These are not my characters and I make no profit from their use.

The Children's Hour

While Hal and Phoebe Everett are off on their honeymoon, various family members spend time together between Boxing Day and New Year's Eve. Grammy and Grampie have their hands full between the real children and the adult children. This story is told from a variety of points of view, using Trelawney's own names for each of them.

Prologue: The Lovely Lady

Honeymoons are for lovers, and Catherine Everett could not think of two lovers more deserving of a romantic three-week honeymoon in Hawaii than her son Hal and his new wife Phoebe. Because they had decided to marry quickly after they became engaged, their timing for an immediate honeymoon had been pretty far off.

Hal was a university professor and it was the midterm of the semester. Seeing the problem that his poor planning had created, her two older sons, Ben and Bob, made the arrangements for this trip. Considering the amount of childish fraternal teasing that had gone on the weekend of their marriage blessing, Catherine thought that it was the least they could do.

The day after Christmas, Hal and Phoebe would be flying out to spend three weeks in paradise. Not the type for crowds or tourist attractions, they were going to stay in their own private bungalow on the small island of Kauai. Their time there could then be as peaceful or as busy as they wanted. Catherine suspected that they were going to choose peaceful.

The two weeks approaching Christmas had been busy for both of them. He had final exams and semester grades. She had the house to prepare for the holidays and a church Christmas pageant to prepare for. Their schedules left them almost no time together. He was up late doing his paperwork. She had to be up early to get the kids off to school. He was used to this kind of schedule. It was how he and his first wife had gotten along. She missed him sorely.

It had soon become obvious that she was pushing herself too hard. She was also unhappy without him around. She never complained, but even the children noticed that they needed more time together. Her oldest grandson had suggested that the kids spend lots of time at their house making presents for their parents and each other. This gave them a bit more time together. But Phoebe was still tired.

It was at this point that she began to really suspect that Phoebe was pregnant with their first child. This child meant a great deal to both of them, but to Phoebe especially. She wanted a daughter that she would be able to name for her mother, who had died less than a year ago. Catherine had also lost her mother at a young age. Their mothers had shared the same name, Margaret.

However, it was still too early to know and she didn't want to mention it. A month earlier she had been disappointed and she did not want her to feel that way again. In addition to the fatigue, Catherine had begun to detect an inner calm and serenity that would fall over her when she was happy. She had seen it many times before. It was the inner glow that all women carrying a child had.

Now Phoebe was clearly joyful that she was about to embark on a journey alone with her husband. There were kisses and hugs for all the children, even the always reluctant Butch. When their flight number was called, Hal protectively put his arm around her and led her to boarding area. Neither looked back.

The Fair Maiden

Once they put Hal and Phoebe on their flight for their honeymoon in Hawaii, Rob and Catherine Everett gathered up the children to go home. The kids wanted to see the plane take off, so they waited until it took from the runaway and flew off to the west. The kids were all very quiet on the drive back.

"Something wrong, kids?" asked Rob, cheerfully. He knew what the problem was and wanted to get them talking about it.

"I can't believe that we're not going to see them for three whole weeks. We won't even get to talk to them on the phone," complained Prudence who was the most disgruntled by the honeymoon.

"Not many couples talk to their kids on the phone when they're on their honeymoon," commented Catherine.

"Not many couples who go off on their honeymoon have kids," replied Butch, knowingly. Butch was not a very demonstrative child, but he was sensitive. He knew that his Mom needed the time with his Dad.

"True," answered Rob. "But don't you think that it's nice for them to get away by themselves?"

"I guess I do," said Hal, who also understood his Mom's feelings. "But I'm still going to miss them."

"Do you think that they'll miss us?" asked Prudence hopefully.

"No!" said Rob and Catherine together and then laughed.

"Kids," said Catherine. "You probably don't remember this, but when your Dad was married to your first Mom, they used to go away by themselves sometimes. Sometimes parents need a break from their kids. In the case of your parents, they've never really had one before."

