Fandom: Harry Potter
Warnings: References to rape, sexual violence
Disclaimer: Not mine - just borrowed. Don't sue.
Summary: Snape is required to explore Lupin's mind, with interesting and disturbing results. Answers challenges #69 "Remus and Snape's minds were connected."
They had him for more than two days before Shacklebolt found out where they were keeping him. Nearly three before we managed to regroup and attack the Death Eaters who were holding him. Fully 36 hours before Fred and George Weasley apparated him to the outskirts of Hogwarts. Thirty seven hours and eight and one half minutes before Poppy, Dumbledore and I began to work on him. The full moon was exactly eleven hours past. And I had been helpless the whole time.
His injuries were, in medical terminology, characteristic of Death Eater torture. Three broken ribs, and a punctured lung. A bloody gash in his side that had shredded his spleen. He'd lost two teeth. Both legs were broken, one at the ankle, the other above the knee. The nails on both hands were broken off, where he'd attempted to fend off attackers. Each of the fingers on his right hand was broken, probably as punishment for fighting. He had been raped repeatedly, at least once with an object that caused traumatic burns externally and internally. The specific facial and abdominal wounds that attend to cruciatus were glaringly evident. He was not dead, but neither was he far off.
Unfortunately, I could visualize the precise narrative of his captivity better than I would have wished. In my role as a spy, I have participated in such tortures - repeatedly. That I did so for a good cause, in my role as an informer for Dumbledore does nothing to mitigate my sins. I suspect there is a specific place in hell for those who do tremendous evil in order to serve a greater good - no matter how necessary or legitimate those actions are. I suspect, looking at the near-corpse of Remus Lupin, that I am perhaps experiencing a kind of hell of my own making.
Dumbledore, Poppy Pomfrey and I worked together in silence. My role is to suggest potions, create complex remedies, consider the possibilities of interactions and risks. I ran down the list of possible restoratives in my head, eliminating several that were contraindicated in the case of lycanthropy, recent consumption of the Wolfsbane potion, or any of Lupin's allergies. I assemble a cocktail of nine potions, add another to counteract the side effects caused by taking them all together, and begin administration. Meanwhile, Poppy has managed to heal some of the more superficial wounds, but the others are strongly resistant. She is a cool headed woman in hard circumstances, but she has a particular fondness for the werewolf, who has been much in her care since boyhood, and I can see her trying to steady herself when things begin to look hopeless.
I have not permitted myself to contemplate whether, if Lupin lives, he will thank us for his survival. It was not supposed to be this way. We were sure we'd be able to rescue him before the full moon. I've known the man for twenty-seven years - I am nearly certain that he will be able to go on, if we can save him, and regain himself in the face of the rapes and torture. If I could live through it, I am sure that Lupin, who is stronger than any of us, who has endured more with less cause, can survive. I am less certain that he can bear the knowledge that the Dark Lord has used him to create a dozen new werewolves - and that during the moon he killed 8 other "volunteers." I have reason to know how deeply this tasting of human flesh plays into his deepest fears, and I do not know what he will do in response to the knowledge.
The tide turns after the Headmaster invokes Fawkes, something I have never seen him do before. I overhear him telling the pheonix that Lupin is too important to the cause to lose. I am not certain what special quality Lupin has, probably something about the loathsome Potter, but I cannot escape the sensation of relief and gratitude. I could live without Lupin. I effectively have all these years. But it would be continuance, nothing more, and bleak beyond comprehension. Yet another thing I owe to the headmaster, another debt to work off.
We are all watching anxiously as he opens his eyes. Or rather, Poppy and Dumbledore are watching anxiously, and the Weasley twins are peering through the window. I am pretending not to look in Lupin's direction. The long eyelashes flutter. He does not say, "where am I?" thank Merlin - my life has not turned entirely into a bad muggle novel. He looks around, and tries to smile, first at the others by his bed, and then at me. Then he closes his eyes and sinks back into unconsciousness, and does not emerge for most of a day. When he does awaken, we learn he does not remember - none of it, including the reason he was there to begin with. He does not remember.
