Thunderbirds doesn't belong to me. I just write about it for fun.
Thanks to my husband for beta-reading.
Written for the 2006 TIWF Halloween Challenge.
Set in the TV-verse but before the series starts, and after my other fic, "I told you not to put that there". I recommend you read that one first.
He'd never have admitted it, but Gordon Tracy really didn't like flying all that much.
Small planes were, well, small. And fragile. And Gordon had never got over that sensation you get when you suddenly drop a couple of hundred feet. Scott and his father always seemed to take it for granted. He invariably found himself expecting to carry on falling until a very solid bit of ground got in the way.
Large planes weren't a problem in the same way, but sitting in them for hour after hour, as he was now, was boring. The new hypersonic service being proposed between London and New York couldn't come about fast enough for him.
He didn't even want to think about the sort of flying John and Alan preferred. Alternately being flattened to your seat by multiple g-forces and floating about weightless didn't appeal at all. Scott had demonstrated a brief zero-g flight profile to him just once, and the effect on his stomach had been spectacularly messy. He had no desire to try it again.
Gordon sighed, and flipped through the channels on the video screen again. Nothing appealed, except for the ancient action flick he'd already watched. His fellow passengers in first class were about as interesting as the sea of unbroken clouds below them. And the one stunningly gorgeous flight attendant had, he suspected, taken one look at him limping up the stairs and classified him as substandard merchandise. Oh, she'd been polite and attentive enough, but completely professional in that way which people used when they had no interest at all in talking to him. He didn't think it was his imagination that it was happening an awful lot more since the accident. The sooner he could get this leg fixed the better. Where fixed was, sadly, a relative term.
"The temperature in London is fifteen degrees, the weather is wet and windy," the announcement came over the intercom. "Local time is now four-fifteen p.m. We hope you have enjoyed your flight…"
Gordon shivered in unhappy anticipation. Late October in England was apparently a whole lot chillier than it was mid-Pacific. Actually he suspected any time of year in England was chillier than it was mid-Pacific. He sincerely hoped that Penny's home was well-heated. He'd had more than a few misgivings about the arrangements this trip – it would have been so much easier just to stay in a hotel in central London. Much nearer to his appointment with the consultant who he hoped could help him. Penny, though, had been insistent. It was rare for any of them to have a trip away from the island these days, as they discovered just how many minor details still needed fixing before International Rescue could be officially launched, and it was high time that Gordon came on a reciprocal visit.
The plane dropped down into the clouds, and Gordon peered out of the window again. He'd never visited London before. Although with the cloudbase this low, he didn't think he was going to see a lot.
He was right. The length of time between dropping out of the bottom of the clouds and touching down on a runway streaming with water was short to say the least. The cloud was right down almost to the control tower level, and Gordon breathed a sigh of relief that the airport was still open. Much lower cloud and they'd surely have to shut it. Much more rain and he could have driven Thunderbird Four along the runway. He was starting to see why Scott had laughed and said "take your waterproofs" when he'd asked what the October weather in England was like.
He pushed himself to his feet the moment the plane came to a halt, regardless of the pilot's instructions to stay seated until the doors were opened. It was all very well for him. He didn't have a leg which ached constantly from the vibration, and which took forever to get warmed up so he could move anything like normally. Gordon simply ignored the glares from the other passengers and paced the short length of aisle until the stride from his right leg matched his left and he could put his right heel down without flinching. Man, he hated being like this. He desperately hoped the new doctor could do something for him.
It took three minutes outside in the cold and the wet for his leg to decide that no, it wasn't warmed up anything like enough for this. He was limping badly by the time he reached the terminal building, and cursing the pride that had led him to reject the transport pulled up outside the steps to first class for the elderly and infirm. Less than a hundred yards in these conditions and he was as good as useless. He thanked everything he believed in that his father hadn't come with him. Jeff would surely have been rethinking his plans to allow Gordon a semi-active role in International Rescue as pilot of the rescue sub if he'd seen this performance. Thoroughly fed up, Gordon growled his way through Immigration and Passport Control and headed for the VIP arrivals lounge ready to bite the head off anyone who so much as looked at him.
"Mr Gordon Tracy?"
"What do you –"
" 'Er ladyship sent me. I took the liberty of acquirin' your luggage and puttin' it in the car. Would you step this way?"
"And you would be?"
"Parker, sir. Parker. Did 'er ladyship not mention me? I'm 'er chauffeur."