"My Mum and Papa went away by themselves sometimes," said Phoebe's sister Trelawney. But then she turned toward the window and hugged herself. The last time that her parents went away without her, they didn't come home. They had been killed in a car wreck nearly a year ago.

Catherine looked back concerned and the other kids were quiet again. It was a silent ride the rest of the way home and when everyone else got out of the car, Trelawney stayed behind, huddled in a corner of the backseat. Catherine didn't want to leave her alone. She went around to the door and opened it up. She saw that the little girl was crying.

"They are coming back, aren't they?" she asked, her tear streaked face looking up uncertainly.

"Of course they are," she said softly and then saw that her attention was shifted to someone standing behind her. It was her cousin Emmeline.

"Come here, love," she said. "Come to Em."

The child reached out to her older cousin, who took her in her arms. She was a big girl, eleven-years-old, but Catherine suspected that she was light as a feather.

"Come on, little love. It will be alright," she said.

"Are you sure, Em? Are you absolutely sure?" asked the child, watching her face intently. Catherine saw the trust in her eyes.

"Your cousin Em knows these things, then, doesn't she? Phoebe and the Professor will come back to you, I promise," she answered.

"And?" asked the child.

"Yes, love, and," Emmeline assured her. "Everything will be fine."

The young girl gave her a hug. Emmeline set her back down and she walked slowly back into the house. Emmeline turned to Catherine.

"She's very thin," she said, clearly worried. "There's nothing left of her. Won't she eat?"

Catherine was nervous. She was afraid to tell her the truth.

"Catherine," said Emmeline. "The last thing that I want to do is take her away from here, from you, or from Phoebe. But she must be protected. I need to be able to go back to the family and tell them that she is fine, both in body and spirit. I saw Pastor Jason this morning. He is very worried also."

"We've been doing what we can, but we can't force her to eat," said Catherine. "She has been eating well for the last two days. I can't guarantee it will last. She ate almost nothing at dinner last night."

"I will stay as long as I can," said Emmeline cryptically. "But I must get back to the family. I cannot tell you much. I must maintain the family's trust or I will be of no use to her."

"What about Phoebe?" asked Catherine, anxiously.

Emmeline was thoughtful. The family had let go of Phoebe. Their only interest in her was that she had Trelawney with her. However, the Everetts still had trouble understanding that. She knew that Catherine was suspicious that Phoebe might be carrying her grandchild. She was concerned not only about Phoebe, but for the child as well. She wanted to do everything in her power to protect them, but she did not know where to start.

Emmeline knew that Phoebe was, indeed, with child and in fact needed Catherine's help at this time. Perhaps she could give her a clue. If she understood Trelawney, then perhaps she would understand the dream world in which she lived in. There was much that she could not tell her, but she could hint around the edges.

"The lovely lady is under the protection of the gallant knight, who also now protects the fair maiden. The fair maiden is here but she is not here, only the good queen knows. Trelawney knows that she must stay near the good queen. She must not leave the good queen. The wise gentleman protects them all. You must all listen to the wise gentleman," she said.

Catherine looked at her closely. She knew that she was trying to tell her something very important. She turned the words over in her mind. They were the words that Trelawney had been speaking for three months. However, there was a very subtle variation in what she had just said. A thought occurred to her and she saw the merest fragment of an indication that Emmeline was aware of it.

"May I ask a question?"

"Only one," replied the young woman, knowing it was a risk. "Before you ask, be sure that it is the right one."

Catherine thought hard. She actually had two questions. She could only choose one. Finally she made up her mind. Once again, there was a flicker in Emmeline's eyes and a barely perceptible nod.

"Is Trelawney the fair maiden?" she asked.

"No," replied Emmeline. "I can say no more."

She turned and walked quickly back into the house. Catherine stood very still. She knew. She had known, but had not known that she had known. Thus, Emmeline had told her nothing. You cannot tell someone something that she already knows.

