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a_merry_chase in rs_small_gifts

Bonus fic: King of Carrot Flowers, for brighty18

Title: King of Carrot Flowers
Author: a_merry_chase
Recipient: brighty18
Rating: R
Highlight for Warnings: *implied domestic fighting and alcoholism*
Word Count: approx. 1220
Summary: Home is not always a place.
Author's notes: For brighty18's first prompt of King of Carrot Flowers, Part 1, by Neutral Milk Hotel. So much of what I have in my head is pure imagery that it's nearly impossible to put into words, but this captures some of what I was wanting to get across. Enjoy! :)
Huge hugs to K and A for being amazing, as always.



The argument between his parents in the other room had reached the point where Remus could no longer ignore Sirius ignoring them.

“Come on,” he said, grabbing Sirius’ arm and hauling him up the stairs.

“I thought your parents got along.” Sirius was still looking over his shoulder as Remus pulled him into his bedroom and shut the door.

“Yeah, well, it’s Christmas. Christmas means presents, presents cost money. Can’t have presents without spending money, won’t have money if you spend if all on presents.” Remus rattled off this piece of logic while shoving everything on his bed off of it. “I told them I didn’t care. I should have known better, really, because then they both started in on me.”

“Guess that explains why you were so glad when I showed up.”

Remus turned around, his mouth caught painfully between a smile and a grimace. His hands went to the hem of his jumper, stripping it upwards over his head. He was already anticipating the look of confusion he would find on Sirius' face once he emerged. Remus returned his gaze steadily.

"Moony?"

“Lock the door.”

***


“What should we plant in the garden, Remus?” his mother asked. The house was new, or rather, they were new to the house. Money was tight, and the garden more necessary than his mother would admit.

“Carrots!” Remus replied, excited. He loved carrots. His mother had charmed rabbits across the walls of his room, chasing each other through a field of wildflowers. Violets, daisies, cowslip, meadowsweet, wild carrot. Carrots didn't have flowers, he told his mother, who laughed and tried to explain. In the end, she charmed carrot plants in as well, to give the rabbits proper food to eat.

The pictures faded over the years, along with the house, the furniture, and his mother, but Remus pretended not to notice.


***


The room was cold, as cold as the rest of the house, but neither boy cared, too intent on the feel of skin against bared skin to notice anything else. Their shirts were a memory, their trousers open and pushed down past hipbones as Sirius pressed Remus into the threadbare sheets. He felt the scratch of woollen blanket under one elbow, the scratch of Remus’ fingernails down his back, the scratch of stubbled upper lip as he shifted his mouth, fighting for control of their kiss. He briefly thought of all the grand plans he’d made, all the places more fitting for what they were doing and what they were about to do, and let them go. Moony was his, finally his, and if this taking and surrendering was going to happen in Moony’s dingy room, with Moony’s idiot parents screaming at each other the day after Christmas, then so be it.

His hips dug down, hard, wringing a cry from Remus. Sirius thought he might drown in that noise.

***


“Eat your dinner, Remus,” his mother pleaded, holding a fork to his mouth.

He turned his head away, still too young to understand how he could be hungry and sick to his stomach all at the same time. “Don’t want it,” he whined.

“One bite? Please? You have to keep your strength up.” Her voice shook, and, guilt-stricken, Remus accepted the mouthful of food. “That’s it.” She smoothed the hair from his forehead. “What will the rabbits think if you don’t eat your carrots?” she asked, looking from his bruised face to the walls. Her chin trembled.

“They can have mine if they want,” Remus said. His mother choked on a laugh that sounded far too much like a sob.


***


“Ah, Pads...I...” Remus sucked in air until he thought his lungs would burst, needing that pressure in his chest to counteract the pressure of Sirius slowly pushing inside him. He could no longer hear his parents, could hear nothing beyond the drumbeat pounding of blood in his ears and the low groan that ripped its way from Sirius’ throat.

“Christ, Moony, breathe,” Sirius gasped, staring down, his face frozen into a beautiful mask of tension.

Remus thrust his hips up and watched the mask shatter.

***


“Why didn’t Mum plant a garden this year?” Remus asked. His third year at Hogwarts over, he’d arrived home eager to see how things were growing.

