Grazhir :: Harry Potter :: Control Issues :: 10 :: Remus Lupin

10 • Remus Lupin

It took a week before Harry felt well enough to start tackling the issue of Remus Lupin, werewolf. In that time Voldemort had authorized a pay rise for the constructs crew given the alarming number of golems his mate had gone through. They were probably working all hours of the day and night trying to keep up with the demand of Lord Thanatos alone. It was surely a coincidence when many of the golems had had their faces mysteriously altered to closely resemble any number of people known to be supporters of the Light, or active forces on their behalf.

Harry had also dragged rather a lot of books into the library from the muggle world and had spent hours engrossed in them. Voldemort got the distinct impression that Remus Lupin would be paying part of Dumbledore’s debt for him, however unfair that might be. And he wasn’t about to call Harry on that suspicion, not after seeing that room, and not after having gone back to determine whether or not Lupin had, in fact, known exactly where Harry had been kept; he had.

Mrs Black was now enjoying a spot in a normally unused, small sitting room, and Voldemort had spoken with her at length. Unfortunately, she didn’t know anything of much value, but did promise to keep her ears open, and to report if Nigellus approached her. She also confirmed that Kreacher was still in the house, so Voldemort had made a mental note to discuss that with Harry, as he hadn’t been present for the discussion.

And Mrs Black was practically beside herself with the knowledge that the actual owner of the house was once again a supporter of the Dark Lord, though Voldemort did not bother to clue her in as to who, exactly, that was. She, naturally, wasn’t silly enough to ask. Granted, it was not like she could die a second time, but she obviously enjoyed some sort of existence and preferred to keep on living it.

Harry had spent the next few evenings running some experiments. Voldemort had watched as Harry injected some sort of muggle drug into Lupin, woke him up, then carefully observed the effects and jotted down notes. When he was done with a particular session of observation he would slap Lupin back into the coma and obliviate the man’s memory of being awake.

It had been nearly a fortnight before Voldemort was able to conjure himself a nice squashy chair to relax in with some wine and get ready to enjoy the show. Well, and be ready to provide the special effects.

Part of the dungeon had been transformed into something rather resembling a waiting room. The ceiling was white, the walls were white, as was the floor. Even the chairs were, being of a distinctly muggle design, with anodized aluminium tube-construction frames and white cushions for the seats and backs. A white table sat in the center, sporting a white vase containing a bouquet of white flowers—the stems were green, though.

Voldemort was sitting behind one of the false walls enjoying a one-way view as Harry stepped up to Lupin, who had been planted in one of the chairs, and slid the needle of a syringe into his arm and pressed the plunger, then vanished it and took a seat in the other chair. And once he had appropriately altered his appearance, Harry woke Lupin from his coma.

When Remus Lupin raised his head he was staring into the face of James Potter.

Lupin gaped, shook his head, then looked wildly around the room before returning his bewildered gaze to his old friend. “James?”

Harry nodded, a blank look on his face. “Yes, Remus.”

“James, I don’t understand. You’re dead.”

Harry reached up to fiddle with his hair, just like his father always had, and said, “Yes, I am. Judging by the fact that you’re sitting here talking to me. . . .”

Lupin’s face lost all colour as he suddenly remembered his last waking moments. “What—?”

Harry looked at him steadily, then said, “Yes, Ron Weasley. That was a clever act he put on. We were all quite surprised he had it in him. He’s always been so prone to acting rashly.”

“He—?”

Harry nodded. “Sorry, old friend, but yes. Ron Weasley knocked you out and delivered you to Voldemort.”

“Are you trying to tell me I’m. . . .” He couldn’t seem to bring himself to say it.

“Dead?” Harry said indifferently. “It certainly looks that way. So now you’re here.”

“Here?”

“Of course. This is limbo, Remus. You get to wait here while your fate is decided. We all have to go through it. They were nice enough to let me come visit.”

“They?” Lupin glanced upward, then back at Harry as if for confirmation.

