Chapter 1 : Prologue
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In my years as a psychologist at the new branch of St. Mungo's in Dublin, I'd learned that people are very simple. Even the complicated, strange ones. Everyone is painfully, well, plain. We all get up in the morning, eat our breakfasts – mine usually consisting of oatmeal and bacon cooked perfectly by my wife, Isabel – brush our teeth, and go about our business. Such simplicity, but there isn't much time for that. The world is moving, changing in ways that were only imagined by humble people, farmers like my parents. There were things like computers now, in the Muggle world. In mine and Mum's world, there were new potions, new spells that were developed by the reformed Ministry for better protection of oneself and our world. After the war, it seemed necessary, even if the world was safer without You-Know-Who in it.
If we could all plan our lives, they would be different. The thing is, no one plans. Even if we say we do, we don't. I had a plan when I was twenty-two. That plan involved buying some land like my dad did when he was that age, buying some animals, and farming. Instead, I gave up my job at the Leaky Cauldron and started to study Wizarding Psychology, a new course that St. Mungo's was offering at that time. As you can see, my plan to farm didn't go anywhere near how it was supposed to. I did buy some land, but it came in the form of a house. It wasn't just any house, though. It was my house. Everything seems so much different when it's actually yours. But sometimes, they seem terrible.
As much as I don't like to admit it, I make mistakes. That's how we learn, unfortunately. Through our screw ups, we learn lessons. I had one particularly big screw up that landed me in my current position in another psychologist's office, having my head evaluated in a way that I'd done so many times before. In order to understand my mistake, you have to hear from the beginning, the very, very beginning.
Seamus rubbed his eyes as the scent of eggs and bacon filled his nostrils all the way from the kitchen to the bedroom. The first thought that popped into his mind was that it definitely wasn't his wife's cooking. She very rarely made eggs because she knew how much he hated the things. That was one of the many compromises and sacrifices that Isabel had made for him, just as he made sacrifices for her. Eggs was one of those sacrifices, and he was ninety-nine point nine-nine percent sure that it wasn't her birthday or their anniversary. He would have been reminded the night before if it was, as he did tend to forget their anniversary. He knew the day, he just...forgot. That wasn't a crime, even if they'd been married for almost five years now.
Once more, he found his hands in loose fists at his eyes, rubbing the sleep out of them as he stumbled out of bed and pulled a sweatshirt and a pair of jeans on. As usual, he didn't bother running a comb through his sandy blonde hair as he smacked his hands against his cheeks so that he didn't look like he'd just gotten up, though he had. His hair was a dead giveaway for that, even if he hadn't quite thought that through. Turning his back on the room, he placed his hand on the antique white doorknob before he suddenly felt ill. It wasn't the scent of eggs, either. Something was wrong. Something was very, very wrong. He simply couldn't put his finger on it just yet.
As he reluctantly stepped out of the bedroom, he greeted their dog, Ferris, and was returned hot, dog slobber all over his face and then his feet as he walked through the cold halls. When he arrived at the thermostat, he turned the temperature in the house up before getting on his knees and rubbing Ferris' black and white, shaggy, spotted fur as Seamus waited for the furnace to click itself on so that he didn't have to come back. He continued to rub his hands therapeutically on the aging dog's fur, grinning when he whined and rolled over, wanting belly rubs. Seamus willingly gave the dog what it wanted. In a way, Ferris was his and Izzie's baby. They didn't have children yet – careers and generally being afraid tended to get in the way – and they'd adopted the dog a few years ago, wanting something to help fill up their little home and to love on.
Upon hearing the click and whir of the furnace, he got up off his knees and gave Ferris a pat on the head before the large dog obediently followed his master into the kitchen. This is where Seamus found himself confused. While Iz did dye and cut her hair a lot, it had been a nice shade of brown when they'd gone to bed the night before. If she'd dyed it, he would have smelled that God awful ammonia that was in her hair dye. The woman standing in his kitchen was familiar, though.
“What are you doing here?” Seamus asked, unintentionally rude. The blonde woman quickly turned around with a half-smile on her face and shook her head.
“Dean sent me. Your...your mum passed away,” she said slowly, measuring her words carefully as she turned the stove off. Dean sent her. Dean sent his wife to tell him that his mum had passed away. Brilliant. Just brilliant.
“What?” Everything stopped. That wasn't...it wasn't possible. His mum was in perfect health. She couldn't have passed away. It simply wasn't fathomable, reasonable. This information would have been easier for him to process had it been his heart-diseased father who had died. But this was his mother. The woman who was the perfect picture of health. She took daily walks even at her age, she ate as healthy as someone could, took her vitamins, saw healers regularly for checkups...It just couldn't have happened, and that was all there was to it.
Feeling as though he would collapse otherwise, Seamus gripped the back of one of the chairs at the kitchen table his father had made him and Isabel when they bought their first 'real' home. His glassy blue eyes remained fixed on the table as he tried to contain his emotions. He couldn't let someone other than his wife see him like this. She was the only person who had ever seen him a complete wreck other than his mum and dad, of course. Choking over his tears, he looked up, his round face drawn in agony.
“Where's Iz?” he asked, tone strained.
“She went to help your dad. You know how she is, thinking about everyone else,” Penelope said. Seamus was too upset at that moment to notice the slightly bitter undertone in her voice. Instead, he nodded. That was probably best, but he wouldn't deny the extra pang of hurt that she hadn't told him that his mother had died and she was going to try and help his father out. Of course, knowing Izzie, she probably hadn't wanted to upset him so early in the morning.
“Can I get you anything else?” she asked him, and he gave her a partial glare, angry with her for popping his little shiny bubble of thought.
“No,” he said bluntly, unaware that that exchange would forever change his life.
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