Maisie was present, but she was not present. She would not be present until she was born. It was now Maisie who was the fair maiden. And only the good queen knew. Instinctively, she knew that she must never reveal to anyone, even her husband, what she now knew.

The Wee Fairy

Prudence loved her new dollhouse. It was the biggest and most wonderful Christmas present that she had ever gotten. And it was all thanks to Trelawney. It was amazing how the big girl knew so many things. Who would have ever thought that by only asking for one thing, you could get the most wonderful thing?

Of course it also helped to have uncles like Uncle Ben and Uncle Bob. She had always known that Uncle Bob was a very important man, but to be a man who got phone calls from Santa! He must be as important as the president.

Butch and Hal had laughed when he said that Santa had called him up to tell him about the dollhouse and how it would need furniture. But Trelawney didn't laugh. Trelawney laughed about a lot of things, but she never laughed about important things like Father Christmas and Santa Claus. And she never laughed about magic.

When Hal laughed about magic she told him that just because he couldn't prove that something did exist, didn't mean that it did not exist. Mommy said things like that too. When Trelawney said things like that they always made sense. But that made Hal mad. That was because he knew that she was right. After all, he couldn't prove that she was wrong.

It made perfect sense too. Trelawney was not really a very good little girl. She liked to play pranks and argue and tease. She said things and then got sent to her room to do her homework. She got in trouble all the time, but she said that Father Christmas never forgot her. That was because she believed in magic. She told Prudence that nothing was impossible, but first you had to believe in magic. Magic was like love. You couldn't see it, but you knew that it was there anyway.

And Trelawney was right. First she didn't believe that Nanny could ever be her Mommy. And now she was. Then she didn't believe that Nana would ever love her Mommy. But now she did. When Nana came over for Christmas dinner, she gave her Mommy a big hug and a kiss. That meant that there was such a thing as love.

Trelawney said that only love made things like that happen. Love was like magic. It made the impossible happen. So now she knew that there was such a thing as magic. The only thing that could have made Nana love Mommy was magic.

When they got back from the airport she was disappointed because Trelawney was so sad that she didn't want to play with her. She didn't say that she didn't want to play. She just went to her room and curled up on her bed in a little ball with her doll. Whenever she did that it meant that she was sad. And when she was sad, she did not want to play. Cousin Emmeline came upstairs and looked worried.

"Prudence, have you seen Trelawney?" she asked.

"She's in her room," she answered. "But she doesn't want to play. She's in her sad ball."

Cousin Emmeline looked very confused.

"Whenever Trelawney is sad," she explained. "She goes into her room and curls up on her bed with her doll in a little ball. I'm the only one who knows because she used to sleep in my room. I thought it was okay to tell you because now you are sleeping in her room. You don't think that I tattled, do you?"

Cousin Emmeline smiled a little and said, "Don't worry, you haven't tattled. Does she go into her sad ball a lot?"

"Not any more," said Prudence. "She only goes into her sad ball when she's missing her Mum and her Papa."

Cousin Emmeline nodded as if she were saying, "of course, that makes sense." Then she looked at her in a funny way.

"Prudence," she said. "You notice a lot of things that go on in the house, don't you?"

"Yes, I do," explained Prudence. "No one ever tells me anything because I'm just a little kid. If I didn't notice things then I wouldn't know anything."

"How good are you at keeping secrets?" asked Emmeline.

Prudence felt guilty. "I'm good at some secrets, but not others. I kept all of Trelawney's secrets until she told me that I could tell them. But they were hard secrets."

"Why were they hard?" asked Emmeline.

"Well," explained Prudence. "Usually it's fun to know secrets and then tell them. But Trelawney's secrets were scary. They were scary to know and scary to tell. But Mommy was glad when I told them. She said that I was a brave girl."

"I'm sure you were," said Emmeline thoughtfully.

