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"No, Frank." Mikey tightened his jaw, the way he did when he was really prepared to dig in.

Which was just too fucking bad for Mikey, because among Frank's foremost talents was a stubbornness that he'd rarely seen matched. "You don't have to agree, you have to think about it."

"I don't have to think about it. I've lived the overwhelming majority of my life with the problem and never felt the need to meet other people with it, I don't know why I would now."

"Never?" The thing about Mikey was that he never really meant to lie, so if Frank caught him in a lie he would usually come clean.

Mikey started to say something, then stopped. "Maybe when I was kid. Maybe. But just because I had to be out of school all the time and I thought it could be kinda cool if there was someone-- And you know, Gerard couldn't really be around, not until later when the Wolfsbane started to actually be reliable but-- Fuck, Frank, no. Okay? No. This isn't something you can just decide."

Mikey was hunched over on himself, his right hand rubbing at his left calf, the way he did when he was stressed out about something. Frank went and sat down facing him. He ran his hand beneath Mikey's jean to where the scar was, large and still angry despite being nearly twenty years old. Mikey tried to pull away, but Frank just held on, worked his fingers into the deadened skin. "Mikey," he said softly.

"What if-- I don't know, they're British and it's a magical community. Do you have any idea how rare it is for a Squib to be bitten? I just. I probably won't fit in and then it will be ten times worse because before it was just something that wasn't there, wasn't an option, but to know that I could sort of be part of something and then have that fall apart?" Mikey shook his head. "Thanks but no thanks, you know?"

Frank said, "Wasn't that sort of your reasoning for making me wait and wait and wait?"

"I still say you should find someone less likely to eat you some night when you're least expecting it."

"I like a challenge," Frank said.

Mikey snorted.

"Give this a shot. We're going to be over there anyway, Gerard wants to go--"

"Gerard isn't a Squib. He'll have no problem fitting in."

"--the worst thing that happens is we have to turn around and leave because they're all fucktards. In which case, you get to say 'I told you so' and I get to buy you expensive collectors albums and have non-stop sex with you to make up for it. Win win situation for you."

Mikey looked at him dolefully.

Frank said, "Try it, Mikey J. Please? Just a chance. Because I'm asking."

"You suck as a boyfriend."

Frank squeezed his leg.


The nice thing about wizards was that they tended to be unplugged from the world that Frank and the rest of them generally lived in--Gerard and Mikey's parents had both left the American wizarding community after school, fed up with its pretensions and class-based prejudice. Which meant that when they walked into the school intended as a safe-space--and prison, of sorts, Frank knew--for British werewolves, there were actually very few people who registered recognition in their eyes as they passed.

They were met at the edge of the wards by a short girl with hair that rivaled Ray's. Ray was clearly impressed by it, in any case. She smiled and said, "I'm Hermione, although, most of the kids call me Min or Professor, depending."

They introduced themselves one by one and she didn't call Mikey out, although they'd been pretty honest about why they wanted to visit, at least with the people at the school. Since they were traveling largely through Muggle spaces, they hadn't bothered to contact the British Ministry for a permit. Mikey was flying under the radar, as it were.

She showed them through the school, which was spacious and filled with light and kids of all ages. She admonished a few of them to watch where they were going when they ran into Bob, but Bob just put both of them back on their feet, and when they stared up at him, obviously a little terrified, he crouched down and said, "I'll give you a hint. If you're going to run into something bigger than you, try warning a guy, so he can catch you on the rebound."

Which of course made the kids laugh and run off again.

Hermione sighed at the running, but then looked down at Bob, who was still near to the floor. She said, "We're not particularly used to the kindness of strangers."

Gerard said, "We're not particularly used to the kindness of wizards."

Hermione dipped her head. "I live here, Mr. Way, with my husbands, plural, both of whom are outcast from proper wizarding society in their own way and my two children, one of whom is infected. If I am not kind to others, what right have I to expect that anyone will return the favor?"

"Are there any Squibs?" Mikey asked softly.

"A couple," she said, her voice equally low. "Squibs are-- When they become infected, there's great risk-- It's hard for us to get to them."

