There were more pubs in London proper than you could count, and quadruple that number the further afield you went. He knew this, because he'd been in most of them, been tossed out of a fair number as well. Not that he minded. Ending up on his arse on a sidewalk was a bruise of honor, or so Ethan told him.
He snarled quietly, the name sending enough emotion through him to start a new life form. Stupid, sodding git that he was, he'd dumped him here in the middle of nowhere with no coat, no money and no booze, which meant walking home in the cold with little protection from the biting rain.
"What?" He snarled again, rather liking the sound of it. He turned quickly to see another man, roughly his age though he looked older, staring at him, a wicked smile on his face. "I said what?"
"Are you lost?"
"I know exactly where I am, thank you very much."
"Hmm," the other man nodded, disbelief in his dancing eyes. "Well, in that case, I'd think you'd know enough to get out of the way of the door."
"What doo..." He stopped as heavy oak collided hard with the back of his head and he stumbled forward. The other man moved in and caught him, keeping him from falling, crashing to his knees or something else embarrassing. His hands were warm despite the pissing rain. "Oh. That door."
"Come inside. I'll buy you a drink."
"I don't need a drink. I need a cab."
"Get warm first, then we'll worry about getting you safely home." A warm hand curled around his elbow and he felt himself being steered toward the door where a slightly sheepish looking man stood, his blue eyes twinkling like Christmas lights.
"Sorry about the door, my boy."
"It's nothing," he assured him, letting the stranger guide him past the old man, into the candlelit room.
"Come on." He was settled at a table at the back of the room and looked around, his eyes narrowing at the odd dress, the strangely whispered conversations. He searched for the familiar, the rough sound of pubs and drunkenness and found neither.
"Where is this place?"
"The Leaky Cauldron. It's a pub."
"Not one I've ever heard of, mate."
"Well, we don't advertise, do we?" A plump woman slapped two bottles down on the table and glared at him. Before he could respond, she turned to his companion. "Put that away, Remus Lupin. Your money's no good here and you know it, so just stop insulting us both."
"Yes, ma'am." He grinned and lifted his bottle in toast to her. She blushed pinkly and waved him away as she walked off.
"Remus Lupin? Oh, you must be joking."
He stiffened slightly then relaxed. "My parents had a devastatingly ironical sense of humor."
"Next you'll be tellin' me you're a werewolf, won't you?"
Giles looked up from his bottle, the dark brown glass without any kind of adornment, into the flashing amber eyes of his companion. "Sorry?"
"What did you just say?"
"Well, you said ironical. It's only fitting to assume that you're a wolf in man's clothing, eh?" He took a long swallow. "Not that I want to believe in all that prattle my father spouts, mind you, but I'm sort of mired in it, aren't I? Not even Ethan bloody Rayne can manage to break me free of the damned oppressive gits, can he?"
Remus lost his steely glare and smiled. "Am I interrupting your conversation by being here?"
He looked around the room suddenly, eyes suspicious. "Oh no."
"No. I'm not falling for this. Of all the stupid, cocked up, arsed up bullshit Ethan has managed to pull...this is not a regular bar, is it?"
Giles shoved away from the table, his chair clattering to the floor as he stood, his words following him as he strode out the door. "Dammit! Can't I just get one bloody night away from sodding vampires?"
He looked up into the rain. "Yeah. Blood sucking beasts, the great evil? Surely you've heard of them, since you bloody are one."
"I can assure you that I'm not a vampire. No fangs. No bloodlust," he barely tripped over the word. "In fact, if you'd like, we can trot off to a nice Catholic church and eat a good Italian meal." He grinned. "Actually, the Italian meal sounds lovely, as does a very nice bottle of wine. Join me."
"I'd much rather sit her and sulk in the rain."
"Ah, but isn't that what...Ethan, was it? Isn't that what he'd want from you? Wouldn't he be much more irritated if, instead of being all pissy and pissed on, you decided to take up with a, if I do say so myself, rather handsome young lad, let him buy you dinner and take you home?"
"You're picking me up?"
"I'm trying to get out of the rain and, for some unknown reason, have a desire to make sure you're with me when I do. Perhaps the sense of humor is genetic."
Giles stood. "Rupert Giles. Friends call me Ripper."
