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Chapter 1: You Know How to Stay Strong
Theodore didn't know where he was going; he just ran. He quietly made his way down the stairs while his father slept in the living room, left his family home and ran. He didn't pack a bag, any clothes or possessions; he didn't want a thing from that house. He didn't want to stay there anymore.
Theodore breathed heavily in and out, his sides and legs aching. He was exhausted, but he didn't want to stop, not as long as he was near that place. He didn't want anyone to find him.
He slowed down more and more as crowds got thicker and thicker, until he started to walk, pushing his way past. No one stopped or any paid attention to him, except to turn and shout at him for being rude and to watch where he was going. Some called him words he'd never heard of before and assumed they were bad, but he ignored them all; he didn't care what they thought.
Theodore stopped in the corner, between an old pawn shop and an alley wall lined with bins, only when his legs started to shake and he thought he would fall, or worse, faint from being overtired. Across from him, was a small, green shop. The place looked abandoned and old; the painting was chipped and the windows had cracks in, but it was quiet and apart from all the rest. It seemed like the perfect place to sit and rest, to hide for a while until he could figure out where to go next.
Theodore made his way across the road, taking his time so not to fall with his legs still so unsteady. He paused outside the window to stare up at the cardboard man; he frowned. Who would ever wear clothes like that? They’d have to be mad. And what’s with the bat on his front?
Opening the door slowly, Theodore poked his head through and, once he saw that it was indeed empty, he stepped inside, making sure the door was shut properly. Theodore leaned back against the door, taking in his surroundings; the place was filled from top to bottom with small books, cartoon drawings on the front covers. There were more pictures of the man with the bat inside, as well as one in a red and blue spider costume and a woman with a yellow tiara in her black hair. At least he thought it was a tiara. His first thought was that it was a book shop, but he had never seen books like these before.
Theodore turned back to stare in front when he heard footsteps and jumped when a man came into view, hitting his back against the door. Hearing the sound, the man looked up suddenly and looked stunned for a second, Theodore decided that not many people came to this old looking shop, before smiling. “Can I help you, kid?”
Theodore shook his head slowly, no. The man frowned. “Do you want to look around?” Theodore glanced around again, and then nodded; he was curious and didn’t want to go back outside yet. He waited until the man had gone behind the desk before he moved, going to the other side of the store, to the man with the bat. Theodore looked at each book briefly, occasionally picking one up to read the back, until he found one that interested him the most and he sat down on the floor and opened it, reading the strange book with the pictures.
Theodore lost track of how long he had been sat in that corner of the floor in the shop; once he’d started to read one, he hadn’t been able to stop. So he picked up another and another, engrossed in the Muggles’ own versions of magic. The man, who Theodore assumed owned the shop, didn’t seem to mind, though he did keep looking his way, a curious look on his face. Theodore looked back up quickly; this time the man was sat up straight, not slouched over the desk with the papers in his hand.
“You really like those comics, don’t you?” The man asked. Theodore frowned and he pointed to the book in the boy’s hand. “They’re called comic books, graphic novels; they have pictures and speech and writing in the corners. You really like the Justice League one’s; the group of superheroes that you keep going back to.”
“Superheroes?” Theodore asked.
The man looked surprised for a minute, having never heard Theodore speak, but composed himself quickly and nodded. “They’re a special group of people who use their abilities to help people, to save them from evil.” He pointed to the image above Theodore’s head. “Except Batman, he doesn’t have super powers, just awesome gadgets and cool car.”
“I like him the best,” Theodore murmured, smiling for the first time.
The man agreed. “He is cool.” He moved closer to the desk, leaning over it. “My name is Adam. What’s your name?”
“Theo,” he answered slowly, after a moment’s hesitation.
“That’s a cool name; it’s nice to meet you, Theo.” Adam paused for a second, unsure how to say what he wanted to without upsetting the little boy in front of him. But he decided to just ask; he had to. “Where are your parents, Theo? Where’s your mum?”
Theo’s smile faltered slightly, but he took a deep breath. “I don’t have a mum,” he whispered.
“What about your dad, where is he?”
Theodore looked up and Adam noticed his tense position, and there was a mixture of fear and anger in the boy’s eyes. “Gone.”
“He’s gone? Has something happened to your dad?” Adam asked cautiously, afraid something might have happened. But Theodore shook his head slowly. “You’ve gone?” Theodore nodded. “You left? You ran away?”
“…Yes. I don’t want to go back there. I don’t like it.”
“You shouldn’t just run away from home, Theo. People will be worried. You –“ He stopped suddenly, hearing the door open, and watched a young woman enter the shop. She was about his age, late twenties at most, and her hair was wet from the rain that had not long started.
She walked over to Adam carefully, nervous and afraid; though he was sure it had nothing to do with coming in his shop and speaking to him. She was shaking heavily and there were tears in her eyes. “I’m looking for a little boy, Theodore; someone said they saw him come this way a couple of hours ago.”
Adam turned his head to the right and she followed, spotting him. He had dropped his comic, but seemed too scared to get up. “Oh, Theo, thank God you’re safe.”
She made her way over, but he held up his hand to stop her and finally got to his feet. “No! I’m not going back! You can’t make me!”
“Theo, you have to!”
“No! I’ll just leave again, but I won’t come here! I’ll go far away, where you can never find me!”
“I’m sorry, but who are you?” Adam interrupted.
“I’m his nanny,” she replied, to busy focusing on Theodore to tell him the keep out. “We have to go back, darling.”
Theodore started to cry then; no one had ever seen him cry. “I don’t want to, I can’t be there anymore. Please don’t make me, Hannah. Please. Say you couldn’t find me. Or come with me. Just don’t make me go home.”
Hannah slowly made her way over and wrapped her arms around him. She held him tight and soothed him as he sobbed into her coat. “I’m sorry, Theo. But it’ll be alright, I promise. I will be there with you. You’ll be safe and you’ll never be alone. Come on, we have to leave. Say good bye to the nice man.”
Theodore rubbed the tears away from his puffy, red eyes and faced the confused shop owner. "I like it here.” Hannah whispered to him that while his father was out, she’d bring him back to visit, though whether she meant it, no one knew. “Bye, Adam.”
Hannah turned him around and they made their way to the door. “Wait.” Theodore faced him and he knelt down to the little boy’s height. “Take it,” he said, holding up the first comic Theo had read; the first Justice League issue.
Theodore shook his head. “I don’t have any money.”
“I want you to take it anyway.” Adam put the book in his hands and Theodore held onto it tightly. “When you get upset or scared, I want you to read it. Then you’ll know you’re as brave as the superheroes, Theo. You may not have super powers, but you know how to stay strong, and that’s just as important,” he murmured. “You are going to be fine and there is nothing in this world that can hurt you if you believe that you’re strong enough.”
Adam watched his lips curve upwards just a fraction, but that was enough, and he soon followed. “You can come back here any time, okay mate.”
Theodore nodded and, holding his nanny’s hand, stepped out of the shop and into the rain, his comic book grasped tightly in his arms as she took him home.
A/N: Hey, everyone.
First: Justice League and it's heroes; Batman and Wonderwoman, belong to DC Comics. Spiderman belongs to Marvel Comics.
I would really love to know what you think of this; it's my first time with this pairing. :)