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Patient L - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Patient L
I was looking at the Pensieve flashback from Ted about Remus's breakdown in '82, and I thought it was time to just go ahead and tell the story.

Monday, July 12, 1982.
Clinical journal of Edward R. Tonks, St. Mungo's.

Dictating to BasiQuill. Record exactly. Test. No embellishment noted.

All right, then.

Patient admitted twenty-four hours ago, after three days alone and inactive. Physical condition questionable. Patient is dehydrated, and was treated for non-magical infections and ulcerations upon arrival. Lycanthropic complications minimal--minor self-inflicted bites, some inflamed. Treated by cleaning and healing charms. Patient--

Oh, hell.

Anyone who opens this folder will only see a carefully recorded listing of the lyrics from the White Album anyway. To hell with professional distance. Remus Lupin is bad shape. I found him in his bed. He'd been there for three days. Literally for three days. He hadn't got up for anything... at all. The smell was overpowering. I got him cleaned up and Andi took care of his wounds, but he looks like he's been kissed by Dementor. I've got him stashed away on the Spell Damage ward, near the Longbottoms, and quite honestly poor Frank and Alice look more alert. Remus will get up now, pass a word or two, but then, in the middle of a sentence, he'll just stop talking, and his eyes will go glassy, and he turns to the wall again. I stayed with him until he slept last night, and Andi took over for the night shift while I went home. I prodded him to eat this morning by telling him that Dora had made breakfast for him specially, since--as far as she knows--he's just not feeling well today.

[sigh recorded]

I've investigated several Muggle antidepressants, but I've no license to obtain them, and any Muggle psychiatrist would lock him up for quite a different mental problem than the one he actually has--and that would be a disaster for everyone. I can't say I trust the medications anyway. They have side effects that I can't predict when brought into contact with magic. I've given him a potion based on St. John's Wort, with some billywig stings and a handful of other things, but I don't think his problem is physically or magically based. I think it's in his mind.

And I can't get there.

Tuesday, July 13, 1982.
I brought Remus his books today. There aren't many, and most are still his Hogwarts textbooks. I thought very carefully about that--those of his textbooks that he couldn't sell are largely covered with scribbled notes from friends who've been torn from his life--but in the end, I think it's always good to have some familiar things in one's surroundings. He seemed to brighten at the sight of them. I also brought him a drawing that Dora made for him, and several that seem to have been given to him while he worked in the Squib school. The latter were a mistake; they reminded him of the job he lost, and upset him. I took them down and put them in that briefcase of his. He may want them later.

He ate without any particular urging this morning, which is good progress, and we were able to talk a bit before he pleaded weariness and went back to sleep. Talking is useful. His thoughts are not. They consist mainly of a litany of why his life can't work.

He said something quite curious, though, as I turned to leave. He asked me not to contact his father, who has been living in the south of France for the last three years. He took severe spell damage in the attack that killed Remus's mother, and can no longer tolerate the cold and damp. It hadn't occurred to me to contact him, though I suppose it should have. But Remus wanted to make sure I wouldn't do so.

Naturally, I that's precisely what I intend to do. Remus wouldn't have brought it up if it wasn't what he hoped I would do, but was convinced would only trouble one more person. It's summer. If Lupin, Sr, can handle the Apparition, I think he would want to know. I must also admit--I'm not entirely convinced that Remus is competent to make his own decisions at the moment, and John Lupin is his closest relative.

I'm beginning to understand the common practice of not treating one's friends. I'm too tempted to hold back, to not force him to deal with his problems because he's so very easy to fix on the surface of things. Bring him drawings and books, and he smiles. Tell him you're glad to see him. Or, if you want a truly quick fix, remind him that his mood swings put a strain on other people... straightens him right out, every time. Except that it doesn't fix anything.

Bloody Lupin. What am I going to do with him?

Wednesday, July 14, 1982.
It's very late, and I'm tempted to leave off the report until tomorrow morning. I haven't seen my daughter all day. Then again, at this point, I'd have to wake her up just to kiss her goodnight. I owe her a day off for this, though I suppose she'll have to get used to living with two Healers at some point, won't she?

In the end, it's better for me to make the entry today, while it's still fresh in my mind. My patient is not happy with me.

Lupin, Sr, arrived today.

