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Without Fortune




Without Fortune

Remus woke up somewhere new. Actually, this wasn’t particularly unusual for him. His wagon, good old Mathilda, had a habit of getting him to where he needed to be at any given time. With or without his permission, he might add. He traveled through the great forest of H’thalee, where the trees were as tall and thick as mountains, and helped derive a cure for an especially violent outbreak of pus-mumps, which were just as horrible as they sounded. He’d also seen the neon lights and dusty shanty towns of New-new5 York and negotiated a treaty between the Holy Union of Pearl’s Jam and the Following of the Chemical Romance, two rival religious groups who had been catching innocent civilians in their highly militarized crossfire for years. Now, he was here. Wherever here was. Sitting up blearily from the nest of old-smelling pillows and blankets he called a bed, Remus opened the blue curtain that hung from Mathilda’s back end, and blinked in the harsh sunlight. Outside, the air smelled of oil and fast food. Mmm. A positively pleasant aroma to greet his nostrils so early in the morning if there ever was one. Remus looked to the left, and then to the right, barking out a short laugh as he suddenly found himself in the abandoned lot between the Chico’s and the Dollar Tree. Across the street was a high, chain-link fence, and beyond that, the sounds of children’s laughter floated towards him on the breeze. A school, it must be. Boy, it had been a long time since he’d been to a place like this, hadn’t it? After all his insane adventures, the current surroundings seemed very... normal. He almost turned back into the wagon to freshen up before he took a better look around, but paused as he suddenly felt eyes on him. Remus liked to consider himself mildly psychic, not enough that he could read minds or anything—though that would certainly make his job easier—but sometimes things like names and general dispositions just came to him. He could also tell when someone was watching him, though whether this was actually psychic ability or plain old intuition was anyone’s guess. It took him a second to find the source of the stare, but there, just beyond the school yard fence, was a kid. He wasn’t looking directly at Remus per say, hidden as he was in the shadow of Mathilda’s interior, but he stared at the wagon with an unnaturally serious expression for a child so young. Slinking back into the wagon, Remus observed as the boy’s face scrunched up in thought. He must have seen the wagon appear in the lot. If it had been an adult that had seen the strange occurrence, they probably would have panicked, or called the police, or any number of inconvenient reactions, but with a child, it only meant that Remus had an impending customer. Sure enough, the kid glanced around, and slipped around the side of the school when the monitor’s back was turned. Remus nodded. The kid was sharp, and by the look on his face was not enjoying breaking the rules. But his curiosity seemed stronger, for now he was crossing the road towards the abandoned lot. Slowly, a name was coming to him. Something that began with ‘T’. Trevor? Tate? No... Tommy. Yes, that was it. He was reasonably sure, at least. The boy looked like a Tommy, after all, with a striped t-shirt that was a little too big for him and a slightly dirty face. Tommy was now pausing just outside the wagon, no doubt admiring the sign that Remus had spent way too much time on. Remus himself scooted backwards, behind the small table on which sat his crystal ball. He grinned, children were often his best customers. Unlike their adult counterparts, there was no skepticism about them, and he loved to watch their little faces light up as he told them about their amazing futures. He hoped, at least, that some of them would make those things he said come true all on their own. A cough disturbed his thoughts, and Remus looked up to see Tommy blinking in the darkness and must of the wagon. “Ah,” he called to the boy, “come to have your fortune told, have you?” Tommy hesitated. A little nervous, this one. “Don’t be alarmed. Come closer, my boy.” Pushing through the gauzy curtain and into the back of Remus’ lair, Tommy’s eyes narrowed, confused. “Who are you?” he asked. Remus stood, introducing himself with a grandiose gesture. He couldn’t help noticing how overly cautious Tommy seemed, glancing this way and that across the interior as if expecting someone to attack him. Most children weren’t so nervous. As soon as Tommy began to relax a little, however, he went right into his usual shtick. “You’ve come to see your future, haven’t you?” He wiggled his eyebrows. “I don’t believe in fortune telling.” Tommy blurted, and Remus’ mind blanked for just a moment. In all his time traveling, he hadn’t met many children so young who didn’t at least wonder if such things were real. But he shook his head, quickly regaining his cool. “Then you’ve come to disprove the whole thing, haven’t you?” He asked. “H-how did you know that?” Remus grinned. If he couldn’t tell the boy’s fortune, than maybe he could surprise him in some other way. “Here,” he sat, and gestured Tommy to do the same. “Let me show you.” As he explained the basic techniques he used when telling people’s fortunes, he observed Tommy through the glass ball. There was something off about the kid. He seemed too jumpy, too, well, for lack of a better word, adultish, as if he’d had to grow up much too fast. And as Remus peered closer, he suddenly noticed that the dirt on his face wasn’t dirt at all, but... bruises. Ah. He knew why Mathilda had brought him here of all places, just who it was that needed his help. But he’d have to be careful. The boy probably wouldn’t, or couldn’t, talk about who had given him those bruises. So he tried to bring the subject up in the best way he knew how: he told Tommy’s fortune. “Things will get better.” He said to him, and he meant it. Just then, across the street, the school bell rang, and Tommy nearly jumped to his feet. “Oh... I have to go.” “Would you like to learn more?” Remus asked quietly, to which Tommy nodded. “I’ll be in town for a few weeks. Perhaps you could come back and I could teach you.” Yes. Maybe if he talked to Tommy more, he could learn something too, learn what he could do to help him. No child should have to bare bruises like that. “Could I?” Tommy’s face brightened, and Remus smiled a little. “Of course you can, Tommy. But right now, you’ll be late for school.” He waved Tommy out of the wagon and back across the street, waiting until he was sure he’d gotten back in the school safely before turning around. He patted the side of the wagon, which almost felt warm to the touch. “Alright girl,” he whispered. “Let’s get to work.”

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