Generation 2: Pello Slughorn
Chapter Four: A Wedding, A Death and the Truth
Realistically we had about two weeks to find someone and even with that it left us with only two weeks to get whomever we found to practice with us and for all of us to form a band. This knowledge set the band into a tizzy. One would think that for a group of teenage guys playing at a wedding wouldn’t be a big deal, and it wasn’t, but the money that was on the line is what made it a big deal. We had a couple of prospects but none of them had the right tone for the song nor did they really mesh well with our little band of musicians.
One day during practice we received a miracle. I know it wasn’t a real miracle, but in my life it was just short of one. The four of us and Milly were in the barn once again; it is where we spent most of our free time, talking about what we were going to do. None of us wanted to lose this gig, but we just didn’t have any prospect for the singer we needed. Parley, who hadn’t been around the band much after the day she slapped Midori, entered and began to fidget.
“You need something?” Milly’s voice was full of hatred for my little sister.
“Um….” Parley cleared her throat and looked to the ground. “I…I just…”
“Spit it out!” Even though Milly’s back was facing me I could actually picture her eyes rolling.
Milly’s tone sparked something in Parley and she crossed her arms and looked back up at us. “Fine, I came in here to tell you that I will do it.”
“You will do what?” It was Milly’s turn to cross her arms.
“I will sing with the band for your sister’s wedding.”
“You will? That is great.” Midori, who had been in a far away land since the day of the infamous slap, beamed and took a step toward her. He reached out to place a friendly hand on her shoulder but Milly stepped between them.
“I don’t think so. She probably can’t even sing. This is just another one of her tricks.” A defiant grin crawled onto Milly’s face.
“There is nothing behind the gesture. No tricks.” Parley looked Midori directly in his eyes when she said that. “I just want to help my brother out.”
I took a good look at my sister. She hadn’t really been in a family bonding place in years and I had to know if she was planning something, but the look on her face, the tone of her voice and hell even the way she was dressed screamed with change. Something had happened to my sister and perhaps this was a good something. Perhaps it was the something that could bring her back around to being Parley again.
“She can sing Milly.” I moved behind my sister and placed my hands on her shoulders. “I vote her in.”
“I second that.” Midori smiled.
“Marquis, Abram, what do you say?” I asked. I knew it had to be unanimous for her to be in.
“Can we hear her sing?” Abram shrugged his shoulders leading me to believe that he was open to the idea.
“Yea, let’s see how she butchers the song.” Milly was physically uncomfortable with the possibility that Parley could be taking up her time with Midori if we let her in the band.
“Par, do you know the song?” Midori’s question put a smile on her face.
“I sure do.” Walking to the mic stand she asked, “Acapella or do you all want to join in to see how awesome we sound?” Her voice laced with confidence.
We all scrambled to our instruments and she was right we sounded great. Her voice was perfect for the song and when Midori harmonized with her it was magical. There was no way that Milly could deny that my baby sister could sing. When the song was over we all were excited for her to join us, but Milly still didn’t like the idea and tried many avenues to get us to turn her away. No one was really interested in what she had to say on the matter until she made one really good point that none of us could rebuff.
“She can’t be in the band. She is only thirteen and won’t be allowed in the bars. You four aren’t even allowed to stay after your gigs.” She knew she had us and she looked at us all smugly.
Leave it to my sister to know exactly what to say. “I don’t want to be in the band. I just want to perform at the wedding so that your sister will hire them.”
Milly opened her mouth but then closed it again. She had no retort to this logic and she knew it. “Well then it is settled. Welcome to the Southern Llama’s Parley.” I removed my hands from her shoulders and moved away, but as I did I heard Midori say, “You’re not going to slap me again are you?” I couldn’t help but chuckle as I climbed behind my drums. “Let’s try that song again.”
The next couple of weeks were some of the best of my teenage life. They were full of the work I loved as well as the people I loved. Having Parley being involved and not cold and distant was something. She was really a funny girl and having her vocals in the band was incredible. She made us better and we wished she would have been allowed to sing with us as we performed at the bar. The only one that didn’t seem happy about having Parley around was Milly, but it just made her work twice as hard to vie for Midori’s attention.
