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The Making of a Peacock

By Michelle Darnell

Adventure / Drama

Ickle Gilderoy

"Where are you off to tonight, Mummy?" the child nervously asked. His mother was known to go out most evenings and leave little Gilderoy home alone.

"Oh sweetie. It's just another ball in the city. You know how I loathe these things." Her silvery voice chuckled as she added a touch of rouge to her porcelain cheeks.

Despite her proclamation, Gilderoy knew his mother loved these affairs. There was an electricity in the air whenever Diana Lockhart was getting ready for an evening on the town. In fact, it was a special time for Gilderoy as well; watching his mother go through her beauty rituals, for he was allowed to participate. Together they would roll their long blond hair, share face creams and anti-wrinkle treatments, and sit together in front of the vanity mirror.

Now Gilderoy was only six and had no need for face creams or wrinkle treatments, but it was the time spent with his mother that he craved. During their fussing and primping, she was his alone. They would chat about nothing of consequence - usually the newest beauty products on the market or the latest gossip about the lady down the street. And throughout these rituals, Diana would gaze fondly at the reflection of her boy in the mirror. His face beamed up at her with pink cream still gobbed on his forehead where it had not been properly smoothed in. His soft hair was messily rolled in the mass of curlers on his head.

"Now Gilderoy, remember how I showed you to properly roll your hair? This certainly isn't it. Shall we try again? One has to always look their best. You never know who just might drop by." She continued her light commentary on the importance of appearance as she unrolled then expertly rerolled Gilderoy's shiny locks.

Her hands were soft, and she smelled like lilacs from the garden. She was beautiful. He had the same shiny golden hair, the same soft blue eyes. She called them "forget-me-not" blue. That sounded suitable to him, so he began referring to his own as that particular shade as well.

"There, all done!" she cried, joy and approval resonating in her girlish laugh. "Gilderoy, this beauty that has been given to us must be treated as a prized possession - for that is what it is. You must take care to always look your very best." A very serious expression crossed her flawless face. "If you do this, the world will be at your feet. You will have every opportunity available to you. Nothing will be denied you."

Gilderoy didn't understand about opportunities or denials, but he did think it was a pretty swimming idea to have the world at his feet. King Gilderoy! Captain of many armies! Lord of the land! Everyone would love him.

A loud honk from the car that had just pulled up to their house pulled Gilderoy from his daydreaming. Diana's face instantly brightened while little Gilderoy's involuntarily darkened. She'd be leaving him now.

"Oh dear, that's my ride! How does Mummy look tonight?" she asked excitedly. She stood up and twirled around allowing her pretty pink dress to swish around her ankles.

"You look beautiful Mummy. You always look beautiful." He recited the words that he'd been saying to her almost every night since he could remember, and although they were true, there was little enthusiasm in them.

"Thank you my love. Now don't you forget the importance of always being beautiful. Remember to exfoliate your hands and feet before you go to bed, and I want to see that your nails have been buffed until they're shining when I return."

"Yes Mummy." He lowered his head as he held back a burning tear. Crying wasn't good for the complexion. It made you all blotchy and turned your eyes red.

"My sweet Gilderoy." she said, cupping his chin with her delicate hand, "I'll be back before you know it. Remember that I love you always. You're my special boy." And with that she bent down to embrace him. Carefully so as not to wrinkle her dress, but still with all the affection that she'd always shown him. He breathed in her lilac scented hair, and when he opened his eyes, she was already out the door.

Gilderoy stood in the empty bedroom for a moment. He traced his fingers along the silver handle of his mother's hair brush. She told him that it had been a gift from her grandmother on her sixteenth birthday. If he continued to take care of his appearance the way she had instructed, then he could look forward to something just as nice on his birthdays to come.

Reluctantly, he pulled his hand away from the brush and headed to the bathroom. He began filling the tub with hot water and sprinkled in a variety of salts and oils as his mother had shown him. He lowered himself into the sweet smelling water, careful to avoid getting his rolled hair wet, and then started scrubbing his already soft feet with the pumice stone.

It didn't take long for the pumice stone to turn into a battle submarine, and soon he was the captain navigating through the murky depths of the ocean. The bar of soap became an elusive giant sea serpent. Just when he thought he had the serpent in his sights, it would slither away only to come back from a different direction and wreak havoc on the little pumice ship. After an exhausting battle, the submarine finally vanquished the serpent, although many lives had been lost. Through his cunning strategy skills he managed to save the day. He would have to tell his mother about his adventures in the morning, just as surely as she would tell him hers from the ball.

As he emerged from the tub, he began to slip, and realized to his utter disappointment that he had succeeded in drenching the entire bathroom. Sighing deeply, he grabbed a towel and started mopping up his mess. It wouldn't do to have Mum discover the bathroom in this state.
After the bathroom was once again dry, he climbed onto his stool to retrieve the buffing block from the cabinet above the toilet. He caught a glimpse of himself in the still foggy mirror and was horrified to see that his hair was wet and falling out of the curlers. With trepidation he ran back to the vanity and looked frantically into the mirror. He touched his hair with shaky fingertips, and to his utter amazement, the hair seemed to be going back into place on its own. And furthermore, it was now dry and silky soft - just the way Mum had left it.

"How is that possible?" he wondered to himself. It was like... magic. A smile crept along his face as he began buffing his nails. Gilderoy had no idea what had happened, but he was glad it did. After finishing his last little nail, he climbed into his mother's bed. He knew she didn't like him to sleep in there. He had his own bed. But he wanted to be near her, and this was the closest he could get. Besides, she wouldn't remember finding him in her bed in the morning. For some reason, she always forgets.

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