sparsenicjade
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Thanks to Hammerhead22 for the incredibly helpful beta, all remaining mistakes are mine.

Written for Bohlster, who was exceedingly generous in donating to the Live Long 'n Marry campaign and very open in what she asked to receive as far as stories went. *kisses*

***


One of the great tragedies of Mikey's life was that a werewolf's animagic form was pretedermined. It didn't even take skill. The full moon came, Mikey's body tore itself in half and recreated him in a new form. The sun rose, it reversed the process. Mikey kicked ass at transfiguration, and he couldn't even take part in the coolest skill a transfigurations expert could have. Every month, when his Transfigurative Treatises came, Gerard would pat him on the back and say, "You're a rockstar. It could have been worse." Which was easy for Gerard to say, since he was good at runes and charms, both of which were still worthwhile, even if Gerard had been born just as much a werewolf as Mikey. Also, Gerard was a rockstar. Mikey was a bassist.

Mikey vented his frustrations by occasionally transfiguring Gerard's favorite t-shirts into long scarves for himself and wreaking all sorts of havoc with Frank's picks when the latter was getting on his nerves. Gerard was right, in a certain sense. It could have been worse.

*


There hadn't been any question as to whether Gerard and Mikey would be born with the werewolf gene, not with Donna carrying an active one and Don a recessive. Gerard had been a mistake, Mikey knew for a fact. Mikey came by his legilimency honestly, by way of Elena. He was glad Gerard sucked at it--although not so glad about his complete inability to occlude, either--because he didn't want Gerard knowing that, ever. Gerard was a mistake, but he wasn't a regret, and that was all that mattered. Gerard was so far from being a regret that they'd actually decided to have Mikey, despite the awareness that they'd have to homeschool the two boys in anything magical, would have to keep them apart from the community as much as they could.

When Gerard talked to reporters about not being able to go outside, about having to live in their imaginations, all Mikey could think about was entire afternoons of watching Gerard charm his comic books into telling their own stories, or helping his dad brew basic palliatives for the days after the full. Real school had always sucked, having to keep everything a secret, missing all the time when they were recovering, but home, home had always been, well, magical.

These days, instead of spilling their secrets, Mikey just said he believed in unicorns. He didn't mind how people who didn't understand read that. He liked having something real to say, something true to give of himself. The music was true, but it was mostly Gerard's. Mikey didn't have any problem being part of that, there were just times when he wanted things for himself. Also, it helped Gerard, whose instinct was to be honest in all things, even if he knew the consequences.

Frank and Ray and Bob knew, of course. Matt had known, too, and wow, the confidentiality paperwork in that instance had been a mess. It still pissed Mikey off when he thought about it, because it wasn't like Matt hadn't fucking known what they were when they joined the band. For that matter, it wasn't like he hadn't known that Mikey couldn't take the Wolfsbane, that he was actively allergic to certain key ingredients. It wasn't like they'd just sprung that little inconvenience on him suddenly. And it wasn't half as fucking bothersome to anyone--not even Gerard, who could take the Wolfsbane and was always miserable watching Mikey take longer to recover--as it was to Mikey.

The worst of it was when they would be in populated areas and there was nothing to do but chain Mikey up. Gerard would stay with him, which helped a bit, but it couldn't completely stop Mikey from practically peeling himself apart with the need to get out. When Mikey nearly didn't recover from the moon at the Paramour, Gerard sent him out to the country for a bit, to healers who would be willing to work with him, help with the worst of the damage.

When it happened on tour again, Gerard sent him home to Don and Donna, and started scouring the magical world for solutions. Mikey was too weak to argue, and even if he hadn't been, he sort of needed Gerard's unfailing belief that there was a way to fix the problem. When he'd finally gotten back on his feet that time, he came back to the tour, despite everyone's concern. It meant the risk of hurting himself again, but it was better than being far away, tormented by Frank's semi-hourly texts about everything he wasn't there for. He knew Frank didn't mean it that way, knew he meant to keep Mikey there with them, but Mikey hadn't been, and somehow, it was worse.

Still, even knowing that Gerard had been desperately pouring over every magical source of information he could get his hands on, it was something of a surprise when he said, "We're gonna take a couple of years off after the Garden. Do some recording."

"For two years?" Ray asked mildly.

Gerard shrugged. "And some fucking around."

"I volunteer to nail Frank to the floor," Bob said, evidently wholly serious. Frank flipped him off.

"You can once we get to Scotland."

There was silence for a short while until Ray said, "I give. What's in Scotland?"

"Hogwarts," Mikey said, since, really, that was the only thing he knew of in Scotland, other than good scotch. He didn't think Gerard was considering a relapse in a quiet location.

"Hogwarts," Gerard confirmed. "And their potions master is running trials on werewolves for whom the Wolfsbane doesn't work."

Mikey frowned. He read enough in the transfigurative community to know that prejudice against werewolves tended to be even worse on that side of the pond than it was in the States. "Why?"

"He said it was personal."

"Well no shit, it's personal, Gee." Mikey glared.

"Mikey, just-- Just meet him, okay? You'll know. You know you will."

"He could be an accomplished occlumens. Then what, Gee?"

Gerard shifted from one foot to the other for a moment, until Bob said, from behind Mikey, "You'll know, Mikeyway. Whatever he can do, you'll know. You've learned more than just your head tricks and from what you say most wizards haven't. You'll know."

It was true, most wizards had only been socialized to other wizards, hadn't learned how to read each other, read signs that weren't magic-related. Still, Mikey wished he had Bob's faith in himself. "I suppose it's only a plane ride." Both Gerard and Mikey were crap at basic Apparition, let alone side-along.

Tentatively, Gerard smiled. Bob put a hand on Mikey's shoulder, large and warm. Mikey made himself stay still, not curl into the touch. He wasn't a wolf, not right then, anyway. He could control himself.

*


Mikey went with Gerard to tell Brian. Brian was one of those people who had had to know, absolutely had to, because he couldn't just be scheduling concerts on the nights of the full here and there. Once Brian had gotten that it wasn't a sick Way-brothers joke--which, admittedly, had taken a practical demonstration and Gerard snarling at Brian to get the fuck away from a recovering Mikey--he'd kept their secret and worked with it, and never once made either of them feel less than human. Mikey knew it was all of those things that had caused Gerard to fall in love with Brian, so when Gerard said, "I'll talk to him," Mikey said, "We will," because he wasn't going to make Gerard be the one to ask. Not when they were doing this for Mikey.

Brian, though, just said, "About fucking time."

Gerard blinked. "So, you don't--"

"Gerard, even Ray has almost died on this tour. Time to give it a rest, don't you think?"

Mikey kind of wondered where Gerard had been the last four times Brian had expressed this sentiment. Then he flinched a little, because he knew Gerard's MO: when a problem was too big to fix, tour and hope that it wasn't there when you got back. That solution didn't really work all that well when the problem was Mikey, but nobody had the heart to tell Gerard, not even Brian, who could be pretty brutal with his honesty.

Gerard shrugged. "You were the one who said we owed it to the fans--"

"I said that after you'd gotten yourself off a completely fucking lethal cocktail of Dreamless and coke and needed someone and something to remind you why. This isn't exactly the same, you know."

It was kind of amazing, Mikey reflected, that they'd only driven Brian to drink himself nearly to death, rather than say, jump off a building. He said, "Ray made us all update to international plans so we could send you texts."

