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[personal profile] brosedshield
Title: Words in the Dark
Disclaimer: I neither own nor profit from SPN (or Merlin. This ‘verse is clearly some kind of hybrid, like a coydog).
Characters: Sam, Dean, John
positively portrayed religion?
PG (and this only because I tend to round up)
Word count:
none: preseries AU
Sam reads every night in the chapel. It was Dean’s idea.
Author notes:
This is my third in a medieval AU series. It may not make much sense without reading Sir Dean vs the Griffin and Confessions first.
Yay Beta!: [ profile] lavinialavender betad. And then I changed things and she hasn’t seen it since. This is happening more often lately. And there are more typoes. THIS INVERSE EQUATION JUST MAKES SENSE.

Dean’s still proud—maybe just a little smug—that it was his idea. Not for Sam to read the Bible (Dean’s fairly sure that his little brother reads the Bible every night in his room, curling so close to the candle flame that one day he’ll light his hair on fire) but that Dean started him reading aloud in the chapel.

The first time, of course, Sam whined like a little girl.

“Dean, I can just read to you in here.” Sam waved around his tiny room. “Or your room. Or the library. But the lighting is atrocious in the chapel this time of day.”

“Awwww, Sammy.” Dean could whine pretty well himself. Though of course he’s the oldest, so it’s called wheedling and he always wins. “It sounds better in the chapel. Come on, Sam.”

Sam glared, but Dean waited, smirking at him. He doesn’t know what his face looks like when he’s coaxing—the expression doesn’t work on other people nearly as well as Sam’s puppy eyes—but it’s enough to sway his little brother.

“Yeah, fine,” Sam said, grabbing his huge, worn Bible. There’s a bald spot on the spine where Father cut off the Campbell crest, but Sam repaired it as best he could, and the old leather cover always shines from his semi-maniacal polishing. He followed Dean down the castle halls, muttering under his breath the whole time.

But Dean is—and was—right, it sounds better. That first time the sound of Sam’s voice—young but powerful, high like an angel’s—moved through the mostly dark chapel like a force, like the Word itself rolling out of the book, through Sam, and into the dark.

Sam translates as he goes, turning the Latin of the text—beautiful, but pointless as far as Dean’s concerned—into something they both can understand. They take care of each other, Dean and Sam, covering each other’s weaknesses, holding each other up. Dean would die in battle—or sickness, fighting Father, in fire, water, wind or earth—for his brother, and Sam will read to him in the dark and fill the stories with sense and meaning. Dean would give Sam the world, and Sam gives his to Dean every night, his ink-stained fingers following the text, his lips speaking for the one person, the brother who has always taken care of him.

Dean can’t think of the Bible or church without thinking of his brother. He can’t think of David lamenting the punishment of his people without hearing Sam’s voice, rough from the cold he one had that made him rasp over the words; or Jeremiah wailing at God without hearing the first time Sam’s voice broke, stumbling over the recitation. Why did I come forth from the womb to see sorrow and pain?

Dean knows why. It’s because Sam is his baby brother. He needs him. There need be no other reason beneath the heavens or upon the earth.

He makes Sam skip the boring parts, too.

“You said that part already, with the bird.”

“No, I didn’t. This is a different holocaust. This one is for—“

“No, I’m sure you said it already, Sammy. You repeated the bit about the washing and going to the priest and the bird and—“

Merde, Dean! I. Am. Not. Repeating!”

“I mean, I know it’s Latin and it’s hard to read and all, but still if you keep losing your place like that…”

“I’m not—fine! Just fine.” Sam flipped pages angrily. Dean wasn’t sure how he managed to convey so much irritation and never hurt the vellum. It was a smart-ass skill, he thought. “I’m going to Kings. Happy?”

Dean smiled, innocently, like he was really a big dumb knight who couldn’t tell Deuteronomy from Genesis. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, Sammy, I just didn’t want you repeating yourself.”

The first time in the chapel, it was just them. Sam bitched, of course, and read with a certain relish how Cain took out Abel and then some lines from Proverbs about respecting brothers—though Dean’s still not sure if he made those up or not. But Sam ended with Saint Paul—love is patient, love is kind—and Dean knew Sam understood.

Next time, Dean spread the word.

Four of the serving girls—grey-haired women, really, mothers of children Sam’s age—came that first week.

“Sam reads in the chapel,” Dean said at a dinner, while Maggie—she let him kiss her once, when he was young and foolish—poured him ale. “Anyone can come,” he told her. “Won’t bother me. Or Sam.”

He wasn’t sure anyone would. But they came, stepping cautiously through the chapel door Dean had left ajar. Sam didn’t even notice his audience until the end of Luke when he looked up and saw the four servants patting their eyes and glancing at one another.

“Ummm,” he said, eyes huge. “Dean?”

“Yeah, Sammy?”

