|Celandine's Chronicle (celandineb) wrote in cels_fic_haven,|
@ 2007-10-11 10:24:00
|Entry tags:||hb fic irwin, hb/hp crossover fics, hp fic remus|
HB/HP crossover fic: Passing [Remus/Tom, adult]
Fandom: HB/HP crossover
Pairing: Remus Lupin/Tom Irwin
Warnings: none, except explicitness
Summary: Working in a bookshop in Oxford, Remus encounters Tom, there for a week.
Note: Of course it's for emiime.
Remus was lucky to have the job, he knew, and that it wasn't quite full-time was not entirely a bad thing. It meant that he could exchange shifts with one of the other bookshop clerks without much fuss, thereby avoiding the necessity of explaining why he had to have specific yet changing days off every month. And if Oxford wasn't where he'd always wanted to live, it didn't have the memories of London, where the ghosts of James and Lily and Peter seemed to lurk around every corner. And that of Sirius, alive though he was, but not present.
He still didn't understand what had happened, not really: how Sirius could have betrayed James and Lily, why he had killed Peter. Remus had trusted Sirius. They'd known each other for seven years at school, five more afterward, and for three they'd shared a flat as lovers. Well. There was nothing he could do now. Best to forget, he told himself.
Mostly he managed to, although sometimes a glimpse of a dark-haired student with a clever handsome face made Remus catch his breath for an instant.. He stocked the shelves, worked the till, helped customers find books ranging from Enid Blyton to Friedrich Nietzsche, from Virginia Woolf to John Milton (this was a university town), all without thinking too much about where he'd come from or what might happen next, except during the full moon when he locked himself in his shabby rooms and endured the pain that, over time, he'd come to feel perhaps he deserved, last survivor that he was of the five of them.
This month he had swapped shifts with Colin, who wanted a free Saturday and was willing to take Remus' Tuesday evening shift instead. Saturdays were good days to work; after a slow first hour or so they were usually busy enough to keep Remus thoroughly occupied.
Janet, the manager, sent Remus over to tidy the History section in late afternoon. Some harassed mother had failed to prevent her young son from disarranging every shelf he could reach in that area, perhaps in bored revenge for being at the bookshop instead of the sweetshop down the street. Sorting the books onto their proper shelves was soothingly mindless and Remus relaxed into a rhythm, thinking ahead to the tea he would have once the shop closed at five.
"Excuse me." A voice jerked Remus out of his reverie.
"May I help you?" He rose to his feet, dusting himself off as he nodded at the customer. "Were you looking for something in particular? I'm afraid this section's in a bit of disarray, and I'm trying to put things back in order."
The man was slim, pale, brown – rather like Remus himself, even down to the pained wariness in his eyes, although when he turned his head, his spectacles caught the light and hid them. "I wanted to find a history of Poland. I'm looking particularly for something on the German invasion in 1939."
Remus frowned slightly, thinking. "We have a couple of books on the Jews in Poland, and at Auschwitz."
"No, that's not what I'm interested in. Not the Jews and the death camps. I want the political angle, the prelude to the war, the diplomacy."
"We haven't much on Poland, I'm afraid. Maybe a history of Germany in the 1930s instead?" Remus suggested.
"Maybe." The man seemed doubtful. "What do you have?"
Together they knelt – all of the World War II-era books were on the lowest two shelves – and began going through the titles, Remus almost absent-mindedly re-alphabetising them as they went. Might as well finish the task he'd been sent here to do, after all.
"Nothing." A sigh, warm breath that Remus could only just feel, brushed over the skin of his face and neck. The man shifted awkwardly, as if kneeling hurt him, though he looked about Remus' own age.
"I'm sorry." He was, and not only because the shop had lost a sale – whether to some other bookseller, or perhaps to the library, if the man were at one of the colleges, scarcely mattered. There was a quiet resignation to this man that drew Remus to him. "You don't have an author's name or title, do you? We could perhaps order for you if you knew what you wanted."
The man shook his head. "I'm afraid I don't. Thank you for your help, though."