Harry obliged by nodding. “After all, it does get a bit boring at times talking to the same old people, and watching the same old people. Speaking of which, you and I need to have a little talk, Remus. I can’t begin to express how utterly disappointed I am in your behavior of the past few years.”

“But . . . I haven’t done anything,” Lupin protested.

Harry hauled one leg up and crossed his ankle over his knee. “That’s sort of the point, Remy. You sat back, just like you always did in school, and looked the other way while those bastards took my son, my Harry, and ensconced him in a damn cell fashioned from a box room at the cottage. You looked the other way while he was beaten on a daily basis, whipped, and forced to learn to respond to threats while inches from unconsciousness.

“You never lifted a finger to help my son, my precious boy, a child you professed back then to find adorable and enchanting. You said at one point you wished he was yours. You sat there and turned your head away as my son was raped multiple times a day. In fact, you looked away as Snivellus poured potions down my son’s throat and forced him to transform into an incubus, a part human like yourself.

“You, Remy, who has suffered years of discrimination for being a werewolf, decades of pain and heartache, and measures enacted by our government to try to contain you and restrict your life, did absolutely bloody nothing to help Harry. You pretended that because you never actively helped them along that it was perfectly all right to overlook my child being trained to be a mindless, merciless killer. After all I’ve done for you, all the love and support Lily and I gave you, you repay me like this?”

“But, James, he killed Siri!”

Harry scoffed and dropped his leg. “Remy, that’s a complete crock and we both know it. Harry was not the one to hold a wand to Siri’s head and cast Avada Kedavra. Sirius fell through the veil, as well you know. You did, I must admit, prevent Harry from racing through after him, and you did help him learn how to cast a patronus, so I suppose I must be grateful for one or two small things.

“Siri died because he was careless and you know it. Siri died because he didn’t follow orders and remain at the house. Though, frankly, considering what a bastard Dumbledore was being, I can’t say I blame him for racing off to protect Harry.”

“How can you say that? If Harry had stayed at school where he belonged, Siri would never have been in danger!” Lupin protested.

“And if Dumbledore had bothered to clue my son in on a few things, he never would have had his mind invaded by Voldemort, nor been confused. And if Snivellus had actually taught my boy instead of torturing him for my sins, Harry might have learned how to protect his mind. And all of that is really beside the point. Harry was a child. A child, damn it! It was the responsibility of the adults, like you, to guide him, care for him, and properly teach him.

“I can’t believe how badly you’ve messed things up. It’s going to take me and Lily years once Harry is dead to get his head screwed back on straight thanks to people like you. You promised, Remus. You stood there and looked me straight in the eye and promised to take care of my boy, my only child, should something happen to us. And you’ve failed us in almost every imaginable way. You let your anguish over Siri’s death completely warp your mind and transfer any and all blame onto an innocent child. How could you!?”

“I barely even knew him,” Lupin whispered. “He only wanted Siri.”

“And that makes it okay!?” Harry launched himself from the chair and loomed over the table. “So now, in addition to being a coward, a hypocrite, and a bold-faced liar, you’ll now add jealousy to the list? Christ, Remus! If I had had any idea what you would end up like I’d have never become your friend. I would have spared myself the heartache and the work and the constant worries about your health, and I’d have treated you like the submissive, cowering little dog you are!

“You didn’t even bother to get to know my boy. Just like always, you looked the other way, tried not to get involved. You never once stepped foot near him in all those years, except when you had to because Albus talked you into teaching for a year. Hagrid was the one to give him photographs of us, for Christ’s sake. You couldn’t even be bothered to do that for him, not even anonymously.

“And for the love of god, Remus, you sat there while they turned my poor boy into a sex slave! Snivellus, Remus! You let Snivellus use my son as his personal sex toy and never lifted a damn finger to—you know what, Remus? I hope you enjoy your stay in—”

An odd, echoing bell sounded, causing both of them to look up sharply. Harry messed with his hair again and said, “Right. That’s me done, then. Time for me to go back to Lily. You should probably be thankful she won’t be coming for her own visit.”

