I'm just updating this story because of all the errors and such that were in it. This means all the author's notes and review replies will be gone, sorry about that.
I still had no beta in this new version, so there might still be some errors lying about. Thanks to everyone who has reviewed this over the years!
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A cat walked around the ally digging into the trash looking for something edible. The trees on the nearby park rustled softly in the wind and all the folks from Little Whinging, Surrey went about with their lives. All was perfectly normal, one could say.
Of course that person surely wouldn't have seen as, in the same ally as before, a man appeared out of nowhere as if by magic.
He straightened his old-looking and rumpled clothes as best as he could before sighing and walking out of there, not before greeting the old cat. Reaching the sidewalk, he stared at the recently risen sun, whose light made his already amber eyes seem yellow.
Just staring at him like this, one couldn't possibly imagine how brave that man was for just standing there. This alone was a miracle, not to mention getting up every day and coming here like he had not a care in the world. Surely one could not understand.
Sighing again- he seemed to do that a lot- he ran a hand through his honey colored hair, which already had a few strands of premature gray in it, and made his way to the book store just around the corner where he worked.
A grandpa-looking man was just opening up as he got there, placing some books on the show window.
"Oh, good morning Remus" he greeted, always in a good mood. "Feeling better?"
The younger one smiled, nodding to his boss.
"I'm much better, thank you" he answered politely. "Was it too much trouble?" he asked just as he went inside to hang his coat in the back room.
"It was fine, lad, my son was here to help me. And you have your days off, now don't you?" he said as he went back to the counter "But you should really go see a doctor about this sickness of yours, you know? You get sick too much, it could be serious!"
Remus smiled, but said nothing. He only wished it was as simple as that. But lycanthropy… he'd die with it and all it came with and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
He was always quiet like this, the owner reminded himself. He was a very good person, with a kind heart, and he was also very hard-working. Only, he never spoke of himself, of where he came from, where he lives, who his family is. Remus Lupin was a mystery.
Also Mr. Harrison had never seen a 24 year old look so tired and powerless like this. With eyes that belonged to one who's seen worse then death, someone who has seen war.
As noon approached, Remus went to sweep outside seeing as no one was in the store at the moment. But just as he was doing so a couple arrived and he dutifully went in after them.
"Can I help you with anything?" he asked politely while showing a smile.
Neither smiled back though, actually neither looked very friendly at all. The horse-necked woman was bluntly staring at his face, namely staring at the two thin and faded scars on it. While the purple faced man just looked impatient like he had not chosen to be there.
"No, we're fine" she answered with an air of importance after eyeing him up and down.
Turning around she started looking through the shelves and ended up in the children's books section where she started searching along with her, Remus guessed, husband.
"Why do we have to buy this rubbish?" the whale-like man complained as he looked through random books with less care than the werewolf thought was necessary. "Dudley can't even read yet!" he kept saying.
"I know he can't read yet, but he needs loads of books Vernon, so he can grow into the smart boy I know he'll be!" she argued in an annoying high-pitched voice.
They chose some children story books and looked ready to pay for them all when the horse-necked woman asked quietly "And what about… him?"
"What about him?" the man's calm visually dissipated "You think I'll be wasting money on that freak?!"
The woman didn't dare bring it up again after that, it looked like it was a settled matter.
"Oh, Vernon! Look at the time! We have to pick up little Duddikins from Marge's!" She said suddenly as they got to the cash register. "Also, it's too risky leaving him alone in the house. What if he decides to do something" she said with venom, once again lowering her voice.
Remus watched them go as soon as they had paid and couldn't help but be sorry for whatever soul had to share a household with those very rude people.
Dawn thankfully didn't take long to come and his shift's end came with it. He was very anxious to get home. After all, he only liked to stay in this world that wasn't his the strictly necessary time.
But as soon as he set foot outside the store, not before saying goodbye to his boss, his desire to get home disappeared. For one who seemed so eager before, he just looked discouraged now.
At the end of the day, going back to the wizarding world was not such a wonderful thing.
For everyone the war was over, the world was safe! Evil defeated and joy was all around. For Remus John Lupin, werewolf, whose friends and lover were either dead or in Azkaban, the end of the war was nothing to be celebrated. For him nothing had changed.
And so that day he decided, for that little reason, to stay in the muggle world for a bit longer than necessary. Trying to, somehow, forget the world around him and the reminder that between wizards a dark creature like him was not wanted, which was why he was working at a muggle bookstore to begin with.
He went to the park across the street, the orange sky shining over him and filling him up with something akin to hope. He sat down on one of the benches watching as some children played around and couples enjoyed their lover's companies under the setting sun.
It made him feel nostalgic.
He remembered the hopes he had with Sirius, the plans they had made, their exchanges of 'forever'. How much he wished, every day, to have his lover back. To have his life back the way it had been before the war. Get back his friends, his happiness and carelessness.
"I miss you so much Siri" he whispered to no one as he felt a lonely tear slowly make its way down his face.
Almost as hard as losing Sirius was losing Peter, James and Lily. And Sirius absence wasn't the worst one because he had been his lover, but because of the way he had been taken from Remus. He had betrayed him, betrayed them all, so not only was he now locked up in Azkaban but he also took the happy memories with him. The werewolf couldn't remember him the same way he had been, because he didn't know if his Sirius was ever real at all. His Padfoot would have never sold his friends out, would have never doubted him, would have never-
He sighed again and started wondering where they would all be right now if not in these circumstances. Prongs and Lily would have been able to see Harry grow. Actually, all of them would have, and could have been a part of the boy's life. Peter would have had an amazing future waiting for him. Remus and Sirius would have been living together somewhere, happy as could be.
