From behind she could see he had dark black hair, cut shorter than most mens, so he must be younger. He was wearing a long, fine quality brown coat that draped over the back of the stool almost to the floor.

He stopped playing suddenly, stood up and turned around in one fluid movement which took Crystal by surprise so she was frozen, staring into his intelligent eyes. There was a spark in them, of surprise, interest. What could he see in her blue ones? Her heart was thudding and she felt as if she was sickening. The young man looked disconcerted.

Under the brown coat he was wearing a white long-sleeved shirt with a black waistcoat over the top, black trousers and black hunter boots, and a black silk tie with silver music notes embroidered on it. He smiled as he saw her looking at it.

“Ahem. Good morning. Well, I guess its time to start your lesson, he prompted, recovering himself with a cough. He held out his hand for a rather man-like shake, saying, Im William Roberts, you can call me Will. What do you want me to call you?

"UmCrystals fine, she managed to mutter, gingerly shaking his hand by his fingertips. It seemed to amuse him because he kept on smiling as she sat down on the black leather piano stool.

“Which song was your last tutor teaching you? Will asked her, picking up the book ready to turn to the right page.

"Fur Elise, Crystal answered. An idea occurred to her to show off, and she started to play it from memory without the book and without him asking. The tune went wrong when she pressed the wrong key and she flushed in embarrassment as Will grinned.

"No no no, youve positioned your hands wrong, he said, and he placed his hands over hers and guided tem into the right position. She suddenly felt like she might throw up. He propped the book on the stand in front of her and put his finger at the start, ready to move his finger along the lines as she played.

Go on, he prompted. She sighed nervously and started to play. Her stomach felt fluttery. Dear God, an hour of this was ahead?

Will was sipping from a glass of water and tapping his foot in time as Crystal ploughed through the song. He reached out a hand to touch her shoulder and stop her. His finger touched her neck and she started. The pendant around her neck seemed to burn her skin and she jumped even more.

As her heart thumped wildly, the glass in Will’s hand shattered and the water splashed down his waistcoat.

“Oh my,” Crystal gasped, hurrying to stand up very ungracefully. She felt like she had caused that glass to break. “I am so sorry, er…Will.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Crystal,” he said, though he frowned as he mopped his front with a handkerchief from up his coat sleeve.

Thankfully a distraction was provided as the butler Simmons knocked and entered the room.

"News, lady. The Midwinter Festival is being held in Caingold tonight! Every single person is invited, masters and servants alike! There shall be a great bonfire, dancing, drinking, and a large feastand perhaps old traveller Mr Sparx may provide some wonderful fireworks like last year, I heard he was in town again…”

Will raised his eyebrows at the butler. “Indeed, what merriment.”

Simmons took his leave. “I’ve heard Mr Twiggard the Witch-catcher is also in town. He should be a wonderful dining companion! At least there is a celebration to look forward to.”

"Yes, Christmas is on its way, Crystal said mostly to herself, and then wrinkled her nose. And its an excuse for everyone to get drunk and not have to work the day after.

Will laughed, his bad humour forgotten as he put his handkerchief away. “Perhaps this Twiggard will have something to say about that glass of water.”

Crystal felt her heart speed up as though she was the culprit, which was of course absurd. She was no witch.

“Well then, our lesson seems to have constant interruptions. It should be cut short so no more can occur. Run along, Crystal, I’ll see you this evening.”

Gratefully Crystal hurried out of the room and back to her own bedroom.

She flopped onto her bed, covered with lace throws, not caring about creasing her dress. There were a few books on witches on her bookshelf across the room, and Crystal turned her back on them nervously. What was wrong with her?

She wasn’t a witch. Witches were bad people who caused problems and turned the harvests bad, killed off the animals and poisoned people. They had fearsome powers which Crystal certainly did not possess.

“I’ll prove I’m not a witch,” she murmured. She sat up and stared at the porcelain vase of tulips on her windowsill. Break, vase, shatter like that glass.


The End

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