Chapter 10 : Reveal Your Secrets to the Wind
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Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any other of the characters mentioned. They belong to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic Books, The WB, etcetera. No copyright infringement intended.
If you reveal your secrets to the wind, you should not blame the wind for revealing them to the trees.
- Kahlil Gibran
The sun had not yet fully risen, but the absence of clouds made it almost unbearably hot – even in the shadow of the willow tree. Remus wiped at his forehead, his skin moist and sweaty.
“The weather’s off its rocker,” Emilie complained, tying her hair back into a ponytail. His eyes followed the movements of her fingers, awed by the ease with which she wrapped a light blue ribbon around her dark, unruly curls.
“It’s abnormal,” he agreed absentmindedly, his gaze crossing hers briefly. They were sitting beneath the branches of the willow tree, their feet dipped deep in the brook’s water. “It’s too hot to do anything.”
She gave him a coy smile. “It’s never too hot for a swim,” she said, raising her eyebrows in a teasing manner.
Remus chuckled, shaking his head. “You know I don’t swim.” The thought of getting out of his sticky, sweaty shirt was more than tempting, but thinking of Emilie seeing his scar-littered, scrawny chest made it sufferable.
“I know you don’t like to swim,” she said, looking him in the eye, “but you never told me why.” She grinned as she kicked some water in his direction, the drops splashing up against his jeans. “You’re not afraid of water, are you?”
He bent forward and scooped up a handful of water, launching it at her. She ducked, shrieking, and the water sailed right past her head. “Of course I’m not afraid of water,” he grinned, but his voice sounded strained, even to his own ears.
She took her ribbon out of her hair, and he watched, transfixed, as her curls fell down her shoulders. “Then what is it?”
Slightly distracted, he replied, “I don’t even have swimming trunks with me.”
Tying her hair back into a messy bun, she blushed and glanced up at him from underneath her lashes. “You’re wearing pants, aren’t you?”
He flushed a dark shade of red. “Of course I am.”
She smiled and prodded him in the side. “Pants equal trunks.”
“Emilie,” he protested, but the determined twinkle in her eyes told him that he was not going to win this argument.
She shook her head wildly, some strands of hair slipping out of the loose bun. “Remus,” she challenged him, grinning teasingly as she leaned forward. For a second, he thought she was going to kiss him, but she kept her face just in front of his.
He tensed when she touched the top button of his shirt, and by the time she’d undone it and had moved on to the next button, he scrambled away from her.
Emilie froze, her eyes questioning. “Remus?” Her confusion shimmered through in her voice. “What…” She lowered her gaze to the collar of his shirt, to the scar he knew she had revealed. He moved his fingers to the buttons, but her hands stopped him. There was a look of understanding in her eyes, and he knew that she’d figured him out. She tilted her head and said softly, “It’s your scars, isn’t it?”
“No,” he started, but the look on her face told him that there was no fooling her. “Yes,” he admitted, averting his gaze.
She kneeled down before him - her knees touching his outstretched legs - and gave him a curious look. “I’ve seen your scars before,” she said, carefully touching the ones crossing his face. “They don’t bother me.”
“You haven’t seen these,” Remus persisted. “They’re hideous.”
She moved her hands to her top. “I’ve got a scar myself. I’ll show you.”
He blushed. “No, that’s really not --” he started, but she’d already lifted the hem of her top.
“Right there,” she said, her index finger pointing at a spot on her abdomen, just above the waistline of her jeans.
He looked at her skin briefly before raising his eyes to hers. “I can’t see it.”
“Here,” she said, taking his hand in hers. She placed the tip of his index finger on her skin and moved it slowly. “Feel that?”
He could barely discern the irregularity. “It’s nothing compared to mine.”
Two shallow dimples appeared in her cheeks as she grinned and swatted his hand away. “Boasting now, are we?”
Remus managed a small smile. “Just calling it as it is.”
Her grin faded into an affectionate smile. She moved away from him, her eyes never leaving his. “You can go in first. I promise I won’t look.”
Arching one eyebrow, he sat upright and shook his hair out of his face. His lips were drawn into a lopsided grin. “That’s what they all say.”
She bit on her lip to keep from laughing. “I promise, all right?”
He gave her a doubtful look.
“Please?” she pleaded, cocking her head to one side. “You know you want to.”
When she smiled at him - that full-out, cheek-dimpling smile of hers - he caved. “All right then,” he grudgingly agreed. “No peeking, though.”
