Welcome To The Harem
Frederick by Lilydale
Summary: "To love one child and to love all children, whether living or dead - somewhere these two loves come together." -- Marguerite Duras, author and filmmaker. Angst of the Scully family variety.
Classification: Angst of the Scully family variety
Timeline: Season four, sometime after "Herrenvolk"
Summary: "To love one child and to love all children,
whether living or dead - somewhere these two loves come
together." -- Marguerite Duras, author and filmmaker
Disclaimer: The characters you recognize are not mine.
They belong to 1013 Productions, Chris Carter, and Fox.
Archive: Sure. Please let me know so I can visit.
Contact: Speak to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit me
at my newly relocated site
Thanks: Blueswirl, Emma Brightman, and JET all deserve
hearty praise for helpful beta. Thanks also to Bonetree
for organizing the E-Muse Beat the Heat Fic Challenge for
which this story made its debut last week.
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Margaret Scully's house
Margaret Scully thinks most about Frederick when she's
sewing. That may help explain why her sewing machine's
been behind towels in the linen closet for the bulk of the
last thirty years. She loves Frederick, but she doesn't
like to think about him.
Melissa wore a lot of homemade outfits, but her next three
children all sported store-bought clothes. The only hand-
me-downs they wore were leftovers from their Navy
neighbors. It was easy enough to explain. Easy enough to
appear normal. "Oh, once little Missy arrived she kept me
so busy that I hardly had time to shop for clothes, much
less make them." Any new mother could say that, right?
Especially by the time she had four young children all
vying for attention and growing like weeds? Yes, yes,
that's always been her story and her comfort.
On the Naval base the Scullys fit right in, probably even
stood out, and not just because of their red-topped heads.
As a family they always seemed so happy, proper, and full
of love. Not just seemed, Maggie thinks. That's how they
were. She smiles at the memory, her beautiful, caring
family. A house full of six is a marked contrast to her
current house of one and her dwindled down progeny of
three. Four, if you count Frederick.
When she first found out she was pregnant, she created a
miniature wardrobe of yellow and green. Back in the early
'60s people couldn't find out the sex of their babies like
they could now, and all the fabric stores had plentiful
supplies of yellow and green yarn and cloth. Women also
sewed a lot more back then. She wonders who's more out of
touch, who's missed out on more, her or young women around
The only Scully baby who wore any of those handmade clothes
was Melissa. There's something to be said for the olden
days of yellow and green, colors good for a boy or a girl.
And something to be said for a lack of monogramming.
Maggie's noticed an increase in monogramming over the past
few years on other people's grandbabies at church. Maybe
it's just her awareness of other people's expanding
families that's increased given the ever-dwindling size of
her own. She prefers to think that people were just more
familial and practical when she was a young mother. Women
on the Navy base passed around assorted baby supplies and
clothes like recipes.
Most clothes, anyway.
Missy wore some of the clothes made for Frederick, but once
she outgrew them Maggie packed them away because even
though Frederick never wore them they were more a reminder
of a lost boy than of a happy, smiling girl. Some clothes
Missy never even grew into before they were given away to
other families in the friendly base community way or packed
in tissue paper as secret memories and tucked in the
Her husband never asked what happened to all those little
crocheted booties that he sometimes wore on his fingers
like puppets to make her laugh.
When Dana stopped in for a surprise visit earlier that
night she had on a light yellow cardigan. It wasn't
monogrammed but was adorned with her name on an FBI tag.
"Dana! What are you doing here?"
"Can't I just stop by to say hello to my mother?"
"Of course, honey," Maggie said as she ushered her daughter
inside, wondering if Dana was okay. Maggie hoped she
hadn't already eaten all the Oreos she bought last weekend
because Dana really needed to eat more. And rest more.
Her poor baby girl always looked so tired.
They sat in the kitchen for a while chatting about nothing
in particular, about people they both knew at church, about
the radio superiority of NPR, and picking at a plate of
grapes and cheese. (She had indeed eaten all the Oreos.)
They moved into the living room after a refill of iced tea.