I contrive to be in the room, assembling potions when Albus tells him what happened. He has been asking for two days, and we have evaded, avoided and flat out refused to answer his questions, but we can delay no longer. The hideous sacrifice demanded of him will have been in vain unless we can spark his memory, no matter what damage we do to the man in the meantime. He is terribly weak, his breathing is still unsteady, but he is able to sit partially up and he declares himself more than ready to know the worst.
Albus uses his gentlest voice, the one he saves for the most profound horrors. I've heard it a number of times - upon the death of my sister at my father's hands, when we were forced to assassinate the Malfoy child, a few others. I do not like to think about the memories that particular tone evokes. Remus knows it to, and as soon as Albus calls him, "My dear boy..." he closes his eyes in a mask of agony.
He listens to the narrative almost impassively, although there is a sick horror that flickers in and out of his eyes. He can remember planning the mission, he knows he was to allow himself to be caught. But he does not recall the reason, or anything that happened after Flint and McNair "accidentally" captured him. It is not clear to any of us why he does not, whether from a blow, magical injury or simple repression, but he does not recall.
White faced and white lipped, Lupin hears the account. He closes his eyes at the knowledge of his rape, but when he opens them, his expression is one of absolute calm. Even Albus hesitates when it comes time to tell him about the frenzy of violence and murder he committed as a werewolf, but Remus will not be denied, and with a steely voice I have never heard from him before, he orders Albus Dumbledore (orders!) to continue and tell him the truth.
He does not quite make it through the narrative before he is comprehensively sick, heaving long after his stomach is empty. He asks how many he killed? Did he eat them? How many werewolves made? What about the two who may not survive? He does not vomit again, although it is clearly a near thing. I think I would have lied to him. I would not have told him about the half-eaten corpses. He does not weep. He asks, calmly, when the ministry aurors will be coming to execute him, and seems faintly disappointed when he is told that they will not.
And in the end, he experiences this inferno for nothing, because he still cannot remember. Albus draws breath, unwilling but obligated to press the man further. Think, he demands. Remus thinks. Try, he asks. Remus tries, looking so exhausted that Pomfrey comes and glares at the Headmaster.
"I am sorry, Remus." I hear Dumbledore. "I see only one alternative." I know what the alternative is. So does Lupin, from the expression on his face.
"No." Remus, if it is possible, is even paler than before.
"I would not do it if I could avoid it." The old man looks as though he has seen a thousand years. "But would you have this sacrifice be for nothing?"
"No. But not you." Remus answers him. Dumbledore's eyebrows shoot up in surprise. "Severus." He casts a pleading look at me that strikes me mute.
My own eyebrows rise in shock at this. I do not want to enter Lupin's mind. I have never enjoyed legilmency, and to enter the mind of someone who is suffering so will be hideous. And worse, someone I have been in love with for 20 years, who will almost certainly never be able to dissociate his physical rape with the necessary mental one. But I do not say anything.
"If you are certain, Remus?" Dumbledore is clearly puzzled. As is Poppy, who clearly wonders why anyone would prefer me to Albus for any purpose. I think I understand, though. He cannot bear for Dumbledore to see him weak, raped, murderous - Albus had loved and trusted him his whole life, and he cannot show the man who means most to him all of the darkness inside him. I, however, could not be more repelled by him - or so he assumes. He imagines he has nothing to lose with me.
"Severus, will you do this?" Albus knows me far too well. He can see things in my face that I wish no one could. I nod curtly. I should say something vicious about exploring the mind of a dark creature, but I cannot bring myself to do so. Fortunately, I am good at looking angry and recalcitrant.
"If I must." Once, so many years ago, a few seventh year students were chosen to study Legilmency and Occlumency with Professor Dumbledore. Remus and I, Lily Evans and Gideon Prewett. Lupin knows what he is entering into, at least, although he was never more than a passable Occlumens. Of course that means he knows exactly how intrusive it will be as well.
"In private." Remus is absolutely firm. He is still terribly weak and damaged, and yet we all accede to his request without question. The others leave.
He whispers, "I am sorry to ask this of you, Severus. I know you have no liking for me, and I am certain it will be unpleasant." He takes my sharp intake of breath for distaste, rather than pain. I cannot bear that the man is apologizing for the discomfort his suffering will cause me. I try to gather myself for a suitably tart reply.
"Don't be melodramatic, Lupin." It is the best I could do under the circumstances. "Ready yourself." My capacity to glare, at least, has not failed me.
