Title: Non-clandestine Meetings
Summary: A Remus/Buffy interlude in the Californiaverse.
Disclaimer: Not mine. The BtVS stuff is Whedon's. The HP characters belong to JK Rowling.
Spoilers: Thru the end of season 7 in the Buffyverse. Thru OotP in the Potterverse.
Notes: Takes place after "California" and "The Hunter's Prelude".
They were late. Buffy's head was pounding, and Joey was upset because she couldn't come too. Even though she had been delighted that a watcher in training and a slayer had been left with her on baby-sitting duty. Buffy figured the two of them ought to be able to prevent her wildchild from doing too much damage.
"Buff, are you ok?" Cordelia asked while patting her protruding belly.
"Just a little headache."
Buffy followed Cordelia in to the main parlor room at the Order of the Phoenix Headquarters. It was an old wizard house with lots of black arts bespelled objects within, so the story went. Giles had already volunteered to help 'clean house'. Willow had vowed to stay very far away until it was clean. So that left Buffy and Cordelia to go to the first meeting of the Scoobies and the Order.
And Buffy was feeling rotten.
They were introduced to lots of people. Specifically Arthur and Molly Weasley and their brood. Bill was very excited for his parents and siblings to meet Buffy. Person after person shook her hand. There was no way she was gonna remember all of these people. They needed to wear name tags or something. She had trouble with what things were called anyhow, but this headache was making it that much worse. She could barely remember her own name her head was pounding so hard. Buffy started feeling dizzy, and was it hot in there? She rocked back on her heels and blinked.
"Buffy?" Cordelia was looking at her in alarm. "You're sweating... like a lot. You are very NOT ok. Why didn't you tell me you were sick? Dammit. You know, you and Faith are the most infuriating people ever when you get sick. Not that either one of you will admit to being sick... which is like... half the drama right there. By the time someone else notices, you slaygals are usually so sick that you can stand up without help anymore. Remember when you were in high school and you got the super flu that time? Still trying to slay vampires and Angelus all running about? That's exactly what I'm talking about. You're super strong, but not impervious to everything. I know this will come as a great shock, Buffy, but you DO have limits. You need to recognize, girl."
"You bitch a lot." Buffy mumbled. But she really was not feeling her best. "You know, sometimes I think I liked you better when you hated me because then I got less lecturing."
"And you're starting to look gross."
Buffy was about to retort, but she swayed on her feet. A hand on her arm steadied her. Buffy looked up into the black pools of Severus Snape's eyes. She didn't realize that everyone save Cordy was in shock at him touching her. Well, touching ANYONE really.
"They'll try to kill you. Try being the operative word. If they take you to torture you for being a spy, you hang on. I'll find you and make them all VERY sorry. That's what I do."
Then she promptly fainted on him.
Buffy groaned as she opened her eyes. There was a girl she'd never seen before dabbing at her forehead with a wet cloth. She WAS in her room though. They girl had long dark hair that was pulled back and pale eyes.
"Hello, Ms. Summers. My name's Penelope Clearwater. I'm your nurse."
"You're sick, you big dummy." Cordelia said, sounding muffled.
Buffy looked around Penelope Clearwater. Cordelia was wearing a surgical mask.
"Guess what you have? Guess?"
"Fabulous." Buffy groaned and attempted to roll onto her side, but she was too weak.
"Dumbledore hired Penelope for you."
"He doesn't need to pay-"
"Actually Harry's paying."
Buffy scowled. "Harry Potter?"
"Someone has a fan." Penelope said cheerfully as she wiped Buffy's face with the cool cloth.
Buffy's scowl deepened.
"Apparently, Harry's pretty loaded." Cordelia said from behind her mask. "And he likes you and Joey a lot for some reason. It's too bad he's a teenager, otherwise I'd suggest you marry him."
Buffy groaned and laid back against the bed. She didn't like being beholden to anyone usually. Especially not teenage wizards.
"And it's really a damn shame... because Harry's gonna be a real hottie in a few more years."
Buffy groaned again. "If you don't stop plugging the very young and highly inappropriate Harry to me, I'll tell Xander. You know how understanding he is about you looking at other guys."
"You evil bitch."
"Takes one to know one." Buffy murmured before nodding off to sleep.
A noise startled her.