“James! Don’t go. Please don’t leave me here.”

Harry snorted and turned away, gradually fading from sight as he approached one of the walls.

Remus launched to his feet to follow, but staggered back into his chair almost immediately when the room went a bit funny. Parts of the ceiling began to drip down around him like pseudopods, stretching down to brush against the floor. Remus obviously took them for a warning as he stayed right where he was, hands tightly gripping the arms of his chair.

Voldemort gazed at his mate with a slight smile as Harry altered his features and clothing, had a quick look in a standing mirror, then headed right back in. A curious bending of light happened along one wall, a shimmering column of sorts, and out of it stepped Harry, who then strode over to the empty chair, but opted to stand.

“Remus,” he said flatly.

“Siri?” Lupin sounded like his heart was breaking and his eyes had gone quite suspiciously shiny. “Siri, is that really you?”

“Like you bloody care,” was Harry’s irritated response.

“Siri, how can you say that?”

Harry shrugged indifferently. “Why not? You don’t care, do you, about much of anything except yourself, your comfort, your blind eye to what happens around you. . . . You know, it was so convenient back then, in school, what with you always looking the other way when we were screwing with people like Snivellus, but I’ve come to realize since I died that it’s just not right. You were so god damn afraid we’d turn on you, rat out your secret, if you so much as once made even a passing reference to what complete assholes we were being.

“Even Peter had more balls than you in that respect. And I see that’s kept on. You’re just the same, Remus. You keep gazing off into the distance, trying not to get involved, forgetting your commitments, refusing to do the things you agreed to do. Some prefect you made. James was right. I did not want to believe him, but he made me sit there and watch.

“It broke my bloody heart what you did, or didn’t do. Do you recall that night? When we all met in the Shrieking Shack? Harry gave us his trust, allowed us to explain, and then, against all reason, argued against killing someone that he damn well knew deserved it! That’s the boy you allowed them to turn into a mindless flesh doll who doesn’t bat an eyelash over the idea of slicing open a little girl’s neck if his trainer orders it.”

“I didn’t do anything, Siri! I—”

“Shut up!” Harry barked. “They already know your reasoning, Remus, your pathetic excuses and dodgy logic. None of us need to hear it again.”

Lupin glanced fearfully at the ceiling again, then dropped his eyes.

“I remember that night like it was yesterday. Harry was so happy when I asked him to come live with me. I could finally fulfill my promise to James. I was such a damn fool to run off after Peter, but I was being given a chance to make up for my sins. I could give Harry a loving home again. I could protect him from people that wanted to hurt him, or use him. He seemed almost desperately happy at the idea.

“I was willing to give up the rest of my life if need be, and indeed I did, to keep him safe and happy. I at least had the lousy excuse of being a hothead, Remus, when I made such a huge mistake. But you. . . . You, Remus, are level-headed, calm, restrained, logical. Even if you couldn’t have taken Harry away to live with you, you could have made damn sure those muggles wouldn’t abuse him. You could have stopped letting Albus work your strings and done as you’d promised to do!”

“He’s the leader of the Light, Siri! He knew what he was doing!”

Harry let out a bark of laughter. “I know how Albus works. So long as he says it’s okay, everyone is expected to break laws left and right without a murmur of discontent. I guess that’s part of why you all decided it was a grand idea to nod your heads approvingly when he suggested turning Harry into an assassin. After all, that’s the only thing he was good for, right? The prophecy child, only ultimately even alive to kill a single man, and then he could be thrown away, is that it? But hey, so long as we’re training him for that, let’s all break our promises to look out for him and let some of our number try to beat him into submission.

“And while we’re at it, let’s be a mass pox on humanity in general! It doesn’t matter. You’re avoiding it again, just like you always do. You made a promise to James. Hell, you made one to me. And you broke them, simply by turning your head away and pretending you didn’t see it happening. You disgust me, Remus. I can’t see how you’ll ever be able to make up for this.”