Gordon sighed inwardly. A miserable hour of discomfort in a car, with an incomprehensible driver to boot. He really should have refused Penny and gone for the hotel. Still could – but he'd have to get his luggage back out of the car, and arguing with anyone at all was too much like hard work right now. He shrugged the strap of his hand luggage back onto his shoulder and followed the uniformed driver towards the exit at a slow hobble.
The strap was removed from his shoulder before he could as much as protest. "I'll take that, sir."
"I can manage," Gordon growled.
"Course you can, sir. I wouldn't venture to suggest h'otherwise. 'Er ladyship'ud 'ave my 'ead, though, allowing one of 'er guests to carry 'is own bag. This way, sir, we're right h'outside."
Gordon blinked, attempted to translate, and then completely lost the thread when he saw the car that was indeed parked right outside, so close that he wouldn't even get wet. His father had joked that Lady Penelope was excessively fond of pink. He hadn't mentioned the car.
"Might I recommend the front seat, sir?" Parker was already holding the relevant door open, with that air of someone who isn't going to take no for an answer.
He was going to hurt whatever. At least up front he could be distracted by the scenery. Gordon put one hand on the headrest, the other on the doorframe, and eased himself into the seat with the care borne of long practise. At least there was a decent amount of legroom, and a comfortable seat. And it was moderately warm in here.
Parker seated himself in the driver's seat – Gordon had to stamp down hard on his instincts as to which side of the car was which – and gave him a long, hard and very knowing look. Looked away, back to the front, and started the car. It wasn't until they'd pulled away and exited the airport that he said, almost to himself, " 'Is lordship always did prefer that seat. 'Ad arthritis something rotten, 'e did. Special 'eating in that there seat 'e 'ad put in, controls on 'is door so as 'e could control it when 'e was 'urting. Weather like this, 'e 'urt something chronic."
So much for being discreet. Gordon sneaked a look sideways, but Parker had his eyes fixed on the road, all his attention apparently on his driving and the long queue of traffic leaving the airport. Pride had its limits, and didn't extend to an hour of pure misery when the other man was obviously perfectly aware of just how uncomfortable he was. Gordon flicked up the cover on the control panel under his left arm, and studied the sophisticated arrangements there with some astonishment and a whole lot of relief.
Fifteen minutes later he felt somewhat better, and sat up enough to notice their surroundings. Not that there was much to notice – by this time they were out of the scenic bit of London, alternating speeding along with waiting at traffic lights, past apparently endless rows of identical brick houses interspersed with local shops and the occasional concrete church or car showroom. And he'd finally put together 'pink' and ' 'is lordship' and was more than a little bemused.
"So tell me, Parker – was that Penny's father you were talking about?"
Parker glanced sideways. " 'Is lordship? That's right. Passed on five years ago, rest 'is soul. 'E loved this car."
Gordon's bemusement only grew, and it must have shown on his face, because Parker burst out laughing. "Course, that was before 'er ladyship 'ad it resprayed. Back then, it was what 'e called 'racin' green'. Nice old gentleman, 'e was, h'even if 'e did 'ave some funny ideas."
It was so obviously intended to be queried, that Gordon asked, "What ideas?"
Parker looked almost embarrassed. " 'E swore 'is h'ancestors were watching 'im. Still in the 'ouse. Movin' stuff. Specially at this time of year. Ghosts, 'e said."
Gordon chuckled. "Ghosts? That qualifies as a funny idea."
The chauffeur glanced at him again as he shifted in the seat. "If you want to stretch your legs, sir, you just say. We're in no 'urry."
"Thanks, Parker, but the heat's all I need." Gordon leant back in the seat and looked around again. Suburban London was finally giving way to something less sterile – now there were trees alongside the roads, the occasional sportsfield or park.
He felt much better by the time they reached Foxleyheath. Not only that, but the sun had crept out from behind the clouds and promised a watery autumn sunset. Gordon sat up somewhat from his slumped position as deep in the warmth of the seat as he could manage, and took more interest in the surroundings. It was all very English, the sort of picture Gordon had imagined to exist only on jigsaws and chocolate boxes. Thatched cottages, a pub, even a village green, and a set of wrought iron gates protecting a driveway to something much larger. To Gordon, from a family whose wealth dated back a mere twenty years and whose home had been built to design, it looked ancient beyond measure, and impressive enough to be a palace.
