Love, Like Glass
Gelasia Atworth Riddle
turned and looked disapprovingly at the brass Victrola,
her ruby-red lower lip protruding forward in a pout. The needle had reached the
end of the vinyl record, and the music had stopped playing.
We’ll just have to remedy that,
Gelasia thought, and she cast a look over her shoulder towards the door and out
the frost-covered, mullioned windows. But there was no
sign of her husband, who was still enjoying some holiday cheer at the officer’s
club down the street. Good!
She stealthily removed her wand from the bodice of
her shift dress and pointed it at the silent Victrola.
The young witch traced a small, rapid circle in the air. The arm on the Victrola raised itself, then
lowered onto the record again. Soon, the strains of the Charleston filled the room. Happy once
more, Gelasia turned and danced back to the Christmas tree, which was in a
corner of the Riddle’s newly-constructed cottage home
in Greater Hangleton. The tree sparkled and glistened
with dozens of new glass ornaments of red, blue, green, silver and gold,
purchased through a catalog from a company in Germany. Many of the ornaments had
holiday scenes painted on the surface. One golden ornament, Gelasia’s
favorite, had a small cottage painted on the surface, with “Our First
Christmas, 1925” brushed in bright crimson letters. Numerous white candles
decorated with red ribbon and holly sprigs dotted the evergreen’s branches. The
witch stole another look towards the door before pointing her wand at the tree
and whispering “Lumos Maxima!” Each candle wick burst into flame. Gelasia then tapped several of
the glass ornaments to make them spin slowly. Pleased with the effect of the
spinning ornaments reflecting the light of the candles, Gelasia flopped down on
the flowered chaise near the tree and surveyed her handiwork with a broad
I wish my family were here to see me now, Gelasia
thought in triumph. They never thought I’d make it,
not with a Muggle. But here we are, cozy as kittens,
without a want or care in the world….
But the thought of her family
made her ruby lips turn down into a frown. Her family, or what little was left
of it after the horrible calamity the Muggles called The Great War, had
disowned her when she had announced she had fallen in love with Tom, a young,
handsome lieutenant in the British army. A decorated soldier
who fought in the Great War. A man with a wealthy family, a man who was
handsome and charming … and a man who couldn’t use
magic. Indeed, he didn’t even know magic existed.
Gelasia sighed as she slid her wand back into her
bodice and looked again at the door. Outside, she could see the crystalline
snowflakes, as delicate as glass, drifting through the air, illuminated by the
street lamps. She watched them as they fell soundlessly to the ground and
listened to the merry cracking of the fireplace. Gelasia knew she would have to
tell him and his parents sooner or later. She wasn’t sure how he would take the news that she, his young
bride of just over a year, was a witch. A magic-user, one
from a long, powerful line of magic users. Gelasia was more afraid of
the forbidding elder Tom Riddle and his stern wife Belinda. She nervously
fingered the long string of white beads around her neck and fiddled with the
hem of her bright blue dress as she thought of them. They had never looked too
kindly on her. The elder Riddles thought she was too wrapped
up in the modern ways. They frowned disapprovingly on her calf-length, brightly-colored dresses which bared her arms and legs, her
bright red lipstick, her closely-cropped hair, which was usually covered with
one of her stylish cloche hats. They certainly wouldn’t
have approved of the music that was playing on her record now, a record her
husband just bought for her as an early Christmas gift from Harrods. But, she reflected, at least they hadn’t disowned her or
Tom, like her family had.
Yes, she thought with worry, she would have to tell
him. Eventually. But not now,
not until the holidays were over, at least. For she had
another big surprise for him once he walked through the door tonight.
Gelasia’s smile returned as her hand
drifted to her abdomen and rested there. She could feel a slight swelling, but
it was nothing the ordinary passer-by would have noticed. No, so far, she still
looked like the slim, girlish bride of Lt. Tom Riddle. But
the doctor told her today that in six months, the Riddle household would have a
new member. The young witch had wanted to run to the bank where her husband
worked as a manager, she was so bursting to tell him the news. But she knew that he hated to be interrupted at work, so she
knew the happy announcement would have to wait. What a wonderful Christmas
gift, though, she thought. Gelasia knew her husband would be thrilled.