I contacted him by Floo this morning, and he Apparated in five minutes later. When I first looked up at the knock on my door, I thought Remus himself had come down, though the two men don't have particularly similar looks. John Lupin simply carries himself the same way his son does, makes the same gestures.

He's also every bit as frail-looking as Remus these days.

Curiously, Lupin didn't ask to be taken to his son immediately--he was afraid that his own sickly appearance would be upsetting--"I don't care to cause him more pain than he's already in."

I told him that Remus needed to start connecting to the world again, to realize and understand that there were still people who loved him, but Lupin is under no illusions about the state of his own health. He didn't say it, but it was clear that he knows that Remus will be dealing with another loss soon.

I had the quill transcribe what Lupin did have to tell me before I took him downstairs:

We lost Julia--Remus's mother--in the midst of the war. You know my son--when he's fighting, he's quite secure and safe, and he was a rock for me. I thought I'd go mad. It's wrong for a man to outlive a wife who's younger than he is. Julia was my apprentice in the archives. She was seven years younger than I was. Muggle-born. Of course. She was insulted once on the street, by a rather nasty looking man. I said something I oughtn't have to him. Three weeks later, the moon rose. Our only child was nearly killed.

You know all of that, though, don't you? At least all of that matters to Remus. Why am I telling you about Julia?


Thank you. Tea helps. It's more comforting than the damned wine they keep pouring down my throat in France.

So, Remus was a rock after Julia died. He helped me, got me through the worst of the early sickness. When they told me I had to leave, I tried to fight it, but Remus insisted. It's eating through my savings. I'll have nothing to leave behind for him, if this goes on much longer. How will he survive?

The point, though, Healer Tonks, is that my son with a cause is quite unstoppable. He's stronger than either Julia or me. He's had to be. But with the fight over, and only his losses left to him...

I've always been able to give him a fight he could win before. Getting him into school, getting him through school, getting an apprenticeship. Julia and I always told him he could fight for those things, and Dumbledore made it possible for him to win. But now? What can he fight for now that the world will let him keep?

All of this gave me some notion of what Remus needs, but I am at as much of a loss as Lupin, Sr, about how to provide it. The world is not kind to lycanthropes. I can't imagine that he will ever be able to hold a full time position, and damned well not in the field he's trained for and is suited to. He could probably take tutoring positions, as he did for Dora, but those wouldn't even reach the level of subsistence--and, though we didn't discuss it, both John Lupin and I know that the debt incurred trying to find a cure for his lycanthropy will pass on to him when John goes.

I took Lupin to see his son at noon, and, though Remus was clearly glad to see him, he was less than enthralled with me for "bothering" him. Lupin scolded him for this, and I left them alone together until dinner. Remus seemed a bit more lively, anyway, though he's still angry at me.

Andi left Dora with a sitter for a moment and came to chastise me for not being home before her shift began, but she saw what was happening, and asked her supervisor for time off on personal reasons. Her supervisor wasn't thrilled, but life goes on. Lupin, Sr, marveled that Andi was the daughter of Cygnus Black, who had apparently tormented Julia in school; Andi, bless her, took the opportunity to apologize. Lupin recognized the absurdity of her apology and apologized to her for it, and it worked its way into an interchange that was amusing enough to very tired people that it actually got a smile out Remus, albeit not for a very long time. I suspect he was thinking of someone else in Andi's family, who is not at all an amusing thought for him.

After Remus went to sleep--he was awake longer than has been his habit--Lupin came back to my office, and we talked about the issue of competence. Lupin is ready to make decisions should it become necessary, but won't say it's necessary now. He thinks Remus will pull out of it.

Friday, July 16, 1982.
Remus is much stronger today. He used that strength to pack his father's bag and send him back to France before a cold, rainy front was due to arrive.

After Lupin, Sr, left, Remus and I had a good, long talk about what happened last year. He thanked me for bringing his father, then scolded me for it, which is a good sign with him. He asked for a consult with Werewolf Support Services, which his father had made him promise to try, though he'd steadfastly refused before now. Do I see a battle line being drawn?

If so, I hope he remembers that small victories will matter.

In what could perhaps be counted as something of a small victory already, he cleaned himself up, shaved, and went to sit with the Longbottoms, who were his friends during the war, for a long while. He engaged Frank in what passes for a conversation with him, and let Alice show him the picture of her baby several times.