“Siri, I’d do anything for you,” Lupin said pleadingly. “I love you.”

Harry shook his head. “If you’d loved me you’d have kept your promises. And in any case, it’s not me you need to make it up to or repay.”

“What . . . do you mean?”

“I’m beginning to think you’ve spent all your brain cells wanking. But don’t worry, I’m not going to be your last visitor. My advice is to stop running away, stop hiding, stop burying your head in the god damned sand, and stop looking away so you can still bear to look at yourself in the mirror each morning. Only when you can do that can you even start to make it up to the person you’ve truly betrayed. James and I are incidental in this little mess, and I expect you’re going to be spending a very long time repaying a certain debt, my old friend.”

Voldemort noted that whatever drugs Harry had pumped into the werewolf were still affecting him, so he assumed all those observations had had something to do with figuring out the proper dosage.

“Hell,” Harry added, “isn’t a nice place. I’m sure the boys down there will find an appropriate way to make you come to your senses about who and what you really are, and what you’re good for.”

“Siri!” Lupin said, a single tear escaping the corner of his eye and trickling down his cheek.

That same bell sounded again. Harry glanced up and nodded, then turned without another word and walked away, again gradually disappearing from sight. Voldemort watched as his mate changed things a third time and headed back in using that same odd column of light as an apparent portal.

“Peter?” Lupin sounded completely bewildered and his face was a study in shock. “What on earth are you doing here?” he asked, the tears that had begun slipping down his cheeks in earnest slacking somewhat.

Harry stayed well away from the man, fidgeting and moving in place restlessly. “I asked, they gave,” he replied evasively, flicking his eyes down for a second.

Lupin furrowed his brow in confusion before a dawning look of realization crossed his face. “Why?”

“I’ve been good lately, working hard, following orders,” he said a bit nervously, almost defensively, then visibly braced himself and stood up straight, looking Lupin in the eye. “I had something to say to you, and they’re letting me.”

“What on earth could you possibly say to me, Peter? You betrayed Lily and James!”

Harry sneered and started fidgeting again, his shoulders curling forward a bit. “Yeah, I did, but they only died. I wasn’t the one who practically signed their son into slavery and torment for nearly a half decade, now was I. You looked on me with scorn for years, Remus, thinking I was a weak, sniveling coward. And look at you,” he said scathingly. “Too damn weak to do much of anything but be indifferent. Didn’t have the strength to fight, did you. At least I was useful to my lord. All you could do was nod your head and look away, accepting whatever Dumbledore told you. You’re so weak, Remus, so pathetic. You disgust even me.”

“How dare you say such things to me!?” Lupin half rose from his seat, then hastily sat back down the second the ceiling went all funny.

“I dare because it’s true. You didn’t even raise a token protest against that boy’s treatment. You’re nothing but a dog, Remus, a weak, whiny little puppy. You need a master of your own to keep you in line since you obviously can’t be trusted to think for yourself anymore.”

Lupin went white with shock.

“At least I had the guts to return to my master and help him, and start paying the penance for my sins. You’re too weak to even do that. You’d rather lay down and die than try to atone for your sins. I can see it now. There you are saying, ‘No, really, that’s all right. Kill me however you like. I couldn’t possibly stir myself to make a decision of that magnitude,’” he said mockingly.

“That’s not true,” Lupin said sort of desperately.

Harry sneered again. “You keep telling yourself that. Maybe you’ll get lucky downstairs, Remus,” he said, then cringed as flames began flickering up through the floor nearby. He let out a fearful squeal and cowered, then turned and scurried off into thin air.

Harry breathed a deep sigh on the other side of the wall, then altered his appearance back to that of Harry Potter. Voldemort took a moment to rise from his chair and engulf his mate in a hug, then place a soft kiss on his lips. “Are you all right to continue, my sweet?”

