Title: The Wounded
Date: September 17, 2004
Author's Note: This is it, the final chapter . . .
"'Shadow?'" said Hermione, frowning. "Don't you think that's a bit too negative? I mean, wouldn't that be a reminder of his past?"
Lupin shifted on the stone bench, then leaned back against the courtyard wall. He felt the coolness of the stone through his robes. It was so good to get out of the hospital ward, even for a few hours. Sev-the-Dog sat close beside him, head up, alert.
"What about 'Blackie?'" Ron said, from where he sat on another bench nearby. "Good, plain name."
"I like 'Shadow,'" Harry said. "It fits him." He reached over and, very respectfully, patted the dog on the head. Sev-the-Dog ducked his head and accepted Harry's hand.
"Don't you think he should have something more positive?" Hermione asked. She looked pointedly at Lupin.
"Like what?" asked Ron.
"I don't know," Hermione said, as she studied the dog. "How about 'Silk?' Because his hair is so silky."
Harry made a face, and Ron said, "Way too girlie for a dog like him, Hermione."
"I like it," Hermione said. "What do YOU think, Silk?" she said, turning to the dog.
Sev-the-Dog looked back at her, with expressionless eyes.
"Well, I'm going to call him 'Silk,'" Hermione said defiantly.
Harry and Ron glanced at each other.
"If we're supposed to call him positive things," Harry said, looking mischievously at the dog, "we could call him 'Snuggles.'"
"Yeah," Ron laughed, "Or 'Mr. Huggy.'"
"Honestly," Hermione said, shaking her head, although Lupin could see she was smiling.
Lupin glanced quickly at Sev-the-Dog, but the dog merely gave the boys a disdainful look down his long nose. No sign of rage, not even a hint of a fang. You know they like you, don't you, Lupin thought, you understand now. And it's what you've always wanted, isn't it? To be accepted, to be one of the gang.
Harry grinned and rubbed the dog's head again. He gave Lupin a look, very similar to the pointed look Hermione had given Lupin just a moment earlier. "Amazing how he's changed, isn't it," Harry said to Lupin. "He's about civil, isn't he?" Lupin saw Hermione start and look at Harry, then at the dog, and then at Lupin.
"It just took some kindness, and patience," Lupin said.
Harry smiled, and leaned back against the wall. "So, Professor," Harry said, and he grinned, "What kind of home did you say this dog was going to?"
"I didn't," Lupin said. And he looked at Harry. "What kind of home do you think he should be going to?"
Harry looked at the dog, and his face sobered a little. He opened his mouth, as if to say something, when Lupin heard voices coming towards them. He looked behind him, and saw a group of Slytherins coming over, Blaise Zabini in the lead. All were carrying broomsticks, and Blaise had a box with him that looked like it would hold Quiddich balls.
Harry, Ron and Hermione stood up. Harry and Ron retrieved their own broomsticks from where they leaned against the wall.
"Time to go, Professor," Harry said, "Will you be all right?"
"I'll be fine," Lupin said, "I'll probably take a nap here. Maybe if I'm feeling up to it, I'll come watch, later."
Harry nodded, and everyone waved good-bye as they headed out to the Quiddich field. Sev-the-Dog moved closer to Lupin, and together they watched them until they disappeared around a corner.
"He's doing much better now, isn't he," came Dumbledore's voice from behind.
Both Lupin and Sev-the-Dog turned their heads. Dumbledore was standing beside the bench. Lupin smiled, and Sev-the-Dog's tail gave a soft wave.
"Which one?" Lupin said, "Harry or the dog?"
"Both, now that you mention it," Dumbledore said as he sat down on the bench beside Lupin. "Though I had no doubts about Harry, once he wasn't trapped here anymore."
Sev-the-Dog moved so that he was between Dumbledore and Lupin, and Dumbledore laid his hand on the dog's head. Sev-the-Dog closed his eyes, and his tail waved again.
