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Good surprises were a myth. 

 

A good surprise would have been: 

 

Hey, they’ve invented a cure to lycanthropy. 

 

Or something like:

 

Guess what, there’s no full moon this month. You’re moon-free for the entire summer holiday.

 

“On Merlin’s beard! That’s a good surprise. Thank you!”


 

No. In real life, surprises were cruel and vindictive. Surprises were to be feared.

 

Remus glared at the heavy metal links in his hands and couldn’t believe that after so many years of being careful, he allowed this to happen. He should’ve inspected his chains earlier. 

 

But maybe he was wrong and the enchantments still held.

 

He wrapped the chain around a metal pole and pulled hard. After only some effort - human effort - one of the links broke, unravelling it all.

 

He let it fall to the ground through his numb fingers. This wasn’t happening. He had only a few hours left until the full moon and could already feel its effect - it made his skin crawl from the inside, calling to him, enticing him with promises of reckless power. His wolf was itching to come out.

 

He put his face in his hands and lamented. Only few hours. What was he going to do?

 

But the solution was simple. He needed a new chain.

 

 

Diagon Alley was quiet this evening. The shops were closing down, most shoppers had already gone home. Good. He shouldn’t be around humans today.

 

Remus bent down and pretended to tie his shoe, but really, he was checking if he was being followed. No one paid him any attention, so he quietly slipped into the Knockturn Alley, throwing a hood over his head, feeling like a criminal. He was a beast today - that was close enough comparison.

 

A foul smell of the street vendor’s cart wafted in his direction, and it reminded him of rotten food. He passed it in a rush, careful to not let his hood slip. 

 

Some of the dark Alley’s shops only now opened up for business, just in time for the dodgy nighttime patrons who started to apparate onto the cobblestone street, each draped in a black cloak. It was common to hide your face in the Alley, and today, he was one of them.

 

Remus quietly snuck into Mort’s Hard-Were Shop, closed the door after himself and reluctantly lowered his hood, not wanting to be impolite.

 

The only person in the small cluttered shop was a short teenage girl who was looking at the wolf t-shirts on sale. He tried to not stare at her, though it was difficult to not notice her shaved head and multiple ear piercings glinting in the candlelight.

 

He walked up to the counter and searched for the shopkeeper, eager to get this over with.

 

The girl put the hanger back on the rod, walked up to him and craned her neck.

 

“Hi.”

 

Remus smiled politely but didn’t know what to say. 

 

She put a hand on her hip and chewed her gum loudly while looking up at him. “What are you buying?”

 

“I like to keep my purchases private,” he murmured, unsure of how he could get rid of her. He did not want witnesses. Where was the shopkeeper?

 

She picked up one of the mugs on the counter. 

 

“My pack has my back mugs are so cheap now, it’s like a steal. They’re on sale for only six sickles.”

 

“Not that.”

 

She blew a large bubble and waited until it exploded with a pop, then pulled the gum back in with her tongue while squinting at him, her dark-gray eyes judging him.

 

“Then, what do you want?”

 

Remus didn’t know what to do. This girl made him want to leave the store right now but where else would he get what he needed? 

 

“I’ll just wait for the shopkeeper. He should be back soon,” he said and leaned over the counter, trying to see behind the shop divider.

 

Why didn’t this store have one of those bells you could ring to let the shopkeeper know that you’re waiting?

 

She turned on her heel, marched away, and to his surprise, she got behind the counter, tilted her head and curtsied with a fake smile.

 

“You could wait for him until next week or deal with his daughter. Now, what do you want?”

 

He blinked at her in surprise and watched her blow another giant bubble. She held his gaze defiantly as the bubble popped. She gestured at the store and raised her eyebrows as if she was asking him a question.

 

So he had no choice. It had to be her. Remus took a long breath and reminded himself that he had no other options and was running out of time. 

 

“I need a chain with strong-enough enchantments to trap a juvenile werewolf.”

 

She furrowed her brows and crossed her arms. “Who are you planning to trap with that chain?”

 

He really didn’t like admitting this out loud. The usual shopkeeper was more discreet than this girl. 

 

“Myself,” he said quietly.

 

She looked him up and down and lingered on his face. He tried to not let it bother him though he hated when people stared. He really preferred it when they believed the cursed scars on his face came from a childhood encounter with an enchanted rose bush, but once they knew he was a werewolf, they quickly made the connection. 

 

She sighed heavily and leaned one hand on the counter. “We’re all out of chains. You should’ve done that shopping earlier in the moon.”

 

A heavy weight settled itself in his stomach. What was he going to do?

 

“Thank you,” he mumbled and walked out of the shop. 

 

He threw his hood back on and checked a few other shops, careful to not show his face. They all directed him to Mort’s Hard-Were. There was no luck for him today.

 

He ran out of places to visit and sat down on stone steps overlooking the dreary Knockturn Alley. There were even more people milling around now. He should get out of here, he was a danger to them all, but where would he go? 