Her pleasant musings were
interrupted by the slight creak of door hinges. A blast of cold air blew
into the cottage as Tom Riddle entered. Gelasia leapt to her feet as Tom closed
the door and started to brush the snow off of his
heavy woolen coat and bowler hat.
“Tom,” she greeted warmly. “Did you have a good day,
darling?” She gave him a quick peck on the cheek and a longer kiss on the
“Hello, Gel,” Tom replied once they pulled apart.
“Now that I’m here, yes, it’s a good day. An excellent day,
Gelasia giggled as she lightly toyed with her
husband’s sleek, black mustache. “Well, come in and sit down. I have tea ready
and a roast in the oven. And the ornaments came this afternoon with the post,
so I decorated the tree.”
“So you have,” said Tom, and he smiled in admiration
at the tree. “You have been quite busy today, and not just with spending my
money.” He turned a half-amused, half-exasperated look towards his wife, who
stuck out her lower lip.
“Don’t tease me so,” she said in feigned hurt. “I
can’t help it if I like nice things. If I like nice things
for my husband.” She put her arms around Tom’s neck and gave him another
kiss on the cheek.
Tom chuckled and returned her embrace. “You know I’m
just teasing. I could never deny you anything.”
“Come and sit down,” Gelasia said as she pulled
away. “I’ll get the tea, and then I have some very important news to tell you.”
She turned and went down the short hallway into the kitchen area.
“Oh?” Tom replied absently as he placed his galoshes
near the door. He walked across the room and sat down on the padded velvet
couch near the fireplace. “Is it good news?”
“Very good,” Gelasia called from the kitchen. “Excellent news, in fact. I thought about stopping at your
“Now, Gel,” Tom said
sternly. “You know I wouldn’t have been able to talk to you, not unless it was
a crisis. My work is very important and I can’t be distracted by your trifles.”
“I know.” Gelasia’s voice
was a bit testy. “That’s why I didn’t. But this is more than just a trifle.”
“Hmm,” Tom murmured. Then he remembered something.
“Oh Gel, did you hear about what happened to Mrs. Pennington? That strange accident with her carriage?”
The soft clattering noises from the kitchen stopped
abruptly, and then continued again after a moment’s pause.
“Yes,” Gelasia replied. “The wheels of her carriage
all fell off at once, and she was spilled out onto the road. Got her white mink
stole soiled too. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving
person, if you ask me, the snobbish old bat.”
Tom laughed. “It was still right queer, though. I
heard from Smith, our new clerk, that the old lady
swore she had just bought that carriage. She blames you for it, Gel. As she did
with her carriage horses spooking on the road, and her
flour bags breaking….”
“She’s a bitter, cross old woman!” Gelasia said with
heat. She came out of the kitchen with a silver tray. The tray carried a silver
teakettle with red-painted roses on the handle and lid and two plates of
biscuits with small glass jars of honey and jam. The young wife set the tray
down on the coffee table in front of the couch with some force and tossed her
head back. Her green eyes flashed defiantly. “Certainly you don’t believe…?”
Her husband laughed again, but this time it sounded
more forced. “Of course not! Heavens,
no. How could you have loosened the carriage wheels, anyway? Don’t be such a silly creature. Now sit down and tell me
“Oh yes,” Gelasia said, her face sunny again. She
sat down next to Tom and snuggled next to him. “Well, I was thinking after
dinner, we could take a stroll and at least take a look at the shops….”
“We do that at least once a week, pet,” Tom
“…to look for things for our new baby,” she
continued with a triumphant smile.
Tom stared at her in disbelief, then
his shocked expression melted into one of joy. “You … you mean…?”
Gelasia nodded. “Yes. The doctor confirmed it
“In June, or late May. The doctor says its too early to tell right now….”
Anything else Gelasia was going to say was smothered
by a loving kiss.
“All right, then,” Tom said once they broke apart.
“After dinner, we go and shop for our new baby son….”
“Or daughter,” Gelasia said, her lower lip
protruding in a feigned pout.
“Or daughter,” Tom amended. “Either
“And after we shop, can we go to the cinema?”
Gelasia said, her tone wheedling. “You know how I love them, and Charlie
Chaplin has that new one out….”
