MADELEINE

"Come on, Maddy, up we go!"

"Richard, I don't want to play today!"

"What is wrong with you?" Élisabeth asks, resorting her music. "Usually you want to play all the time—"

"—and we can never use the piano when we need to, because you're making a racket," Richard finishes.

"Here's a thought. Why don't you two, for ONE DAY, try not to complete each other's sentences?" Stela asks. "Sorina is going to be here any minute, and you know you give her headaches!"

"Well, at least we talk when we're doing it! You just do that funny thing with your eyes and confuse the rest of us!" Élisa retorts. Stela yells something in Romany, Richard answer in French, Ayesha starts meowing and Élisa bangs every key she can on the piano.

"Just as I thought." We all turn to see Sorina standing in the door. "You all have no idea how glad I am to see you!"

"Are you alright?" Stela asks, running over to clasp hands with her. "Have you heard from him?"

"No, I'm afraid not. You know it's difficult to post anything these days. The mail's getting seized and read for spies and codes…." Sorina says sadly.

"Will he live?"

"Stela, I can't say…"

"But you see things…" Élisa protests. "Please, Sorina! Is he okay? We're all worried about him."

"And I'd tell you if I knew," Sorina snaps, her pretty dark blue eyes turning ugly, like Papa when he's mad. "But I don't! So, all of you shut up!" I bury my face in Stela's skirt, whimpering.

"Now look what you've done, you scared Maddy!" Richard scolds. "Come on, Maddy, let's go get you an ice cream."

"Richard, you know she's not allowed outside," Élisa says. "Mother said so."

"To hell with what Mother said, I'm getting Maddy an ice cream, and she is spending at least one day outside of this stupid tower. Gustave would want that too. Remember? He always said—"

"You know as well as I do that he meant on a day when the park's empty!"

"Which is never in the summer, when everything actually works! You aren't going to stop me, Élisabeth!"

"But someone else might," a new voice cuts in. Richard sucks in his breath. "Richard, come here." I pull my face out of Stela's skirt to see Papa beckoning, his face completely emotionless.

"Yes, sir," Richard says, shuffling towards him.

"You want to take Madeleine out to the park?"

"Yes, sir."

"If your mother found out, she'd be very displeased with you."

"I know, sir."

"That being said, I agree that Madeleine should go out. You have one half-hour—"

"But—"

"Élisabeth, why don't we use this as an opportunity to work on your music? Ah, Sorina, welcome back. Your bags are already in your own room."

"Thank you, Erik," she says, walking over and giving him a kiss on the cheek. "Now, where's that nasty little kitty I love so very well? Oh, Ayesha…. Come out, come out wherever you are!"

"Come on, Maddy!" Richard grabs my hand and pulls me down the stairs. We stop outside the doors. "Go on, you do it. Your first time outside, you should have the honor."

"Alright!" I grip the handle and push out. The sunlight streams out and hits my face. "Richard…. It's so… warm."

"Are you just going to stand there, or are we actually going to do something?"

"Oh, alright, ice cream." I say, grabbing his hand. "Show me, Richard! Show me everything!"

"Wait," he covers my eyes, and starts speaking rhythmically. "Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to three."

"One… Two… Three…"

As he uncovers my eyes, he starts to sing, "Come with me, and you'll be in a world of pure imagination. Take a look, and you'll see into your imagination. We'll begin," he twirls me around as we start our way into the park, " with a spin, traveling in a world of our creation! What we'll see will defy explanation!"

We run along the pier, chasing the pigeons. "If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it! Anything you want to, do it! Want to change the world? There's nothing to it…" All around us, people are yelling, laughing, kissing, screaming. "There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you'll be free, if you truly wish to be…" He gives me an ice cream cone, which I start licking as we continue along the pier. "If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it! Anything you want to, do it! Want to change the world? There's nothing to it…" He wins me a stuffed teddy bear at the bottle toss before we start back to the tower, and this time, I sing the final phrase with him.

"There is no life I know to compare with pure imagination. Living there, you'll be free, if you truly wish to be…"

"Back in, Maddy!" Richard says, hurrying me back inside.

"Richard, this was the best day of my life! Can we do it again sometime?"

"I'll see if we can. I had fun, too, , and listen, I think Élisa's singing!"

"Boring.," I say, huffing. "She sings all the time. She wants to be like Mamma, remember? I'm going up on the roof."

"What? No! Papa's going to kill me if I let you do that!"

"I'm going to do it anyway."

"Maddy!"

"Have fun!"


A/N: Well, that was mostly filler, but it was nice to see Maddy have some time outside. For now, however, I'm afraid we must put this on hiatus, as I've not an inkling of how to continue. Apologies, dearies!

Also: The song Richard sang is "Pure Imagination," from the Gene Wilder version of Willy Wonka. I love that song.