"I think it is nearly time," Dumbledore said.
Lupin froze. "Is he ready?"
"I think he's learned all he can from this."
Lupin felt his stomach lurch. "So what happens now?"
"We change him back. We tell him he's been unconscious, and that he has been receiving treatment. It is essentially the truth. Hopefully, he will see that he does feel better." Dumbledore held the dog's head in his hand. "He is closer to happiness now than I have ever seen him. He won't remember when he is human, but we can hope that he realizes that the possibility of happiness does exist within him."
Dumbledore turned his eyes from the dog to Lupin. "It would be best if he could stay with you, Remus. You have an extra room in your house?"
Lupin nodded. "But he's going to need more."
"Yes," Dumbledore nodded. "I know someone who can help him."
"A therapist?" Lupin said.
Dumbledore nodded. "Yes. One I think he will talk to."
Lupin looked dubiously at Sev-the-Dog and shrugged. "If he'll talk to anyone."
"We will have to see."
The full moon came soon after. Lupin received drafts of Wolfsbane Potion, sent by owls from Severus's teacher, Harriet Semper. He'd expected to spend the nights curled up in his hospital bed, but the first night he changed, Sev-the-Dog took one look at him, and darted out of the room, only to return a little while later with Lupin's red ball in his mouth, followed by Harry. Harry spent the evening gently tossing the ball at Lupin while he sat in bed. Sev-the-Dog sat to one side and watched, though whenever Lupin caught his eye, he would look down his nose at them.
Like last time, when the full moon was over, once Lupin recovered from his initial exhaustion, his healing sped up dramatically. Within a few days, he was able to move back into his rooms, and he fell into the comfortable routines he'd developed before at Hogwarts.
Harry, Ron and Hermione still visited nearly every day. Ron had his job, but he came by in the evenings, and every weekend he was there. He and Harry usually played Quiddich, and Lupin would often watch, Sev-the-Dog sitting beside him. On days Harry had to himself, he'd come to Lupin's rooms. Or he'd wander the grounds, taking Sev-the-Dog out to walk with him - supposedly because Lupin was still recovering and wasn't strong enough to take the dog out for exercise, but Lupin knew both Harry and the dog enjoyed it. Lupin would see them out his window, the tall boy and the tall black dog beside him, walking around the lake, or toward Hagrid's hut. Once Lupin even saw Hedwig with them, riding on the dog's back, her white feathers contrasting strikingly with the dog's black hair.
But they all knew it was coming to an end. The school term would begin soon, and the children would be coming back, and they would have to leave.
Harry and Ron were moving in together. Ron had found a flat in London that the two of them could afford. Hermione was planning on living with her parents and Apparating. And Lupin, heart sinking, knew that his days there at Hogwarts, too, were coming to an end, and he would have to return to his cottage. He was still a werewolf, and it was still too dangerous for him to stay. It's hardest for you and I, Harry, he thought, Hogwarts has always been where we've been happiest, and we've never really had any place else.
Lupin was reading quietly one afternoon in his rooms when he heard a knock on the door, and Dumbledore's voice said, "Remus, may I come in? There's someone I want you to meet." Sev-the-Dog, lying beside him on the sofa, lifted his head and pricked up his ears at the sound of Dumbledore's voice.
"Come in," Lupin said, putting his book down.
Dumbledore came into the room. Behind him, Lupin saw another figure follow him through the doorway. Tall, wearing darkish robes. Lupin was struck by the man's face, there was something very familiar about it, though Lupin would swear he'd never seen the man before. Old - younger than Dumbledore, but old, still - with thinning grey hair. And his face had the stamp of a dark wizard - long, craggy, aquiline nose and fierce eyebrows. Put a little beard on that face and you'd have the typical stage villain, Lupin thought.