Harry trembled slightly in his arms, then took a deep breath and nodded. “Yes,” he said firmly, “I am. If he falls for it, he can spend the next few years, and maybe forever, paying penance. I’ve certainly spent time planting the seeds in his head, that’s for sure. I’m just still angry, that’s all.”

Voldemort looked back over his shoulder to see Lupin in tears again. The man was muttering in distress about his friends hating him even in the afterlife and how he would never have the chance to atone. He arched a brow as he ran one hand over Harry’s hair, thinking that his mate was very clever to play on such an insidious weakness in the man’s makeup.

Remus Lupin, half-blood. He had been raised with plenty of muggle influences, including religion, and underneath it all, he believed. Add in some mild psychotropic drugs, spells to dampen the man’s werewolf-keen senses, plus an even sketchy representation of something that might possibly be a waiting room in limbo. . . . Harry prancing around castigating Lupin in the guises of his former friends was quite an interesting tactic in his opinion.

Lupin was starting to become very agitated, so Voldemort kissed Harry again and caressed his cheek. “If you want to continue, we should do so now.”

“All right.”

Voldemort nodded and cast the first spell at his throat, then said, “It’s time.” Even as Lupin began frantically looking around to find the source of the strangely choral voice that had just spoken Voldemort removed the spell and cast another to make the ceiling reach down pseudopods again.

This time, however, they were not a warning. This time they reached down to surround Lupin, keeping him in place. Still more dripped down from the ceiling and spread over his head as if to engulf him like some massive single-celled nightmare of a beast. Lupin reacted by hyperventilating, then passing out, slightly simplifying things.

Voldemort snorted softly, gave Harry another kiss, then released him and stepped through the wall, calmly spelling the pseudopods away and putting Lupin back in his coma. Harry stepped up and levitated the man, then directed him toward one of the walls as Voldemort made it vanish. Behind it was a different sort of setting, nearly the actual dungeon itself.

While Voldemort removed all evidence of the limbo room, Harry directed Lupin onto a bare patch on the floor, stripped off his clothing, then proceeded to kick and beat him until he might have fallen unconscious naturally, not to mention toss in a few nasty spells in order to be sure there was plenty of blood. Then he healed most of the injuries he had just caused, but didn’t clean up, and did nothing for the pain itself.

Voldemort was happy to create a new false wall for the second, presumably much shorter half the of show, then brought his chair and wine over so as to get a better view of things.

Harry moved Lupin into a cell, closed and locked it, then wandered off for a minute. He returned with a golem in tow, this one dressed to look like a Death Eater, and positioned him just so. “Stay,” he said quietly, then went over to Voldemort and crawled onto his lap to snuggle for a while.

A short time later Harry slipped off and turned, making his way back through the false wall and into what would appear to be a stone corridor lined with cells. He released Lupin from his coma and turned to the golem, then cast crucio on it. And he kept doing that, ignoring the programmed sounds of agony, until he noticed Lupin coming to.

“You were told not to play with the prisoner,” Harry said harshly after lifting the spell. “Be grateful he lived, else you might be dead yourself. Now get out of my sight!”

The golem got to its knees, touched its forehead to the stone floor, then rose and staggered off. Only then did Harry turn to face Lupin. “You’re lucky, you know. I found out that some of the Death Eaters were quite keen on the idea of tormenting one of Dumbledore’s little friends, so naturally I rushed right over here to administer a bit of chastisement. You were quite nearly dead, but I managed to get you breathing again after a bit of struggle.”

Lupin was obviously feeling the effects of his recent beating, and certainly could see and smell the blood that covered him. He dragged himself up to a sitting position and looked at Harry wonderingly. “I’m . . . alive?”

“Yes. You’re quite popular around here, unfortunately. New blood, you see. It seems some of the boys weren’t paying attention when you were declared to be off limits. They get terribly bored at times not having enough people to play with.”

“I don’t understand.”

Harry shrugged. “It’s really quite simple, Lupin. You—”

“Harry?” Lupin broke in, looking really quite confused.