Emilie shook her head. “Of course not,” she said, giving him a flirtatious wink that made both of them blush.
She turned around and - with his eyes glued to her back - Remus slowly started to unbutton his shirt. Once again, he came to the conclusion that her power over him was almost frightening; a single smile, and he was hers to do with as she pleased.
He stepped out of his jeans and lowered himself into the brook. The water, although slightly murky, was cool and refreshing, and he sighed in relief. “You can turn around now,” he said after having moved into the deeper part of the stream. The water lapped at his shoulders, and conveniently hid his scars from her.
Smiling teasingly, Emilie slid her top’s straps off her shoulders. He gulped and averted his eyes. In the water’s reflection, he noticed how she wormed her way out of her jeans and moved towards the water’s edge. He slanted a quick glance in her direction - just long enough to notice that she was wearing a dark red bikini - and glanced away again before she would catch him looking.
A soft splash made him turn his head once more. “It’s bloody freezing!” Emilie cried when she resurfaced several feet away from him, her hair plastered to her face.
He chuckled. “I believe you came to a similar conclusion about two weeks ago.”
“Yes,” she said, shivering lightly. “It’s still as cold as it was then, but…”
“… but actually quite agreeable, once you get over the initial shock,” he finished for her, grinning.
She nodded, using her hands to wade through the water. “Exactly.”
When she stood right in front of him, he brushed her wet curls out of her face and kissed her softly. She placed her hands on his shoulders and moved to kiss his cheek. He wasn’t sure what to do with his own hands - there was so much skin, and he didn’t want to be too forward - so he eventually settled on tangling his hands into her messy bun.
“Isn’t it strange?” she asked after some seconds of silence, her eyes raised to look into his.
“Well,” she said, her head tilted, “how you and I spend entire days together, and never grow bored of each other, or run out of things to say?”
“We don’t say anything at all, half of the time we’re together,” he answered. “When we’re reading, or thinking, or…” he blushed, “kissing.”
She nodded. “Bizarre, isn’t it?” she said after a little while. “How silences can be so much more intimate than the longest of conversations?”
“Quite bizarre, yes,” he agreed, and he kissed the tip of her nose. “But then again, not all that inconceivable.”
Her right hand suddenly slipped under the water’s surface, and he felt the tips of her fingers on his left clavicle. She stared at him, her eyes searching his face for something – permission? – before she explored the skin below his clavicle. His breath hitched when he felt her touch the scar just below his sternum.
“Tell me when to stop,” she said, biting her lip nervously. “I don’t want you to be uncomfortable.”
“All right,” he said hoarsely, but he already was uncomfortable. It, however, had very little to do with his scars, and very much with the nearness of her, and their significant lack of clothing.
Her thumb brushed over a scar on the left side of his body, and he gently captured her wrist with his right hand. She nodded understandingly. “I think you’re perfect just the way you are,” she said softly. “With or without scars.”
He blushed a dark shade of red. “You haven’t seen them yet,” he said. Feeling the scars was something completely different from actually seeing them. “They’re hideous.”
“I distinctly remember us having this conversation before,” she said, kissing him on his lips. “And I don’t think that I care about it any more now than I did back then.”
He smiled weakly against her lips, and gasped when he felt her body brush against his. “Not… not so close,” he stammered, his cheeks flushed. “We’re too…” he took a deep breath and tried again. “There’s too much - too much skin.”
“Oh,” she said, her cheeks darkening until they matched the shade of his. “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize that we…” she trailed off, embarrassed.
“That’s… that’s quite all right,” he breathed out when she moved away from him. “It’s just… I can’t think straight with you so near.”
“That makes two of us, then,” she smiled, and she tenderly kissed his cheek. “I’ll race you to the bend in the river.”
Before he could respond, her dark head had already disappeared beneath the water’s surface. He growled and dove under water. He chased her towards the place where the river bent, and kissed her there, in the shadow of a beech tree.
Emilie pushed herself out of the water, casting a quick glance over her shoulder. Remus was smiling at her, his expression uncertain.
“Tell me when I can turn around,” she told him, grinning. She rummaged through her backpack and fumbled with her towel. After wrapping it around her upper body, she shook her head and wringed the water out of her hair.
She could hear him climbing out of the water: the hesitant pattering of feet on the grass and the nervous clearing of a throat. “Emilie?”
