Title: Oblivious Misery
Category: Romance/SLASH/AU/Slight Angst/Slight Humor
Pairing: Sirius/Remus, James/Lily, many other minor pairings…
Summary: Remus is miserable, believing he's better off dead. However, when he's sent to another dimension where, in the eyes of the Gryffindor Kingdom's citizens, their Prince is the very meaning of passion and violence, he has to save the only Gryffindor's heir from losing himself in his family's expectation while keeping his very own head up. Here, Remus learns of love and affection through the most unexpected person, and believes that there is something in life worth living for, after all.
Author's Note: I went back and made some changes to this chapter, and will be doing so with the following chapters, as well.
Chapter 1 - The Naked Surprise
The dream started out just like it always did, with a warm, glowing blue ball floating in front of him, streaks of blue reaching out from the core, waving like gentle fingers beckoning him to follow.
And follow he did.
He never knew what was there around him, for his eyes, large and curious, a pair of golden suns half hidden by pale lashes of silver, were glued onto his guide as it floated before him.
So he walked forward, transfixed, and soon there was another light, blossoming like a bright flower in the dark night, appearing before him. The blue ball forgotten, he walked forward all by himself, and then he was completely consumed by the white light.
A great, magnificent hall of gold and red, decorated lavishly with all kinds of jewels emerged. He kept on walking, feet light upon a long, soft carpet woven out of red and gold strands.
There were people on both of his sides, their faces hidden, dark and unsmiling. He never really noticed them, because his eyes were now resting on a figure, sitting next to the throne, shoulders hunched, his face covered by two tanned, strong hands.
He stopped in front of the person and stared down, his face impassive. "What are you doing?" he asked.
The person looked up, and he saw that it was a boy, probably around his age, handsome face etched with pure misery, eyes shimmering in self-hatred and regrets. "I'm thinking," he answered, but his voice held none of the pain visible on his face, just cold and cruel. "Are you my savior?"
He took a step closer, his hand rising and gently touching the other's cheek, cool and smooth. "I don't know, but I want to help you."
The boy gazed at him with a strange light in his eyes, and then he grasped his hand. "You are him. My savior."
He didn't know what the boy was talking about, but all the same, it made sense to him, and he leaned down.
Like always, at that moment, when he could feel the boy with ebony hair breathing softly across his lips, Remus Lupin woke up.
"Lupin! Get your arse over here this instant!"
Remus winced at the high, shrilly voice shrieking from outside the dining room, and stopped in his process of cleaning the table. A boy, blue eyes and red hair, standing next to him, looked over. "That devil of a woman is horrid," he commented, nodding encouragingly towards him. "Go on, Remus, she probably just wants to compliment on your good grade on the test we had anyway."
Remus smiled weakly, knowing that Arthur was trying to ease his worry with a joke, because Madam Jeromin never complimented him on anything.
"Get out here NOW!" Remus flinched again. Promptly he dropped the rag into the bucket filled with grayish water and went out of the dining room.
He walked down a small hallway, where other kids about his age or younger were cleaning the floor and walls. They talked among themselves, but did not look up or acknowledge Remus in anyway. It was alright, though. He was used to their indifference. After all, one would learn how to ignore these things when one's been living here for almost seventeen years.
Seventeen years of misery, Remus thought wryly. Not a day passed by that he didn't wish he had a normal life, a life where his parents were still with him, giving him what every child rightfully deserved: love and affection. Sometimes, Remus got so angry at himself for wishing for what he could never have, for self-pitying, and for not being good enough that his family had to leave him to some orphanage.
Remus knew his parents didn't die. No, they were alive and well and they put him in this accursed place for most of his life. Was there something wrong with him? It was a question he asked himself often as he was growing up, and with the horrible people that ran this place confirming it at every opportunity, he came to believe that there was, doubtlessly, something wrong with him.
The other kids here ignored him for the most part, except for perhaps Arthur and Frank, the two people that always looked out for him. They were so nice, and he loved them like he would love his own brothers, if he had had any. Remus was happy with that, though, because he couldn't make friends with the others living here. They always looked at him as if he was an odd creature being born to curse them or such. It was bothersome, but he had learnt not to heed it. He would soon be an adult, and in a little more than a year he would be old enough to leave for good.
Entering a small room, Remus looked around. Immediately a hand came down hard on his head, and for a moment he was overcame by dizziness.
"You dirtbag! How dare you!" Madame Jeromin cried, her thin, long face contorting in fury. She was the person who ran this place, and she looked hideous. "I told you to clean my office thoroughly!"
