Filth, Hope, and Chocolate
At first, Harry had been a bit mystified as to why Lupin had originally asked Hagrid to stay behind. But then he remembered just how Lupin had an uncanny ability to pick and choose people for precisely the right feats, even when the people didn't know they were capable of doing said feats beforehand. Harry distinctively recalled two separate incidents that he had personally watched or experienced; Neville and the Snape-boggart, and the whole thing about giving Harry a chance to learn the Patronus Charm in the first place. He marvelously looked on as Hagrid and Lupin worked smoothly together, and continued to conjure a small miracle seemingly out of nothing in the space of about twenty-five minutes.
Although initially very wary, Harry's counterpart on the floor had at least allowed Hagrid to approach him without curling up as he'd done with Lupin. The vulnerable boy tracked the half-giant's every move as best he could, despite exhaustion beyond exhaustion, and the absence of glasses to focus the blurriness. This was by no means a sign of trust, but Harry could tell that his double was now beginning to wonder why several people had bothered showing up only just to leave. His counterpart was used to anything he saw being an illusion or a prelude of more horrors to come.
Lupin also pointed out Harry's double recognising anything as a "hallucination" was an extremely good sign—it was a higher mental function to even notice a difference between reality and anything else—especially since that line had been obliterated repeatedly by Voldemort in the mind of Harry's opposite. It had just become near impossible for the poor boy to sort out which was which.
Another thing Lupin established to Hagrid was the need to constantly use a name for Harry's counterpart—as an anchor of sorts and means of recognition that he was still a sentient person. But as Hagrid called the boy on the floor "Harry", it became apparent to Lupin and the half-giant just how much lasting damage Lord Voldemort's influence had caused in the young man's psyche. Harry had sensed it from the very start, but it still caused a momentary shot of despair to run rampant through him as he watched the face of his twin contort with utmost revulsion at the mention of his own name.
Here was the crux of Voldemort's horrors—he had managed to hammer a wedge of malice between Harry and his own corporeal self; making his very mirror image turn away in seemingly unfathomable animosity and reject him. Harry was at a loss to explain it—all he could feel was the waves of abhorrence that roiled from his other half on the floor. Harry then remembered what Lupin said about the young man not having any control over his emotions and tried to deal with accordingly. It was beyond tragedy or distress—having your own self…hate you.
Rather than losing more time on the problem, Lupin also accepted it, and said, "Well, if he considers himself separate from you now, we still need to call him something. 'Hey you' just isn't going to work. He needs to focus on getting better, not being mad." So Lupin then asked Harry if he'd had any nicknames in the past that his double would respond to favourably. Harry couldn't think of a single instance—"Potty" and "Scarhead" were definitely not nicknames he'd responded to in a positive way, so he doubted that his double would either.
Turning to face the boy on the floor again, Lupin asked, "James? Should we call you 'James?'" Harry could tell without even trying that name was another one he didn't like, and told Lupin as much. So Lupin then said, "How about 'Jamie?' Can you deal with that?" to Harry's counterpart, and looked up at Harry for confirmation. "Better," said Harry, considering his other's reaction.
That settled, Lupin told the self-proclaimed Jamie, step-by-step, how they needed to get him up off the freezing, filthy floor and clean him up a bit. Lupin also explained to Harry how he'd suspected some sort of hypothermic shock due to exposure and cold. The best way to alleviate and reverse those symptoms was to expose as much of "Jamie's" surface skin area as possible next to a heat source. Hagrid's help at this point became a very important factor, and Lupin also explained, in a little by little manner how Hagrid was going to come up behind Jamie, pick him up, and place him on his lap.
At first, the whole idea seemed a bit absurd to Harry; a grown boy sitting on someone's lap. But then he remembered just how little physical consideration his double—Jamie, he reminded himself sadly—had received at all lately…try none. No, less than none. Harry remembered from personal encounters precisely how gentle Hagrid could be; if the half-giant could sing lullabies to dragons, he would perform a symphony of the heart for Jamie. Except for a very limited amount of time, Harry had trusted Hagrid implicitly for the duration of their entire friendship. Dear Hagrid—his first wizard friend—in fact first friend ever—had indeed been the perfect choice for this state of affairs. Jamie was drinking in all of this positive attention…though Harry could tell he was still a bit mystified as to why someone hadn't tried to hurt him yet—another sad yet understandable reaction.
