Disclaimer: I don't own anything besides Lizzy. All of it belongs to The Beatles.
A/N: Hey, everyone! This is my second ATU fic, posted in honor of the release of the DVD on Feb. 5! I don't know about all of you, but I've been waiting anxiously for this movie to come out ever since I saw it…so, naturally, I'm getting my copy tomorrow! Anyway, enough of my excited rant…hope you like the beginnings of my multi-chapter fic. Please review!
New York City
Jude stared at the raindrops slowly trickling down the windowpane, the water making fresh trails along the grimy glass. The weather was overcast, and there was a certain chill in the air, slightly unusual for the middle of August. The conditions outside only seemed to mirror the emotions everyone was displaying inside the apartment. It was a stark contrast to yesterday, when the sun had been shining and the sky was brilliantly blue.
Yesterday, Jude thought bitterly, all my troubles seemed so far away.
He turned his attention from the depressing weather to the one person who was the center of his and Lucy's world--Elizabeth Julia Feeny, their daughter. With her sweet, innocent sapphire blue eyes, wavy, dark brown hair, and fair skin, she was a wonderful mix of both of her parents. At two-years-old, she was already developing a unique personality, with some of Lucy's and Jude's traits as well. She had her father's smile and mannerisms, and Lucy's free spirit and intellect. She also had the stubbornness of both of them combined, which was somewhat of a force to be reckoned with. However, above all, it was obvious from an early age that Lizzy had a love for music, and even an interest in art. She liked whenever one of the adults sang to her, and she always stood nearby when JoJo played his guitar. As for art, Lizzy would often peer over Jude's shoulder as he worked on a sketch, or inspect his finished works with curiosity.
Jude studied his daughter closely, watching as she pulled on Max's shaggy, golden hair, giggling whenever Max swatted her hand away and pretended to tug on her own dark locks. Her laughter was infectious, even over the hum of JoJo's guitar; Jude closed his eyes briefly, trying to somehow keep the precious sound locked into his mind--he was afraid that he was going to forget it. He opened his eyes again, an icy feeling of sadness filling his chest. Lizzy was his and Lucy's pride and joy, and she was leaving them today. Leaving them to go live in Florida, to be raised by her new adoptive parents.
Margaret and Charles Harrison were Lizzy's adoptive parents. They were a nice couple in their mid thirties who were very financially stable. They could support Lizzy in a way that Lucy and Jude could not. Money was the reason why they had been forced to put their daughter up for adoption. When they married, they barely had enough to get by to support themselves, and once Lizzy came along, Lucy and Jude found themselves struggling even more to make ends meet. Lucy had asked her parents for some assistance, but they hadn't really approved of her marriage to Jude in the first place, so they didn't help out much.
When the subject of adoption came up, Lucy didn't want to even say the word. Before, Lucy had been against having children, claiming that it was completely narcissistic; but once Lizzy was born and she laid eyes on that little girl, she was attached. Lucy couldn't see anyone but herself and Jude raising Lizzy. She didn't want to think about some strange couple bringing up their child. Nonetheless, it was the only alternative they could come up with that would be most beneficial for their daughter. They wanted a couple who would love and support Lizzy, and give her everything that she needed to be successful in life. And Mr. and Mrs. Harrison fit that description.
Jude couldn't bear the thought of his daughter leaving them, much less the fact that Lizzy would no longer carry his name as hers. He probably wouldn't see her again, and that just about broke his heart. He knew it was tearing Lucy up inside; he could hear her distressed sobs coming from their bedroom. She had disappeared behind the door a good hour ago, and Sadie and Prudence had followed her in, trying their best to comfort the brokenhearted mother.
She won't remember us. Jude kept thinking. He doubted that Lizzy knew that she was going to be taken away from them, her real family. She was only a toddler. Years from now, she wouldn't be able to recall Jude's drawing's, or Lucy's soft, motherly voice…Max's antics…the sound of JoJo's guitar or Sadie or Prudence singing…
He didn't want her to forget. Jude wanted his daughter to remember where she had come from. He was determined to do something--anything--to help her remember someday. Suddenly struck with an idea, Jude got up from his seat.
"You got her, mate?" he asked Max, who looked perfectly content holding his little niece.
"Yeah." Max replied, watching as Jude disappeared into his art studio. He glanced back down at Lizzy, whose eyes had begun to get heavy. Tired, she leaned her head against her uncle's chest, bringing a weak smile to Max's face. He knew this adoption was for her own good, but he didn't want Lizzy to go. Being a Vietnam vet, he was often plagued with the horribly violent memories of what he'd seen in war, and sometimes Lizzy was the only one who could take his mind off that. Without her, he'd have little distraction. Max figured, when it came down to it, they all needed Lizzy here. Sadie wouldn't have Lizzy to sing to, Prudence wouldn't have her to spoil, JoJo wouldn't have her around so he could teach her to play guitar, as he had been planning to do for awhile. Lucy and Jude wouldn't get the chance to see their daughter grow, which was probably the worst part of it.
