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Halliday's Beer, Liquor, and Deli

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Severus Snape stared at the words on the paper taped to the door of the convenience store. ‘Closed until further notice. Sorry Bill. Take it easy.’  The note was unsigned, but Severus would recognize the lettering of Remus Lupin anywhere.  Sighing, and wondering when Remus would return, Severus pulled out his wand and unlocked the door.   No wards, but who needed them in a small town like Landers? Severus wandered into the closed shop, shutting and warding the door behind him only to allow Remus Lupin’s magical signature through. 

The shop itself was uneventful.  The sign outside called it “Halliday’s Deli, Liqueur, and Beer”.  Severus wondered who Halliday was and wondered how Remus had come into possession of the business.  It wasn’t as if the man had been made of money. Then again, he might have used his war stipend to purchase the place, in which case, Severus was sure the man would return at some point.  He saw a door to one side labelled ‘Private’ and decided to explore. 

The door wasn’t locked, but behind the door was a set of rickety stairs leading to a very small studio flat that Remus had obviously been living in.  It only took a few minutes to explore the entire flat.  There were a few items that clearly belonged to Remus.  Shoved in the back of the closet were two sets of faded brown robes and an old suitcase bearing ‘Professor R J Lupin’. A floorboard rocked when Severus moved towards the bed and he carefully pried it up. There was a piece of cloth wrapped around something long and thin -  Remus had hidden his wand.

###

Severus was woken up by a knock on the door to the store.  He grumbled, but got out of the bed and found a bathrobe that had clearly seen better days to wrap around his thin frame.  He stuck his wand in the pocket before heading down into the store. 

Knocking on the door was an old man. Severus touched his wand and quickly took down his wards.

“What do you want,” Severus barked out.

“Where’s Chuck?”  Severus blinked at the man.

“Chuck?” 

“Yeah, Chuck.  The man who runs this place.” Severus suddenly realised that Remus must have been using an assumed name and had chosen to keep it simple by using a version of his grandfather’s name.  Severus ran his fingers though his inky black hair, now scattered with a few grey hairs.  He schooled his features and adopted a bland American accent, or at least what he hoped was American.

“Mm, Sorry buddy.  Chuck isn’t here.  Can I…..do something for you?”

“I’m here for my coffee and my cigs.”  Severus looked around and spotted the coffee maker in one corner and with a carefully hidden flick of his wand had it full of coffee. Coffee was definitely a good idea.  He opened the door further and indicated for the man to enter the building.  He wondered if this was the Bill on Remus’ note. 

Bill looked around the small store with a grunt after he had his coffee. “Where’s the chicken?” 

“I have no idea.  I’m only visiting. I’m sure this store has chicken somewhere.”  Bill chuckled.

“No, not chicken to eat.  The chicken. Athena, Chuck called her.”  Severus kept his eye rolling to a mental eye roll. Only a werewolf would adopt a chicken as a pet and then name it Athena. 

“Re….Chuck must have taken it with him.  I don’t know when he’ll be back.” 

“Oh,”  Bill thought for a moment as he fumbled in his pocket for the five dollar bill he had with him every morning. “Will you be here tomorrow?”  Severus sighed.

“I suppose.”

“Good,”  Bill said, “I’ll need my coffee.”

###

Severus had been running the small store for four months.  When the delivery drivers arrived, Severus would give them the same line – he was filling in for Chuck while he was away, and no he didn’t know when Chuck would be back. He told them his name was Stephen, figuring a name like Severus would have stuck out the same way a name like Remus would.  He had developed a bit of a rapport with Bill and the older man would now sit on one of the chairs outside the store and smoke a few cigarettes with Severus and would tell him about ‘Chuck’.

Chuck had arrived in the town a few years ago and had been looking for work.  He had been dirty and had all his possessions in one suitcase and one backpack.  The Halliday’s offered him a job and gave him the room over the shop to sleep in.   After one year, Chuck offered to purchase the shop and the Halliday’s took his money and left town.  Severus tried to find out what Remus did on the full moons and hadn’t figured out a way to ask until Bill finally asked him if he would be closing for three days a month the same as Remus always had to “perform inventory”.   Severus nodded.  Might as well not deviate from Remus’ plan, even if he had nothing to do during those days.

Two months later, after Severus had been there for six months, he was woken up once more, this time by his wards tuned to Remus went off. 

“Aw, what the fuck?!”  Severus’ eyes bulged. He had never heard Remus curse like that, let alone in an American accent.