Buffy opened her eyes. She wasn't sure how long she'd been asleep. She'd drifted in and out as Penelope had tended her. She had a soft touch, but Buffy thought her bedside manner was a bit too cheery. Which equaled annoying in Buffy's book. But Penelope was not the one sitting beside the bed just now.
Remus Lupin was.
Buffy gasped and looked around the room. She was sure she looked terrible. And why was she worried about that... exactly? She didn't... no. Then again, he was awfully nice, and the way he looked at her... good God, all guys should look at a woman like that. His eyes made her feel like she hunted elk with a bow and arrow naked or something. Just goddess-y.
"I didn't mean to wake you. I just wanted to see how you were faring."
"See that brown paper sack on the bureau? Can you hand it to me?"
He did. Remus watched in confusion as Buffy poked two holes in the brown sack. He stared in shock when she lid it over her head, and noticed the two holes were made for eye-holes. Well, that was certainly... odd. And endearing.
"I know I look bad. Probably gross." She replied, her voice a bit muffled by the bag. "Now you don't have to see it."
Remus started chuckling. "You are perhaps the most fascinating woman I have ever met, did you know?"
Buffy smiled. Then she realized he couldn't see that. "I'm smiling under here."
"Take that ridiculous thing off."
"No. I probably have funny bed hair."
"Well, not now. After the bag comes off, you'll have funny bag hair."
Buffy giggled which promptly turned into a nasty rattling hacking cough... one with some juice on it. Remus sighed and pulled the sack off of her head.
"No!" Then she broke down into another fit of coughing in which 'something' came up.
Remus grabbed the box of tissues from the night table next to the bed. He held it to her. Buffy grabbed two. She delicately spit her... whatever... into one then blew her nose one the second. She looked around frantically for a trash bin to put her tissues in. Remus ended up taking them from her... and touching her hands quite a bit as he did.
"And after that, you're still here."
He had walked across the room to the connecting bath and tossed the tissues in a small can near the sink. Buffy's eyes widened as she saw him taking in the sorry state her bathroom was in. It just figured she had male company when there were bras and pantyhose drying on the makeshift clothes line she'd hung in there. She also knew there was makeup and other beauty product crap strewn everywhere in there. She groaned and turned her face to the pillow.
"What?" He asked with a wry smile.
"So now you know."
"What I look like all gross and sick. That funny crinkle I get between my eyebrows when I blow my nose. What I sound like hacking up a lung. That I have at least four bras and several pairs of hose. My funny bed/bag hair. That I leave my toothbrush sitting on the edge of the sink sometimes. That I'm a slob."
Buffy moaned and pulled the blanket up over her face... with MUCH effort. Remus took it and pulled it back down slowly until just her eyes were revealed.
"You are not a slob. Mundungus Fletcher is a slob. I had to live with him for a few months. At least you wash your undergarments. And the toothbrush suggests actual teeth brushing. I actually find your hair rather... endearing all sticking up like it is. You can't help being sick, and I don't find you repulsive in the least, all lung hacking and crinkles aside."
Buffy smiled and wished like hell she had some lip gloss or something on.
Two days later, her mouth was hanging open when Xander and Giles were dragging a very sorry-looking Remus Lupin into her room. The two men dumped the third in the bed with her.
Penelope gasped, folding up the newspaper she'd been reading. "What happened?"
"He's got it too." Xander said. "Harry's going to pay you extra to deal with him too. We'll get another bed in here or something."
Buffy had somehow managed to get both hands over her mouth. She had gotten Remus sick. He was all sweaty and breathing in a raspy manner. His eyes were closed, and his forehead was scrunched up in pain. Her arm shook badly as she reached out to smooth some hair from his forehead.
Remus opened his eyes.
"You shouldn't have come to visit me. I think I made you sick."
His answer was to groan and pass out.
Cordelia was giving her the eye. Though Buffy couldn't see her mouth form behind the surgical mask, she knew Cordelia's mouth was pursed in a thin line. When Buffy had said there was no need to put another bed in here, that her bed was big enough for herself and Remus... oh the looks she'd gotten from Xander and Giles. Miss Clearwater too. Buffy was being practical.
Or so she kept telling herself.
"Please tell me you are not falling for the werewolf professor guy."
Buffy just gave Cordelia a look.