"That there's Creighton-Ward Manor," Parker said with evident pride in his tone. He pressed a button on the dashboard, and the gates swung smoothly open, and then closed again behind them as the pink Rolls-Royce proceeded regally up the long, curving drive.
"Gordon!" Penelope came running down the steps towards him as he struggled out of the car. "I'm so glad you came! And at last you have brought the sunshine with you – this dreadful rain has hardly stopped all day." She paused, noticing that all his weight was on his left leg as he flexed the right one experimentally. "But you're hurt?"
No, I'm here to see the consultant about my chronic attacks of hiccups. Gordon flushed. "This weather doesn't seem to agree with me."
"How very unfortunate," Penny offered. "I do hope Mr Allen will be able to help. I hear most excellent reports of him."
"Me too." Gordon tested his leg, and the warmth seemed to have done the job. It was working as well as it ever did these days. "Do you mind if we don't stand out here?"
"Of course. Do come inside, Gordon. And rest assured – my house may look old, but inside it is a different story. It is warm and dry, and Cook has prepared tea for us."
Gordon finally relaxed. "Thank you, Penny. I'd like that."
By ten that evening the atmosphere was completely relaxed, and Gordon felt able to indulge his curiosity.
"Say, Penny, this is a big old house. Did your family build it?"
"They did." She smiled. "One of my many ancestors with an eye to the future. He purchased all the available land in the area, and then had money enough to build only a tiny cottage to live in. At the time he was the laughing-stock of the county. But his son added to it, and his son, and his son, and in the meantime all those families who had bought a small portion of land and built an expensive house on it had nowhere to expand."
"Expensive to look after all that land, though." Gordon was a farmer's grandson, and had seen the expanses of entirely unproductive landscaped park on the way up here. "How did they fund it?"
This time there was a polite laugh. "You mean, where does my money come from? There is some farming over the far side of the hill, but not enough to support an establishment this size. No, my ancestors have always had a knack for inventions. Not as inventors themselves, you understand, but as people who realised what would be the everyday items of the future and made sure their money was invested in them. My many-times great-grandfather was a supporter of photography. My grandfather invested heavily in a small website company which allowed people to auction unwanted belongings to one other online. Both were seen as amusing toys at the time by those who considered themselves to be serious investors."
She paused, seemed to be considering, and then continued, "in fact, that's how I met your father. Sadly for me, he has no need of third party funding. Tell me, are you quite sure your leg is feeling better now?"
"It's as fine as it gets. Really, Penny. I guess it must have been something to do with the flight."
Penny had been the solicitous hostess all evening, insisting on being sure he was feeling quite well now. Much to his relief, he was, with no need to fake it. Some effect of the pressure change, maybe, that had made him feel quite so dreadful after landing? It was the first time he'd been on a long-haul plane flight since the accident. He would have to ask the consultant whether that was the likely cause, and if there was anything he could take to avoid it happening on the way home. He did not fancy Jeff seeing him reduced to that state by a plane ride.
"Gordon, I don't think you are listening to me!" Penny laughed.
"What? No, I'm sorry, Penny. I was thinking about something else."
"You were going to sleep in your chair. Go to bed, Gordon, while you are still awake. I'm quite sure I would be unable to carry you."
Now there's an image. Gordon smiled at his hostess, getting to his feet with an awkwardness born of tiredness rather than pain. "Thanks, Penny. I'll say goodnight. You will wake me before midday? I'd hate to miss my appointment."
"I'll make sure you don't oversleep. Good night, Gordon – and welcome to England."
"You're sure there's nothing you need, Mr Tracy?"
"I'm sure. Thank you, Parker." Gordon shut the door behind him and, finally alone, surveyed the room he'd been allocated.
Penny was definitely out to impress him. He wasn't sure he'd ever seen a bed this large, and he'd certainly never slept in one with its own ceiling before. Four-poster, some random memory jumped up and told him. It also told him that they'd had curtains to keep the draughts out – but he wasn't going to need that in here. There was what he'd thought earlier was a real fire in the grate, until Parker had demonstrated how to turn it off. Holographic. The one in the living room was real, though – he'd seen Parker put wood on it. The windows were double-glazed, sealed against the vilest of October weather. And the bed was warm, supportive, and right now one of the most inviting sights he'd ever seen in his life. The temptation to kick his shoes off and fall into bed fully dressed was almost overwhelming. Almost. He had a distinct suspicion that he might be woken up in person tomorrow morning, and he was quite sure that Penny would never let him live it down.
