The Taverner Chronicles: Midwinter, Three
Millie sped up the staircase with the full intention of returning to the ballroom. She didn't know why she was running, in fact, she was starting to wish that she hadn't. The idea that had once seemed the proper course of action suddenly appeared silly and ridiculous.
Just as she reached the top, however, a voice from behind stopped her dead in her tracks.
Doctor Rawlings. She turned to face him- he was standing at the bottom of the stairs, looking earnestly up at her.
'Was my playing all that bad?' he continued.
Millie stammered to find the right words. Her position, while ridiculous before, was steadily growing more ludicrous by the minute.
'No... no, in fact, it was quite beautiful. I was... enjoying it.'
She hoped that would be sufficient to answer any other questions. But no, she was wrong.
'Then why did you run away?'
Millie felt a lump in her throat. There weren't many avenues out of this one.
'Well... I... thought I had to go.'
The Doctor nodded, waiting for her to continue. She prayed he wouldn't continue... but he did.
'But you don't now, is that it?'
Millie was stumped. He had her, through and through. And had she known him better, she would have seen the playful look behind his seemingly-stern face, realizing that he was enjoying every single minute of it. Fortunately for her, however, Gianna came running out onto the banister just when Millie couldn't think of anything to say.
'Oh Millie, where were you? Andrew and I were looking for you all over.'
Millie flashed her a look before she could get any further. Gianna suddenly realized what she had been about to say, and quickly tried to change the subject. She frantically looked around the room for something -anything- to divert the topic, and when her eyes rested on the Doctor, she looked to her older sister for an introduction.
'Oh, um, Gianna... this is Dr. Rawlings.'
Gianna grinned at him.
'Millie has said a lot about you.'
There was a brilliant flash that lit up the Doctor's brown eyes wonderfully as he turned from Gianna to Millie.
'Oh really now! That's something. Well, Miss Gianna, I am pleased to make your acquaintance.'
Millie felt her cheeks grow hot. Leave it to a little sister to make things go from bad to worse! She feverishly searched her mind for some way to escape from the situation.
'Come on, Gianna, I just remembered- we're wanted in.. in the upstairs library.'
With that, she grabbed Gianna's hand and marched away from the Doctor with a determined look on her face. Had she remained, she would have been mortified by the look on the Doctor's face, which wore an expression of restrained mirth. As soon as they were out of earshot, Gianna stopped and indignantly demanded to know the reason for Millie's swift withdrawal.
'Because... he was...' Millie flustered, trying to think of a reason, 'He was being awfully rude. Didn't you see?'
'I thought he was rather funny.' replied Gianna, much to her sister's annoyance.
Millie quickly changed the topic before she was embarrassed any further.
'Where is Andrew?'
'Looking for you, like I was. Come on, Grandfather wanted to spend the day with us.'
Gianna led Millie down to the Study, where they found Grandfather and Andrew talking by the fireside. Both stood when the girls entered.
Grandfather gave both of them hugs, then bade them sit by the fire.
'As I explained to Andrew earlier, I am not one to welcome guests. My wife does that... she is much better at socializing than I ever hope to be. Hence the reason for my hiding out in this study. Ha! Study! It ought to be called my den, for I am being a bear, am I not?'
Millie grinned. She knew how much her Grandfather detested guests in the present, and was amused to see that it was a trait he had carried throughout his life.
'When will be able to see Grandmother?' she asked.
'You can see her now, but at the risk of associating with high class gossips.'
'Does she... know about us?' Andrew said.
Grandfather's face grew serious.
'Of course she does- any person married into the Taverner Family must know of its secrets. But children... I must warn you, for she does not exactly take kindly to our secret. She has never traveled to the past, and she tries to avoid seeing those from the future. It is... not your fault.'
There was silence. None of the children had expected this; they had just assumed that everything in the past would go smoothly and easily. Millie felt terribly about it. She rose and motioned for her siblings to do the same.
'We didn't realize that she felt that way. We're going now.'
Grandfather looked shocked. He leapt to his feet and grabbed Millie's arm before she could take any further action.
'No, please do not go! I, for one, want you here.'
Millie, seeing the urgency in his eyes, realized that she had been rash.
'Sorry... I just thought...'
'That is quite all right. Please, do sit down again. I had a lovely afternoon planned for us.'