"I'm home!" Marcus called.
"In the kitchen!" his wife yelled back. Marcus could smell the lasagna she was making and turned as Laura and Nina came running down the stairs. They tackled him, and he stumbled backwards.
"Slow down," he laughed. "So, what happened at school today?"
Laura burst into her dramatic tales of first grade, while Nina chattered about playing with the blocks in kindergarten. They followed him into the kitchen, where he kissed Louise on the cheek.
"How was your day?" she asked.
"Nothing out of the ordinary. An annoying customer came by, but nothing really happened. You?"
Louise started telling him about the woman in the cubicle next to her who was terrified of spiders.
"Every morning I try to get there early and get rid off the plastic spiders people put in there. People can be so cruel."
"Marcus, are you paying attention?" Marcus jolted back into the moment.
"Yes, of course! Sorry, I'm a bit tired. How long until dinner?"
"About twenty minutes. Go and help Laura with her math homework."
For the next fifteen minutes, Marcus and Laura bent over the addition problems. They had just finished when Louise called "Dinner's on the table!"
As they all ate, Marcus looked all around the table. He had to conceal so much to protect them. He hadn't used magic for twelve years, but he still looked the same as he had when he had met Louise. She asked about that sometimes, but he couldn't tell her. Maybe she would take it well, but he didn't want to put her in danger. This place was safe, and he wasn't going to change that. Especially with Mevolent and Serpine on the loose. And now Persephone was out there again. She'd been spying, he was sure. Just like that man before her, Gideon Wrath. Well, at least he was dead, though the body hadn't been found. If he made his way back to Serpine-
"Marcus, what's wrong? You haven't touched your lasagna." Marcus realized he was sitting at the table. Louise and Laura were staring at him. Nina was arranging her green beans into a smiley face.
"Nina don't play with your food. I'm fine Louise, just a little tired. I think I'll go to bed early tonight." He forced a smile on to his face, hoping they couldn't see how stressed he was.
"Alright. Try to eat a little, you look a bit peaky."
That night, Marcus lay in bed after reading a story to Laura and Nina.
What if Wrath is still alive? We regained the files, but he must have memorized them. If Serpine finds out he'll tell Mevolent, and it will all be ruined.
I have to keep them safe.