And then the man smiled. It was as if he were completely transformed into another person - his eyes twinkled almost as brightly as Dumbledore's, his smile was open and genuine, the fierce eyebrows looked almost comical now. As he drew closer, Lupin could see his darkish robes were brown and worn, with comfortable old boots below. The villain was gone, he'd miraculously changed into someone's friendly old grandfather.
"Remus," Dumbledore said as the man reached them, "I'd like you to meet Healer Reginald Guilford. Reggie, this is Professor Remus Lupin."
"Albus has told me a great deal about you," Healer Guilford said as he sat down, "and your friend here." He nodded at the dog. Sev-the-Dog looked up at him.
Lupin looked sharply at Dumbledore.
"Healer Guilford is a psychological healer," Dumbledore said. "He practices at St. Mungo's, but he also works privately with special cases, similar to Severus's."
Lupin looked back at Healer Guilford, who smiled at him. "I have a personal interest in these kinds of cases. My family - you've noticed my face, I'm sure."
"I confess, it looks familiar," Lupin said. "Although I'm sure we've never met before."
"No, never," nodded Healer Guilford. He smiled, a little sadly. "I took my mother's family name, but my father's family name is Grindelwald."
"Oh, my," was all Lupin could think of saying. Of course he'd seen that face, in so many history books. "Please forgive me."
"Nothing to forgive," Healer Guilford said, "Perfectly understandable. My mother got me away from my father's family in time, but I am stuck with my face. And I watched many of my cousins turn towards the dark - worthy people who I cared about. Hence my personal interest in these kinds of situations." He looked down at Sev-the-Dog. "Absolutely brilliant idea, you know, turning him into a dog." He held out his hand. Sev-the-Dog sniffed it, then ducked his head. Healer Guilford ran his hand along it, and rubbed behind the dog's ears.
"I can't take all the credit, it was, um, sort of a group project," Lupin said.
"I'd like to try it with some of my own patients. There are a few I've thought were beyond any help, but this gives me hope." Healer Guilford ran his hand under the dog's chin and lifted its head, staring into the black eyes. "Do you think you could talk to me?" Healer Guilford said to the dog. "You have a long road ahead of you still, and it is not an easy one. But I'd like to help you, if you'll let me."
Sev-the-Dog looked back at him, and Lupin saw him give a wave of his tail.
"Albus says it's about time for him to change back," Lupin said, glancing at Dumbledore.
Healer Guilford nodded. "I'll be ready for him, when he does. But he'll need you as well." He looked at Lupin.
Lupin smiled. "I'm not going anywhere."
Healer Guilford smiled back. "He must be a good man, to have a friend like you." He nodded his head. "Good and true friends are worth more than all the therapists in the world."
The last day came. Lupin, Harry, and Sev-the-Dog had breakfast together one final time in Lupin's rooms, with Dobby popping in and out, bringing them treats from the kitchens. Lupin knew that, later, other House Elves would quietly pack Lupin's things and move them back to his cottage, but everything of his was still there, it was still his home, for this last morning.
When they couldn't eat any more, Lupin walked with Harry down the corridor, past the Great Hall, and through the main doors to the courtyard, and then down the path to Hogsmeade, where Harry would Apparate to London.
They reached the main gates, the same gates where, only a few weeks before, they'd been attacked by Bellatrix. Harry stopped, and turned to face Lupin.
"You'll come visit me, in London, won't you," Harry said.
"Of course," Lupin said, "And you'll visit me, too, I hope."
"You couldn't keep me away," Harry said, grinning, and then he said, more quietly, "That is, if it's all right with him." And he nodded at the dog, and then looked at Lupin. His green eyes looked sober. "I know he's got more of a ways to go," Harry said.
Lupin looked down at Sev-the-Dog, who was looking at both of them, with his usual unreadable gaze. Then Lupin looked back at Harry. "I don't know exactly what's going to happen with him," he said.
Harry nodded. "We'll just have to see." He knelt down on the ground, so that his eyes were even with Sev-the-Dog's. "You take care of Professor Lupin, all right?"
