The house was quiet. The house was never quiet and it plucked against every single one of Alex’s nerves as he rushed through the house, calling out for his wife or children. Since receiving the news, he’d been unable to do anything but hope that they’d been wrong. Dinner was cooking away in the slow-cooker and the delicious scents filled the house – just turning his stomach in the current situation.
Annabelle’s book was set down upside down but open. He hated that she did that; it was insane but it bugged him immensely that all of the spines for their books were broken over time as she did that. Lara’s bed was empty – relatively unused. And he fought back the urge to vomit as he hurried out of the empty living room.
Even as he moved room to room looking for his family, he knew that this nightmare was real. The building that had been his home for years just felt empty; something integral – that had made it his home – was gone forever. On the fridge, held up by a magnet, was a not telling him that she’d dropped Blythe off at Richard’s to ride the stupid horse he’d given her while she took Trystan in to do some shopping to get ready for school.
The bit of every-day domesticity was too much and his stomach clenched. Alex lurched forward and threw up in the sink. Several minutes passed as he gathered himself before she dropped the note onto the counter by the sink and – with a deep breath – he disappeared with a pop. He knew that Richard had removed him from the wards when he’d left the first time, he wasn’t sure if the old man had keyed him back in when Trystan and Blythe had started coming over more often.
He appeared on the road at the end of the path that would lead him up to the Caer. The walk up to the door was one that he could still do with his eyes closed – given how much time he’d spent out here when he was growing up, but he took forever covering the short distance as he was terrified of what he’d find when he arrived at the house.
As long as he took, it still wasn’t long enough and he hesitated a moment before knocking on the door. He blinked in surprise when Richard opened the door himself, rather than having one of the kids meet him or sending and elf. Again, he froze – not sure what to do. Knowing what he wanted, but knowing that the time for that was long past. He slipped his hands into his pockets and greeted quietly, “Hello, dad.”
“Come in, Alex,” he said quietly as he stepped aside.
“I’m very sorry for your loss. The children are waiting for you in the den.”
With a nod, Alex made his way into the house and through the halls toward the room where he’d been told his children were waiting. The sight of all four of the kids together gave him pause for just a moment. It felt sort of like what should have always been except for Amber’s presence, the knowledge that Tim wanted nothing to do with him, and the feeling of his father stepping up behind him.Blythe Morrigan