He punches the air. “I can’t wait. I’m going to build a time machine so it can be next week.”
“Don’t be silly. All you need to do is learn how to apparate. That’s a much more useful skill.”
Fitz groans in happiness. “Do you know when I started to fall in love with you?”
I laugh. “No, I don’t.”
“When I learned you liked Harry Potter too. And now, do you know what that ‘apparate’ comment means?”
“What does it mean?”
“That I’m in love with you even more,” he says.
When he says that, a warm, hazy feeling spreads over my body once again.
This is happiness, and I want it.
And I’m starting to see how it’s possible to have it.
But I shouldn’t make assumptions.
Pretty soon, though, I’m going to need to figure out how to take that step. I have a question to ask him, and I have to pose it carefully because any future happiness hangs on his answer.
THE NEXT DAY
Also known as the day I make my plans.
The river is a comforting constant in London, and that’s where I go with my dad on Saturday before I go into work.
We walk alongside the water, Dad reminiscing, me making plans.
“I used to bring you here when you were young,” he says.
“So, like a few years ago,” I tease.
“You’re still mostly young.”
“I’ll be thirty-two soon. So old. Does that mean I should start doing that whole it’s my twenty-ninth birthday for the fourth year in a row thing?”
He chuckles lightly, then sighs contentedly. “And you always loved it, coming to the river,” he says, sliding back into nostalgia. “We were here every weekend when you were six, seven, eight.”
“I did?” I ask, eager to hear more. I remember this, but not from his point of view.
“You just wanted to be near it. Of course, you had so much energy. You were always moving around. I had to run you like a dog along the water.”
Rolling my eyes, I laugh. “Thanks, Dad.”
“Your mum always came with us.”
I nod. “I remember.”
He stops as we near London Bridge, and he points to it. “The two of you would stand there on the bridge and make wishes over the water.” There is no recrimination in his voice, only the warmth of memories.
“I remember that too,” I say, a little softly, as the images of those moments play before my eyes. “I wonder what I wished for.”
He sets his arm around my shoulders, his voice a little more serious. “I know what I wished for.”
I look at him curiously, a strange lump forming in my throat. “What did you wish for?”
He squeezes my arm. “For you to be happy.”
And that lump grows tighter, a knot now clogging my throat, and I don’t know if I can speak. Or if I could, what I’d say. I bite the inside of my lip because I have a feeling about what’s coming.
But he’s undeterred, determined to keep on. “And I have a feeling that wish is coming true.”
I furrow my brow, head pounding with the intense turn he’s taken. I’m not sure I can handle it, so I try to sidestep. “I’ve been happy.”
He shakes his head. “That’s not what I’m talking about, and I think you know it.”
I look at the water, thinking about certainty and uncertainty, things we know, things we don’t know. The chances we take. This time, I face the reality of what I’m going to do head-on. “I know what you mean, Dad.”
“Do you though?” he asks. This is a true father-son talk. No more cheek. No more sarcasm. It’s all been washed away.
I exhale deeply. “I do know.”
He doesn’t let it stand at that—typical of him. He’s fixed me with a stare that won’t let go until he’s sure I know my mind. “So, what are you going to do when you see him next week?”
“That’s the question, isn’t it?” I won’t be able to dance around it either. I’ll have to say more, say everything, when I see Fitz.
Determined, Dad waits for me, finally prompting, “Well? Are you going to go after your happiness?” His mouth relaxes into a tiny smile that grows when it spreads to his eyes, where it becomes a gleam of possibility. “Are you going to make those wishes come true?”
I draw a deep breath, then ask the hardest question of all, the one that weighs on me. “Will you be upset if I go?”
“No.” He yanks me in for a huge hug. “And I’d be shocked if you didn’t.”
And then, a tear slides down his face, and somehow that makes the choice crystal clear.
A FEW DAYS LATER
Also known as the day I decide to speed up time.
If I thought time passed slowly before, it’s nothing compared to the snail’s pace at which it moves now that I have a fixed date to anticipate.