• 22.0 ~ Sometimes We Need A Little Magic
Harry pulled into his sister’s driveway. Before stepping out of the vehicle, he pressed his fingertips against his eyelids and wished that the headache festering would disappear. The day hadn’t been horrible, just long, with an abnormal amount of phone calls coming into the station. Before he’d left for the day he’d joked with the receptionist, Barbara, that it must be the upcoming full moon that was causing everyone to go a bit silly. She’d laughed and pinched his bum when he leaned in to give her a kiss on the cheek goodnight. Technically it was against policy and if Barbara wasn’t 62 years old and happily married with 5 grandkids, perhaps he’d mention it, but as it was it didn’t bother him. He let himself in to the small ranch style home his sister owned. It may be small but Gemma had decorated every room in a different theme, most filled with treasures and odds and ends she’d collected on her travels. Gemma had been bitten by the travel bug early in life, she’d always collected things on their family trips to the beach or across the country and still had some of those items displayed throughout her home. Harry remembered being in high school the first time his older sister had left by herself for a trip. She’d just turned 18 and was backpacking across Europe with a few friends. Their parents are worried and tried to convince her to wait, but Gemma had been determined and was spending all of her own money on the trip. She’d gone for 3 months and when she’d returned Harry remembered her seeming so much more alive, her eyes sparkled and she was always planning her next trip. She’d continued to travel and probably wouldn’t have slowed down but when Harry took custody of Evie and Luca, she’d come home and stayed. Harry hadn’t asked and when she’d told him of her plans he’d told her it wasn’t necessary and that he didn’t want her to end up resenting him because of it. She’d given him a look and shushed him, explaining that she loved Evie and Luca just as much as he did. Harry was thankful for it now. 2 years had passed since Cara had died and Harry had taken on the task of raising her two young children. Cara had grown up with Harry, they’d met in kindergarten and had been basically inseparable until senior year. She was more than just a best friend to Harry, she’d basically been a sister and Gemma had stated the same. 6 months before they graduated high school, Cara’s parents had passed away in a car accident. Harry remembered Cara standing on his doorstep, shaking, tears running down her face. She couldn’t speak, Harry had held her in his arms for hours, stroking her hair and wiping away tears. He sat beside her at the funeral, holding her hand and letting her sob into his shoulder whenever she’d needed to. She had spent 2 weeks sleeping in his bed, seeking comfort from her best friend. One morning Harry had woken up to a note on the pillow, it stated that Cara was sorry but she couldn’t stay, that the memories were too strong and that he shouldn’t look for her. He’d taken the note to his parents and they had gone to the police. The police had searched for Cara but couldn’t find her. Harry had felt so guilty. He’d felt like he’d let his best friend down, hadn’t been able to comfort her enough. He’d finished high school and gone straight to the police academy. Ten years passed, he’d graduated from the police academy and found a job in his home town. He’d kept Cara’s missing person’s case in his desk drawer, spending his free time researching leads and reviewing the case. Nothing ever led to anything solid in the case. He’d returned from patrol one day to find Barbara at the front desk, her eyes sparkling with tears, a soft smile on her face. She’d simply pointed him in the direction of his small office and shook her head when he gave her a questioning look. He’d made his way back to find a woman sitting at his desk, her back to him. She’d turned toward him when he’d gotten closer and it had stopped him in his tracks. Cara had been sitting at his desk. She’d returned to their home town, older and different, but still Cara. She’d been full of apologies and excuses for leaving as she had, never really explaining why. When Harry had told her of his guilt, Cara had cried asking for his forgiveness, begging him to let go of his guilt and that it wasn’t what she had wanted. They’d spent a few hours talking, laughing at old memories and listening as each other told of new experiences. At a quiet moment between them, Cara had cleared her throat and looked down to her lap. Harry questioned her, asking what was wrong. A ghost of a smile had crossed her face and she looked up at him. She’d told him it was nothing, just that she had one more thing to tell him. She had pulled out her wallet and placed two pictures in front of him. A young boy and even younger girl appeared in the pictures. When he’d given Cara a questioning look, she’d laughed and explained that they were her children. Luca and Evie were the reason she had returned, she wanted to give them the life she’d had growing up, one full of laughter and friendship.
Over the next 3 years Harry had grown to love Luca and Evie, he spent almost every weekend with them and Cara, his own parents virtually adopting them as their own grandchildren. He’d asked about Luca and Evie’s father but Cara had always avoided the question, simply stating that he wasn’t around and wouldn’t be. Cara was always saying that Luca and Evie had all the family they needed with Harry, Gemma and their parents. Harry had been Chief for just a week when a call had woken him in the middle of the night. He’d spent the night at his parent’s, a family barbeque of sorts, Luca and Evie were spending the evening with his parents while Cara was headed out on a date. He’d kissed her cheek and wished her well, asking that she call him first thing with details. He’d had a few beers and then headed home, excited for his friend and thankful again that she had returned. When his phone rang, he’d been startled but reached for it with his eyes closed. He’d said hello and listened as his deputy explained that there had been an accident, a female occupant had run off the road and into the ditch, it appeared she had died instantly. He’d acknowledged the details and then asked his deputy why the details couldn’t have waited until the next morning. He had to asked twice more before his deputy would tell him the news that would break his heart. Cara was the occupant of the car, she was the fatality in the accident.
