Jonathan didn’t expect it to be easy.
No one had said it would be this hard either.
Blue eyes scanned the day’s headlines as Jonathan sat at the kitchen table, the newspaper propped up between the salt and pepper shakers as he absentmindedly buttered his toast. Missing the bread and instead smearing the butter all over his thumb instead, he was so immersed in finding out about the latest storm to hit the area that he’d barely noticed that his son had entered the room until Zach began speaking.
“Fee’s crying,” the eleven year old reported matter-of-factly.
Jonathan’s head snapped up. “She’s what? Where did she get hurt? How did she get hurt? Do I need to call for a healer?”
“Calm down,” Zach replied, looking supremely bored. “She’s holed up in the bathroom, won’t even let me take a shower or anything. Keeps crying about cramps or something.”
“Cramps,” the boy confirmed with a nod of his head.
Perplexed, Jonathan stood up and only just noticed the trail of butter on his thumb. Wiping it rather hastily on the tablecloth – and making a mental note to clean that up later – he grabbed his paper and started for the bathroom. Sure enough, a tug of the handle revealed that it was locked, and inside, he could hear the sobs of his daughter.
His heart dropped. “Fee, sweetheart? What’s wrong?” Jonathan tapped on the door with the back of his knuckles lightly, trying not to startle her.
The sobs only intensified. “Go away!”
Jonathan briefly considering following her command before he realized that it probably wouldn’t help things either way. He’d still be a father in a kitchen, trying to ignore the crying of his daughter, and Felicia would still be sitting in the bathroom with tears in her eyes.
So Jon sighed. “Open up, let me help.”
“You’re aware that I can use magic and unlock this door, aren’t you?”
There was a pause in which the crying subsided, and then a click. The door creaked open as Felicia peeked her tear-stained face out.
“What’s wrong?” Jon tried again.
“It-It’s,” Fee paused, biting her lip as she glanced away from her father’s inquisitive eyes at the ground instead, as if the tiles were something to marvel at. “I’m bleeding.”
Jonathan’s throat tightened. “Oh, Merlin. Are you sure you don’t need a healer? What about a bandage? I think that I’ve got an old healing book that your Mum used to—“
“No, Dad, it’s not like that.” The redhead twisted her hands nervously in front of her, still averting her eyes. “This is the first time that it’s happened. It’s a… you know.”
“A period, Dad!” Fee practically shouted at the man.
There was a pause in which Jonathan processed this new development. “Oh,” he said finally.
“Yeah,” Fee replied, clearly uncomfortable.
Jonathan cleared his throat. “Do I… do I need to explain anything to you? Like, how those things work or why it’s happening or what to do or—“
“I know all that already,” Felicia replied. Her tone was almost dismissive but her cheeks were turning filling with a cherry hue, clearly embarrassed to be having this conversation with her Dad.
“Do you want me to Floo-message Nettie? Or maybe Sophie?” Jonathan asked after a moment.
Fee nodded slowly before pausing. “In a bit. Right now, I just need a pad.”
“I’ll send Zach to get them,” Jonathan promised, turning, but his daughter grabbed his arm and turned him back around in one fierce swing.
“You can’t send Zach! What if he finds out?” she pleaded.
“Ginger, I think that he might already know. It’s a biological process,” Jonathan tried to reassure her, but Fee shook her head vehemently.
“He’d probably think that it was some sort of weird sticker that girls used. Just don’t send him for those, Dad, I don’t want him knowing!”
“Alright, alright, I’ll go get them myself,” he tried to reassure her. “Do you need anything else?”
Fee paused and sniffled. “I want chocolate. Lots of it. Nothing but chocolate. Also my stomach is killing me. These cramps are absolutely the worst.”
The man remained perplexed, but managed out, “I can send Zach to get chocolate, right?”
With the nod he received, Jonathan nodded in reply. “Wait here,” he told her, as if there was anywhere else she could be right now before moving back toward the kitchen.
Zach had been eating peanut butter from the jar with a spoon when his father entered the kitchen. Hastily placing it down on the counter to try and hide that fact, he tried for an innocent grin, but Jonathan knew better. “Make sure to wash up afterward. Oh, and we need to pick up some things for your sister.”
“What sorts of things?” The boy asked, moving toward the door right behind Jon and closing it behind him.
“Lady stuff,” Jon answered matter-of-factly.
Zach looked vaguely uncomfortable, but Jonathan had a feeling that he had no understanding of what was going on.
They entered a nearby supermarket. At Jonathan’s urging, Zach made a beeline for the chocolate while he moved toward the back of the store. It was an uncomfortable process for him as he stood there with his hands jammed into his pockets uncomfortably, trying to find the difference between ‘overnight’ and ‘heavy’, but he finally picked up one at random and held it beneath his arm.
He found Zach back in the chocolate aisle nearly lusting over a nut-filled delight. “Please, Dad?” he begged as soon as the man came within earshot.
“Just one,” the man promised, but Zach huffed.
“How come I had to pick up five for Fee?” he complained.
“Lady stuff,” Jonathan replied again, as if that answered everything, but Zach didn’t answer and instead conceded, handing his father the chocolate that he’d collected.
“What’s that?” he asked suspiciously of the package that Jonathan was holding.
“Nothing you need to know about,” the man replied smoothly, ignoring his son’s questions with practiced patience as the boy trailed behind, still trying to understand the situation at hand and how it related to his older sister.
After paying for his things (and having the man at the check-out snigger at his purchase before a rare icy glare from Jonathan shut him up), the man and his son headed home.
Fee was still sitting in the bathroom. She pulled the door open a creak when she heard her father approach (Zach had gotten bored and had returned to eating peanut butter and watching television). “Did you get it?” she whispered.
He pulled the package from the plastic bag and she gratefully pulled it into the bathroom. “Thanks, Dad,” she replied as she took it.
The words that followed were quiet, so quiet that he might not have heard them had he not stopped rustling the plastic bag briefly – “I only wish that Mum were here to help me through this.”
Felicia closed the door, clicking the lock shut again, and Jon stared at the white wooden door with a sigh.
He was a single father now. He’d have to get used to parenting on his own. Jonathan didn’t expect it to be easy.
No one had said it would be this hard either.