"Remus Lupin. Friends call me Moony."
"Put us together and we're a London massacre waiting to happen."
"Put us together," Remus suggested as he waved down a taxi, "and we're headed for a lovely meal."
"You do like the garlic, don't you?" Giles poked at the bread on the edge of his plate, large chucks of garlic seared into the buttery crust. "Where is this place?"
"It belongs to a friend of the family," Remus poured wine for each of them. "Try it."
Giles took the first, tentative bite, his wariness melting into pleasure as the food melted on his tongue, wrapping around his taste buds. "Christ, that's lovely."
Remus grinned and took his own bite, washing it down with a savored sip of wine. "It is good, isn't it?"
"You come here often?"
"As often as I can."
"Then why're you so," Giles gestured to the bulky sweater that did nothing to disguise Remus's thin frame. "You'd think this'd fatten you up in no time."
"I have an amazing metabolism." Remus speared a piece of sausage. "So, what brought you out to my side of town?"
"Ethan," Giles sneered. "As I mentioned. Bugger kicked me out of my own bleedin' car and took off. Wanker."
"Some tart that fancied him wanted to be alone. Never mind that I could have dropped them off somewhere. That wasn't fancy enough, daring enough for the prick."
"Oh. I thought..."
"Thought what?" Giles looked up, his grin knowing. "That Ethan and I were an item?"
"We are. Were." Giles shrugged. "Have been."
"Doesn't mean he's not above dumping me for a short skirt once in a while. I've done the same." He took a sip of the wine, his eyes closed in appreciation. "What 'bout you? Where's yours?"
"My?" Remus asked, taking another bite.
He coughed, swallowing hard. "My what?"
"Oh, come on. I appreciate a good Samaritan as well as the next bloke, but I know when I'm being picked up."
"I just want to know what I'm getting into." He grinned wider. "Figuratively speaking."
Remus was silent for a long time, taking small sips of his wine, using the glass to shield his face. "He's gone."
"As good as."
"Are you two...you and Ethan...?"
Remus choked again. "Er," he cleared his throat, his face as red as the wine in the candlelight. "Yes."
"Only with magic."
When Remus started to choke again, Giles looked up at him. "What on earth is wrong with you? You're practically gagging over there."
"It's just...it's nothing." Remus put his fork down. "Magic?"
"Ethan likes magic. Hell, we all like it. Like the power, the feel of it. But Ethan likes it dark and dangerous. And, as much as I'd love to shove a Belamour demon up my father's arse, I...have a few misgivings."
Remus stared at him, fascinated. "You can do magic?"
"A spell or two." Giles leaned back in his chair, his eyes narrowed. "Why?"
"I just...I had no..."
"It's nothing to be all that impressed with, trust me. According to my father anyway. Magic's a tool, nothing more. My job is to watch, to observe, to train, not to do. Just sit back like the bloody poof you are, you disgusting disappointment of a son, and let the girls do all the bloody work. Read your books like a good boy and memorize them, because everyone knows that some ancient Englishman spouting prophecy is the key to saving the world."
"Actually, it's a little boy."
"Nothing." Remus shook his head. "I...I should get you home. It's late. And I've had too much wine. Come on." He stood and waited as Giles did the same, his lanky body unfurling slowly. His shirt had begun to dry, the white cotton still clinging to his body, the dark hairs beneath showing through the thin material. His jeans were almost too tight to be decent and Remus forced his gaze to remain on his face, on the crystalline green eyes that were far too piercing. "I'll call you a cab."
"No." Giles caught Remus's arm as he started to walk away, pulled him back. They weren't touching, though the air between them crackled with life and desire. "Take me home."
"I'm not going to play the pawn in a game between you and your boyfriend."
"Ethan isn't my boyfriend. We've fooled around and he's a stupid, sodding git that I'll no doubt be avoiding for the rest of my life, but I've suddenly lost all interest in having him in my bed."
"So what say you call us a cab and I take you home and thank you for your hospitality and generosity tonight."
"You can." Giles snaked a hand around his neck and pulled him closer, his lips a breath away. "But you won't." He released Remus and jogged toward the door, turning at the last second. "At least not yet."
