The Taverner Chronicles: Midwinter, One

Fiction By Marlene E. Schuler // 3/3/2012

First, I wanted to thank James for promoting me to the most esteemed honor of becoming a Monthly. I am deeply honored, I hope to become worthy of that title. In the meantime, I present the next set of chapters for the Taverner Chronicles.

Millie pulled the curtains aside. There she was, in her own time, for her brother and sister were standing over the trunk full of clothing. Millie shivered as the warmth left her cheeks and hands, realizing that it was again cold. Very cold. Andrew looked at her with a puzzled expression.


'Millie, weren't you going to try that dress on? I mean, you were hardly in there a few minutes.'


Millie smiled.


'I have... a lot to tell you.'


And she told them. She explained every detail, everything that had happened- including the parts about Dr. Rawlings, excepting, of course, the rather embarrassing moments. When she had finished, they looked at her in disbelief. It was unlike their sister, their Millie, to come off with such rambling fantasies... but all was made clear when she cracked the seal on the note from Grandfather. It read:


To Millie's siblings-


Do not doubt what your sister tells you. All is true- you have but to put the clothing on and you will be in the past. I do not yet know you in the past, nor do I know if I am alive to know you in the present. But know this; you'll get a stiff talking to if you don't come back to the past to meet me!


Dated this February 27th, 1893. Signed, your Grandfather T.


Andrew and Gianna looked at one another, then back at the letter. They inspected the broken seal, the fresh-smelling ink, and the paper itself. Both wanted to believe them... but both knew that what Millie said was impossible. Millie noticed the incredulous looks on their faces, and shook her head.


'The only way you're going to believe is if you go there yourself. Look, just put these things on... and you'll be there. I don't know how, in fact, I still don't believe it myself. But please... just do it.'


Andrew took a deep sigh, then draped the suit he had been eying over his arm.


'If I come out and hear you laughing, I will never forgive you.' he said, marching off into one of the closets. Gianna put her hand gently on Millie's arm.


'Are you fibbing, or is it really true?'


Millie smiled and hugged her sister tightly.


'Yes, it is really true. Trust me! We'll wait for Andrew to come back, and you'll see.'


There was a few moments of silence. All was still in the room, and the sisters felt the air grow colder. Outside, the sun fell deeper into the sky, casting even more gray shadows into the near-empty ballroom. Looking around her, Millie strangely felt at home, despite the icy, motionlessness gloom. The bright and fantastical vision all at once faded in her mind's eye, and her practical mind began to doubt it. Was it really just a fancy of her mind? Was she just telling her siblings a fantasy of her imagination?


But all uncertainty vanished when Andrew nearly toppled out of the closet. His eyes were wide open, and his face looked a little ashy.


'Andrew? Did you...?' Gianna faltered, but the only answer she got from her brother was a vague nod.


'It's... really there! I really went back!' he cried, causing Millie's heart to fill with joy. She had been right; and moreover, her brother had been there.


'Did you see Grandfather?' she asked.


Andrew nodded, then went to Gianna and took her hand.


'What's more, he wants to see you, Gianna. In fact, he wants us all to be there! He and Grandmother are holding a ball on Saturday, and they want us to come.'


Gianna looked incredulous.


'Somehow I get the feeling you two are trying to pull the wool over my eyes... and if I go in there and wait to travel to the past, you'll scare the wits out of me!'


Millie rolled her eyes, and Andrew stamped his foot.


'How much will it take to get you to believe us?' Andrew cried, but Millie interjected before he could go on.


'Don't worry, Andrew- she'll believe us. That is, when we go on Saturday.'


Gianna was about to loudly complain, but was silenced when their mother came into the room.


'Did you...?' she started, trailing off when she saw the various emotional states her children were in.


'Mother, why did you keep that secret from us?' Millie said, but was surprised at the tone of her own voice. It sounded forlorn and sad, even though she felt entirely the opposite.


Mother smiled, and shut the door behind her.


'This is a secret that we've kept in our family for many generations- a secret which I could not entrust to you until I was certain that you would be able to contain it.'


Gianna's eyes opened wide.


'Do you mean... do you mean it's true? That they really did see Grandfather and stuff?'


Andrew cuffed her on the elbow and exclaimed, 'Of course we did, you silly! Would we fib? Honestly.'


Gianna's hot temper flared up, but her mother's voice kept her from saying anything.


'Children, this is important. You must never, never utter a word of this to a single soul, unless under extreme circumstances. Do you understand?'


She looked so stern, so solemn. One by one, the children again swore to secrecy, promising that no one outside of the family would ever hear of it.


'All right then. Put those clothes away, we have to get dinner ready for your father.'


They carefully folded the clothing back into the trunk and left the room. Millie was the last to exit, and gave a long, final look at the room before closing the door. When she turned to start down the hallway, she found her mother waiting for her.


'Did you meet the Doctor?'


'Mother? You mean Doctor Rawlings...?'


She nodded, and smiled amicably. As she spoke, she took her daughter's arm and walked down the hall with her.

'Do you know, the first time I went back there, he was one of the first people I met! Oh, Millie, I'm so glad you finally know. I've been wanting to talk about it with you for a long time... you'll never guess how many times I almost blurted it out to you!'


Millie smiled, and kissed her mother on the cheek.


'Well, now we can talk of it as much as we like! Perhaps we can go back together sometime...'


Mother sighed and shook her head.


'I'm sorry dear, but I promised myself that I would never go back. No, I've had enough of it.'


Millie was surprised at the sudden change in her Mother. One moment, she was gushing happily about a fantastical adventure, the next almost condemning it.


'Why ever not?'


The two stopped walking, and Mother looked deeply into her daughter's eyes.


'When you start living more in the past then you do in present, you'll come to understand why, Millie. Never let that happen to you... it will tear you apart, just as it nearly broke my heart.'


Millie was perplexed. She didn't quite understand her mother, but made a silent promise to follow her advice.




 I finally got caught up on this! You're weaving a wonderful tale, here, Marlene! I especially love the mother, and her comment at the end of this chapter was very wise. :) 

Kyleigh | Mon, 03/05/2012

 I'm really enjoying this!

 I'm really enjoying this! Keep up with the marvellous writing! :)

Renee | Mon, 03/05/2012

 Mysssstery. Gollum can

 Mysssstery. Gollum can tassste it.

Anna | Thu, 03/08/2012

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief


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