"No trouble." Remus tried a smile, and was delighted to have it returned. He wanted suddenly to ask if the man would like to go out for a drink, in twenty minutes when the shop had closed and Remus would be free to go, but the words caught in his throat. There was nothing to suggest that this man, with his neatly pressed clothes and his glasses and his thin clever face, would have any interest in Remus whatsoever. He was probably married with a baby. Remus glanced involuntarily at the man's left hand, resting on a shelf. No ring, but that proved nothing. James hadn't liked to wear his wedding ring, said it made his hand feel unbalanced.
He watched the man walk away, out through the door into the street, and sighed. He hadn't even asked for a name. Remus turned back to the shelves and managed to finish putting the books back in their places just before Janet came to tell him that they were closed and she would see him Monday afternoon.
Time to go home for his anticipated tea, but now Remus was restless and the thought of the leisurely – no, dull – evening he'd planned no longer appealed. He would go to a pub instead, have a pint of lager, perhaps join a darts game if there were anyone playing. If he were fortunate, there might be a man he could discreetly watch with enjoyment, all he usually cared to do. There had been a time when he'd gone home with any likely bloke for a quick shag, but after a few months that had palled. He resented the ones who reminded him of Sirius for not being his former lover, and the ones who didn't only made him feel more alone.
The nearest pub was a rather grotty place, a student hangout mostly; he shook his head and kept walking. Better to choose one with a more adult clientele. He pushed open the heavy door under a faded sign.
The relatively dim light made him pause and blink. As his vision cleared, he saw the man from the bookshop sitting alone at a table. The man looked up and caught Remus' gaze, hesitated, then gave a half-shrug and moved his hand, indicating that Remus might sit with him if he chose. Remus nodded in acknowledgment and went to fetch himself the pint he had come for.
"Hello again," Remus said as he sat down.
"Hello." The man nodded. "You looked like I feel – wanting someone to talk to, not knowing anyone here. Tom Irwin, by the way." He put out his hand, a too-formal gesture in this place but one that seemed natural to him.
Remus shook it. "Remus Lupin."
"Unusual name," said Tom.
"I know," Remus replied ruefully. "Believe me."
They each sipped in silence for a moment before Remus said, "Can I ask why you're so interested in Polish history? I thought perhaps your family – but not with your name, unless it was your mother."
"Oh no. No, I – I teach it. History generally, that is, not Poland in particular. I had a student who said something about Poland's relationship with Germany..." Tom trailed off. "Anyhow. I was just curious, wanted to find out more."
"I see. I never studied much history myself." History of Magic scarcely counted, and most of the Muggle history Remus knew came from reading signs on historical buildings and one or two museum visits. He thought that Tom looked too young to be a lecturer at any of the colleges, though. "Where do you teach?"
"Nowhere right now. I was at a grammar school up in the north. Just for a term. They took me on to coach a group of boys who were all doing the Oxford and Cambridge entrance exams." He lit a cigarette.
"Sounds interesting," said Remus politely.
Tom's mouth twisted. "A little too much so, perhaps."
"There was – an accident. One of the other staff was giving me a lift on his motorbike. He was killed."
"Surely it wasn't your fault, though?" asked Remus. Mention of a motorbike reminded him of Sirius and he wondered if this other staff member had been more than just an acquaintance to Tom.
"I don't know. I'd never ridden with Hector before and perhaps I overbalanced... but he gave lifts to the boys all the time. I'd think he'd have been used to compensating for a second person."
"I'd imagine so." Probably not more than an acquaintance, then. Remus felt the spark of hope die back. "That must have been dreadful for you – I'm sorry."
"Yes, well. I'd been asked to stay on permanently, but I couldn't fancy it after that, even if no one blamed me." Tom's grip on his glass tightened, the skin over his knuckles whitening.
"Nor could I," said Remus sympathetically. "So are you in Oxford to study for an advanced degree, then?"
"No, I'm only visiting." There was a peculiar expression on Tom's face. "I'm not sure why I'm here. To see someone, perhaps."
"It may not be a good idea. It's one of my former students, you see."
"The one who talked about Poland," Remus guessed.
Tom nodded, looking uncomfortable. "He... well. It's not important. I don't know why I'm telling you all this."
