The Family Scrapbook – Tell Me More
There may be more than one family album, but they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and as Jack Hotchner explains to his grandchildren, the memories are everlasting.
Grandpa Jack sat in his favourite armchair at his son's family home. Morgan had long since grown up and had children of his own, as had Simon and Camilla, and their own children, his grandchildren, were sitting in front of him now, waiting with the family scrapbook spread across their laps.
"Grandpa Jack, tell us a story please," five year old Haley asked. "You always tell the best stories!"
"Better than Grandma Sam or Audrey or PJ or Kitty?" he asked, tickling the two year old in his lap. Jack smiled widely; he had ten grandchildren, all aged between ten and two, and they all loved to hear about his family when he was growing up.
"Yeah, you're the best!" eight year old Ethan responded.
Jack continued to smile. "Okay, how about you open the scrapbook, pick out a photo, and I'll tell you that story?"
Chapter 1: The Scrapbook
"Grandpa Jack, what does this mean?" nine year old Isabella asked, pointing to the dedication just inside the cover.
Jack smiled. "Honey, that's what my Aunt Penelope wrote on the inside of the cover to remind Mommy and Daddy why they always deserved the book, and to remind them to always keep it going."
"Oh," Isabella responded, pouting slightly. "But does it mean anything?"
Jack chuckled. "Bella, there's a story behind everything in this book. The dedication was one of the first things Aunt Penelope put in the scrapbook…"
Emily sat on the couch in their living room, Aaron next to her, and everyone else either on the surrounding couches, or sitting on the floor in Morgan's case. They were in the Hotchner household celebrating Emily's forty-first birthday, and three month old Audrey was still asleep in her crib upstairs for the time being, so they were being slightly quieter than usual.
The living room looked like a tornado had hit it; always loving presents, mainly because she never received many, Emily always tore into the wrapping paper, much like a child on Christmas morning. There was paper and sticky tape covering most surfaces, including Derek's bald head.
A large pile of presents sat on a side table just to the left of the couch, and Emily relaxed back into the cushions. "Is that everything?" she asked, "because I could really use a break."
Penelope giggled, and everyone knew the look on her face meant danger.
"Pen, what did you do?" JJ asked from a single armchair on the side.
"Nothing much," she tried to deny, much like Jack did when he was lying. She received a glare from all present, and gave up on the act. "Fine, just on more present, but Hotch, it's for both of you."
Emily and Aaron didn't have to wait long as they watched Penelope pull a large gift box from behind her, and presented it to her best friend.
They all watched in silence as Emily carefully opened the box, and gasped at what she saw.
A leather bound scrapbook was sitting there, wrapped delicately in tissue paper, with a black and white photo of Aaron, Emily and Jack on their wedding day on the front. Emily traced over her surname, which was carved into the leather, with her finger, so softly because she feared it would break.
"Take it out, have a look inside," Penelope urged on.
Emily lifted the book out, and Hotch took the box to one side, before leaning in next to his wife as she opened the cover.
Just on the inside, on a shiny piece of blue paper, which Emily recognised as the back of their wedding invitation, was a thoughtful dedication.
"For Emily and Aaron, may you love each other forever, may your family continue to grow, may your happiness never die, may you die of old age together. This is your family album, continue to bless it with your memories, so you may live forever in our hearts," she read out loud, tears rolling down her cheeks as she did so.
Eventually, she looked up at Penelope, who was smiling widely. "You did this all for me?" she asked quietly, watching the blonde nod vigorously. "Thank you, Pen, you don't know how much this means to me."
"Oh, I think I do," she replied, standing up to give her a hug. Emily accepted it readily. "The first few pages are done, and I'll teach you how to do the rest later."
Emily nodded, and passed the book to Aaron so he could look at the creation without damaging it. She watched the emotions on his face dance uncharacteristically as he saw the beautiful collages of their wedding, her time pregnant with Audrey, the day they brought Audrey home, and a page just of the seven of them, their BAU family.
"Pen, do I want to know exactly how you managed to get your hands on these photos?" Emily asked, not lifting her eyes from the first pictures they had of Audrey.
"Nope," she replied, popping the 'p'. "Just enjoy it; we'll put your birthday and Audrey's first Christmas in when I can steal the camera."
Aaron looked up and smiled at the woman Emily considered to be one of her sisters. "Thank you, Penelope; you don't know how much this means to us."
"Au contraire, sir, I think I do."