"Winton…" Lara said. She walked up to the older man and embraced him; she felt his arms wrap around her shoulders and hug her to his body tightly.
"It is a pleasure to see you." Winston said when they pulled apart. After they broke apart Lara remembered that Sam was there to; she took a step back to stand next to Sam.
"Winston this is Sam; Sam this is Winston." Lara introduced. Winston studied Sam for a moment before holding out his hand to her.
"It is nice to meet you madam." Winston informed.
"I've left the bags at the stairs; I'm going to park the car in the garage." The driver informed as he walked through the front.
"Thank you Henry." Winston said with a nod in the man's direction.
"It is good to see you again Lady Croft." Henry expressed before walking back out towards the car.
"Now if you will follow me; I will bring you to your rooms." Winston said as he grabbed their suit cases from the front stairs.
Winston led them into the foyer. The foyer consisted of several couches and chairs surrounding the large fireplace directly in front of them. Looking to her right Sam saw that there were more chairs and a black grand piano right in the middle of the chairs. The piano was beautiful and shiny and went well with the light brown colored furniture and the gray brick interior of the house.
"Sam…" Lara said snapping Sam out of her amazement. Sam turned to Lara and saw her gestured in the opposite direction. Looking past Lara Sam could see Winston heading up the steps of a massive staircase that split into opposite directions after the first flight.
After getting over her slight shock Sam finally continued to follow Winston and Lara up the stairs; when they got onto the first landing they went up the stairs on the left. Sam couldn't help but be very curious as to where the stairs on the right led to.
Lara saw Sam looking up the other stairs in curiosity.
"I'll give you a tour later." Lara informed.
They went up the stairs and took a right down the hall; looking over the rail Sam was able to see the whole foyer below.
"The four doors along the right are guest rooms if you would like to pick one out." Winston informed Sam as he gestured along the wall. Sam was slightly confused before she realized that Winston wasn't aware of her and Lara's relationship.
"That won't be necessary." Lara piped up. "Sam is going to share with me."
Winston looked like he wanted to comment on the sleeping arraignment but he thought otherwise.
"Very well…" He said and continued to lead them down the hall to the door at the end of it. Winston opened the door and went in but Lara didn't follow. She just stood outside the door and looked in. Sam stood next to her and waited for Lara to walk in first; after a couple deep breaths Lara eventually stepped in.
The room or rooms was massive. It wasn't your average four square walls with a bed against one and a dresser. You walked into one section and slightly to the left there was another section passed the large door frame.
Sam's first thought about the room was that it was definitely Lara's room. She could smell paper, ink and old books from the moment she walked in. But the room was also cool and very different but in a geeky way.
First off the rooms were both hexagon shaped; the first part of the room was one hexagon that attached to the other part of the room which was also hexagon. Looking around the room Sam noticed that there was a wooden loft going along the walls of both rooms. From where she was Sam was able to see loads of bookshelves on the loft along with chairs and a few desks but she couldn't see everything because the loft was high up. Below the loft in the first part of the room was a desk in the middle of the room; behind the desk Sam saw a walk-in closet. There were also more bookshelves but unlike the one on the loft these book shelves had little toys and souvenirs. Along the walls below and above the loft were pictures and posters of all sorts.
In the other section of the room the loft continued along the wall. In the middle of the smaller room was a large king sized canopy bed that had two nightstands on either sides of it. Against the wall there were couches and a large flat screen T.V. What Sam noticed the most was the large windows that ran along most of the walls on the right side; they completely illuminated the room with light from the outside. There were a few windows in the smaller room behind Lara's bed that looked out into the foyer but mostly all of them looked out over the never-ending scene of green grass and trees.
"If I am not needed I will head down to the kitchen and make some tea. Do you prefer coffee or tea, Ms. Nishimura?" Winston asked Sam. Sam was taken aback by the formal use of her last name and took a few seconds to answer.
"um…coffee…please." Sam replied. Winston bowed his head at both of the girls before heading out and closing the door behind him.
"How did he know my last name?" Sam asked Lara once he was gone.
"He knew who you were before you walked into the door…I didn't even need to introduce you." Lara explained.
"I don't think he likes me." Sam pointed out. Lara smiled; Winston was a hard person to read and almost never showed many emotions so she could see why Sam thought he didn't like her.
