It always happens just after I start my nap on the couch. I wonder which of the kids was being a pain this evening.
As much as I love my wife, she has a very penetrating voice. I wonder if I keep pretending that I am sleeping if I will be able to get away with not answering.
“ARTHUR WEASLEY I KNOW YOU ARE AWAKE!”
How does she do that? “Coming honey.”
I make it up to the third landing to find my lovely wife standing in the door of our youngest. “What’s wrong dear.”
“You know what.”
Okay I might know what, but I love how her eyes flash with exasperation. Playing dumb is a game I love playing with her. She knows I do not mean it, but she can’t help but play along.
“It’s your daughter.”
“I have a daughter?”
“Arthur …” She said dangerously. That pitch she gets when she deepens her voice to warn me I might get in trouble sends tingles up my spine. I wonder if she knows how that voice affects me. Probably, she doesn’t miss a beat, that wife of mine.
“Oh. Our daughter.”
“The daughter that is about to lose her father.”
“Um, yes dear, I meant my daughter.”
“She wants Daddy to tell her a bed time story.”
“She loves her daddy.”
“Get in there now, or stay on the couch for the rest of the week.”
“I think I need to go in and see my dearest daughter.”
“Goodnight, dear,” she tossed over her shoulder as she heads up stairs. For all that is Magic, did she just give me a wink?
My heart starts pounding as I look at my daughter’s closed door. I can make this quick, I know I can. Deep breathes forget about Molly. I can DO this. In, say hi, kiss on the cheek, then good night. Quick story. Let’s go, Arthur Weasley, show time.
Pushing the door open, I instantly see her brown eyes staring at me with that special smile that she reserves for her daddy. And this time, like every other time, my heart melts away, and I forget everything except for my darling daughter and her huge brown eyes. I do not remember anyone on my side of family having brown eyes that big. At that moment any thoughts I have of sneaking out quickly and heading upstairs to see my wife evaporate.
“Hi Daddy.” She has the voice of an angel too. I pity the man she marries, because she is a wily one.
“I want my story.”
“Your story?” Okay, I play dumb with all the women in my life.
“Daddy … ” The way she scrunches up her little button nose is the cutest thing.
“Okay sweetheart.” I smile at her broadly as I step across her tiny bedroom and sit down in the chair next to her bed. She rolls over and stares up at me with doe eyes as I pull out my wand and dim the lights in her room.
“Five years ago, you were just a little bitty girl.”
“How little Daddy?”
“Bigger than a Kneazle?”
“Bigger than a Niffler Daddy?”
“Sure, honey. Bigger than a Niffler.” Her smile just melts my heart.
“You’re welcome, princess.”
“Daddy, if I am a princess, will I marry a prince someday?”
“Sure dear.” Maybe when you are old and grey, if I have anything to say in the matter.
“What about my story?”
“Daddy!” Oh, that pout should be illegal. I know… I am in the ministry and all—I should see about putting it into law.
“Okay, so five years ago there was this horrible mean wizard.”
“He was bad?”
“Yes, honey, really bad.”
“Did he scare you, Daddy?” Oh, the questions of an innocent five year old, who still thinks of her daddy as a hero.
Did he scare me? How would you explain to a five-year-old the sheer terror of the Rise of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named? The way you were afraid every time you left the house, what it might happen while you were away. How every time it came time to leave the house you were afraid to venture into public. The loss and the blood shed that became common occurrances. The tears and graves, all lined up in a row for when whole families were lost. Some things you hope to never live through again. “I was scared. Your mummy was scared. Everyone was scared sweet pea; it was a hard time.”
“What happened Daddy?”
“Well princess, there was a family. There was a very brave family who fought He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. This family went into hiding when they had a little baby boy. Well You-Know-Who did not like this very much. So he went searching. He searched all over the country, in every farm, hill, and cottage. Eventually he found this brave family, a supposed friend of theirs told You-Know-Who where the family could be found.”
“If there were friends, why did he tell on them?”
“Apparently this friend wanted to help He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named get to power.”
“That is not very nice.”
“No dear, it’s not.”
“What happened then Daddy?”
“You know what happened Ginny. You’ve heard this story before.” The sadness never really goes away. Of all the bed-time stories, why does this have to be her favorite?
“Please tell me Daddy.”
“So You-Know-Who found the family and this little baby boy. He drew himself up to his terrible height. He red eyes flashed dangerously, and he struck down this little baby’s parents. So then, with the parents out of the way, he raised his wand and threw a terrible curse at the little baby boy.”
“Then what happened Daddy?” She asked breathless, her eyes wide with fright.
“No one really knows only, but the evil bad wizard who had hurt some many people, suddenly found himself unable to hurt little Harry Potter. That night the bad wizard went away, never to be seen again, and Harry Potter, the boy who lost his parents, became the Boy-Who-Lived, the savior of the Wizarding World.”
“What happened to Harry Potter then Daddy?”
“No one really knows honey, some people say he is off living in a castle, others say he was taken to grow up in Avalon, still others say that he is still among us in hiding, ready to fight to protect us again. While no one knows where Harry is growing up, they do know that he has a scar on his forehead as evidence of his fight with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named.”
“What does the scar look like?”
“A lighting bolt.”
There was silence in the room for a moment. Me lost in memories of the war and Ginny … thinking about whatever little girls think of.
“Daddy, I feel bad for Harry Potter. He doesn’t have parents like me.”
“No, honey, he lost his parents.”
“Daddy, it’s not fair that he doesn’t have parents.”
“I know honey, it’s not fair, but life is like that sometimes.”
“That’s not right Daddy.”
“I know dear.” More silence. I would love to explain to her that life is not fair and that there are evil people that enjoy hurting people. But frankly, I hope it is an experience she never needs to learn.
“I think you and Mummy are the best parents in the whole wide world. Can I share you with Harry Potter, so he can have parents again?”
“”Sure dear. Why don’t you lay down and go to sleep?”
“Okay Daddy. Good night, I love you.”
“Good night Ginny, I love you too.”
I wave my wand and turn off all the light in her room. She is just lit now by the candle burning in the hall. Her beautiful little face is covered in shadows. I sit quietly watching her fall asleep. Soon I can hear only her quiet little snores. I lean over and give her a kiss on her head. “Good night, my sweet little girl.”
Ginny Weasley had enjoyed spending time with her daddy. She loved him so much. The story about the Boy-Who-Lived always made her sad. It wasn’t a bad sadness though she decided. She felt bad for little Harry Potter and the fact that he had no parents. But she was happy to know that there were brave witches and wizards out there that would help protect her family. As she felt herself grow weary she said to the night, Thank you Harry Potter.