§ § § - March 25, 2007

"She really put a lot of work into that doll," Christian remarked in amazement, watching Roarke examine the six-inch version of himself. The doll was quite detailed, with a jacket, vest and shirt, pants, and even the chain to Roarke's gold pocket watch, with a tiny gold watch disk peering out of a glued-on pocket flap on the vest. Leslie had discovered that the jackets on both Roarke's doll and her own could be removed. The Roarke doll even had real hair, mostly black with swirls of gray mixed in.

"The lady is very talented," Roarke agreed, smiling. "I daresay she made me look younger than I actually am." They all laughed.

"Facially that doll may not really be me," Leslie observed, still studying her own miniature doppelganger, "but that's okay—the hair is the exact style and color of mine, and the detail of the outfit is amazing." The jacket was trimmed, just as Leslie's real one was, with black lapels, black pocket flaps and even three black buttons on each side, with black trim at the cuffs; and the black belt around the doll's waist matched the real one. There was even a necklace, though in the doll's case it was a simple gold ring; Diane had apologized for being unable to quite duplicate Leslie's ruby heart necklace, but Leslie was so captivated by the doll that she didn't care a bit.

"As far as I'm concerned, you and that doll are both perfect," Christian said, then gave his own replica a critical look. "I see there's not quite as much work in mine." His own doll still had molded hair, but the uniform was a faithful representation of his real-life white military dress uniform.

"Diane said she was running out of time and wanted to finish before the convention," Leslie explained. "Besides, according to her, the doll looks a lot like you anyway."

"Not so much," Christian mused, making Leslie and Roarke grin at each other. "Still, I do think it's a very nice touch. She really didn't have to create a doll for me, since I had nothing to do with giving her permission to have her convention here."

"In which case," Leslie scolded him, "don't complain."

"What dolls were these originally?" her husband asked.

Leslie frowned slightly, trying to remember what Diane had said. "Let's see, mine was originally a Dawn doll. Yours is the Prince Charming doll from a six-inch Disney fairytale line and would have been the Cinderella doll's escort. Diane just embellished the existing tunic a bit and added some white pants. And Father's doll came from another six-inch line called Fairytale Favorites, from the 90s, and used to be Pocahontas' friend John Smith."

Roarke laughed. "A fortuitous choice. I can see some of the shape of my own face in the doll's. Yes, I am very impressed, Leslie. These dolls will add a great deal to your new collection. Where do you plan to display them?"

"Well, I was thinking about the curio cabinet," Leslie said, with a sidelong look at Christian. "The one your mother left us, my love."

"Aha," Christian pounced, a light in his hazel eyes that had Leslie laughing. "I knew you were going to insist on space in there. Well, there are only a dozen dolls altogether. If you don't decide to enlarge the collection any further, I think I can clear out the top shelf of the cabinet so you can put the dolls in there. At any rate, since the cabinet can be locked, it will keep the triplets out of it and nothing will happen to them." He noticed the shoes on the Leslie doll. "Especially tiny accessories like shoes or jewelry—I know you'd leave a jet trail through the ceiling if any of those things went missing."

Leslie grinned good-naturedly. "Yeah, I probably would. Well, it's been quite a weekend. I never thought I'd end up feeling so much better about things."

"What things do you mean?" Roarke asked. "I was aware that you were a little low because of your mother's birthday several days ago, but I didn't realize you had managed to bring yourself to such depths."

"You make it sound as if I were suicidal," Leslie teased. "Not really, but since it would have been Mom's seventy-fifth, it just seemed more…I don't know, more significant. Diane's convention, and then Myeko's hearing about it and deciding to find her own dolls, helped to exacerbate that some. But it's funny. Since I found the ones I used to have, and added all these other ones to them, I'm just having a happy nostalgia about them. Now that I look at them, they're bringing back memories of a happy time in my life. I played with these dolls mostly during times when Michael was less of a pain in the behind than he became later on. He was never loving, exactly, but he wasn't quite as abrasive till the fire in Connecticut." She frowned with sudden recollection. "In fact, I remember taking some time to throw some of my favorite things into a bag that night, before I left the house. The dolls were among them. The next day, when Michael realized what I'd done and that the twins had done it too, he threw a screaming fit. He said if we hadn't stopped to save our junk, we might have been able to save mormor. It gave me such a complex that I put the dolls away. They didn't survive the California fire, and I eventually forgot about them, till this week."

Roarke's face registered sympathy, and Christian hugged her. "You only did what any child would probably do," he said, "you and your sisters. Besides, you know it was part of the curse. Like it or not, even if you hadn't bothered saving anything, your mormor would still have become a victim."

Leslie nodded. "I know that now, and I don't feel guilty about it anymore." She took a look at the full collection lying atop Roarke's desk, and suddenly smiled. "Thank you for giving me the okay to collect some dolls, my love…and Father, thanks for giving Diane permission to have the convention in the first place."

Roarke smiled, with that gently knowing look she'd seen so often over the years. "It's all a part of your growing up, my child. For we all grow up throughout our lifetimes, not just during the passage from adolescence to majority. And not only have you gained some new knowledge of yourself, you've also gained a new friend. Any venture that has such positive results can only be a good one." He handed her the Roarke doll. "Now take these home and enjoy them with a fully clear conscience, will you?"

"We sure will," Leslie said, returning his grin.

If you'd like to see the dolls that Leslie received from Diane, just take a look at my MagicSwede1965 avatar photo! Originally these dolls were indeed the same dolls that Leslie tells Roarke and Christian they were in the story. For the real-life dolls, I myself made the alterations to the tunic of the Christian doll, by adding the red-and-gold ribbon sash, and took the white pants from another male doll. The Roarke and Leslie dolls were skillfully created by a friend of mine in the United Kingdom who specializes in creating unique character dolls, made over from two dolls that are part of my collection.

As I mentioned previously, next up is likely to be a flashback compilation, consisting of more adapted episodes from the original series. I'll get to them as soon as possible following my wedding on April 6, so stay tuned!