 

He put his face in his hands and took a moment, trying to not think about anything, hoping the ringing in his ears would go away. He hated his cursed condition. He hated his life.

 

Someone tapped on his shoulder and he startled, making his hood fall off. He scrambled to pick it back up and was relieved it was only the bald girl from the shop.

 

“You’re still here? It’s getting awfully close to the full moon, isn’t it?”

 

“I should go,” he whispered and looked around himself, unsure of what to do now, “somewhere…”

 

She chewed her gum loudly and rolled her eyes.

 

“Fine. I can help you.”

 

He blinked at her and stuttered, “You… you can? How?”

 

She smirked at him. “I have a plan. Wait here.”

 

She patted his arm and ran back to the shop without any further explanations.

 

He sat there, stumped and unsure of his next step. Trusting her could be disastrous, he should really try to get as far as he could from everyone, but some innate instinct was telling him that she was sincere, that she really could help him.

 

And so he waited, avoiding eye contact with any of the Alley visitors and tried to remain unnoticed.

 

He waited until his feet hurt and the crawling under his skin increased to alarming intensity. He waited until a sad thought hit him: what if she set him up? What if she wanted him to turn into a wolf right here on the street, attack innocent people, kill?

 

“She’s not coming,” he said and hung his head in shame. 

 

He fell for a trick and lost the precious little time he had. It was too late now.

 

Remus stared at his shoes and worried about what he was going to do, estimating that there was less than an hour left. The moon was growing in strength and for the first time in his life, he had no plan.

 

He couldn’t go home. He couldn’t bear the thought of endangering his parents. If he had more time, he could try to make his way to Hogwarts. The Shrieking Shack was very good at containing him. But - surprise - he did not have the time. 

 

This was it. Tonight was the night. He would rather die than hurt somebody in his wolf form. He just had to find someone to do it for him. 

 

‘You’ve lived for seventeen years,’ he thought to himself, trying to find the courage, ‘- longer than anyone would have expected of you.’

 

He always knew it was going to end this way. Life wasn’t worth living when you were a werewolf.

 

Someone tapped on his shoulder and he jumped up, startled.

 

“You came!” He grabbed the petite girl’s arm, trying to make sure that he wasn’t imagining her there.

 

The shopkeeper’s daughter tilted her shaved head and pursed her lips. “You think I’d leave you here? If you turned while in Knockturn Alley, they’d hunt you down like a stray.”

 

He chuckled nervously and let go of her, feeling awkward at his reaction but relieved beyond measure. 

 

She put out both of her hands, inviting him to hold them.

 

“Are we going somewhere?” 

 

She winked at him. “It’s a surprise.”

 

Remus hated today's surprises but took her hands anyway, not having any other choice but to disapparate with her.

 

When they reappeared, Remus was immediately hit by the soft smell of damp leaves and greedily breathed in the breeze that ruffled his robes, such a stark contrast to the fetid smells of the Knockturn Alley.

 

They were surrounded by loosely-spread trees and the only visible establishment was a small log house. He shivered as he felt the moon rise. He had no time to go anywhere else. Did she plan to trap him in the house? Did it have a basement? He really hoped she had some plan.

 

They quickly made their way to the porch. She took off her denim jacket and threw it on top of a wooden table with her sachet, and then, she surprised him again by slipping out of her shoes and jeans.

 

He looked around, everywhere but at her, and rubbed his neck, unsure of what was going on. Did he misunderstand her earlier? Just what exactly did she invite him for? Sure, she was pretty, but this was hardly the time for romance. He didn’t even know her name!

 

“What are you waiting for?” she said while throwing her jeans onto the table. “It’s almost time. Can’t you feel it?”

 

She stood in front of him, wearing only her oversized T-shirt, rolled her shoulders and closed her eyes and it only now hit him that he completely missed the biggest surprise. She was a werewolf too!

 

His body tensed as he felt the moon and he quickly caught on.

 

“Where are we going to go?” he said with worry while getting out of his robes.

 

“There are no humans for miles,” she said while wincing, already feeling the change. “We’ll run together.”

 

Remus fell on his knees as the transformation started coming over him and tried to take off as many clothes as he could, though he had a feeling, he would rip through some of it.

 

“But won’t we fight each other? I don’t want to hurt you.”

 

“I won’t fight you,” she said while getting onto her fours, her body already changing. “I think my wolf will like you.”

 

Remus struggled to stay conscious. There was so much more he wanted to ask her, but talking became difficult. He managed to utter only one.

 

“What’s your name?”

 

The moon fully emerged through the clearing and Remus did not get the chance to hear if she answered as his wolf took over.

 

 

 

 

In the deep wild forest, far from the curious human eyes, two wolves sang to the moon, nuzzled each other and ran into the forest to start their adventure.

 

 

☾☾☾

 

A/N: Critiques are very much welcome. Or you could just say hi. It’s awfully lonely here.

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