Madeleine had been thinking about this for a long long time, what with listening to musicals like Matilda and Oliver! and Annie, and reading books like Anne of Green Gables. She decided it would be nice if the surprise she had been planning was a Christmas present for Aaron-Dad. He had proposed to Dad at Christmas and that had been really special. Madeleine had a little movie in her head of saving that present for last (the way Aaron-Dad had with the ring), and pulling it out from under the tree in shiny wrapping paper with animated gingerbread people on it and a great big bow around it. And the whole family would be there when he opened it, Dad and Drew and Aunt Abby and Uncle Scott and Marissa and Kit and Aunt Kat and Josh and maybe Uncle Bennet (if he could come), and it would be amazing.
With that plan, Dad and Madeleine went to the court with her birth certificate and the marriage license at the beginning of term to make sure that everything would be ready in time. It turned out that everything was ready a lot sooner than Dad thought it would be. After a few days of knowing that it was ready, Madeleine just couldn’t wait until Christmas. So then the plan was to make it a birthday present, but that was really only a week closer than Christmas, which meant it was still too far away.
So! Today was the day! Madeleine picked one of her favorite dresses, sunshiney yellow with ruffles, and put a big bow in her hair. Remington had helped her make it. It was like a big sunflower with sparkles and spirally leaves. It was perfect. Madeleine had a present to deliver and where there were presents, there should be bows.
All dressed up, Madeleine told her roommate Pippa that she would see her later and went to the Administrative Quarters. She had to go to the counselor’s office first to pick up the gift (and to say hi to Dad and give him a hug), and then she went to the Spellwork professor’s office and knocked.
“Good morning, Aaron-Dad!” Madeleine said, beaming as the door opened. She felt all tingly and fizzy inside, like she’d just eaten the Praline Popper ice cream from Finnigan’s Flavors. The eleven-year-old walked into her stepfather’s office and shut the door behind her. “I have a present for you. I know you don’t do birthday presents and also it’s not your birthday yet but I couldn’t wait.” Madeleine untwisted her arm from behind her back and offered Aaron a manila envelope that was held shut with a string figure-eighted around two buttons. “Open it!”
Inside, Aaron would find a packet of documents, with all the right names and dates of birth and other information already filled in: the petition for the adoption of Madeleine Paige Tennant by Aaron Patrick McKindy. It was just waiting for Aaron’s signature at the bottom.