“Yes, yes, The
Gold Rush,” Tom said as he gave an exaggerated
sigh. “You have been talking about it for the past week.”
“I know, but what better way to celebrate the
occasion?” Gelasia’s slim, manicured hand again
drifted over her abdomen.
“I know when I’m beat,” Tom said, and he chuckled.
“All right, after shopping, we’ll go see Chaplin. You know, I think my parents
are right, I do spoil you entirely too much.”
“Oh, phooey on them,” Gelasia sniffed. “They are too
uptight. They don’t understand about the world today.
They are still living in the last century. I swear, when is the last time your
mother or father bought a new dress or suit? They have the money to buy out
Harrods if they wanted.”
“Gelasia,” Tom said, his
expression serious. “That’s just their way, and there’s nothing wrong with
being conservative. Just because you have money doesn’t mean you have to spend
it all at once, a lesson you need to learn still.”
Gelasia pouted, this time for real. “Oh, rubbish!
This is supposed to be a happy day, let’s not ruin it
by talking about saving and being conservative, that’s no fun at all. Now no
more talk on the matter tonight, or you’ll upset me.”
“All right, all right,” Tom said, relenting. “We
won’t discuss such things tonight.” But there was
still an edge to his voice, and his expression was still clouded as Gelasia
rose from the couch to check the roast in the kitchen.
Gelasia hummed along with the record as she opened
her new electric oven and gave the roast and potatoes a quick once-over.
“Dinner should be ready in about 10 minutes,” she called out.
“It smells wonderful, Gel. What are we having with
“Potatoes, with some of the
leftover squash.” Gelasia turned over the potatoes and ladled more gravy over the roast.
She then closed the oven door and went to the ice box
to get the squash.
“I can hardly wait to see the Chaplin picture,” she
called out. “The girls at the boutique say it’s supposed to be his best yet.”
“I’ve heard that new Lon Chaney movie is pretty
spectacular. They’ve even added color to one scene, so I’ve heard.”
“But it sounds so terrifying!” Gelasia shuddered. “A disfigured man, living underneath a theater! One of the
girls said that she and a friend went, and her friend fainted dead away in
terror when the Phantom was unmasked. I’ve heard they
sell smelling-salts at the door. But color in the
movies, that sounds novel. Next, they’ll be talking of adding sound to the
Her husband didn’t respond,
so Gelasia continued.
“We probably should make a list of things we will
need for the new baby over dinner,” she said as she stood on tip-toe
to retrieve two white china plates and two glass cups. “Let’s see, we’ll need a
bassinet, clothes, nappies, some nice toys … perhaps a
whirlygig for above his bassinet. We’ll
need a pram … I saw a very cunning one in white wicker and lace, with brass
wheels, and they had a sale … what do you think? Oh, and that same store had
some nice radios for a bargain, too, and you know I’ve
wanted to get one. What do you say, dear?”
“Tom? Darling?” Gelasia
carried the plates and cups to the dining room, which was further down the hall
in a rectangular room near the kitchen. She set them down on the round dining
room table, which was made of cherrywood and highly
polished, and returned to the parlor area.
“Tom? Is something the matter…?” Gelasia asked,
puzzled. Tom turned to her with a bewildered, angry expression on his face, and
the young witch gasped.
Her husband held an ornament – their special golden
ornament signifying their first Christmas – with the hook between his index
finger and thumb. The ornament continued to spin slowly from Tom’s hand.
“What is this?” Tom said softly.
“I… I don’t know what you mean, Tom,” Gelasia
stammered. Her usually rosy cheeks paled considerably. She stared, as if
hypnotized, at the spinning glass ornament.
“How did you get the ornament to spin like this?”
Tom continued. “How? What is going on here?”
“I….” Gelasia’s legs
suddenly felt as if they were made of water, and she sat down heavily on the
“Answer me!” Tom hissed. “You did this somehow,
Gelasia could only put her head in her hands and cry
out in fear. She had never seen her husband this angry. How could she have
forgotten about the ornaments?
“Pennington called you a witch, but I just laughed
it off,” Tom said, more to himself than to his weeping wife. “But so many
things about you never added up. The strange accidents Pennington has whenever
you two quarrel. That close call with the boy on the
street who nearly was run over by the spooked horse. Gaps in my memory when …
when I feel I’m about to find out something. And now, this.” He gestured to the ornament. “What is this?”