"He's a thoughtful guy, that Ray. Email would have worked just fine."

"But then I wouldn't have been able to bug you every twenty minutes," Gerard said, smiling the smile that Mikey found so transparent he was kind of amazed Brian--Brian who figured everything, even the things they didn't want him knowing, out--hadn't long gotten the message. Brian was one of those people that Mikey made sure never, ever to accidentally legilimize, not even when he was really fucking out of it, just in case he found something out he didn't want to know, like Brian being straight or something. (And okay, that was pretty much off the table, since Mikey had accidentally slipped into Jepha's mind once while really, incredibly drunk and had seen more of Brian than he'd ever needed or wanted to, but still, Mikey had his fears.)

"Right," Brian said, straight-faced. "And then what would I have done with myself?"

"Always looking out for you, that Ray," Gerard said, smile managing, somehow, to widen.

"Jesus," Brian said, rolling his eyes and pulling Gerard into a tight hug. Over Gerard's shoulder, Brian looked at Mikey and Mikey didn't have to use magic to hear the take care of him that Brian was silently transmitting. Mikey looked away so that there would be no way for Brian to hear the thought, a wolf always takes care of its pack, no reason for him to think about all the implications of the thought.

*


The Potions Master who was running the experiment had arranged for a residence for the five of them in a couple of neighboring houses that were just outside the boundaries of Hogsmeade. Mikey got the feeling, without anyone having to say anything, that the idea of unmedicated werewolves living in the town hadn't gone over so well. Mikey couldn't really blame anyone for feeling that way.

They had a few hours to settle in before they had to meet with the man, who, in the delicate words of Frank Iero, was, "kind of a prissy bitch."

Mikey and Gerard went to explore the woods in the back of the house, mostly just to determine if there were going to be any threats to the others, but also to see their roaming space. Gerard said, "Mikey, maybe--"

"No. Too close to the village."

"But--"

"If we're given some outcast werewolf child to raise, I'm putting you in charge of it."

Gerard sighed, but he didn't argue any further. When they returned, Bob had gotten everyone unpacked. As this was not a normal state of affairs, Mikey kind of looked at him, but when Bob shrugged and refused to say anything, Mikey let it drop. Ray, Frank and Bob had come all the way out here just to stand by his side, so he could let them have their quirks about the experience.

The Potions Master, one Draco Malfoy, showed up two minutes early with three other people. Gerard answered the door and said, "Holy shit, you're Harry Potter."

Despite himself, Mikey couldn't help looking. The Voldemort Wars had always seemed far away as a teen, but that hadn't kept him from wanting to read every wizarding comic about it ever as he'd grown away from his parents and the only part of the wizarding community he'd ever really had, through the medium of touring. Mikey had felt fairly certain that Draco Malfoy couldn't be the Draco Malfoy, Harry's pseudo-nemesis, only the man in front of him looked a lot like the drawings. That made no sense and it was all Mikey could do to keep a tight reign on his legilimency. He managed, but it was one of the harder things he'd done.

Harry, for his part was looking at Draco. "They're Americans, they won't know how to read, eh?"

The red head who was clearly Ronald Weasley was snickering behind his hand and the woman, Hermione Granger, was rolling her eyes. "Bloody hell." She stepped forward. "Gerard Way, yes?"

Gerard shook the hand she held out by rote, but looked down at it in confusion. Mikey felt for him. Wizards never willingly shook their hand once they knew what the Ways were. She said, "Hermione Granger, the ethics committee of this little venture. Pleasure to meet you. Harry is, indeed, Harry, also the funding, Draco is the necessary skills and lab space and Ron Weasley, there, is the materials. We're all very pleased to meet you."

Frank peered around Gerard. "Where's the rest of the ethics committee?"

"We could only find one person with ethics," Ron said. "But she has enough to compensate."

Frank thought this over for a second and then nodded. "Very well." Mikey didn't even have to breathe to smell the attraction hormones coming off of Frank. Gerard was giggling at the ground.

Ron said, "There's tea in the kitchen, mind if we--?"

"Oh." Gerard stepped out of the way. "There's tea? We just got here."

"We prestocked the kitchen," Harry explained.

"They did," Draco specified, nose just high enough in the air for Mikey to be glad Draco'd had nothing to do with it. The band needed to be able to actually eat. Draco asked, "Which one of you is Michael?"

"Mikey," Mikey said, and when Draco opened his mouth he said, "Dealbreaker. Michael sounds...well, not like me."

"You do know it's not done to legilimize people casually?" Draco asked, something serious both in his eyes and his tone, underneath the veneer of snobbery.

"I didn't read your mind," Mikey said. "I read your face. Wizards always forget how." It was one of the many useful things about having essentially been raised in two worlds.

Draco narrowed his eyes for a second, but then said, "Mikey," with a twist of his lips. He swept past, into the kitchen.

Mikey looked behind him, where Bob was standing, and rolled his eyes. Bob nodded, fervently.

*


Draco sat down at the table without being asked and said, "It's hard to find genetic werewolves, most of them are killed at birth. I can't honestly say if it will affect the testing or not."

Silence followed that pronouncement until Ray asked, "What the fuck is wrong with you people?"

Draco opened his mouth, but Ron said, "Shut it, Draco." He met Ray's eyes and asked, "Every month, you find a way to contain him, yes?" The him in question being Mikey, addressed only by a flicker of Ron's eyes.

Ray nodded tightly. Mikey watched as Frank edged up beside Ray. If it came down to it, none of them were capable of going up against these four, but Gerard and he actually had a chance, which was more than either Frank or Ray had. Ron's voice, though, was surprisingly gentle, as if he knew, as if he were watching, too. He said, "And then you put him back together after he's torn himself to pieces, yeah?"

Ray flinched, but didn't back down. Mikey felt Gerard's hand curl into his. Ron continued, "Imagine if others knew, if they were afraid he would do that to them, if they thought that was all he was. Imagine what kind of life that would be. You imagine any parent wants that for their child? Most werewolves find ways to sterilize themselves, and, failing that, abort their children. There are times when neither of those works, though."

Ray's body language softened a touch. Hermione handed him tea. "You have to ignore Draco. He's a bit wanting in the tact department, but, for the most part, his heart's in the right place."

Draco sneered, "Gryffindors," but the look he sent in Ray and Frank's direction was somewhat apologetic, so Mikey took Hermione's words at face value.

All the same, he asked, "What's in this for you?"

Draco pulled a sleeve of his robe back to reveal a magical mark Mikey had only ever seen in his comics. "You know what this is?"

Mikey nodded. Draco said, "Then you probably know why I should like it if people looked at my eyes rather than my forearm when they saw me."

"And what does Wolfsbane have to do with that?" Even being unfamiliar with the discipline of Potions, Mikey could think of several easier ways to gain respect.

For the first time since he walked in the door, Draco looked uncertain, his glance flickering toward the others. It was Ron who spoke again. "Greyback did a number on the community before we were able to hunt him down. Werewolf numbers are larger than ever before. Even people-- Even those who were attacked badly enough to carry the..."

"Genetic virus," Hermione said, but she was frowning, clearly aware that was an unsatisfactory way of referring to it.

