21st May, 2012
"Subject 16 will be released as of Monday, May 21st at … … a.m."
He blinked once…then again. So many times he dozed in and out of it as he lie perfectly flat with his ear and cheek pressed against the fusty, piss-stained concrete floor. There were people going in and out of his cell, a mysterious lot that dragged their feet as they walked. These people were dressed in all white with their faces shield, quite akin to the suits he’d seen worn by muggles during a hazardous material outbreak.
What is all this? He wondered. Liam wanted to move, maybe sit up and get his face away from his petrie-dish of a floor and figure out what these people wanted from him. He’d seen them before, multiple times before, too. Each visit was followed by moments like these: Hazy vision, garbled dialogue, white lights, and…fear.
Liam gasped and trembled as he saw flashes of a snout, loud growling, almost like a howl or a roar. Everything in his body felt numb. He couldn’t move away or shut it out, no matter what. He could feel his heart beating, the thump of a bass drum violently thrashing at his sternum.
"…He has been showing signs of progress and has taken to the treatment well. Blood administered to the patient during… … …"
"...during the … moon."
22 May, 2012
London, the Abbey
“Sad fellow. ‘Ere.” The sound of coins hitting the concrete startled him.
He’d been sitting outside of the bakery for a little too long, as passersby decided to take him for the locals, the homeless ones, that is. He’d scraped the coins from the pavement and held them out, wanting to return them to their owner, but it was too late. They already walked away, dismissed him like anyone would a filthy bum.
Closing his hand into a tight fist, he sighed, exasperated, as he shoved the money into his pocket. He’d throw it to someone who really needed it later. Liam pulled his knees up and put his elbows on his thighs as he covered his forehead with his palms. Hours had passed with him sitting here, waiting…watching. He hadn’t found the person he was looking for.
Kara must be off tonight.
A former prisoner, Liam was a very patient man, so he thought to wait about a half-hour more to see if Kara would show her face at the pub. Would she be with Casey? He shook his head at the thought. All of the correspondence from Eric stopped before he could really get the answers, and perhaps he wanted to see for himself before he approached her. In case she’d lie.
They gave Liam his ring back when they released him, along with the few other personal effects he had on him when they first brought him in. Set of clothes…belt…they even confiscated his wand, but that was returned too. Liam didn’t expect that, but it was welcomed, all the same. He idly dragged his thumb over the band and let the metal spin at the base of his finger as he watched from beneath his hood for signs of the woman he was looking for.
He finally reached his last place of residence. Liam’s legs were so worn out, he wanted to collapse on the front steps or sprawl out on the grass and have a nap. Then he thought he ought to ring the doorbell to see if his wife was home. He didn’t, however. The lights were out so he was convinced she hadn’t been home today since they always had a habit of leaving at least a porch light on for late arrivals home. Did she not intend on coming home? Where was she? Rumors of the Order restoration was always in circulation, even before his stint in Azkaban, so it was quite possible that she had decided to stay at the manor instead of coming home. That wasn’t too out of character for her and he wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt. He’d been doing that since Eric’s first letter came, after all.
Liam entered their home through the back door, after finding the emergency key under the flower pot on the back patio. The whoosh of the outdoor wind and sounds of the neighborhood were shut out and he found himself in pure silence as it latched behind him. He closed his eyes and remained there, frozen in place. Deep breath in, and then out… He’d been gone for far too long. Liam was finally home.
The warmth of the shower was tremendous after washing himself from a room-temp bucket for months. They let him join the commons outside of isolation once in a while, but not as often as he wanted, and he didn’t have the luxury of fragrances and soaps to clean the filth from his skin. The sponge and searing hot water felt like razorblades shaving off the first layer of skin, but he scrubbed what could to rid himself of that film set on him from the prison before getting out of the tub, slowly, and carefully. The tile here was slick, unused and clean, the dungeon, pit-like restrooms in Azkaban.
It was going to take some time to get used to life outside of the cage.
Liam wrapped himself in a towel from the waist down and padded into the bedroom. He flicked the light on for the walk-in closet, and was surprised to find that most of his clothing was still hanging there. They were coded by color, much to Kara’s fussiness about keeping things tidy and in order. They’d have play arguments about keeping the closet clean and that brought a smile to his face. Merlin, he missed her. Liam pulled one of his black v-neck shirts off of the hanger, and one of the articles beside it fell to the floor.
He picked up the coat and held it up. It was a black pea coat, nice brand, high quality material too…but the trouble was, it wasn’t his coat at all. He vaguely recognized it as it belonged to someone he’d seen before. There was an awful, sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach as he struggled to comprehend this. There was a gnawing at his heart, a bad feeling, as he dragged himself over to the bed and sat down. He needed to sit on something that wasn’t concrete or hardwood for a moment. Whose is this...?
Then he saw the photos…
They weren’t the moving pictures like the ones from their world, no. They were regular photographs, memories forged between two people in a group of three, kept right on the nightstand. He was on Kara’s side of the bed. Three separate times, photos of this couple were taken, and in one of them, was that very coat Liam was holding in his hands. His heart was beating, rampant, once again, and his hands tightened around the coat. The photos were rather interesting, if not rage-inducing, as they told him everything he needed to know at a glance. Photos of her best friend Jon or her step-father, or anyone else, like Markus if he was still hanging around her...those would make sense, and would be excusable, if not for the compromising poses they were in. Embracing, arms draped over shoulders...lips pressed to each other as if they were dating or even husband and wife themselves.
Mystery, solved. The man in the photograph, the man holding and kissing Liam’s wife, was Casey Winslow.