He nods. I whisper, "Legilmens." I see him as I have never seen him before.
He is a child of four, deperately afraid, unable to understand why his mother his chaining him in a basement. He is eleven, reading his Hogwarts letter over and over again, heart bursting with joy that he can do an ordinary thing like going to school. He is 15, and he has just seen his friends transform into animals for the first time, and he cannot believe anyone could do this for him. He is 21, and everyone he cares for is dead or has betrayed him, and he goes on anyway. He is 24, and he has just defeated a group of sirens intent on taking over a village in Wales. He is 30 and he is cold and hungry and has nowhere to go, and yet he keeps walking. He is 33 and going back to Hogwarts and his heart is lighter than light. He is 35 and Black is dead, and he is entirely and completely alone. He is 36, and they are raping him with a broomstick and he closes his eyes and wishes that someone would come, and knows that no one will, that it is his obligation to endure this for a greater good.
He is not fighting me at all, simply letting me explore his mind. This worries me more than anything else - it is terribly hard to let another into your mind even if you wish to do so. He has always been a deeply private person, and yet he is allowing me to explore his mind as I wish, as though he does not care.
I whisper again, "Legilmens." And I see more, truths I am not sure that I ever wanted to know.
He is 13. Black and Potter are tormenting me again, and he is ashamed of himself, but afraid to speak. He is 16, and he is trying to apologize to me for the Shrieking Shack, trying to explain that he has not spoken to Black since, that he did not know, and my teenage self does not listen. He is 21, and watching his lover being dragged to Azkaban in chains. He is 26 and working as a prosititute because he cannot get work. He sees me walking into a potions shop, and hides lest someone from his old life know where he has fallen to. He is 33 and the two of us are sparring in the faculty lounge and he actually succeeds in making me laugh out loud. He is 37, we are on an order mission together at night, and, when I fall asleep, he puts his cloak over me. He is 38, and the moon is rising, and he is about to taste human blood. When he closes his eyes, he imagines that someone comes for him and saves them...and it is always me who comes.
My hands are shaking by the end of that, and still he lies there passively, not caring what I see or what I take for him. I am shamed by my actions, and the self-loathing I feel overwhelms me. For a moment I lose contact.
He opens his eyes a moment, and meets mine. I stare back at him, and then say, "Legilmens" again.
The Death Eaters have him, and they are going to use him to make an army of werewolves. The moon is rising, and he has begun to realize that we will not arrive in time to save the shivering but resolute children who are to be his victims. They were volunteered by their families. They imagine that this will be heroic. He knows he will tear them to shreds. He knows that the wolf unleashed will be terrible beyond description. He thinks, "As soon as I tell Dumbledore, they will let me die."
I will not allow him to watch the carnage over again in his mind. I force him to leave that section of the memory, no matter how badly he wants to torment himself with what he perceives as his crimes. He is lying on the ground, shivering, in a pool of blood that is not his. He only has to remember two things. The name of the potions master who is making the particular variant upon the wolfsbane, the one that permits werewolves to transform regardless of the moon, and the location. They are the only two things in his mind, and until he reports them, he cannot die.
I have them. I know who it is and where to find her. That is my next mission, and one I do not look forward to. I will assassinate her and eliminate all record of the potion. But the demands of war are cruel to all of us, and I will not dwell on it, not while there is a man in front of me in desperate need who has lost even more than I.
He wants to die. After all those years, the hundreds of transformations that have irrevocably damaged his body, the monthly agony, the fear, the one burden he cannot bear has been laid upon him. He knows that he will see those children and their fear, smell their blood everywhere for the rest of his life, and will not choose to go on so. I am not sure I would either. I consider aiding him, and I allow him to see that I am considering it. Dumbledore will do his best to prevent it, but perhaps it is better than the madness that might follow.
I break contact again, and look at Remus Lupin as though for the first time. I have loved him twenty years unrequited. I feel pain that I have never felt before at the thought that I might have to live without him after all.
And then I say it again, "Legilmens," and am rewarded with the first change in expression I have seen, a look of surprise. I suspect he thinks that I am compounding things with further mind rape. But instead, I do something I have never done willingly, I open my mind to him.
