The Taverner Chronicles: The Tryst, Three
I'm always happy to receive feedback about this story. It's one of the bigger projects that I've undertaken in my writing life, and I'm so happy to be sharing it on here! Any comments here or on my blog (www.charlieandmewrite.blogspot.com) would be most appreciated! :D
She knew just how she was going to tell him. She was going to look him straight in the eye and say, 'Doctor, you will never see me again.'
No no... that's not going to work, Millie thought as she walked home from work.
It had been nearly three weeks since she had last traveled back, and nearly all of that time had been spent sewing and working out how she was going to break it to Doctor Rawlings. But for all her deep thinking and mental struggle, she couldn't even begin to imagine what on earth she was going to say.
Within the three weeks that she was away, she had received several invitations to attend tea parties and even a dance from Grandmother and Grandfather. Millie had politely declined all of them, knowing that the Doctor was likely to attend all of them. She couldn't bear to see him again at a social occasion; her resolve would probably cave in if she saw him before she had the chance to tell him.
Her plan was simple; she would give him a note through Andrew explaining that she would meet him in the lane behind the house. She planned out the exact spot, even practicing where she would stand and how she would dress. However, she realized that she was subconsciously paying more attention to the details than to the matter at hand- she knew what she needed to say, but how to say it? That was another affair entirely.
How does one simply tell a person -indeed, a person suspected to be sentimental and romantic- that they wouldn't ever see you again? This question had pervaded Millie's mind and robbed her of her sleep at night. Coming right out and saying it was the worst thing she could do, but wasn't it worse to 'beat around the bush', as they call it?
She slipped her hand into her pocket and fingered the note that had been written weeks before. It was the very one she was going to give to Andrew once she arrived home; it was going to detail to the Doctor when and where they were to meet. But Millie knew that she had planned to give the note to Andrew every night for a fortnight now, and time was shogging on relentlessly. However, she was really and truly determined to go through with it.
Come on, Millie! You've got to do this. It's now... or later.
Millie shuddered that there was no 'now or never'. It had to be done, and the sooner the better. Better? Was there a better in this situation? She was promising someone that she liked very much (though she hated to admit it, even to herself) that she would never see him again. She was also vowing that she would never return her once 'haven' of the past, under the pretense of 'letting things be'. That was the hardest thing of all, for there was still so much she wanted to learn about her families' past... there was so much she had to learn.
When she returned, she found the house in a state of chaos. It had been for the past few nights, as Andrew and Father were moving the bedroom furniture to the upstairs rooms for the summer. The weather was finally warm enough to sleep in the bedrooms, and Millie was glad to see the downstairs rooms slowly turning back into what they were supposed to be.
Father and Andrew were moving a mattress up the stairs as Millie took her shoes off in the foyer. Seeing that she wouldn't be able to get upstairs for some time, she slipped into her former bedroom. It was now the Music Room again, and the piano had been unveiled and moved back into it's proper place. Already, a stream of memories began to assail her mind as she stroked the ivory keys of the instrument.
If only I could hear his song again.
Though Andrew could play it skillfully, the piano had never sounded more beautiful to Millie than when the Doctor had played upon it. She remembered parts of the melody and frequently hummed it when she was walking to and from work. It was soothing to hear and she never tired of it. Realizing that the stairs were probably clear by now, Millie darted out of the room before anyone could find her dreamily gazing at the piano.
Andrew was taking a break in the parlor, loafing contentedly in a chair he had set by an open window. He was taking in the breeze that was blowing in from the fields, and though she doubted he was aware of it, Millie smelled a faint scent of buttercups floating lightly in on the breeze. She crept up behind him and laid a hand on his shoulder, half-startling him out of his reverie.
'Goodness, Millie! What do you want?'
She hesitated, then sighed as her hand plunged into her pocket for the note. This she handed to her brother.
'I... need you to give that to the Doctor. Next time you go.'
'Why can't you do it-'
Millie cut him off before he could go any further, 'Andrew. I need you to do it, that's all.'
Andrew looked at it with a curious expression on his face, then gently pocketed the note so as not to rumble it.
'Alright, but don't say that I'm not confused, okay?'
Millie kissed his hair and threw thanks over her shoulder as she walked out of the room. It was a relief... somewhat. At least that part was over.
The next day, she readied herself with extra care. Today was to be the day. She was going to do it, and no one was going to stop her. At this last thought she rolled her eyes.
Well, wouldn't that be nice.
She breathed hard as she surveyed herself in the mirror. She had attired herself in one of the tea gowns from the trunk, being sure to tie a perky blue sash around her waist to accent the color of her eyes. If this was really going to be the last time that the Doctor saw her (oh, evil thought!), then she was going to make sure that she was a pleasing sight.
Her mind ran over the details. Yes, Andrew had given the Doctor the note, and while he had not opened it, Andrew was certain that he would. She had affixed the meeting at five in the afternoon; the place was just beside the tree where she had taken refuge in the storm. She felt a few butterflies start to jump nervously about in her stomach as she thought of what she was going to say- a night of tossing and turning had not helped her indecision on that score. She had left it to the inspiration of the moment.
In the meantime, she was going to travel to the past to explain everything to Grandfather and Grandmother. She had left explicit instructions with Andrew and Gianna that they were not to travel for the duration of the day. Under no circumstances were they to come- and though he did not know why, Andrew was going to honor her wishes and ensure that Gianna did as well.
But as Millie stepped across the threshold of the ballroom closet, she felt suddenly alone and unprepared. How on earth was she going to do this?