"I can't believe they're taking you away from us, squirt." Max whispered to a now half-asleep Lizzy. To Max, adoption had been a vague notion, something that he didn't think either his sister or his best friend would go through with. When it became more difficult for the young parents to make things work, the idea turned into reality.
Max pressed a kiss into Lizzy's hair and sat back, letting the toddler curl up against him. JoJo's guitar wept a solemn melody that filled the apartment, expressing his own sadness as he kept glancing out the window for a car carrying Lizzy's future parents. All was silent for awhile, until Lucy emerged from the bedroom, her eyes red and swollen from crying. She laid eyes on her sleeping daughter and immediately burst into fresh tears. Lucy approached Lizzy and Max, kneeling down in front of the chair where they were sitting. She ran her hand through the toddler's chocolate colored tresses; the child stirred, rubbing her eyes. Lizzy looked over at her mother, and although she was just two, she saw how upset she was and instantly showed concern.
"Mom-Mom?" Lizzy asked, while Sadie and Prudence entered the room, attempting to dry their own tears. Listening to Lucy express her pain and sorrow over giving up her only child had taken its toll on them as well. Lizzy held her arms out for Lucy to pick her up, and Lucy did so, holding the toddler close to her body.
"I love you, baby." Lucy sobbed, to her now very confused daughter. They'd tried to explain it a couple of times to Lizzy, but two-year-olds can't really understand the concept of adoption.
"I love you, Mom-Mom." Lizzy answered, just as their was a loud, excited knock on the door. The noise stopped everyone in their tracks; the five adults in the room shared a knowing look. Lucy started for the door, each step filled with dread. She opened the door and found what she had expected: Mr. and Mrs. Harrison, standing with the man who had handled the adoption. She let them in with a quiet "hello", and led them into the living room, where Jude had now joined the others. He was holding Lizzy, swaying back and forth ever so slightly. He was whispering into his daughter's ear; Lucy had a feeling that he was singing to her.
"It's nice to see all of you again," Mrs. Harrison said to the group. Smiling, she turned her attention to Lizzy. "Hi, Lizzy." She waved at the toddler, who shyly buried her face into Jude's neck.
"We know that this must be hard on you," Mr. Harrison stated. "so, we'll let you say your goodbyes." Lucy let out a quiet sob at the mention of the word 'goodbyes' and crossed the room to stand by her husband. Jude passed Lizzy to Sadie, and placed a comforting arm around his wife's shoulder. Sadie whispered something to the toddler, and handed her to Prudence, who gave her a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek before passing her to JoJo. JoJo let Lizzy strum the strings on his guitar, and planted a kiss on her forehead. Max was next to say goodbye to his niece.
"You be good, squirt," he told her. "Try not to forget your Uncle Max, okay?" Max gave his niece a hug, which she returned. Lucy took her daughter after Max, and kissed her cheeks and forehead, as her body shook with sobs.
"I love you, Lizzy. We're doing this for your own good, baby. You'll like these people. I promise." She couldn't exactly find the right words to say goodbye to her child; it hadn't really hit her yet that she was giving her up. Lucy gave the young girl to Jude, who first approached the couple who would be taking his daughter with a rather large envelope in his hand.
"This is for Lizzy," he explained to them, "for when she gets older." Mrs. Harrison nodded, taking the envelope from Jude. He then took his daughter into his arms to say his own goodbye.
"It's killing me to do this, love," he whispered, voice breaking slightly. "But like your mum said, we love you, so don't think for one second that we're doing this because we don't care. We tried so hard to make it work, Liz. We really did. This was probably the hardest decision me and your mum had to make, but…these people will give you everything that we couldn't. You'll be happy with them, Lizzy."
With a heavy heart, Jude handed over their child to her new parents. Not much was said as the group of adults gathered Lizzy's belongings and carried them down to the waiting taxi. By the time everything was in the trunk and Lucy was strapping Lizzy's car seat into the back, the toddler had begun to cry. She had gotten the feeling that something was wrong, and finally expressed her anguish over the current situation. She bawled harder as Mrs. Harrison buckled her into the car seat, and she saw that her family was not getting into the car with her. She didn't understand why these strange people were getting in instead. Lizzy didn't respond to Mr. or Mrs. Harrison when they attempted to calm her down; she kept reaching her little arms out to her family. She called desperately to her "Mom-Mom" and "Da-Da" even as the back door to the taxi slammed shut.
Jude, Lucy, Max, Sadie, JoJo, and Prudence stood on the sidewalk, watching forlornly as the taxi drove away, taking their little Lizzy with it. None of them knew how long they stayed out in the rain, but the taxi was long gone by the time they went back inside.