Prudence watched as Emmeline left. Cousin Emmeline was very nice. She loved Mommy and Trelawney both. She scolded Daddy sometimes when he lost his temper. It was kind of funny. She didn't think that anyone else could get away with scolding Daddy. Well, Mommy might, but Prudence knew that she would never scold him.

Prudence wondered if Trelawney was out of her sad ball and would come and play with her. She could see that the door to her room was open, so she crept very quietly in the hallway. She could hear her crying to Cousin Emmeline.

She said, "I want my Mum. Mum and Papa went away and never came back."

Cousin Emmeline was saying, "There, there, love. Cousin Em is here. It's okay for you to cry. Just let it all out. Em will stay until you feel better."

Prudence walked away. She knew that Trelawney was afraid that Mommy and Daddy would never come back. Prudence wasn't afraid that they wouldn't come back. But it was different for Trelawney. The last time that her Mum and Papa went away, they didn't come back.

Now Cousin Emmeline was telling her that it was okay to cry. No one had ever told Prudence that it was okay to cry. When Mommy said, "there, there," she wanted her to stop crying.

She decided to talk to Grammy about it. She knew that Grammy really loved Trelawney. She didn't think that she would want her to cry.

Grammy was working in the kitchen when she found her. She was making blueberry scones. Blueberry scones were Trelawney's favorite. Now she knew that Grammy wouldn't want her crying.

"Grammy," she said. "I'm worried about Trelawney. She's in her sad ball and she crying."

"Oh, dear!" said Grammy. "Did she make you go away?"

Prudence suddenly realized that she had been spying. Grammy had warned her about spying on people.

"Well," she answered. "Trelawney really didn't know that I saw her. Neither did Cousin Emmeline."

Grammy took a deep breath.

"Prudence," she said in her voice that said "I'm tired of saying the same thing over and over." "How many times do I have to tell you not to spy on people?"

"I don't know," she said. "I guess one more."

"Well, as long as you did, you might as well tell me what you saw."

"Trelawney is crying and Cousin Emmeline was saying 'there, there,'" explained Prudence. "But she's not telling her to stop crying. She's saying to let it out."

"Do you know what she is crying about?"

"She's crying about her Mum and Papa. Whenever she cries about them she curls herself up in a little ball with her doll. Nobody is supposed to know," she said. "I guess now I've tattled too."

"Yes, you have. And tattling and spying are both very bad things," said Grammy. "I know that you are worried about Trelawney because you love her like a sister, but from now on you shouldn't spy on her and tattle on her as if she is your sister. You know very well that you should not be spying and tattling on anyone."

"Okay," said Prudence. "But why does Cousin Emmeline want her to cry?"

"Sometimes when you are very, very sad," explained Grammy. "Crying is the only way to let out the sadness. Cousin Emmeline loves Trelawney very, very much so Trelawney knows that she is a safe person to cry with."

"Like Mommy and Daddy?" asked Prudence.

"Have you been spying on your Mommy and Daddy?" asked Grammy, getting annoyed again.

"Only on accident," Prudence explained. "Sometimes when I am looking for Mommy, she's with Daddy and she's crying. It's the only time she ever cries. But if I see her crying I always go away. I told Trelawney once and she said that Mommy and Daddy needed their privacy. She said that Mommy doesn't want for me to know that she's crying."

"Well, I'm sure that she's right," said Grammy. "Now I think that you should find something to do that doesn't involve getting into other people's business."

"Well, I wanted to play with Trelawney," said Prudence. "But she was in her sad ball. So now I have no one to play with."

"Before Trelawney came, who did you play with?" asked Grammy.

"Butch, but now if I ask him to play he tells me to go play with her," said Prudence.

Grammy took another deep breath and then told her that she could help her in the kitchen. Prudence was happy. She helped her Mommy in the kitchen all the time. This was almost the same but not quite. Grammy scolded her the whole time about minding her own business.

Mommy never scolded when they worked together. She talked about all the fun things that they could do when they were done working. Or she told her stories about how she worked with her Mum when she was a little girl. There was nothing better than working with Mommy.