“I’ll be there at dinner,” Peter said. “Doing my best to answer any questions that Gerard can’t answer. He’ll be more forthcoming now that he is no longer obliged to keep Stolid’s secrets. I’ve just got something I need to do first.” He disappeared before they realised and they stared at each other across the empty space.
“He can travel wherever he wants,” Paris commented drily, “and it looks like Uncle Stolid can do the same but the rest of us are trapped until they decide to take us somewhere.”
They contemplated this for a while as they walked back down the hill and Paris muttered, “I don’t understand what Stolid was doing there.”
“He was watching you,” Gerard sniffed and shrugged his shoulders in incomprehension as Timonthy glared at him.
“Of course, Elena can travel where she wants too. Your mother could be anywhere right now. There are certainly no shops around here.” Gerard said this quickly as if trying to change the subject.
“Why was he watching me?” Paris said completely ignoring his attempt. “Do you think that he thinks that he is my father? I can’t imagine anyone would want to see that play without feeling some responsibility for the child involved.”
Gerard swallowed as if he were going to answer and then thought better of it. “that’s over to you,” he said with an apologetic look at Timonthy. “I was trying to be helpful, now Peter and Stolid no longer mean to keep their secrets but I can’t help you with that.”
Timonthy said shaking his head “I don’t know, Paris. There has been too much going on, too many impossible things to take in. Did you ever manage to ask Lizzie?”
“Well I did but she said she didn’t know,“ Paris bit her lip like a spoilt child denied a pony ride. “I like Uncle Stolid and glad that he is well and happy but I’m not sure I want him to be my father. Really, I wanted you, Timonthy.”
“Some things you can’t choose. They just are,” he settled for saying. “But will it make that much difference? He will be just another person who cares for you and he is someone with the power to take you anywhere, give you anything, it seems. Perhaps even to change what is, for you.”
Paris looked at him inscrutably and he realised that she didn’t care for herself but for him. She thought he would mind if it turned out that Stolid was her father. She would be the cuckoo in the nest, and yet in a way she always had been. The probability of her being his own child was so slight that he barely entertained it, like the probability of winning the lottery. In fact he had always hoped that she would be the child of someone he knew rather than an alien, a stranger’s spawn.
Perhaps if he had been alone and Stolid had still been happy with Koa he might have been jealous of the man who seemed to have everything. As it was he did not know what he felt.
He shook his head and made his way through the barrier of tree branches. The red berries on the branch he brushed against felt heavy and wet on his cheek. He brushed away the thought they were like giant tears. There was no point in getting maudlin.
As they walked back along the lake heading towards the archway, Timonthy considered it was uncomfortable to be somewhere they had no space to regroup in. They had their bedrooms but somehow that didn’t seem right. There was the hall in which they had eaten, and the library they had passed on the way to their bedrooms.
Timonthy felt in need of a cup of something warm and sweet – a tea for choice but he wasn’t sure if such a thing was available here. “Is there anywhere here we could get a cup of tea?” he asked Gerard hopefully.
“Stolid likes tea, doesn’t he?” Gerard mused. “They must have had some way of making it for him all those months. If we could find Yan we could ask him if he knows, or Will, he might know, or perhaps we should look in Stolid’s room.”
“Shall I see if I can find Yan?” Paris asked. Timonthy looked at her closely. He didn’t want to send her away on an errand like a child but he thought that she wanted to escape, to be alone to think and so did he. “Yes, we’ll try Stolid’s room,” he said wearily, “and meet you in the library, hopefully with a pot of tea.”