How could he have been so selfish? The setting sun lit up the silent suburban street with warm, sleepy light, casting shadows among the leafless trees and well kept houses that lined the subdued avenue, creating an almost perfect picture, orange and yellow leaves strewn across the asphalt, though each lawn had been raked clear. Funny little ceramic garden gnomes with jolly waistbands, white beards and pointed hats stood in empty garden beds, so unlike their real counterparts, and a chilling breeze blew, of the kind that made one think fondly of curling up in front of a warm fire with a good book and a stiff drink. It was all perfectly monotonous and comfortable, and he had not a glance nor a thought to spare for any of it, for his eyes were fixed quite intently, not on the neat houses or the perfectly respectable cars, but on the small, scrawny, disheveled looking boy with the dark, messy hair and taped glasses, the threadbare clothing that he wore several sizes too large, with the sleeves and legs rolled up past his boney wrists and ankles, and although it was long past the carefree days of summer, the child's feet were bare none the less as he perched, shivering, on the low wall outside of the house that he belonged too, his chin resting on his knees as he hugged his legs to his chest, the thin red scar standing out clearly on his pale forehead, all of it making Remus hate himself all the more.
After everything that James and Lily had done for him, he had done nothing in return, he had failed them. What would Lily say if she knew that her beloved son was neglected and unloved? And what would James do if he learned that his pride in life was being raised by the worst kind of muggles, that Harry, like Remus, had likely not been happy in eight years, and what would they say...what would they think were they to know that he had done nothing to stop it, nothing to preserve and protect the only part of them that he had left to cling to, that he had let Harry go as simply as though the boy had been lost along with his parents on that horrible night, that he had simply let Dumbledore whisk the child off and out of the way, that he had let it all happen, had betrayed them as surely as Sirius had?
He wished he had a real reason to be there, or simply that he didn't understand perfectly why Harry Potter spent each saturday night perched on the edge of the wall of number 4 privet drive, staring down the street as though waiting for something, perhaps for someone to come and rescue him, take him away from the aunt and uncle who had never wanted him, and the cousin who could do no wrong in his parents eyes.
Like Remus he was an outcast, an inconvenience, and he was beginning to look so like his father that each time Remus caught sight of him he was taken back almost two decades, to a time when he had first laid eyes on another dark haired little boy, but a vastly different one. James had always been well cared for, with that unmistakable air of someone who was loved, even spoiled, and a mischievous grin that would never fail to make one wonder what he had done wrong. He had been everything a lonely little boy dreamed of in a best friend. Loyal, brave and entertaining, James had served as the turning point in Remus' life. And perhaps Harry could have been the same, had things not changed, perhaps he would have been the happy, healthy little boy that his father had once been, but Remus had yet to see him smile, had hardly made out any expression at all on the small face that he could only watch from a distance, as the emerald green eyes that had sparkled with interest and delight so long ago stared out dully at a world that he would never belong in, unaware that he was not as alone as he believed himself to be, that unknown to him, someone who loved him very much stood so near, despising himself for what he had allowed to happen to the only remaining Potter.
As Remus turned away once more, glancing up at the thin slice of moon just visible in the darkening sky, he was furious at himself once more for turning his back on the boy, knowing full well that he would do it again as soon as he had the chance to see him again, and he did his best to be comforted by the fact that it was a mere three years before Harry would get his letter and be brought back into the world in which he truly had a place, and perhaps then...