An Experience in Nakedness
- Story Summary:
- Hunger, in large enough doses, teaches us not to want.
He considers with his hands folded on the table and his head on his hands. There's a chocolate bar on the table. Shiny.
He used to want books, be hungry for books, save the pocket-money his parents gave him for books. But books are heavy, and he moves around a lot. They're expensive too, even second-hand, and after a while he can't bring himself to buy them anymore. Instead he memorises where the libraries are in every town he's lived in, and he knows about how useful each will be. He saw a gorgeous Modern Wizarding Library copy of The Tempest which would match the edition of Great Wizarding Short Stories that is one of the few books he does own; he thinks he still has time to own a house with bookshelves, and how nice they'd look on the bookshelf together, awaiting the addition of more books, the whole Modern Wizarding Library set, each in their neat brown dust jackets.
He discovered after a time that the reason he could bring himself to turn down books like The Tempest is because it's not actually books he wants. It's knowledge. He wants to know things and learn things and experience things in books, but he doesn't need to own the books to do that. They're nice of course, and he likes the feel of thick, ink-imprinted paper, but that's a luxury.
Ten years of poverty is an experience in nakedness, in being slowly stripped of things like illusions and decent clothing. He doesn't mind; it makes you strong.
He used to have a ritual where he would make his purchase at the bookstore first, paying only in Galleons and never correct change; and then with all his accumulated change he'd buy chocolate in the sweets shop. He tried every kind of chocolate treat there was, methodically, even though Sirius laughed at him; he wanted to know precisely what was the best kind to eat, what gave best value for his handful of Sickles and Knuts.
He discovered after a time that it wasn't even taste, but texture that he liked, because nothing in the world quite has the same texture as chocolate. It wasn't that he didn't like the taste of it, he did, and he liked some more than others; it was like books, though. An added bonus.
And eventually he realised that he didn't even really care about knowledge or the texture of chocolate. They amounted to the same thing in the end, and that was because both of them were escapes. They were his drugs, his way of withdrawing from the world, and as they went they were pretty harmless; you couldn't go to a library and get free alcohol (at least, none of the libraries he'd ever been to, but if they were out there, sign him up), and most narcotics certainly cost more than most chocolate bars.
Which is why he is considering the chocolate bar. He'd never really thought he had addictions before. Quite possibly the amount of time he spends in the library of Grimmauld Place is becoming dangerous.
"Hi Remus," Harry calls, as he passes through the dining room, followed by Ron. They're carrying a large contraption wrapped in a bedsheet, which Remus doesn't examine too closely; he finds it better not to ask what they get up to in their spare time, in case he finds out and has to call the Ministry about it.
"Hello, lads," he says, leaning back and smiling. "Busy day?"
"Yep," Ron answers. "Dad's had Harry explaining Muggle things all morning."
"Sounds like fun."
"It is if you're dad."
"Are you eating that?" Harry asks, pointing to the chocolate. Remus glances at it, then picks it up and tosses it to Harry. The boy catches it easily out of the air; natural-born Seeker, that one.
"Nah," he says. "Enjoy it."
"Ta, Remus," Harry answers over his shoulder, as they vanish into the hallway.