I am 17, and struck by his silvery beauty. I watch him covertly with his friends, in classes, everywhere. I am 21, and I attend Black's sentencing not for revenge, but because it is a chance to see Lupin. I am 28, and I dream of him at night, and it is the only clean thing in an ocean of nightmares. I am 33, and I am laughing at something he says. I am 33 and I hate him more than I have ever hated anyone because Black is innocent and he loves Black, not me. I am 36, and watching him mourn, I long to offer comfort but know I will be turned away. I am 38 years old and dying of fear because the man I love is held by enemies whose horrors I know too well, and I can barely restrain myself from ruining the plan and saving him.
"Why live?" floats to the surface of his consciousness. I try to show him. I have always been a private, undemonstrative man. I cannot speak it, I can only show him.
"I am 13, and my father has presented me to the Dark Lord, telling him that someday I will take the mark. I am 18, and stand between my father and Lucius Malfoy as I am presented to the Dark Lord - who treats me as the slave I am in every sense. I am 20 and they make me take a turn at raping Dorcas Meadows before they kill her. I vomit all over her corpse when it is over. I am 21 and I am weeping on Albus Dumbledore's carpet, begging him to let me turn spy and make some kind of amends, knowing there is no way to make up for what I've done. I am 28 and terribly alone, as a monster like myself should be. I am 34, and I prostrate myself to Voldemort and allow him to do what he wills with me in order to spy again. I barely survive. I am 36, and to keep my cover and serve the greater good, I have no choice but to kill a former student. I am 38, and I dream every night about those who have suffered at my hands, and against their cries of judgement can only show the faces of those who live because of me - never enough.
"Why live?" The question is more insistent.
Because we need you. Because I need you. Because we understand each other. Because Harry and the Weasleys and the cause need you. Because Albus will try to prevent it anyway. Because there are always better ways to die. Because we are all that are left of our world and our year. Because perhaps I can forgive you and you forgive me, if no one else can. Because I do not want to be alone. Because life is better than death, no matter how hard it is to live.
"Why live?" There are tears on Lupin's face now. I have never seen him cry before. I am not sure anyone but Black has. I answer, because I must. "Because I love you." It is the most trite reason I can think of, and the only one that I can think of to speak. I cannot believe it will matter, but I say it out loud, not caring who hears.
The connection is broken, and he closes his eyes. He does not answer, and I return to my dungeons and my potions making alone.
I have never claimed to be courageous. There is a reason (several, actually) that I was not sorted into Gryffindor. So after a brief interlude in Limerick, a meeting with a fellow potions maker that does not end well for her, I return to the dungeons and hide like the coward I am. I do not want to know if he is dead, and if he lives, I do not wish to face him after my self-exposure.
The knock on my door startles me into dropping some windflowers into the cauldron I am working with, and only a quick spell saves me from the shame of an actual cauldron melting. Merlin willing, Longbottom will never know about this. I am sure it is Albus, and I cannot imagine good news. So I wave the door open, building a fury that I hope will keep me from crying in front of him.
"Come in, dammit." And it is him. He is leaning hard on a cane, and breathing heavily with the exertion of walking, but he is up and alive. I allow myself the tiniest wave of hope, and then blazing anger with myself for being so foolish.
"What do you want, Lupin?" I hope I am not blushing, and fumble around the partially dissolved cauldron for something to do with my hands.
"To sit down, at the moment." He says mildly. I wave my wand and a chair comes up behind him. He nods his thanks.
We watch each other warily for a while, old friendly enemies momentarily at rest. I do not think I am alone in not knowing what to say. Language seems terribly inadequate after what we have seen in one another.
"I came to say, "thank you," but I'm not sure I'm actually grateful to be here." The tone is light, slightly self-mocking, but there is a bleakness behind it.
"No, I would imagine not." If he wanted a man sensitive to nuance, he has chosen poorly, for I haven't the faintest idea where this is going.
"However..." There is a long pause after that word. "As long as I'm here, perhaps we should talk." He smiles again, for real this time, and I cannot remember seeing anything more beautiful.
"Perhaps." I begin to breathe again, for the first time in many days.
"Over dinner." His grey eyes are staring at mine, and he is smiling. With effort, I do not smile back. No point falling in to his arms like in a bad muggle novel.
"If we must." And this time, I do smile.