It had been 2 years since the accident. 2 years since Harry had become of the legal guardian of Luca and Evie. Now here he was, standing inside of his sister’s home, picking up his children, learning every day what it meant to be a parent. He wasn’t perfect, far from it, but he loved Luca and Evie with all his heart and he told them so every day. Luca was 10, and Evie 7, soon to be 8. They had adjusted well enough, both had seen a grief councillor after the accident and Harry promoted sharing all their feelings openly in their home. Sometimes Evie had nightmares, they’d lessened in recent months but it rocked Harry’s world every time he heard her crying. He always went to her, would hold her until her tears stopped flowing and would sing her back to sleep. Every time it happened, he’d crawl back into his bed and lie awake, sometimes tears would fall but other times he’d just stare at the ceiling, wishing for peace and comfort to fill Evie’s heart and mind. Luca had stayed quiet, barely speaking after the accident. He had begun to open up again in recent months, Harry was sure he’d even seen a small smile play across the boys lips once or twice. Harry constantly worried about Luca, especially when his job kept him away from the kids for long hours. He trusted Gemma and his parents to care for them and protect them, but there was something about Luca that really pulled at Harry. He wanted to hear the boy babble like he had before the accident, he was determined to see a smile on his face more often than not.
“Harry?” Gemma called out before coming around the corner into the foyer. Harry smiled and leaned in to kiss his sister in greeting.
“Hi Gemma. I’m sorry I’m late tonight, we had a ton of calls today. Are the kids alright?” Gemma nodded and rubbed her hand over Harry’s arm.
“They are lovely as always. We ordered pizza, come in, have a slice. I take it you didn’t eat?” Harry’s stomach grumbled in response, causing both Harry and Gemma to laugh.
“That sounds wonderful, thanks again Gemma, I appreciate you keeping them tonight.”
“You don’t have to thank me every day Harry, you know that I love it and my schedule allows it so why not. I know you have a harder time getting away from work, you are chief after all.” Gemma tucked her arm around Harry and squeezed.
“Aunt Gemma! I finished my pizza, can I have dessert now??” Evie’s voice called out. Harry and Gemma walked into the kitchen together, Evie’s eyes lighting up as she spotted Harry.
“Daddy!” Evie jumped from her chair and rushed over to wrap her arms around Harry’s legs. “Hi Daddy.” She whispered as she hugged him. Harry felt his heart clench in his chest. `Daddy´ was relatively new and it still gave him goose bumps when Evie used it. He remembered the night it had started well.
Both children had called him Harry as long as they’d known him, and had continued to do so after he became their legal guardian. A month prior, while he’d been reading Evie a bedtime story she’d stopped him by putting her small hand on the page. When he’d looked down at her, she had a worried look on her face and had been chewing on her bottom lip.
“What’s wrong sprinkles?” He’d questioned softly.
“Harry, are you my dad?” Evie had questioned before continuing quickly, “Everyone at school has a mom and a dad, well Spencer has two dads, but I don’t have any. I told everyone that I have you, Harry, but Jenny said that doesn’t count and she said I’m weird. I don’t want to be weird.” Harry watched as a tear slipped down Evie’s cheek, his stomach flip flopped and hurt. He reached out and wiped the tear away.
“Evie. You have a mom, she’s just watching over you instead of standing beside you right now. You understand that just because she isn’t here every day that she is still your mom right?” He waited to make sure Evie nodded. “You aren’t weird Evie. No matter what Jenny says, you aren’t weird and you’ll never be weird.” Harry pulled Evie into his lap and gave her a cuddle. “I’m not your dad like Grandpa is my dad, but I love you like you are my daughter Evie. I will always love you like that, no matter what. I will protect you, I will listen when you need me to, and I will always check for monsters in the closet. Does that make sense?” Evie cuddled against him and didn’t speak for a moment. When she pushed back and looked at him, her eyes were dry and she was smiling.
“That sounds like all the things dads are supposed to do. Can I call you Dad?” Harry swallowed the lump that had filled his throat.
“Evie. You can call me whatever you want to. I don’t want you to feel like you have to call me dad.”
“Okay.” Evie cuddled back against Harry’s chest, “I think I’ll call you daddy. Can you sing to me Daddy?” Harry had managed to sing her to sleep and closed her door before the tears fell from his eyes.