Soon the wedding day was upon us. Milly looked beautiful in her bridesmaid gown and I couldn’t help but wish, as I stared at her, that I was her date and not Midori. She had convinced him that she needed a date or her family would look down at her. He agreed, but made sure she knew that this “date” didn’t change their relationship status. They were friends and nothing more. Despite this she seemed to be overly confident that it meant more.
After the ceremony, which we had been allowed to attend because we were Milly’s friends, we started to set up the stage area with our equipment. We played a few songs while the bride and groom greeted their guests.
Then we were invited to attend the dinner. I sat at a table with Abram but wished I was sitting with the blonde beauty that was to Midori’s right. The two of them sat at the head table with Milly’s parents. I watched the two of them with envy. Watching her touch his arm lightly, laughing at his stupid jokes and leaning toward him every chance she got filled me with jealousy. I longed to be in Midori’s shoes, but I couldn’t blame my best friend; all he ever did was be himself.
When I couldn’t watch them any longer my eyes diverted to another table where Parley was sitting across from Marques, a boy she hardly knew. The two of them ate in silence, but even in silence if you listen closely you can still hear the story that is going on. Her eyes kept diverting over to the table to her right and when Midori look up at her she would quickly find her plate interesting. It was frustrating to watch and I could only hope that someday these two would find their way to one another. I guess part of that hope was because that would open the way for me to ask Milly out, but I couldn’t let myself really think of that or I felt terrible.
After dinner it was time for the couple’s first dance together. We all got into our positions and queued the music for “At Last” and Parley began to sing with Midori backing her up.
The song was beautiful and emotional and every time I sang it the lyrics would get to me because I couldn’t help but think that I had at last found my true love, but I had messed it all up. I was normally very good about hiding the emotions the song stirred in me but the night of the wedding I was unable to.
As I glanced over at Midori, who’s lovely voice complemented mine so well, I couldn’t control the tears that threatened to spill and soon my face was full of my mascara stained tears. I thought about all the years I spent being angry at him for leaving me when in reality I was the one who deserted him in my grief. Hope began to swell in me as I thought that after the wedding I would tell him how I truly felt, but then I made the mistake of looking out into the crowd and saw an adoring Milly staring passionately at Midori. From day one she never faltered in her feelings for him. She never went hot and cold with him and she never raised her hand to him. Doubt began to fill me as I remembered our three year age difference and by the time the song was over I had convinced myself that I only wanted Midori to be happy and I was only a toxin to him. I would never be good enough to be with such a wonderful boy. When I sang the last note of the song I dropped my microphone and darted off the stage.
As I ran I wiped the tears from my eyes vowing that these would be the last tears that my beloved Midori would see me cry. I knew he would chase after me for he was too caring for his own good. From behind me I heard Milly’s squeaky voice say, “Come on Midori dance with me. You are my date after all.”
“Milly let me go.” Midori’s voice was stern, which was something so very foreign for him.
“Don’t go after her.” I heard Milly beg.
But as predicted Midori caught up with me. As I turned to face him he immediately began his questioning. “Parley, what is wrong? Is there something you want to tell me?”
I looked upon his lovely face and all I wanted to do was rush into his arms. I wanted him to hold me, protect me and tell me we could live happily ever after, but I knew that could never be.
“The song just got to me. I wanted to make it special for the couple so I put everything I had into it.” It wasn’t exactly a lie.
“I think there is more to this Parley. Are you ready to have a true conversation with me?”
“I have no idea what you are talking about Midori. The wedding, the song, and the atmosphere it just all got to me. Made me think of my parents and the past. That’s all.” I thought that I was being convincing, but Midori didn’t buy it at all.
Before I knew it Midori had his arms around me pulling me close to him, and when he planted his lips to mine it startled me. I froze not kissing him back but not pulling away from him either. When I realized this was actually happening and not my imagination I had to force myself to pull away from him. I placed my right hand on his jacket, over his heart, and gave him a forlorn look.
