46: State of Mind
Reynard Lupin had never liked hospitals. For him, they bred nothing but discomfort and bad memories.
Flashes of the past danced before his eyes; his sister's agonised face as she screamed her way through a birth gone horribly wrong, the expression on his Healer's face when she explained to him how unlikely it was that he would ever regain full use of his leg, his wife's deathly white face as she lay on a mortuary slab, lost to him forever and…
And Remus. Three years old, caked in dirt and blood as he screamed and fought against the Healers, battling a newfound foe that only he could sense. And again as an adult, torn and battered by Abraham Kane's claws as he fought once again that same old fight from within.
Yes. Reynard Lupin had never liked hospitals.
And yet, here he was again.
He had not yet been allowed to see his son. He had arrived at the hospital mere instants after Albus Dumbledore had finished speaking, bursting through the Floo so hurriedly it had almost taken the older wizard's half-withdrawn head off. Rey had been terrified, frantic; it had taken much of Dumbledore's power of persuasion to keep him from rushing from room to room in search of Remus. The healers are with him, Albus had said, one hand firmly grasping the younger man's arm. He is in the best possible hands. Please Reynard, this will do no good. You must be calm and wait for news.
Well. That was easy for him to say.
But he had been right. Dumbledore often was.
And so, after a brief, if bewildering explanation of recent events, Rey had allowed himself to be brought here, to this little office of a Healer called Hestia Jones to wait, wait and wait some more for news.
He'll be fine. He's always fine. Remus is always fine.
He will. He will. He will.
Be calm. Don't panic. Wait for news.
Thankfully, seated alone in the quiet room, his early hysteria had faded, the pounding heart, the rampaging mind, the inability to focus upon any thought but find Remus, find Remus, find Remus. But the numb, cold, chilling terror that insidiously had replaced it was twenty times as bad.
He has to be all right. He has to be all right. Remus has to be all right.
Perhaps five minutes had rushed by, perhaps an hour had dragged, perhaps a near eternity had swept all time away in a chilling rush. But after the passage of an indeterminable wait, the door had creaked open once more to admit Dumbledore and two ashen-faced strangers to the office
Mr and Mrs Tonks. Rey had been unaware until then that Remus had not been the only victim of that terrible night. He responded mechanically to Albus' introductions; he shook hands briefly with Ted Tonks, who offered a wan smile as he raked back his mousy, thinning hair uncomfortably from his face, and nodded to Andromeda Tonks, who met his eyes only briefly as she swiped at her creased and obviously hastily donned robes jerkily with one shaking hand, before switching her attention to her long, dark and rather dishevelled hair. A small handbag clasped in one hand seemed to focus all her attention as she rooted through it with increasing agitation, apparently oblivious to Dumbledore's quiet departure and Rey's presence as she swept past her husband and unceremoniously dumped the contents out on a vacant examination bed nearby. Finally, a comb emerged – sweeping her bits and pieces back with a rush of her hand, Mrs Tonks thrust the comb into her hair and almost violently yanked it down.
"Andromeda…" It was her husband's touch that stilled the painful motion. Easing the comb from his wife's hand, Ted Tonks enfolded her hand within the warm embrace of his palms. Twitching the fingers of her free hand absently against a silver locket hung around her neck, Andromeda's head rested slowly and silently against his. She closed her eyes.
They did not speak to Rey again. But he had no objection to their silence. He understood completely.
Gods, he missed Diana. More than anything else in the world, he wished she could be there beside him, to talk to, to take comfort in, to hold him together as he would do for her. But that was a selfish wish. The pain this would have caused her…
No, Diana was gone. All he had now was Remus.
And he was… he was…
He'll be fine. Please let him be fine.