Still, it was possibly the quickest trip to the bathroom he'd ever achieved. Washing could wait for tomorrow. His teeth would survive one night without being cleaned. Gordon dived into the bed with a sigh of relief, waved the remote control around hopefully while pressing 'off' buttons and, as the room went dark, was almost instantly as deeply asleep as he'd ever been in his life.
It was cold, with an icy draught blowing across his face. Gordon reluctantly half-surfaced from a most enjoyable dream involving him, the girl from the plane and a palm-fringed tropical beach not owned by his father, and pulled the covers more tightly around himself. And then something scuttled over his forehead and down his cheek.
Gordon jerked fully awake, swiping at his face, his heart pounding, every muscle tensed. What did they have in England that could do that? Scott hadn't mentioned giant spiders, and it was surely too cold for lizards. Mice? No, not in Penny's house. He forced his breathing to slow, curled under the covers, and relaxed back towards sleep.
His door slammed shut, creaked, opened gently, and threatened to slam again. That must be the source of the draught, then. Gordon swore, climbed reluctantly out of bed, stumbled across and closed it. How had he failed to do so when he came in? Stupid him. He pulled the door closed, checking that the catch engaged properly this time, and staggered back to bed. Sleep. He needed sleep.
The flash of light was bright enough to jar him back to full wakefulness even through closed eyelids. Gordon sat up, blinked sleep from his eyes and glared round the room. What on earth was going on? It must have come from the window, some car's headlights somewhere. Had he really left the curtains open? He didn't remember it, and it would be unusual for him. Two years in submarines had left him with a subconscious dislike for open windows – windows of any kind, really – in a room where he was sleeping. He had been very tired, but even so, he couldn't believe he'd forgotten. And now that he'd noticed, there was no chance that he'd go back to sleep without closing them.
He pulled the heavy floral curtains closed, appreciating the double rail which guaranteed there were no gaps in between them, and decided to use the bathroom before going back to bed. Penny's tea was almost good enough to make him a convert – certainly much preferable to Kyrano's herbal varieties – but it had an inevitable effect on the bladder.
Two minutes later Gordon came out of the bathroom, crossed to the window, pulled the curtains shut – and stopped. No. He was quite sure he'd just done the same thing two minutes ago. And now that he thought about it, he was also sure he'd shut them earlier, when he'd changed for dinner. He'd stood there for a while, looking at the stars through a gap in the clouds and resolving to ask John about some of the more northerly ones. And then he'd closed the curtains. No question about it. There did appear to be control wires to the wheel at the head of the curtain rail, though. Maybe he should have used the remote, and since he hadn't done so the system somehow thought they should be open? Brains would have fixed it on the spot. Gordon just recovered the remote from the bedside table, hit "close curtains" (they twitched obediently, being already closed) and went back to bed.
He'd barely lain down again when there was a deep throaty chuckle, apparently from under the bed, and the fire lit up.
Gordon sighed, recognising a practical joke when he heard one, got out of bed, and crawled under it. As he'd expected. No ghosts, no old men with attacks of hysteria. Just an apparently blameless patterned carpet, and a discarded book. Old, large, and covered in a thick layer of dust.
Hold on, though. There wasn't a speck of dust in the rest of the room. There wasn't anything else under the bed, not so much as a dropped tissue. How had this been left here? Gordon squinted more closely at it, but was unable to make out more in the gloom under the bed than the green leather binding. He blew at the dust, but in the confined space under the bed it was not a success. Coughing, spluttering and wiping at his eyes, Gordon backed out from under the bed, towing his prize behind him, and was forced to abandon it briefly and head to the bathroom, sneezing himself silly. His nose didn't appear to like English dust.
He returned a couple of minutes later, half expecting it to have vanished. But no, it was lying in front of the blazing fire just as he'd left it. Gordon carefully wiped it clean using the towel he'd fetched from the bathroom – he didn't want to start sneezing like that again any time soon – and squinted in the flickering firelight at the old-fashioned gold lettering on the spine.
'101 uses for an old sun lounger.'