Because he hadn't anyone else to talk to, Remus thought. Telling a stranger was safe, especially if one were only passing through. "I don't mind," he said aloud. He had finished his drink, and tapped the empty glass thoughtfully. He ought to go home, have his tea.
"Can I buy you another?" asked Tom, to Remus' surprise.
"I should have something to eat, but you can buy another round if you'll come have dinner with me after," Remus offered. He'd been paid yesterday and felt well-off enough to go out, a rare thing.
A slow smile spread across Tom's face. "All right."
They ate rather bad food at an Italian restaurant that had as its primary virtues cheapness and convenience, and continued a conversation that Remus found himself enjoying more than he had done in a long time.
"How long are you going to be in Oxford, maybe-or-maybe-not meeting your former student?" Remus asked as they stepped out into the street again.
"Not quite a week. I booked a room through next Friday."
"If you haven't other plans, perhaps you'd like to meet again tomorrow? We could walk around the city, if you haven't seen it."
"Oh, I have. I did a summer course here; that's why they had me teaching the boys, I suppose. I mightn't have had a proper Oxford degree, but some knowledge of the university couldn't have hurt. But I'd like to go with you anyway. Meet when, ten o'clock?" Tom sounded diffident.
"That would work fine for me," said Remus. "By the Bodleian – we could roam round the colleges for a bit and then see. I don't work again till Monday."
They had a splendid time wandering through the college courtyards on Sunday. The weather held remarkably fine and warm for late October, and the students were out in droves enjoying the sunshine. Monday Remus worked a late shift, but they agreed to meet for a drink again on Tuesday evening.
Remus nearly invited Tom back to his flat that night, but he hesitated over it too long, and Tom said that he was tired; he'd been walking the streets and thinking most of the day.
"But do you want to meet again tomorrow?" Tom asked, and Remus nodded.
"I'm working; meet me at the bookshop at six."
They had a pint together, and then another. Remus' paycheque was vanishing rapidly, but he couldn't be sorry about it, even if it meant that after Tom was gone he'd be living on pot noodles until he was paid again.
Two pints was just enough to relax Remus sufficiently to say, "Do you want to have dinner at my flat tonight?"
Tom sat still, just one finger tracing a pattern on the table. "Yes."
An unaccustomed happiness flowed through Remus as they walked back to his shabby flat. He was quite aware that Tom would be leaving soon, that whatever happened was unlikely to last, but somehow it didn't bother him. He ushered Tom inside with an exaggerated bow, eliciting another of those constrained smiles, so oddly attractive, though so unlike Sirius' wide smirking grins.
"No fancy food," Remus apologised. "Just sausages and beans on toast and some tomatoes, if you like."
"Sounds good." Tom was looking around the room curiously. "After eating in cafés and restaurants for more than a week, I'm not at all particular. Someone who lived here had a dog, I see."
"Why do you say that?"
"Those scratches on the doorframe. Looks like it was trying to get out."
Remus didn't reply. Tom drifted over to the shelves Remus had set up, boards and bricks holding the books that he'd accumulated over the past few months, most of them damaged goods from the shop that he'd bought for half price or even less, cheap entertainment for his lonely evenings. Remus thanked his own good sense for having kept nothing that marked him as a wizard – nothing but his wand, and that was safely hidden in a drawer, under a pile of threadbare socks. None of it could help him at the full moon, and after his friends' deaths he had wanted to leave that world behind as much as possible.
He set the beans and tomatoes to heating in a pair of battered aluminium saucepans, and turned on the gas to broil the sausages and toast the bread. The end slice of the loaf had a bit of mold on it, but the rest looked all right. As he'd told Tom, nothing fancy, just plain food cooked by someone who'd had to learn to fend for himself.
"Thank you," said Tom when they'd both finished eating and Remus was scraping the plates. They'd talked about books and films and history on previous evenings; tonight it had been, more tentatively, politics and the economic climate and how difficult it was to find a decent job in Thatcher's Britain.
"You're welcome." On impulse, Remus decided to bring out a bottle of whisky. James and Lily had given it to him a couple of Christmases before, and he'd been saving it. Somehow tonight seemed like the right time. Tom made an appreciative noise when Remus poured him a healthy two fingers, and before they left the table they were each on a second glass.