Countless instant eons of time rolled passed. Albus came and went once more, promising that on the next occasion he would return with news, and in his wake he left another pair of unfamiliar faces; a tall, dark-skinned Auror named Kingsley Shacklebolt and a curly haired woman called Felisha, who earnestly assured him that she had been a friend of Remus' from school. They had made some gentle attempts to draw him into conversation but Rey was in no mood to be told how brave his son was and how many lives he had saved. He was too tired and terrified to care.
His life. Why couldn't he save his own life?
He knew it was selfish. But this was his son.
And so, he settled back into his chair, letting the low hum of Kingsley and Felisha's conversation wash passed him as his thoughts drifted to far away.
How would life have been if none of this had ever happened? If that playful, innocent little three-year-old had been allowed to grow without the pain and stigma of a werewolf's bite? Life would have been easier, he was sure. Certainly it would have been safer. And for an instant, a part of Rey wished with all the power he had that he, his wife and his son could simply go back thirty-four long years and start their lives again.
He'll be fine. He'll be fine. He'll be…
"…really think Remus will be fine?"
The words from his head, formed as a question from Kingsley Shacklebolt's lips; almost instinctively Rey's head jerked up, his ears abruptly pricked.
Fine, fine, why? Tell me why, give me something to hold onto, something to hope for…
"I'm almost positive." Felisha's voice was surprisingly, gloriously confident; Rey felt his heart contract with agonising hope. "It was Remus' theory, and from what you've just told me, it sounds like he was right. I believe that the Dementor ate the werewolf soul, got a sugar rush and perished from Dark Creature poisoning. From Remus' point of view, that can only be good. It means that he must be the one still in his own body..."
Rey had half-opened his mouth, a dozen questions forming but before the words could touch the air, the creak of the door cut him off. Tall, solemn and tired looking, the imposing figure of Albus Dumbledore stepped into the room.
Rey was half on his feet before he even realised he was rising and Ted Tonks was only a heartbeat behind.
The Headmaster of Hogwarts quietly raised his hands. "A moment, if you please. Healer Jones and Professor Goldstein will be with us momentarily and they can explain the situation of your children better than I."
With a sweep of his long robes, Dumbledore moved aside to admit the two women a step behind him. The first, a dark haired woman in lime robes that Rey assumed to be Healer Jones, nodded to him briefly before moving over to greet Mr and Mrs Tonks. And the second… The second he knew very well.
Rebekah's eyes fell at once upon her uncle. She looked strangely older since their last meeting, almost inexplicably so, for although no new wrinkle or grey hairs had touched her, her eyes and the set of her shoulders were heavy and exhausted. But nonetheless, a wan hint of a smile flicked briefly across her features.
"Uncle Reynard." Her voice was soft, edged with a deep and abiding weariness. "I hope you don't mind but when I heard you were coming, I took the liberty of having an owl sent to my father. He has asked me to tell you that you are welcome to stay at Greystones if you wish to and if you need anything at all, you have only to say the word." Gently, almost tentatively, she extended one hand and brought it to rest on his shoulder. "It's times like this that we need our family around us."
Biting his lip, Rey nodded his gratitude as he allowed himself to sink back into his chair. "Thank you. I appreciate that."
"All right, let's get started." Healer Jones, who, a moment before had been speaking to Kingsley Shacklebolt, had moved quietly around her desk and settled in her chair with a weary sigh. After a moment, Rebekah moved to join her, positioning herself carefully upright a step behind. She nodded briefly to her companion.
Healer Jones nodded back. "Well, as most of you know, I'm Hestia Jones and I'm a healer here at St Mungo's," she stated briskly. "And this is Rebekah Goldstein, a professor from the Feral Institute." Her eyes flickered from Rey to the Tonkses and back again. "We've been responsible for the treatment of Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin."
"And?" There was an almost despairing eagerness to Andromeda Tonks' half-asked question – her fingers had closed around her silver locket like a vice. "How is my daughter? Will she be all right?"