Sev-the-Dog looked back at Harry. Harry rubbed the dog's ears, and then he put an arm around the dog's neck. He said something to the dog, quietly, Lupin couldn't make out the words, but he saw Sev-the-Dog press his head against Harry's shoulder.
Then Harry stood up, and he threw his arms around Lupin. The two of them stood there, like that, for a few moments.
And then Harry released him, smiled, and walked through the gates. He turned and gave one last wave, and then he vanished, with a bang.
Lupin and the dog both stood still for a long moment. It's the end, he thought, it's over, and we're all moving on. Harry's never coming back to Hogwarts, he'll have to make a new home now. And Lupin smiled, and thought, but he's got Ron and Hermione. He'll have a home with them, wherever they are.
And then he turned, and he and Sev-the-Dog made their way back along the path to Hogwarts.
As they approached the courtyard, Lupin saw the figure of Dumbledore standing there, and his stomach lurched again. He could feel his steps slowing, until Sev-the-Dog pulled ahead of him, the dog's long legs striding out to reach Dumbledore faster. Dumbledore was patting the dog's head when Lupin reached them.
Dumbledore nodded his head at the dog. "It's time, Remus."
Lupin's cottage had been made ready. The spare room where Severus would be staying was full of furniture and hangings that looked as if they'd come straight from one of the Hogwarts' bedchambers - for all Lupin knew, they may have been the furnishings from Snape's old rooms. Severus's things, those that were left, had been unpacked: his cloak now hung in a wardrobe in one corner, the books he'd left with Lupin were neatly arranged on shelves, and the small chest he'd been carrying that last day sat on the desk, still unopened. Lupin spotted other things there as well, were they Severus's original possessions that had been retrieved, or were they new?
The transformation hadn't been confined to Severus's room, the entire cottage looked almost new. The Hogwarts House Elves had clearly gone through the whole place, cleaning and repairing, even bringing in new things. The larder in the kitchen was full, new crockery was in the cupboards, the entire house no longer looked bare and worn. Lupin had thought about protesting, but he was too tired. And he had more important problems to worry about. This isn't for me, he thought, it's for Severus.
The three of them stood in Lupin's spare room: Lupin, Dumbledore, and Sev-the-Dog. It was now early afternoon. They had eaten lunch together in the Hogwarts Great Hall - as much so that Severus would only have to face a short day once he'd changed back, Lupin thought, as to give Lupin a little more time at Hogwarts.
Dumbledore took a deep breath, and Lupin said quickly, "Let me have a last minute with him, like this."
Dumbledore nodded his head, and Lupin knelt down on the floor, and looked into Sev-the-Dog's black eyes. He stroked the dog's head. "I'll be glad to see you again, I've missed your voice and your words. But I'll also miss being able to rub your head like this. We don't touch each other, when we're human. You won't remember this, but I will."
Sev-the-Dog leaned forward, and Lupin found himself embracing the dog's neck, just as Harry had done that morning. The dog's hair was silky, like Hermione had said, it wasn't greasy and stringy now, and he could feel the whipcord muscles beneath.
Then he forced himself to stand up. Dumbledore was smiling sadly at them both.
"Come, then," Dumbledore said to the dog, "Up on the bed and lay down."
Sev-the-Dog was on the bed in a single, graceful jump. He settled himself down and then he turned to look at Dumbledore questioningly.
Dumbledore stepped beside the bed where Sev-the-Dog lay, and he raised one hand, extending his fingers, placing his hand on Sev-the-Dog's head. Sev-the-Dog's eyes closed and his head slid down onto the pillow.
Dumbledore's arms fell to his sides, and he closed his eyes.
Sev-the-Dog's form began to blur, and then to flow like water. His nose pulled back into his face, his legs pulled in, and then drew out again, stretching out along the bed, the silky hair began to weave together and become cloth, long black robes covering pale limbs.
