Author's Note: Wow, I updated. Miracles do happen. Thanks so much to everyone that has left a review. I really appreciate it and I'm sorry I kept you waiting for so long. This one details a little bit about Charles realizing that the granddaughter who has come back from summer camp is not the same one that has left. It mostly takes place after Hallie fell out of her chair at dinner. Enjoy and feel free to let me know what you think!
Disclaimer: I don't own The Parent Trap (1998) or any of its characters. ) :
Plenty of Time
Something had been nagging in the back of Charles James' mind ever since his granddaughter had returned from summer camp. It wasn't that the girl had changed in any drastic way. She might physically a little taller, but that wasn't unusual for a child her age after a course of eight weeks. Still, he began watching her a little more closely and indeed did discover that his granddaughter WAS different. It was just little things that she did differently than she had before, little habits and mannerisms that seemed to have been absent before or were absent now. Of course, these things could probably be attributed to Annie being away for most of the summer or simply the changes that came with growing up, but the nagging persisted despite his logical explanations.
The years had taught Charles to trust his instincts, so when dinner produced Annie's oddest behavior yet his suspicions solidified. How on earth had she become so knowledgeable about wine? Surely it really wasn't something they would teach at a summer camp for young girls, and her falling out of her seat after one sip seemed rather farfetched. Not only that, but she had seemed far too eager to get outside alone.
He gave the girl about a minute and a half before rising from his seat.
"I think I'll go see if she's feeling alright."
"I'll go with you," his daughter said also rising.
"Now, now Lizzie. You said you needed to get straight to work after dinner since you two were going out tonight didn't you?"
"Well yes, but…"
"I'm sure she's fine. I'll take her to the park to clear her head. No need to put it off any longer. This old man's still quite capable of handling a few things now and again."
"Well alright, but let me know if she's feeling too badly," Elizabeth agreed grudgingly.
He nodded and went out the front door to find the front yard empty. The older man hurried to the gate in time to see a flash of red hair rounding the corner at the far end of the street. Charles followed at a brisk walk, reasoning that she wouldn't be going too far with her concerned mother waiting for her inside.
His reasoning was correct. He found the red head in a phone booth only a little ways from the corner. He stood outside of it with his back to her, wondering why she would need to call someone at a time like this, let alone out here instead of the convenient house phone. Yes, this seemed like the perfect time to confront her about her strange behavior.
Suddenly the girl's conversation ended. She hung up the phone and opened the door in a rushed manner, hitting Charles in the back.
"Oh, excuse me sir…" his granddaughter apologized in a clear American accent before recognizing him and stopping short. "Uh-oh."
And suddenly everything fell into place. The fear in the girl's eyes told Charles everything he needed to know for it all to make sense. This girl wasn't Annie but Hallie pretending to be Annie. Of course, this didn't answer the important questions of why or how this even was, but it was enough to give the older man a sense of relief.
"Uh-oh. Yes, well." His amusement of the whole impossible situation was enough to cover up his pure astonishment. "What say you and I take a stroll around the park young lady, hmm?"
"Okay," Hallie agreed meekly as Charles put his arm around her and led her to the park across the street.
"Come on then," he said when they had gone down the park's concrete path a little ways and girl had yet to say anything. "What's this all about?"
"It's kind of a long story."
"Well," the older man replied. "It's a very big park and we've got plenty of time."
Hallie took a deep breath. "Well, first of all, I'm sure you've figured out that I'm actually Hallie Parker and not Annie James."
The man nodded before extending his spare hand out to her. "Charles James."
"We've never formally met, now have we Miss Parker?" he added upon seeing his granddaughter's confused expression.
"I guess we haven't," Hallie admitted as she took his hand and shook it. "And just call me Hal."
"Alright Hal, what's all of this about?"
The introduction seemed to have relaxed the girl and she proceeded to tell him the story of how she and Annie had met at Camp Walden, how they had realized they were twins when they were placed in the same cabin together, (The details of which seemed rather sketchy and undefined in Hallie's explanation, but Charles decided not to pry.) and of their idea to switch places.
"And I'm assuming that the important phone call that you suddenly need to make was to Annie in California?"
"Yeah. She sent me a fax. Martin had it in his hand and I was trying to get a better look at it when I fell out of the chair."
"Well, that's a relief. I was worried that you might actually be that sensitive to alcohol," the old man joked.
Hallie laughed. "No way. Not after living on a vineyard for over half of my life."
"Have you, now?"
It suddenly seemed to dawn on Charles that he knew next to nothing about this granddaughter's life. He only knew that she went to live in California with her father who had bought land in with the intention of starting a vineyard.
"When did your father's business take off?"
The girl shrugged. "I'm not really sure. We built the house we I was five so probably a little bit before that." Hallie's face suddenly took on a more serious look.
"So I guess you have to rat me out now, huh?"
"No, I'm not going to 'rat you out', but I expect you to tell your mother the truth."
She grimaced. "Right now?"
Charles thought for a moment. "No, not right now. She was rather looking forward to the theatre this evening. She has really missed you."
"Annie," the girl corrected rather bitterly. "She missed Annie, not me."
He frowned. "Yes, she has missed Annie this summer, but she's missed you your entire life."
The red head laughed once without humor.
"What you don't believe me?"
"I… I don't know," she replied after a brief moment of hesitation. "My whole life I've always wondered about my mother. My Dad hardly ever talked about her or why they got divorced. The only things I ever really knew about her was what she looked like from a picture he had of her and that she didn't seem to want me too badly since she left me there."
"That is not true," Charles replied. "But tell me something, why would you go through with such a plan is you thought that?"
