Henrik has been acting odd all day.
Not just typical Henrik odd, the kind Sara's slowly grown used to over the last few months, but odd even for him.
It starts at breakfast. There are hints of dark circles under his eyes, as if he didn't sleep enough – or at all – last night.
He does greet her and Oskar that morning, with a friendly "god morgon till er båda" as they step into the kitchen, but he's quiet after that, apart from throwing out an absentminded "that's nice" every few minutes as Oskar rambles on excitedly about something he'd learned from that science book Sara had bought him recently.
Not that Henrik being quiet is unusual, of course, but it's like he's not even trying to contribute anything. He seems to spend more time pushing his food around the plate than eating it, and it can't be his normal pickiness (that Oskar seems to have inherited from him, frustratingly for Sara whenever she tries to make food for them all) because he was the one to make the meal in the first place.
She's too busy trying to get Oskar out the door for school, and to get ready for work herself, to ask him about it, though.
Sara next sees Henrik when she gets back from work that afternoon. He's sitting in the living room with Oskar, as the boy pretends to perform surgery on one of his teddy bears. Henrik's trying his best to join in with the game, but he doesn't look like he feels entirely up to the task.
Oskar notices, too, putting down the bear and pretend doctor's kit, and asking "are you okay, Farfar?"
"Yes, Oskar, I'm alright," Henrik insists with a blatantly forced smile on his face, "I'm just not feeling very well today. I think I must have caught a cold."
That excuse seems to satisfy Oskar. It certainly doesn't satisfy Sara.
Regardless, she gets down on the floor with them, deciding to introduce herself into the game to keep Oskar from worrying about his grandfather. "Vad är det som är fel med din björn, då?"
Throughout and after the game with Oskar, Sara keeps catching Henrik staring into space whenever something's not actively occupying his attention, as if he's lost in thought.
Henrik has been like this once before, near the end of September. When Sara had asked if he was okay, he simply told her it was the anniversary of the loss of a dear friend and silently made it clear he didn't want her to press any further.
But this, somehow, feels different.
Maybe it would be intrusive to ask about this, and she's not sure he'd answer either way – if there's one thing she's learned about Henrik, it's that he can be incredibly cryptic about his feelings – but this silence, this being not-quite-there, is too eerily familiar and it's kind of scaring her.
So she asks.
After she gets Oskar settled down in his room, accompanied by paper and some crayons, that evening, she takes Henrik's hand and leads him to the spare room.
She takes a seat in an armchair by the corner and says "you're not acting like yourself; what's wrong?"
Henrik leans back against the wardrobe and gives the exact kind of noncommittal response Sara had expected. "Well, technically, any way in which I act is acting like myself, so—"
"You know what I mean," she sighs.
The room is silent for a few moments.
"Are you familiar with the name John Gaskell?" Henrik asks.
"The serial-killing fraud who claimed he'd cured ALS when he hadn't? I read about him, it made the newspapers." A realisation suddenly dawns on Sara. "He worked at your hospital for a while, didn't he?"
Henrik nods. "Mm."
Sara bites back the urge to ask how Henrik ever got the CEO position back after that.
"He was," Henrik bites his lip slightly as if hesitant to use the past tense, "an old – and very close – friend of mine, actually. We went to medical school together and did quite a bit of our training together."
"Wasn't he a neurosurgeon? I thought you were – what's it called – a general surgeon."
"Not back then. I changed specialities a few years later."
Henrik speaks up again some minutes later. "We were just getting close again when he… I suppose I was really an accomplice, in the end. I think I knew, deep down – I was warned, even – about him. But I kept encouraging him and taking his side anyway."
Sara's breath hitches and she tries, and fails, not to think about Fredrik. She may have called it quits before he actually died, before she got that phone call and her whole world was sent spinning, but she still spent so long by his side, and deciding she didn't want to be his wife anymore certainly didn't mean she expected him to go anywhere near as far as he did.
She's just about to speak when Henrik continues. "They're right when they say love is blind. Rationally, I knew what he was doing was unethical, but I couldn't bring myself to believe it, and I never…"
"I never thought he was capable of that," they finish in unison.
A look of shock enters Henrik's eyes and he looks down in shame. "Of course. I'm sorry, I should've thought about..."
"It's okay," Sara assures him. It makes sense that he hadn't taken what happened with Fredrik into consideration: to Henrik, that day meant the loss of a son. Not the loss of a lover. She hopes never to know the pain Henrik went through then, but it's clear he knows hers now.
Everything falls quiet again. It's not a peaceful silence, but more like an uncomfortable blanket suffocating the both of them. Sara knows there's something she's not being told.
"One year ago, today."
And there it is.
"The first year is the hardest," she says. It's not really the truth, the void Fredrik's actions and death left in her heart is not quite so bad now but it still hurts, and she's barely going on year two now anyway, but she has to say something.
"The fact that it had been eighteen months by the time you showed up at the hospital, unable to handle caring for Oskar, implies otherwise."
"I was a single mother without anyone there to help me. I was alone. You aren't." Sara stands up from the chair. She steps closer to Henrik and squeezes his hand. "You have friends, you have family. Let them be there. Let us be there."
Henrik doesn't need to speak for the question to be obvious: does it go away?
As if Sara would have the answers. As if Henrik even thinks Sara would have the answers when her loss was barely a year before his, and when she abandoned her son to his grandfather's care only months before now simply because he was too powerful a reminder of her husband. They're both lost and trying to find their way in a world that's been turned upside-down. Sara knows that, and she knows Henrik knows it too.
"You know," she comments, "I didn't know you were…" She stops there. It'd probably sound rude if she were to assume anything.
"Bisexual," Henrik clarifies. "And I didn't know, either, until… I only figured it out very shortly before… he was the first man I ever lo— the first man for whom I ever felt that way."
Moments later, Oskar's voice cries out from a couple of rooms away. "Mamma! Farfar! Look at my drawing!"
"Alright, Oskar, we're coming!" Sara calls out. As the two of them head to Oskar's bedroom, she reaches out and squeezes Henrik's hand again, tighter this time, in an equally nonverbal response to the question he never vocalised: I don't know. But we'll get through it together.