As Hagrid sat back powwow-style and held Jamie in the crook of his ample elbow, Lupin conjured a basin of warm water and several linen washcloths. Ten days' worth of slime, soil, and stain was at last removed from the skin of Voldemort's latest innocent victim. This had the effect of making Jamie confused; even through his exhaustion, he simply couldn't imagine why they were doing this for him. But it was also breaking down his barrier of mistrust.…
Suddenly, and without warning, Jamie's eyes rolled back in his head and he started to shudder convulsively. The moisture now on his skin was exposed to the rather frigid air and he was shivering in uncontrollable waves. Hagrid was having a difficult time holding onto him because the quaking was so violent.
"He's cold! No, freezing!" yelled Harry. It was horrible to watch and yet be unable to do anything. A blanket was quickly conjured and placed over Jamie, but he inadvertently managed to shake it off him, he was quivering so badly.
Swearing quietly under his breath, Lupin said, "I was hoping he'd be spared this, but it was hard to tell what was causing his lethargy. Apparently he was slipping into advanced hypothermia when we found him. Damn! We are so close…" It was very disconcerting to see someone as usually collected as Lupin start to lose his cool. But then he looked over in the corner behind Harry and said, "What is this?" and he walked passed Harry to more directly point out what he was talking about.
It was a mid-sized black leather bag, with a silver buckle on the front that held the engraving "S.S."
"It's Snape's travelling satchel. What on earth is it doing here? I can't even remember him having brought it along. Maybe there's something in here we can give Jamie..." then he began rooting around the odd contents. Straight on top was a small case of potions phials. Lupin dropped the bag and marched straight back over to Hagrid with a particular phial and asked him to assist in getting Jamie to drink it. Hagrid cradled the back of Jamie's neck, Lupin poured the liquid down his throat, held the boy's jaw shut, and let nature's swallowing reflex do the rest. With an air of satisfaction, Lupin watched as Jamie's eyes closed tight shut, all shaking ceased, and he went rigid for about fifteen seconds.
However, when Jamie opened his eyes, they were more clear and lucid than they had ever been thus far, he was able to turn his head this way and that, and he even tried to make a frail grab for the empty phial in Lupin's palm.
"He likes it!" Harry exclaimed, smiling incredulously. "What was that stuff, Remus?" Hagrid and Lupin exchanged a look as the former professor conjured a tall glass of water and said, "Chaser, Rubeus. Let him sip it slowly, so he doesn't toss it," and Hagrid's beetle-black eyes twinkled knowingly. "Righ' yeh are, Professor. If tha' is wha' I think it is…" trailed off Hagrid.
"That, my dear Harry," Lupin said proudly, "is 'Cocoa-banger'. And irrefutable 'proof' of the fact you are your father's son—pun intended, I might add." Continuing on a smile, Lupin said, "Once, purely as a prank, Sirius and I blackmailed Severus into spiking James's hot chocolate with something powerful and…a tad nasty. But James, little bugger, developed a taste for the stuff. He actually convinced Severus to distill the wizard chocolate and elixir together so he would be able to drink it regularly from a concentrate—the end result of which just quite satisfactorily thawed out your counterpart over here. Small wonder he likes it—he's a Potter."
It was just too ironic Lupin and fermented wizard chocolate happened to be the things that pulled Jamie out of his funk. Harry told Lupin as much and Remus rejoined, "You don't know the half of it. I suspect that's why Severus had a viable mix of it in the first place. Back when I was teaching, I remembered about Cocoa-banger and asked Severus if he still had the recipe. The reason why is because at that time, certain boy I knew was both having terrible problems fainting due to exposure with dementors as well as never eating enough of the chocolate I gave him to alleviate the affects thereof," Lupin said significantly, and Harry gave him a sheepish grin. "But then, oops," said Lupin, "you learned the Patronus Charm. No wizard chocolate concentrate needed. Not until now, at any rate."
Then Remus started another play-by-play explanation to Jamie how they needed to clean out his wounds.