"Oh my God! You're falling for the werewolf professor guy! That's such a 'Willow' thing to do. Why are you doing a 'Willow' thing?"
Buffy glared and attempted to sit up a bit. Didn't work.
"Cordy, will you shut up. He's lying right there." She hissed.
"Oh I can see that. Miss 'there's plenty of bed for both of us'. What are you thinking?"
"Oh don't bother. I know what's you're thinking."
"Oh really? What am I thinking then, seer gal? You get a vision or something?"
"I didn't have to. I can see it in your eyes, Buffy. The chosen one has chosen something."
"I hate when you get like this."
"Buffy, I just want you to be sure. He's not entirely human."
"Neither are you... and who said I had decided anything? You're jumping to conclusions."
"I don't think I am, Buffy." With that she got up and left.
Buffy sighed and looked up at the ceiling. Was she treating this different because there were feelings? She didn't think there were feelings, but it had been so long since she'd even remotely HAD feelings. She couldn't be sure. She turned her head to the side and looked at Remus sleeping soundly next to her in a pair of Xander's pajamas.
Only he wasn't sleeping.
His face was tired and sort of sallow. He still managed to raise an eyebrow at her.
"Did you... uh... hear that?"
"Shall I lie to make you more comfortable or be truthful?"
"There was a time when being lied to suited me, but I'm too old for that now."
He chuckled. It turned into a cough, so it was a minute before his reply was out. "There's nothing old about you."
Buffy smiled. She rolled onto her side and tucked her hands up under her pillow.
"I happen to think you're lovely, Buffy."
Her smile widened. "Funny bed hair and red runny nose and all?"
She just smiled at him still. "I'm horribly bad at relationships."
"So am I."
Buffy reached out and found his hand under the blankets.
"Can this be our first date... because I usually muck things up royally there, but I feel I'm doing good with you here."
"Sure." She smiled.
"As a second date, I was wondering if perhaps I could cook you and Joey dinner one night."
"No, I mean, no one's ever wanted Joey along in the beginning."
"Then they were foolish, and it's no wonder those relationships didn't last."
"Joey'll be thrilled."
"And what will you be?"
"Lucky." Buffy scooted over to his side of the bed then. She snuggled her head against his shoulder. "I have liked you since I met you."
"It was the same for me. I liked you before I met you, and after, I was completely smitten. You were a pleasant surprise."
Just then Penelope entered the room. She looked at the two of them and her eyes bugged.
"Excuse us." Buffy said. "We're on a date here."
Penelope grinned widely and ducked back out of the room.
Buffy opened her eyes to see Dawn staring down at her.
"I can't believe you're trying to put the moves on a sick guy when you, yourself, happen to have the flu as well. Only you, Buffy."
"What are you doing here, Dawn?" Buffy asked, very aware that Remus had his arms wrapped around her still.
"I thought I'd come and check on my sick sister."
Remus woke up then.
"Hi there." Dawn held out her hand. "I'm Dawn Summers. Buffy's sister."
His hand trembled from weakness as he placed it in hers. "Remus Lupin."
Dawn knew that name. She looked at Buffy in admiration. Obviously she approved.
"I have a great deal to thank you for, Miss Summers."
"Nah, it was nothing. Willow did most of the work." Dawn grinned as she took a chair next to the bed. "Speaking of Willow, and from what I understand about you, Mr. Lupin, you'll appreciate this, she tried to attacked someone in the Ministry of Magic yesterday."
Buffy gasped. "With magic?"
"Nope. With her hands like this." Dawn made claws.
"Well, this stupid cow named Delores Umbridge-"
"Was talking crap, and Willow got tired of her noise and just lost it."
Both women looked at Remus.
"Did Dawn mention that she actually punched the toad after they pulled me off of her because she made a remark about you, Buffy?" Willow asked from the doorway.
Willow strode forward and held her hand out to Remus. "Willow Rosenberg."
Remus was in awe. THIS tiny thing was the woman who'd changed his entire life? Her?
"This is Remus Lupin, Will." Dawn offered. "You know... the professor."
"Oooo!" Willow shouted and sat down on the edge of the bed. "We wanted it to work for you the most."
"The new werewolf legislation. Well, for you and Oz."
"He was my boyfriend in high school. He's a werewolf too."
