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sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2005-07-15 12:15 pm

Away From Home

Rating: PG-13
Summary: The Marauders tell stories -- and sometimes reveal more than they meant to.
Warnings: None.

Also available at AO3.


He is of those who slanted the great door and listened -- wretched little lad -- to what was said. --Trumbull Stickney



"Trade you for a pepper imp."

"Haven't got any."

"Peter, did you eat all the chocolate?"


"Here, I've got a few frogs."

It was a crisp, cold evening, the first chill snap of autumn. Out here, past the village -- not that the village was very brightly lit at any rate -- the stars wheeled cool and clear above them. The moon, almost full, shone through trees that still had most of their leaves, though the colours were turning.

Remus Lupin lay back, propped on his elbows, and stared up at the sky, watching the stars twinkle. Theoretically, he knew that it was because of the shifting gases of the atmosphere (he'd done well in Muggle school before Hogwarts, and liked astronomy) but he couldn't shake the voice in his head, his mother's voice from when he was quite small, which said that the stars were candles and the breath of the gods made them shine like that.

Peter and James bickered nearby, until Sirius broke it up; when Remus looked over, James was roasting a marshmallow on the end of his wand, over their little campfire. The other boy dropped him a wink, and tossed him a packet of toffees.

"Nice to get out of the school for a while. This was a good idea, Moony," he said. "Bit of a camp-out before the first full moon of the year, eh?"

"I thought it would be fun," Remus answered, opening one of the toffees. "We ought to do it for Hallowe'en, too. After the feast. Could bring some girls along."

"Not if we go through the Whomping Willow," Peter pointed out, accepting a casually flung toffee and peeling the waxed paper off of it.

"There are other ways," Sirius replied. "I think that's a great idea. We can scare the hell out of them."

"That wasn't what I was thinking of," Remus said delicately. James roared with laughter until Sirius stuffed a marshmallow in his mouth.

"I wasn't done yet," Sirius said, in as dignified a tone as he could muster. "We sneak out of school, right, in the dark, after the feast, and we come up here and pass around something to warm us up, and tell a few ghost stories." He grabbed hold of James and pulled a wide-eyed, frightened face. "Oh, Jimmy!" he wailed, in a high falsetto. "Hold me Jimmy! Don't let the Big Bad Scary Things come get me!"

"Geroff me," James wrestled Sirius off, and they scuffled good-naturedly for a few minutes, while Peter stole James' marshmallows and Remus rolled his eyes.

"Do we know any ghost stories?" Peter asked, when they were done picking twigs out of their hair. "I mean...ones that are actually scary?"

"There was the time Nearly Headless Nick caught me in the bathroom," Sirius said thoughtfully.

"That's not really very scary," Remus pointed out.

"You don't know what he caught me doing," Sirius answered. The boys winced in mutual sympathy. "Not a story I want to tell to girls."

"When you think about it, we really don't know many scary stories. I mean...we /are/ the scary stories," Remus said thoughtfully. "A grim, a werewolf, a rat, and a shadowy pointy-headed figure in the night. It's not like we're scared of ghosts. Cept for Peeves, I guess," he added.

"I resent being called pointy-headed," James said.

"Duly noted, pointy-head."

"I know one about a vampire," Peter said.

"My great-uncle's a vampire," Sirius replied. "He has dentures."

"There's the one about the guy who doesn't get in the elevator, you know the one," James said, to Remus.

"What's an elevator?" Sirius asked.

"Problem, that," Remus pointed out.

"You know any, Moony?" James asked. Remus thought about it.

"Well, there's only one time I've ever been really scared," he said, slowly.

"Yeah? What's that?"


"This is it?" his father had asked, when they'd visited the school to see about Dumbledore's...'special arrangements' for Remus. He'd looked around the Shrieking Shack, with its dusty floors and bare-wood walls; with its sad little cot and a locked cabinet of food, a cracked sink and rusty spigot. Nothing to heat anything with; no chairs, no desk. Boarded-over windows.

"It's not any worse than the barn at home, dad," Remus had replied.

"But you didn't have to spend three days solid in the barn," his father had pointed out. "You got to come out in the morning."

"There's a place to lock up my schoolbooks. I can study during the day. That way I won't fall behind."

"No hot heater, for that matter."

"I can use my wand if I'm cold, or want hot food."

His father had looked askance at the slight young boy, but he knew how much Remus wanted to attend Hogwarts, how much he'd depended on the dream of attending it to get him through the last few years.

Now, Remus wondered if perhaps dad hadn't been right. It was one thing to walk around it in the daytime, with your father nearby and Dumbledore waiting to show you the school, not ten minutes away.

But now it was evening, and he'd gone through the Whomping Willow and down into the tunnel, and that wasn't so bad really, because he /knew/ it was still daylight out. But since then -- since he'd arrived, and locked his books and wand away, and listlessly eaten a few crackers from the cupboard -- it had grown later, and darker.

