Chapter 6 : Never Be
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Remus Lupin had no idea why he was in Diagon Alley today.
He'd just had the worst holiday of his life. Well, alright, second worst. Nothing could be worse than the year the full moon had fallen on Christmas eve. He'd been up all night, locked in the magical werewolf-proof cellar that his parents had created when he'd first been bitten, and Christmas the next day had just been full of exhaustion and pain. His parents had tried to make it up to him, holding off on the gift-giving until Boxing Day so he wouldn't be left out, but it was still a miserable way to spend Christmas.
No, this Christmas break had been awful in a different way. Remus had effectively rebuilt the walls upon himself, the walls he'd had as a lonely child before he'd begun attending Hogwarts. He kept to his room, mostly, and left all letters sent by his friends unopened on his desk. It took time to build this strong of a wall, and time free from distractions.
I will never be with Lily Evans, thought Remus automatically as he weaved absently through the Boxing Day shoppers. It was a mantra that he'd been repeating to himself all holiday, over and over so it wouldn't cause him staggering amounts of pain any longer. He'd got it past the point where it stung, then ached, and then merely throbbed like a small but persistent lump in his throat.
Remus had seen a few people he recognized during his meandering today, and had effectively steered out of the way of all of them. He'd almost been seen by Severus Snape in the Leaky Cauldron, but had managed to slip out before the greasy-haired boy had been able to take a second glance. Now, outside on the street, he saw familiar faces everywhere. Frank Longbottom was up ahead walking with his girlfriend, Alice, and Ewan Sterling and Steven Santos of the Gryffindor team were talking animatedly outside of Quality Quidditch Supplies. Remus avoided them all with ease, ducking into a side street near the Magical Menagerie.
But Remus, as strong as he'd worked to make himself, was not prepared to see James Potter standing there with an armful of packages. And he definitely was not prepared to see the copper curls of the girl he was speaking to.
Remus quickly ducked into a doorway to his right. He couldn't let them see him, not yet. He wasn't prepared. Luckily Lily, the more observant of the two, had had her back turned, or it would have spelled disaster for him. Remus closed his eyes and took one, two, three deep breaths before risking peeking around again.
James was smiling, a friendly smile. Lily was standing with her weight on one foot, which she always did when she was making a decision, and looking somewhere behind James. She appeared to come to her decision though, because she shifted her weight back to normal and turned her face back to James. James grinned a little wider, and they began to walk together.
In Remus' direction.
He quickly drew his head back into the doorframe. There was nowhere to hide, they'd undoubtedly see him here. Remus pulled his wand out of his pocket. He'd been reading about human transfiguration since his first year (due to his theory that there must be something he could do to make his transformations less painful,) but they'd only begun working with them in class this year. He'd never actually attempted one on himself, but he didn't have time to think too much about it.
"Mutatio Oris!" Remus whispered, wand pointed as his face. He felt it contort, taking on some new shape. His nose felt bigger, his face wider, his eyes smaller. Having no mirror or reflection to go upon, Remus merely hoped that the change would be enough to not be recognized by the pair who would soon be walking by.
Sure enough, when they passed his poor hiding space, Lily looked straight at him without batting a beautiful eyelash. Her eyes slid past him like he was just part of the scenery, which, he supposed, was the best case scenario given the circumstances. It still gave him a pang, though, to be looked at like he was nothing.
Remus didn't mean to follow them. Okay, yes he did, but that wasn't the point. He just had to know what was going on. For his sanity's sake.
It seemed innocent enough, really. They weren't holding hands, at any rate. They just seemed to be shopping together, like regular friends. They began in Dervish & Banges, having a grand old time poking through the junk piles. Remus almost convinced himself to leave during a conversation about Kurt Vonnegut in Flourish & Blotts that seemed to go on forever. His face was beginning to itch, which was an unfortunate side-effect of human transfiguration done by a novice in the field.
They finally left the bookshop, and he put the book he'd been pretending to read for the past hour down and hurried after them. As he went, he resolved that if nothing appeared to be happening at this next stop, he'd leave well enough alone and go home. No, scratch that. Even if something happened he would leave well enough alone and go home. He was messing up his own plans to forget, following them around like this. Remus would have no more of it.
They entered Fortescue's ice cream parlor, exiting a few minutes later to sit at the outdoor tables with a huge sundae each. Remus pretended to be engrossed in a lengthy advertisement posted in the window of a shop, taking occasional glances their way.
The way she was looking at him. The way she was sitting. The way she played with her hair. Remus knew beyond a doubt now that she liked him, even if she didn't fully realize it yet. James was smiling at her in that new way, no longer looking like he just wanted her to give him a good snog, but like he was happy simply to be in her presence. Their laughter reached him even over the noise of so many shopping wizards, and Remus felt cold. He itched at his face, now not even bothering to conceal the fact that he was staring. They didn't notice. They were too lost in each other.
I will never be with Lily Evans.
Lily's hand was over her mouth, and James was prying at it. At first it made Remus angry, thinking James was pushing his advances on her, until he heard her laugh again and knew that they were just teasing.
I will never be with Lily Evans.
Their banter had stopped. They were staring at each other, faces inches apart. Remus turned away, unable to watch.
I will never be with Lily Evans.
For the first time since he'd begun using his numbing mantra, Remus felt the wound reopen, sending waves of fresh pain through his heart. Any glimmer of optimism that he'd had, any last thread of hope that had somehow survived the initial purging was now gone, lost in the emotions that he'd felt upon seeing them about to kiss. He didn't have to see it happen to know that he, Remus Lupin, would never be in the picture again. His mantra was now 100% fact.
I take it back, thought Remus, hot tears spilling from his eyes. This is the worst holiday ever.
Hey there, loves!
I'm really trying to keep up with this story now so I can update more regularly and all that. Hopefully I can even get it somewhat popular again like it used to be! ;)
At any rate, thanks a bunch for reading, and I'll have the final chappie of the Christmas Special out soon. After that, it's back to the main story of Moony Eyes!