Remus looked at them. They'd been around this sort of thing before? "You went out with a werewolf?"
"Yeah. Buffy dated a vampire. Xander dated a demon... and Cordelia."
Dawn snorted. "Same difference."
"Ok, guys." Buffy was turning a bit red. "Could you leave us alone here."
"Ooooooo!" Dawn and Willow mocked, like they were in the third grade.
Buffy rolled her eyes as the two of them hung all over each other making kissy noises as the took their sweet time exiting the room.
"They're really mature." Buffy offered once the door closed.
"I think it's a bit refreshing."
Buffy turned and looked at him. "You still wanna make me dinner?"
It had taken the two of them over three weeks to be completely better.
And it was a good thing it didn't take any longer than that because the next week had been the full moon. Remus didn't know how pleasant being a werewolf with the flu would have been, and he was glad he had not had to find out.
Buffy had heard from Bill that Snape and Dumbledore were covering Remus's classes until he could get back. She almost hated that the two of them had gotten better. She really liked sleeping next to him. It was perhaps the most she had slept with a man without SLEEPING with him. And she found herself entertaining that idea a lot these days. She had not entertained that particular idea in a very long while.
Buffy and Joey had just been shown into the house on Grimmauld for their dinner. It was where Remus was staying currently. Buffy didn't like that he was in this place that would remind him of his friend. The one that was dead. The one that Harry missed as well.
Remus was wearing an apron. Buffy smiled at that.
"I hope you two like chicken."
"What kind of chicken?" Joey asked.
Buffy elbowed her.
"Baked with lemon and rosemary."
Joey raised an eyebrow.
"And I made some macaroni and cheese just for you."
Joey smiled widely at that.
"And for dessert there's Jell-O with whipped creme on top."
Joey looked at her mother. "I think you should keep this one."
"What about you?" He asked.
"Well, if don't want to keep me too, there's not much point in your mother holding on to me, now is there?"
Buffy felt something lurch inside of her. Not in a bad way. No one ever included Joey like this. The effortless way he dealt with her daughter's intensity was so heartwarming. It made Buffy fallen deeper into her feeling for him.
"You're all right, professor." Joey said with a smile. "I think I'll keep you too."
Buffy was having a hard time swallowing her food.
Remus was too good. She was desperately falling for him. He'd made adult dinner for them and Joey's favorite for her... macaroni and cheese with fish sticks. She had to like a guy who took pains to know what her daughter liked to eat. Or perhaps she had told him during one of their many conversations while in the sick bed. It was funny how lonely that bed felt now that he was well enough not to be in it.
When they'd finished their meal, Buffy helped Remus carry the dishes to the sink, despite his protests that he would do the cleaning up.
"I have to go to the bathroom." Joey said, excusing herself.
Leaving Buffy alone with Remus.
Their hands met in the dishwater. It was very unromantic and domestic.. yet so romantic that her knees went weak. She didn't know she could still feel like this about another person. She thought the warm fuzzies died when you got older. She was loving that she had been totally wrong on that score. Her fuzzies were currently red hot for Remus Lupin.
And then suddenly he kissed her.
She wasn't rightly sure how that had happened, but they were kissing. Like a lot. One minute they'd been after the dishes, then next they were after each other. His damp hands were on her waist, and she didn't even care. It had been a long time since she'd been kissed in that way. It was a like that saying though... it was like riding a bike. She hadn't forgotten any of the mechanics of it. But she had obviously forgotten the feeling somewhere along the way. Because if she had remembered this, this sensation, she wouldn't have let herself go so long without it.
Or perhaps she was feeling what she was feeling because of the man.
Buffy titled her head to the side, as they two of them didn't seem to be planning on parting any time soon. That was ok by Buffy.
Then she heard Joey giggling.
Remus stepped away from Buffy abruptly. His face was flushed.
"If you two and gonna do that, then I don't see why you don't just come and stay at our house, professor. We've got lots of rooms."
"Well, you were doing what Uncle Xander and Aunt Cordelia do all the time, and if you get pregnant, I think it would be better if you guys were close like Aunt Cordy and Uncle Xand."
"You don't get pregnant form kissing."
"Well, how do you get pregnant then?"
Remus looked at Buffy, wondering if she was going to take that one.
"That is a conversation you and I will have much later." Buffy said stiffly. "Besides, Remus lives at the school. He doesn't need to be at our house."
