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Alister Sinclair-Longbottom

Some kind of madness has started to evolve

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Alister Sinclair-Longbottom

Alister did not frequently reach out to people that showed up in his readings.  Usually, his cards only deigned to show him things related to the hands that cut the deck—primarily his own, of late, though occasionally someone would track him down and ask him, inevitably, for a reading.  In that case, they would stir and the Sight would stretch like a feline rousing from years of sleep, claws scraping along the fabric of his thoughts.  He despised giving readings to people that asked for them, if only because it felt so forced—like trying to fix a collar on a wild animal.  It was much easier to let it come naturally and, when they felt inclined to show him something about someone else, they would do so on their terms.


It was a difficult thing to explain, even to another Seer like his mother, how the cards encompassed their own personality, like a sort of gateway with which a gift could be channeled and could speak—not with words, but with ideas that brushed the inside of his head.


That was what had happened that morning, his attention only half-focused on the children toddling around the living room, chasing each other with dinosaur toys.  His eyes were there, but his attention wasn't.  Not completely.  It was tugged vehemently, almost frantically, toward the deck of Tarot cards that always occupied the spot in his back pocket, closed in a leather pouch.  He tried to ignore them at first.  There were more important things to tend to, like Gavriel and Charlotte, who required his presence more often than they did not, or like the photographs of the runic enchantments that sat spread on the table in front of him.  He had spent the greater part of the previous evening trying to sort them out and had little success.  He was having even less now, distracted as he was, staring down into a cup of coffee instead of at the children or at the work in front of him.


The cards were calling and when they called like this, he had limited options.  Spread them out over the table, listen to what they said, or deal with the headache that would rage for hours when he didn't.


So he had.


And that was why, three hours later, he was standing outside of Gringotts on an obscenely sunny day, Gav and Charlie having been taken to his parents' home in St. Andrew's, so that he could...wait.  Wait and wait and wait, because for whatever reason, they demanded it so, like a buzzing in the back of his head, an irritation that could not be shaken off, no matter how hard he squeezed them in the pocket of his coat, staring up at the enormous doors that stood, a hulking barrier, in front of the bank that employed him.

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Lyceus Falls

The day started out like any other. Well, almost like any other.


His wife, Eleora, shook him awake and told him to get a move on making breakfast for Eden. He groaned, of course, not only because the hour was ungodly, but because he was pale and weak. Yet he rolled out of bed and nearly tripped over his slippers on the way to the loo to relieve his bladder. Showered, shaved and teeth brushed, he was finally ready to open the curtains and let the dawning sun in. After breakfast, Lyceus kissed Eleora by the fireplace before she stepped into the hearth, dropped floo powder at her feet and disappeared in a flash of green flames.


Lyceus turned to look at his children with his hands on his hips. “Alright, cub,” he said to his daughter. “Let’s get you off to school.” It was always a surprise to him to see just how much Eden loved going to school, even if it was a magical preschool. There wasn’t much magic that happened there, but at least any magical tantrums could be dealt with. That was the more terrifying part of sending their children off to a normal muggle school--which they had been considering, until Eden stamped her foot so hard in defiance one day that the bookshelves shattered, and all the books fell.


That quickly nixed any thoughts of public school.


The twins, Lazarus and Lucian, cute as ever were a distraction as he sat there and tried to write that morning. If there was something to be said about muggle technology, it was that it made writing extraordinarily easy. The cursor blinked at him, and the page was blank. The twins were making noises that were irresistible and before he knew it, he was playing around with them on the floor, and making them float through the air with magic. “Dada! Flying!” Lazarus squealed. They were giggling messes, and he was no closer to completing a sentence than he had been two hours ago.


“Your mum is going to kill me,” he said to his boys. “I told her I’d have a chapter done by the time she got home, and you’re not making it any easier.” Torn, he glanced between the computer and the two rugrats who were developing sentences and climbing all over the furniture. Maybe he could get in a few sentences. Resigned, he sat down at his desk, and stared a little longer at the blank page and blinking cursor. Only a minute later was Lucian attempting to climb up on his lap. Sighing, he scooped the boy up and set him down on his knee.


He allowed himself to get trapped in his imagination for a moment, seeking inspiration for what this new story was going to be, but it just wasn’t there. It was getting a little frustrating, not knowing what to write about.


Lucian squealed. His arms flailed, and it happened in slow motion. His heart leapt into his throat. “NO!” he cried out, desperately extending his arm over the side of his desk. His chest seized as the smash echoed in the room. Horrorstruck, he watched the foul liquid of his remaining doses of Wolfsbane potion seep into the cracks of the hardwood floor. For a long moment, he sat there, just looking at the smashed vials.


He could feel the panic licking at the edges of his psyche. He budgeted so carefully. He was going to make it through this moon, and everything was going to be fine… and now it wasn’t.


That didn’t stop the child in his arms from flailing about, none the wiser about what he’d just done. For several moments, all he could do was look and feel the impending doom begin to crush him. A litany of Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God raced through his mind.


Desperate times. It was time to cash in a chit. After using the floo network to connect with Julius, he pawned his children off on his brother. Then, after promising to attend one of Julius’s golf tournaments--seriously, what was wrong with that boy?--Lyceus was racing off to Diagon Alley. The entire way there, he worried about what was in his Gringott’s vault. Could he spare enough coin? Did it matter whether he could or couldn’t. Other sacrifices might have to be made.


The moon was tomorrow night, and he was now two expensive potions short. Who knew juggling kids and potions would be such a struggle, but it was. Wolfsbane was one of the most expensive ingredients on the market, making his potions feel like it was costing him an arm and a leg every month. Though things had gotten better for him and his family, it was still a bloody struggle.