“It is rude to interrupt,” Harry said in a frigid voice. “Now, as I was saying, you belong to me. I get to decide what happens to you, and no one else is allowed to lay a finger on you.”

“Belong?”

Harry nodded. “That’s right. Whether you live or die is in my hands. And I must say, I’ve got a huge bone to pick with you. Do you have any idea what my dad would say if he knew what you allowed to happen? Or Sirius? I really don’t think you’d want to know, as I doubt you could handle it. In any case, Lord Voldemort was generous enough to let me have you for my very own. He’s really quite thoughtful and kind once you get to know him. I quite like him.”

Lupin managed to look slightly panic stricken at that. “Harry, how could you?”

“How could I what?”

“How could you—I mean—he’s the Dark Lord, for pity’s sake! He’s a monster! He eats babies for breakfast!”

Harry rolled his eyes expansively. “Good grief, Lupin, you sound like a hysterical woman now. Lord Voldemort does no such thing. He eats bacon and eggs and toast like a normal person. Well—” Harry paused to put a finger to his lips and appeared to consider. “I have seen him eat a bagel, now I think about it, with cream cheese.”

“Harry! He is not a nice person. He’s a psychotic madman who wants you dead!”

Harry favored Lupin with a patronizing smile. “Don’t be silly. Why would he want me dead when we’re such good friends? Why, I just love him. He’s been so kind and thoughtful and understanding and helpful. . . .”

Lupin dropped his head and started whispering; it sounded suspiciously like prayer.

“Now, I don’t doubt you’re wondering why on earth I’d be so close to Lord Voldemort. You see, when I escaped my trainers—delightful people, really, and I’m sure you got the memos on their deaths?—I ran straight to the one person I felt I could actually trust to treat me like something other than a mindless killing machine. And I figured, since I couldn’t commit suicide thanks to Sevvie’s tampering, he might be kind enough to kill me if I asked.

“Imagine my surprise when he didn’t immediately do that. No, he decided to help me. He got a bit angry when he found out what you people did. Oh, you wouldn’t believe how upset he was when he found out where I’d been kept. And then to realize you were aware of it? Goodness gracious, you wouldn’t believe the number of things that died that day. I think it upset him a bit that his enemies, the supposed defenders of the Light, were outdoing him in the dark lord department.

“Anyway, I’m sure he’ll get over that almost as quickly as all of you lot are dead. But you’re mine, Lupin, I own you body and soul. And do you know what? I’m going to give you a choice.”

“Harry, please let me go.”

Harry affected a shocked look. “Why on earth would I do that? Sevvie took that sort of request as another excuse to whip me. Would that make you happy? Being whipped, I mean.”

Lupin pushed forward toward the bars, dropping back as soon as Harry said, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you. See, those bars are coated with silver. I don’t think you’d appreciate how that would make you feel if you were silly enough to touch them. Now, where was I? Right. I am, despite everything, a fairly kind person, Lupin, so I’m giving you a choice.”

Harry reached into his pocket and produced two pills. “You see these? They each do something very different.” Harry conjured up a stool and had a seat, then conjured a small table and placed the pills on top. “Please note the colours. Those are important.

“Now, the yellow pill—that’s yellow for cowardice, by the way—will, if taken, give you an excruciatingly painful, yet fairly quick death.” Then he muttered, as though to himself, “Quite frankly, I’m not even sure I should bother to explain the other one. Given his track record I’m not sure he’d have the fortitude for it.”

Then he blinked and glanced at the table, then said, “The red pill—that’s red for courage—will not kill you. You’d take that either because you’re just too damn spineless to die, or because you actually feel a shred of remorse and want very badly to start making things up to me. That, if taken, is going to make you feel quite calm, actually, and stiffen up that spine of yours to prepare you for several years of a type of service.”

“I will not be a Death Eater. I’d rather die,” Lupin said weakly.