But then the movement along his body became agitated, the robes rippling and growing into the body like hair again. The human face drew out into a snout, the human legs twisted and writhed, knees and ankles, elbows and wrists, flowing back and forth along the limbs.
Dumbledore opened his eyes in alarm.
"What's happening?" Lupin said.
"He's fighting me," Dumbledore said, "He's fighting the change." He raised his arms, and Lupin could make out a faint glow around him. The glow slowly flowed from him out over the bed, covering the rippling form like a translucent blanket. The form grew calmer, and the human shape began to reinstate itself, but then it began to jerk violently. A human arm broke through, fingers extended, that suddenly drew back into the hand to form short toes and claws, the robe rippling forward to cover the newly formed paw with hair.
Dumbledore thrust his arms out over his head and he called out a word that Lupin could not make out, and instantly, the form was still. And then it molded into human limbs and body, and became truly that of a man, in long black robes, lying nearly face down on the bed. Lupin felt a pang as he made out Snape's features, what little he could see of them beneath the familiar curtain of black hair, eyes closed as if in sleep.
"Is he all right?" Lupin asked, moving closer to the bed. Snape was breathing heavily, Lupin could see his chest rise and fall.
"I don't know," Dumbledore said, "He was fighting me the whole time. We'll have to see." He bent closer beside Lupin.
Snape's hands were clenched, and his entire face was screwed tight. Lupin could hear a gasping sound from his mouth. Lupin knelt down on the floor so that his face was level with Snape's.
"He's trying to say something," Lupin said, and moved closer. Dumbledore bent down so that his head was nearly as low as Lupin's.
The sound was no more than a harsh whisper. Lupin couldn't make out the words. Snape gasped, breathing hard, and spoke again, and this time Lupin heard, in a voice like a sob, "Change me back."
Lupin looked in horror at Dumbledore. Snape wasn't supposed to remember! Dumbledore looked back at Lupin, equally alarmed.
"Severus," Dumbledore said.
"Change me back." Snape's voice was stronger now, though his face was still screwed up tight, the words were spat out through clenched teeth.
Dumbledore and Lupin looked at each other again.
"Severus," Dumbledore said again, and he placed a hand on Snape's shoulder.
Snape jerked away from him, flailing an arm. He crouched on the bed, still breathing hard, looking for all the world like the dog he'd just been, crouching and shivering on the sofa at Hogwarts'. Lupin half expected his lips to curl up and show fangs.
"Change me back!" he said again.
And the edges of his body began to blur, and his nose began to lengthen.
Dumbledore raised his arms and Snape's form instantly returned.
Snape bowed his head, still crouched on the bed. "Please, Albus." He looked up. "Please. Let me stay a dog. Let me lie at your feet. Let me walk with Remus, and Harry. Please." His voice cracked with the last word, and he dropped his head again. His entire body was shaking.
"I suspect," Dumbledore said, very gently, "that you will be able to change into a dog at will, that you are an Animagus now." Snape froze. Dumbledore went on, "But not now. It is time to be human, Severus."
Snape's body shook even more violently, and his head dropped until it nearly touched the bed. "Get out," he said.
Lupin took a step toward the bed, but Dumbledore stopped him with a hand.
"Leave us for now, Remus," Dumbledore said. "I will stay with him, for a little while."
Lupin looked at them, Snape, breathing hard and shaking as he crouched on the bed, and, beside him, Dumbledore, once again looking old and fragile. Lupin opened his mouth to speak, then shut it, nodded, and left the room, closing the door gently behind him.
It was well over an hour before Lupin heard the spare room door open, and he saw Dumbledore step into the hallway, and close the door behind him. Dumbledore stood still for a moment, then he walked slowly into the sitting room, moving shakily.
"He's resting," Dumbledore said, in answer to Lupin's questioning look. "He needs to be alone now. He has a lot to think about." Dumbledore sat down in a chair by Lupin. He looked drained, and old.
