The Taverner Chronicles: The Tryst, Two
When she awoke, Millie found herself in the music room. Only it wasn't the music room, it was her room. For a moment, she had thought that she was still in the past, but the realization was that her belongings were in the room.
He's not here. Why on earth was that the first thing that crossed her mind?
She pulled the covers off and got out of bed, and rested her eyes on the dress she had been wearing in the past. It was dry now, but the wetness had made it more fragile than ever, making it nearly transparent. Millie felt terrible about it; the dress had survived this long, only to be half-ruined by her escapade in the rain.
Escapade in the rain. With the Doctor.
She shrugged the quick memories away as they flashed before her mind's eye and quickly found some day clothes to wear. As she finished dressing, a knock came on the door and Mother came in.
'Millie? How are you feeling?'
Millie pulled a tired smile.
'Just a little bushed, that's all. Did I miss anything?'
Mother shook her head, then sat down on the bed. Sensing there was something she wanted to talk about, Millie sat next to her.
'Millie... Andrew told me what happened. I... I'm sorry you had to go through that.'
Millie felt her face burn. Why was she embarrassed? All Mother meant was her rejection of Anthony... right? She felt her heart skip a beat as she went on.
'And Millie... about the Doctor.'
So it was coming. Millie mentally braced herself.
'It's... not that I don't want you to go back to the past, of course I do! But... I think you shouldn't go back for a while. I don't want anything to happen to Edward... or you.'
Millie sighed and put her head in her hands.
'I thought that the past would be a way to get away from my troubles, not getting into even more scrapes!'
Mother began to rub Millie's back soothingly.
'You don't need me to tell you that, Millie. I think you've learned that for yourself. But don't stop going... you can learn things about yourself that you would never find in the present. Trust me on that.'
Somehow, those words sank in and calmed Millie's stressed nerves. They seemed to start to unravel the knot of emotions that was choking her mind. Millie kissed her mother, and gave her a genuine smile.
'Thank you, Mother... that's what I needed to hear.'
Mother smiled back and stood up.
'Well now, I know that you just got up... but I do need to talk to you about your job.'
'Right. Mrs. Miller said that I could begin work as soon as I needed... should I go down today?'
Mother nodded, and even though there was a cheerful look on her face, Millie saw an anxious expression hidden behind her smiles.
'That would be lovely, Millie. That is, if you're feeling well enough to go...'
Millie stood up quickly to prove that she was, but wished she hadn't, for her head started to spin a little. However, she straightened herself and grinned, much to the approval to Mother.
After Mother left the room, Millie sat down quickly and placed a hand on her forehead.
I had better not get sick. Not now.
That look on Mother's face... it meant that Father was getting desperate for money. It meant that Mother hadn't found a job... and that Millie was going to have to work extra hard to help make ends meet.
Millie sighed. Back to the grind. But... at least there would be something to think about, instead of blankly stitching on in the little dressmaker's shop.
Pulling on a light wrap and a pair of boots, she headed out for the shop. Though the sun was shining, there was a deceptive chill in the air. As she walked alone, her thoughts flew to the Doctor. What on earth was she going to do? She had to tell him... but not yet. First, she was going to stay away, like Mother had said.
But not too long. I can't delay it forever, much as I'd love to.
Millie thought of the weeks ahead. She was sure that there was much work to be done in the shop, and there would be plenty of time to consider her options. With that, she tried to stop thinking about the matter.
But no matter where she looked, she was reminded of the Doctor. There were patches of wild thyme growing along the road, making her think of the song.
And the wild mountain thyme
Grows around the blooming heather...
Will ye go, Lassie, go?
Averting her eyes from the ground, she glanced up and smiled as some birds passed overhead. But as she watched them, her eyes fell on the roof-top of the Rawlings house.
Feeling guilty, Millie quickly walked on, almost breaking into a run.
But as she reached the outskirts of town, she was spared from any further thoughts of the past. Feeling happy that she had blissfully evaded the subject, she slipped into the dressmaker's shop and was warmly greeted by her employer. As it turned out, she did indeed have plenty of work for her, the bulk of which was mending and alterations.
Millie gladly sat down at her spot after gathering the necessary supplies and garments to be fixed. From her spot, she could see who entered the shop and hear all that went on; it was clearly an advantage for picking up gossip of all sorts. Though she never repeated the senseless patter, it was interesting to hear and broke up the monotony of the work.
And just as she was settling in, the worst thing happened.
Edward Rawlings stepped into the shop.
Not that she was sorry to see him, but her mind immediately snapped back to thinking about her predicament with Dr. Rawlings. She suddenly felt guilty, wishing she hadn't come to work that day. Oh, of all days! Edward never came in this shop, much less when she was working there!
Making a feint of needing thread from the storage room, she quickly hid behind the back room curtain, hoping that Edward hadn't seen her or that Mrs. Miller wouldn't call for her.
No such luck.
'Millie?' It was Mrs. Miller.
Two scenarios fluttered in and out of Millie's mind as she worked up a grin and the nerve to face Edward. One involved screaming, running straight out the shop and never coming back, and the other was to start moving the scant items in the storage room in a ruse to pretend that she didn't hear. Both were promptly discarded as she stepped out into the main shop.
'Millie? This young man needs some altering done. Could you handle it? I've an awful lot of work to do.'
Millie gulped. Altering. Extended amount of time with Edward. Just what she needed.
Smiling awkwardly at him and trying not to notice how much he looked like the Doctor, she led him over to where the mirror was set up in the shop.
'Miss... Taverner, is it?'
'I need this jacket taken in at the sides. I know it's old fashioned, but it was my father's and I need a sport coat for the spring. Can you do it?'
And he winked at her. Winked at her.
Millie twitched and looked over the jacket that Edward had offered to her. It had been the Doctor's coat, at one time... just touching it made her feel funny inside.
'Er... could you put it on? I should be able to fix it.'
He took off his coat and slipped the jacket on. It almost fit him perfectly, but the sides hung a little on his lean frame.
Millie quickly pinned the access fabric in, trying to make as little contact with the coat or Edward as possible.
This has got to be even worse than yesterday, she thought, as she tried to pleasantly keep up the small talk that Edward was making to help her feel at ease.
Thankfully, it was over soon, and Edward was out the door, with instructions that the jacket should be finished before the end of the week. Leaving Millie with the jacket. The one that used to be the Doctor's.
She decided to get straight to work on it, and started to pull apart the sides to take them in. But her eyes couldn't help noticing the name that was finely stitched on a label inside the jacket.
Edward Rawlings, M.D.
That was it. It had to stop... she had to tell him.