Maggie didn't want to pry, and she didn't want to upset
Dana, but something wasn't quite right with her daughter.
It wasn't like the time that year when Dana was truly not
herself, paranoid at the world and waving a gun at her
partner and then at her, but there was something
uncharacteristically soft in her voice and something sad in
the way she smiled.
"Is everything okay, Dana?"
There was that melancholy smile again. "Yes, Mom.
Everything's fine. Really. It's just..." She took a
conveniently long sip of tea. "It's just that Mulder's
mother is sick. She had a stroke. I was there, in Rhode
Island, at the hospital with them a few days ago."
"I'm so sorry. How is she now? Will she be okay?"
"Yes, it looks that way. She's awake, responsive, her
cognitive abilities quickly and almost completely restored.
She's gaining strength." A pause. "I wouldn't have left
if I thought she wasn't going to be fine."
Her daughter said "she" but Maggie read it, heard it, as
"he." Dana cared about Mrs. Mulder because she cared about
Mulder. It wasn't something they talked about.
"Good, good," she said, supportive but noncommittal. "I
didn't know his mother lived in Rhode Island." She in fact
knew that his mother did not live there thanks to a few
conversations with Mulder when Dana was missing, but she
wasn't sure if Dana knew she knew, so she decided again to
take the vague route.
"She doesn't. Mulder's family has a vacation home up
Maggie nodded her head as she murmured an "I see."
"We went there, between visits. It was nice, big," Dana
said as she stared off at some random point by the
bookshelves. "It's right on the sea."
"So it felt like home," Maggie said, knowing that for their
entire family the water always made them feel like they
were at home. For years the only time the kids felt like
they were a complete family was when she took them all to
the shore, explaining that their daddy was out there on a
boat, sailing the very ocean lapping at their toes.
"Yes, it was a little like home," Dana said with some of
the sadness noticeably absent from her face. "But not
enough. That's why, uh, why I wanted to come see you.
You're home, Mom."
Maggie's heart constricted as she thought about how a
child, your child, has the unique power to make your heart
feel for one brief moment that it's stopped pumping blood,
overwhelmed by love and pride.
Especially Dana, who only rarely talked about what and how
Soon after, Dana announced that she needed to go, claiming
that tomorrow would be an early day. Maggie hugged her
before she left, stroking her hair like she would a baby's.
With the house now again quiet and empty, Maggie wishes
that all her children could visit on any random night just
to say hello and eat some of her food. Bill and Charles
live too far away, she can only see Melissa in pictures,
and Frederick...Frederick is gone.
She wonders if Frederick ever wants to come see his real
mother, make sure she's happy and healthy and safe. Does
he hate her? Does he think that she doesn't love him
anymore? That she never did? Or does he never think of
her at all? Maybe he doesn't even know about her. Maybe
he's not even alive. Is there anyone to stand by his side
when he's sick?
When he's sick. They lost Frederick because he was sick
and would be forever.
At first he was a healthy little boy, acting the way she
was assured he would, keeping them up at nights with his
wails and shaking his chubby legs so much it was
hard to pull on his tiny socks. But then suddenly, with
each passing week, he became a little more lethargic, a
little more glassy-eyed in front of the toys his baby blue
eyes used to track with curious awe.
She remembers what it was like when her doctor told her
that he was sick. She wishes she could forget.
She also remembers what it was like every time they went to
the specialist's office. It felt like she was struck with
a bolt of lightning every time she saw that building. She
remembers that specifically, feeling the shock and
paralysis of Zeus's lightning every time she saw Zeus
She thought Zeus struck her dead when the doctors quietly
told her and William that Frederick was simply too sick to
live with his parents anymore, too sick to even see them.
Their parting was gradual, waning slowly with sporadic
hospital visits, but it eventually was complete. Forty
years ago, it didn't seem all that uncommon or cruel to
take a sick boy away from his parents.
She's not sure now what it was that was so wrong with him.