"He likes you…he is just being formal." Lara reassured.
"I don't think so…he was soo…so monotone towards me." Sam tried explaining.
"He is a butler; he is supposed to be monotone. It is part of the whole formal process."
Lara moved into the first section of the room and continued into the smaller section. She looked around the room before sitting on the large bed. Sam moved into the room with her but leaned against the door frame. Lara glanced up at Sam and their eyes connected; she knew Sam was waiting for an explanation. Lara lay back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling.
"I remember when my father and I built this loft…my mother was livid. She didn't think it was proper for a girl to have a loft but I wanted something cool so we built this. There is another bed up there…it is up that ladder." Lara blurted out. She sat up on her elbows and pointed to the ladder behind the bed in-between the two windows that looked into the foyer. "The only reason this bed is here is because my mother wanted something that was "ladylike" but I never slept in it; I always slept in the one on the loft. It is a new world up there; I used to pretend it was my office. I have books…shelves, desk, chairs…everything up there. I could stay up there for hours to just read and study. When I was little my father would join me up there and we'd play pirates or he would read me stories; it is very weird to be back here."
Sam just listen to Lara speak of her childhood; she could see Lara doing all the things she was telling her; she could literally see little Lara running around on the loft or reading next to the large windows. Lara sat up and got up from the bed; she walked pasted Sam towards the door that led into the hallway.
"Come on, I'll give you a tour." Lara said. Sam pushed off the frame and followed Lara out of the bedroom. They retraced their steps towards the stairs. Instead of heading down the stairs Lara grabbed Sam's hand and pulled her into the door that was right at the top of the stairs. They walked down another hallway until they came to glass double doors that had a dark wooden frame. Lara let go Sam's hand grabbed both handles of the doors and pushed them down and swung the doors forward. They opened to a massive library that was two stories; there were books everywhere. There were several desks around the room that had papers scattered on them; there were couches and arm chairs against the wall and next to another fireplace that was tucked in the middle of bookshelves. It looked like someone had cut out the bookshelf and place the fireplace in it spot.
Sam spotted the staircase that led to the first floor; it was spiral. The first floor was massive and in the middle of the floor were couches that made a square; in the middle of them was a large coffee table that still had unopened books on it. Sam looked to her left and notice another room; looking through the glass double doors Sam came to the conclusion that it was an office because of the desk that had a desktop computer on it. She wanted to go in but Lara had headed down the spiral staircase.
"It's a manor…" Lara said. She once again grabbed Sam's hand and pulled to towards another door at the other end of the library.
"What?" Sam asked; she had still been distracted by the library.
"This place…it's a manor." Lara repeated. She opened the door and they walked down another hallway but unlike the other ones you couldn't see into the foyer; this one was closed in and a bit darker.
"So it's a mansion?" Sam asked. Lara shook her.
"No…I mean they are very similar but my father was a lord so it's a manor. That is the biggest difference between a mansion and a manor; the title of the owner and more often than not manors are bigger or has more land."
"Title of the owner?"
They came to another door; Lara opened it and pulled Sam through.
"This is the gallery; my father kept his findings here or so I thought he did." Lara muttered. The gallery was an exact replica of the library but instead of all books there were paintings, statues, plates, art…and more.
"It's beautiful." Sam muttered. Lara allowed Sam to spend a few minutes looking around before she led her upstairs to go out the other double doors.
"The first floor of both the library and the gallery lead into the foyer. The second floor of both rooms lead into the second floor hallways. Right now we are on the other side of the main staircase." Lara pointed out as they walked down the hallway. Lara opened the door to another hallway and walked down it until they came to a door. It was in the exact spot as Lara's room but on the other side of the manor.
"This is the music room." Lara said as she opened the door. The room was full of windows and had another piano but it was smaller than the one in the foyer. There were also drums, a guitar and a violin.
"You told me you couldn't play." Sam stated. Lara looked down at her feet sheepishly.
"I can play the piano and the drums; my father played the violin and my mother play the cello." Lara said. She walked up to the piano and took a seat on the bench. She began to press a few keys; Sam walked forward and sat next to her.
"You didn't answer me; what do you mean by title of the owner?" Sam asked. Lara stared out the window before answering.