"Yeah," Ron said, "their children are being born werewolves, but they're too young to run the experiments on, even the ones who've had a bad reaction to the Wolfsbane, so--"

"It's needed," Harry finished. "And even if it weren't widely needed, it would still be needed. Or would you not agree?" He looked placidly at Mikey and Gerard.

Mikey said, "All right. Let's talk about how the experiment will work," and sat down. He had a feeling this was going to take a while to understand.

*


After the four visitors cleared out of the house, satisfied that Gerard and Mikey were aware of what was expected of them, there was a good minute of silence before Frank said, "We could always go back. No shame in running from crazy, I always say."

"You never say that." Gerard called him on the lie.

"Starting now," Frank clarified.

"Well, we could, but then we wouldn't get to watch you make a complete dumbass out of yourself trying to get Hermione's attention every time the two of you are in the same room. I can't just give up free entertainment like that." Ray, however, was watching Mikey and Gerard, even as he said it.

Mikey looked at Gerard while Frank made noises of protest. Gerard opened up to him, let him feel the threads of hope and worry and the desperate need for things to be better. In exchange, Mikey let Gerard have some of his own cautious optimism, barely contained fear. Frank interrupted with, "Do you have any idea how unfair it is that the two of you can actually read each other's minds? I mean, at least Bert and Quinn could never do that."

Bob was leaning against the counter, drinking the coffee he'd made for himself. He wasn't into tea. Gerard had already informed him it was going to be a long experience abroad. Bob had seemed unruffled by this fact. He asked, "So, are we staying?"

Mikey watched him lift the cup to his lips, like it made no difference what they said, like Bob's opinion wasn't even part of the conversation. Mikey asked, "What do you think?"

Bob looked both of them over for a long minute. "I think we've come this far."

Gerard said, "And the two of you?"

Ray said, "If there's a chance, man, right? I mean, shit can't go on the way it is, that's for sure."

Frank narrowed his eyes, thinking while the rest of them waited. Finally he said, "I can totally get her to pay attention to me. You're such an asshole." He flicked his finger against Ray's bicep, and clearly, that was all he was going to say on the subject.

Bob was the one to ask, "What do you think?" to the two of them.

Mikey said, "We think Ray's right. Something's gotta change."

Bob took a long sip of his coffee. "Okay, well. I guess we'd better start figuring out the logistics of the house, huh?"

Mikey bit his lip. Gerard said, "Mikes?"

"I can-- That couch is big enough. I can transfigure it into a bed for all of us. If we just. Wanted to stay together, for now."

"That is totally awesome, Mikeyway," Frank said, with the utmost sincerity.

When Mikey looked around, the others were nodding in agreement.

*


Draco had given Mikey a list of potions ingredients that literally spanned the length of the house when unraveled and told him to put a mark through anything he was allergic to, a star by anything he was unsure of his reaction to. Gerard was given his own list and assigned the same task. Bob, Ray and Frank helped by reading words from the opposite ends of the scrolls and putting whatever mark they were told until they met either Mikey or Gerard in the middle.

When they were done, Mikey looked at his list and said, "That's a lot of stars."

Gerard nodded dejectedly at his own. "I hate allergy tests."

"You don't have--"

"Mikey--"

"He can find other controls--"

"Shut up," Gerard said, and sang very, very loudly for the rest of the day whenever Mikey tried to bring it up. Mikey finally gave up, escaping to the edge of the woods where he accidentally found Bob hiding.

"Oh." Mikey blinked. "Sorry, I--"

Bob patted the ground next to him. "Did he follow you?"

"No, Frank distracted him with a huge argument about why Gerard doesn't fly, if he can."

"I'm assuming we're talking about the brooms thing again?" Bob asked.

Mikey sat down where he'd been offered a patch of grass and said, "I guess some of the books in the house were on wizarding games. Most of them involve flight. Frank got bored."

Bob nodded. "Can you? Fly?"

"Sure. It's not hard, really, once you know what you're doing. Just. I don't much like the thought that if I fall, someone else has to catch me on the way down." Mikey smirked. "And they say Gee's the metaphorical one."

Bob laughed softly. Mikey laid down on his side and put his head in Bob's lap, enjoying it when Bob brought one hand to Mikey's head, combing his fingers gently through the hair. His eye caught on the book that Bob had evidently been thumbing through. "Familiar Familiars?"

"It had better pictures than most of the others."

Mikey liked the way Bob no longer had trouble admitting that to him. There had been a long time--Mikey had never told Bob he'd known, because he shouldn't have, wouldn't have, even, if the emotion hadn't been so strong in Bob; there was only so much of the time Mikey could go around shielding himself from the others--where Bob hadn't felt like he could talk about the way he preferred pictures to words, beats to musical notation, because Gerard and Mikey read so much. Mikey had finally given Bob a number of coffee table books with pictures of jazz greats and Chicago and other things Bob loved for Christmas one year and Bob had grinned and stopped feeling stupid.

Mikey reached over and flipped open the book. A picture of a gigantic barn owl greeted him. It looked downy and wise. Mikey said, "Always wanted a familiar."

"You-- You have like a million pets."

"Not the same. Pets love you because you feed them and rub their bellies. Familiars... It's hard to explain. It's like, with Gee, our magic is bound, mostly just because we're brothers and we allow it to be. The bond with familiars is either more carefully chosen or more work in developing, but it's, I mean, I've heard it's pretty awesome."

"So why didn't you find one?"

Mikey shrugged, which was a little hard to do lying down, but he managed. "Our parents kept us out of wizarding towns, for the most part, which is where you'd get a familiar. And later, I mean, it's not like I can just leave a familiar at home. Once you have one, you belong to each other. Gee and I are a lot more separable than a human from its familiar, because Gee and I can understand the need for the separation. And some familiars, a crup or a kneazle, say, could maybe be passed off as normal animals, but most? I mean, who the fuck has a pet owl? Or takes their pet toad with them everywhere? Or it could be something even more odd, something more inexplicable. Honestly, the kinds of familiars that are attracted in kind to werewolves tend to be a little, uh, sort of the creature equivalent to someone who enjoys the X-Games, you know?"

"I thought werewolves didn't hurt other creatures."

"Not unless we're fucking out of our minds. But you've seen me. Would you take the chance?"

Bob was silent for a good long while. Mikey twisted to frown upward at him. "Bob?"

"You don't remember anything from those nights, do you?"

Mikey didn't want to answer, he didn't want to, but he said, "Mostly just the hunger. The-- I can't explain it. It's not human."

"I know, Mikey. I stay."

Mikey played the words in his head again and again and then a third time. His, "Oh," felt kicked out of him, like the exhalation of breath after something solid has hit your chest.

"We all do, now. Ray-- At first he said it was private, and Frank agreed, but I went anyway, because--"

Mikey waited.

"Because there was a reason Gee always stayed with you, I figured. And I wanted to be there, in the mornings, when--"

"Yeah. Yeah. Gee knows?"

"Gee can remember, Mikey. He likes to eat Ray's hair. It's a little awesome."

Mikey laughed. It sounded weird, like somebody else, but it felt a little better. Mikey made himself remember what the hell he had been talking about and said, "So, um. Familiars. They're just smart enough to know better."

Bob scoffed, but when Mikey asked, "What?" he just shook his head.

*


The allergy testing was about as much fun as Mikey had expected it to be. Draco spaced the tests carefully, and gave Mikey and Gerard potions to clean out their systems after each test, to alleviate the worst of any responses at the end of the day, but it was still the better part of a week devoted to tasting a lot of fairly disgusting ingredients or applying foul-smelling topicals to their skin and being sick about a third of the time from the resultant biochemical reaction of their bodies.

Most evenings both of them came back and curled into bed around each other. On the second night, the other three insisted they eat something, coaxing and hovering and finally growling until they did, but other than that, all either of them wanted to do was to sleep off the exhaustion of purposely abusing their bodies in the name of...well, science, kinda.

Just as Mikey was really about to break and ask for a day off, Draco told him, "We're done. Take the week."

It was the week leading up to the full moon, so Mikey asked, "You sure?"

"I need your system free of toxins if the tests are to do anyone any good. Get some rest, try eating moderately, and above all, do not take anything that alters your consciousness in any way." Draco was looking at them suspiciously.

Gerard said, "Oh, fuck you," and walked out.

Mikey sighed and looked back at Draco. Draco looked away first. Mikey followed Gerard out the door.

*


Hermione came by later that evening with scones and said, "Ron and Harry mentioned that Draco might have worked himself into a bit of a snit this afternoon. Was he too much of a twat altogether for forgiving, or can we still consider you in?"

Frank poked around in the scone basket. "Oh, are those currant?" He took the scone in question without waiting for an answer.

Gerard said, "It was fine. I'm just a little tired."

"It wasn't fine," Mikey disagreed. "But we're not going home."

Hermione nodded a bit and took a scone at random for herself. "Ron upset him last night. Sometimes Ron is worse than Draco when it comes to saying things he shouldn't."

Mikey hadn't noticed that the time he'd met Ron, but he was willing to take her word for it. There had been weird emotional currents between the two, stuff that Mikey had been able to pick up even without paying much attention. Ron was a fairly open book. It had taken concentration not to violate some of his boundaries. Hermione was easier, but Mikey also got the feeling that she let certain thoughts float, out there for everyone to see, a way of testing the waters. He suspected she hid more than he could immediately tell at first glance. Which was fine by him.

"We've heard it before," Gerard said, and rested his chin on Mikey's shoulder, despite the stretch. "Wanna share?"

Mikey rooted through until he found a cinnamon one. He broke it in half and handed one half to Gerard. He took a bite and said, "Thanks for the scones."

"I know--" Hermione smiled a little, bittersweet but genuine. "I know he probably hasn't said it, but we really appreciate you being willing to make the trip. Most of our subjects are younger, it's hard to know what the effects will be in a more advanced-age werewolf's body. Most of them were bitten, not genetic, although there are a few exceptions to that rule, but none of them have a sibling who works as a control. And I know he'd be angry at me for saying it, but Ron's nephew is one of the kids this is supposed to help. Draco has two school friends who are hoping to see results from the project. We all have a stake in this, you know?"

"I do too," Mikey reminded her.

"We do," Frank said, and he wasn't looking at Hermione. He was looking at Mikey. Ray had stopped trying to find a chocolate chip scone in order to nod.

Bob said, "Mm."

Hermione tilted her head for a moment and then said, "Yes, well. That's good." She finished off her scone and said, "I'm off. You'll owl if you need anything?"

"Uh," Ray said.

She looked at them, questioningly. Gerard shrugged. "We've been using Hogwarts owls. We don't have one here."

Hermione muttered something about "Harry" and "planning genius," and then told them, "I'll have one sent over from the school."

"It won't mind living--" Gerard started.

"Hogwarts has been accepting werewolves for almost ten years now. They'll settle."

"Cool," Mikey said.

Hermione blinked a little and Mikey felt, more than anything, a stutter, like her mind had skipped a note or something. She said, "Yes. Cool. Good night!"

"Night!" Frank said. "I'll see you to the door."

"It's right there," Hermione said.

"Wouldn't want you to trip."

Mikey choked, half on scone, half on laughter.

*


"I don't get why Gee has to try the new stuff also." Frank was quietly fuming in the wake of the revelation that Gerard would have to be tied up, too.

"He doesn't," Mikey said, because he understood that he wasn't helping, but he was less than pleased himself.

Gerard glared at him. "The stuff that Mikey's allergic to? All werewolves have a sensitivity to it. If Draco can get an alternative model to work, the negative side effects that I do have from the Bane will disappear."

"But that stuff doesn't bother you," Frank said, and he had his stubborn face on, which was almost never a good sign.

"Doesn't mean it's good for him, either," Mikey admitted. Wolfsbane lengthened the life expectancy of werewolves, but it did enough damage to shorten the life expectancy of the human that housed the wolf.

"Draco also said a bunch of things about comparisons and understanding how the potion works by how it works on non-allergic subjects as opposed to allergic ones and, uh, I kinda zoned."

Mikey laughed, but mostly because he'd already been zoning by the time Draco'd gotten there. He enjoyed the act of brewing Potions, but the theory behind all of it was lost on him. Frank sighed, loudly and with feeling. "I still don't like it."

"The rest of us are thrilled, Frank," Bob told him, looking serious in a way that only Bob could manage when talking out of his ass.

Frank flipped him off. Ray watched thoughtfully. "But. If this works? We get to never chain Mikey again, right?"

"Right," Gerard said, with no small amount of emphasis. Frank held his hands up in the universal sign for "I give."

*


The full was hell. The Wolfsbane didn't make Mikey sick, but it also didn't work. Normally, with Gerard on the potion, he was free to roam, to come near Mikey and calm him as best he could, but instead they were simply both out of their minds, and by the time the guys unchained them on the first morning, Mikey was more blood than skin, having tried desperately to get to Gerard all night long. Gerard was even worse, so long unused to being in that state. Draco had left potions for cleaning up the worst of the wounds, and once Ray, Bob and Frank had gotten them decently patched up, they settled them next to each other in one of the beds and stayed by their side all day.

Mikey awoke at certain points, feeling Bob sitting him gently up, trying to get him to sip at water, and once, some broth. He heard Ray say, "We've gotta--" but couldn't pay attention for any more than that. He pressed himself to Gerard, even though it hurt, because Gerard was his, his to keep safe, and right now, at least, with Gerard sleeping, Mikey could stay near him, smell the lack of fear in him. It calmed Mikey enough that he was able to go back to sleep until the next time he was woken.

Bob picked him up, careful of the parts of him that were still clearly marked and said, "I'm sorry, we have to--"

Mikey said, "I have to be able to get to Gee. I have to."

"I know, Ray and Frank went up to the school and Harry came and put up wards. No chains. The two of you can get to each other. It's okay, Mikey."

It wasn't okay, but it was better than it had been, and that was something. Mikey knew that come nightfall he would be willing to do anything to get out of those wards, to feed his pack. He trusted that Harry's wards would hold, but it wasn't going to be fun. Bob set him gently down and Mikey pulled Gerard to him, held on until Gerard started screaming, and even then, until his own hands weren't hands any longer. Then he lunged, intent on feeding his three closest friends in the world to his brother.

In the morning, Gerard said, "Mikey, Mikey," a sob catching in his voice and Mikey said, "'S'okay, Gee. One more night," before he passed out completely.

He woke later to Gerard nestling against one particularly vicious scratch that the potions had knitted, but not healed. Mikey said, "Fucking ow," but softly enough that it wouldn't wake Gerard. He felt Bob's hands on him, while Frank and Ray repositioned Gerard, making it more comfortable for Mikey. He tried to say, "Thanks," but was asleep before he could manage.