Remus stood shivering at the bus stop, wondering where he'd left his coat this time. His butterscotch colored sweater from Molly Weasley fought against the wicked wind as best it could, but icy fingers kept scraping across his skin. The school in front of him looked daunting; large gray edifices that loomed dangerously in the sky. It was no less imposing than Hogwarts, but lacked all of the geniality that made the school that had been home for seven years feel like home.
"Looking for divine intervention, are you?"
"What?" Remus looked down from the spire and into familiar green eyes. "Oh. Hello, Ripper."
"Moony." He looked at Remus and rolled his eyes, shaking his head as he peeled his leather jacket off and draped it over the thinner man's shoulders. "You're daft, walking around like that."
"I lost my coat, I think." He shook his head. "What're you doing here?"
"Studying. They've got a library of arcane texts hidden away in the basements. I've got a pass to get in there, thanks to my father." He smiled slyly at Remus's expression. "Would you like to see it?"
Remus glanced at the buildings for a long moment. "I have an appointment. Professor...a school professor of mine set it up for me, trying to help me find a job."
"Half hour ago. With Professor Hamilton."
"Oh. Not someone you want to cross when you're a half hour late. Or five seconds late, for that matter. But come on. I'll take you there, sacrifice you at her altar then show you the library. If you're interested."
"I..." Remus stopped and nodded, smiling. "I'm interested."
"Come on then." Giles gestured away from the bus stop, leading the way, both of them knowing that Remus had answered more than one question.
"Can I help you? Ah. Mr. Giles. And to what do I owe the dubious pleasure of your company? I thought I'd gotten rid of you ages ago."
"I found a lost lamb and thought I'd lead him to slaughter," Giles assured her. "This is Remus Lupin."
"Ah. Yes." She smiled and Giles raised an appreciative eyebrow at Remus. "Albus sent you. Told me you might have a bit of trouble navigating your way here and begged me not to do anything completely eviscerating to you."
"I appreciate that."
"You can run along now, Mr. Giles. Thank you for taking mercy on the poor soul, but I'll handle him now."
"We have plans. For after."
Her eyes narrowed for a long moment as she looked at Giles, inspecting him, searching his soul. "All right. Wait in the anteroom. I'll send Mr. Lupin on his way soon enough."
They didn't talk as they made their way down staircase after staircase, disappearing down into the black depths of the dirt. Finally a long hallway loomed around them, sprawled out at the base of the stairs and Giles managed to speak. "What happened?"
"I'm going to assist her. For a while."
"She'll eat you alive."
"I think she respects Professor Dumbledore too much for that."
"And who's he? I've never seen her impressed with anyone and she seemed more than impressed with him. Infatuated almost."
"Oh, no. That'd never happen," Remus assured him. "Dumbledore's far too invested in McGonagall, whether they know it or not."
"Who? Who are you talking about?"
"Just...my old professors."
Giles's next question was lost as they approached a lone guard sitting on a stool, his demeanor slack and lazy, but his eyes glinted silver and dangerous. "What're you two doing here?"
"My father sent me. Council business." He handed a parchment to the man and waited as he unrolled and read it. "He's with me."
"He's not mentioned."
"If he doesn't go in," Giles straightened, the power of family and heritage suddenly on his shoulders, in his voice, "I don't go in. And you answer to my father."
The guard held his gaze for a long second then shrugged. "Don't mean no nevermind to me. Just don't destroy anything or I'll have you both strung by your gullets."
"Excellent." Giles raised an eyebrow to Remus, winking as the door swung open on its own. "Shall we?"
"Merlin," Remus whispered as his eyes swept over the stack of books. They lined the walls, barely enough room for shelves. Rows upon rows of books, each more intriguing that the rest, titles spilling out over him as he walked past, catching his eye, his attention. "Where did you...how did you...?"
"Oxford's home to the library of the most arcane mystical books known to man," Giles informed him, his voice laced with pretend boredom that did nothing to hide his underlying love of the musty tomes surrounding them. "It's a well-kept secret, since they don't want every demon lover, vampire, dark creature or bad guy showing up on their doorstep, but there are a few who know."
"The council?" Remus asked.
"Them. And others." He shrugged and started down one of the rows. "Come on. I've got to get a few books for my father, then the afternoon is ours. We can go out or stay here."