“I’m sorry.” Was all I could muster.
“Parley, I know you feel the same as I do.”
“Midori, it doesn’t matter how I feel. We aren’t meant to be. We are just not right for each other.” As much as I didn’t want to mean those words I knew that deep down I did. I wasn’t right for him. He deserved so much better and I was going to step aside and allow him to have that.
“Parley, you are talking nonsense. All that matters is how we feel.” A Cheshire size grin grew on his face.
“You have wasted enough time on me. There is someone who has been there for you and I think she deserves a chance.” I took him by his shoulders and turned him to face Milly.
“But…” He started. I couldn’t listen to him. I couldn’t hear his words full of love and I couldn’t tell him no again. I gave him a slight push forward and once again I allowed my feet to do their best work and ran away from the one boy I will ever truly love.
The rest of the summer went by in a blur. I had been right and things did change. Parley quit the band, and pretty much steered clear whenever Midori was around. However, she began to engage with our family more. Dad was beginning to push past his grief and the three of us began to patch up our injured family.
Midori wasn’t around much after the wedding. Sure he was at every band practice and gig and we touched based every day, but he was spending a lot of time at the Lee’s house. The two of them hadn’t become an official couple yet, but I knew it was just a matter of time. Milly was doing a great job helping him heal from his broken heart.
Cherry had a pup. It was a little female we called Toule.
She was a sweet girl and we were all glad to have her.
She allowed for an extra distraction. Taking care of her and Cherry, on top of my duties at the farm allowed me not to think about the fact that Midori was spending less time at the Slughorn’s.
When school started it became worse. Our band wasn’t able to book gigs so there was no need for us to meet up as often as we did. Sure we hung out from time to time and talked about what the summer after our senior year would bring, but that is all it was…talk.
I was in my senior year of high school and I should be having the time of my life, but instead I was losing my best friend. The worst part about it was the fact that it wasn’t something I had done or a fight we had, had. It was because he was in love with my sister and she wouldn’t allow anything to happen.
Four months after school started I received a very unnerving phone call. It was from Dr. Fantrain. He told me that he was being admitted to the hospital and he needed me to spend more time at the farm. He was worried that the animals wouldn’t get fed and they would lack human interaction.
With my family on the mend I agreed quickly. After all he was my mentor and I would do anything to help him out.
I found a better appreciation for what Dr. Fantrain did when I found myself at the farm before school, after school, and every moment I could.
There was just so much work. The dogs needed caring for. Their fur washed and brushed.
The horses needed food and that meant I had to break bales of hay.
I was finding a broader love for this career as I grew my bond with the animals. Day by day I knew that being a veterinarian was my calling and I was going to do everything I could to make that dream happen.
Kora and I worked really hard. We became friends, even though we didn’t spend any time together at school.
We did homework together and found ourselves having dinner together many nights. She was a good friend, but I could never get my mind far from Milly.
As Midori spent more time at Milly’s he spent less time at the Slughorn’s. It was no longer a necessity for him to be there with Parley and dad healing. Dad was making meals again. He would talk and visit with Parley and our family began to feel whole again.
A month of hard work went by and one rare night I was home, there was a knock on the door. Our visitor was a lawyer. He asked if he could talk to me. Not knowing what it was about dad insisted he come in and that our conversation be held at the kitchen table.
What Mr. Brighton had to tell us turned my world upside.
He had come to inform us that Dr. Fantrain had passed away the week before, and before he did he had revised his will. He had left me Fantrain Farm.
I couldn’t believe what I was being told. How could Dr. Fantrain be dead? Why would he leave me the farm? It was all too confusing and heartbreaking. I had once again lost someone that I looked up too. Someone who believed in me and made me feel I could accomplish anything. He was my hero and my mentor. How would the world go on with such a wonderful soul missing from it?
He handed me a letter and I couldn’t take any more. As I walked away I could hear dad agreeing that we would go to Mr. Brighton’s office the following week to sign all the paperwork. That when I turned eighteen I would be the proud owner of Fantrain Farm.
