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Chapter 1 : Midnight
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Author's Note: So this is my first one-shot outside of my WIP novel that I'm currently working on. This story is rather personal and very close to my heart and I hope you'll enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. ^_^
Exploring how children view the world is magical. Ask a five year-old where do rainbows come from and you’ll get answers beyond your wildest imagination. The beauty of magical thinking relies on the simple fact that you don’t always have to be logical; sometimes, all it takes is for you to believe.
For liza_potter's The Minor Character Challenge and katebabelovesharrypotter's When I Grow Up Challenge
She was a phantom; she operated without a sound.
Five year-old Poppy trudged on tiptoe, careful not to make even the smallest sound as she walked stealthily towards the bedroom across the hall from her own. While she knew, after months and months of traipsing along the same corridor every night, that only one soul would be awake that evening, the said soul, she was certain, would never tell anyone of the rendezvous. That secrecy had always appealed to her.
Knowing full well that the door was open, she turned the knob and felt the usual coolness of the metal transferred onto her warm skin. Poppy entered and savoured the familiar scene that greeted her; the room was illuminated by only a single beam of moonlight with its misty blue radiance looking unearthly against the darkness of the space, beginning from the small gap in the curtains, crossing the length of the room and finally resting on the figure of a man lying on the part of the bed closest to the window. She approached the man and perched silently beside him.
“Thunder,” she whispered to no one.
She glanced at the other side to see her mother in deep slumber, her eyes closed, breathing soft and even, clearly lost in the beauty of dreaming. It was only during those hours that Poppy saw her mother looked calm, almost her old peaceful self again, and not the usual tired and groggy version she’d got used to seeing every day. Her gaze then turned to the man that was her quarry and she was not surprised to see that his blue eyes were open, looking at her but not seeing his daughter.
It was not the first time she crept up that room to visit her father in odd hours of the evening. She did that every night, convinced that the midnight offered some miracle or maybe some sort of bargain; like she could be rewarded for staying up late. Rewarded with a wish. She stared at the image of her father, her brown eyes boring into his blue. They used to be so blue that they reminded her of the ocean. “Not anymore,” she considered silently. In those days, they just reminded her of cloudy skies - vague, listless and unreachable.
The memory of how it all began to change for her family would forever be engraved in her consciousness: the sight of her father, sprawled in the musty ground behind the garden shed, a silent distress emanating from his wide eyes. How long was he in there, Poppy never found out. Why he didn’t call for help, her father would not tell them. The only thing that was certain was Thunder would not be able to walk anymore. To Poppy that meant no more strolling along the shore line barefooted, the feel of sand on their feet as the two of them waited for the sunset that signaled the end of another day; no more Thunder running around the the garden under the clear evening sky, with her on his strong shoulders laughing carelessly, feeling weightless, powerful, feeling like she could reach for the skies and pick a shiny star if she wanted to.
It wasn’t long before Thunder lost the ability to move his arms. He slowly lost his grip and his fingers became useless. He couldn’t raise a spoon to feed himself; could not use his hands to clap whenever Poppy danced or sang for him; could not lift them up to hold her when she cuddled on his lap; could not even hold the single pluck of daisy that Poppy handed him religiously every day. She saw the frustration in her father’s eyes when that happened and no words were needed then for Poppy to understand.
Without the two of them agreeing upon it, she stopped handing him the flower and contented herself into putting it in a vase on her father’s bedside table instead. Always, the two of them would look at it in silence, while the flower would mutely scream to Poppy, ‘I am here, here in this container instead of your father’s hands, because he is useless now! He is weak!’
She hated it for telling her so, because she knew it was the truth. For something that was supposed to bring beauty to the room, Poppy had never seen anything so dismal, so miserable. But she couldn’t stop giving them to Thunder. It made him happy, she knew. And how could she get in the way of that?
Their home had never known so much of it since Thunder lost his voice next. She grew up listening to that voice. “There is no such thing as a silent Thunder,” she thought to herself. That voice defined her father; it called her out, beckoning her home, when she played outside too late; it lulled her to sleep every night, its dulcet tones transporting her to the land of dreams and make believe; more importantly, the voice told her of stories about the world she knew she belonged to - the world of fairies and unicorns and elves and magic, even before she knew they actually existed. Without that voice, he wouldn’t be Thunder.
If there was one thing that Poppy Pomfrey could wish for the miraculous midnight to give her, it would be for her to hear that voice again. Just one more time.
Slightly shaking from the cold, Poppy gently lifted her left hand and placed it palm down on Thunder’s chest. She stared at it; the eerie glow from the moonlight made her fingers look unusually pale, ghostly even. Thunder didn’t even stir. After a quick intake of breath, she placed her right palm on her own chest, feeling the rapid beating of her heart, closed her eyes and concentrated hard, allowing only a single thought to occupy her mind.
Speak to me…
Her father had always been good with his own hands. Their front and back gardens were proofs of that fact. Thunder managed to nourish the soil and made it healthy, so that instead of a barren small property, their family owned the most cultivated piece of land in the neighborhood – a refreshing sight filled with varying shades of green and colorful flowers amidst the garish brown landscape that was their small village back then.
“He can heal almost anything, your father,” her mother told her one time. Poppy remembered the unusual glow in her mother’s eyes as the latter said those words, the pride in her voice unmistakable, the love for her husband so tangible that even the young Poppy felt the sheer power of it.
And healed anything, her father did. Poppy watched, as day by day men and women – mothers, fathers, children of all ages and sizes – visit their modest home to seek her father for his help. He welcomed them every day with the same warm smile and serviced even those who could not afford to offer him anything back. She observed carefully as her father performed his duties, taking note of the smallest details of his every move.
More than his charity, Poppy admired her father for his ability to cure the sick, to mend the broken and to restore the injured as easily as he did. She wondered how could the same people, who looked like the whole world had personally affronted them when they entered their door, managed to leave the same entrance looking like Christmas had come early, the relief on each of their faces evident, the ease on the steps noticeable, even contagious. She came to only one conclusion: her father had magical hands.
She remembered him chuckle when she told him of her inference. “What made you think that, princess?” Thunder asked her, the amusement in his voice made more apparent by the twinkle in his eyes.
“Because whenever you do medicine, you make that stick glow with different colors. And sticks don’t glow, do they? So it’s just obvious that it all came from your hands,” she answered smartly, a knowing grin playing across her lips as she looked her father straight in the eye.
He stared at her clearly impressed and winked, before ruffling her hair playfully and saying rather solemnly, “Healing is from the heart, love, not the hands.”
The words of her father reverberated at the back of her mind as she pressed her right palm more forcefully to her chest, palpating her heart better, feeling every beat as she focused hard on the four words that had then become her mantra every night.
Speak to me… please…
If Thunder’s words were true, then she could do it as well. If healing really was from the heart, then she could use her heart to heal her father. She was her father’s daughter; his blood flowed through every part of her, so she must at least try it - attempt to repair one part of him. The one she missed the most.
A foreign rustling made her open her eyes in an instant. It was then that she saw them: the familiar blue of her father’s eyes, glowing amidst the unnatural lighting of the room, staring at her face then slowly, very slowly, focusing into hers, full of recognition. She watched from the corners of her eyes as he opened his mouth gradually, very steadily…
Poppy Pomfrey smiled as the familiar sound reached her ears. It calmed her, filled her with so much happiness, she almost cried.
Healing is from the heart.
Thunder was right.
butterbeergal and Cal585, you guys are awesome. And as always, cookies for those who review! Yay! ^_^
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