"We can stay?"
"As long as we like. My father would practically commit the ultimate sin of showing emotion were he to think I'd done my duty and spent the afternoon reading. Probably have you canonized for keeping me here. You fancy being a saint, Remus?"
"Saints have very little to do with anything I fancy." He admitted, turning his attention to the shelves around him. "Lycanthropy?"
"There's a werewolf hunter about. Two of them, actually, laughingly named Cain and Abel. Father doesn't approve of werewolves, but he's not about to let some pelt-hunters kill the poor bastards." He tugged a book free from the shelf and tucked it into a bag. "I've also got to find something on Nagas."
"Oh." Remus watched him walk away, his gaze drifting back again and again to the shelf. "All right." His fingers trailed over spines until he could walk no more without leaving them. Stopping, he faced the shelf full on and scanned the titles. His finger smoothed against glittering silver and gold lettering, the scent of leather filling his senses. Closing his eyes, he hooked his finger over the top of one of the books and let it fall into his grasp, burying it in the bag hanging off his shoulder.
He turned toward Giles and waved, hurrying over to him. "Sorry. Saw something on witches. Got caught up."
"Ah, the naked breast book, eh?" Giles wrapped an arm around Remus's shoulder and led him further into the stacks. "Everyone gets caught up in that one."
"Er, yes." Remus nodded, his whole body aware of the weight of the book in his bag, the weight of the arm on his shoulder. "Where are we going?"
"Reading area." Giles guided him down darkened aisle after darkened aisle, neither of them commenting as they lit up just for their passage, dimming again once they'd moved on. Finally, miles later it seemed, a large room opened up. Books piled high on tables, several leather chairs buried under piles of papers and scrolls and parchments. "On Fridays, there's a team that comes in and transcribes all of this into books so that we don't have to worry about losing the parchments and the like. History must be preserved."
"It must," Remus nodded with a slight smile. "I could stay here forever."
Giles turned and faced him, his eyes dark and deep. "Could you, Moony? Get lost here?"
He was closer suddenly, neither of them sure who moved first or if it even mattered. Giles wound a hand around Remus's neck and pulled him closer. "Get lost in me?"
Remus's hands slid under Giles's shirt to the warm skin beneath. "With you. I'll get lost with you."
Giles groaned quietly, finding Remus's parted lips with his own. His tongue, lazy and demanding as it pressed into Remus's mouth, searching out the many tastes of his flesh.
Remus's hands snaked further under Giles's shirt, over his skin, thumbs caressing the silky, stiff hair that covered his stomach. He pulled back, breaking the kiss and staring into liquid green eyes. Giles swallowed and lifted his arms, giving in to Remus's slight pressure, pushing the shirt up over his head.
The black sweater and t-shirt both crumpled silently on the floor, Giles's slightly long hair in disarray as Remus watched him, staring into the green as he ran his hands over the other man's now bare chest, thumbs tracing muscles and bone. Giles groaned again, his breath catching heavily as Remus raked his short nails over pebbled nipples, his own breath halting, scattering over Giles's chest as he leaned in and brushed his tongue over the distended flesh.
Remus jerked away, shaking his head, pulling free of Giles's light grasp. "Don't."
"Don't?" He barked a quick, frustrated gasp. "Don't what?"
"Don't..." Remus moved in quickly, stumbling, sending them both sprawling on the ground. He crawled up Giles's body, desperation clinging to him like a second skin. "Don't talk. Don't say," he kissed him, biting at his lips, sucking on them. Giles moaned beneath him as Remus straddled him and held his arms down, "don't say a word."
Giles nodded, lying there beneath him, chest rising and falling with every gasping breath. His mouth felt swollen and alive, blood rushing through his veins to sting viciously, demandingly. He thrust his hips upward, colliding with Remus's body, closing his eyes.
As suddenly as he'd pounced, Remus was gone, sliding down Giles's body. His mouth cut a swath of kisses, tongue and teeth teasing the flesh it encountered. He nibbled the smooth stretch of Giles's neck, his tongue pressed hard enough and long enough against his thrumming pulse to cause Giles to squirm, fear and desire setting his cock pounding as he felt the telltale brush of teeth. "No," he moaned, shaking his head.
