Dean Thomas was in a dark place. His marriage had unravelled, something he blamed entirely on himself. He fell out of love with his wife, and the longer he'd spent with Romilda, the more annoyed and spiteful he'd become in their own home. It only got worse and worse each day, until one day he couldn't take it anymore. He'd lost his head completely and blown up on poor Romilda, who despite her flaws, did not deserve to be treated like he'd treated her. After they'd rowed and both been brought to tears, he had packed his things and left. The next day they'd signed the divorce papers - papers that probably would have been better off signed a year or two ago. Things had not been well between them for a while, but Dean hadn't wanted to be a failure. But now he was. He'd failed as a husband and as a parent. His children were now from a broken home. And to make matters worse, his ex-wife seemed to have completely lost her head, and published a tell-all about their failed relationship. As if the wizarding community didn't already know too much.
If there was one thing Dean hated, it was his private life being made not-so-private. It was one of the many things that had irked him about Romilda - her job as a gossip columnist had never been something he'd agreed with. And now his life was the center of all gossip. He supposed that's what he got for being a Quidditch Referee and ex-Quidditch player - he was somewhat of a wizarding sports celebrity, one who'd married a well-known wizarding columnist. He did not consider himself to be a huge celebrity - he actually hated that word - but now his name was in a book, along with most of his wife. Private and intimate details, his ups and down, his marriage - all out there for anyone to read. It infuriated him. He'd written about a hundred letters by now to Romilda about it, none of them sent because he could never get the words right. He was not much of a writer - that was Romilda's thing. Art was Dean's thing, art and sports. But neither would help express to her what he was feeling, the rage and hurt and betrayal and embarrassment he felt about that book being published.
He couldn't go to her about it, because she'd been the one to put it out there, so he'd done the next best thing.
And now he'd been banned for an indeterminable amount of time from Flourish and Blotts in Diagon Alley. Apparently the shopkeepers hadn't approved of his charming his ex-wife books invisible. Nor of his hiding them throughout the store so that no one would see or buy or read them. Once he and Seamus had been spotted, they'd been kicked out. The worst part had been the pitying looks on the shopkeeper's face, as if Dean was going crazy and this was just something a crazy person did. Considering his next course of action had been asking Seamus to set fire to the shop - something he hadn't actually done because he was now banned - maybe he was going a little bit crazy. But could he really be blamed for not wanting his fail of a marriage out there for anyone to read?
But if Flourish and Blotts wouldn't let him through their doors, fine. He'd just have to go to Hogsmeade and try to hide their stock of the damned book. He kept his head down as he walked through the door, in case Flourish had owled Tomes and Scrolls warning them of the crazed ex-husband determined to destroy the books half-written about him, and headed straight for the relationships section, where the cursed book would be.
But when he reached the right shelf, he couldn't get to the books, for someone was sitting there, already reading one. And not just anyone - his daughter.
Please be reading something else - anything else, he silently begged as he walked up to her. But no, of course she wasn't reading something else. She was reading the book her mother had written. Dean's heart went out to Skyler. This wasn't the way she was supposed to find out. He'd been waiting for the weekend to tell her, now that she was no longer MIA - one of the last straws in his marriage was Skyler's mysterious disappearance and the tension it had created inside the Thomas household. But it was clear now that he should have told his kids the moment after the split had happened.
Just another thing to add to the list of how he was a failure.
Dean placed his hand on his daughter's shoulder to get her attention, then knelt down to her level as she looked up. He smiled sadly at her and took the book from her hands. "Trust me, I understand about the pity," he said, closing the book and placing it back on the shelf. He wanted to burn it, to set it on fire and throw it through the window. But he didn't. "Please don't read that," he pleaded. "I'm sorry--" His voice caught in his throat and he took a moment to collect himself, closing his eyes. He swallowed the lump in his throat - he didn't want to cry in front of his daughter. He was her father - he was supposed to be strong. For himself, for her. For everyone. His brows knitted together with pain, but when he opened his eyes again, his face was relaxed. "I'm sorry you had to find out this way. Or..." He tapped lightly on her head. "However it was you found out." That was one thing about having a Seer for a daughter - there wasn't much you could hide from her, and most things she knew of before they even happened. He wondered how much she'd known before even he had. He hoped nothing, because that was something a daughter shouldn't have to see.
Dean pulled his daughter into a hug, right there sitting on the floor of the bookshop, and kissed her head. He didn't care that she was practically an adult and people might see. She was still his daughter, his little girl, and she always would be, just like Ryder would always be his little boy. "Skyler, where have you been?" he asked quietly, still holding her in his arms. He was pretty sure she was crying, but he wasn't going to call her out on it. She was allowed to cry. "Your mother and I... You haven't been answering letters. No one from the school had seen you in several days. It's not like you to just disappear like that." He was so grateful she was back, but he still feared something was wrong. Had she Seen the divorce happen, and hidden away for a few days, unable to handle it? Or was something worse going on? He'd had Order members on the lookout for her, but no one had found her. She'd just reappeared, looking perfectly fine. So what the hell had happened?