to seduce your mother, then kill you. You hate him."
The Doctor is laughing, he doesn't know why he finds it so funny, but he does. He is drunk on it. He can't stop himself joining in. "Also," he says, "you want to sleep with your mother."
The friend smiles at him approvingly, then says to the student: "but you will forget all this for now. It will lurk at the bottom of your mind like a monster at the bottom of the sea, and will not enter your conscious thoughts until we meet again."
The student shakes his head. He feels strange. It has been a long, sleepless night and he needs to arrange his carriage home.
"If you will excuse me," he says, and leaves.
The Doctor and his friend laugh together. It feels good.
"What now?" Asks the Doctor.
"It will take him a week or so to get home," says the friend. "Once he does, I'll dress up as his father and wander about on the battlements then eventually give him some spiel about being in hell until he takes his dreadful revenge."
"Brilliant!" Says the Doctor. "Be sure to lay it on really thick, tell him all about the horrible tortures you continually suffer."
No answer. The Doctor realises he's hit… whatever his friend has instead of nerves, and changes the subject. "Can I come and watch?" He says.
The friend smiles again. "Of course," he says. "I thought we could dress up as his friends and offer to help him out."And all day and all night long they smoke their pipes and laugh and make their plans. Faustus has no need for sleep any more, and Mephistophiles has been denied that respite since before the world began.
Hamlet too spends a sleepless night as the carriage jolts away from Wittenberg, struggling to keep his weary thoughts in order, not suspecting that anything other than grief and exhaustion have put them out of joint.