He had his hand on the handle wondering whether he would get out if it had been locked from the outside, but the door handle moved just as he rested his hand on it. Gerard’s face peered round the opening with an unconcerned smile.
“Hello,” he said. “You’re up, and ready?”
Timonthy stepped back into the room and sat heavily on a nearby armchair.
“I thought you’d all left,” he blurted out before his processing mind told him not to.
“I just had to get my things. They were in the other room,” Gerard explained.
“Peter’s lorry has gone,” Timonthy said, thinking he would have to provide some explanation for his concern.
“Will said the hotel asked him to move it last night,” Gerard explained patiently. “It’s somewhere round the back. I’m sorry I gave you a shock but I thought I’d be back before you were even awake.”
Timonthy was embarassed. Still recovering from the weakness brought on by being betrayed. The previous night had been precious he thought with a warm shudder of appreciation.
It would have grieved him to have lost that, he knew but that was thinking about the future again. Promising himself to take each moment as it came now, he was sitting in an armchair looking at Gerard’s concerned face.
It would have been a good moment although he felt odd, not quite there. Was this dying? It wasn’t as painful as he had feared.
Then he was still sitting in the armchair and Gerard was not there. His eyelids were insisting on dropping even though he had just got up.
He didn’t want to resist so he didn’t and sat in a bubbling, tumultuous state for a few minutes. At least he had felt loved before he’d died. It made the prospect less bleak.
Gerard was back now. Timonthy felt confused. Now he thought the room was full of people, Will, Peter and Gerard stood there, all staring at him.
Now he couldn’t remember why he was sitting there at all, or where he was even, but the chair was comfortable though.
Then just for a second he thought he saw Stolid’s face: less drawn and grey than he remembered with a stranger stood beside him.
“He’s fine, Gerard. Someone’s been here. Do you understand me?” Peter was talking. “Gerard!” A garbled sound. “Gerard, he’s alright. There’s nothing to panic about.”
Timonthy opened his eyes with more conviction.”What’s going on?” he asked blearily.
“Gerard was worried that you were ill,” Peter said stepping forward. “You were unconscious or asleep for a little while. We came to investigate but you look alright to me now.”
Timonthy pushed himself out of the chair. He felt full of energy in contrast to his expectations.
“What’s happening?” Paris said from the open doorway. “Why are you all in here?” “Timonthy felt ill,” Will explained, “but he’s recovered now.”
Paris looked straight into Timonthy’s face, examining him for flaws. “But you’re never ill,” she said. “You should see a doctor.”
“I don’t feel ill,” Timonthy replied honestly “but I don’t know what happened.” Wondering where Gerard was because he hadn’t seen him since he opened his eyes this time – although he had been there, just before.
“Can you drive, Paris?” Peter asked. “We’ve got a good doctor at home where we could get him checked out. Though I don’t believe that he is in any immediate danger.”
“That’s four or five hours away. We can’t go somewhere so remote if we might need a hospital quickly.”
“I’m not going to a hospital,” Timonthy said decisively, “I feel fine.”
“Let’s talk about it at breakfast,” Peter suggested. “I’ll see you down there in ten minutes.”
He left and Will followed. Paris stood beside Timonthy and gave his arm a squeeze tenderly.
“Are you sure you feel alright?” He smiled and she continued, “So what happened to make them think you weren’t well?”
“I might have lost consciousness for a minute,” he shrugged. “Where’s Gerard? He’ll know what happened.”
“Here,” Gerard said from the doorway of the other room. His hair was wet as if he had put his head into a basin full of water and his voice sounded damp too.
“I thought I had killed you,” he said with suspiciously red eyes. He threw his arms around Timonthy and embraced him as if he never intended to let go again. “Thank God you’re alive.”
Timonthy disentangled himself as gracefully as he could with Paris’s appraising eyes on his face the whole time.
“What happened?” he asked. “I don’t understand.”
“You sat down in that chair and then you just seemed to fall unconscious. Your lips looked blue. I thought you were going to die so I ran to get Peter, he’s trained in first aid, but by the time we came back you looked better.”
“I’ve never fainted before,” Timonthy said meditatively.
“Are you sure you feel okay now?” Paris asked.
“I feel absolutely fine,” Timonthy shook his head as if in disbelief at the whole situation.
“See you at breakfast in a couple of minutes then,” Paris said. She embraced him too and let him go saying, “I’ll go and tell Mother what happened.” Timonthy felt it like a threat but he let it go.
“I’ll wait for you while you get ready,” he said to Gerard remembering that he had just got back with his luggage when the drama started.
“Not leaving you again,” Gerard muttered stubbornly. “I’ll get changed here.”
Thinking that was unlikely to make his heart beat more steadily, Timonthy grunted a laugh and sat down again. Gerard emptied out clothes from his bag and stripped off his shirt, replacing it with a normal, casual button-up shirt in pale blue.
Then after adjusting and twitching this shirt for a few minutes as if finding the fit uncomfortable he put on a pair of beige cotton trousers.
He stood in front of Timonthy as if appraising his health and nervously asked.
“How do I look?”
He looked surprisingly good to Timonthy’s eyes, after two days of being used to him looking like an outcast from a medieval village.
The new clothes were plain enough not to be noticed so that you could focus on the man in them. The shirt brought out the colour of his eyes which Timonthy hadn’t noticed before were a blue-grey.
“You look fine,” he said. “Are you going to shave?”
Gerard rubbed his hand across his chin thoughtfully. “I’ll wait until I get home, I think, unless you think it looks terrible.”
“No, I like it,” Timonthy said with pursed lips. “You look swarthy, like a pirate.”