But none of that would ever happen. And that left Lupin, the werewolf: alive and alone with no idea what to do with his life. The only comfort he had was in knowing that his best friends' son was being taken care of and most importantly, was away from a world that would expect too much from him too soon.
He looked at those around him, watching the lucky people who could live their lives in peace, who had no idea how fortunate they were to never have seen war.
Not far from there was a little hot dog stand that made him realize he hadn't eaten a thing all day. He checked his pockets for muggle change and at finding some he got up and went to get himself some food.
A few steps on the way though and he felt something collide with his legs. He fought to keep his balance and looked down with a frown on his face only to see a pair of bright green eyes staring back at him.
"I'm sorry mister" the owner of said green eyes murmured politely as he got up and cleaned his hands on his oversized shirt.
"Are you ok?" Remus asked, kneeling down and patting the boy on the head. He had really messy hair, the werewolf noticed, even for a kid. "Hey, what's your name?"
The boy kept staring back, but didn't answer. He didn't look all too comfortable.
"My auntie told me not to talk to strangers" he mumbled.
Remus gave a soft smile and looked around, hoping to see said aunt, but it seemed no one was looking at them from any part of the park.
"Where is your aunt?" he asked then, still kneeling down.
The boy still seemed reluctant to talk to him, so he once again patted his head, keeping his warm smile.
"You can talk to me, I'm not a bad stranger" he tried "My name is Moony"
"Moony? It's a funny name!" the little one said suddenly, this time smiling back. "I'm Harry" he answered looking straight into the werewolf's eyes.
Remus seemed taken aback by this. The name, the hair, the eyes… what would be the odds of-
Without saying anything he pushed the messy bangs of jet black hair out of the boy's forehead and, as though he hadn't been expecting it, he was surprised to see a lightning shaped scar there.
"Harry" he murmured to himself, a bit mesmerized. Though it was ridiculously easy to believe the boy was James's son, Remus never thought he would actually bump into him in the middle of a random park.
"Nice to meet you Harry" he recomposed himself. It was best pretending not to know him. "So, where is your aunt? Is she that lady on the bench there?" he asked gesturing to an old lady nearby.
The boy who lived just shrugged.
"She's at home"
"At home? So who came here with you?" The werewolf asked frowning, at the same time calculating how old the kid was now.
Again Harry kept quiet, not much of a talker was he?
Standing up, Remus looked at the stand where he had been headed before.
"How would like a hotdog, Harry? You hungry?" he grabbed at the first idea to keep talking to the boy.
"I like hotdogs!" Harry said happily, approaching the older man "can I really have one?" he asked, with a quieter voice now.
Remus nodded and asked the vendor for two, after a bit of struggle with muggle money, managing to pay for them. Really, Remus only used muggle money when he got his pay check and went to exchange it immediately in Gringots, but now he was becoming more familiar with it since he always ended up having lunch in the surroundings of the bookstore since apparating back and forth in broad daylight could eventually get him into a lot of trouble. The last thing he needed now was ministry workers putting him on a trial for breaking the statute of secrecy.
Once they both had their respective snacks, they went to sit on the bench Remus had been at before. And while they were both eating, the werewolf took the time to look clearly at the boy sitting by his side.
All in all, he hadn't expected Harry to look like that. He was very thin and small, almost like an underfed child, which was quite shocking compared to how healthy James used to look. Also the clothes he was wearing looked like they came from a rubbish bin rather then a store, not to mention they were at least four sizes too big. As if the boy didn't look small enough on his own.
And all of this was confusing Remus greatly, wasn't Harry supposed to be under the care of his aunt? Sure, from what he heard Petunia wasn't exactly a walk in the park, but he couldn't imagine her mistreating an innocent child.
Maybe he had just caught the kid on a bad day, maybe Harry was simply smaller then James. Lily hadn't been that tall anyway, right?
Frowning and not wanting to jump to conclusions, Remus tried talking to him again.
"Harry, did you come here alone today?" he asked.
"Auntie never wants to come with me, so when I wanna play I come alone"
"How old are you little one?"
Harry stared at one of his hands for a while and then showed Remus three fingers.
"I'm like this" he answered, still showing. But then he frowned "no, like this" now he showed four fingers, and then went back to eating his hotdog.
"Aren't you too little to come play by yourself? Does your aunt know you're here?"
"I can't play at home. And she said I could come so I don't bother her"
Remus frowned, she let him come alone?
"Do you want me to walk you home?" the werewolf asked as soon as he was done eating.
"Auntie would be mad, I can go by myself" he said matter-of-factly.
The man wasn't sure he liked that arrangement, but decided not to meddle. Each family had their own sets of rules and he wasn't about to mess with Harry's one.
"Do you come here everyday to play?" he asked instead.
"Only when auntie is- only when auntie lets me" Harry started but then changed his phrase quickly.
"Oh I see, well then Harry, it was very nice to meet you, I hope I can see you again around here" he said smiling and once again patting the kid on the head. He had to go.
"Ok" the boy answered, smiling back. He liked this Moony person.
The werewolf nodded and glanced back one more time before he made his way back to the alley he'd disapparate in. It was all he could do to ignore the bad feeling he had in the pit of his stomach.