Gordon laughed out loud. Penny was taking a well-deserved, and well-planned, revenge. He knew he'd had it coming. And he had thought that her careful checking that he felt completely well again, wasn't hurting at all, was just slightly strange, almost overstepping the bounds of her usual impeccable politeness into intrusion. Now it made more sense – she'd never have played a joke on someone who was feeling rough. Now, what was the significance of the book? More than just the title and enough dust to make an elephant sneeze, surely?
Closer inspection revealed it to be not a book at all – instead it was a book-shaped box holding batteries, a circuit board and a loudspeaker, and fiddling with the connections provoked that same loud chuckle. He had his suspicions that it was Parker's voice, and helpful as the driver had turned out to be, Gordon didn't particularly want to spend the night listening to him. Removal of the batteries should do the trick, and was quickly accomplished. Now, what other toys had Penny left him?
It seemed likely now that the curtain incident had in fact not been accidental. Especially as he remembered just how dark it had been looking out from the window, even at seven in the evening. There had been no lights visible, not even from other houses. There was no road out there to provide traffic with inconveniently aimed headlights. Gordon announced clearly to nobody in particular that he didn't want to cut the wire from the motor, but he would have to if they didn't stay shut, and moved to examine the mysteriously slamming door. In all probability, all the incidents were connected.
Now the door was particularly interesting. An internal locking mechanism, and some sort of automatic shutting device which he couldn't see clearly but appeared to be built into the hinges. This door wasn't the solid wood it had appeared to be, either. Unless he was very much mistaken, those were steel reinforcement bars he could see the ends of. Penny hadn't set this up as a joke, only taken advantage of it – this door was very much designed to keep someone in who didn't want to be. He knew she'd worked for the British Secret Service. He hadn't appreciated she'd been this close to the sharp end.
Examination of the bed threw up a narrow tube attached to a device which he didn't quite understand, but presumed to be the source of the icy draughts. He detached it from the bedpost and tucked the end under the mattress, where it could blast cold air all it wanted. And nestled in the sheets he finally found the smallest remote control vehicle he'd ever seen. Although 'vehicle' wasn't really right – this had legs. Lots and lots of them. Gordon weighed it experimentally in his hand, evil thoughts of Alan and his refusal to admit what he really thought of creepy-crawlies surfacing. An inch and a half of wandering robot spider on Alan's pillow was a very tempting thought. He really didn't want it wandering off overnight. It was quickly wrapped in a towel and tucked firmly in his suitcase. He'd quiz Penny on how it was controlled tomorrow.
Now, where was she watching from? She had to be observing him somehow. The timing had been just too good to be coincidence, every incident happening just as he had relaxed from the previous one. As a long-term connoisseur of practical jokes, the family expert if he did say so himself, he could respect that. And know that it hadn't happened just by chance. Not a camera, though. Gordon couldn't see Penny as a voyeur. Infra-red? Probably not, given the presence of the fire. Motion sensor?
He did find a camera, up in the moulding of the picture rail in the corner by the door, with full coverage of the room. It was covered by a lens cap masquerading as a carved rose, so his faith in Penny's character remained. Given the angles and the fish-eye lens, he suspected it was the only one. He stepped back and addressed it, on the assumption that it also contained whatever monitoring methods she had active.
"Okay, Penny, you got me good. But I need some sleep. Leave me be now, okay?"
The only answer was a frigid blast of air at the back of his neck. Gordon turned, resigned to seeking out more airvents, and found himself face-to-face with the best holographic projection he'd ever seen.
It was a ghost in the traditional sense. White, transparent, apparently floating just off the floor. An elderly man, dressed in a style Gordon recognised only from history books. He would have been tall, maybe taller even than Gordon, if he hadn't been bent almost double, supporting himself with an old-fashioned cane walking-stick. He was surveying the camera with some interest, peering up at it through his eyebrows.
"Wow." Gordon walked round it, taking in the sheer detail in the image. "Man, Penny, Brains is gonna want to know how you did this one. I can't believe I haven't found holoemitters. And it's seamless! Can you make it walk?"
The gentleman's eyebrows rose, and he obligingly shuffled towards the door. He was even wearing carpet-slippers. She really had missed no detail.
He couldn't see any flaws at all – no jumps in the image, no blurring or shaking. This was classy work. He wanted to see more of it, at another time.
"I'm impressed. Very impressed. But I'm going to bed. Goodnight, Penny. Goodnight, Mr Hologram."
The image's eyes twinkled, if something so totally white and ephemeral could ever be said to do such a thing. It threw him a casual salute, and hobbled off through the closed door.
