The Taverner Chronicles: The Tryst, Four
With a deep breath, she stepped across the threshold of the ballroom and into the hall. She started to go for the nearest staircase, but then paused to listen. All was quiet- they were probably outside playing croquet or badminton, giving Millie the perfect opportunity to slip outside the back way without being noticed. Even thought she had wanted to speak to her Grandparents, not facing them would make her much more at ease when it came time to speak to the Doctor. In spite of her jumpy nerves, she was half-rejoicing in being alone in the house when she heard a voice behind her.
'I thought you'd be here about now.'
Millie turned on her heel, but she didn't have to turn to know who it was. Grandmother.
There was a look of worry on her face, but there was a hint of hardness about it.
'I'm going to do it today. And... I've done more harm than good here, and...'
Millie's voice almost choked at the end of her sentence, but she swallowed hard and kept on going.
'...and I won't be coming back. Not again.'
A look of terrible sadness flashed across Grandmother's face before she regained her composure.
'Millie... it comes to that?'
Millie slowly nodded her head, fighting back the tears that suddenly found themselves in her eyes.
'I can't see any other way out of it... I wasn't meant to be here, and I...'
Grandmother came forward and laid a hand on her arm. It was amazing how the simple touch of her fingers on Millie's skin calmed her down almost immediately.
'Then do what you must. I won't stand in your way... but know that I love you. I don't know if I will know you in your time, but know that I love you.'
Millie nodded, but realized that she wouldn't be able to speak, so she merely embraced Grandmother and went down the hall to the stairs. Without thinking or waiting to see if anyone were there, she raced down the staircase and nearly pushed Grandfather over.
Wiping the tears from her face with a nervous laugh, she apologized and would have gone on had Grandfather not had a firm grip on her arm.
'Wait a moment, Millie dear!'
Millie turned and grinned at him, but knew that the tears had betrayed more of her emotions than she would have wished. Grandfather relaxed his grip on her arm and gently stroked her hand with his.
'There's something wrong, isn't there?'
Millie nodded, but still did not trust her voice enough to speak and meekly stood as Grandfather went on.
'And it has to do with the Doctor, doesn't it...? I'm sorry, I shouldn't be prying. But... whatever you do, please don't let it keep you from us. We love you very much, Millie.'
Her heart plummeted. How could she tell him that she wasn't going to see him again? Her mind raced for words to say, but anything she could have said was stunted as Grandfather finished.
'And I know that you probably aren't thinking of dances and such right now, but we are going to be having our summer ball in two weeks. I want you to be there... silly, I know, but it's my favorite dance of the year... but if it causes you too much pain...'
Millie mustered a smile and laid a reassuring hand on his.
'I'll see what I can't do.'
He gave her a kiss then let her go on her way. As she walked away, a gloomy cloud stormed her thoughts. There was... wait, the time! Millie quickly glanced at the clock and discovered that she was late by a quarter of an hour. How had the time passed so quickly? She thought she had taken ample time...
Without a further thought, she rushed out the door and ran as quickly as possible towards the lane where she had promised to meet Dr. Rawlings. There were people who hailed her in the back lawn, but she neither cared who they were or what they were saying- she had to get this over.
_He's probably pacing right now, waiting for me. I'll see him in a minute... what am I going to say to him?_
But when she arrived at the spot, she gazed around in amazement.
She was alone.
A quick run up and down the lane proved that he really and truly was not there, but as she came back to the designated spot, she saw a little envelope sticking up out of a log. Picking it up, she found it addressed to herself in the Doctor's handwriting. Opening it, she absentmindedly thought that the note was an explanation for his absence, causing a sigh of frustration to escape from her lips. After all that, he was not there after all.
However, when she started to read the letter, her thoughts quickly changed. The note was written in a quick hand, suggesting that he had an urgent call to make or something that called him away. However, there was no explanation- merely words that made tears fall from her eyes and her whole world collapse.
What words have I to express the depth of my feelings for you? Feelings! They are no so; they run far deeper and stronger than any mere emotion. I have been unable to tell you so in person because I was afraid I would say something remiss, or perhaps that you might be offended by such remarks from me. And now that I come to write you this letter, I find that words are lost to me.
Merely know that I am ever and always your devoted friend,