Out of sheer curiosity, Harry inquired Lupin as to why he bothered with all the detailed clarification. The former professor kindly informed him, "Harry, this is what it's like for any one of us when we are stripped of our defences and humanity. One does not need to be a werewolf to have experienced these things. What makes it worse for Jamie here is that he couldn't even push anyone away if he wanted to—so he would most likely turn on himself again. In fact, he really has no reason to have confidence in us at all right now, considering what he's been through. We're just lucky he recognises us; I also submit that's largely because of your proximity with him," he said considerably.
Turning to face Harry fully, Lupin continued, "By explaining what we're doing in a simplified manner, it not only gives his quite-obviously alert mind something to focus on, but it also lets him know we respect his rights as an individual—but most importantly as an equal. The quickest way to do that is if physical boundary lines are re-established. Meaning, if they need to be crossed in any manner—even if it's just to assist him—he needs to know. Simple as that."
Not for the first time, Harry wondered how Lupin came to know so much about the human psyche, and asked him as much.
"I cannot take full credit for my education in that particular field. As a matter of fact, the people who did most of that for me were the Marauders themselves."
Lupin had gone back over and grabbed the black satchel to bring it next to him and Hagrid. Then he removed a phial of something clear and soaked a washcloth with it, and said, "When I was a teenager, I was quite afraid of my werewolf side and didn't care to hardly acknowledge the fact I had it at all. Once the Marauders found out, however, they began not only to research it extensively; but also to steep themselves in all of the lore and beliefs that it involved. A lot of what they came to know was by direct field research with yours truly. It was by peril and danger through trial and error, and yes…sheer cussedness and stupidity, too. But their uncommon clarity for understanding the differences and similarities between man and beast was, quite literally, what helped them all to become such superior Animagi."
It intrigued Harry to learn more about this deviant side of not only his father, but Sirius and Remus as well—fascinating subjects, all around.
As Lupin cleared out the extensive wounds on Jamie's limbs, Jamie began to wince and make sounds of painful protest. Harry deduced Lupin must have been using a disinfectant of some type. "Yes, I know that hurts," Remus said kindheartedly to Jamie. Then he turned to Harry and asked, "It's not causing him to fear us, is it? These are quite deep, even for fingernail markings."
Discerning once more, Harry concentrated on what was going through Jamie's consciousness…it was…different…than…could he really be…
Then Harry watched as his double, quite astoundingly, reached up a tremulous hand to trace the scars across Lupin's face, followed by the ones on his own forehead—the lightning bolt and the gash caused by the crash. Now concentrating even harder, Jamie struggled to push back the sleeve on Lupin's arm to trace the scars there, and then again, quite miraculously, he traced the once-bleeding tracts across his own arms—the ones which Lupin was just now helping to cleanse.
"He knows," Harry breathed. "He knows you're here to help—he trusts you now. I can feel it!"
Then Hagrid broke the amazed silence with, "Yeh'd ha' ter be a codswallopin' blatherskite no' ter ha' noticed that," he replied, as Harry, Lupin, and Hagrid exchanged looks of hope and admiration.
"Well said, Professor," said Lupin in happy astonishment. Then, "Harry…as I've stated, if nothing else does so, this should prove to you he's in there somewhere. Or rather, you're in there somewhere." It was like watching the visual representation of the very conversation Harry and Lupin had just a few minutes previous.…
"I realise another thing you're wondering," said Lupin as he continued with Jamie's wounds, "is why I bother with names and explanation so much. It was James who happened to discover the names Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs for us all, incidentally. Those weren't just clever nicks—they also happen to be the names that we'd all referred ourselves to—only in our animalistic forms. I'm still at a loss to explain how James discerned that. But straightforwardly, of the four of us, James was the one who could most easily communicate with the other creatures in the Dark Forest. It was also him who'd pretty much helped to develop our 'Battlefield Bandaging' technique."
Lupin bit his bottom lip in remembrance and continued, "He'd discovered the quickest way to get close to an injured party was to use their name—the name created a bridge of familiarity, and helped to calm down the injured person in question. I can remember many times, as a werewolf, when I had received grievous wounds from other animals in the forest, and basically should've been left for dead."
Then he shook his head, lost in memory, "One particularly dangerous night, James actually negotiated a cliff—as a stag—but he couldn't help me the way he needed to as an Animagus. So he transfigured.…" Harry found himself pulled into another memory—one that wasn't his. He could feel himself to be badly hurt…he was panting and terrified…something was coming down the mountainside toward him…he could smell it…it was another animal—a large one with antlers. Was it going to attack him? He couldn't even run away. "Moony?" said a concerned male voice softly. A human? How had a human known his name? "Moony, it's me—Prongs. Please, don't fight me. I'm going to come around and help you…you're hurt.…" and he finished the memory off, watching as the shadow-image of a teenage James assisted Moony in effort to keep him from bleeding to death. Eminently fascinating. It generally pleased Harry to know more about his father's infamous behaviour as a Marauder, as long as it didn't involve memories of Snape. Harry told Lupin as much, as Remus conjured some bandages and began covering Jamie's wounds.
"Well, it didn't always work out, you know." Then Lupin raised his head to look at Harry and said, "One full moon, I was very confused and inadvertently chucked one of my friends into the half-frozen lake without knowing or remembering that I'd done it. It was only through sheer dumb luck that I'd come across them, at the lake's edge the next morning—they'd managed to dredge themselves up, but that was about it. Hagrid bailed us all out that time—kept the incident under wraps from Dumbledore."
Hagrid half-smiled grimly, and Harry thought, not for the first time, how it was a wondrous thing he and his father had such a similar relationship with Hagrid, without Harry having known about it beforehand.
Lupin went on, "I felt ashamed that I knew nothing about the effects of hypothermia or how to treat it because of that incident, and therefore learned anything and everything I could about it, if for nothing else than I would never be caught unprepared for my friends again. I already owed them so much."
"Now," said Lupin to Jamie, "we've got to make you fit to travel." Looking at Harry dubiously, Remus continued, "Unfortunately it appears the only attire we have to choose from is that which Snape has so unknowingly bestowed us with."
Then he smirked and said, "How about it, Harry? Do you mind looking like a cross between Dracula and Morgana dressed in funeral garb?"
It was so profoundly hilarious to hear the normally unflappable Remus speak about his former rival in such a manner, Harry couldn't help but laugh, despite the fact Jamie would most likely have to be dressed as an out-of-style undertaker for the next while. After all, they were still under the time constraint of "moonrise" according to the poem.
Suddenly, Lupin drew in a long inhalation of astonishment as he looked into the remaining contents of Snape's mysteriously placed traveling satchel. "Hello? What have we here.…" and then he upturned the items of the bag into the crook of his arm. The apparel they all saw was most decidedly not something that would have ever come out of Snape's wardrobe.
The contents included a full change of Muggle boys' clothing; complete with belt-set jeans, t-shirt, overshirt, socks, shoes, and shorts.
Harry, Hagrid, and Lupin each wore the same slack-jawed looks as Lupin, out of morbid curiosity, flipped the belt over to read the personalised engraving on the back of the small Gryffindor buckle. "H.J.P." it read.
No doubt about it now—these were indeed Harry's own clothes.
"What the bloody hell?" Harry yawped aloud in horror. The sheer disgusting-gross-out factor had just shot off the scale at the thought of his own underpants having been riding around in Snape's luggage. It made the idea of looking like a geezer gothic vampire seem almost appealing.
"Yeh jus' took the words righ' ou' ter my mou', Harry," agreed Hagrid incredulously.
"Regardless," said Lupin softly, "I daresay Severus has a lot of explaining to do. In due time, gentlemen," he said firmly.
Rooting around in the bag one last time, he came out with two pair of something—a pair of shears and a pair of Harry's glasses—thereby removing all doubt of the fact Harry's clothes had indeed been stumbled upon.
"Hope you don't mind," Lupin said to Jamie, and looked up at Harry, "his hair is hopeless. It's got to go. Sorry."
Harry just shrugged as Lupin used the shears to remove the mangy tangle that Jamie's hair had become. Anyway, it didn't matter much—he could probably just grow it out again later, if he wanted to. It also had a rather pronounced effect—"Jamie" was actually starting to look like a boy instead of the waif-like person they had originally found bleeding on the granite floor.
When they started to dress him, the effect was instantaneous. Jamie knew exactly what clothes meant. And shoes. Harry could read the thoughts like a beacon now, they ran together: Clothes!go!shoes!leave!nothurt!must!YAY!gone!nomore!NOW! It had the added bonus of making Jamie quite wiggly and noisy—at least as much as he could get, considering.
