sam_storyteller: (Default)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-15 01:45 pm

I Won't Tell

Rating: PG
Summary: Sirius finds a brother, but not in the way he thinks.
Warning: Discussion of child abuse and portrayal of its effects.

Also available at AO3.

***

He always changed alone; they thought, idly, that it was modesty.

Sirius, returning for a forgotten quill, saw Lupin shirtless one morning, and gasped aloud. Over the thin back was a network of scars, gouges on shoulders and around ribs. Remus turned, startled, and they continued -- up his arms, across his stomach, raised white marks.

He was only twelve years old.

Sirius looked up to Lupin's face, saw his terror.

"It's all right," he whispered.

He lifted his own shirt, turning to display his father's indelible punishments. Lupin traced them with his hand.

"I won't tell," they said, in unison.

***

I Won't Tell

When Remus was younger this had all been much simpler.

He was living at home; there was never a need to undress in front of others. He never went shirtless in the summer like the other children; the parents passed word around to each other that he was sensitive to the sun. They never seemed to consider that his face and legs, his arms and hands, were all as brown as any other child's. He had liked swimming, but now that was forbidden to him unless it was in deep water. Sometimes he saw pictures of Australian surfers in books -- he liked the Muggle magazine National Geographic -- and envied their sleek black wetsuits.

He had been so careful since coming to Hogwarts. He used cleaning charms taught to him by his parents, instead of washing with the other boys; he didn't play Quidditch which precluded the notion of locker rooms. He changed in the awkward but private enclosure of the curtains around his bed. Nobody seemed to notice, and he quickly came to the realisation that most children -- children who didn't have to worry about getting Caught -- were incredibly self-absorbed.

He noticed other children in order to keep from being noticed.

Even then, you could only be so careful before fate conspired against you.

He had come up to change after dinner; when the moon was waxing this full, the school uniforms irritated him and he wanted his old comfortable worn shirts and trousers; looser, less stiff than what he wore during the day. He wished the wolf were like that; wished that instead of a punishment it was an escape. All he really wanted...he would not even hope for a cure or to be fully human again...all he really wanted was that when he Changed he could curl up as the wolf and sleep until it was over.

His tie was off, and since no-one else was around, he didn't have to change behind the curtains. He shrugged the shirt down his arms, rolling his shoulders as he did so, and heard his neck pop in several places.

Then he heard another noise.

A small gasp of surprise.

He whirled, and there was Sirius Black, one of the Cool Kids, standing in the doorway. They knew each other, of course; they'd shared a dormitory for five months now. But Sirius was loud and brash, friends with James Potter, and was definitely the one person in the entire world that painfully shy Remus Lupin wanted to avoid.

He clutched the shirt up over his shoulders again, pulling it tight around his ribcage, but it was too late; he could tell Sirius had seen the scars running around his ribs, over his shoulders, anywhere that wolf claws or teeth could reach. The other boy was staring at him.

"Well?" Remus asked, almost defiantly. "Need something?"

Sirius put out a hand, then pulled it back when Remus flinched away. He waited for the taunt to come; instead, Sirius tilted his head slightly, and touched his fingers to his lips as if studying a particularly difficult problem.

"It's all right," he said finally. "I mean. It's fine by me. I don't care."

"Dunno what you're talking about," Remus muttered.

"The -- you know. It's okay," Sirius stammered. Remus watched as he reached up for his own tie, pulling it loose, tossing it down on the ground. He unbuttoned his robe and shirt and pulled them off together, Remus still transfixed by the strange half-pitying look on his face.

Then he turned around, and stretched out his arms to the sides.

Dozens of thin, perfectly parallel lines crossed his back, darker than the surrounding skin, looking as though someone had taken thin ink and drawn them on. They stopped at his shoulders, but Remus could see short ones on the backs of his arms down to his elbows, curving with the muscles there.

Tentatively, he touched one of them. It was raised just slightly. He realised he'd never seen Sirius changing, either.

"It's my mum," Sirius said, as Remus ran a thumb over one of the short lines on his arms. "She knows this charm -- anyway. I thought I was the only one."

He doesn't understand, Remus thought. And then, No. At least nobody does it to me. At least it's not my parents doing it to me.

I'm the one who doesn't understand.