He ought to undress; he ought to lock away his clothes, too, so that he couldn't shred them. Back home he didn't go very far, just out to the old barn, wrapped in a big blanket, and dad always checked on him right before sundown.

He didn't want to undress. Not in this big, dark, creaking place, with dust everywhere and probably spiders or rats or something in the corners. He didn't want to Change here, all alone, without his dad, without the big blanket that dad always mended no matter how much he tore it apart. He didn't want to be back in the morning and be all alone and have to bandage up his own cuts. He wanted his dad.

He considered simply leaving, walking out into the woods at the edge of town and running wild, but he knew how that ended. It always, always ended with a bite, and a scream, and a silver bullet. Just like it had happened to the wolf who bit him.

Sundown in a few minutes.

Sighing, with a cramp in his chest and hands that were not quite steady, he took off his clothes, folded them neatly, laid them next to his wand in the cabinet, and locked it. He slid the key underneath the sink, where his big clumsy werewolf claws couldn't get to it.

He sat on the cot, back against the wall, hugging his knees, and waited.

The shafts of light breaking through the gaps in the boarded-up windows turned slowly red, then gold, then blue...and then were gone.

Moon would rise soon.

But in the meantime, a whole new litany of horrors were assaulting Remus, curled up alone in the cot. There were creaks that made him jump, and he was sure he'd heard something skitter across the floor.

He let out a small shriek as a dark shape fluttered against the window. It's only a bird, it's only a bird...

But in his mind it was changing and transforming into something quite terrifying, with three heads and slavering jaws...

He closed his eyes and pressed his hands over his face, body tense. Unfamiliar place, new territory, scary scents --

New territory.

That was a wolf thought.

And as he thought it, and as a half-dozen bats clattering outside finally broke through the rotten board and flitted their way into the room, Remus felt the Change. He shrieked and tore at his own skin while his bones began to shift, his face changed --

It was, truthfully, a very bad night for five innocent bats looking for a hunting ground.

In the morning, he found himself pressed into a corner, scoremarks on the walls and splinters in his fingertips. He rose, tiredly, and walked to the sink, running water from the elderly spigot over them, pulling them out one by one. He banaged his hands, first, and then rubbed a healing ointment into the rest of the cuts, just like dad had taught him. He quietly got out his books and began reading, taking notes occasionally.

Wouldn't do to fall behind, after all.

He felt oddly full, all things considered, as if he'd had a big dinner the night before.


Remus realised he was kneading a marshmallow to a sticky, powdery pulp. He hadn't meant to quite give that much detail away.

He flicked his eyes up, quickly, expecting any minute now that Sirius would come up with some taunt about the Big Bad Wolf. But Sirius had his head down, and was shooting sidelong glances at James, who was rubbing soot off the end of his wand. Peter was drawing shapes in the dirt with a stick.

"Never thought about that," Sirius rumbled.

"Not really a good scary story, though," James muttered.

"Gosh," Peter said softly.

There was a long silence.

"Bet it'd get you laid," Sirius said, throwing his arms around Remus' neck. "Oh, Remus!" he returned to the falsetto, and Remus rolled his eyes. "Suffering all alone like that! The poor boy!"

Remus tried to shrug him off, but Sirius didn't let go. "The poor lad," he said, in his own voice, quite quietly. His arms dropped away. Peter slipped a chocolate frog into his hand. Remus studied the packaging.

"But that was all before," he said, waving a hand, as if it could brush all the memories away. "I've got you lot now."

"Yeah," James answered, grinning. He threw a toffee at Remus, who laughed and blocked it with his hands. "You got us."


[identity profile] 2005-12-13 09:07 pm (UTC)(link)
You write the best marauder stories I've ever read. I love your Remus.

[identity profile] 2005-12-14 06:20 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you! What a nice thing to say :)

[identity profile] 2007-11-06 09:46 am (UTC)(link)

*hugs* I ought to give you a thousand hugs for all of your stories. I love them so~

(Anonymous) 2008-08-23 02:32 pm (UTC)(link)
owww they're such good friends :]
i love the way you write about them, they're just like real people, real teenage lads who happen to be in strange circumstances.
beautiful! :D

(Anonymous) 2015-01-29 10:53 am (UTC)(link)
Remember reading this, oh, ten years ago on your livejournal. Loved it then.

Reading it again this time brought back just how much I appreciate your writing. The uncluttered, natural prose. The easy flow of dialogue. The fact that this could so easily have descended to maudlin pathos or been gummed up in treacle but didn't, thanks to the first two qualities and your sense of humor. The details: the blanket in the barn, which made me tear up; and Peter's chocolate frog, which made my heart seize up.

This was far from the most sophisticated thing you ever wrote, but to write about such seemingly predetermined topics like sick kids and friendship and acceptance etc, within the form you chose (a vignette that could be understood by 8 yr olds), with the lightness and simplicity and depth of feeling you did here, is no less an accomplishment. I'm so glad to read it again.