The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.
This is a little holiday present for those I love who frequent The Abandoned Photograph. You guys are the best. Here’s hoping 2005 brings us some wonderful things to discuss. Warmly, Julu
It‘s A Wonderful Story
“Ahem, ma’am…excuse me, ma’am?”
“I’m sorry to bother ma’am but, um…I wonder if I could have a word?”
“Well certainly, but I’m afraid you’ll have to make it a quick one. I’ve been having a tremendous craving for something with curry and Neil has the car running…”
“Well, you see ma’am, several of us are a bit concerned. It’s…well…it’s about him, ma’am. He’s gotten a bit discouraged you see. Seems to think that maybe the story would be better off without him.”
“Oh dear! He didn’t say that did he?”
“Yes. I’m afraid he did.”
“Well that just won’t do. That won’t do at all. You’ll have to set that straight, Daedalus.”
“Don’t you think it would be better to send a larger character? Maybe Sirius or Remus?”
“No, of course not! I have confidence in you. Sometimes being small has its advantages, doesn’t it? Oh Daedalus, I’m so sorry to rush off, but Neil’s gotten David all strapped in and he’s honking the horn. Listen, good luck! I’m sure you’ll do fine! Just, let me know how it goes!”
The little wizard sighed and with a small pop, Apparated beside a frozen lake. He knew the boy was here but all the snow made it hard for a short man to move around. He stumbled down to the icy edge and saw the bundled figure leaning against the trunk of a tree, staring out into the blackness.
“Yoo hoo! Hey you there!” Daedalus called.
The young man jumped, startled, and his eyes glared angrily behind his horned-rimmed glasses. “Who are you and what are you doing down here?”
“I just spotted you, actually,” Daedalus smiled. “Thought you might be a bit lost.”
“No, thanks, but I’m not lost. I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, all alone and in the cold,” he said bitterly. “You ought to leave me too.”
“Hey,” Daedalus pointed. “I know you! You’re one of those Weasleys. You’re a really big important character.”
“Uh no…and no,” the young man said dryly. “Wrong on both counts chap, so you best move on.”
The little man rubbed his hands together and then blew his breath into them. “No, no, I know a Weasley when I see one and you are definitely a Weasley.” He grinned and pointed his wand at the young man’s bowler. See, there’s a bit of red hair poking out from under your hat there. That means you’re a Weasley for sure.”
The young man shuddered and pulled the bowler more tightly down on his head then carefully adjusted his scarf. “Just because I have red hair, that somehow means something? Aren’t there other characters that have red hair? Lily Evans for example? Or what about Tonks? She has red hair sometimes.”
“You’re grasping, boy. You know Tonks doesn’t count. Her hair isn’t truly red and Lily, well, she’s special, of course. She and James aren’t like the rest of us. You can’t hide it, boy. You are a Weasley for sure, but I get you all confused. Which one are you?”
“Percy,” the young man said dully. “The one with the damn ridiculous name. Even my name doesn’t fit.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Daedalus folded his arms then drummed his fingers across his crooked little chin. “I think that name suits you rather well.”
Percy turned fiercely and stared down the little wizard. “Alright, enough’s enough. Who sent you?”
Percy sighed and kicked the snow. “My mother?”
The little wizard shrugged. “Well, not exactly, but your mother has been concerned. Lots of people have. Say, aren’t you cold out here? What do you say we go to the Leaky Cauldron and get a bit of butterbeer or, ahem… maybe something stronger?”
“Why should I get a butterbeer with you when I don’t even know who you are?”
The little man lifted his pointed hat and extended his hand. “Diggle’s the name, Daedalus Diggle.”
Percy looked askance. “Daedalus Diggle? Have you been around since the first book?”
“Well…” Daedalus straightened his hat. “I’ve been about a bit, here and there in a few scenes. But people might not know it was me. Of course, I’m not a very important character, not quite as important as you.”
“I’m not important,” Percy said gruffly. “Accept maybe to show people how to be a dunce. It doesn’t matter, anyway. They’ll be better off without me. I never fit in and the readers don’t like me very much.”
