Summary: Remus is obsessed with his scars. Sirius doesn't get it.
Notes: Thanks again to librae and tatooine for the betas. You guys are the shizznit. For anniesj, who requested MWPP-era and Remus's scars.
Remus is fascinated and repulsed by his scars at the same time. The discoloration, the way they form over one another, the strange smoothness of them. It's not quite a love-hate relationship. He doesn't ever love them.
When Remus can, he'll stare at them in the mirror and run his finger over the white, slightly raised skin, and feel his stomach turn with revulsion. They disgust him, but he can't stop or look away. This is who you are, he thinks. They're the only visible sign of the wolf, of the ugliness that hides beneath his skin.
The nights of the full moon are nebulous, intangible things. The memories are vague and only barely decipherable. All he has left are the pain and the scars, and you can't stare at pain in the mirror.
Sirius doesn't quite understand it. As first years, when there weren't that many and Sirius didn't know the truth, he didn't believe it when Remus said that they were from carelessness. He wanted to hear about all the fights that Remus had never been a part of. Even now, with the animagus charm and five years, Sirius still doesn't understand how much Remus hates them.
One night, Remus sits in front of the mirror in the quiet room next to the bedroom. A torch provides the light, just enough for the old wounds to be visible. He removes his shirt to get a better look at them. The moon (waxing crescent) hangs just outside the window. It's all fairly routine at this point.
Remus can't stop staring at the first scar, the one on his arm, the one he can always pick out, even with dozens of other scars criss-crossed over it. He despises it with a bone deep hatred that he'll never show anyone. He can't help but think that if he were to rip the scar off his skin, perhaps he wouldn't have to deal with the others. Remus knows better, of course, but it's still a tantalizing dream.
He digs his fingers into his arm in the shape of the scar, imitating the teeth, trying to remember the pain of that very moment. His mother's scream, the feel of cold grass, the moon. Pain. Always the pain. The nails bite a bit, but they don't come near to the real thing.
"I keep trying to convince myself that this actually helping you," Sirius says from behind him. Remus doesn't flinch or turn to face him. They've all become good at sneaking around without being detected, Sirius most of all.
"You can think whatever you want about it." He grips a little bit tighter and regrets cutting his nails the day before. There's a pleasant sting, but not much else. He pulls his fingers away to reveal the small indents on the scar. He admires the marks before they fade away.
"Why do you do it?"
Remus can hear Sirius reaching to understand, to comprehend. He appreciates it, he really does, but Sirius' problems are something he can cut himself off from when he needs to, not something that removes a part of you from yourself (quite literally) every month.
"I do it because it's the only alternative to running away." Remus feels Sirius moving closer. There's this natural electricity to him that never fails to make Remus' skin buzz. His shoulders tense involuntarily before he forces them to relax.
He can see Sirius in the mirror, the way he's trying to study the scars as intently as Remus was. Sirius lifts his hand slowly, and reaches out and over Remus' shoulder to trace one of the scars on Remus' chest. His finger never touches, but rather floats over the white skin with hesitation.
Remus feels the absence more than sees it. In the mirror, Sirius may as well be running his fingers along the especially long but shallow slash across his chest. Remus' skin itches for Sirius', but he remains still. It takes him a moment to realize that he's holding his breath. It comes out in a long rush, and Sirius stops. He glances up and their eyes meet in the mirror. They both freeze.
Remus is tempted to glance away. The tension is almost suffocating. He stands fast, though, unwilling to lose the battle of wills. Sirius backs off first, turning his head and pulling away.
"I don't think it's about running away from it." Sirius stands up and walks back to the window and turns away. Remus can't read his face. "I think you're just being morbid."
"Am not!" Remus snarls. He can feel his face flushing with rage. Sirius can't possibly understand. It's not in his nature to.
Sirius gives him a quick glance over his shoulder, disbelief obvious in his eyes. Remus almost wants to punch him. Why can't Sirius just accept his reasoning and leave him alone? This is his problem. To Sirius, its just a big joke, just another way to rebel. This is Remus' life.
He scowls into the mirror, noticing how strange it looks. Remus prides himself on keeping at least a mildly pleasant exterior at all times (the better to deflect stupid questions with), and the obvious irritation on his face bothers him. He schools face into a more neutral expression. Much better.
Though the moment hangs there, Remus decides that this is altogether pointless, stands up and walks out into the bedroom. He pulls his shirt on along the way. Sirius follows him.
James and Peter are asleep, the lucky bastards. Remus decides to join them. He's just about settled down for the night when two ice-cold feet meet his own.
"I hope you don't mind," Sirius whispers in his ear.
Remus shrugs. His shoulder grazes Sirius' chin.
"I'm not going to apologize, because I do think it's morbid." The righteous indignation is obvious in Sirius' voice.
Remus shrugs again. The anger had drained out of him as soon as his head had hit the pillow. It was a pointless argument in the first place. Remus would continue to be enthralled by his scars, regardless of how Sirius felt, and Sirius would continue to hate it, regardless of how much Remus needed it. So on and so forth.
Sirius wraps an arm around Remus' waist and mutters something into his neck that sounds like "wanker," but he can't be sure.
They lay there quietly. Sirius' hands pull back from Remus' waist and pull up the back of Remus' nightshirt. The cold fingers chill his exposed skin, and Remus resists the urge to pull away. They feel their way over his body, doing their best to trace the old wounds without the aid of sight.
Remus falls asleep as Sirius runs his hands over his scars.