Warning: Mild slash herein!
This story is dedicated to Keieru, who wondered what the care and feeding
of werewolves would actually entail.
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As she made her way down the dreary Soho sidestreet, Mrs. Chan raised
her flowery umbrella against spatters of evening rain. Lifting her head,
she squinted with interest at the pair of young men walking just ahead
of her. They seemed uncertain of where they were going, and as their footsteps
slowed, she couldn't help overhearing their conversation.
"I could've sworn it was this way. But we really should have come to
it by now." When the shorter and slighter of the pair turned to one side,
scanning the row of restaurants and shops, she saw that he was pale, and
there were heavy shadows under his eyes. His mouse-brown hair was slicked
to his forehead, his worn gray coat very damp. He didn't look as if he
ought to be out of bed, let alone abroad on the streets in this kind of
weather. In his hand was a small, sodden leaf of paper.
The taller one was black-haired, handsome and frowning. He aimed a glare
at the leaden sky, clearly indignant that that it had the gall to dribble
on them when he was without an umbrella. Then he peered over his shoulder,
his glance narrowly missing Mrs. Chan. "I'm telling you, it's back that
"But we just came from there."
"No, I mean the other street. We should've turned at the corner by that
coffee shop. I'm starting to think the moon's addled your brain this time
"It has nothing to do with the moon," the slender one said mildly. "I'm
"Nothing to do with it?" The black-haired one sounded incredulous. "Do
you mean to tell me you've never noticed?"
"That you only crave Chinese at first quarter!"
"Nonsense. You're imagining things."
"And sushi at the new moon, and curry just after full--"
The shorter one nearly came to a halt. "Maybe it IS the other way, after
"Oh, give me the menu, will you? There's got to be an address on it.
And I still don't see why you wouldn't let me pick something up from the
place across from the pub--"
"Because their chow mein is markedly inferior."
"Couldn't you settle for egg rolls?" muttered the taller one.
"Chow mein," said the other distinctly. His words glinted like bared
"Right, right, beef."
"A BIG dish."
"Right. Lots of beef. Heaps of it. Perhaps I should just bring you a
"I really am quite hungry, Sirius."
"All right, I hear you!"
There was a trace of escalating panic in that voice now. It put Mrs.
Chan in mind of a husband she'd once seen charging into a supermarket
at midnight, in search of strawberry trifle and liver for his pregnant
wife. She eyed the smaller one again. He looked neither female nor pregnant,
but one could never be sure these days, what with sex change operations
and test tube babies and heaven only knew what else.
"Look, the ink's all smudged on this menu, I can't read a thing. Why
don't you wait under the awning here, and I'll run and see if it was back
on the other street." Swiftly the young man turned--and charged directly
into Mrs. Chan's umbrella. She lurched back, buffeted more by the force
of his startlement than anything else.
"Good Lord." He held out a hand to her, watching her from under a fringe
of dashingly shaggy hair. "Sorry, mum."
"Sirius, you really should watch where you're--"
"Are you all right? Haven't ruined your umbrella, have I?"
Mrs. Chan smiled toothily into his concern. "You're looking for a Chinese
restaurant? Close by?"
They both blinked at her. The slender one took a step forward. "Actually,
yes, we are," he said. "It's a place called--"
"This way." She grinned with omniscient delight. "Just a little further.
I can show you. Come on, come on." Swinging her handbag, she shooed them
in front of her, and like tractable animals they allowed themselves to
be herded. She had no doubt about which restaurant they were looking for;
it was just around the next corner. Mrs. Chan did not often go out of
her way to help others, preferring to watch their hapless antics from
a position of amused superiority. But these two had struck her fancy,
especially the tall one. With those clothes and that face, he might have
been a television personality. She stole a glance at the black leather
jacket and wondered if he rode a motorbike. It also seemed to Mrs. Chan
that the pair of them leaned just a little too close to one another as
they walked; she prided herself on being a keen observer of such things.
When they rounded the corner she crooked a finger upward. "Here it is,"
she crowed. The young men halted. Above their heads hung the glowing sign
with its yellow dragon, luminous against the rain-slick brick face of
"There, see? I told you it was down this street."
"We could have got to it from the other road just as well. Hey, thanks,
mum." The tall one held the door for her as they went into the restaurant.
"Look, can I get you anything? Since you were kind enough to show us the
way." He had his wallet out now; she caught a glimpse of the thick wad
of bills within it.
"No, no," Mrs. Chan said, "no need for that. You'd better worry about
feeding your friend."
Without delay the smaller one stepped up to the counter, gestured to
attract the attention of the nearest waiter, and ordered a list of dishes
that started with beef chow mein and continued for several minutes. The
black-haired man--boy, really--smiled ruefully at Mrs. Chan. He must be
barely out of school, if that, she thought. The other one looked older,
with his weary, circled eyes, but perhaps they were the same age, after
all. In that case, they were still growing. No wonder the skinny one was
"He has a good appetite, eh?" she said, with a little hack of mirth.
"It's that time of the month," the tall boy told her, speaking in a confidential
undertone. "Last night he had to have pot stickers and moo goo gai pan.
The day before that it was nine bowls of egg drop soup. I never know what's
going to be next."
"Sirius," called the other one.
"I don't want to eat here--we're both soaked. I asked for takeaway."
"So we'll eat at home, then?" The bright face took on a particularly
avid expression. "Shall we take the, ah, shortcut?"
"Yes, I think so."
"Right. I'll just pop into the little boys' room, then." The one named
Sirius turned once more to Mrs. Chan. "Thanks again, mum," he said. With
a wave he sauntered off toward the back of the restaurant. So polite,
she thought approvingly. And handsome. Probably virile, too. She supposed
she could ask the skinny one, who was probably in a position to know--but
since some people found that sort of inquiry nosy, she kept quiet.