The doctors said that Frederick had some sort of severe
anemia with complications, but it seemed nobody could ever
pinpoint those complications or figure out an effective
treatment. Whatever was wrong, it made him so very, very
pale and weak, and it never got better even after all those
She was younger than Dana when she had and lost Frederick,
and now she can't imagine someone as young as Dana having
to go through anything as difficult as that. But Maggie
did, and she survived, and she and William did ultimately
have a blessed, beautiful family.
Frederick's existence was erased from their lives. They'd
thrown away all his pictures. Or, rather, her husband did.
As hard as it was for her to lose Frederick, she knew how
much his first son meant to William, and any reminder of
the son not meant to be was too much for even the steel
willed Navy man. Saving clothes Frederick never grew into,
however, was practical, economical, and nonspecific, so
they were allowed to stay.
She never told anyone about Frederick, as she'd promised to
the doctors. And given the honor her husband put to his
word, she trusts that he never told anyone either. They'd
switched bases from Maryland to the Midwest soon after they
lost Frederick, and nobody where they lived knew that the
new couple in the tract house next door really had a four-
Maggie longs to know what happened to her first baby. Over
the years she resigned herself to never knowing. After
giving up sewing, it takes times like tonight -- when she
feels particularly far from or particularly close to her
children -- for her to think about Frederick, her first
darling little boy.
Tired, Maggie heads upstairs to go to bed. Sometimes she
feels the weight of her husband on the other side of the
bed, but she doesn't dare turn around and look because she
knows it's not real.
In her dreams, though, in her dreams, she does look to see
who's nearby as she sits at the beach, vacations in Rome,
or does whatever one does in dreams. William is still
there sometimes, Melissa too, and even baby Frederick can
appear in her dreams. He's a healthy baby in her head,
perpetually young as she remembers him, with drooping,
sleepy eyelids as she rocks him to sleep by the window.
+ + + + +
A little weather-beaten farmhouse
The girl fell asleep before the sun went down. So far
tonight he's seen two falling stars through the dusty
window next to his bed. He desperately wants rest, but
it's slow in coming tonight. He looks at the sparkles in
the sky and wonders, "Is that where home is?" He spends
his time working in fields with endless rows of identical
crops and sleeping in the small wooden house, but this
place doesn't feel like home.
His mind paints thoughts not with words but with vivid
colors in silent, swirling patterns that remind him of the
way sunshine first hits puddles after a rainstorm. When he
thinks, it's like he's part of a never-ending dream; awake
or asleep, day after day, his world is the same.
He's often wondered if the girl sees pictures like he does,
but when he looks her in the eye hoping to see rainbows, he
only sees a cloudy brown sun with a black center. "Hello
in there, can you see what I see?"
He's tried sneaking looks at the eyes of the others too,
but there's a strange sense of understood order at the
farm, everyone focused at the task at hand instead of at
the people around them. Plus, outside he's usually only
close to the girl.
And, of course, to the men.
Sometimes when the men come to watch them work, they pull
on her braids. His hair is shorn close to his head or
they'd probably pull on him too. They don't seem to pull
hard, just enough to get her attention. She never
flinches. Maybe she doesn't care. He can't ask and find
out. He'd care if it was his head.
Sometimes the men are loud too, their individual sounds
blasting through the usual buzzing background.
He doesn't think he's supposed to make noise from his mouth
the way the big men do, which is why he's never tried it
even when the men aren't there. He suspects that they're
always there somehow, even when he can't see them with his
The men ignore him and the other boys and girls for the
most part, sometimes paying more attention to and treating
with more care the plants and the bees than they do the
children. It's just as well because when the men move
close to him, his pictures get angry and fiery, orange and
deep red burning inside.
No, he shudders, shaking his head. Nighttime is not for
the men. Concentrate on the moon, on the stars, on a time
He leans back away from the window, closes his eyes, and
settles his head of dirty blond hair onto his pillow,
wishing for sleep. Sometimes in his night dreams, amidst
the sea of vivid chaos, he can hear one word breaking
through the waves, lapping up to him and washing over him
with comfort. Frederick, sometimes he hears the word
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September 16, 2003