AN: This is the final chapter to this particular story. I feel it concludes what I set out to do; giving Betsy a home. I am considering writing a sequel, but we'll see how it goes. Thank you, Mediatorsk, for betaing!
AN2: I live for reviews, so whether you loved it or hated it, I want to know!
Violet inwardly curses her bladder as she swings her legs over the edge of the bed, the alarmclock on her nightstand not even reading six. Not really ready to wake up yet, she keeps her eyes almost closed as she stumbles towards the bathroom. With their painting adventure taking a little detour, both adults wound up needing a shower before bed to scrub paint off various parts of their bodies. Not that there were any regrets, it just made for a very late night for the both of them. So, Violet definitely isn't ready to get up yet.
She stubbornly keeps her eyes closed until she's facing the bathroom mirror while washing her hands. Her skin too red and irritated the night before, there had been no way to see if they had been successful in getting all the paint, so Violet reluctantly opens her eyes to check. The only source of light being the small window to her right, it's impossible to know for sure, but when she can't spot any immediate discoloration anywhere, Violet concludes that there's nothing too bad to worry about.
She tries to close her eyes again, but realizes there's no real point in fumbling her way back to the bedroom, when her eyes have already adjusted to the dim morning light peaking in through the windows. And being on her feet, already, she might as well stop by the nursery to check on her son. Violet can't say she's surprised to find Betsy sitting on the floor of the room, playing with some of Lucas' stuffed animals, as well as her own. Feeling the presence of another person in the room, the girl looks up.
"I didn't wake him," she quckly says, "Honest."
Violet nods. "I know."
She can tell by Lucas' sleeping form that Betsy is telling the truth. Although she's longing to crawl back under the covers, the mother in her can't very well leave the girl by herself, not when she knows the real reason Betsy is sitting next to Lucas' crib, so she reaches out her hand. "Why don't we leave him to it and go watch some cartoons?"
Like the day before, Violet fixes Betsy a bowl of cereal, but instead of climbing the stairs and going back to her bedroom, she takes a seat next to Betsy. At first she listens as the eight year old eagerly babbles on about the cartoons they are watching, but little by little she feels herself drifting off.
When Pete gently nudges her awake, the room has a bright glow from the morning sun. Violet motions to get up, but Pete quickly stops her. When she looks down, she realizes why. Betsy is lying asleep with her head in Violet's lap. "You hungry?" Pete asks, as he gently lifts Betsy's sleeping form, allowing Violet to get off the couch without waking the girl.
"Starving," Violet admits, as she hands him a pillow to put underneath Betsy's head.
Pete covers the girl up with a blanket, while Violet takes the empty cereal bowl with her into the kitchen. Lucas is already sitting in his high chair, drinking juice from a sippy cup. Violet gently kisses the top of his head, before taking a seat at the table. There's already a plate set for her with toast, bacon and eggs, and a fresh cup of coffee, all of it thankfully out of Lucas' reach. Ever since they got back together over the Summer, Pete has insisted on cooking Sunday breakfast for his family. Normally Violet likes to watch, but today her stomach is grateful that he waited to wake her.
Pete comes in a minute later and finishes mixing together some cereal for Lucas. He feeds their son while Violet eats her breakfast, then when she's done she takes over so that Pete can eat his.
When Betsy comes stumbling in a little while later, rubbing sleep out of her eyes, Pete is the first to see her. "Morning, sleepyhead," he gently teases, "If you're hungry, there's bacon and eggs. Would you like some?" The girl nods and Pete motions for her to take a seat.
The new furniture due to arrive already before noon, they lazily place both kids in front of the television to keep them occupied while they take turns showering. Violet takes care of the dishes while Pete is in the bathroom, and when it's her turn, Pete clears Betsy's room of painting equipment and pulls off the masking tape. He takes a step back, just as Violet comes out of the bathroom, and takes in their handiwork. Standing on the tips of her toes, Violet wraps her arms around his torso and rests her chin on his shoulder. "We did a good job," she says, approvingly. Pete nods in agreement.
Violet takes Betsy upstairs to get dressed while Pete puts Lucas down for his mid-morning nap. The door bell rings no more than fifteen minutes later, and the couple is quickly consumed by the task of directing the furniture guys on where to put everything. They butt heads a couple of times, as some of their pre-agreed-upon plans end up not working out as well as they thought due to the placement of the room's few electrical outlets. However, eventually, much to the workers relief, they come to an agreement that is both livable and practical. Pete tips them all generously for their inconvenience.
Seeing her new bedroom taking shape, Betsy eagerly makes several trips to the guestroom to get her things. Violet lets the girl decide where she wants to put everything, but makes a couple of helpful suggestions whenever Betsy seems unsure. Pete lays down the rug and hangs the curtains before Lucas' cries calls him away. Violet helps put on the new bedsheets, then lets the girl make her own bed. Taking a step back, she takes in the end result.
It's a start, she decides. The walls could use a couple of pictures. Violet makes a note to herself to go through her camera and see if she ever took any pictures of Dell and Betsy together. She will have to check with the others, see if any of them have any pictures that could help Betsy keep her father's memory alive.
Her mind plagued with thoughts of Dell and ways to help Betsy remember him, Violet takes Pete aside after lunch and suggests a trip to the cemetary. "It's been a week and in all that time, we haven't as much as talked about it," she argues before Pete has the chance to say anything. "She didn't get to come to the funeral, I'm not sure she even knows he has a grave that she can visit."
"You think it's a good idea to do that today?" Pete asks. "She's so ecstatic about her new room, don't you think being reminded of her dad will just make her sad?"
Violet understands his concern, but at the same time, "You think it'd be better if we waited until she has had a bad day?"