Sam nodded at the servants. They gave him smiles and nervous curtsies and began shuffling out of the chapel.

Dean threw an arm over Sam’s shoulders. “Just wanted to listen to the stories, Sam.”

“But Dean, I’m not—“

“You’re just telling the stories. Like you tell them to me.”

“If Father finds out—“

“Just don’t read the end, and Father won’t care.”

So Sam reads every evening in the chapel, and most nights the pews are full, or almost full of people: servants, townies, peasants. Never nobles, never Father. The stuffed-shirt gentry (such as they are in Lawrence) wouldn’t have cared, and Dean doesn’t tell them. Sam is their secret, his and the castle’s and the town’s, and you don’t give your secrets away to Lord John or strangers.

Dean knows the whole Bible in Sam’s voice, each story illustrated by candlelight flickering the chapel murals and his brother’s face. Sometimes Dean can find the stories on the painted walls—Abraham with his knife raised over Isaac; Mary (not his mother) before a cross—but the images are just dried paint and gold leaf, and his brother’s voice is fire and shadows, yearning and fear, wisdom, youth and passion.

The only book Dean doesn’t know is Revelation, because Lord John will not have it read in his estate. The Devil’s in it, he says.

“Don’t you teach my son about that book,” he said to the tutor, chalice full of something stronger than wine. “Horsemen and angels and monsters and women brighter than the sun…the chosen and the damned….I’ll have you pilloried.”

“It’s the Bible,” the tutor replied, scowling.

“The Devil’s in it,” Lord John replied. “and you will not put the Devil in my son.” He drank. “There’s enough there already.”

This is the last night Sam will read in the chapel before he leaves for seminary. Dean sits in the middle of the worn, wooden pews and watches how the candles cast shadows on sixteen-year-old Sam’s face, notes each time a servant or a peasant enters. The people of Lawrence have come, in their own way, to bid Lord John’s second son goodbye.

Dean half expects Sam to choose something about fathers and sons. The prodigal returns, or Jacob mourning the loss of Joseph. Maybe the crucifixion—no subtle symbolism there, but then Sam has always been big on drama—or Jeremiah, spewing rage, revenge, and despair into the darkness. When Sam reads from any of the long-dead, much reviled prophets Dean can hear the little brother he loves raging against Father and Fate and everything that shapes him unwillingly. Some days, Dean comes close to hating his father, because Lord John has never understood that Sam is angry, but not just at him.

But Sam doesn’t read anything Dean expects. Instead, he turns to the middle of the first chapter of Luke. No angry fathers struck dumb because they have low expectations, no angelic ass-kicking. This is Elizabeth getting knocked-up when she thought she could never have a baby. This is about Mary giving her acceptance to Fate, saying yes to God and what will be. Mary visits her cousin, follows the husband she’s never slept with to a strange city, and she looks only ahead, never back.

Sam is still angry. Dean knows this because he is Sam’s big brother and he knows everything about him—including the what and the where with that really cute dairy maid six months ago. Sam reads into the silent, crowded chapel and the candles dance and the mural behind him almost seem to move. His voice is calm and strong, and Dean is proud all over again, proud that Sam is here, that Dean is with him, and proud of his little brother who is so smart and still Dean’s.

Sam reads the stories to the dark, and everyone knows that the second-born Winchester is saying goodbye. Only Dean knows he is also saying I accept, let it be done.

* * *

*All Bible verses (yeah, all two :P) from the St. Joseph Edition New American Bible. I was going to use a St. James I rustled up online, and then realized that “Faith, hope and charity” just doesn't have the same ring in my head.

Closing Author’s Note: Happy Easter! *hugs you wherever you are * I wrote this fic ages ago, but finally posting it this weekend. Again, partially because ‘tis the season for finishing things, and partially because…yeah, I love God and it’s a good time to get this one out there, even if it's not perfect.

Date: 2011-04-25 02:03 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm thinking of proposing marriage to you. We could run away and live on a little deserted island and you could write fic and I could make you tea. I don't know if you like tea. Well, you will after a few years of me plying you with it.

I adore this story, not just because it's so wonderful (it is) but because I love this series.

As a token of my love, I leave you with this new icon. It gives me giggles.

Date: 2011-04-25 10:54 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I LOVE your icon. It makes me giggle as well.

And I enjoy tea. Though maybe in moderation? Unless it's Good Earth Sweet and Spicy tea. THAT STUFF IS ABSOLUTE WIN, both the red and black varieties. (wow, tea tangent just came out of nowhere right there...)

I'm so happy you love this! And their world! I have ridiculous amounts of fun writing it, maybe because I'm also using it to be a reading-geek. And a medieval geek (though I'm purposefully NOT giving in to research urges, because then I'd have to find and stick to an ERA and a LOCATION and silly things like that, and I would much rather just have fun with "IT'S MEDIEVAL MWAHAHAHA." *grin*


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