"Don't you want him around?"
"I didn't say I didn't."
"Then why can't he come and live with us? He makes good mac and cheese."
"Joey, I have to be at Hogwarts to teach my classes." Remus said in a low tone.
"But what about during the summer? You could stay with us during the summer. You could sleep in Mom's bed like before. You seemed really happy then even though you were all sick and stuff."
"Joey-" Buffy was turning red.
"Don't you want him to sleep in your bed, Mom? You seemed happy then too... even though you were sick too."
"I was happy then." Buffy whispered.
Remus took her hand.
"You could... if you wanted to."
"Could what?" He asked.
Remus looked at her. The two of them just stared at one another for what seemed like the longest time.
"Well?" Joey asked impatiently.
"I think I'd like that." Remus replied softly. "To stay, that is."
The frost had finally melted a bit. It was still cold out, but no as cold. Spring was on its way.
Buffy and Remus were walking hand in hand along the grounds at Hogwarts. She and Joey had come for a visit. Joey was currently tagging after Harry and his friends in a pest-like younger sister manner. Buffy had needed a bit of a break from her. Joey was out of control these days.
She announced to Severus Snape upon their arrival that they'd come to visit her mom's boyfriend Remus. Then Joey had immediately asked why there was a vein throbbing in Snape's forehead. Professor Dumbledore had found that particularly amusing. The little troublemaker had even said something that had a grinning Harry asking Buffy and Remus if it were true. When Buffy had stammered her yes, Harry's grin had split into a full-blown smile.
Remus had tried to talk Buffy out of this relationship thing they now found themselves in due to his condition. She wouldn't hear of it. She'd dealt with a wolf before, not that she had been the one dating him, but Buffy could deal. There was nothing she couldn't handle with the two of them so long as she still had him in the end.
He'd been a bit humbled by that.
He also mentioned in his argument that people who loved or cared for him tended to end up dead. She countered with the fact that she had been dead before. It never stuck with her. Remus had no rebuttal for that one. He'd never known anyone who'd actually died and came back to life. Voldemort didn't count as Remus didn't actually know him, and the dark wizard hadn't actually died before. People only thought he had. He'd almost died. He'd come so close as to go non-corporeal, but death had not fully occurred. Buffy had been in the ground.
Remus had never known anyone like Buffy. Her daughter was fairly unique as well. Joey was half the reason the two of them were in this relationship. Had it not been for Joey's pushing the matter, Remus and Buffy likely would have skirted around each other awkwardly for many more moons, making themselves and each other miserable with want, before ending up where they were now.
He liked now.
And the full moon was coming up next week. Buffy was going to stay near him for it. Joey was staying with her Aunt Dawn, and Buffy was coming back to Hogwarts to stay with him for the change. He'd never let anyone save Sirius, James, and Peter stay with him during that time. He'd tried to talk her out of it, but Buffy was quite stubborn. She said she wanted to know all parts of him. The more he knew of Buffy and her 'family', the more Remus felt he had fallen in with the right group of people.
"Are you cold?"
He pulled her inside the cloak he was wearing with him.
"Ooooo, that's nice. All snuggly-wuggly." She murmured as she snuggled against him. "I should get a chill more often."
"I wouldn't want you cold."
"And sharing clothes with you is a surefire way to have me not be anywhere near cold."
"So about my plans for this summer..."
"Joey already decided that, remember? You're staying with us and sleeping in my bed."
"Is that entirely appropriate, Buffy?"
"You ask the wrong questions."
"You shouldn't ask me if it's appropriate. You should ask me if I give a darn what anyone thinks about it."
"Well, do you?"
Buffy snorted. "No. I want you with me. Joey wants you around. My friends aren't opposed to the idea. They like you too. That's all that matters. I gave up worrying what anyone besides the people I care about think a long, long time ago."
"Think you could teach me that trick?"
"I could teach you lots of things." Buffy answered with a wiggle of her eyebrows.
Remus shook his head. She was so playful sometimes. He'd forgotten what play was like. he'd been very serious for a very long time. She made him feel like there were things to look forward to again. Buffy made him laugh. She made him feel like there was life for him again. He'd thought most of that was over when Sirius had died.
As for Buffy's end of it... Remus just made her feel.