Hestia's lips pursed as she met the desperate mother's eyes with alarming resignation. "I don't know," she stated candidly. "Tonks…Nymphadora… isn't suffering from conventional spell damage. As I believe Professor Dumbledore explained to you when you arrived, your daughter is suffering the backlash from casting the Imperius curse on a werewolf. Physically, her wounds are relatively minor – some painful bruises, mostly from a fall downstairs earlier in the night – but it's her mind that's taken the hammering. The spirit of a werewolf is a very powerful force and it doesn't appreciate having to share a mind with one human, let alone two. How badly she's been affected depends entirely on how well she managed to shield herself against the blow."
Ted Tonks was almost absently shaking his head and Rey felt a wave of empathic sympathy for the man. He remembered with almost a jolt of shock that it had been their daughter, Auror Tonks, who had guided him safely to Remus at Hogwarts on that terrible night last winter.
"Can't you tell us anything?" The mousy-haired man's voice was tired and vaguely lost. "Hasn't this ever happened before? I know the Imperius curse is hardly an everyday spell but…"
Slightly to Rey's surprise, it was Rebekah who replied. "There are only four known cases of the Imperius curse being cast upon a werewolf," she said, her voice an odd blend of clinical efficiency touched by a hint of compassion. "The first was a German warlock in 1564, trying to restrain his recently bitten son; he was unprepared for the backlash and died instantly. The second was in 1819; a Peruvian witch renowned for practicing the Dark Arts. She regained consciousness after sixteen days but was left unbalanced and insane – she was slain by superstitious Muggles a few weeks later after wreaking havoc in a nearby village and turning their llamas into bullfrogs. The third was during the war with Grindelwald; one of his allies tried to compel a werewolf to do their bidding and suffered the consequences but ironically, he made a full recovery after a few weeks. And the last…" Her lips tightened into a harsh line. "Professor Lancelot Pryke, my predecessor at the Feral Institute and a man who really should have known better. He remained in a coma until his death last year. He never regained consciousness."
"So, I'm afraid there's no way to tell what will happen," Hestia concluded, her voice filled with sorrow. "When it comes to Ton…to Nymphadora, we can only wait and hope."
"Why?" The word seemed to slip from Andromeda's lips unbidden, her eyes shimmering with tears as her husband's hands enclosed her in a comforting grip once more. "Did she know this would happen?"
Rebekah's nod was slow and weary. "I believe so, yes. I witnessed everything and I'm certain that she knew exactly what she was doing. She was trying to save Remus Lupin's soul at the possible cost of her life."
There was a long, heavy silence. Rey found he could only stare blankly at the floor, his mind processing Rebekah's words with painful clarity. Sweet Merlin. To try and save my son, she did this to herself, she risked her sanity, her life…
"But why?" Tears were flowing now, slipping down Andromeda's pale cheeks in tiny rivulets. Her eyes flashed briefly to Rey, filled with sudden guilt. "I'm sorry, Mr Lupin. But she's my only child. I need to understand why she'd…"
"That is, alas, not important now." Albus' voice quietly intervened, cutting across Felisha who had seemed on the verge of speaking herself. "Let us leave that for Nymphadora and Remus to tell us, as I am sure they will soon be able to do."
For a brief, irrational instant, Rey fought the urge to leap to his feet and shout his frustration in the face of the most powerful wizard in Britain. How can he say that? How can he be sure? Why should he know so much more about this than I do?
This can't be happening. Two young lives, my son's life…
In spite of his resolve, tears of his own began to well within his eyes. Andromeda Tonks was already sobbing on her shaking husband's shoulder.
"But was it worth the sacrifice?" The deep, slightly broken voice belonged to Shacklebolt. "How is Remus?"
Hestia and Rebekah exchanged a long look. The Healer leaned back in her chair and slowly closed her eyes.
"With Remus, there's good news and bad news," she said, a hint of uncertainty creeping into her tone. "Physically, he's in bad shape but it's all cuts and broken bones - there's nothing that isn't fixable. A few weeks of bed rest and treatment and his body will be as right as rain." She sighed deeply. "But his mind…"
"…Is an uncertainty." Rebekah picked up the thread of the sentence smoothly, though Rey did not miss the flicker behind her eyes that implied that her professional façade was not as solid as she apparently wished to imply.
So like her father. He always hid his emotions behind a feigned wall of indifference too…
But Rebekah was speaking once more. "We have established without question that thanks to Miss Tonks' timely curse, the soul consumed by the Dementor was indeed that of the werewolf. Remus Lupin's human soul remains within his body."
For a brief heady instant, a part of the weight of fear that had pressed down upon Rey's mind evaporated into mist. He's still Remus. Oh Gods, he's still Remus. And that wolf, that bloody wolf that's threatened his mind for thirty-three years is gone…
"But." The weight plummeted back with a vengeance. "We have no way of establishing exactly what this means for Remus' mind. Excepting Dolph Greymoor earlier today, this is only the second time a werewolf has suffered a Dementor's Kiss. The only point of reference I have to work with is my research on Abraham Kane."
Rey's fingers clutched his cane, fingernails digging deep into the varnished wood. He felt the long, thin fingers of Albus Dumbledore close around his shoulder with a gentle, calming squeeze.
Why him? Why is it always Kane?
Rebekah wiped one soft hand across her brow. "Everything I'm about to say is theoretical but I think it's right." Her eyes darted up. "But I'm very tired. I've talked this through with Hestia and Professor Dumbledore but Felisha, apart from me you know the research best. If you have any better thoughts or spot any flaws in my logic…"
"I'll say." Rey felt rather than saw Felisha's quiet step forward. "Of course I will."
"Good." Clasping her hands together in her lap, Rebekah lowered her head, apparently gathering her thoughts. "So," she began carefully. "When Abraham Kane was Kissed by the Dementor, he regressed to a mental age of ten years old – the age that he was bitten and the age he lost control of his mind to become feral."
Rey started violently. In his mind's eye, a dark haired little boy glared at him accusingly. Kane… Abel… regressed to childhood? Dear Gods…
Rebekah ran one hand uncomfortably through her dishevelled hair. "Now, at the suggestion of… another…" Her eyes flashed inexplicably towards Dumbledore, who offered a strangely sympathetic nod. "I experimented with Memory Enhancing potions to see if any of Kane's later memories would recover. They didn't." Rey's niece took a deep breath. "However, they did succeed in that he did regain some memory of a few moments after being bitten, before he lost his mind completely to the wolf. So being bitten was not the catalyst for the loss of memories to his wolf half. He only lost the memories he had gained after he turned feral." She took a deep breath. "Hence I do not believe that Remus will have lost any memories apart from those of his time spent under the influence of his wolf. I think the vast majority of his human mind and memory remains untouched."
"But that's good…" Kingsley Shacklebolt spoke the same uncertain words that were dancing through Rey's mind. "Isn't it? Doesn't that mean he'll be all right?"
Rebekah pursed her lips. "That depends," she said softly. "But you must remember, he has suffered a horrendous trauma. For more than thirty years, he has shared his mind and his body with a werewolf's soul and in order to live with it, he achieved a truce that both could live with. But now one part of that uneasy balance has been brutally torn away, without any chance to prepare or adapt to its absence. He has been a werewolf since early childhood – he has no real memory what it is not to share his mind with a wolf. And the mind does strange things in order to protect itself."
Rey watched with vaguely horrified fascination as a dawning realisation spread across Felisha's face. The blood drained, drop by drop, from her cheeks.
"Oh Merlin," she whispered softly as all eyes in the room turned slowly to her. "Are you saying what I think you're saying?"
Rebekah met her eyes squarely. "Tell me what you think I'm saying."
"That his mind's reset itself." Felisha was staring at the older woman in disbelief. "The part of his memory that shared a life with the wolf can't adapt to the changes; it's had to shut itself down to protect his sanity. And all that leaves on the surface…"
Her voice drifted into nothing, a deep and resonant silence. And Rebekah nodded.
"Leaves what?" The words had emerged before Rey was even aware of having spoken. "In the name of pity, will someone please tell me what's wrong with my son?"
Rebekah met his eyes. Her expression was grim.
"About an hour ago, when I was sure that his physical condition was stable, I took Remus off his sedation," she replied, her voice low and serious. "I wanted to examine his mental condition. But when I tried to speak with him, he was incoherent, crying, hysterically upset. He didn't recognise me and he had no idea where he was. It wasn't until I realised what he was screaming for that I began to understand." She sighed deeply. "He was calling out for his Mummy and Daddy and he was terrified in case the bad man with yellow eyes came back and tried to take him away. The last thing he remembers is the night that he was bitten. Uncle Reynard, Remus doesn't remember ever being any older than three."
The silence that followed was vast.
Rey stared. His mind, so numb, so sluggish before now, burst into a sudden maelstrom of wild and confused horror. Three? Remus, his full-grown son, believed himself to be three?
His brief desperation to start their lives over flooded bitterly back across his mind.
He had wished… He had wanted…
But Dear Gods, not like this.
"How do we get him back?" Once more it was Shacklebolt who moved right to the heart of the matter, breaking the silence with steely tones. "Can we get him back?"
"I believe so." Rebekah appeared rather more assured now that Felisha had reached an identical conclusion to hers, although her concerned eyes remained fixed on her silent uncle. "The key is the Memory Enhancing potions I tried on Kane. If we administer them to him gradually combined with some careful spell-work, I think his memory will be able to rebuild itself. But the process will have to be gradual; apart from the possible side effects of too many doses of potion, we have to give his mind time to adapt to its new state, a few years at a time. I think it would be best to work from the bite forwards and recover approximately three or four years a day until we reach his memory of what happened this morning. He'll have to be monitored, spoken to by people who knew him at the relevant ages – we have to be certain the absence of the wolf isn't skewing his memories as he regains them." Her eyes burrowed pointedly into Rey. "You're the best for this task, uncle Reynard. Will you help me?"
Rey's mind was reeling. Was Rebekah really saying what he thought she was saying? That Remus' mind was going to have to grow up all over again?
Can I do this? Can he?
"I'll help." The voice was Felisha's. "I can only do school days but I think I knew him well enough."
"As will I." Albus' voice was strong and firm.
There was a long silence. Rey could feel every eye on the room fix upon him.
My son. He's still my son. However old he thinks he is. Whether this works or not…
He's still Remus. He's still my boy.
"Uncle Reynard?" Rebekah repeated softly.
Shrugging off Albus' hand with a flick of his shoulder, Rey awkwardly pulled himself to his feet and straightened his robes.
"I would walk through the fires of Hell itself for my son," he said quietly. "Of course I'll help you."
A/N: Many thanks to my lovely reviewers this week: Howling-wolf, Nienna Telrunya, thee-unknown-factor, elka78, MrsTater, anonymous, felixgirl, vieras, Bluer Sky, WhiMAE, Paloma Patil, moo, krumfan, phoenixtear19, Angry Mavis, Rel Fexive, blacklady, Kailin, Snowfall, desertrose89, KnightMara, Anon Reader, Freja Lercke-Falkenborg, MollyCoddles, purebristles, Bardlover, Ella J.W, Lunair, aurelie1, Ecstatic-Future-Novelist-Gurl, morgan, Gyllanalv, Libeku Taganashi, Lady Bracknell, Gilpin, Fmh, ilvena damodred, Camilinha, sylthian, jenny starseed, blondie and Good Morning! What a lovely bunch you are. :)
For anyone still a little bemused, I've stuck a few relevant quotes up along with my reviewer responses on LJ. The links are on my profile as per usual. :)