In short, Remus Lupin is taking tentative steps back toward the caretaker role to which he is suited. It's certainly more effective than the billywig stings were. It may be completely mad, but I think I'm going to encourage him to do more of this. There are a lot of patients on the ward who have no visitors. Maybe, if he starts to become stronger, I could have him talk to a young werewolf who was brought to us from Scotland this month (given the victim's age, I suspect he and Remus may have a lycanthropic ancestor in common). It's not standard procedure, and God knows I'll need to watch him and make sure he's not filling anyone else's head with despairing thoughts, but it's worth a try.

Friday, July 30, 1982.
There's been no need to chronicle each day of Remus's stay here; there were relapses at first, fewer as time went on. I went up to the ward this afternoon to tell him that I thought he could go, if he chose to. Frank Longbottom's mother was there, with the Longbottom baby, little Neville, who turned two today. Remus asked if he might hold him. Augusta Longbottom was kind enough to not only allow it, but to thank him for giving her a moment to speak to her son in private--as though Remus was the one doing the favor. She's an odd, brusque woman, but on rare occasions, she shows a lot of class.

Remus took the baby to a sunny window and sat in a rocking chair.

"Do you suppose Dumbledore has seen to a birthday present for Harry?" he asked. "It's Harry's birthday tomorrow."

It was the last thing I expected him to ask, and I had no idea what the answer was.

Remus accepted this philosophically, and waved his wand to make a shining ball of light for Neville to play with. "Dumbledore won't tell me where he is. It's to keep him safe. Apparently, he thinks I'll draw attention."

I reminded him that he did, in fact, try to adopt the Potter boy, over the objections of nearly everyone involved. As he would be the most likely hiding place anyone could think of, I can understand why Dumbledore didn't fight for him this time. Remus understands as well, but I think it was a bitter draught for him to swallow. They all loved that baby. That's the strangest part of what happened, the part that still haunts me--Sirius's love for that child was never fake.

Remus agrees about this. I was hesitant to bring it up, but if he can't deal with what happened last autumn, he's not quite ready to leave yet, so I did. He just shook his head and said that he'd gone over it a hundred times, and he can't make sense of it. He's reasonably calm and rational about it, though he was holding the baby rather tightly while he spoke.

I asked him if he was ready to leave.

He said he needed to check on Frank and Alice one more time first.

I think he'll be all right.


14 comments or Leave a comment
lilacsigil From: lilacsigil Date: March 23rd, 2007 11:28 am (UTC) (Link)
This is terrifically sad, particularly as Ted knows he is too close to Remus as a friend, but also seems very close to him in an emotional sense. The mention of Sirius at the end, that his love for Harry was never fake, is so confused and bleak, and just a glimpse into the turmoil and pain Remus has been experiencing. The restoration of Remus's caretaker role - and the breakdown after he couldn't care for Harry - did strengthen him, as Ted surmised, but I wonder how much his dedication to that role held Remus back from getting on with the business of living for himself.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 23rd, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
After a life of fighting with depression, I have to admit to being of the mind that adopting a role that's other-oriented really is the best way to go in getting through any given phase of it. Depression is so much a flight into the self; getting out of the self strikes me as the best way to get away from it. Of course, the longer you're depressed, the harder this gets, because no one wants to be around you! Sigh. Conundrums.

Ted probably is too close, though--I can't imagine him letting another patient decide when he's well, or send away his support system. (I also don't imagine he'd bring other patients little presents from home, but that's an advantage of being close, rather than a disadvantage.)
shiiki From: shiiki Date: March 23rd, 2007 12:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Brilliant work, Fern! Ted's perspective on this difficult period in Remus's life spoke more clearly, I think, than Remus himself could have. It seems to be one of those cases where distance gives clearer vision.