Remus growled, his hands kneading Giles's chest, tugging at the hairs that sprawled over his abdomen, thickening and darkening as they approached his jeans. He nipped Giles's neck then moved further south, tongue tracing the sharp relief of his collarbone, dipping into the hollow of his throat.
Giles's soft protests faded, dissolving into whispered breaths, shallow and unfulfilling as Remus's fingers worked at his thick leather belt, unfastening it and shoving the two halves aside as he undid the button and zipper, peeling back denim for silk. "Breeding will out," Remus purred, his nose snuffling down Giles's stomach to the sleek material, his breath hot and hungry over the fabric.
There was a quiet whimper of warning before Giles's fingers threaded through Remus's hair, lifting his head. The green eyes were hazy with lust and desire, his cock pressing insistently against Remus's hand and he stroked him through the denim. Their gazes held for a long moment, locked in a primal battle before Giles closed his and fell back to the floor.
Energy swirled around them and Remus nearly howled, magic pulling at his skin, needles hooking into the wolf and pulling him through like thread through a fabric. He grunted and groaned, somewhere beyond human as his hands lifted Giles's hips, shoved his jeans and boxers out of the way. The need pulsed inside him as magic surrounded them and he lowered his head, his tongue barely brushing the sleek, damp head of Giles's cock.
"Oh...fuck," Giles breathed into the vibrating air, his hips arcing off the floor. Remus chuckled low and feral, his mouth opening, accepting the hard thrust of flesh. Giles muttered the curse again, falling back to the cold, smooth tile, his hands scrabbling for purchase on the slick surface.
Remus braced his hands on either side of Giles's hips, moving down over his cock with single-minded purpose, the scent of sex and domination heady in the room. His feet pushed at cloth, stripping Giles of the last inches of clothing as his mouth feasted on him, sliding over velvet skin.
Giles writhed beneath him, hips thrusting and demanding, rising to meet the promise of Remus's mouth again and again. He ran his hands over his stomach then found Remus's hair, tugging at it as his climax threatened. Remus pulled back, pulled away and watched with golden eyes that glinted with primal instinct. Keeping his eyes on Giles's, he bent his head again, running his tongue hard along the underside of his cock, tracing the thick vein, dark with blood from base to tip before closing his mouth over him again.
Giles came off the floor, came deep inside Remus's throat. A low, guttural moan rode the tide of his orgasm, coursing through his body before breaking free. As Giles shivered beneath him, Remus finally pulled back, gently releasing the spent flesh from between his lips with one last deliberate lick that sent tremors ricocheting through Giles's body.
He watched through narrowed eyes as Giles managed to sit up, his limbs loose and shaky as he stared back at Remus. His chest rumbled with husky breaths that didn't seem to quite fill his lungs as he turned over, getting to his knees. There was a rush of air in the room as Giles muttered foreign words, the low leather chair scuttling toward them in a hurried rush.
"Oh," Remus groaned, releasing a breath he didn't realize he'd been holding. Scrambling for his pocket, he grabbed his wand, whispering a quiet accio bottle, shoving the thin stick back into hiding as he grabbed at the item that came hurtling from the satchel that had spilled from Giles's shoulder when he'd tackled him to the floor.
With the speed and power inherent in his form, Remus lunged forward, pinning Giles to the chair as he leaned against it. His cock, covered in the smooth corduroy of his worn pants thrust against the high curve of Giles's ass, thrusting forward in warning, in demand. Giles groaned hotly, the sound buried in the rich leather, his back arching, his ass lifting higher.
Remus didn't look, didn't think, as he unfastened his pants, shoving them down his legs with alacrity and need. He eased his cock free of his boxers, stroking the wetness that painted the tip along the whole shaft before opening the bottle he'd taken from the satchel and pouring the cool contents onto his open palm and cock.
It heated rapidly with the sudden friction as he stroked himself, the urge to come humming just below the surface of his skin. He forced it back, the iron control that had been ingrained in him since the night he'd been bitten harnessing the need as he slid two slick fingers against the tight muscle of Giles's ass.
"Re..." Giles broke off, remembering, and shook his head, his entire body wracked with tremors. His hand had snaked down between his legs and he stroked his semi-erect cock as Remus played over the rippled flesh, stroking and teasing it with the lightest of touches, promising more but not delivering until Giles let out a frustrated groan, the sound cut off as Remus slid his fingers in. "Oh...yes."