Gelasia slowly rose to her feet, and she was
trembling all over. She half-turned and removed her wand from her bodice. She
always hated to do this to him, but she had no choice. Now was not the time,
now was not….
She gasped in surprise and fear as the witch found
her wand hand in the iron grasp of her husband.
“What is that supposed to be?” Tom snarled, and he
tightened his grip on his wife’s wrist. “Is that supposed to be some sort of
“Let me go, please,” Gelasia begged. “You’re hurting
me, let go….”
“What were you going to do with it? Cast some sort
of spell on me?”
“Please, Tom, you … you are talking nonsense!”
“Who are you???” Tom let go
of Gelasia and roughly shoved her away.
“I … I ….”
Tom advanced threateningly towards Gelasia, and
instinctively, the witch pointed her wand at her husband. The wand shot off a
series of gold and silver sparks. Tom stopped in his tracks, his eyes wide in horror
“Then it’s true,” he said in anger and hurt. “My
wife is a witch. You are a witch.”
“I was going to tell you,” Gelasia whispered. Tears
streaked down her cheeks. “After the holidays, I really did mean….”
“You’ve lied to me!”
“No, I swear, I never….”
“Did you enchant me to fall in love with you?” Tom
grabbed the witch roughly by her shoulders and shook her. “Did you put a spell
on me? Is that why there are things I can’t remember
anymore? Is that why strange things keep happening around you?”
“Tom, please!” Gelasia said,
her voice a moan. “You’re hurting me, the baby, the baby….”
Tom snatched the wand from his wife’s hand, then
threw her to the ground and stood over her like an enraged bear. “If the brat
is a freak like you, then it’s better off dead!”
“My parents were right about you,” Tom whispered. He
took the wand into both hands and snapped it in half. Gelasia uttered a
half-choked cry as her husband dropped the pieces of her now-broken wand onto
the Oriental rug.
“You have been manipulating me from the start,” Tom
continued. He looked with contempt on his sobbing wife. “They told me as much,
that you were only after my money. After your family abandoned you, you were in
“No, that’s not true, Tom,” Gelasia pleaded. “You
must believe me, I left them for you, I love….”
Tom raised his hand as if to strike her, and the
witch shrank back in terror.
“I didn’t listen to them,” Tom said as he slowly
lowered his hand back to his side. “I didn’t believe them … didn’t want to
believe them. But it ends now, witch.” His features twisted into an ugly scowl
as he looked again on the gold colored glass ornament in his hand.
Gelasia let out a scream as the ornament passed
within inches of her face and crashed to the ground, breaking into a dozen
“I am going to my parents’ house, alone,” Tom said,
his tone soft but deadly. “You better be gone by the time I come back tomorrow
morning, or I will call the authorities. They still have laws on the books
about practicing witchcraft and other deviltry, and they will hang you for what
you are. I should call them tonight, but I still love you too much to do that,
you greedy, controlling creature.”
“Tom….” Gelasia pleaded from the ground.
But Tom Riddle turned away from
her, put on his coat and hat, opened the door and walked outside into the cold
night air. He slammed the door with such force that the other ornaments jiggled
precariously on their branches.
She cried anew as she crawled over to pick up the
two pieces of her wand. Holding them together, Gelasia then turned and gingerly
picked up the pieces of the golden ornament. The witch then sat on her knees
and pointed her broken wand at the ornament.
“Re… Reparo!” she
stuttered. “Reparo! Reparo!
Gelasia dropped both hands to her sides, and her
broken wand and the shattered ornament fell to the floor. She leaned against
the back of the couch, put her head in both hands and wept.
“I love you, Tom,” the witch whispered between sobs.
“I love you, Tom, that was no lie, no illusion. I love
you! I love you! I love you!”
But there was no response to
her pleading and vows. Only the soft hissing of the fading flames in the
fireplace made any noise at all.
“What am I going to do?” Gelasia whispered in fear.
She gave a hiccup as the tears streamed down her cheeks unabated. “What am I
going to do now?”
Outside, the snow continued to fall, settling on the
ground and covering the small cottage, insulating it from the outside world in
a blanketing layer of fragile white.