Location: Swansea, Wales • Date: Early January, 1996
The baby was crying. “Now, now, there you go, oopsie daisy,” Alun whispered, scooping up baby Bronwyn into his arms and gently rocking him back and forth. The older kids were playing out in the garden, something they wouldn’t be doing if their mother was home, not at this hour, but he didn’t mind. As long as they stayed close and didn’t let any strangers in to play with them.
Bronwyn finally settled and Alun set him down in his crib, picking up the two way mirror that acted as their baby monitor and returning to his workshop where he was trying to figure out his newest invention. Tinkering with his tools, he kept one eye on the mirror at all times. Meiriona wouldn’t like it if she came home to the baby crying. Sometimes people asked him if he minded that he was the stay at home parent while his wife worked. He usually laughed. It was a gift to him, being able to spend so much time with his kids. He loved them so much.
“Papa?” came the small voice from behind him. He turned and smiled fondly, brushing the dust off his hands before he walked over and crouched next to his older son.
“Yes, Iwan?” he said, brushing the boy’s hair to the side. His son blinked up at him through long lashes.
“We heard someone arriving. Who’s here?” he asked. Alun frowned, then glanced up as he heard a knock at the door.
“Just give me one moment, I’ll find out,” he said, picking up the mirror and walking out of his shop. At the door, he took one last moment to brush off the front of his shirt and opened the door, oblivious to the mess that was his hair.
He frowned. On the other side of the door was a man dressed in heavy black robes bearing the Azkaban insignia. “Can I help you?” he asked, standing to the side as the man walked in, out of the rain.
“You are Alun Reese?” the man asked. Alun nodded. “My name is Arturus Kane. I am a senior official at Azkaban.”
This didn’t sound good. Kane was his wife’s boss. “Is everything okay? Did Meiriona get hurt?” he asked, absently pointing his wand at a kettle on the stove. “She was supposed to be home an hour ago…”
A strange look passed over Kane’s face. “Mr Reese… sit down.” Alun’s jaw clenched. No. He shook his head slightly. “Please, sir… you should sit,” Kane continued.
Alun gave another firm shake of his head. “Please, just tell me what happened,” he said, trying to stop his knees from shaking. Kane let out a sigh.
“Earlier this evening, multiple prisoners managed to escape from the prison. In the struggle to contain them, your wife… was killed in action. We are terribly sorry for your loss…”
Kane continued speaking, but Alun didn’t hear a word of it. There was a loud rushing sound in his ears. No. It couldn’t be. There had to be some kind of mistake. Or it was a joke. It had to be. He slowly sank down into the armchair behind him, his hands over his face. “No… no…” he whispered, a loud sob ripping from his throat.
What was he supposed to do now? Three kids, one barely a year old. It had to be a mistake. Any minute, she would walk through the door, apologizing for being late. Any minute…
What was he going to tell the kids?