Remus looked down at his feet, waiting for her to finish her rambling. He did wash the place very carefully, twice, just in case, and when he left the office was so immaculate that one could have mistaken it to be cleaned by a professional cleaner or something.
"I'm sorry, Madame Jeromin," Remus said quietly, hands gripping his shirt tightly.
"Don't you talk to me in that disrespectful way, boy!" she screamed, and Remus winced. His ears could only take in enough yelling before they felt like splitting. "Look there, there!"
Remus looked, and his eyes widened.
A small, white rat was lying near the worktable, its stomach facing the ceiling, head smashed and very much dead. His heart gave a pang at the image; and anger and sadness surged in him.
Madame Jeromin looked at Remus and mistook his expression for one of horror. She smiled grimly, "Next time, be more careful, or I won't be so lenient. Go and take that bloody rat out of here. I don't ever want to see such thing again!"
Wordlessly Remus took the rat in his hands, not caring that it might have been contagious or that its blood was spilling over his fingers or that the sight was not very pretty. He left and heard the door slammed close behind him.
Remus went out into the garden, ignoring the people who gave him disgusted looks for carrying a dead rat around, and found his tree.
It was a willow tree, old and dry. Leaves no longer grew upon it, but Remus loved the thing. It was his sanctuary, underneath the shade of the willow, and he would come here whenever he could, which was close to never. Kneeling down, Remus placed the rat gently on the hard soil, and with his own, slender hands that were blistered by years of cleaning, cooking, fixing the place, he dug a small hole.
After burying the little creature, he leaned back, watching the small mount in silence. After a while he stood and went back inside.
Frank, son of Madame Jeromin, saw him coming in and rushed over. "Remus, where were you?" he asked anxiously, and saw Remus' bloodstained hands. "Oh! Look at your hands! Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine, Frank," Remus reassured him, walking to the bathroom, Frank beside him. "You sure? You seem very disturbed by something."
Remus smiled, for Frank always seemed to read him like an open book. It was odd, because no matter how mean Madame Jeromin was, Frank was double times nicer. The irony of life. "Nah, I'm alright. C'mon, dinner started a while ago, so if we want to eat, then let's hurry."
"Go wash your hands first, I'll save you some food," Frank ordered. Grateful, Remus nodded and went into the bathroom.
As Remus washed his hands, he thought back to a moment ago and wondered why he was so upset over some dead rat. It wasn't like rodent was his pet or anything, and yet, he knew exactly why he reacted the way he did.
It had reminded him of his own wretched self, something easily cast aside, thrown away without a second thought. He could see it in their eyes. They looked at him hatefully, disgustedly. They thought him as an inferior, a disease that would kill them if he were to come near them.
So he didn't, and never would come near anyone. He was grateful of Frank and Arthur for looking out for him, but he knew they wouldn't want him there if they had a choice.
Raising his head, Remus' eyes connected with his reflection, a pale, thin face with large, amber eyes that aged quicker than his body. Remus looked away.
If only he was different.
"Out of the way!"
Remus backed away hastily, muttering a sorry that didn't reach anyone's ears.
The boys before him sneered. "Aw, look at the prissy boy. What? Are you deaf? Why are you still standing there?" one of them said haughtily.
Remus made to walk away when he was pushed to the floor unceremoniously. A roar of laughter sounded behind him.
Wordlessly he stood up, and once again was shoved backward. "Look at him, how pitiful." They laughed again. "No wonder your parents abandoned you, Lupin. Even the worst of people wouldn't touch you, and that's saying something!"
All at once Remus felt a deep, black feeling bubbling inside him, breaking through the surface. It was a terrible sensation, sharp and violent. He turned to them, burning with terrible anger and hatred.
The boys jumped back, startled at how furious he looked, and screamed when the electricity crackled in the air, causing the lights to switch on and off erratically.
"What's going on here? Move, MOVE!"
The boys moved, leaving a path between them. Madame Jeromin came, her face livid. "Alright, what have you troublemakers been doing, eh? Why are the lights turning on and off?"
"It's Lupin, Madame Jeromin," a boy said earnestly, sending Remus a nasty look. "He's causing trouble, as usual."
Remus didn't bother to contradict the blatant lie, for he knew Madame Jeromin wouldn't believe him anyway. She never did.
Madame Jeromin's small eyes bored a hole through his head as they narrowed further into slits.
Ten minutes later Remus found himself scrubbing down the kitchen while the others ate their dinner.
He was completely enraged, and yet, at the same time, he couldn't help but believe that their words were true. Perhaps he was really just a nuisance. No one wanted him. Closing his eyes Remus scrubbed the stove's surface ferociously until it was making squeaky sounds of protest.