After a time the waiter returned and handed two enormous paper sacks
to the remaining young man. He hefted one in each arm, nodded pleasantly
at Mrs. Chan, thanked her again, and shuffled in the direction his friend
had taken. She watched him go all the way to the opposite end of the restaurant,
open the same door the other boy had, and vanish behind it.
Eyes widening, Mrs. Chan turned to the waiter. "You have two toilets
back there?" she hissed.
The waiter shook his head, looking bored. "Only one toilet."
Which meant, thought Mrs. Chan, that the two had gone into the SAME toilet.
She almost broke into prurient cackles. Clutching her handbag and umbrella
tightly, she hustled past the rows of tables until she reached the single
red door at the back of the room.
Pink chrysanthemums sprawled across the wood. Mrs. Chan blinked down
at the tarnished knob, then leaned in and pressed her ear against the
painted blossoms. She wasn't sure what she expected to hear--thumping
noises, maybe, or muffled groans, sounds like the ones that penetrated
through the thin walls separating her flat from that of her much younger
neighbors. Rumor had it that unthinkable things went on in certain public
restrooms, but Mrs. Chan had scarcely credited until now that the toilets
of good Chinese restaurants could be equally scandalous. Holding her breath,
she listened hard.
Behind the door was silence.
She waited. The taller boy had seemed so considerate--perhaps these two
were merely being quiet. Her hearing wasn't quite what it used to be,
either. But as minutes passed with not so much as a scuffle from within,
Mrs. Chan pursed her lips. She glanced around briefly, then lifted bony
knuckles and rapped at the door.
Her disbelief rising, Mrs. Chan grasped the doorknob and slowly, slowly
turned it. The door creaked on its hinges, swinging open. She stared.
There was no one in the bathroom at all.
~ ~ ~
"Did you see this in the Muggle news?" Remus asked, pausing between shovelfuls
of chow mein long enough to point his fork at the newspaper. It lay spread
across the tabletop, grease-stained and half-buried under a mountain of
empty take-out containers, at least half of which had recently been packed
with beef chow mein.
Sirius had long since finished his single order of sweet-and-sour chicken,
and was leaning back in his chair, one hand on his belly, content to watch
Remus eat. He had indeed seen the paper--his cousin Warren had left it
against the door at the top of the stairs. Living as they presently did
in the Muggle milieu, he and Remus liked to keep current on non-magical
events as well as wizarding ones. Warren had attached to today's edition
a scribbled note that read: /Forgot to lock him up, did you?/ Sirius had
thought it judicious to remove the note before handing the paper over
to Remus. He'd have to exact suitable revenge on Warren later, too.
"See what?" he asked.
"Some poor old woman was mauled last night in Kensington. 'Authorities
suspect an animal attack,' it says. Dear God. Was there anything about
it in the Daily Prophet?"
"Oh, that's right," said Sirius. "Seems a Jabberwocky got loose from
a magical creatures supplier. Nasty business. Big uproar."
"A Jabberwocky's not a naturally occurring animal."
"No, the Prophet said it was a construct of some sort. Made to order,
"They really shouldn't let dangerous creatures like that be kept secretly
in Muggle London. Things like this are bound to happen."
"They let you live here."
Remus chewed imperturbably. "I'm not likely to mutilate any little old
ladies," he said, "when I'm shut up in a flat with you."
"That's true. If you were going to maul someone, I suppose I'd be the
most available candidate."
Fork tines scraped the bottom of the final chow mein container. Remus
swallowed his last bite, then eyed Sirius appraisingly. "Is that a suggestion?"
Sirius pretended to examine his fingernails. "More of a request, I think,"
Remus set down his fork. He pushed out of his chair and stood, never
taking his eyes from Sirius. Anticipatory glee had just begun to buzz
like a Fizzing Whizzbee in Sirius' stomach when Remus froze, face going
still and white as if with sudden, awful realization.
"What?" Sirius demanded, alarmed.
"I forgot," whispered Remus.
"To get dessert."
The front two legs of Sirius' chair hit the linoleum with a smack as
he fell forward. Suppressing a whimper, he snatched at the paper sacks
that had held their dinner and peered inside them.
"We've got fortune cookies," he said, pulling one out with a desperate
Remus, however, was slowly shaking his head. The gleam of craving in
his eyes was inviolable.
"I need chocolate," he said.
Sirius slumped. "Any particular kind?" he asked.
"Ice cream. Mocha fudge ripple."
Sirius drew a fortifying breath. He reached for his coat.
"And some caramels."
"And could you pick up some pickled ham hocks while you're at it?"
"Fudge ripple, caramels, ham hocks," recited Sirius.
"Pickled, mind you."
Nodding, Sirius stood. A rattle of thunder from outside made him wince.
It was probably pouring by now. Would the Muggles notice if he Apparated
into the frozen foods aisle of the supermarket? Or the pet section, maybe?
Sighing, he pulled on his coat and made for the door.
He was thwarted when Remus sidled in front of him, stepping close.
"You realize I'm only teasing."
Sirius blinked. "Oh."
"You couldn't pay me to eat ham hocks, first quarter moon or no."
"Oh," said Sirius again. Looking into the dear, wry face that turned
up to him, he began to smile.
"But I am...still a bit hungry." Remus ran one fingertip down Sirius'
front from collarbone to navel, exactly in the manner of a child about
to taste the icing of a pristine cake.
The tides of the moon, Sirius thought, could be decidedly advantageous.