"May I come in?" he removed his hat, stern expression turning to a gracious smile. "Or is that now not allowed? I mean, I must confess to having come here unchaperoned. The moment I heard you couldn't have kept me, my dear." He bowed in the direction of a distinctly flustered Sparrowhawk.
"I... I... I..." the masked maiden coloured at the smile of the gentle knight. "I can..."
"Explain everything, my dear?" the gentleman laughed softly. "Of that I've no doubt. You've always had a peculiar talent for that. Not that those explanations have always been entirely consistent with what actually happened, of course." There was a bantering light in his eyes. "Besides, I was informed, darling lassie. Your friends have been most good to me - and, I hasten to add, to you. Not that that should ever be unexpected, of course. After all, you are the sweetest little heroine in the entire world. Why, I remember...."
"Please..." Sparrowhawk coloured hotly, trembling a little, "we... we're..."
"In company?" Sir Richard chuckled. "Lynette here knows me and my ways, lass, she'll be fine with my little eccentricities. Why, we had her over for Christmas the other year. Do you remember old Horace, the detective chappie?"
"Do I remember?" Sparrowhawk smiled, her laugh an amused gurgle. "Sure I do! Of course, you go back further, but..."
"Hang on," Ms. Madison interrupted, "this is a touching scene, but you lost me a while back. How come you know Sparrowhawk, Sir Richard?"
"Hawkie, please," the girl in leather grinned cutely. "I'm not one for standing on ceremony..."
"Or feet," Sir Richard contributed, eyes sparkling. "You used to be quite an accomplished little dancer. How are you now, dear?"
"Probably fine," Hawkie laughed, "it's like the battle murder and sudden death stuff. Even after a decade, I'm still great. But I'd no idea it was so long, you've got to believe me, it's just been like waking up after a night of dreaming."
"Please," Ms. Madison rolled her eyes, "won't you tell me just what's going on. How come you know this girl, Sir Richard - and how come you know she's the real Sparrowhawk?"
"It's really quite simple, dear girl," Sir Richard turned to face Ms. Madison. "A chap ought to be able to recognise his own daughter, oughtn't he?"