25 Days Left (Remus/Giles)
Title: How Many Shopping Days Left?
Summary: As the countdown to Christmas commences, the competition gets fierce- for the 2004 Fic-For-All Challenge.
Chapter 1: 25 Days Left
Disclaimer: BTVS characters belong to Joss Whedon et al. HP characters belong to J.K. Rowling.
Remus ducked into Flourish & Blotts, dusting the quickly melting snowflakes from his shoulders. He had already gotten holiday gifts for most of the Order members this year. He was especially proud of what he had picked out for Harry this summer, and knew that Severus would be surprised by what he had found this afternoon for the cynical potions master, but he had one person left on his list.
Many people would have said Hermione was the easiest to shop for- just give her a book and she’ll be happy. What most people didn’t realize until they walked into a bookstore was that Hermione had read just about every book in the Hogwarts library and thus the unique pickings were indeed quite slim. He quickly scanned over the typical school texts, and sighed, knowing she’d read every single one of them by her third year. He walked past the simpering bodice-rippers, briefly considering picking up one for Minerva as a joke. If only they didn’t make such dramatic noises; he could never live down the embarrassment of carrying one of those novels around the Alley. Aisle by aisle he traversed occasionally running into other patrons when he got caught up in scanning titles for something so unique that Ms. Granger could not possibly have read it already. Twice he tripped over a wizard wearing a muggle tweed suit, mumbling titles to himself, equally caught up in the scanning.
Finally he reached the rear of the store, on the last aisle, and there it was: the perfect book. Adorned in a burgundy leather cover, “Being Tapped: the Magical Roots of the Vampire Slayer” was resting perilously on the top of a stack several meters high of history volumes. Hermione would love reading about a mythical magical heroine, and he knew for a fact that the Hogwarts Library had censored all materials concerning the Vampire Slayer mythology following the Ministry’s Education Decree of 1582. Only two things stood in his way. The first was the teetering stack of books held up only by a weak charm that would require one of the employees of the store to assist him. The second was the gentleman in the tweed suit, who turned from the book, with an expression of awe, to face Remus.
“Excuse me, but I don’t suppose you happen to work here?”
“No, I’m sorry.” Remus apologized.
“Ah, yes, well, I was just hoping I could find someone to help me fetch that book on the top.”
“So you’re interested in mythology in general, or that particular myth?” Remus wondered if there was a chance to quickly sidetrack the gentleman before they found a shop assistant. Knowing Flourish and Blotts at this time of the year, it wasn’t an impossible aspiration.
“One may say that I have a vested interest in it.” The man smiled as if in response to his own private joke. “But, actually I was considering purchasing it for a friend of mine.”
“Ah. Your friend reads much in that area, perhaps a follower of Lockhart’s series?”
“Good lord, no! Not to say she hasn’t read every book he’s written, but more as comedic relief than any actual serious study.” The man chuckled. “No, I couldn’t possibly purchase such frivolity for her. It really must be the perfect book.” He gazed longingly at the thick tome at the top of the pile. “I don’t suppose you’ve ever tried to find the perfect book for a witch who’s read every book in the library and everything from your private collection as well?”
“Well what are the odds! I take it you’re shopping for Hermione Granger as well?” Remus smiled.
The man stared at him in confusion. “Ah, no. I was referring to Willow Rosenberg, an acquaintance of mine. She would truly love that book.”
“Ah. It’s just … I’m sure if you asked around, you’d find that no one has a reputation for being more well-read in all of England. I’ve been at my wits end trying to find a book for her. Why, I’m sure the store managers would even agree with me that she’s impossible to shop for. And to know, she’s never read anything on the topic of the slayer- it is rather obscure- why you must see why I’m interested in that text.” Remus knew he might come off as sounding whiney, but it was imperative to impress upon the gentleman that he simply must have the book.
“Well, that may be, but Willow has a very personal attachment to that very topic.” Ah, so now the battle of wits would truly begin.
“Ms. Granger would gain so much from reading about such positive women role models.”
“I’m sure there are several lovely autobiographies around about progressive witches. Ms. Rosenberg on the other hand, has been looking for obscure texts on the slayer since she was just a school child.” The man was obviously stretching the truth but clearly was not about to capitulate.
Remus was just about to pointedly suggest this Ms. Rosenberg diversify her reading selection, when a clerk in the Flourish and Blotts apron appeared. “If you could excuse me, gentlemen.” He set up a small ladder charm just in front of the stack they had been eyeing.
“Ah, excuse me, sir, but since you’re already there…” “…
could you…” “please fetch…” “… the top book…” “…for me.” The two wizards competed for the clerk’s attention as they finished each other’s sentence.
“Wot, this one?” The clerk dangled the burgundry volume above their heads. The two men nodded eagerly. “Ah sorry, gentlemen. I can’t help you. You see, we had an urgent owl this morning, asking us to put this on reserve for Mr. Wyndham-Price.”
“Damn Wesley!” They both cursed before turning to stare at each other, the obvious question on both their faces.
“Oh hell, I’m Rupert Giles.” The man in the tweed suit stuck out his hand.
“Remus Lupin, pleased to meet you.” Remus answered politely.
“Care for a pint at the Cauldron? Perhaps we can put our heads together and find something for our impossible witches.”
“Or, at least come up with some interesting hexes for Mr. Wyndham-Price.” Remus smiled.
“A lovely idea. I think you and I may get along splendidly.”