Remus left the dirty dishes piled in the sink. He gestured to Tom to take a seat on the dilapidated orange sofa, whose virulent color was only partially disguised by the Indian cotton blanket Remus had thrown over it to conceal the cigarette burn holes in the fabric. Picking up a crumpled packet of Player's from the top shelf of the bookcase and putting one between his lips, he offered them to Tom. When the other man's fingers brushed his, Remus shivered, and saw that Tom's expression flickered slightly as well.
"Filthy habit," Remus said ruefully as he sat down, putting the ashtray on the cushion between them.
"Yes, well." Tom's eyes were half-closed, his head tipped back as he exhaled a thin stream of smoke and sighed. "There are worse things than drinking or smoking. Finding a new position, for instance."
"If you've left your position at that grammar school, are you going to teach somewhere else instead?" Remus asked.
"No." Tom took another drag on his cigarette and carefully tapped off the ash. "No, I don't think so."
"Is it difficult to find work? It sounded as though you enjoyed teaching."
"I suppose I did, in a way, but a good bit of that was having students who genuinely wanted to succeed. Not often the case. And it mightn't be the best idea for me, to be in a classroom with all those young men; not that I'd do anything I oughtn't, as their teacher. I saw what could happen. But the temptation would be there."
Evidently the whisky was working on Tom, for him to have made such an admission. "I can understand that," said Remus.
Tom blinked at him, a little owlishly, from behind his glasses. "Do you? Did you want to be teacher yourself? Somehow I can see you as one."
"Oh no." Remus was emphatic. "That's not something I've ever seriously considered." If nothing else, his lycanthropy forbade such a possibility, but that wasn't something he would share with a Muggle no matter how much whisky he had had. "Working in the bookshop suits me well enough for now. If you're not planning to keep teaching, though, what do you think you might do instead?"
Tom ground out his cigarette with graceful economy. "I'm not really sure. I've heard from a friend who works for the BBC that one of the history programmes is looking to hire a researcher. It's a temporary position, but that's all right. It'll give me something to do while I'm thinking things out, and I do have the qualifications."
"Sounds fascinating," said Remus with a touch of envy. He'd had a television for a while, when he was living with Sirius, but with his meagre pay at the bookshop he couldn't afford a licence on his own.
"I'd like to... make something of myself, I suppose. All those boys who got into Christ Church or Balliol or whichever other of the colleges – I don't remember them all – I helped to get them there, when I was never able to do it for myself. I only earned my teaching diploma here and that's not at all the same thing. I'd like to show him that it doesn't really matter in the end."
"Show him?" Remus asked, and Tom stared at him.
"Didn't I say 'them'?"
Remus shook his head.
"Yes." Tom bowed his head. "One of the boys in particular. 'Boys.' Men, I suppose, now that they're at university."
"The Poland bloke." Remus had no doubt, though Tom had not mentioned him again since the first night. "What's he like?"
"Demanding. One of those whose life is golden, you know, dark and handsome and clever, the sort that all the girls want to go out with and all the boys want to be, except for the one or two boys who want to go out with him too." Tom's smile was joyless. "One of his mates actually came to talk with me about that, saying he thought he was queer and should he look on it as just a phase. I didn't know what to tell him. There's one reason to stop being a teacher; no more schoolboy confidences."
Tom's Poland student sounded very like Sirius – clever, dark, handsome. Remus had a momentary vision of Sirius sitting at the other end of the sofa, grinning that seductive grin. Never mind that the furniture had come with the flat, and Sirius had never been in Oxford at all.
"He had a girlfriend," Tom went on, "the headmaster's secretary. A pretty girl, and of course he had prestige on that account with the other boys in his class. I don't understand why..." He broke off. "Do you mind if I have another cigarette? I forgot to buy any today."
Remus handed him the almost-empty packet. Tom took one out and tapped it against his knee before lighting it, the small ritual seeming to give him the ability to continue.
"He propositioned me. Quite unmistakeably. Perhaps it was exhilaration at having been accepted into university, I don't know. He'd been the one who'd watched me most closely all term. Possibly the brightest of the lot, but he needed pushing, and I pushed."