She turned around slowly. He stood right behind her, clad in only his jeans. He looked at her tentatively, as though he half-expected her to turn away. Her eyes trailed over his chest, lingering on the scars she’d already felt. Some of them were pale and smooth; others appeared pinkish and ragged.
Taking a step forward, she touched a diagonal scar that went from his left shoulder to his sternum. “Right over your heart,” she said.
Remus looked down at her fingers. “Is it?”
She pressed her fingers against the scar. “I can feel your heartbeat,” she said, “right there.”
“It’s - er - quite fast, isn’t it?” he asked her nervously.
“It is,” Emilie agreed, and she gave him a small smile. “But it needn’t be. I told you that I didn’t care.”
He nodded, and moved forward to touch her lips with his. “That you did.” They held on to each other until it become too hot and sticky to be that close. “Let’s go home,” Remus said, pulling on his shirt. “I’ll make you some cool lemonade.”
Remus wandered into the kitchen, delighted to find that his mother wasn’t there. Instead, he discovered a note attached to the fridge, saying that she had gone to visit Adele – an old friend from Hogwarts – and wouldn’t be back until dinner.
He wondered what Emilie was thinking right then – did she feel as ecstatic as he did? He could honestly say that he had never felt better in his entire life. He grabbed two glasses out of the top cupboard and was about to fill them with water when a high-pitched scream froze his blood. His fingers tightened around the glass he’d been holding just in time; it had almost slipped out of his hands. After an initial, stomach-clenching moment of confusion, he sprinted towards the hall and flew up the stairs. His bedroom door was ajar, and through the gap, he could see Emilie standing on his bed, her face contorted in terror.
He banged the door open with his foot and did a quick survey of the room, but couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. “Emilie?” he asked, his voice trembling.
Her large, brown eyes stood out against the paled skin of her cheeks. She pointed downwards, at his bed. “T-There – there’s something - something underneath your bed,” she stammered, scared. The bed shook that very moment, almost as if to lend credibility to her words.
Puzzled, Remus walked sideways to his closet and blindly fumbled around for his broom, his eyes never leaving the bed. His hand closed around the handle of the broom, and he moved it in front of him, as though to protect himself. He cautiously lifted the edge of his blanket and peered into the darkness underneath his bed. Something scurried towards the other side of the bed. It hid in a dark corner, where the bed stood against the wall.
Remus carefully poked it with the end of the broom’s handle. At the sound of teeth gnawing at the polished wood, Emilie raised her wide, frightened eyes to his face. He withdrew the broom with some difficulty. The handle was covered with several sets of tiny bite marks, and the wood had started to splinter in some places. He fingered the teeth marks on the now-ruined broom; it was a good thing that he didn’t enjoy Quidditch nearly as much as James did.
“What do you reckon’s down there?” Emilie asked, kneeling down on his bed. Some of the colour had returned to her cheeks, but her voice had quivered.
“I don’t know,” Remus said, ignoring his worst suspicions. He had a pretty good idea of what might be beneath the bed - he just hoped that he was mistaken. Climbing onto his mattress, he sat down next to her and leaned forward so that he could view the space beneath his bed. He could hear something scuttling around on the floor, and he thrust his broom at it. It, however, took a hold of the broom, which consequently started to shake violently. For a moment, Remus feared it would snap. He pulled it free, however, and jabbed into the darkness until a loud yelp reached his ears. Just as the thing tried to rush from underneath the bed, he thrust his broom downwards and pinned the creature down.
Emilie gasped in shock. Remus sighed.
“What’s that?” she asked, leaning forward to inspect the unconscious creature. “It looks like… like a book.”
He winced. He was not going to be able to talk his way out of this.
I stopped replying to your reviews, I know, and I feel very bad about that. I’ve been incredibly busy with my midterms and midterm-papers, so I just haven’t had the time to respond. I will start replying to new reviews again, though. Sorry!
I want to address some of the questions you mentioned in the reviews, though… the other Remus-story I’ve written, for instance, can be found by clicking on my username and going to my stories. It should be right there. Another question I’ve been asked several times concerns the title of this story. I was under the impression that ennui is a normal English word (though infrequently used) but then again, I’m not a native speaker so I could be gravely mistaken! Either way, it basically is a fancy word for boredom, with which the entire story started.
Now, on a final note, I just want to say that this story is almost over with! Two more chapters, I think… but there’ll be a sequel (that is to say, if you want one!), so no worries. ;)
Thanks for giving me your opinion on the chapters,
P.S. Sorry for leaving you hanging like this!
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