He didn't feel anyone taking him past the wards, awoke to Gerard's hand on his chest, his, "Hey, Mikey," not long before the moon pulled him from himself. The third night was always the worst night, the wolf form being as tired and hurt as the human, but metabolising both of those sensations as anger and desperation. There was nothing to do, though, but wait for the night to end, wait for the moon to give him the body he trusted back.

*


Mikey's mental shields were always for crap in the first couple of days after the full. Additionally, while most of the tales about werewolves being able to smell even the slightest variation in emotion were wrong--the wolf could, but not the human--the human could smell considerably better than most, and in those days of healing, Mikey was generally hyper-sensitive of that fact. He generally had to shower as soon as he could reasonably stand, because for all that he couldn't be much bothered at other times, the lingering scent of animal on his own skin drove him fucking insane. It was usually an intense combination of pleasure/pain, hot water stinging against open wounds but also loosening muscles, taking, leeching some of the worst of the damage from what felt like the very tips of his nerves.

He generally made Gerard shower, too. Gerard didn't mind the smell so much, had always been more at ease with this part of him, but then, Gerard had also been on the Wolfsbane for most of his formative years. He would do what Mikey said, though, because that was what Omegas did for their Alpha. That didn't change, no matter the form. It wasn't something they really talked about, not even with each other, it just was. Gerard had never seemed too bothered by the dynamic.

The nice thing about the heightened sense of smell was that he could smell the other guys no matter where they were in the house. Frank and his Pert 2-in-1 hairwash and Woolite detergent, Ray's tobacco and bergomat hand lotion, Bob's Irish Spring and something that was more smoke, more like the last throws of a dying match than a cigarette, but that was there, too. He could smell their concern, too, but it wasn't that it was so strong so much as that it was wreaking havoc on his mind, his shields struggling to reassert themselves under the onslaught and his nose too confused to know how to handle the situation.

Mikey vomited on the second morning when someone made coffee and the smell of the grounds--too intense just then--mixed with the smell of Frank's worry, Gerard's exhaustion and Ray and Bob both trying so very, very hard to be calm. Bob was the first one there, rubbing at Mikey's back, not saying anything stupid, like, "You're fine."

When Mikey finished up, Bob gave him a glass of water, and helped him stand to brush his teeth and fetched him a new shirt. He ushered Mikey back into bed. Gerard mumbled, "Smells?"

Mikey nodded a little. Bob said, "Oh," and left the room. A couple of moments later, Mikey smelled lavendar and honeysuckle, light, but enough to clear up a lot of the other smells. He worked to blink, get his eyes open and saw Bob sticking some stalks of each in a glass on the dresser. Mikey took a deep breath, and found that he could. Bob smiled a little. "I thought, you know. Maybe something fresher?"

The other stuff, the stuff in his mind, was still there, but it was a little bit quieter now that Mikey could catch his breath, breathe deep. "You're a genius, Bob Bryar," he said, and was glad when he fell right back into sleep. He didn't want to say anything he couldn't take back.

*


Draco was merciless in having Gerard and Mikey recount every sensation from the point when they'd begun taking the Wolfsbane until they were feeling one hundred percent post-transformation. After threatening Veritaserum several times and evidently finally being convinced that they'd divulged everything, he shut himself up in his lab without even telling them they were free to go. Ron showed up a few hours later to find them prowling the halls of Hogwarts, checking out all the spots they'd always heard about but had never seen. After the pleasantries had been an exchanged and Gerard had wrangled for an insider's tour, Ron asked, "Know if Draco's bothered to eat?"

Mikey and Gerard both looked at him. Ron sighed. "Drives the house elves bloody mad when he doesn't. And a kitchen full of irritated house elves is nobody's idea of a good time."

Mikey really wasn't trying, but he could feel the lie coming off of Ron, even more strongly than Gerard's excitement about the castle. He made himself hold onto his curiosity, not dig any further. He thought he knew what he would find. Gerard said that kind of shit about Brian all the time, which was ironic, because alcoholic or no, Brian could still take way better care of himself than Gerard could. Mikey said, "Yeah, know exactly what you mean."

"Never met a house elf, huh?" Ron asked.

They both shook their head. Ron grinned. "Guess we're starting that tour in the kitchen."

*


The house elves loved Mikey. They were convinced he needed feeding up and, possibly, in the case of the female elves, a mother. Mikey whispered, "We're gonna have to bring Frank back," and Gerard got his very best evil smile on. It wasn't very evil. That was all right, Mikey knew it was the intention that mattered.

When Mikey had eaten enough to feed a small army, cavalry horses and all, he asked Ron, "So. You and Draco?" because sometimes he preferred the direct approach to what was often the long drawn out avoidance of intense emotions that nobody bothered to hide. The exception to this seemed to be Gerard and Brian, largely because that was one instance where he had a personal stake in nobody getting hurt. It sucked.

Ron, to his credit, burst out laughing in what was a credible imitation of incredulity. It really sucked for him that Mikey could still feel the layer of untruth beneath the laughter. Still, Mikey would have backed down, would have left it at that. Only Gerard said, "Aren't you guys a little old to be dipping each other's pigtails in ink?"

Ron shook his head. "It's not like that. This is just-- We're not exactly friends and we're not exactly enemies and we've never really found anything to be, exactly."

Mikey had a feeling he looked as unimpressed as Gerard. Ron laughed. "I'm the guy who gets his supplies. He needs those, so he's...nice, sort of. For Draco, anyway."

"You also make sure he eats," Mikey said softly.

"The research he's doing, it's-- The benefits to certain members of my family will be immeasurable, and nobody else, I mean, there are perhaps four or five Potions Masters in the world with the expertise to do what he's doing, and none of them would bother, so I, I'm not the ungrateful sort."

"And he just chose, with that kind of knowledge, to work on this problem?" Gerard sounded understandably suspicious.

Ron opened his mouth to answer, then shut it. After a while, he said, "Huh."

Mikey just managed not to laugh.

*


Mikey had named the owl that was staying with them Hitchcock, which Ray loved. He wasn't sure the owl really knew what Mikey was saying when he called her by the name--owls at Hogwarts weren't named, so, presumably she'd been doing fine for a year or so without one--but she would always hop or glide over to him, settle near to him and attempt some grooming of his hair. He tried to explain that it was supposed to be that way, but she seemed unimpressed. Mikey wondered if she was a mom.

It was fun. Before when Gerard and he had had to use owls, they had always had to be coaxed onto the property, and even then, getting them stay long enough for the recipient of the missive to read the letter and write a reply had been torture. Mikey had never imagined that one would be willing to sit by him while he read a comic or fly over him while he explored the woods with the other guys.

Mikey worried, sometimes, that she was lonely being away from the other Hogwart's owls, but even when she needed to carry messages up to the school, she never dawdled, always came straight back, looking to Mikey expectantly for treats. Mikey never withheld either rewards or affection.

He became used to waiting for her, sort of feeling instinctively when she would be back, and when she was late, he worried. He didn't notice, the first couple of times, how Bob was always there when he was on edge, calm and willing to take some of the worst of the fear, if Mikey would only let him. But he caught on the third time, the part of his brain that he had forgotten to shut down as tightly as he normally did sensing something that didn't fit, wasn't-- "What?"

"I didn't say anything," Bob told him, looking slightly concerned.

No, no, of course Bob hadn't, which didn't change the fact that Mikey had heard something. Then again, Mikey had wanted to hear certain things for so long, it was possible he was having delusions. Mikey rubbed his hand over his face. "Oh. Huh."

"You okay?"

"Yeah, just... Hitchcock."

It was a lame excuse. Hogwarts would have sent another owl if there were a problem. She probably just liked whatever they were having for dinner. Or remembered what it was like to be among her own kind, better than a couple of werewolves and their friends. Something. She was fine.

Bob looked down for a moment. "Gee says you were the whole reason anyone in the band said hi to me. That you have good instincts."

"That's what he calls the legilimency when he doesn't quite know someone well enough," Mikey explained.

"Yeah, I figured that out later."

Mikey shrugged. "You looked after those guys." It was a vast oversimplification of Bob's relationship to The Used, and almost a lie about exactly what Mikey's "instinct" had been about Bob from the very first, but it worked.

"Mikey."

Mikey looked at Bob, trying for as much guilelessness as possible. Bob called him on it, saying, "Frank says you're quieter about a broken heart than most people, but it looks a lot like the way you acted when I was with Jeph, and Katrina, and Spence."

Mikey fidgeted. He didn't mean to. He was working his hardest not to read Bob, because that wasn't fair, wasn't playing by the rules. "I like Jeph and Katrina and Spence."

"Me too," Bob said. Mikey had noted Bob's bizarre ability to break up with people on the best of terms. "Just not like I like you."

"Bob--" Mikey started.

"Ray said that there are things that you and Gee never tell anyone, things he thinks he knows but won't say because maybe he's wrong, but that whatever else, you'll never make the first move, never, no matter how long you've wanted to."

"Is there anyone you haven't talked to about this?" Mikey could feel the sick heat of his stomach all the way up through his face.

"Lots of people. Just. Nobody in our immediate circle."

Mikey was silent.

"It's not like I don't know you're a werewolf, Mikey. I get that--"

"No, you don't," Mikey said softly.

"Mikey--"

"You don't. You don't get that, as corny and stupid as this is, when a werewolf finds his mate, he mates for life. That if this doesn't work out for you, I can't move on, because I smelled you almost ten years ago now and I knew, immediately. You don't get that when I have sex with someone, it's all I can do to keep myself separate from their thoughts, not steal into their head and be there for the ride. You don't get that werewolves have a lower life expectancy, especially those who can't take the Bane. You don't get that I'm the alpha and while I can tamp down on that at times, there are other times where it's never ever going to happen. You don't--"

"You're the alpha? I thought-- I mean. Gee's older."

"It isn't based on birth order," Mikey said. His shoulders felt tight and he really didn't want to explain. There was a reason Gerard and he never told anyone.

"That's-- That's pretty hot, actually, Mikeyway."

Mikey blinked. Bob smiled a little. "Also, I like that you like my smell."

"It's not--"

Bob cut him off by leaning in, opening Mikey's mouth with his lips, sweeping his tongue briefly inside. "You like the way I smell. And give me some fucking credit here, Mikey. I've known you those same almost ten years. I've lived with you for the overwhelming majority of them. Even if wolves didn't mate for life, this band would require it. I'm not leaving you. Not if you find out my deepest secrets while you're fucking me within an inch of my life and sell them to the Enquirer."

Mikey laughed nervously, Bob's lips still all too close--not close enough--to his.

Bob said, "Stop being so fucking afraid."

"Like telling me not to breathe."

"I know CPR."

Mikey held his breath.

*


The second permutation of experimental Wolfsbane worked, in a sense. It worked in that it knocked Mikey out, so that the wolf slept through everything. Of course, so did he--for five days straight. When he woke up he was more twingy than sore and a little lethargic, but nothing that getting up and taking a shower, playing some music wouldn't get rid of. That said, he was pretty sure sleeping for five days out of every month wasn't a realistic plan. Draco, after a moment, actually laughed a little bit and said, "I can see how that might be true."

He shooed them out and both of them sat outside the door, a little surprised at this sudden evidence of humanity underneath all the snippiness. Gerard asked, "Think he's getting some?"

Mikey could usually smell that. So could Gerard, for that matter. "No, but I think maybe Ron kinda listened to us."

Gerard perked up. "We should start a dating service."

Mikey snorted. "That caters to who? Idiots?"

"Don't mock underserved portions of the population, Mikey. It's not nice."

"Okay," Mikey said, not suitably chastened at all.

Gerard was quiet long enough that even if he hadn't been broadcasting his thoughts, and even had his thoughts not always lain a little bit nearer to Mikey than anyone else, Mikey still would have said, "Spit it out."

"Um. Bob." Gerard smiled as he said it, a happy smile.

Whether he should have or not, Mikey had done a little probing on the others when he and Bob had started doing things like kissing each other good morning, or cuddling, just the two of them, on the couch. The pervading feeling seemed to be relief that Bob had finally said something, which made Mikey feel like maybe he should pay more attention. It was one thing to shield a lot. That was necessary. But missing huge chunks of the other guy's lives because he was concentrating a little too much on his own head? He wasn't so comfortable with that. He said, "Yeah, Bob," and gave Gerard his own smile.

"That's good," Gerard said, looking down and nodding. "That's good."

Mikey said, "Gee. It's still-- Still you and me, me and you."

Gerard screwed up his face and said, "I know that, Mikey."

As much as Mikey wanted to say, "Brian'll see, one of these days," or, "Someone else'll come along," or anything that would touch at some of the muted sadness sitting on Gerard like some kind of lazy cat, all he could do was tuck himself against Gerard's side and squeeze.

It was seemingly enough for the moment, because Gerard took a deep breath and squeezed back.

*


Mikey was feeling restless. It unnerved him. While Frank and Gerard both had wanderlust, both started to get restless the minute their feet hit Jersey, Mikey was good at staying in one place for long periods of time. And it hadn't even been three months. He tried to work it out, taking long walks from first light until he had to return, hunger and thirst hounding him all the way back to the house. He didn't drag anyone out with him on these walks. The solo aspect of them didn't settle well with Mikey, who functioned as part of the pack at all times, but that didn't mean he was going to make someone else miserable just to feel a little better.

He got away with it for a bit, until the day Bob followed him out of the house in the morning. Mikey felt him right away, his sense of the guys super-attenuated with everything that was going on. He slowed his paced, waited for Bob to catch up and said, "It's early. You should've stayed in bed."

"You weren't in it," Bob said. Despite himself, Mikey smiled.

They walked in silence for the better part of a mile before Bob said, "I'm not trying to be a dick here, or anything, but you weren't, uh-- You weren't, like, sexually assaulted before I met you, or anything, right?"

Mikey frowned. "What?"

"Just. We've established that I don't smell bad to you and you clearly like kissing me and sleeping on top of me, but you're kinda-- I get the feeling anything more is sort of off-limits. And usually guys are, well. Guys are easy, Mikeyway."

Mikey smiled in rueful acknowledgment. "I'm not sexually scarred." He sighed. "It's-- It's kinda been a while, and I, with sex, during, I tend to be kinda... Intense."

"Intense."

Mikey forced the word, "Violent," off his lips, because it was the truth. There was a second of quiet between them and then Bob's mind reacted with a ripple of interest that Mikey was pretty sure he'd have felt even had he been actively shielding, rather than just keeping the basic precautionary barriers that he favored normally. Mikey's breath shortened. "Oh."

"I've never tried it before," Bob said. "Not-- I mean, Jeph liked--"

Mikey nodded his head. It was no secret, what Jepha liked. Bob said, "I never really thought-- But then you said it and, and. I thought."

"I can control myself. I can. We just have to have agreements." Mikey was pretty sure he could, anyway. He had never really let himself be at all out of control with his other partners. It was just that Bob was his mate. Mikey was a little worried it changed things.

"I can take it, Mikey," Bob said, low and interested and Mikey almost didn't even feel himself shift on his feet and push Bob into the nearest tree.

They were deep in the forest, nothing around but the woodland animals of the day and vegetation and Mikey growled, "Can you?"

Bob bucked against Mikey's hands, but Mikey kind of knew, had always somehow known that if he ever let himself go like this, it wouldn't matter how much bigger his partner was, Mikey would have the advantage. Bob didn't move an inch; he grinned. "Try me."

Before Mikey lost it completely he asked, "Stuff?" because he hadn't gone on a walk this morning expecting to get laid, but he was pretty sure Bob had.

"Right pocket."

Mikey ripped Bob's shirt off of him. He flipped him around so that he was facing the tree and buried teeth in Bob's skin at the juncture connecting his neck and back, right above where the bark had rubbed straight through his t-shirt, into the flesh. Bob hissed. Mikey bit harder, harder, until his tongue could lap at copper-salt liquid, until the smell of Bob's blood was everywhere in his head. The thought, "Yes, yes," came to him and it was barely even noticeable to Mikey that it wasn't his thought. One last lick and he threw Bob away from the tree. Bob made it a few steps before stumbling, coming down to his knees. Mikey's vision blurred at the sight of him, hair mussed, chest scratched from the tree, waiting for Mikey. Mikey walked forward, pushing the waistband of his sweats down. "Suck."

Bob wasn't in any more of a mood to waste time than Mikey was, or maybe he just knew better than to risk not taking Mikey at his word. Either way, he didn't lick, didn't tease, he swallowed Mikey as far as he could and sucked. Mikey tried to clear the need from his own mind, tried to remember this was Bob and he didn't want to hurt him, but his mind was really fucking uninterested in what Mikey would want at his most rational. Mikey's hands grabbed at the back of Bob's head and held his face to Mikey's pelvis until Mikey was lightheaded from Bob's lack of air, the sensation filtrating his senses.

Bob took a couple of choking, desperate breaths and went back down on Mikey. Mikey felt Bob's intention to touch himself a second before he did and he cuffed him on the back of the head. "No."

Bob just sucked hard enough that it did hurt in response, but he didn't touch himself, didn't resist when Mikey kept him right where he was until black spots were swimming in Bob's vision. As he let go, Bob lightly, ever so lightly, let his teeth skim the surface of Mikey's cock. Mikey strangled a whimper, simply pulling himself out of Bob's mouth. Quietly, he said, "Get your fucking jeans off. Hands and knees."

Mikey grabbed the jeans once Bob had discarded them and pulled out the small bottle of lube and the condom Bob had thought to bring. He looked over at where Bob was waiting, exactly as he said. Mikey was sure the rocks and the branches of the forest floor couldn't feel good on Bob's palms, knees. He counted to ten and scraped his nails down the full length of Bob's back. Bob arched into the sensation, moaning and Mikey felt his mind go sort of blank, accepting in a way that it hadn't been, not even when he'd been all but choking on Mikey's cock. Mikey said, "Spread your legs."

Bob did, as wide as he could. Mikey spilled a fair amount of the lube onto his hand, but other than that, he wasn't gentle. He worked two fingers into Bob without the work up of one and went straight for his prostate. Mikey felt the uncertainty that arose again, and despite the need that was claiming Mikey for its own, growled, "Tell me. Tell me you want it."

"Want it, Mikey," fell from Bob's lips, but underneath it there was a flash of nerves.

"Tell me," Mikey demanded.

"Want-- Want your cock." A pause, and something settled in Bob. When he said, "Want it in me," Mikey could feel the submission coming over Bob, truly wrapping him up.

"I'm not going to touch you. You'll come just from having my cock inside you, or you won't come at all."

A sob broke from Bob's mouth and Mikey pushed in, one long, solid stroke all the way down. He said, "Bob."

Bob said, "Want it, Mikeyway, want."

Mikey gave it to him, establishing a hard, fast rhythm, leaning over to bite at the side of Bob's neck left previously untouched until Bob moaned, "Mikey," and Mikey could feel the hint of toomuchtoomuch threatening in Bob. He plunged all the way in and stilled. He said, "Not yet."

Bob whimpered but listened, listened every time Mikey said it, all the way until Mikey could feel him crumbling from the effort, desperate to listen, unsure he actually could. Then Mikey said, "Now."

The rush of sensation that Mikey rode along with Bob was so intense that he very nearly passed out along with Bob at the end of it. Instead he blinked several times, took a few deep breaths and separated himself from Bob, using his wand to clean them both up, repair Bob's shirt and redress him. He didn't heal the bite or scratch marks. He felt Bob wake a second before his eyes opened.

Mikey smiled uncertainly. He knew Bob had enjoyed it, but so had Mikey, in the moment. Afterward was seemingly more complicated. Bob said, "I'm guessing you've maybe never let go like that with anyone else."

Somehow, Mikey laughed. He shook his head. He didn't have to ask if Bob had ever given over like that. He would have known even without the legilimancy. Bob wasn't the type to submit, or at least, Mikey would never have thought so until now. The realization that he would for Mikey--and Mikey alone--rushed through him, and Mikey was pretty sure that if he'd been able to at all he would've gotten hard again, then and there.

Bob said, "Good," in a way that made Mikey shiver. Bob said, "You never will."

"No," Mikey said, and felt the grin before it ever touched his lips. "No, I won't."

*


The third attempt caused aggression in Mikey and Gerard--toward each other. Luckily, they'd spent a good hour teaching the others how to use the floo for emergency purposes and Harry was able to apparate over and Petrificus Totalus the shit out of both of them, renewing the spell as needed until they transformed. He set up alternate warding in the attic and separated the two of them for the following two nights. They both went doubly crazy, smelling both the humans and each other, but they each emerged alive, which, even after the half hour that they'd spent attacking each other the first night, had been somewhat in question.

Bob cleaned him and fed him pain potions and broth and didn't ask him to stop trying. Mikey could feel the sentiment, smell it on him, anyway. He wanted to say, "I will, I will," except that he didn't want to want to eat Bob, not even for three days a month. He wanted to have his mind even if he couldn't have his body, have his memories, even if they weren't all good.

Instead he said, "I'm sorry," and Bob said, "No, Mikey, no," and kissed a little bit of the guilt right away.

*


Mikey had gotten Gerard but good, as their mom used to say. Not that he had ever purposely harmed Gerard, not even when they were kids and used to fight over toys. If Mikey fought hard enough--or even fought, really--Gerard would give in. That was the way it worked. As Mikey'd gotten older he'd been terribly careful, maybe too careful at times, to make sure he didn't take advantage of that. But unlike all those other times, Gerard hadn't submitted when Mikey had attacked and it had driven the alpha instinct in Mikey plumb-fucking crazy.