“Now that’s not true. Lots of readers like you. More actually like you than let on that they do, you know. They wouldn’t be angry if they didn’t care. And, no, you’re not the most important character. You’re not Harry Potter or anything, but everybody has a purpose. You’re a lot more important than I am, after all.”
Percy lifted his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. “So let me get this straight. Lots of people are concerned about me so to lift my spirits they send me you so by comparison I’m supposed to feel pumped up?”
The little wizard looked insulted. “Well, I wouldn’t have put it like that! Look, let me show you something. Come down here to the water.” He stepped from the bank onto a frozen patch of ice.
“Hey what are you doing?” Percy shouted. “Have you lost your mind!? That ice isn’t thick enough to hold you!”
“Oh it doesn’t matter,” Daedalus waved merrily as he moved farther away. “I’m not very big and…” with a splash he fell through the ice.
“Oh bloody bloody hell. Why does this always happen to me?” Percy groaned. He shook his head and then with a sigh, splashed into the icy lake. “Hold on there, Diggle. Merlin, this water is cold! Here, grab my hand. No not my shoulder, you imbecile! Hold on, you are going to pull me under, Diggle! No! This way! Grab me here!” There was a huge thrash and they were both under the water.
At first Percy figured the little man was drowning him and he sort of figured ‘so what’. It definitely made things simpler. But then he realized he wasn’t cold anymore and he looked over at Diggle, who was smiling at him under the water. “Are we dead, Diggle?” Percy asked.
“Oh no. You’re not dead. This is just magic. I’m a wizard, you know.”
“Oh really? I would never have guessed. Aren’t you the lucky one?”
Daedalus frowned. “Are you being sarcastic, boy? Well…never mind. Look, you’ve been thinking that the story would be better off without you. So now you get your wish.”
“What do you mean?”
“You get your wish. Look over there in that direction. What do you see?”
Percy turned easily in the water to see a dim light growing stronger. Murky darkness began to take a shape and form and he could clearly make out a wavy picture. A dark street with shops. “Is that Diagon Alley?”
“Not exactly, Weasley. Look again.”
As the picture cleared he saw that the cobblestones were dirty and some of the store windows looked broken. Other shops seemed to be vacant. “It’s Knockturn Alley.”
“Yes, that’s what it would be. And do you see whose store that is in front of you?”
“No. It can’t be. Well why should I be surprised? My little brothers have always been headed for trouble,” he said grimly.
“Well, perhaps they aren’t saints but are you going to cast any stones?”
“Alright, point taken,” he sighed. “Look, my brothers can’t end up here. That will never work for this story.”
“Oh no, but without you to balance them, well, there is no one to show the other side of the coin. No one to show that rules can be important. Without you, they just continue to break them and they never learn forgiveness or how to be sensitive to anyone but those that please them. Not a great fate, I’d say.”
Percy looked more closely in the window of the shop. Fred did not seem his jolly and athletic self. He had somehow gotten very plump and was smoking a large cigar. He counted a pile of galleons and then took a few and stuck them in his own pocket. Diggle shook his head sadly. “It starts simple, just a little corner cut to make some extra cash. But as they cheat their customers, they soon start to cheat each other. They won’t last the rest of the year in business together and then they’ll never speak again.”
“That’s the most asinine thing I’ve ever heard,” Percy snarled. “Fred and George are meant to be together. They don’t work apart. And their business needs to be a success because, well, because they are talented and smart and that‘s what they deserve.”
“You think that, hmm? You never told them that.”
He snorted. “When was I going to do that, in between the two of them insulting me?”
“Actually yes. That might have worked.” Diggle smiled thinly in the murky water. “I can see you are going to need more convincing. Turn and look now in that direction.”
Percy turned and saw another scene appear before his eyes. A woman with worn lines in her face and gray straggly hair sat alone in a rocker. “Mum? Is that my mother? She looks so…so old.”
“Yes, she’s old and very alone.”
“My mum? With all the children she’s had? That’s crazy. I can’t even imagine that.”
