At 10:17 on the morning of July 26, 2013, Tobias Sinclair lost his mind. There were moments of lucidity, even sanity in the weeks and years to come, but only moments. The bit of his mind which had been belted in, allowing him a small bite of success, was set free and disappeared, never to return again.
He was visited by Death. More precisely, Death came for May Sinclair, Tobias’s beloved wife of nearly twenty-one years. This was not a surprise visit; she had been sick for months. In fact, in those rare moments of clear-headedness that came in later years, Tobias realized that May had not been hale and whole since their daughter Abigail was born. Abigail, or Abby as she was called by those who loved her, was but two months from her ninth birthday on that sweltering summer morning that Death visited them in St. Mungo’s Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.
Death spoke to Tobias, mocking him for his arrogance, his presumption. He laughed in the face of Tobias’s life ambition.
“You cannot defeat me,” he said. “All of your work is for naught. I got her in the end, as I will have you and your daughter, too.”
On hearing these words, Tobias was seized by a fiery desire to stand, to duel with Death to the last, for the very mention of harm coming to Abby, but he could not move. He was frozen to his seat, doomed to watch and do nothing.
More substantial than ghost, less than human, but more alive than she had been in many years, May rose from her sickbed and pressed her lips to her husband’s.
“I must go,” she said. Her voice was like a breath on the wind.
“No.” His voice broke and, unfrozen at last, Tobias made to seize her hand, but his passed through it, as though she was already gone.
“Yes, Tobias, I must, just as you must stay here and take care of Abby. You are all she has left now.”
May drifted to her daughter who was asleep in her chair. Abby was clutching a book, The Tales of Beedle the Bard, in her arms the way most children clutch a teddy bear. The Tale of the Three Brothers was her favourite, and it was to that story that Tobias later turned when he tried for a rational explanation of what he had just witnessed.
Abby did not stir as her mother pressed one final kiss to her forehead. Regaining her full height, May looked down at her daughter, betraying here her only hesitancy in leaving. She watched Abby with tears in her eyes. Curled in this chair sat their miracle child, who had come to them after so many years of trying.
May held on as long as she could, making that moment stand for all those that she would miss. Death, ever impatient, folded May into his cloak and they parted, not through the door, but through the window, leaving everything in the room as it was. Everything, that was, except the decimated shell of May Sinclair. Tobias watched until they were swallowed by the heat haze.
“I am sorry. She is gone.”
His wife’s illness had been gnawing at the cords of Tobias’s sanity for a very long time. The six words, though spoken gently by healer Augustus Pye, were nevertheless those that broke the final tie. Something wild bounded free and threatened to escape, to rip him in two. This unmooring of his savage self could, in later times, be held at bay, but would never be completely controlled again in the seven years that remained of Tobias Sinclair’s life.