Dean isn’t sure what day of the week it is, much less the exact date, but he knows he’s been hiding for awhile, months by now. He’s never been one to focus on time in the past, and his current circumstances haven’t really changed that. If anything, he’s glad that he’s not focused on the days and weeks he’s been forced to keep moving and constantly look over his shoulder. It doesn’t help anything, but it does make it a little easier.
It must be nearing late autumn. The leaves are starting to change colors and flowers are beginning to die. He hates to think how cold it will be during the winter. He can hope he’s safe by then, that he’ll be sleeping in a real bed instead of tossing a blanket down wherever he can find every night that feels safe. At least he’s been able to buy a new warmer blanket. It took a day’s hard work for an older Muggle woman, but she was kind and didn’t ask him why he was out on his own or suggest he should be in school.
School. He’d intended to be at Hogwarts now. He’d be in front of the fire in the common room, sketching while Seamus got beat at Exploding Snap by whoever was playing against him. There were few definite things in the world, but Seamus losing at cards was definitely one of them. Didn’t matter what game, Muggle or Magical, he was utter shite at them all. Despite that, he loved to play, not caring if he lost, and Dean has grown used to hearing the sound of cards being shuffled and dealt during the years. He misses that familiar noise now.
Of course, there’s a lot that he misses. His friends, his classes, the lake, his family, a warm bed, enough food to actually get full every night, clean clothes, and showers are all at the top of the list. It might not be so bad if he wasn’t alone, but he knows he’d never wish this on anyone else, especially someone he cares about. No one should be hunted just because of their blood.
He knows about discrimination, has even before going to Hogwarts and finding out that it’s his blood instead of the color of his skin that makes people sneer or shy away from him in the magical world. One is as bad as the other, but it makes him appreciate those who aren’t narrow minded and consumed with prejudice, so there‘s at least something good that comes from the hate. It’s not enough, though, and he wonders if he’ll ever feel comfortable in either of his worlds.
In one world, he’s the dark skinned son of a hard-working couple who don’t make enough money to be accepted by most the neighbors, and, in the other, he’s another Muggleborn who doesn’t deserve to hold a wand according to many, not as smart as Hermione or as talented as others. The lack of money has never been anything he’s cared about. He worries a lot about his parents paying the tuition for Hogwarts, mostly because he knows it means his sisters go without new clothes sometimes and that it means extra shifts for his mum when she deserves to be home relaxing. He didn’t want to go to Hogwarts at all, because of the money and leaving his family, but his parents insisted, and his mum had said something then that he didn’t even notice until he was older, which makes him wonder if his biological father might not have been magical, too.
Considering everything happening in this world now, he wishes he knew more, though he often decides that he‘d probably not have said anything about his father even if he did know. After all, the man disappeared before he was born and was never a real father, so his parents are Muggles, and saying anything else would be like betraying them. He’d never do that, so it’s pointless to think about it.
There’s just not much to do right now but think. He likes to think that he was always thoughtful and quiet, but he’s never spent as much time with his thoughts as he has recently. There’s no telly or football to distract him, no sisters to tease or mum to help around the house, no classes to study for or friends to be stupid with; it‘s just him, his thoughts, and his sketchbook. Normally, that wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s the silence and having to all this alone that’s starting to make him restless and frustrated now.
At least he’s been able to survive so far. There’s been work occasionally, when he can manage to find someone needing manual labor for a day’s pay or even a hot meal. He can’t risk staying in one place for too long, mostly because there are Snatchers out looking to make a name for themselves, and he’s somehow ended up on their bloody list because he refused to go ‘register’ and end up being killed or sent to Azkaban. He thinks that maybe his being in the same house and a friend of Potter’s would have meant he’d have been on that list anyway.
There’s not much food left in his bag, which means he’s going to have to venture out again into civilization and see if he can find work for a day‘s pay. If so, he can buy enough to make it through another couple of weeks. If worse comes to worse, he can always nick a few things, but he doesn’t really want to lower himself to that level. He will if it’s between that and staying alive.
Fortunately, he hasn’t had to make that choice yet. When he got really desperate recently and couldn’t find anyone willing to hire him for a day of work, a man gave him a handful of coins and told him to stay safe and keep running. There’d been a knut in with the Muggle pounds, which had startled him so much that he hadn’t been able to ask the man his name before he was gone. It’s funny, in a way, that something as terrible as blood hatred and prejudice has forced him out onto his own and opened his eyes to everyday kindness that’s freely given without expectation or reward.
From the woman who gave him fresh eggs when she unexpectedly found him sleeping in her barn to the man who handed him enough coins to feed him for a week, it’s reminded him that most people are good and honest. It’s the everyday kindness that surprises him, makes him realize that there are heroes everywhere, even if they’re not fighting evil wizards or running powerful companies that can change the future of the world. It’s in their smiles and their generosity, in their willingness to help a stranger, in the way they inspire him as he sits at night by the fire and sketches their faces and their smiles, just to remind himself that the good people far outweigh the bad.
They give him hope for both of his worlds, and make him see things in ways he never did before. In the end, it’s enough to get him through the cold night and give him the strength he needs to make it through another day.