Gordon yawned so widely he idly wondered if the top of his head would fall off, checked that everything was closed, turned off the lights, crawled back under the covers, and slept.
He didn't emerge for breakfast until well after ten, feeling refreshed and well able to face the day ahead. Even Penny, who was sitting at the table sipping her tea.
"Good morning, Gordon. I trust you slept well?"
"Oh, excellently." He grinned. "Once I found all your little toys. Nicely done."
"You were not offended? I was a little concerned, when you arrived feeling unwell."
"Penny, if you'd woken me up feeling like I did when I landed, I'd have left by now. Nah. It was fun, and I had it coming."
She smiled in obvious relief, and took another sip from the china cup. "So, did you find everything?"
"Well," Gordon leant back in his chair, considering whether to add jam or marmalade to the toast which Parker had just put in front of him. "There was the slamming door, the opening curtains, the false book with the loudspeaker. Let me see…the cold air puffer on the bed and the little creepy bug. Say, can I borrow the remote for that for a while?"
"Let me guess…Alan?"
"Alan. And you have to tell me how you set up that ghost of yours. I never did find the emitters, not even when I looked this morning. That was one slick hologram!"
Penny's cup was placed carefully in its saucer, her back stiffening as she turned to look fully at him. "Hologram?"
"Aw, come off it, Penny! I know it was you."
"Right. So the old guy in the slippers and the tweed suit, hobbling with his walking stick, pipe and all, I just imagined him? The eyebrows? That expression, having a good laugh at my expense? I don't think so. Come on, Penny. Tell me. He was great!"
"I didn't have a hologram."
"Really. I couldn't find the equipment because there isn't any."
"So, what? I could see right through him. It was not Parker in a suit."
Gordon leant back in his chair and laughed. "Okay, I get it. I just caught you using some top secret British secret service James Bond supergadget you shouldn't have. Not to worry, Penny. My lips are sealed. But you've got a whole lot to learn about me if you think I'd fall for a holographic ghost --"
He was interrupted by a tap at the door.
"H'excuse me, milady, but we 'ad best be goin', if Mr Tracy is not to be late for 'is h'appointment."
"Of course, Parker. Please bring the Rolls round to the front door." She stood up again. "Parker is right, I'm afraid. The traffic into London is simply murder, these days. Do you have everything you need?"
"My coat's hanging in the hall," Gordon told her.
"Then I'll see you this evening. I do hope Mr Allen has some answers for you."
Penny stood in the bay window watching the car pull away down the drive. Only when it was out of sight did she go to her desk and remove a small, ornate key. This, she fitted in the glass door of the large bookcase near to the fireplace.
She opened it, and returned to the table with an old, green leather-bound book with the Creighton-Ward family crest embossed on the front. Sat down and opened the book on her lap, supporting it carefully to put no strain on the binding. She folded aside the tissue paper, and stared at the first image, labelled in archaic, flowery handwriting. 'Lord Albert Creighton, Foxley Heath, 1844'.
The picture was tiny, only a couple of inches across, slightly blurred where the subject had failed to keep completely still, and a faded sepia brown. Even so, it was quite uncanny. There were the thick eyebrows, the piercing eyes. Even the tweed suit. He was seated, but leaning forward on his stick in such a manner to indicate discomfort. The carpet slippers had been replaced with immaculately polished shoes, but even so there was no question in her mind that it was the man Gordon had described. The same man that her father had sworn till his dying day he saw on a regular basis in the middle of the night.
Penny swallowed hard, smoothing the tissue interleaving carefully back over the ancient photo. She would never get Gordon to believe her, that was evident – but he wasn't here. He and Parker would be away for hours. Cook had taken the morning off. Penny was alone in the house.
Putting the photo album back in its place – the first one in a long row containing nearly two hundred years of Creighton-Ward photographic family history – she made her decision. Family legend said he had used the room Gordon occupied now, but it would be inappropriate for her to go into a guest's room uninvited. She would have to make do. Her ancestor must have spent a large proportion of his time in this room, worked at her desk, eaten at the table. Warmed himself at the fire in the winter. This was as good a place as any, although midday probably wasn't going to be the optimal time. Still, there was no harm in introducing herself now.
Penny stepped back, cleared her throat nervously, and addressed the fireplace. "Lord Creighton? My name is Penelope Creighton-Ward. I'm a descendant of yours, and I would dearly love to meet you."