“Yes, you see they don’t come back to her. None of her children were drawn with any similarities to her. They were much more like your father. They found her stringent and controlling and far too overprotective. She tried to shape them into something that they couldn’t be and it just drove them further away.”
“What are you saying? That my being in the Weasley family somehow keeps my mother from lambasting my siblings?”
“Sort of. She focused a bit on you. But she needed you. A child that mirrored her values. Without you she’s out of place.”
“How are you so sure, my mother is proud of my values?”
Diggle smiled. “Well, I guess we’ll have to wait on that, won’t we?”
“Okay Diggle, this is all nice and confusing, floating with you in this subconscious ‘whatever’ you have going on down here. But really even my mother and brothers, they’re just bit players. I’m still not sure I matter. This story is about Harry Potter, after all. He’s the one who really matters.”
“Well, yes, true. But what about that person? You think that person’s important, don’t you?”
A tall and gangly boy with bright red hair seemed to be reflected in the water.
“Of course I do,” Percy said firmly. “Ron is terribly important. The story won’t work without him.”
“And don’t you think you are important to Ron?”
Percy swallowed and stretched his hand toward the image. It merely wavered with the movement of the water. “I want to be. I think I’ve shown that I care about him.”
“And you don’t think that has meaning?”
“I’m…I’m not sure.”
Daedalus smoothed down his robes which were beginning to float up above his knees. “It’s funny how characters are connected. You’re story touches other stories. Brilliant, really, how it’s all interwoven. Only the mind of a great creator could do it.”
“Daedalus, earlier when you said that ’She’ had sent you. Were you talking about…”
“The big Her?”
“Yes, the great Creator.”
“Why? Why would She do that? Send you to talk to me?”
“Because She loves you, of course. She loves everything she has created. Part of Her is inside you.”
“She’s in me? Me? The big buffoon?”
“Oh yes, of course.”
“Diggle, how do you know She loves me?”
Daedalus sighed, “Percy, Percy, Percy…look over there and tell me what you see…”
Percy squinted into the darkness. “I see books. But they aren’t like books I recognize. What is this place? It looks like a library…”
“It is a library. But it’s a Muggle library. Do you recognize the girl behind the counter?”
A sad, slender girl stood all alone. Her long hair was pulled into a tight bun.
“No,” Percy whispered. “It can’t be.”
“It is. That’s Penelope. She can’t exist in the magical world without you, you see. And she will have no other love because she can love only you. She has no other purpose. She was written for you, Percy, and for you alone.”
Penny. What a beautiful gift she was. Even if he’d lost her, perhaps he could find her again. Percy turned on the little man. “I want to go back, Daedalus, take me back. I want to be in the story and I want to see where it ends.”
With a rush of freezing air Percy’s head broke the surface. The bowler hat was gone and the icy water felt like a thousand knives cutting at his body. Somehow, he managed to drag Daedalus up to the shore and do a drying charm. He lit a small fire then transfigured some fallen leaves into a couple of warm blankets. The two of them huddled together under a tree, pulling the blankets up over their heads like tents.
“Daedalus?” Percy poked a stick in the fire and sipped a mug of hot chocolate.
“The things you showed me. That was very nice of you and all, but really, we both know that there’re no guarantees about anything. Bad things do happen…in life and in stories.”
“Yes,” the little wizard sighed, “that’s true. I guess when that happens, you just have to have some sort of faith that perhaps it’s all part of some sort of bigger plan. Something we can’t fully see, yet. So maybe, even if your little part doesn’t work out exactly the way you want it to, maybe it can still have meaning.”
They stared into the flames and breathed in the warm sweetness of the cocoa. “You think She has a plan, Daedalus?”
“Ooh yes, I do! And I think it’s a good one too!”
Percy smiled and looked up. Fat, clean snow flakes were drifting down. “It’s really a wonderful story, isn’t it Daedalus?”
The little man chuckled and winked. “Yes Percy Weasley, it’s a wonderful story, indeed.”
I never tire of seeing Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life. The movie came out in 1946 and was directed by the great Frank Capra. The story was written by Philip Van Doren Stern and Frances Goodrich.