Ted is a marvellous narrator, and I hope you'll write more of him in future. It's a delight to read!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 23rd, 2007 03:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ted's got his head screwed on pretty straight, which makes him sort of a reliable narrator--a rarity in the Potterverse, I think!
springdove From: springdove Date: March 23rd, 2007 01:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is really good. I quite enjoyed reading it. Thank you for sharing.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 23rd, 2007 03:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome. I enjoy writing, but it's kind of pointless without then passing it on. :)
akilika From: akilika Date: March 23rd, 2007 07:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a very neat story, but strangely, my favorite part is that anyone reading Ted's notes will find lyrics from the White Album. :) The Beatles are a nice piece of continuity in your Ted, and this application of it made me smile.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 23rd, 2007 07:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

I Second This

As you already know, I adore your Ted and Andromeda. Too few authors even bother with them and those few mess them up royally. I'm a huge Beatles fan as well (although I prefer the Ed Sullivan era), and I have always enjoyed the way you work the Beatles into their lives. I can never re-read Ted and Andi's sorting story without having "Help" stuck in my head all day. And I concur that Ted as sane and straightforward narrator works well. Thanks as always.

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 23rd, 2007 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: I Second This

I like early Beatles better than late Beatles as well (I don't even know the White Album all that well, except for Manson reading weird messages into "Helter Skelter"), but it's all good with me. My mother crushed on George Harrison for the longest time (she had three friends who were also fans, and they divided the group for crushing purposes ;p).
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 23rd, 2007 08:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I lurves me some Beatles, so it's kind of a pepper jack thing, but I'm glad it comes off as natural to the character!
lorelei_lynn From: lorelei_lynn Date: March 24th, 2007 01:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've been re-reading Shades as you post it to SQ, so I really liked this extra background to the story. Ted works very well as a narrator - torn between professionalism and personal concern. I especially liked that last bittersweet scene with Remus and baby Neville.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 25th, 2007 11:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

Hooray for new fic!

I have been without Internet service for close to 3 months, but, having obtained a new modem, thought I would check in to see if you were still writing, and was so happy to have found this little gem. I am reminded once again how rare it is to find a quality story focusing on ancillary characters-you have done such a wonderful job through your fics filling out Tonks' parents that they really have become canon to me, and are always interesting fic to read. Bravo on another well written tale- I hope that you continue to explore these relationships. :o)
madame en
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 26th, 2007 08:03 pm (UTC) (Link)

Many Thanks again

Hi Fern:

I am glad you wrote this. When I read that section of "Shades" I understood that Ted needed to show Dora things not only for his daughter but in a way to help his patient. And I understood he would have only skated that fine line of what might be considered, by some, as unethical for both Remus and Dora's sakes. Like you said in this "Patient L" story the professional distance would be hard for Ted, heck it would be hard for me, especially since he knew Remus literally before Dora was born and has seen him through quite a lot.

I love how you have a background in your mind of what might have made each of the characters we love into who they are. I think your Ted and Andromeda are wonderful people. I also like how you have made Dora daddy's little girl. And how Dora is lucky to have this great relationship with her dad and that Ted knows how to be dad and confidant.

I like how many characters you managed to get into this short story. I enjoyed the way you have Ted start with his professional distance intact and how that fades quickly. His switch to worrying for someone he knows and is not sure how to help is wonderful. Your description of Remus what can I say it made me cry. Your description of the state Ted found him in and the description of Frank and Alice being more alert and seeming "kissed" drove it home.

I have debated with people about Remus and that he is the most tragic hero of the HP stories. With everything that has happened to him and the people he loves, including losing Dumbledore, I am surprised he has stayed "sane" and kindhearted. This window into a moment when he does breakdown makes a lot of sense. To see him with baby Neville also made me teary eyed too. I often thought about why Remus would have been a great guardian for Harry. With a couple of people including Dumbledore assisting on a couple of days a month I think he would have been prefect but i know at that time Dumbledore was more concerned about keeping Harry alive and was not thinking that the Dursleys would have been so cruel.

I would go on if not pressed for time. Sorry it took so long to respond but I wanted to the 1st night you posted I hope you get a chance to read this. I enjoy most of your writing and appreciate your depth into all characters including your OC's. This story is a great example why I think you would do well writing the "shadow" stories for PoA & GoF.

I can't wait, many thanks again. Every time you post a HP story, no matter how long, it makes my day. (Especially Remus and/or Tonks)

lyras From: lyras Date: March 29th, 2007 07:11 am (UTC) (Link)
Anyone who opens this folder...

Oh, this paragraph hits hard. The entire piece hurts, really - there are so many painful things going on. I liked your Lupin Sr, and that was a lovely Augusta Longbottom moment.

This is a lovely piece - thank you for posting it.

14 comments or Leave a comment