You placed it in the garden, next to my swing and mummy's rose bush.
'I always wanted to go sailing,' you told me. 'That's why I bought this boat' you paused to smile at me. You always smiled at me. 'Never got round to it though. Always too busy. It's yours now, Lils.' You sighed then, looking at me as if you knew the future; you didn't give me that look often. You said, 'You'll never go sailing in it though.'
I turned to you. My undeveloped mind swimming with questions, eyes filled with curiosity. 'Why not, Daddy?'
'You'll never have time. Life will come and go and this boat will stay in the garden. Our Little Red Boat.'
I didn't question further. There was no point. I'd never understand it anyway.
You stood then, a smile on your face. 'You'll understand one day, Lils.'
I believed you.
Just as I always did.
I was older now.
The Little Red Boat remained in the garden. Surrounded by grass and flowers.
Mum said, 'It's falling to pieces, Harry. We'll need to get rid of it soon.'
I wouldn't let her. It was our Little Red Boat.
It stayed put after that. The paint was peeling. The wood fading and chipped. Yet I didn't try to fix it, nor did we throw it away.
'I'll put it in the shed' You told her one day.
I wouldn't let you. I said, 'Daddy, it has to stay in the garden. I don't understand it yet.'
And so it stayed in the garden, for all to see.
I remember the days well.
I'd sit for hours in our Little Red Boat.
I'd read books about princesses, princes and little green frogs.
You called me your princess.
My brothers called me a frog. They were only teasing though, I know that now.
I cried when James left for Hogwarts.
I sat in our Little Red Boat where you knew i'd be.
'It'll be your turn soon, Lils' You told me with a smile.
I smiled back, 'and you'll be there to say goodbye?'
You kept smiling. 'I'll never say goodbye.'
My smile faultered. I assumed you didn't care.
'I'll only ever say, see you later.' You said as you gave me a hug.
I wish you had said goodbye.
You weren't around for long after that, Daddy.
The war was never over.
Sure, he was defeated.
But the evil remained.
Mummy was crying on the staircase when I came back from our Little Red Boat one day, book in hand, smile on face.
She was holding your photo. The one where you smile. Do you remember it, Daddy?
I didn't believe it at first. When mummy told us that you'd never come home.
I took her hand, smiled and said, 'Mummy, Daddy always comes home.'
You never did though.
Oh, how I wished you'd said goodbye.
I made friends at Hogwarts.
I learnt how to do magic and fly on a broom.
Mum said, 'Your father would be proud.'
She said that to all of us.
I visit you often now.
Now that I understand what happened to you.
'I understand what you told me, Daddy.' I said to you one day that I visited. 'About the boat and not enough time,' I smiled sadly, lost in my memories of our Little Red Boat. 'You were right. It's stayed in the garden. Our Little Red Boat.'
I starting dating a family friend. Lorcan.
He's sweet and kind and caring. He has blonde hair and blue eyes.
I remember when you gave me the Boy Talk.
'Never ever date anyone,' you told me.
At the time, I agreed.
I dissagree now.
He's loyal and funny and I think you'd approve.
'James plays professional quidditch now,' I said staring up at the stars. 'He says it's amazing. I bet you'd be proud.'
I looked over at your gravestone. I agree with what it says, you were a wonderful father.
'Albus wants to be an Auror,' I smiled at that fact. 'He wants to be as brave as you were.'
'Lily!' Mum called as she made her way through the graveyard. 'It's late. We've all been out looking for you.'
I stood then. Smiled sadly and said, 'I'll see you later.'
I took your advice, Daddy.
I'll never say goodbye.
I sat in our Little Red Boat.
Every so often, i'd glance down at the ring on my finger.
I'm engaged, Daddy. Remember that boy I told you about?
I was sitting here, just as I am now, when he came and sat with me.
'What are you doing?' He asked me.
I didn't look at him. 'Thinking,' I replied.
I sighed. 'We never have enough time.'
'We have all the time in the world,' he told me with a smile. 'We're just always too busy to notice.'
'If only the world would slow down for just a day' I admitted, 'I'd be able to go sailing. My dad always wanted to go sailing.'
It was out of the blue. Totally unexpected. 'But the world keeps on turning, my little Flower. That's why I ask you this now; Marry me Lily?'
My eyes were wide with shock, mouth hanging open.
I composed myself and nodded. It was all I could manage.
I was happy, Daddy. Really happy.
He placed the ring on my finger and smiled before telling me, 'It's our fairytale, Red.'
Yes, it's our fairytale.
But Daddy, it will always be our Little Red Boat.
I watch my daughter now as I remember you.
She looks just like I did at her age, Dad, she even has your bright green eyes.
She loves our Little Red Boat almost as much as I did.
I walk slowly over to her, watching her as she carefully turns the page of her book.
'My Dad once told me something about this boat,' I sit down next to her.
'Grandad?' She asks.
I nod. 'He always wanted to go sailing. He never did have time though.'
Her little face looked determined. 'I'm going to go sailing in this boat when i'm older.'
I smiled at her.
If only I had had that determination when I was her age.
'Maybe you will,' I agreed.
Years have passed since then.
I'm growing old now.
Your granddaughter's getting married, Dad.
I wish that you could have met her.
It doesn't hurt as much when I think of you now.
I still miss you though.
I glance sideways at my daughter. Her long red hair cascading around her shoulders, her grandfathers eyes shining back at me.
I guess there's always a part of you that's remained with me though.
'Yes darling?' I replied.
She held up a bright yellow muggle life jacket for me to take. 'Put this on. I'm taking you sailing.' She told me with a grin.
I'm forty-three now Dad, and i'm about to go sailing in our Little Red Boat.