The sun was far too bright for this dark day in his life. Headed for Gringotts, he knocked over a kind soul, and stopped to help him up. After a hurried apology, he dashed up the steps. In his haste, or weakness, he tripped on a step, and landed awkwardly at the feet of…

Lyceus looked up. “You,” he said, surprised, and staggered to his feet. At least he wasn’t pleasantly drunk this time. “This the part where I take a swing at you? Tell you to watch where you’re going? How’d that go last time?”

Edited by Lyceus Falls

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Alister Sinclair-Longbottom

Alister saw the stumble happen before it actually occurred.  It wasn't part of what was so unkindly referred to as 'his gift' but rather the viewpoint of an outsider looking in, able to follow the trajectory of each person's footpath which, when unaltered, led to the collision between the person he was seeking and a cheerful looking older fellow with ruddy cheeks and a wide, crooked grin.  They were two contrasting sides of a coin or a mirror, the cheerful individual looked the picture of health—old and wobbling on his feet, but with good color in his face and clear eyes.  Lyceus, on the other hand, looked as if something had drained the color from his body, like he was part of some altered photo, the only desaturated item within the frame.


It was the following stumble that he truly anticipated.  He saw the slight wobble in his step, a result of an effort to distance himself from the rest of the crowd or weakness from the virus that had infected him so many, many years ago.  He hadn't had to ask to know nor had he ever demanded confirmation.  He had simply known the way that Alister sometimes just knew...because the cards had whispered it was so.  He did not need to check a clock or a calendar to know the phases of the moon.  He'd known them this morning when he'd put the deck on the table, cut it, and listened in a way that only he could.


Arching an eyebrow and tipping his head curiously to one side, the Seer looked over the werewolf—one an accepted pariah among their kind—weird, probably a liar, not even real—and one an outcast among outcasts—a plague, a virus, a cancer which, given the opportunity to metastasize, would creep in through their windows at night to wickedly and gleefully spread his violent disease to their bratty, snot-nosed, chubby little bundles of joy.


Except that was wrong.  On both counts.  Or, at least, it was partially wrong.  Alister couldn't say, either way, what living with that would be like, but he suspected it wasn't at all the way that the world portrayed it to be.  He, for one, did not fear the things that went bump in the night coming to 'sacrifice our children to his monstrous appetite.'


"You could,"  he eventually responded dryly, holding a hand out in an offer to tug him back up to his feet, for all that it was worth.  At just over five feet tall, Alister could barely lift a vacuum cleaner without the help of a wand, let alone a grown man whose shoulders were twice the width of his own.  "I would, however, caution you that if you do swing on me, you will miss because I will see it coming.  I'll duck.  You'll fall.  People will stare.  Neither of us really want people staring, right?  Gawking at two circus freaks...although you look marginally more...if not healthy, sound-minded, than you did the last time I saw you."  He nodded at the little shop across the street.  "Come on.  I'll buy you a coffee."

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Lyceus Falls

Lyceus had reached out and slapped his hand into Alister’s, accepting the help for what it was--a gesture and not much more, because Alister looked as though a simple huff, and puff would blow him right over. So, the heavy lifting rested with the elder of the two, and eventually, he ended up on his feet again, standing straight and working out the kinks in his back. If his condition didn’t age him pre-maturely--which it was starting to--then parenthood certainly did. His back was feeling the effects of all those piggyback rides Eden demanded on a near daily basis. Bless his little girl--he loved her so--but asking him to turn into a wolf almost every day was starting to get to him. At least she wasn’t afraid of him anymore, so if her keen interest in his condition was his cross to bear, then he would.


Alister Longbottom, he thought, recalling the name as though it was just yesterday they had crossed paths in the pub and shared a pint. Well, there was no sharing, as Lyceus drank it all. And while it felt like just yesterday, it also felt like a lifetime ago. So much had changed since this toothpick’s intervention. To look at him now was to be face to face with the living proof that Fate and Fortune were real. That’s not a bad name for an Apothecary, he randomly thought to himself. Other words he’d associate with Alister fluttered about in his head. Smart. Lightweight. Gay--not that Lyceus judged. He was free to marry whom he pleased, and he married into a heroic family to boot.


“No, wouldn’t want that,” he acquiesced, and felt a moment of calm. It allowed him to smile warmly, and appreciatively. The idea of hitting Alister was preposterous. No one might say it out loud, but Lyceus was indebted to this man. That day had changed his life like an epiphany. It was just a moment, though, that this feeling lasted, for when Alister gestured to the cafe across the cobblestone street, his anxiety welled up inside him once more. He didn’t have time for coffee. He didn’t have time to waste tripping up the steps to Gringotts, but he’d gone and done it anyway.


As much as he wished he could say he had the time, he didn’t. By now, he was certain that Slug and Jiggers would be sold out of their Wolfsbane potions, but he had to try. If that failed, then there was the shop in Knockturn Alley, but the prices there were jacked up to double what it would cost in Diagon Alley. “I can’t,” he said, his heart racing once again as he thought about why he was at Gringotts in the first place. “Unless there’s Wolfsbane in that coffee…” A pointless statement, considering adding coffee to a Wolfsbane potion would render it ineffective. He sighed. “My son… he…”


Lyceus looked at his watch. He knew he was being rude, but he just couldn’t help it when something this problematic was looming over him like a personalized thunderstorm cloud, following him everywhere he went. “There is nothing I’d like more, but… I have only… just over an hour to fix this.”


It felt wrong on so many levels to turn Alister away. “If you have something to say--because I know you’re not standing out here to bask in the sunshine--then come along.” With that, Lyceus darted through the door to the wizarding bank.

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