He sat on the old sofa, facing the unlit fireplace, staring blankly at it as though waiting for something to happen. Occasionally, he would take a quick glance at his watch, and would state to himself the minutes left before his arrival.
Typically, every year during the Christmas holidays, he would have driven to King’s Cross Station and waited for the arrival of the Hogwart’s Express. This year, he was pretty sure he didn’t have to, even if he wanted to. His son would show up all by himself, as he did all year round.
He often asked his son how he managed to slip out of school grounds, and if it was breaking any school rules, he would forbid him to do so. But his son assured him that since he was in his final year, he was given special privileges.
“There’s no harm father,” his son always said.
Strangely, it never really occurred to him how his son came home. Surely he did not use the floo network as the fireplace has not been used for a year now.
“I should ask him how he does it, my sweet sweet boy,” he said to himself.
Taking another glance at his watch, he realized his son was half an hour late, which was never the case.
“Cerena, your son is late,” he shouted to his wife.
Cerena appeared at the living room doorway and smiled to him weakly.
“He’s late. He’s never late. The train must be delayed. Should I check with Dumbledore?” he added.
“There’s no need my love,” Cerena replied with a smile. “Would you like some biscuits and tea?”
“Yes dear, that would be very nice.”
Just as his wife disappeared into the kitchen, he heard someone walking up behind him. Getting up quickly to see if it was his son, he was disappointed to find the cat, looking up at him like he was insane.
“What are you looking at? If it wasn’t for my son, you would have been gone by now,” he said angrily to the cat, who gave a meow in reply.
Taking another look at his watch, he started to panic. Why was his son late? The delay couldn’t be close to an hour, could it?
As his wife laid down the tray on the coffee table, he started pacing up and down. He felt it odd that his wife did not worry at all. Aren’t the roles suppose to be the other way around?
“How can you be so calm Cerena?” he asked his wife, slightly annoyed.
“Sit down dear. Have some tea. It will calm the nerves.”
Sitting down and taking the cup of tea from his wife, he noticed how there were only two sets of tea cups on the tray.
“Aren’t you having tea?” he asked his wife.
“I am. Why…” Cerena drifted off, as though realizing her mistake. “I just washed the other cup, and I’m drying it out. I’ll bring it out later,” she quickly added.
He nodded his head and continued sipping his tea. It was indeed relieving.
Moments later, the door bell rang. Jumping from his seat, nearly spilling over the remaining tea in his cup, he rushed to the door and pulled it open excitedly. There, on the gravel pathway, stood his son, smiling from ear to ear.
“I’m sorry for being late. The train was delayed. I hope I did not worry you?” his son immediately said.
“Oh, you worried me alright, but don’t worry about it,” he said, as he ushered his son in. “Your mother and I was just having some tea. You must join us and tell us all about school!”
Entering the living room, he announced, “Look who’s home!”
“Hello mother,” his son greeted.
Cerena looked up from her tea cup and smiled. She then got up and disappeared into the kitchen.
“Take a seat. Your mother is getting you a cup,” he said.
Not waiting for his wife to return, he immediately asked, “So, how’s that girlfriend of yours?”
“Father, she’s not my girlfriend,” his son replied blushing.
“You took her to the ball last year, that says a lot.”
“It doesn’t. We’re not going out anymore.”
“Why is that? Who stole her from you?” He narrowed his eyes, wondering who dared mess with his son’s interests.
“Father, forget it alright,” his son said and added, “Why is mother taking so long?”
“Don’t change the topic boy. I will not have anyone take away what is yours.”
“She’s not mine. She’s not an object to be fought over.” There was a hint of exasperation in his voice.
“Fine. At least tell me who she is with now.”
“She’s with Harry,” he replied softly.
“Harry Potter? Why? Why would she choose him over you?”
“Father, let’s drop this. You are clearly upset.”
“I AM upset. Harry Potter is nothing compared to you. You are the Triwizard champion, not him!”
“No, I must speak to that little nuisance! Who does he think he is?!”
Right at the peak of his anger, Cerena walked it, without the extra tea cup in hand.
“What took you so long? And where is Cedric’s cup?!” he demanded.
Cerena just looked at him and to the empty chair he had been speaking to for the last ten minutes. She didn’t know what to say.
Maybe… maybe it was time she gotten him the help he needed.