"Rather vigorous, don't you think?"
Remus spun around, startled. His heart calmed, however, when he saw who was standing before him. "Hi, Frank, why aren't you eating?" he asked, returning to his work.
"I finished eating," Frank answered, grabbing a rag and wetting it. "So I figured I could come and help you."
"Frank, you don't have to," Remus told him, smiling at his friend. "You should go and take a shower before the water becomes cold."
"Doesn't matter, and anyway, cold water clears my head," Frank said dismissively. "If you can handle it, then so can I."
"But your mother..."
"She can go and bury herself," Frank said, hints of anger showing in his words. "You weren't at fault, it was those jerks." He looked at Remus hard. "Really, Remus, when will you learn to stand up for yourself?"
Remus smiled slightly. "It doesn't matter. They would just hate me more..."
"Remus..." Frank inhaled in deeply, clearly frustrated at Remus's timidity. "One of these days, someone'll come along and you'll see how much you're worth, much more than any of them could ever be."
Remus just shook his head sadly, feeling a deep pain twisting his heart. "I doubt it," he whispered.
Remus shivered under the cold water, wiping his hair away from his face. Goosebumps rose all over his body, and he tried very hard to finish his shower quickly.
The events of today resurfaced in his mind, and he smiled bitterly. Frank was such a nice person. Sometimes, he almost believed his words, and yet, how could he do so when so many more people had convinced him of his abnormality? Of his... unwantedness.
Remus stopped altogether in the process of cleansing himself and dropped his head on top of his knees. He was so useless, so stupid. Their words shouldn't affect him this much. Why couldn't he ignore them? Why couldn't he get rid of this feeling of self-doubt?
He'd been so very quiet, so patient, so nice to them, hoping they would accept him, would see him in a different light. It'd never worked before, and yet he couldn't stop lying to himself. He thought that if he were nice enough, people would one day think back and welcome him into their circle, apologizing for their actions...
Remus wrapped his arms around his legs, his shoulders shaking. He was an idiot. He was probably the dumbest person to live in this world.
He wanted to feel loved... accepted, even for just one moment. He wanted to have someone who cared for him, not because he was weak and needed protection, but wholly for himself. He just wanted to find a place where he could fit into, where people would not look at him as if he was a freak or a beast.
He wanted to go away.
Suddenly, as if hearing his thought, the earth shook violently, and within seconds, the lights went off.
With a painful jerk around his navel Remus felt himself falling.
It seemed like a long time, the endless falling that pulled at him insistently. Remus was drowning in a pool of fear, not seeing what was happening, not feeling anything around him, just an empty air that bit into his skin coldly.
And then everything stilled, and Remus felt, as if he had never fallen, himself lying on something soft. Bright light spilled over his closed eyes, making him shut them tighter. His hands inched away from his body slowly, and they came in contact with... silk. Frightened, Remus opened his eyes.
A high, golden ceiling, carved with intricate designs of lions and phoenixes and decorated with rubies met his sight. Remus immediately closed his eyes. This was definitely not the bathroom of the orphanage.
Where am I? What had just happened? Remus thought frantically, his heart thumping in his chest madly. Just calm down, Remus Lupin. You'd probably fallen asleep in the shower. Don't panic, just stay calm... okay, now, if you open your eyes, you'll be back in the bathroom, Remus reassured himself unconvincingly. Slowly this time, his eyelids fluttered open.
The same sight greeted him, and Remus' heart sped up once more. He sat up straight and nearly fainted.
He was sitting on the largest bed he'd ever seen, with high bedposts of gold and sheets of silk. There was a double-door on the far left of the bed, and a large window on the other side, looking out into a soft blue sky. He looked straight ahead, past high columns with their shalfs decorated with intricate carvings of mythical creatures, and finally rested his eyes on a painting of a young man riding on a galloping black stallion hung on the white wall. He was handsome, with dark blue eyes twinkling under the bright sky and dark hair, longer than what normal teenagers would wear, blowing back along the wind.
Remus watched, bewilderment and disbelief making him speechless, for not only was the picture beautifully and powerfully painted, but also because the man in the painting was the very person he'd been dreaming of for the past seventeen years.
It was in that instant that voices could be heard drawing near, and Remus, immobilized by fear, sat rooted to the bed.
The door opened. Remus heard loud laughter until the door closed again, shutting all noises out, and standing leaning against it was the very man in the painting.
The man's eyes traveled around the room until they settled upon him, widening slightly at the sight upon the bed.
It was then that Remus realized he was very much wet and naked.
To Be Continued...