“Good lord, Lupin. Like you’d ever be any good as a Death Eater. Trust me, it was the furthest thing from my mind. Anyway, that service would last for the same amount of time I was in training. After that point, you’d be free to go if you wanted. You might even find when you do eventually die for good that my parents and Sirius are inclined to be ever so slightly forgiving in nature. After all, if they could be watching, I get the feeling they’d be very disappointed in you at this point.”

“I did. . . .”

“Did what?”

“Die. I saw them,” Lupin said softly, his eyes wide and staring. “They. . . .”

Harry arched a brow in disbelief. “Medical science shows that plenty of people experience hallucinations during near death experiences. Lord knows I’ve had enough of them myself. Now, can I get on with this, or do you plan on interrupting me until the cows come home? You’re not exactly off to a good start here if you do plan on redeeming yourself.”

Lupin looked up, tears slipping down his cheeks again. “Sorry.”

Harry nodded and continued. “It’s a very simple choice. Death or service. With one of them you get to take the coward’s way out and head straight off to wherever it is we go when we die. With the other, you get to hand yourself over into my care. And just so we’re all straight on that deal, let me explain a bit.

“I would provide your food and shelter, so you would never have to worry about money, or where your next meal is coming from, or even how shabby your clothes are. You would not be punished unless you actually deserved it, such as by disobeying an order or showing disrespect. You would not be Marked, nor would you be expected to fight, research, or do anything else directly connected with the day-to-day workings of Lord Voldemort’s army. In point of fact, you’d be about as far as possible from anything to do with the actual war between Light and Dark.

“You would, however, obey me without question. If I told you to fetch my slippers, you’d do it, or be disciplined. And no, by that I do not mean I’d whip you until you bled, or beat you unconscious, or anything else of that nature. If I told you to sleep on the floor, you’d do it. Hell, if I told you to act like a dog for an hour, you’d do it. And through all this, you would be pretty much blissfully disconnected from the war. You could look the other way and pretend it didn’t exist.”

Lupin shook his head slowly. “I still—why are you even giving me a choice?”

“Oh, that’s easy. You see, you’re the very last remaining tie I have to my parents and Sirius. I’m not especially keen on the idea of killing you because of that, even though I’m really not happy with you. I’d get what I wanted, and you’d get to opt out of the war entirely.”

Lupin looked off to the side for a few seconds, then said, “I don’t see how any of that counts toward making it up to you.”

Harry laughed softly and shook his head. “It’s not quite that easy, Lupin. Part of making it up to me is actively choosing to place yourself in my hands. If you’d rather die, though, that’s fine. I think I could somehow manage to survive if I knew the last of my father’s friends had gone to the great beyond. Just say the word and I’ll hand over that yellow pill.”

Harry got to his feet and stretched. “Actually, I’ll tell you what. I will give you some time to think about it, and come back later on. I’ll leave these two pills here for you, though, in case you decide while I’m away. I’ll also make sure that no one comes around to bother you again, so you won’t end up being beat to death or tortured by another bunch of people who can’t bloody listen.”

And with that, Harry picked up the two pills and slipped them through the bars, then strolled off down the seeming hall and disappeared around a corner. Voldemort welcomed Harry onto his lap less than a minute later, and wrapped his arms around his mate as Harry buried his face in Voldemort’s neck.

“What do you think he’ll do?” Harry asked, his voice muffled.

“I don’t know. Either way is the coward’s way, Harry. He may finally face up to what he’s done and choose red, or even be too afraid to actually die and choose it anyway. Then again, he may decide he’s terrified given your claim of being close to me.”

Harry sort of shrugged against him. “Either way, I think the whole limbo thing really screwed with his head. If he goes red, do you have anyone in mind for a handler?”

“For after he’s trained? I can think of a few people who might suit. I’d have to make sure of it, though, with some digging or truth serum.”

Harry shifted against him and started chuckling. “It’s funny, sort of. I was only kidding with those things I said to Tonks. I knew how much it would upset her. And now we’re sitting here waiting to see if he actively chooses to be turned into a mindless little doggy.”

