Chapter 1 : Fly Away
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“Good-bye, darling. Be good and enjoy yourself,” the man murmured, his hand brushing some of the curly blonde hair out of her brown eyes. She shook her head and pulled out of his grasp.
“Of course, Dad,” she snapped. She placed her hands on her hips and began to order him in her know-it-all voice. “Make sure that Zinny wears a leash on his walks, Molly needs her fur brushed daily, and Daddy, please, for my sake, go on a date.” Owen Cauldwell watched his daughter with amused eyes and a faint smile on his lips. Her strength and boldness reminded him of her mother.
“Be good! And don’t let your brothers bother you too much,” a man with messy black hair called from Owen’s left. Owen turned to look and watched a red-haired girl skip away from a man. Near him stood a group of four men and three women, several redheads and a woman with bushy brown hair.
“I’m going now, Daddy,” the girl sighed willingly. She leaned up and kissed him gently on the cheek. For a moment, Owen saw the fear in her eyes. He squeezed her tightly and tapped her on the nose.
“You will be fine. Write soon.” Eleanor wandered toward the scarlet train and Owen finally released the breath he had been holding.
“Hard isn’t it?” The man from earlier appeared suddenly. He spoke gently from Owen’s side. Owen turned to him, nodding.
“I can’t believe she's already off to school. It seems like just yesterday I was catching her from falling off a toy broom. Now, she’s ready to really learn to fly.” The man nodded knowingly and gave a wry smile.
“Try having three kids in school; I can’t even believe that I am old enough to have a Fourth, Third, and now, First year.” Owen gave a smile of his own.
“Is it your last?” The man’s emerald eyes twinkled behind smart glasses and he gave a weary nod in response to the question.
“I thought it would get easier with time. I thought I would be prepared, but to know I’ll be coming home to an empty house, besides my wife and I . . . just stuns me.” Owen gave a sharp nod of his own. The man seemed to train his eyes to follow the scarlet train as it pulled out of the station. “So, is it your first?”
“Child?” The man nodded. Owen gave a small noise of agreement . “My only so I, too, am losing my full house. So, I guess I lost my oldest and youngest.” The man nodded. Suddenly, a female voice called from the group that Owen had observed earlier. The man gave a shake of his head and looked to the ground, scuffing his shoes against the concrete.
“It was good to talk to another father. I hope that your empty house feels less empty,” the man replied, offering his hand. Owen took it and shook it with a little vigor. It had been nice to talk to another adult. He loved his daughter and the life they had built together, but he missed meeting people. It had been his job once after all.
“Same to you. Enjoy your empty nest with your wife.” The man gave one final smile before stalking off toward the redheaded woman. Owen wandered through the train station, his hands buried deep in the pockets of his khaki pants. He passed more and more families, leaving the station, preparing to move on with their lives. It was different for him, however; he had been trying to prepare himself for his daughter leaving. His eyes scanned the horizon, watching the birds fly away in the sky. His little bird was ready to leave the nest, but he wasn’t ready to let her fly.
Talking to Harry Potter had been reassuring though, too. It wouldn’t get easier but he would figure it out. He had thought that he would never heal when Hannah had left him with Eleanor. Now, he barely remembered the days with Hannah, his heart and mind overwhelmed with Eleanor. Eleanor would make friends, and maybe, just maybe she’d find a friend in Harry Potter’s own children. Owen only hoped for this because he knew that the Potter children had been raised by war heroes, by good people. Sighing, Owen allowed his eyes to find the birds in the skyline once again. Eleanor was ready to meet her own flock, to begin to make her own friends. He knew that she would make good choices; sure, she’d become a teenager and make bad choices but Eleanor was a good girl, deep down. She was just a bird, struggling to catch the wind and spread her wings.
The best part of it all, though, was his bird would come back to the nest. She wasn’t her mother. So fly away Eleanor.