Remus closed his eyes, arm moving, fingers moving, thrusting inside the tight channel as Giles's body tensed and relaxed in turns. His cock ached as he licked the rigid line of Giles's spine, tasting salt and sweat. "Merlin," Remus panted, freeing his fingers and wrapping them around his cock, positioning it against the puckered muscle, pushing the tip inside with a ragged gasp.
Giles bucked back against him and Remus grunted, filling him with one quick thrust. An open mouth cry lifted Giles's head from the chair and he murmured Remus's name again and again, his hand moving faster on his now erect cock, stroking the shaft as Remus's cock filled him again and again.
Heat branded Remus, the vise-like tightness of the passage squeezing his cock as he thrust determinedly, his fingers pressing furrows into Giles's hip, the skin sure to be bruised from the force of his grip. He forced himself not to think, to give over completely to sensation, to forget the urge to grab a fistful of midnight black hair as he came.
Giles groaned beneath him, coming again though with less intensity. The rough sound, so primal, so base and pure, hooked into Remus's groin, wrenching his own orgasm from inside him, shooting unresolved heat hard inside the other man.
Remus pulled away slowly, wincing slightly as his flesh pulled away from Giles's, sweat binding them together. He sank back, down to the floor, not watching as Giles did the same, resting against back against the chair, wincing slightly as he settled on the tile.
"What's his name?"
Remus didn't look up, didn't move.
"He must have a name."
"Why do you say that?"
"Because you know the names of people that hurt you that badly."
Remus looked up with something akin to interest in his eyes. "Does it show?"
"Only if you know how to see it." Giles shrugged and closed his eyes, tilting his head back against the seat of the chair and turning his face to the ceiling. "It's not the same, because it's never the same, but my father...we don't get along."
"I somehow guessed that."
"But I love him, simply because I have no other choice in the matter. I idolized him until I was eleven. You don't just go back on that. But, as much as I might hate him now, no one else in the world has the same ability to hurt me, the same capacity of pain."
"His name is Sirius." Remus's voice faded and he cleared his throat, the resulting words hoarse. "I've been in love with him since I was eleven. Hated him for a full year before we finally started turning things around. Got it all right, you know? And then...then it fell apart again."
"Where is he now?"
"He killed our best friends."
"Ethan...I've..." Giles shook his head. "I'm sorry."
"I shouldn't have come here with you."
"No. You probably shouldn't." Giles agreed, drawing his knees up and resting his arms on them, heedless of his nakedness, even less aware of the fact that Remus was still mostly clothed. "You still love him then?"
"I wish I knew how to stop."
"Stop." Giles got to his feet and moved around the room, gathering his clothes and dressing, his mind obviously occupied. Remus watched him with detached interest, his body responding, his mind lost. Finally dressed, Giles gathered his satchel and looked inside it, digging in the many pockets until he found what he was looking for. "Here."
"What's this?" Remus leaned forward to take it, blushing as he realized the state he was in. "Er..." He grabbed for his wand and shrugged off Giles's interest. "Scourgify." Clean again, he tucked the wand away and took the slim slip from Giles's hand. "Rupert Giles. Watcher's Council?"
Remus nodded. "What isn't these days?" He chuckled softly and straightened his clothes, careful to slip the business card in his pocket. "Will I see you again?"
"If you'd like."
"Would you like it?"
"Yes." Giles paused. "But I think it'd be best if we held off on," he waved his hand around the room, "this. For a while. Until we're the only two in the room, eh?"
Remus nodded. "I think that would be wise." He grabbed for his own bag and pulled the book from it. "I..."
"Keep it." Giles waved him off with a smile. "I told you there were pelt hunters about. I wasn't just making conversation. Friends are hard enough to find without having to worry about them getting skinned by unscrupulous bastards."
"I think that's my life's motto, to be honest."
"Words to live by," Giles grinned.
"And are we? Friends?"
"Friends." Giles nodded and grabbed Remus's hand, pulling him close. "And more." Remus closed his eyes on the whisper of darkness and Giles released him, still smiling, a knowing look in his eyes. "Eventually."