Hallie managed a faint smile. "Well, I kinda have this habit of jumping into things without thinking everything through first. It's really something I've gotta work on. And, the way Annie talked about her; it just didn't seem possible that she would do any of this without a good reason. And now that I've actually met her she seems like a really caring person, but I haven't even known her for a full two days yet and…"
The girl trailed off and slipped into a silence that lasted several minutes as she stared down at her shoes.
"And what Hallie?" her grandfather prompted only to have her look up at him with the most devastated expression he had ever seen on either of his granddaughters' identical faces.
"But no matter what, nothing can change that she still left me. That even after all the trouble we went through to switch places, it might be for nothing if she finds out it's me and just doesn't want me because it's me and not Annie," the girl finished in a little more than a whisper.
"Hallie, look at me," Charles said sternly.
It took a moment but eventually the girl managed to make her eyes meet his. He took the girl by the shoulders in an effort to make sure she wouldn't turn away.
"Hallie, I want you to listen to what I'm about to tell you and no matter what the outcome of any of this is, never forget it."
The redhead managed a nod and the man continued.
"There was never a single moment that your mother didn't want you. From the time that she realized she was pregnant to this very moment, she has always wanted you. She has always loved you and your sister equally, even though she has not been able to know you, and no matter what happens, she always will. Giving you up was the hardest, most painful thing she has ever had to do."
"Did she do it?" Charles finished and Hallie simply nodded. "Your parents were young when all of it happened, and it was a difficult situation. Both of them wanted to be your parents but living on different sides of the world made it too impractical for them both to have joint-custody and neither of them were willing to give up their ambitions for the future and move to a different country."
None of it had been easy. He could remember his surprise when Lizzie had returned home only a few months after heading for New York, hoping of getting hired on by a fashion company. His surprise turned into astonishment when she informed him that she had gotten married on the boat ride over. He knew that his daughter was young and a little naïve, but he had never imagined that she would actually marry a perfect stranger in the middle of the Atlantic! The only part that didn't surprise him was the fact that they were now going to file for divorce in less than a few months afterwards. He had been upset at his daughter's lack of judgment but relieved that she had come her senses before things had become more complicated. He hired a divorce lawyer and things went smoothly at first. His daughter's husband seemed at least decent enough to not go after her money. He seemed content to sign the papers without demanding anything more than being allowed to keep what he had before the marriage.
Unfortunately, things became much more complicated before any papers could be signed. Lizzie was pregnant, and now there was no easy solution. Normally, as the mother, Lizzie would have had automatic custody, and Nick would have been given visitation rights and even joint-custody, but the sheer distance between them made this impractical. Furthermore, Nick argued that he wouldn't even get sufficient visitation due to his lack of funds. He had come from a poor family and what he had managed to accumulate himself was going to his vineyard. Charles couldn't completely dismiss Nick's rights as a father, but thought that Nick should give up on his California vineyard and move to England. The American's lawyers argued that it would financially be easier for Lizzie to move, but Charles would have none of that. He was Lizzie's closest family and they had no relatives in America. He was not going to send his daughter to a different country alone to raise his grandchildren and he was not about to uproot his life just so Nick would get a chance to be a father. They were at a stalemate until it was discovered that they were having twin daughters. This finally allowed the lawyers to come together and propose the most practical solution they could come up with.
"Eventually it was decided that each of your parents would be given full custody to one of you. It was the best solution at the time," Charles explained.
"But why didn't they tell us about each other?" Hallie demanded her frustration at being lied to for most of her life evident. "We could have visited each other at least!"
Charles mouth became a thin line. That was something even he didn't understand. The lawyers suggested that cross visitations could be handled outside of court. He had been furious when Lizzie had told him that there would be no cross visitations. He was even more furious and outraged when Nick had agreed. He couldn't understand their decision and continued to express his negative opinion long after the papers were signed and the deed had been done. But he began to realize that he was only adding to his daughter's pain and pushing her away when she needed his support. So he grudgingly forced himself to accept the situation and try to make the best of it as he helped his daughter raise the granddaughter he was allowed to see.
"Honestly, I can't answer that," Charles said at last. "Only your parents know the answers, but I am certain it wasn't because they loved one of you over the other. They did know that the daughter they wouldn't raise would be cared for and loved. Beyond that, I think they were just afraid that their fighting might make it difficult for both of you. They were young and frightened and it makes people do things they regret. Even people that are supposed to be adults."
Hallie was quiet for a few moments. "But, they aren't like that now right?"
"Well, I should hope not," the older man replied.
"Then maybe we still have a shot," she said with a smile.
Charles paused at that. He didn't want his granddaughter to get her hopes up about her parents getting back together, but… Well, at the very least, this would get them in the same room and force them to talk about things. Maybe they would be able to get past what was holding them back and at least allow their daughters to visit back and forth. That was at least worth something.
"Perhaps," the man replied, bringing a smile to the girl's face. "Now," he said began walking again and motioned for his granddaughter to follow. "Tell me about California. I understand it's a little sunnier than here."
Hallie hesitated. "Shouldn't we be heading back?"
Charles smiled. "We have plenty of time." This was the first conversation he had had with this particular granddaughter and he did not intend to rush it.
The girl seemed to take his word for it and followed him down the path, content to get to know family that she had never known.
Ending Note: Sorry if the divorce and custody description seems sketchy. I have personally never been divorced or had any children, so I'm unfamiliar with the details of the process. Besides that, this would technically be taking place internationally and several years ago… so yeah, no clue. Anyway, I hoped you liked it. Thanks for reading!