"My father was a lord; he was given the title by the queen. He was very well respected and had a lot of money. When he bought this house it was considered a mansion; but because he was a lord people started to call it a manor. After a few years of owning it my father bought more land which added to the value of the manor. Title plays a huge role in the differences between manor and mansion, well in the U.K at least." Lara said. She grabbed Sam's left hand and placed it on top of the smooth keys of the piano and began to guide her fingers to press against the keys.
"Your butler called you "Lady"? Sam questioned. She scooted closer to Lara and began to recognize the tune of twinkle little star filling the room.
"When my father died I inherited the title since he didn't have any family and because my mother was dead. If she had been alive she would have been the 'lady' but she isn't so I was given the title."
Lara let go of Sam's hand before standing up.
"There is more to show you…"
Sam stood up and followed her out of the room. They walked down the halls and down the main stairs back to the foyer. Lara turned the corner when she reached the bottom of the stairs and began towards the large open door frame. She walked into a large open hallway that was completely glass; there were plants and flowers all around the small hallway. Sam followed her pass the plants through another set of doors that led into a large ball room.
The room was huge; it reminded Sam of the movie Beauty and the Beast, when they are dancing in the ball room. The walls at the end of the large room were all glass but the rest of them were the grey brick that made up the rest of the manor.
"When I was little…my father used to blast the radio and swirl me and my mother around the room."
Sam looked at Lara and noticed that she was lost in her memories. To Sam the ball room felt empty; she could tell that no one had been in there for a very long time.
"Come on…Let's go to the kitchen." Lara said. She pointed to another set of doors to the side of the ball room and started to walk to them. She took Sam into a large dining room and then into the kitchen.
The kitchen at the manor put the one in their U.S. apartment to shame. It was bigger than anything Sam had ever seen. There were three stoves that had a total of 15 burners and three ovens; then there was a large long island that took up the middle of the kitchen and had stools all around it. The sink took up several counters and had many different sections to it.
"This is your fridge….it bigger than my closet at my father's house." Sam said in shock. Lara chuckled as she took a seat on one of the stools at the island.
"Lady Croft, your tea. Ms. Nishimura, your coffee." Winston said as he handed them each their cups. He had been in the kitchen when they walked in but was busy talking to the chief about tomorrow's dinner. After giving them their beverages he took a seat at the end of the island and started to drink his own tea while he read the local paper.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Sam asked breaking the silence that had begun to get comfortable between her and Lara.
"Never came up?' Lara offered.
"Never came up? All the time we talked about my inheritance and the money you got from your father, you just failed to mention that you also own a manor and-" Sam started to say.
"Three manors…" Lara interrupted.
"Yeah…one is in Surrey, the other in Cambridge and this one is in Buckinghamshire. This one was more significant to my father…"
Sam gawked at Lara in pure shock; she had no clue that Lara had a manor never mind that she had three. She had known that Lara had an inheritance but she just through it was money.
Lara could see the wheels in Sam's head spinning; she knew that it was a lot to take in and that Sam was probably still confused.
"I didn't say anything because I never planned on coming back; I just left the responsibilities of the manors to Winston and Jerry, my accountant. When my father was finally declared MIA I stopped wanting to be here; there was no reason to be here. So the night of his funeral, after the service was over I packed my bags and never looked back. During my summers from boarding school I would stay with either Roth or Winston and his wife. When college came around, you gave me another place to get away too. This is the first time I've been home in almost six years." Lara explained. She cupped her cup of tea and focused on the heat that passed through her hands and up her body.
"You were close to your father, weren't you?" Sam asked quietly. She reached over and grabbed one of Lara's hands that was gripping the cup and intertwined their fingers.
"Yes…my mother's death I could handle but when my father went missing I couldn't take it. I didn't believe a lot of the things he told me but I still enjoyed his stories."
Lara took a deep breath to keep back the tears that were on the verge of spilling over.
"Sweetie…" Sam muttered.
"It is hard being here but…Roth loved this place and he used to come here and visit him. He thought I didn't know but I knew…he would come every few months and visit my father's grave."
"It's a good choice." Sam said. "Roth would have loved it."
"Do you want to continue the tour?" Lara asked.
"No…we can do it another time. You can just tell me the rest of it."