Pete sighs and gives a small nod in concession. He sees her point.
"This whole week, everything we've done has been about making a new life for her. But there are things going on inside of Betsy, things she isn't talking to either one of us about. I don't want to pressure her into opening up, but I think the pain that we both want to spare her from is already there and she's too afraid to let herself feel it around us. I think the excitement we're seeing is Betsy covering up that she's hurting, because every adult person in her life up until now has abandoned her in one way or another. Both her parents died, her aunt walked out on her, she probably believes we will, too... and we almost did, we almost gave her away..." Violet sighs and shakes her head. She doesn't want to go into what could have been. "I don't think seeing Dell's grave will cause her pain, I think it will just make her pain more visible, more concrete."
"But, do you think she's ready?" Pete asks.
Violet gives a sad smile, "No child is ever ready to face the grave of a loved one, least of all a parent. But putting it off won't help her. The sooner she has a place to direct all of the confusing feelings inside of her, the sooner we can help her work through those feelings."
Betsy doesn't say much as she stands in front of the headstones engraved with her parents' names. It's pretty much as Violet expected. The girl didn't display much of a reaction when the outing was suggested, and Violet can't say she expected her to suddenly break down and open up the minute she saw her parents' graves, either. Nonetheless, as Violet pointed out to Pete, it's an important step in Betsy's healing process that she faces what happened and allows herself to feel it.
The girl stares at her father's headstone for a long time without saying anything. Then she bends down and places a small bouquet of flowers that Violet helped her pick on top of the plaque. Straightening up, she turns, looks at the the two adults and asks, "Can we go, now?"
To give the outing a bit more of a positive aspect, they take the kids to a nearby park. Betsy immediately sets off towards the swing set. The two adults follow suit, Violet carrying Lucas. She places him in the baby swing to the far right and gives the boy a gentle push. The boy's laughter as the swing goes higher and higher, albeit not nearly as high as Betsy's, is music to her ears. She turns and looks at Pete, who has taken a seat at a nearby bench. They share a brief smile before Violet continues to push Lucas' swing.
They stop by an ice cream parlor on the way home, getting a cone for Betsy, and cups for both adults. Lucas is still a bit too young for his own ice cream, but Violet feeds him a couple of spoonfulls of her plain vanilla.
Betsy is still up when Cooper comes by in the evening for his scheduled best friend time with Violet. The girl literally drags the pediatrician up the stairs to show him her new bedroom. It doesn't take long before the eight year old has talked both Cooper and Violet into playing CandyLand with her. They play for two rounds, both of which Betsy wins, before Violet announces that it's time for bed. Cooper waits downstairs with Pete, while Violet takes Betsy through her bedtime routine and tucks her in.
"She seems to be adjusting well," Cooper comments, when Violet comes back downstairs.
"It's an act," Violet replies. Then as she takes in Cooper's confused face, she adds, "I mean, I believe that she's happy she's going to be staying here, but she's very polarized when it comes to displaying her emotions. Either she's extatic and loud, or she's simply quiet and introvert. We took her to see Dell's grave today, and nothing."
"Oh, wow," Cooper winces, "That can't be good."
"It sounds a lot worse than it is," she acknowledges. "Basically it means she's holding back, most probably because she doesn't trust her surroundings just yet. Everything's new to her, and people a lot closer to her than us have let her down in the past."
"What are you gonna do?"
"Give her time," Violet shrugs, "Let her know that it's okay to feel bad, to be sad, and to show it. That we're not going anywhere."
Cooper doesn't stay as long as he usually does. He claims it's because he promised Charlotte, but Violet suspects he's really doing it to give her and Pete some much needed time alone. She happily snuggles up to her husband, who in turn wraps his arms around her. It becomes one of those rare quiet moments where they just don't talk about anything. The TV is still on, but neither of them are paying any attention to it. It's just background noise.
When Violet almost dozes off, Pete announces that it's probably time for bed, and they reluctantly leave the comfort of the couch to head upstairs. Side by side they brush their teeth and change into their night attires. Pete heads directly to bed, while Violet makes one last round to check on the kids. Lucas is sound asleep in his crib, his right thumb in his mouth, the other arm clutching his favorite plush animal. Violet bends down and softly kisses the top of his head.
At first glance through the open crack, everything seems alright in Betsy's room as well. The girl is lying on her side, facing the wall, seemingly sound asleep. Then as Violet turns to head back to the bedroom, she hears what could only be a soft sob coming from the young girl. She pushes the door open and enters the room. As she takes a seat on the edge of Betsy's bed, the sobbing stops, but when Violet reaches out and strokes the girl's damp cheek, the girl turns around and allows Violet to see her tearstricken face. Violet notices the large wet patch on Betsy's pillow, and realizes the girl has been crying for good while now.
She continues to stroke Betsy's cheek. "It's okay," Violet soothes the child. "Do you want to tell me what is making you so sad?"
"I miss my dad," Betsy sobs.
The girl climbs out of bed and into Violet's lap, immediately throwing her little arms around the adult. Violet responds by in turn wrapping her arms around Betsy's petite form, stroking the child's back as she continues to sob into her chest. "It's okay," Violet whispers, "It's okay to miss him, it's okay to be sad. It's okay to be angry. It's okay not to feel good all the time."
The heavy stream of emotions takes a lot out of the girl and she slowly turns limp in Violet's arms. She hasn't fallen asleep yet, but she's slowly getting there. Not having the heart to leave her to go back to her own bed, Violet lays down in Betsy's bed with the girl, holding her close as the child falls asleep.
The child's even breaths have a lulling effect on her, and Violet drifts off mere minutes later.