It would have been funny, watching Lupin and Hagrid struggle to put clothes on a 16-year-old boy, but Lupin pointed out seriously, "Having survived ten days of hell, not only believing you'd never escape, but you'd have to kill yourself in order to leave. I'd be turning handsprings about seeing it all left behind me."
Lupin was right—this wasn't amusing in the slightest—it was…sobering. Is that possible? To be humbled by your own self? Harry contemplated, trying not to go mad in the process.
Lupin went over to the small recessed case where Harry had pointed out his damaged holly wand was hidden in the wall. "And here it is…" Remus said aloud, "the tool of exoneration.… Just to think, it was here all this time, and so were you.…" He turned toward Harry and said softly, "How can you ever forgive us, Harry?"
"For what?" asked Harry, a bit mystified as to Lupin's sudden somberness.
"For not knowing. For believing you dead, when it was so much worse.…" Harry was…floored. Remus? Feeling…guilty? It wasn't the Order's fault he'd been presumed dead, or anybody else but those three Slytherins, Voldemort, and whomever else was involved. But not…the fault of his friends. Sure, he could get all bitter about them not knowing, but…that was pointless and stupid! Harry himself hadn't even known that he wasn't really dead. What could you do? Close this conversation and get the hell out of here, Harry thought. Jamie's "raring to go" attitude was infectious.
"Remus, how could I not forgive you? Thanks to you and Hagrid, I still have—a 'me' to go back to."
Whatever that means, thought Harry ruefully. He wondered why the stuff he said in these situations always had to sound so corny. It seemed to help though as Lupin smiled a bit and they walked back over to Hagrid and a struggling Jamie.
Jamie was not happy at all with the state of affairs at the moment. He'd had quite enough of being held and kept under blankets, thank you very much. Once he'd trusted Remus and Rubeus, and knew he was going to leave, it had transformed Jamie into an entirely different person. Harry was filled with an odd need to apologise for some reason. So sorry about... myself? The other me? Perhaps it was a good thing Jamie had picked himself out a different name. Harry knew he was having enough trouble keeping all of the tenses and pronouns sorted out.
Unfortunately for Jamie, he didn't even have the strength to shove off of Hagrid, much less stand and walk. His brain said otherwise, however. Harry's other half was filled with enough resentment at the moment for five people…no, strike that. Twelve people. And he was getting even angrier as they started on their way out.
Just as they were about to pass the threshold, Jamie, in a completely unprecedented and furious manner, reached out both hands to the side of the exit, and pulled himself bodily out of Hagrid's arms.
"WHOA!" they all shouted, as Lupin rushed forward and caught Jamie a split second before he hit floor again.
"What is he doing!" Harry exclaimed. He was the only one who seemed to not know what was going on, however.
Remus turned to Hagrid and said excitedly, "Are you thinking what I am, Rubeus?" They wordlessly agreed on repositioning themselves around Jamie. Lupin had resituated Jamie and was now holding onto his waist and standing behind him in front of the doorway, at the lowest possible crossing point. Hagrid was completely opposite them on the other side, now facing Jamie and Lupin. Were they really going to let Jamie do what it looked like they were? Harry demanded of Lupin as much.
Remus just shook his head, smiled, and said happily, "You of all people should recognise raison d'etre! The finish line! Beating impossible odds! With your shield, not on it!" Then he cautiously let his arm slip from Jamie's waist and yelled, "Come on! You can do it!"
"'S'right!" shouted Hagrid from the other side. "Yeh started it, now yeh finish it!"
Jamie was actually standing upright by himself! It was clearly paining him and he was beginning to sway, but Harry could feel the determination seething off him in currents. The exhilaration filling the air was palpable.
"You have to WIN!"
"Figh' it! I know yeh can!"
But it didn't look like he could. Jamie was starting to wilt under his own weight. It was such a shame—because he was so close! Three steps and it would all be over! He just needed more encouragement, that was all! Dear Godric, was Harry really going to cheer his own self on?
"JUST DO IT! GO!" Yep. Apparently he was.
It also appeared to be precisely what was needed; after turning toward his opposite with a glance of wonder, they all watched as Harry (Jamie) Potter, pronounced dead, believed dead, better off dead, and in characteristic defiance of all logic, odds, or sanity, took three brave steps and walked out of his ten-day prison by the power of his own two feet.