Voldemort kissed Harry’s hair. “To be fair, he doesn’t know that for sure. You did hint at it quite strongly, though. I’m also sure that injection has him at a bit of a loss.”

“Yeah, but that’s more or less worn off and it wasn’t all that strong anyway, just enough to keep him slightly off kilter and a bit dreamy for the whole limbo sequence to make him think he really might be dead and awaiting judgment.”

“Point conceded. You still haven’t fully explained, Harry. How is this torture?”

Harry sat back and smiled softly. “You mean as a dog? Because I don’t plan on totally scrambling his brains. He’s not going to be completely mindless, so he’ll always be aware that he made the choice to do it. Even if he ends up being deliriously happy in his new life, there’s always the potential for a part of him somewhere deep inside to be screaming in horror. At any rate, it’d still be four plus years of constant humiliation, possibly for the rest of his life.”

“All right, and the fact that he’s a werewolf?”

“Part of conditioning, Tom. I spent ages going over research, case studies, you name it. I know what drugs to use to soften him up, and what techniques to employ.”

“Techniques that don’t involve beating someone into submission?” He leaned to the side slightly for a moment, but Lupin was still just whispering to himself and crying.

“Absolutely. Muggle militaries have been using hypnosis for decades on their operatives, or some of them at least. I’ve got loads of case studies that detail instances of where someone has used it to get people to kill, or submit, or any number of things. Speaking of which. . . .”

“Yes?” Voldemort arched a brow.

“I confess that I’ve been considering something, but I don’t know if you’d be willing to go along with it. We seem to have a number of Death Eaters who can’t keep their cocks in their trousers. If my little experiment works out to the maximum value, what’s to say Lupin can’t be the compound fuck toy? So long as there was a handler nearby during periods when anyone could visit him. . . .

“Well, any Death Eater could drop by and find a bit of stress relief, either fucking Lupin or getting sucked off by him. I suppose the females could avail themselves as well, though we’d have to make certain he couldn’t actually get anyone pregnant. Maybe I’m wrong, though, when I don’t think most women would be content to flop onto the grass and be shagged or gone down on in full view of anyone who cared to watch.

“At any rate, he’d be experiencing a bit of what I was forced to endure, so that’s additional torture if an aware part of his mind objects and is helpless to resist his treatment. And yes, even worse if the majority of his mind is screaming out, ‘Must please, obey, submit.’”

“You know, that almost sounds like what you did to your own mind, Harry, but in reverse.” He took another look at Lupin to see no real change.

Harry turned quite thoughtful at that, absently gnawing on his lower lip, then nodded. “I suppose you’re right. I reckon if I worked at it hard enough, and maybe if you helped me, I could make damn sure there was always a part of his original mind watching yet paralyzed.”

Voldemort chuckled and said, “That’s very reassuring. I was beginning to think you were losing your edge, my sweet. Though, I suppose, after this is all over, if you want to run away with me to a tropical island, I won’t object.”

Harry grinned. “Oh, don’t worry. I’m quite sure that along the way I’ll be back up to my elbows in blood. And I’ll definitely consider that island.”

“Well, I don’t suppose I mind. At least that way we’d know where people were slipping off to and not be stumbling over them in the most unlikely places, such as where we would like to be. Rank hath its privileges, after all. I might well have to kill Draco Malfoy if he doesn’t shape up.”

Harry laughed merrily. “Now, Tom, it’s not like he actually saw us that last time. And now you’ve ammunition for years to come because of his reaction. I find him quite amusing, actually, and half of that is thinking that he’d die on the spot if he knew who Lord Thanatos really was, and that we saw him for sure.”

Voldemort inclined his head briefly. “If he amuses you, my sweet, then I’ll hold off on killing him unless you give me the go ahead, all right?” Then he leaned again and said, “Look at Lupin, Harry.”

Harry whipped his head around in time to see the werewolf taking and swallowing the red pill.