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Torn Curtain: Part 56

Part 56: We Meet Again


Not knowing why it was that her feet were compelled to follow him, Margaret took a few deep breaths and tried to fight the impulses of her feet. She had no choice but to conclude that her efforts were unsuccessful when she realized that she had already moved through the gateway that separated the garden from the beach sand. She also had great cause to regret her course of action when the officer turned toward her, wearing an expression of dismay.

“Miss Margaret,” Lieutenant Groves said quietly, “Is there a reason that I find you at my heels?”

She felt her brow furrow and her cheeks burn, knowing very well that she would sound foolish if she told him that it was mostly an idle curiosity that brought her there.

“I did not expect to find you here, sir,” she lied. “I thought that, in passing through the gate, I should find quiet.”

“You should turn back,” he said, turning from her. “Your mother will be missing you.”

Margaret started to make her way back toward the party, but something compelled her to speak.

“Lieutenant,” she said, her voice wavering, “Mr. Turner is mistaken. The Commodore depends upon your services greatly. I have overheard him say as much to Mrs. Turner and her father on several occasions.”

He stood silent, and she could not determine whether or not her words had angered him.

“Glad to hear it,” he said, his voice monotone. “Now, as I said, your party will be missing you.”

She opened her mouth to say something, but suddenly found that she had lost her words. Instead of searching for something else to say, she turned on her heel and started to make her way through the gate. If he was determined to brood, why should she be concerned?

As she sat upon an empty divan, she frowned. All of her companions were now otherwise occupied. Marianne had taken to the dance floor with Lieutenant Gillette. Mrs. Fletchley had scurried to the kitchens with Miss Winters--- concern written upon both of their faces. It also appeared as if Mr. Quincy was striding in that direction as well. Her sister, Violet, was, once again, surrounded by gentlemen. Margaret sighed.

“Where has he gone then, Elizabeth?” she heard the Commodore ask from beyond the open window behind her. “Your father wishes to speak to him as soon as possible, and we have been unable to locate him.”

“I will handle my father,” she heard Mrs. Turner reply. “That the Lieutenant took his leave of this company shows admirable restraint. The insinuation was---”

“Yes,” the Commodore said. “I am surprised that Groves did not challenge your husband on the spot.”

“Before my father?” Elizabeth asked. “That would have been unwise of him.”

A feeling of anxiety overtook Margaret and she hurried, once more, into the garden. As she passed through the door, she heard a familiar sound of crackling. She found him sitting on the sand and staring into the flames of the fire before him.

“Miss Margaret,” he said. “We meet again.”

She watched as he searched his jacket pocket for something. After a few moments, he pulled from a pocket a string that appeared to have beads attached. Immediately, he threw it into the fire. As she looked on, she was amazed by how the fire seemed to glow in different colors as it crackled loudly.

“Lost in thought, Lieutenant Groves?” she asked, remembering the previous instances she had seen him before a fire.

“Miss Margaret, you should not be here with me,” he said. “I am not good company. And, if memory serves, not a fortnight has passed since I nearly set your hair aflame.”

“What is it that pains you so, sir, that you pour your confidence into the flames?” she asked him. “What is it that you cannot confide to any other person?”

He did not answer her, but stood staring at her silently for several uncomfortable moments. The action made her uneasy, but she did not move. She would not move until he spoke.

“Do you know, Margaret, what it is to be forever judged by the mistakes of your past?” he asked her, not seeming to want an answer. After a moment, he continued to speak. “I am forever to be thought of as a man of questionable character. And now the blacksmith insinuates that I have treated Miss Carmichael dishonorably.”

“That harpy!” Margaret spat. “The woman has claws sharp enough to do your entire crew more harm than you are capable of doing to her.”

Once the words were out, she immediately wished them unsaid. Oh, when would she ever learn to bite her tongue.

“Indeed,” he said, chuckling. Then he tossed one of his tiny explosives into the fire.

And as the loud crackling started, she took his arm and they walked back toward the revelry.


Author's Note:

Apologies for the delay. I had a few distractions.

As always, feedback and concrit are welcome and encouraged.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
ssdisney
Jul. 27th, 2007 10:14 pm (UTC)
Aww, pyros <3
This was a very sweet scene, and I'm glad to see more of Margaret; she's so fiesty X3

I'm interested in learning more about Groves' past now, but I also want to just let it drop and see him move on to happiness with Miss Margaret, who seems to have the most wicked tongue XD

That insult was very swiftly delivered and gives her a wonderful spark as a character.
sprkysage
Jul. 28th, 2007 12:59 am (UTC)
Re: Aww, pyros <3
I love Margaret myself. As much as this fic has taken out of me over the past three years, I am grateful that occupying this fic universe has introduced me to both her and Marianne (and all the children).

Thanks again!
ssdisney
Jul. 28th, 2007 02:09 am (UTC)
Re: Aww, pyros <3
Yay for Margaret-love =)

Three years? Wow--that's some serious dedication.
sprkysage
Jul. 28th, 2007 03:34 am (UTC)
Re: Aww, pyros <3
Yeah... I started this piece in 2004 (March, if I remember correctly). Back then, it was called "Separate Bedrooms."

It's really nice to be so close to the end of this piece (which doesn't affect all the other vignettes and flash fics I've been writing for all of these characters, but still).
ssdisney
Jul. 28th, 2007 08:38 am (UTC)
Re: Aww, pyros <3
Dang, crazy dedication that is.

Separate Bedrooms sounds like an appropriate title, but I like Torn Curtain more *nods*
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )