A/N: Thanks and gratitude to SortingHat47 for her suggestions and comments, and for being with me throughout this journey; and for Zarathustra, the fabulous beta, who graciously surrenders her time and talents to make my grammar, punctuation, and Brit-speak look good and read well! Also, thanks to remuslives23, Mistress of Smut, who constantly reassures me that I may have some modicum of talent...
Thursday, 1 August, 1985—7:52 a.m.
…ithurtsithurtsithurtsit hurts it hurts. It hurts. It HURTS. IT HURTS. IT HURTS!!
Pain exploded through his senses. His body had known it was there; his unconsciousness had kept it at bay. Now, as his awareness returned, so did the pain.
There was precious little he could do, with no wand and no potions. He couldn't even think straight enough to try something wandlessly.
Years of waking up after terrible monthly transformations, however, did help him to come to grips with his situation. He began with the easy stuff first. Yes, he knew who he was and he knew what he was. He even knew where he was and how he had gotten here. And – damn it to the furthest gates of hell and back – he even knew why he was here, though that was something he couldn't stand to think about right now. So, it came the next part: What exactly was causing the pain?
Start at the top, work your way down, was the barely coherent thought. His head hurt, and not just with the typical internal ache of no sleep, no food, and morning-after-transformation-hangover. But, as he raised his hand to touch his scalp, the fire across his shoulders and down his back demanded his attention. Forcing his eyes open, he turned his head slightly to the side. He could see six welts blazing red against his pale, scarred skin. Another turn of his head and several rapid blinks brought four stripes into focus on his other arm and shoulder. Not even two of them were parallel, so they weren't self-inflicted. Ten so far, then, and who knew how many more there were.
"Wolf." The voice was deep, the word spoken ever so quietly.
He ignored it.
His hand continued its journey to his head and met blood-stiffened hair just above his right ear. Tentative fingers felt a gash, but not very deep, and only about an inch long. Probably concussed, though he should be thankful his skull wasn't cracked all the way open.
"Wolf. Man." The voice was insistent, though still soft.
He turned his head to the right, peering through iron bars, into the cage on the other side of the aisle. Again, he blinked quickly, trying to clearly see what he knew to be a centaur.
He would've licked his dry lips, but there was no moisture in his mouth to do that, so he rasped, "Horse." After all, the centaur was being insulting; and he himself wasn't in the mood, at this moment, to be overly polite.
The centaur flicked his tail in annoyance.
The pain inventory continued. His right leg ached. Like he'd had a cramp in it all night long…
"I am to tell them when you awake," the centaur informed him.
Not now! Not yet! His mind screamed the words, making the pounding in his head nearly unbearable for a moment. Control; pull it together. He lifted his hand in a halting gesture, and attempted to whisper, "Just give me a minute." He knew that not all the words were actually heard, but the meaning was obviously understood, because the centaur was silent.
He didn't want to meet them while he was still lying here, helpless. Could he sit up? He started to roll onto his side. Bone grated against bone, and somewhere deep inside his gut, tissue twisted in a way that it shouldn't. He flopped back onto his back, gasping with pain, and gritting his teeth. He had dealt with broken ribs before, and on other occasions, with internal injuries, so it was familiar — unwelcome, but familiar.
The centaur's whisper cut through the pain. "You must escape."
He couldn't help the sharp bark of laughter that scraped from his throat. Escape? Now? He was reasonably certain he couldn't even walk. His right leg hurt, damn it! Definitely some kind of pulled muscle. And his ribs…
"They mean to kill you," the centaur said quietly.
Upon thinking about it later, he'd come to realize that he had already known that fact. Right at this moment, however, the centaur had revealed something to him that he hadn't wanted to realize. And there was not a thing he could do about it in the condition he was in.
And so, Remus Lupin muttered: "Fuck."