"What are we going to do?" Lupin said. "He remembers. He's got to be furious."
"He is angry, yes," Dumbledore said, "But not as much as you might think. He held on to those memories, not even I could take them from him. They are precious to him."
They were both silent. Dumbledore seemed to look into space, unseeing. Lupin found himself staring at Dumbledore's hands. How thin his fingers looked, how transparent the skin was, how fragile. Another burden we place on his shoulders.
"What happens now?" Lupin finally said, breaking the silence.
"He has agreed to see Healer Guilford." Dumbledore spoke very slowly. "He agrees that ending his own life is not the answer. He believes, better than I could have ever hoped, that he has a chance at healing. He may never be entirely whole, his wounds run deep and there will probably always be scars, but he has seen that he can be happy."
Lupin closed his eyes, feeling the myriad of emotions that welled inside him – hope, anguish, sorrow, relief, fear.
"Reggie Guilford was right," Dumbledore said, "he does have a long road ahead of him, and it is not an easy one. He will need you, more than ever before."
Lupin managed to smile. "I'll be here, as long as he needs me."
Dumbledore smiled back. "I couldn't ask for anyone better."
Lupin came through his front door, stopping for a moment as the warmth hit him, a sharp change from the chilly autumn air outside. He looked around the sitting room, but it was empty, and the house felt still. Snape was with Healer Guilford today, and apparently wasn't back yet.
Lupin took his shopping bag into the kitchen, wondering what mood Snape would be in today when he came back. Lupin had seen pretty much everything by now, from vindictive rages to absolute quiet, depending on how the session had gone.
He began to put things away, checking the kitchen over as he did so. The Hogwarts House Elves were still stocking the larder, and they were cleaning, too. And over in the corner, the stock of the special Potion that Healer Guilford had prescribed for Snape was fully replenished. Snape was quite capable of making it himself, but he was not to brew his own Potions for now.
And then Lupin heard the front door open and shut. He's back, Lupin thought. What would it be today? The rages were bad, but the silences were even worse.
He stepped into the sitting room from the kitchen, and stopped still. Oh, yes, it had been a bad session today.
Snape was practically dripping in grease. Along his hair, his face, his nose. His robes hung lank against his body. His face looked at least ten years older, and his eyes were red and sunken. He blinked at Lupin, too exhausted and spent to even manage a glare.
Lupin gave a gentle smile. "You go on to the shower now. I'll make some tea."
Snape started back towards the hallway, his usual stalk more of a stagger.
"If you put your robes out, I can get them washed for you tonight," Lupin called out after him.
He heard doors open and shut in back. Then water running. Lupin got the tea things ready, and brought the pot and two cups out into the sitting room, placing them on the coffee table, then he sat down on the sofa.
The water had stopped by then, and the house was quiet. Was everything all right, Lupin wondered.
And then he saw movement in the hallway. He looked up, expecting to see Snape come into the room.
Instead, there was Sev-the-Dog, standing hesitantly in the doorway. He looked bedraggled, his hair, though washed, was still lank. He looked at Lupin with the saddest eyes he'd ever seen on him.
Lupin frowned for a moment. Snape was under strict orders from Dumbledore not to change until Dumbledore himself gave his permission, and this was the first time Lupin had seen him in this shape since the day they'd brought him back to the cottage.
Lupin opened his mouth, then stopped. Sev-the-Dog's eyes grew even sadder, pleading, and his tail thumped once against the doorframe.
Lupin shook his head. "All right, just for tonight," he said, and he patted the sofa cushion beside him.
Sev-the-Dog came over, jumped onto the sofa, and curled up beside Lupin.
Lupin picked up a book, and began to read. And, within a few minutes, his hand moved over, and began rubbing the dog's ears.
Author's Note: Thanks so much to everyone for all the reviews! If you liked this one, I am currently working on a sequel, Home's the Farthest Way, which you can find here on my main page.