"So I won't tell," Sirius added. "If you won't."

Remus slid his fingers up, over Sirius' unscarred shoulder, to grip it tightly.

"I won't tell," he agreed. Sirius nodded, and gently shrugged off his hand, letting his robe fall to the floor as he pulled up and buttoned the shirt. Remus found the shirt he'd been looking for, and pulled it on.

"Do yours hurt?" Sirius asked.

Every month, when I get new ones -- "Not once they're healed."

"Mine ache sometimes. When it's damp."

"There's charms for that, aren't there?"

"Dunno. Are there?"

"Must be."

Sirius swallowed. "I could look 'em up. In the library."

"Sure."

"Like to help?"

Remus opened his mouth to remind him that Sirius Black hardly needed that -- Sirius was head of his class in Charms -- but then he realised that the pleading look on Sirius' face had very little to do with helping him research and everything to do with helping him.

"Yeah, okay," he said, and Sirius smiled.

"Ta. You're a mate, Lupin," he said, easy now with words, and turned to go. Remus felt as though he'd just betrayed him somehow; surely having a mother who made such perfect, even dark lines on your body was worse, somehow. To lie and say he understood, that they were somehow together in this...

On the other hand, the desperate look in Sirius' eyes told him that he was dying for someone to tell, for someone else who understood pain.

And Remus did understand pain.

He took up his book and descended to the common-room. He saw Sirius grin at him from the table, as he settled into his favourite window-seat, and smiled back before opening his book.

Other boys had secrets too, after all. And that was not something Remus had cheated out of anyone.

It was comforting, somehow.

END

[identity profile] humantales.livejournal.com 2005-11-09 04:29 pm (UTC)(link)
This was a nice story, one of those ideas that just make sense when you think of it. Nicely done.

[identity profile] sarcastic-irony.livejournal.com 2006-05-05 02:26 am (UTC)(link)
I know you wrote this a long time ago, but the lack of comments is appling! Because this was beautiful. I really like your take on the whole thing. The short drabble-esque beginning was so heartbreaking, and the end of the whole thing was, strangly, comforting.

[identity profile] sam-storyteller.livejournal.com 2006-05-05 01:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it.

The lack of comments is mainly because this is a relatively new archive -- the drabble was posted somewhere else, first, and then moved here, so all the comments on it are in another place :)

[identity profile] sarcastic-irony.livejournal.com 2006-05-05 07:27 pm (UTC)(link)
Ok, well THAT I can understand. More of a blanace to my fanfic world.

[identity profile] mikkeneko.livejournal.com 2006-11-01 10:42 am (UTC)(link)
Nobody seemed to notice, and he quickly came to the realisation that most children -- children who didn't have to worry about getting Caught -- were incredibly self-absorbed.

He noticed other children in order to keep from being noticed.


Ah, this is the best line. It's so true.

[identity profile] aeeee.livejournal.com 2007-08-23 07:43 pm (UTC)(link)
I found this from the wank going on with cryptictac just now, and I really enjoyed it. Thank you!

[identity profile] shinzuku.livejournal.com 2007-09-12 02:55 pm (UTC)(link)
("Ta. You're a mate, Lupin," he said, easy now with words, and turned to go. Remus felt as though he'd just betrayed him somehow; surely having a mother who made such perfect, even dark lines on your body was worse, somehow. To lie and say he understood, that they were somehow together in this...

On the other hand, the desperate look in Sirius' eyes told him that he was dying for someone to tell, for someone else who understood pain.

And Remus did understand pain.

He took up his book and descended to the common-room. He saw Sirius grin at him from the table, as he settled into his favourite window-seat, and smiled back before opening his book. )

Great

[identity profile] dude-youfugly.livejournal.com 2009-07-09 11:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh god, Sirius is so fucking DEPRESSING. Awe. I feel so bad for him. They're so cute when they're little.

(Anonymous) 2010-09-10 06:42 pm (UTC)(link)
*sniffles*

Oh poor Sirius. Poor Remus, too, but you know what I mean. Sirius's parents are just the sort to do something like that, too. (Unlike how some stories have child abuse just to show how evil a character is, if you know what I mean.)

(Anonymous) 2010-10-17 10:17 am (UTC)(link)
Love it. That's the beginning of a great friendship.