Remus’ father looked up at his son from where he sat at the kitchen table, his eyes tired. “We weren’t sure until just a couple of weeks ago that we’d be able to stay here.”

“Why wouldn’t we be able to stay?” Remus fought back a frown, trying to feign a calm he didn't feel.

“There’s no need to go into that now. We’re staying. It’ll just be a bit of a lean summer, without the garden. We’ll get by.”

Remus, who hadn’t even thought until that moment that there might be reasons for the vegetable garden beyond the simple pleasure of fresh food, nodded. He’d been upset over the barren patch of ground outside the back door where the garden should have been, but that disappointment was a small, whimpering thing compared to the look in his father’s eyes. He recognised its significance only after finding his mother in the living room, listless and silent in her chair, a bottle of sherry on the side table and an empty glass slipping from her fingers.


***


The faded flowers on the walls were the first things to swim back into focus. Sirius squinted at them, wondering why Remus would keep something so much better suited to a young child in his room. “What are those?” he pointed a finger, trembling with the effort.

Underneath him, Remus languidly turned his head to see. “Which ones?” he asked, his voice as heavy and sated as their bodies felt.

“All of them.”

Remus told him the names his mother had told him. It seemed so long ago. He didn’t want to think about his mother, not now.

“I like this room,” Sirius said, his smile sweetly drowsy as he let his head droop back down onto Remus’ chest. He groped out a hand, blindly pulling the blanket over them both.

“Why? It’s rubbish.”

“''S yours,” Sirius mumbled. His breath, the faintest tickle against Remus’ skin, evened out in sleep.

From the floor below came the smash of glass and more yelling. Sirius didn't even twitch, a testament to either their exertions or his familiarity with the sort of scene playing itself out downstairs. Remus shifted, pulling him closer.

The room was rubbish, Remus told himself, even if the boy in his arms seemed perfectly comfortable there, and even if Remus credited Sirius with being so lovestruck as to think that Remus’ presence alone transfigured it. He'd rather listen to the voice that whispered how much more his room felt like home with Sirius there.

Sleep tugged at him. It was an interesting idea. Maybe, Remus thought as his eyes drifted closed, maybe home wasn't necessarily defined by location. Maybe home was more who, not where. Maybe that was something his parents had forgotten. Maybe that was something he needed to remember. Maybe, he thought, unaware of being swept up into the curiously illogical logic of dreams, maybe if Sirius were his home, neither of them would ever lack for carrots.

Comments

Oh, this is just perfectly lovely!
Thank you! :D
Oh, Lupins.

This line was absolutely wonderful:

The pictures faded over the years, along with the house, the furniture, and his mother, but Remus pretended not to notice.

Nice work!
I know, I really kind of hated to write them that way, but it makes sense, sadly.

Thank you!
OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG!

I was totally excited when I came home from work and saw this, and it was even better than I imagined. You totally captured the idea of being lost in someone's arms whilst your family breaks down around you. The room was rubbish, Remus told himself, even if the boy in his arms seemed perfectly comfortable there, and even if Remus credited Sirius with being so lovestruck as to think that Remus’ presence alone transfigured it. He'd rather listen to the voice that whispered how much more his room felt like home with Sirius there.

I love you for picking this prompt, you know. You so, totally conveyed that idea of:
And this is the room
One afternoon I knew I could love you
And from above you how I sank into your soul
Into that secret place where no one dares to go

which is really the crux of the whole song, is it not? That beautiful idea of being lost inside another person. You know, when I suggested it I didn't know if it would be Sirius or Remus whose family is so volatile, but I suspect that I secretly pictured it was the Lupins. But, you're right, Sirius would understand. It's wonderful how he is clearly both, so into Remus that none of the fighting matters and so used to fighting/chaos that he is able to ignore it.

And I really loved the structure. The carrot and garden-themed flashbacks to Remus' childhood were truly genius. Remus, who hadn’t even thought until that moment that there might be reasons for the vegetable garden beyond the simple pleasure of fresh food, nodded. He’d been upset over the barren patch of ground outside the back door where the garden should have been, but that disappointment was a small, whimpering thing compared to the look in his father’s eyes. He recognised its significance only after finding his mother in the living room, listless and silent in her chair, a bottle of sherry on the side table and an empty glass slipping from her fingers. That was not only beautifully written, but really resonated with me. (Did you know that I was a small-time organic farmer?) Anyway, it really captured the idea of familial loss and financial strain and what a toll it takes on the family. Oh, and "that disappointment was a small, whimpering thing compared to the look in his father’s eyes." is a fantastic turn of phrase.