Oh, very much like Sirius, this boy sounded, and Remus took a gulp of whisky against the memory. "Did you..." he began.
"We were going to meet for a drink in a few days, he'd persuaded me to agree, 'a drink' although we both knew that was just a euphemism for what we'd do, and then – then there was the motorbike accident. It never happened." Bitterness laced his voice, and he drew so hard on his cigarette that he coughed and put it out.
"I would wish it had, too," said Remus. He set down his glass and put his hand on Tom's arm. Tom looked at it, then up at Remus' face as if trying to decide what Remus meant by the gesture. Very gently, Remus tightened his grip and drew Tom toward him, until their lips brushed.
Tom made a sound in his throat of quiet surprise, but his hand came up and clutched at Remus' shirt, keeping him from pulling away. He tasted of cigarette smoke and whisky, as Sirius so often had, and tears prickled in Remus' eyes at the familiarity of it.
"God," Tom muttered against Remus' lips. "I didn't..."
"Didn't what?" Remus leaned back, running a hand through his hair.
"Know this would happen." Tom gave a self-conscious laugh. "Except that I did. Like last time. Poland. I knew, but didn't entirely believe." With one hand he took off his glasses and with the other picked up the ashtray, leaning over to set them both on the floor next to his nearly-finished whisky.
"Ah," said Remus, "Germany's invasion?"
"Except that you're less of a threat." Tom's eyebrows went up. "I don't think I'm wrong on that, am I?"
Remus chuckled. "If you're asking if I'll conquer you by force, I think the answer is clearly no." He indicated his slender frame, so similar to Tom's own. "We'd be quite evenly matched. So unless you wanted, allowed me to do so, I'd say the chances were slim. But perhaps a peaceful if temporary alliance?"
A smile tugged at the corner of Tom's mouth. "Yes."
"Come here, then." Remus stood up and Tom followed him into the tiny bedroom with its sagging double bed. Remus hadn't bothered to make it that morning, and the sheets and blankets were rumpled, but Tom made no comment.
"I don't often do this, you know." Remus stepped out of his trousers, leaving them in a heap on the floor, and unbuttoning his shirt with hasty fingers. "Not lately anyhow."
Tom squinted at him. "I find I believe you." He was undressing with a controlled economy of movement. "Neither do I." His body was as Remus had imagined; slim and pale and a little soft, the build of a man who spent more time in his own head than anywhere else. Entirely unlike Sirius. He was hard already – that was like Sirius, who had always been ready whenever Remus wanted him, and then some. Tom stepped towards Remus and reached out a hand to run one fingertip along his chest.
"What on earth happened?" His voice was studiedly neutral.
The scars. Remus had usually kept his shirt on, back when he'd spent those few months shagging to forget, and Sirius, of course, had known. "I've been in a few, shall we say, accidents myself." Remus shrugged. Thankfully he had not inflicted any fresh wounds upon himself during the last full moon, so there were no freshly healed ones to explain.
"Accidents. If you say so." Tom stepped closer, peering into Remus' face. Whatever he saw there must have satisfied him, for he nodded.
Then they were sprawled on the bed in a tangle of limbs, kissing. Tom still tasted like Sirius, though the way he used his lips and tongue to explore Remus' mouth was very different. Careful. Considering. Remus wondered if he reminded Tom of that student of his, or if perhaps Tom was here precisely because Remus did not. It didn't matter, he supposed. To have this warm male body next to him, this hard prick jutting against his thigh, was all he asked right now.
For quite a while they simply kissed, hands stroking each other's bodies but keeping clear of their cocks as if by unspoken agreement not to go too quickly. As the minutes passed, however, the urgency of desire built up, until they were grinding against each other, sweating in the close air of the room. Tom broke away from Remus' mouth long enough to mutter, "Do you have something?"
"Yeah." Remus sat up, reaching across Tom to fumble in the drawer of the bedside table. This was the worst part of living as a Muggle, he thought; no way to use a spell. Remus had discovered that he rather liked Muggle lubricants, but found the pause to apply them to be distracting. "Which way do you...? That is, I'm happy either way, top or bottom."