Lara nodded and gripped Sam's hand tighter.
"Well, I showed you the main points of the house but there is a garden area that is on the other side of the house that leads towards the garage and the pool room. The pool is enclosed in a glass room; there is also a Jacuzzi in the pool room." Lara said. She couldn't resist wiggling her eyebrows at Sam. Sam chuckled at her and pretended to be flattered. "The rest of the house is the basic bathroom and laundry room and a few extra bedrooms. You might get lost a few times but after a while you'll get a hang of where everything is."
"How bout outside?" Sam asked.
"We have a garden which I mention that is near the pool room but we also have a vast amount of land that stretches a few acres. Just outside theses doors there is a pathway that leads to a tennis court and a little further down is Winston's garden." Lara glanced at Winston when she mentioned the last part; she caught the small smile that appeared on the elder's lips. Mentioning the garden made Lara remember one more aspect of the house that she hadn't mentioned to Sam, not even indirectly.
"Winston?" Lara called out.
"Lady Croft?" he answered without even looking up from his paper.
"Is he still here?" She asked him. Winston glanced over his paper to look at her.
"He never left." He said.
Lara grabbed Sam's hand and pulled her out of her seat and out of the back door of the kitchen to the backyard. Sam saw the path that led to the tennis courts and she could briefly see the garden Lara was talking about but was pulled away to fast to get a good look. Lara walked her past the end of the house and into the trees. They continued to walk a few feet before Sam was able to see a black wooden barn sitting in the middle of a small clearing that was surrounded by trees.
"You have a barn?" she asked. Lara didn't reply; instead she let go of Sam's hand and opened the large barn door and gestured for her to walk in. The barn was very neat and very bright; very much like the manor, the barn had a lot of windows. There were at least 10 stalls and 6 of them had horses of all different colors and shapes.
"I want you to meet someone. He was my best friend for a long time." Lara whispered. She led Sam to the end of the barn towards the biggest stall. When they got a few feet away Sam felt like the wind had been knocked out of her; the sight was breathtaking.
"Midnight…" Lara whispered.
The horse was huge; standing next to it Lara couldn't see over the top of its back. He was all black with the exception of one foot, the right one being white. He was short haired all the way down to his legs where the hair got longer and hung over his hooves. When Lara came close to the stall the reaction was immediate; the horse came to his little window and began to make sounds and bounce his head up and down.
Lara walked up to him and placed her hand on his face and began to pet him; when the horse got over his excitement and calmed down Lara moved her head forward and pressed her forehead against his.
Sam wished so much that she hadn't put her camera in her bag; this would have been the perfect moment to film. The horse and Lara look so comfortable and it was easy to tell that they were happy to be in each other's company just by the way Lara looked so relaxed and by the way the horse bowed his head to reach Lara's.
"I missed you…" Lara whispered to him. She pulled back and continued to pet his neck. She held out her other hand for Sam to take; when she did Lara guided her hand to Midnights neck. Sam felt the smooth muscular neck under her fingertips; she could feel each time the horse took a breath.
"What kind of horse is he?" She asked.
"Clydesdale." Lara replied.
"Isn't that the type that you see in the Budweiser commercials pulling the wagon?"
"Yes same type of horse."
"He is huge…how old is he?"
"He was a baby when I got him at the age of twelve so he is about nine years old."
Lara moved back from the window and moved to open the latch of the door. She pulled the door open and Midnight slowly stepped out of his stall. Lara guided him towards the wall where the saddles and reins were; she pulled up a step stool next to him and began to place the large black leather saddle on his back. She grabbed the reins from the hook on the wall and slowly put it in his mouth and threw the straps behind his back.
"Alright…hop on." Lara said when she stepped down from the stool. Sam looked at her like she had six heads.
"I'll kill myself." Sam stated. Lara smiled at her and shook her head.
"No you won't. Just step onto the stool…" Lara guided. Sam stepped on to the stool. Lara moved next to her and grabbed her hand and guided it to the handle on the saddle. "Okay…now place your right foot in the loop and leap up. And please don't kick me when you swing your leg over." Lara said.
"I'm gonna do that and just fall off on the other side. Sam protest. Lara rolled her eyes and helped her put her foot in the saddle loop.
