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Winged Wishes by Lyndsie
Make a wish by Lyndsie
This was originally posted in installments on my livejournal. Thanks to everyone who read it there, and especially to KateinVA, whose weekly drabble challenge prompts inspire the majority of my "Paper Owl" universe (including the fifth installment of this originally four-part series).
When I was small, wishing was easy. I think that’s why Mum took us every year to do charity work during the holidays. It was her way of showing us that not everyone wished for toys and candy; some people didn’t even bother wishing anymore. The time I remember best is from when I was about ten. I didn’t quite know where we were, except that it was a building full of people with sad faces. There was a feast being held, though I didn’t see any of the foods I liked best, and we’d come with a bag full of gifts. I remember that I was walking, clutching my mum’s hand, as she held my little brother with her other arm. Dad carried the gifts.
There was a little girl there who was about the same age as me, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on her face as my dad handed her a squishy package that I had wrapped earlier. She looked so happy, and all she’d gotten was a woolen scarf. It made me think about what I’d asked for.
We have a lot of traditions in my family. On St. Valentine’s Day, my parents would leave us with someone else and go out to dinner. I used to stay up late and wait for them to get back, and make faces when they kissed. Easter would find us in church with Gran, and afterwards hunting for eggs in the yard at the Burrow, though my brother was afraid of the gnomes. Halloween was solemn, remembering those who were no longer with us.
It was Christmas that was always my favorite. The night before, we’d all go over to the Burrow with all of the cousins and aunts and uncles, and have loads of good food and open presents. Then we’d come back home, and it was my favorite part.
My brother and I’d spend several minutes looking through the box of paper to find the perfect size and color—one for each of us. Then, their eyes shining, my parents would help us carefully fold and bend the paper, molding it into roughly a square shape. I usually commandeered my father’s attention, because he was more patient and let me finish it all by myself even when I was little. He’d hand me a quill and say, “Whatever your heart desires, Mitten.” I’d write my special Christmas wish in the center of the paper, and then finish the last few creases. It was my secret wish, and I never told anyone any of them, and all of them had come true.
Once my brother was finished, we’d hang the little paper owls on the tree, and sit by the firelight reading Christmas stories until it was time for bed. That year with the little girl was the first time I’d ever used my wish for someone else.
The reason I’m writing all this is because I don’t know what to wish for this year. It won’t be the same without Dad to help me hang it on the highest branch, even though I can reach it myself now. What I truly want for Christmas is for him to be here with us, and I know that is an impossible wish. So I think I know what I am going to write inside of my origami ornament, but I hate that it is a selfish wish.
This year my brother and I both picked blue for our owls. In the past we’ve always picked different colors, and if he tried to pick the same as me (like he did back when he wanted to do everything like me), I would cry about it and make him change.
Blue is our father’s favorite color, so this year neither of us said anything when we came across the same sheet of paper. Instead, I tore it in half, giving him part of it. It’s like sharing the sadness.
You already know what my wish is, but I wonder if my brother and I shared that, too, this year.
My wish didn’t come true. I hadn’t truly thought it would, but I was still hoping for a Christmas miracle. But real life isn’t like in the storybooks, so Mum watched my brother and I open our presents alone. Dad is always in the kitchen on Christmas morning, making us his special eggnog. This year there was none. Even though he had taught me the recipe a long time ago, I couldn’t make it. Maybe one day I will for my own children. Later, after my brother and I had taken our gifts back to our bedrooms, I saw my mother crying by the Christmas tree. I just stood there as she wiped her eyes and placed a small white object back on the Christmas tree.
I want Daddy home for Christmas. There. I can say it, because it didn’t come true.
Mum seemed a little happier this morning. She made stew for lunch, and asked me about being a Prefect. Still, I know she thinks about him all the time.
I was feeling listless and bored, so I went for a walk outside. The gardens were dull and brown, dormant and waiting for the warmth and light of spring. I walked on, past the pond, and out to the little copse of trees on the edge of the property. There was this one old tree that had split when it was a sapling, and had grown, looking like two growing from the same spot. I used to climb it all the time when I was younger. Perched up high, I thought I could see the world.
“‘I used to sit up here all the time, too, Lizzie-girl,’” I muttered as I climbed up, the rough bark scratching my hands.
I don’t know how long I sat there, but it must have been a long time, because darkness was beginning to fall. The windows of the house were shining invitingly, but I didn’t move.
I didn’t notice at first, so the dark figure walking towards the house got quite close before I picked my head up from where it rested on the cold branch. I couldn’t tell who it was, but my heart started pounding nevertheless.
“The wards,” I whispered, sliding down the trunk. I ran as hard as I could, and as I got closer I knew it was him. I stopped, clutching my side, when I was close enough to see that he was limping.
“Dad,” I shouted with the breath I had left. The cold air rasped in and out of my lungs harshly, and I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes, but I barely registered any of it. Before I knew it, I was being crushed in his embrace. I can’t really describe it, but there was one thing I knew.
Even though it was two days late, I’ve never been more thankful that my wish came true.
The entrance hall was bright and cheery, and we turned toward the nearest parlor. It was dim and welcoming, the Christmas tree standing like a sentinel in the corner. Dad sat down rather heavily on the nearest chair, leaning over and beginning to pull off his shoe. There were so many things I wanted to ask him. I wanted to know where he’d been all this time, what he’d been doing. But before I could ask any questions, another voice rang out in the hall.
“Lizzie!” my mum shouted. Dad straightened suddenly, a look like I’ve never seen before on his face. “Where have you been all this time?” She’d probably heard the opening and closing of the door when we’d come in and thought it was only me.
She was saying something else, but the words died in her throat as she turned into the doorway. Then, she was uttering what can only be described as a squeal, and running across the room. She jumped straight onto Dad’s lap, and then they were kissing and hugging.
“Gross,” said my brother, who’d come up without me noticing. He was wrinkling his nose just like Mum does when she finds something disgusting.
“I know,” I said, smiling and laying my arm across his shoulders. “But we all got our wish.”
He laughed, and instead of shrugging me off like he usually did, he leaned in closer.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.