"Their parents kill them, is what you're trying to say without saying."

She nodded once, keeping her eyes on his the entire time.

"Can I meet them? The couple you have?" Mikey asked.

"They're young," she said. "Seven and thirteen. I was going to introduce you to some of the faculty, a few of the older kids who have been here since we opened. People closer to your age."

"I'd like that, too," Mikey said. "But--"

She said, "Of course."

Mikey's smile was tentative but so very real that Frank couldn't help slipping his fingers into Mikey's. Mikey tightened the hold just a bit.


Mikey met everyone Hermione had planned for him to meet as well as the two Squib children and a few of the Muggle-borns who did recognize them and wanted signatures but were too outsider-shy to ask for them so just tagged along until Ray stole one of them up and put the boy on his shoulders and after that it was easier for the others to ask. Gerard--who generally avoided other wizards with a fervency he saved for things like music--basked in the positive attention, gave the kids everything they asked for and more. Mikey quietly did the same.

Afterward they sat down to tea and some really, really good scones with Hermione's husbands and her son. Her daughter was evidently napping. One of her husbands was quick to greet them, carefree with his smiles, polite and engaging in his conversation. The second was withdrawn and scowled at them a lot. Frank didn't take it personally, or at least, he didn't after he caught the man watching over his husband and his son with a protectiveness Frank often felt for Mikey but tried not to wear on his face.

Zev, the son, asked, "So you're American and you've never been to The Compound?"

"The one in New Mexico?" Gerard asked. Frank knew for a fact that they'd been careful to stay in New Mexico for as short a time as possible ever since learning there was such a place there. Gerard's almost obsessive avoidance of wizards had a lot to do with not wanting them anywhere near Mikey, who was vulnerable in his Squib state.

Zev nodded.

"No," Gerard said, and left things at that.

Zev frowned slightly. Severus, the taciturn one, said, "We have rather valued friends there." It sounded like a warning.

Remus put a hand to Severus' wrist. He asked Mikey, "From where do you order your Wolfsbane?"

"The Wizarding hospital in New York."

Severus sneered. Remus tightened his grip and said, "We'll get you in touch with Paulo. You really shouldn't be paying for anything substandard to what he's making, and pretty much everything is. It will make the transfiguration easier, I promise."

"Also, you should meet him," Zev said.

Mikey's shoulders hitched up a notch.

Zev tilted his head. Slowly he said, "My parents locked me in a cage. When I-- They did that. And I'm a full-blown wizard. I wouldn't want to go near us, either. But you came here. Paulo and Faelle and their set are no more frightening than we are."

"Less at times." Remus smiled at Severus, who rolled his eyes. Hermione hid her answering smile behind her tea cup. Frank could tell by the way her eyes curved upward.

"Maybe," Mikey said.

Gerard caught Frank's eye. Frank answered him with a look of collusion. Definitely.

"And you'll come back, yes? Whenever you're in the isles? I mean, I suppose that's not terribly often, but we don't have a lot of visitors, so we'd be glad to see you whenever."

"I don't suppose any of the kids can come to the show?" Frank asked. Some of them had been really excited, in ways that even their fans weren't, normally. Frank couldn't imagine being stuck in one place all the time, didn't want to. The thought of Mikey being locked away made him want to grab Mikey up and run with him, but they could leave when the chose, so he kept himself from embarrassing both of them.

Hermione shook her head regretfully. Severus turned away, but not before Frank caught the incensed look on his face. Remus kept his hand where it had been this whole time. Zev drank more of his tea, looking into the cup. Hermione said, "We need advanced warning for that sort of thing. There's paperwork, the whole bit. If you could perhaps tell us a few months ahead of time when you're next appearance is, then we could buy the tickets and go through the--"

"You're not buying tickets," Gerard said, looking pretty affronted.

Remus laughed, which only caused the affront to deepen. Hermione grinned, though, and that soothed Gerard slightly, that and the hand Mikey put on his knee. She said, "Well, still, we need the warning."

Mikey was the one to say, "Next time," and Frank couldn't stop himself from wrapping his arms around Mikey's hips, pulling him just a little bit closer.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile