room for regret

by renegadekarma

Then, peaceable Jonathan Nyte – who had never hated anything in his life, who’d never spoken a harsh word to his children, and who’d never advocated fighting – kicked a hole in the wall in rage.


 

The morning had started with Jonathan burning his toast, spilling coffee on himself, and being late for work (as usual). It was only after he returned that he began to suspect that anything was amiss.

Aquila, his temperamental old eagle owl, was perched on the window sill with a letter tied to her leg. She hooted as Jonathan walked by, surprisingly more gentle than she usually was with him. He stared her down suspiciously before reaching toward her, and for once, she didn’t claw him and held out her leg obediently for him to undo the letter.

Deft fingers swiftly untied the knot and pulled the envelope toward him, blinking at the familiar writing. Zach’s. He kept in touch with both of his children, but considering that he’d only just sent his son a letter, he hadn’t expected a reply this quickly.

Sliding a finger under the seal and breaking it, he eased out the crumpled parchment, written in a hand that was shakier than usual.

Dad.

Felicia and I found Mum’s killer. We went to Yorkshire to question him, but things turned violent and he attacked us.

He’s dead now, and I’m writing this from Mungo’s, but don’t worry, I’m fine. It’s Fee who you should be worried about. She’s just been sentenced to Azkaban for murder, but I’m scared that she won’t survive it. I know that we shouldn’t have kept this from you, but going to Yorkshire and finding him was something that we had to do for Mum. We both knew the consequences, and we both accept them.

I’m sorry, Dad.

–Zach

Clutching the parchment in both hands, Jonathan took a seat heavily on the couch, breathing hard as he scanned the words twice, three times, four times – the more he read them, the more the truth settled in on his chest. He felt invisible hands reaching out from the parchment, suffocating him.

They’d found Kitty’s killer. While he’d been waiting for years for that bastard to be brought to justice, he certainly hadn’t expected that it would be his children who went after it. The parchment crinkled as his grip tightened, and he stared at the words, the ink blurring together as his eyes filled with tears that he rarely shed.

Yes, his wife’s murderer was dead, but at what cost?

Zach was in the hospital. Felicia had been deemed a murderer. Someone had dared to harm Jonathan’s precious children, and while he couldn’t help but feel an uncharacteristic streak of satisfaction that the man who’d made them suffer so much was finally dead, it wasn’t enough to relieve his pain.

His little girl was in Azkaban, for Merlin’s sake, surrounded by dementors and other criminals who’d done far worse than she had. Jonathan closed his eyes for a moment, resting his forehead in his hand as he sighed.

He was a failure of a father. Perhaps if he hadn’t left London all those years ago and actually have been there for his children all along, they wouldn’t have spurred themselves to tracking down their mother’s killer. Perhaps he could have talked them out of it before it was too late, like it was now.

It wasn’t useful to dwell on what had already happened and replay the what if scenarios in his mind, yet Jonathan just couldn’t help it. Opening his eyes again, the knot in his stomach curling tighter rather than loosening, he was suddenly flooded with anger. Anger at that man for killing his wife, for landing one of his children in the hospital and the other in Azkaban. But mostly, he was filled with anger at himself and his failure at parenting.

Then, peaceable Jonathan Nyte – who had never hated anything in his life, who’d never spoken a harsh word to his children, and who’d never advocated fighting – kicked a hole in the wall in rage.

He studied the gaping black hole. It mirrored the old one in his heart, and now the newly-made one in his life.

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