His Mother's Dress

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Tcasper's birth figures in this, so if you don't particularly like to read about this, then this may not be a story for you. This is a one-shot and partially set during a time when Kat and Casper are teenagers; see my previous fics for more information. And again, I'm using American vocabulary. Italics denotes flashback.

She saw it every day. She could see the frothy white lace, the huge leg-o-mutton sleeves, the trim fraying. Whenever Kat opened her closet--in the morning getting ready for school, looking for a pair of shoes, or something she could deem decent on a night out--she could see the dress in the back corner of the closet, a constant reminder of years past.

She often thought about what occasion, if any, Casper's mother wore that dress, and how often. How beautiful she must have looked. She could even imagine her own mother in the dress, her long brown curls spilling over the sloped shoulders and the white cotton unable to compare to the luminescence of her skin.

When Kat put on the dress, she had trouble envisioning herself--all she could see was the dress' beauty. She usually didn't think of the dress at all, as her daily life was far too busy. Yet, as time passed, she realised this dress had been a turning point in her relationship with Casper. He had probably been waiting to give something special to her. And why not a family heirloom? Kat fingered one of the sleeves fondly, letting memories sweep over her.

Casper leaned silently in the doorway, a smug smile tugging at the corners of his mouth. "Don't you just love nostalgia?" he quipped as Kat gasped in surprise and turned around to face him at the sound of his voice. She smiled warmly at him. "I wish you would wear it again," he suggested. Her face fell. "It's not really mine, and I'd like to remember my wearing it at the Halloween party. It's kind of like a wedding dress to me," she said, then blushed at the implications. A thought suddenly struck her. "Where did she get this, anyway?" she inquired. Casper shrugged. "Dunno. I guess she had a lot of them similar to this one; I don't really remember her wearing it anyway But I do know that this one had some significance because my Dad locked it away. I'm not sure why this one was special, though." A grin lit up his face. "Actually, I think I do know. Come with me," he said, taking Kat's hand and leading her up the stairs to the attic. Casper led Kat to the attic and got on his knees to stifle through a trunk full of old family photos. "Ah ha! Here it is!" he exclaimed in triumph. Casper showed Kat the small sepia-toned photo encased in a silver frame, which showed a pretty young woman cradling a baby in her arms. Kat recognised the dress instantly. "So…maybe it was a present from your father?" she asked. "Could be. I guess we'll never know. But that's the only photo I've seen of her wearing the same dress I gave you." Kat inspected the photo, and knew her boyfriend was right. Kat tried to imagine the scene: Casper's mother looking radiant and trying to keep an infant Casper calm enough to pose for the photograph.

Elizabeth McFadden had been in her "lying-in" state for more than a week. The baby simply refused to arrive on schedule. Elizabeth, or Liz as she was affectionately known, idled away the time by doing embroidery or reading. There was not much she could do but wait. As with all expectant mothers, she had been forbidden to be out in public during the last months of her pregnancy, and finally when the baby's estimated due date approached, she was confined to bed in a separate room in preparation to give birth. But the birth had not happened yet, and Elizabeth was growing continuously anxious. She could feel the baby move inside her regularly and this did not fear the child had died, but was weary of waiting. On one morning in April, her waters finally broke. As was customary, the doctor was fetched, and a maid was in attendance. J.T. McFadden paced outside the room with his hands clasped behind his back, every so often wincing as he heard his wife scream in anguish. This pain had been going on for ten hours, but J.T. was assured by the doctor the baby would make it's entrance soon. And sure enough, in the wee hours of the morning, Elizabeth delivered a healthy baby boy. A few minutes after the birth, J.T. was admitted to the birthing room, and glimpsed his son for the first time. "What shall we name him?" Elizabeth inquired softly, gazing down at the sleeping baby swathed in blankets. J.T. considered then said, "Casper. Casper McFadden shall be my son." The couple had discussed names previously, and the name was one they had liked from the begininning.

A week later, Casper was baptised in the Roman Catholic faith, just as his father and previous generations of McFaddens. J.T. and Elizabeth looked on proudly as the priest poured holy water over the infant's forehead. The babe did not every whimper. However, the child had no godparents, as J.T. and Elizabeth led an isolated existence, and their closest kin, J.T.'s brothers, were in New York and deemed slightly unsuitable to be godparents.

By the time Casper was three weeks old, Elizabeth had made a habit of being in the nursery. J.T. entered the room one day after being busy designing plans for a playroom, with a rather large beribboned box in hand which he presented to his wife. "I meant to give this to you weeks ago, dear," he said affectionately. Elizabeth opened the box and gasped at what she was. Beneath layers of tissue paper was nestled a beautiful lace dress. "That's Irish lace," noted J.T. "And the dress was made by a Swedish woman…in Germany," he said, knowing of his wife's ancestral roots. Elizabeth deemed the dress so special that she decided to only wear it once. The occasion she chose was for Casper's first portrait at nine weeks old. It was a picture she would treasure the rest of her life, for Casper's name meant " treasure keeper". She kept the photograph of herself and her precious son close by and after her tragic death, J.T. ordered both the dress and photograph stored away. Perhaps his son would find a use for it later in life.

Back in the attic, after Kat had begun to make her way downstairs, Casper carefully put the picture back in it's place. Intuitively, he knew he had chosen the right woman to give the dress to. At first his intentions were to give something meaningful to Kat, but then realised the significance of his choice upon discovering the photo. His mother would have been proud that such a special dress went to a special woman in her son's life. Casper opened the trunk again, took out the photo and went downstairs. When Kat went to bed that night, she noticed a new photo standing next to the one of her beloved mother's, and smiled.