Outside I took a seat on our porch bench. The light over the door was enough to read by. With shaking hands I opened the letter.
Tears rolled down my cheeks as I read:
Dear Pello My Boy,
I know this may come as a shock to you because I lead you to believe my illness wasn’t a big deal, but I knew I was dying when I was admitted to the hospital. I apologize for the dishonesty, but I didn’t want to accept that I was leaving this world, which meant I was leaving you and Kora as well.
This past year has been wonderful mentoring you to be a veterinarian and teaching you about farming and animal care. You and Kora are like my own children and it breaks my heart thinking about leaving you. I hope you will forgive me someday.
If you are reading this letter then you know I have left Fantrain Farm to you. There is no one else that would take care of it and its residents like I know you will. You were meant to be my predecessor and I know in my heart that all you have been through was just the path to your true calling. You are going to do amazing things my boy.
You will find a tin box under my bed. It is my nest egg and it is yours. It isn’t much but it should help with school. Be a veterinarian, make the Slughorn name great, and be kind to others.
Please keep Kora on and help her through this grief. You may not see it now, but she will forever be your loyal friend.
With deep admiration,
Dr. Wilmont Fantrain
Life would never be the same.
And it wasn’t.
A few weeks after I learned of Dr. Fantrain’s death another surprise hit our family.
We had a visitor. When I answered the door and saw the face that rustled the deepest anger in me I was reluctant to tell him where my dad was. I couldn’t bear the thought of sending this man to him just to bring back all those horrible memories. Our family was healing and we didn’t need this set back.
But something in his look told me that this was important. I told him that dad was down at the greenhouse and gave him directions.
I had really taken Octavia’s death hard. We had some rough patches and that blasted book said there was a lot more going on then I knew, but I know she loved me, and I loved her.
But now life was good.
I was at the greenhouse, a place I enjoyed spending my Sunday mornings, when I heard a familiar voice say my name behind me.
Instantly my blood ran cold. Why was he here? Didn’t he cause enough pain for my family? There was no reason he should be here.
I couldn’t turn around, and when I didn’t he took a seat next to me.
“What do you want Danger?” My voice resembled a growl.
“I need to confess.” His voice was weak. Not anything like the man I once knew.
“Confess to what?”
“To the fact that Octavia loved you and we never had an affair.”
I shut my book. “What are you talking about?”
“When that unauthorized book came out I loved that the press got it all wrong. I loved that they said that Octavia, despite choosing you, still loved me and couldn’t resist me. Selfishly I allowed the hushed whispers and rumors to circulate and never corrected anyone. I didn’t even care when Misty finally left me.”
I didn’t understand this so called confession of his. What was he getting at?
“Danger, I don’t have all day. You’re not making sense.” I was harsh.
“Kyle, the truth is I loved her. I wanted her. I couldn’t resist her. I wanted her to love me and not you.”
“Can I get you anything?” A pretty red headed waitress asked Danger. He shook his head and she left our table.
“I don’t understand.” I was intrigued. “There were nights she left and even stayed out all night.”
“I know. She was with me, but it wasn’t like you think. We first started to meet to talk about the boys. She had some concerns and wanted my help to guide them. It didn’t take long for her to realize that I had begun to drink, and was drinking a lot. When she confronted me I broke down and begged her not to tell Misty or the boys. I am an asshole, but I do love my boys. I am also proud and didn’t want anyone to know my issues.”
Just then things began to connect. “So Octavia took it upon herself to help you?”
How could I have doubted her love for me?
“Yes. I was grateful for her help, but mostly I loved the time with her. I never stopped loving her. She will always been the one in my heart.”
I looked the man who had done so much damage in the eyes. “That leaves us with two things in common.” I was referring to my love for his boys and my love for Octavia. “Why didn’t you come forward sooner?”
He didn’t answer me. Instead he stood up, clapped me on the back and said, “Have a great life Kyle. Relish in the fact that the woman you loved, loved you back.”
With that he walked away.