This was gorgeously written and very, very moving. It was so easy to just get sucked up into the rhythm and the language of it. Remus' room was particularly lovely. That amazing painted mural and the way Sirius even noticed and liked it really struck me. For Remus it was such a poignant reminder of the rare, beautiful parts of his childhood and perhaps even his mother, herself, and yet that reminder could also be slightly embarrassing and painful. That really stood out for me.

There is so much more to say, but I will settle on "THANK YOU!" This was beyond awesome in every way. I really must go and rec this on my journal now.


Edited at 2011-01-02 01:17 am (UTC)
I'm glad I chose the prompt I did for inverts, but I'm equally glad that I had enough time to get this in, because once I saw your prompt, there was no getting this out of my head. I think, in part, that's because the song itself gets into my head - I've been known to put it on repeat for an hour and drive everyone in the house nuts.

So, I love you for suggesting it. ;) Thank you so much for the wonderful review, that made my day!

On a completely different note, I'd like to talk with you sometime about your experiences as an organic farmer. We live in New England and have a crazy amount of friends who have some sort of small-time farming going on, whether it's chickens, or produce, or dairy or beef cattle. It's so much a part of life now in some areas that people are talking about forming self-sustaining communities where barter would be the primary form of commerce. How freaking cool is that? So cool. Anyway, yeah, it'd be interesting to hear what things are like on the other side of the country. :)
I hope you don't mind, but I just added you as a friend.

You live in New England? I'm somewhat jealous. We used to live in Quincy, MA, but we always wanted to move west to a more rural area.

Right now we live in a former commune near Taos, NM. I guess it was fairly famous in the hippie days, but now we're working on making it something that carries on the spirit of the '60's with a very 21-st century outlook. We have chickens, a greenhouse (that needs work), pasture land, and a huge garden. Last summer my husband and I also worked for another friend who runs a huge CSA and sells produce to local markets and restaurants. It's really fun.

I'd love to hear about your friends and what they are doing. And what do YOU do?
Hah, no, I don't mind at all. :) I'ma send you a PM, this sounds like it might be a long discussion.
I love this song (was just listening to it yesterday in fact)! And I loved this fic! I love that they were able to find a bit of peace and comfort in each other despite the private war going on downstairs. I think you captured the spirit of the song beautifully - it's a sad song really, but it doesn't necessarily seem that way because the two lovers still find solace in each other, and that's just what you've done here. Lovely job!
Yeah, the odd balance of pain and love in the song was tricky to reinvent - my betas rocked in helping me walk that line. Thank you! :D
Oh beautiful! So many passages are gorgeous, not to mention the juxtaposition of lovers vs. a family falling apart, but this one really resonated.

His hips dug down, hard, wringing a cry from Remus. Sirius thought he might drown in that noise.
Guh, I love that line too. The image it evoked after I'd written it down was, ah, intense. :3

Thank you! :D
This is some really gorgeous writing here. So bittersweet.
Thank you! :D
This is a little bit sad but quite sweet, too. I love how Sirius just took everything in stride, and the way they lost themselves in each other.
Thank you! I tried to borrow the aspect of the characters being able to lose themselves despite all the crap happening around them from the song - glad it worked! :)
Gorgeous. I love the switch between scenes and the last conversation. A little heart-breaking but also a bit real. I'm sure the Lupins were pretty strapped for cash a lot of the time. Lovely piece.
Yeah, strapped for cash and worn down from Remus' illness. I hated to write them this way, but sadly, it's all too plausible. :\

Thank you!
This is so good! I like that Remus could find comfort in Sirius at a time when he really wants to shut the whole world out. Liked the flashbacks and the love scene and the carrots. Loved it all.
Thank you! :D
Oh, Merry. This is gorgeous. Wow, really. So bittersweet and lovely. The tenderness and sweetness of their first time with those melancholy memories and the background of family stress mixed in works so, so well. The writing is beautiful.
Hee! Thank you, Min! :D