“What’s going on, Chuck?”  It was a female voice this time.  Young, if Severus was guessing correctly.  Fuck. Who’s that? Severus reached for Remus’ bathrobe he had been using for the past six months and shoved his wand into the pocket once more before he made his way downstairs.  He grabbed a knife out of the small kitchen to use for show.  Brandishing the knife like a common Muggle, he went down the stairs.

Remus gasped.  “Sev…..”   Severus sneered.

“I see you’ve returned….Chuck.”  Remus ran his fingers through his speckled hair that had far more grey in it than it had five years ago. 

“I….ahh…”

“Chuck, who is this man?” The woman spoke.  Severus took a minute to examine her.  Young, probably around the same age as Nymphadora had been.  Severus snorted. 

“He didn’t tell you about me?  I hope you’re not sleeping with him.”

“Sev-“  Severus held out his hand to the woman.

“Stephen.”  Remus met Severus’ eyes, inviting him to use Legilimancy on him.  Severus entered his mind and Remus pushed forward memories -  The woman showing up, wanting a place to sleep and some food, the kiss she gave him that he had returned, but then the conversation after the kiss when the woman took off her top.  Severus withdrew and gave him a small nod. 

“Patricia, this is Stephen….he’s my husband.” Patricia’s eyebrows went up. She flicked some of her long hair over her shoulder and adjusted the chicken she had in her arms before her eyes darted to Severus’ hand and spotted the plain gold band.  She knew her companion hadn’t worn one and wondered what happened.

“Husband. As in, ‘in sickness and in health, richer or poorer, death do you part’ husband?”  Remus nodded.

“Ah yes. Death, Chuck.  Let’s talk about that, shall we?”  Remus nervously looked between Severus and Patricia and Patricia took the hint. She handed Remus the chicken. 

“I’ll…uhm. Well, I guess you want some privacy to talk?”  When Remus nodded, she continued. “I’ll go.” She fished keys out of her pocket and handed them to Remus along with the chicken. “Guess you’ll want your car back.”  Patricia picked up the large backpack she had dropped by the door, shouldered it, and turned back to the awkward couple before she left.  “Stephen?”

“Yes?”

“I just want you to know that Chuck never cheated on you in the six months I’ve known him. I didn’t even know he had a husband.”  Stephen nodded and she walked out the door heading in who knows what direction but away from the man she had grown fond of over the past six months of travel.  They had only split apart a few times – usually once per month, Chuck would tell her he needed a little time alone and would disappear for a few days, sometimes with the car, sometimes without, but always leaving Athena with her so she knew he would return.  She squared her shoulders. Perhaps she could hitch a ride somewhere if she walked into town.

The door tinkled behind her and Severus put his hands on his hips.  “Remus.”  Remus set Athena down on the counter and grabbed a bag of sunflower seeds he quickly opened and dumped some on the counter for the chicken.  Severus watched the chicken.

“Severus…they told me…they told me you died.”  Remus reached a hand out to caress Severus’ cheek and Severus flinched. 

“And you didn’t bother to check?”  Remus looked at his feet.

“Ah…uhm…”  Severus rolled his eyes. 

“Come.  You look disgusting.  Have a shower, put on some decent clothing, and we’ll talk.”  Severus turned back towards the door marked private, flicking his wand at the front door to the store to lock it. 

“I see you’re wearing my bathrobe.”  Remus chuckled as he watched his husband’s back.  He reached for his neck to where he had disillusioned the chain holding his wedding ring, not wanting to answer any questions from people about his spouse, but also not wanting to get rid of the ring.  He hoped his wand was still under the floorboard.  Transforming the past few months without his wand to ward his hiding places had been rough, but he hadn’t wanted Patricia to find out he was a wizard…or a werewolf.

“It’s comfortable.”

“And running my store?” Severus shrugged.

“Needed something to do while I waited for you to return.”  Severus nodded his head to the shelf lining the stairwell. “Made Wolfsbane.  I make it every month in case you…well, if you need it, it’s there.”  Remus smiled. This was Severus’ way of telling him he loved him. 

“Thank you, Severus.”  He grabbed for one of the bottles.  “Still needs to be taken warm?” Severus nodded again and tapped the bottle with his wand, heating it instantly.  “Thanks.  My wand….”

“I found it.  It’s safe.”  Yep. Still loved him.  Remus’ smile turned into a grin.

“I love you too, Sev.”