Tom chuckled. "So am I, actually. But it's been... quite a while. I think I'd rather top, if you really don't mind."
"That's fine," Remus said. He handed the tube to Tom.
"Wouldn't happen to have a condom in there, too, would you?"
Remus felt around in the drawer and found one, safe in its square plastic wrapper. He didn't especially care for the feel, but he'd had a few partners who wanted to use them, and better that than no sex, he supposed. "Make sure it's not expired. Been a while."
"Thanks." Tom peered at it, nodded, and tore open the wrapper. He raised an eyebrow at Remus. "Want to help me put it on?" He reached for Remus' hand and together they carefully unrolled the sheath over Tom's stiff prick. "I hope you don't mind," said Tom in a voice that held only a hint of an apology, "and it's not because I'm especially worried about you, it's just a habit I try to keep up."
A habit that was Tom all over: careful in most things, but with the occasional surprising streak of recklessness, such as that which put him into Remus' bed to begin with. Knowing Tom a little bit now, Remus was surprised that he had even invited Remus to have a drink with him that first night.
"I'd like to see you," Remus whispered when Tom urged him to roll over.
"How do you want it, then?"
"Like this." Remus pushed Tom onto his back and knelt over him, spreading his thighs wide over Tom's hips. "Give the lube back and I'll show you."
A flush darkened Tom's cheek but he watched with intense attention as Remus quickly squeezed out some of the gel onto his fingers and reached down to apply it, working himself open. He held onto Tom's prick and sank down, slowly, letting himself adjust. Tom's prick was long and slender, slick with lubricant over the condom, and slid easily into Remus' arse.
"Ah." Tom exhaled a long breath.
Remus leaned forward, skimming his lips along the stubble of Tom's jaw, felt but not seen, then kissed him, hard and deep, even as he began to rock his hips.
Tom's hands slid around Remus' arse, cupping each cheek firmly, encouraging Remus to take him deeper. Remus had to think hard to keep from saying his former lover's name as he rode Tom, whose eyes were closed but who reached for Remus' cock unerringly. He had a light rapid touch that had Remus gasping within moments, desperate to come, but he wanted Tom to finish first.
"Come on, yeah, fuck," he said, the words jolting out of him with each movement. Tom opened his mouth with a silent cry, the fingers of his left hand digging into the flesh of Remus' bum, his hips jolting upward. In the ecstasy of orgasm he looked very different, his un-spectacled eyes vulnerable, his control slipping away, and Remus felt a shock pulse through him as he came in creamy spurts through Tom's fingers and onto his chest, making a meaningless pattern there in the curly brown hairs.
Opening his eyes, Tom smiled. "Are you always this good?"
Remus flushed, unable to find an answer. Sirius had liked to compliment him too, and Remus had never been entirely certain if Sirius meant it or was taking the piss out of him. Awkwardly he began to raise himself up. Tom took hold of the condom and kept it from sliding away, pulling it off his cock and tying a knot in the deflated thing. He glanced around, saw that there was no bin in which to put it, and dropped it discreetly on the floor.
"It was good," Tom repeated. Remus realised that he was concerned that Remus had enjoyed himself too.
"Yes," he agreed.
There were no cigarettes in the bedroom. After a little while Tom got up, padding out and returning with the last one from the packet, his glasses once again firmly on his face. They shared it, passing it back and forth.
"What now?" said Remus softly.
Tom put his arms around his knees, hugging them. "I go to London on Friday."
"Of course." Remus watched him. "Do I remind you of him?"
"No," said Tom, startled. "I wouldn't be here if you had."
Remus nodded. "I didn't think so, but I wanted to be sure."
Tom didn't stay the night. They met once more the following evening, a farewell drink at a pub, and the silences between them were tranquil. Tom shook Remus' hand again when they parted, saying simply, "Thank you."
For the rest of the time he lived in Oxford, Remus looked at the dark-haired students passing through the shop and wondered which of them Tom had never gone to see. After several years, he knew that the boy – man, as Tom had said – was almost certainly gone, but still he looked, and remembered one October week.