ATW S3 Flashback: Christmas at the Orphanage

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“Draco, quit it… oh, you think I’m a mud-blood? Well guess what, I could be as pure-blooded as you! So there! Now get away before I-

“Beatrix, Joanne, time to get up!” said Miss Cross, the orphanage caretaker, to the two sleeping girls.

***

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As Joanne spit toothpaste all over the sink, Beatrix silently hoped that she would get a wand for Christmas. She imagined using it as a defense against the bullies at the school the orphans attended. Magic certainly wasn’t real, but strength was, and she knew that it would help her be strong.

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“I can’t wait to unwrap my present! Then there’ll be a horses in fairyland!” Joanne exclaimed with glee. Beatrix only half-listened. She was tired of hearing about fairyland- a small village built from sticks and stones that the younger girl had found outside- and wanted desperately to tell her that the fairies she had built it for didn’t actually exist. That way, she wouldn’t get her hopes up. If the orphanage had taught her anything, it was that purely good news shouldn’t be trusted. Many prospective families for adoption came and went, taking her friends with them. One family had even shown interest in adopting her, but later backed out of it. She missed their cheery voices and the giggles of the child they had previously adopted.

“Time for breakfast!” Miss Cross’s voice echoed through the many rooms and halls of the orphanage.

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Even though it was no Christmas feast, the scrambled eggs and bacon tasted better than usual, whether due to generous helpings of seasoning or the Christmas spirit in the air.

“Joey, you’re getting eggs all over your face!” Beatrix scolded, using her nickname for her roommate.

“Hey! I told you not to say that in front of the other kids! Now they’ll all call me that!” Joanne complained in the most childish way possible.

“Relax; it’s not like it’s school or anything. At least you can actually say that you’re friends with the kids here.”

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As the kids finished eating and started clearing the table, Beatrix turned to Miss Cross. “Do you think I should tell Joanne that fairies aren’t real?”

“What if I told you that Hagrid won’t show up at our doorstep to hand you your Hogwarts letter?” she replied with a hint of mischief.

“But I already know that won’t happen!”

“Yes, but I would still feel guilty about saying it out loud, knowing how much you look up to Harry Potter.”

Beatrix knew what Miss Cross was trying to say, but still felt confused about the whole thing. “But isn’t that like hiding the truth from someone? You told us not to lie, and that’s kind of like lying.”

Miss Cross sighed. “Yes, hiding the truth is just as bad, but unfortunately it happens much more often than many people would like to think. In this case, I believe it would be a good thing- most children go through a phase where they believe fairies, magic, and superheroes are real, but eventually find out on their own that they’re not. As long as she’s happy, and doesn’t use her fairies as an excuse for making bad decisions, she’ll be fine.”

From anyone else, Beatrix wouldn’t believe those words, but she knew that Miss Cross had been working at the orphanage for most of her life. She knew about these kinds of things.

***

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Later, as the children gathered in the living room for the festivities, Beatrix felt something different inside. It wasn’t the usual longing or gloominess, but as she tried to remember its name her thoughts were interrupted by Joanne’s squeal as she pulled apart a Christmas cracker.

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“Look, Beatrix! I got a Jack-o-lantern stuffie!” Joanne exclaimed with pride, holding up the oddest toy Beatrix had ever seen. Who put a Halloween toy in a Christmas cracker?

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Beatrix was handed a cracker next, revealing a piece of grape-flavored candy in the midst of the yellow streamers.

***

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That night before bed, the two girls were standing in front of the tree alone, looking over their new toys and thinking about their day. They had both received the gifts they wanted, and Miss Cross had also bought a Quidditch set since so many of the older children had become enthralled with the Harry Potter books.

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A glimmer of light in the corner of her eye caught Beatrix’s attention. She walked over to the window, gasping when she saw the white, almost translucent, stag in their backyard. “Harry’s patronus,” she whispered in awe.

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The lights that had caught Beatrix’s eye surrounded the two girls. “Fairies!” Joanne squealed, and Beatrix wondered if she might be right.

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Soon, the fairies faded away, and Beatrix looked down, realizing that she was now dressed in Gryffindor robes.

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“Joanne, look at yourself,” she whispered to the other girl, who produced the biggest smile when she noticed her fairy dress and wings. She leaned towards the last remaining fairy, nodded as if its whispers had tickled her ears, and announced, “Now we’re going to take our presents up to our room and go to bed.”

The small creäture had surely promised her sweet dreams, but Beatrix had received an even better gift, a name for this new feeling: hope.

No one else would believe their words, but the two of them would always remember this night.

<<Previous– S3 Chapter 4: The Most Beautiful

>>Next– S3 Chapter 5: Rumor Has It

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3 thoughts on “ATW S3 Flashback: Christmas at the Orphanage

  1. What a magical Christmas story! I’m always talking and listening to fairies, so I was very happy to read Miss Cross’s words that as long as it makes me happy, and I don’t use it for bad, it’s all OK! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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