Sam gripped the handle of the saddle and pulled her body up and swung her leg over the horses back. The whole time she did this she had her eyes closed; she expected to fall off. When she didn't feel gravity pulling her to the ground she peeked her eyes opened.
"So this is what it is like to see from a giant's perspective." Sam pointed out. She turned to see Lara gracefully pull herself onto the horse and sit behind her. "You made that look way too easy." Sam muttered. She felt Lara press her chest to her back and move her arms to her front to grab the reins.
Lara flicked the reins and Midnight started to move forward to the front of the barn. When they got to the entrance of the barn Lara halted Midnight.
"Hold on tight." Lara whispered in Sam's ear. Sam grabbed onto the saddle and held on tightly. Lara once again flicked the reins and midnight started trotting; she did it again and he began to gallop. After a few more flicks Midnight was running full speed through the grass clearing.
After 10 minutes of running Lara slowed Midnight down to a trot. Lara guided Midnight to a small pond to allow him to take a drink. Next to the pond was a large white gazebo that had flowers planted along the edges.
Lara hopped off Midnight and turned to help Sam down. When Sam gained her balance and stood at full height in front of Lara, Lara leaned forward and kissed her. She wrapped her arms around Sam's waist and deepened the kiss; Sam wrapped her arms around her neck.
Lara pulled back and rested her head against Sam's.
"I needed that…I need you. When my father died all I had was Roth; he was my family but then I met you. You're my family now…I honestly don't know what I would do without you." Lara announced.
"I love you…I'm not going anywhere." Sam said.
Lara smiled at her and unwrapped her arms from Sam's waist and grabbed her hand; she pulled her towards the gazebo.
When they got closer Sam noticed that there were two stones sticking up from the ground that had flowers around them. Lara pulled her closer until they were directly in front of the stones and Sam was able to read the engraved words on the stones.
Missing in action
Lara knelt down on the grass in front of the two stones; Sam mimicked her movement.
"Roth's stone is going to go next to my father's but there is going to be a bit more of a gap. His stone being here means that he will never be forgotten and that Thomas and Reyes can visit him whenever they want; they don't even need me to be here. He didn't belong in a graveyard; he belonged here." Lara whispered. Sam grabbed her hand when she saw that there were tears sliding down her cheeks. Lara hadn't had the time to really grieve Roth; this was her moment.
They spent the next hour just sitting in front of the stone just talking about college and their memories with Roth. After a while they decided to head back to the manor.
"Do you want to ride or walk?" Lara asked. Sam grabbed her hand and twined their fingers together.
"Let's walk." She replied. Lara whistle to Midnight and he came and started to walk beside them.
"Tomorrow is going to be a big day…"Lara stated.
"We will get through it…together." Sam reassured.
"We've been through a lot this last year…"
"But I can't honestly say that I regret all of it. I mean I regret a few moments and wish I could change it but I don't regret going to Yamatai or looking for the Scions. They made me who I am now, they made me see things that I was blind to before, I've met some great people and my life has a real purpose now. Does this make any sense?"
"If you had said this to me right after Yamatai then I would have thought you lost it but saying it to me now, it does make sense." Sam said.
"Our life will never be easy will it?" Lara asked.
"Not with you around it won't be." Sam joked. Lara shoved her slightly but pulled her back to her. She dropped Sam's hand and moved her arm to slide around Sam's shoulders; Sam wrapped her arm around Lara's waist and rested her head against her shoulder.
"It has been quite the adventure though." Lara pointed out.
"Yeah if you consider soul sucking queens and winged humans an adventure then yeah it had been." Sam muttered mockingly. "But seriously it had been quite the adventure and I really don't see our adventure slowing down anytime soon."
"I'm ready for the next adventure as long as you're with me for it…"
"Sweetie I don't think we could get rid of each other even if we wanted too."
Lara tightened her hold on Sam and they continued to walk back to the manor. Lara was ready to start any lifelong adventure with Sam; they were going to make their mark on the world together and maybe one day settle down in a home of their own.
I want to say thank you to everyone who read my story and followed me through each chapter. I greatly appreciate every review I got and the suggestions that were made to me. This was my first fanfic and because of your help I feel confident enough to write another one. Hope you guys enjoyed the story. And thank you to Sachikins editing my chapters and giving me a bunch of pointers. Until next time...