When he could, Mikey tiptoed over to Gerard's bed. He let his fingers hover over where the Healer--Harry had had to call one in--had patched Gerard mostly back together, four long jagged stripes running from hipbone to shoulderblade. Gerard muttered, "Stop hovering."

Mikey dropped his hand and turned to go back to his own bed, when Gerard made a displeased noise. Mikey asked, "Gee?"

"I'm sorry I defied your leader-y leader thing, but I think I still deserve cuddles."

Despite the joking tone, Gerard sounded uncertain. Mikey honestly kind of wanted to cry. Instead he said, "You think I'm mad?" Because, seriously, the fuck?

"You had them put us in different beds." Gerard didn't look at Mikey when he said this. It was true, Mikey had asked for that, but largely so he wouldn't accidentally kill his brother while they were sleeping.

Mikey sighed and climbed into the bed, pulling Gerard carefully into him, almost atop him. "Gee, I almost ripped you in half. I was feeling a little bad, okay?"

"You didn't mean it," Gerard said, and Mikey knew, could feel the cleanliness of the thought, that for Gerard, it really was that simple.

"No," Mikey said. "No, I didn't." He squeezed a little then, not enough to hurt, just trying to hold Gerard together. His hands were neither as big nor as strong as his paws, but that wasn't going to keep him from the attempt.

"Next one'll work," Gerard mumbled.

Mikey almost laughed. "You say that everytime."

"This time I'm right."

Mikey did laugh at that. "Go to sleep."

"Stay?"

Mikey wouldn't even know where to go.

*


"The internet thinks Frank and Gerard are dating," Hermione informed Mikey.

"The internet also thinks Gerard and I are dating."

She smiled. "Yes, but the rumor I pointed out seemed more likely to--"

"Just a rumor," Mikey said. "They're best friends."

"So, I'm not having delusions of grandeur thinking that a rockstar is trying to get up my skirt?"

Mikey took a moment to see if he could determine how she was feeling about that. Not what she was thinking about it, just her overwhelming reaction. He didn't feel anything that signaled danger to him. He said, "Brains turn Frank on."

"It's not-- It's not the magic thing, then?"

Mikey blinked. "Uh. What?"

"Y'know. Some guys like the idea that I can," Hermione shrugged, "make water into wine. Or whatever."

"It annoys him that Gerard and I can technically fly and we choose not to. That's about the extent of Frank's fetishization of magic use."

"That's more just him being a boy," Hermione explained.

"Ray and Bob never get up our asses about it."

"Ray and Bob are men."

"You're dangerously close to accusing yourself of pedophelia," Mikey said, and then felt a little bad. He didn't usually let the worst of his sarcasm out with anyone but the guys.

"I like mine innocent," she said, without skipping a beat.

"Hurt him and I'll wait till Draco has perfected the potion to hunt you and kill you. Slowly. With my teeth."

"You're a sweet guy, Mikeyway," she said, sounding like she sort of meant it.

"So they tell me."

*


On a Tuesday, a week and a half after the full, one of the Hogwarts owls brought them a letter.

Lab accident. Draco is an asshole alive, but needs some recovery time. Experimental potion may not be possible this month. Will keep you updated. Ron.

Ray asked, "Should we send flowers? Is that a wizard thing?"

"I think we should probably visit," Gerard said.

Mikey looked over at him, not exactly reading Gerard, but seeing if anything floated his way. When it didn't, he said, "You don't like him."

"Not really," Gerard admitted. "But he is trying to help us, and it sucks being in a sickbed. Besides, I bet he's at Mungo's, and I've always wanted to see Mungo's." Gerard brightened.

"There is something genetically wrong with you," Mikey told him.

"You have my same genes."

"No, mom and dad stole me from the unicorns," Mikey said primly.

"You're a unicorn-werewolf hybrid?" Frank asked.

"Explains a lot." Bob nodded to himself. Mikey blinked.

Gerard said, "Let that one get out of hand, didn't you?"

Just a little. Not that Mikey was going to admit it. "Maybe azaleas? I like azaleas."

"You just like the way the word sounds," Frank accused.

"So?" Mikey asked.

Frank opened his mouth. Shut it. "Azaleas it is."

*


Ron looked up when Mikey knocked on the door frame. "Oh. It was nice of you-- What are you doing here?"

"We brought flowers," Ray explained, and took them to the windowsill.

"That was, uh, I mean, he likes flowers."

Mikey noted that Ron looked like he hadn't slept in days. He asked, "When'd the accident happen?"

"Um, yester-- No, two nights ago. He's woken up a couple of times. You don't want to be here for that."

Gerard nodded sympathetically. "We have Bob for that kind of thing."

Mikey said, "I don't talk smack about Brian," and the same time that Bob said, "Fuck off."

Gerard said, "You do so," and ignored Bob completely.

Ron cracked a smile. He rubbed his hands over his eyes. "We've a supplier of the regular Wolfsbane, so Gerard should be able to take it, if nothing else. We asked and he said it should work, shouldn't mess anything up. Hermione'll be in touch."

Gerard didn't look thrilled, but he said, "'Kay."

There was silence for a long moment before Frank asked, "This place have coffee?"

Ron nodded. "The caf. It's--"

"I saw some signs," Frank nodded. "I'm gonna go get you some coffee."

Bob didn't even wait a beat before telling Mikey, "I'm going to help him carry."

Gerard was looking a little wistful, so Mikey said, "Go. Explore," and looked at Ray meaningfully. Ray thought, I won't let him get lost, loudly in Mikey's direction. Honestly, Mikey wasn't sure Ray would be able to find his way back, either, not in a magical space, but it seemed safer than sending Gerard out on his own.

Mikey waited for the clutter of their background emotions to fade. Ron was shielding, but only enough so that anyone who went looking wouldn't find anything. Mikey didn't have to look. He said, "You should say something to him. You should-- He scared the fuck out of you, so whatever happened, it wasn't just." Mikey made meaningless motions with his hands. "You should say it."

"I give him enough ammunition," Ron said softly.

Mikey nodded. "But you're the Gryffindor, is the thing."

"He can be plenty brave when he tries," Ron said, not even bothering to pretend he didn't understand. Mikey liked that about Ron.

"Like giving you clues? That way?"

Ron glared. Mikey did his best to look innocent. He knew he probably looked bored. The guys said he looked bored a lot.

"Why do you even care?" Ron asked, but he didn't sound belligerent, just curious.

Mikey hadn't thought about it. He sorted through the possibilities and came up with a few. "It's easier, in my head, when people are happier. And I, I mean, how many werewolves end up with a Muggle who isn't even phased by it? I figure, I kinda owe the universe one, or something."

"Maybe it's that the universe owed you one."

"That was My Chem."

Ron shook his head slightly, but didn't argue. He asked, "You really think--"

"You've stayed by his bedside. Is it really, I mean, is it really even that big a deal, really?"

"Yes."

Mikey laughed. "Yeah, maybe. You should do it anyway."

Ron rolled his eyes. "Go find your guys. Write some music, or something useful. Bloody loafers."

Mikey stood. "Yeah." He reached out and followed the tendrils that the others were always leaving behind for him.

*


Mikey knew it wasn't what they had come for, but a full with Gerard actually on the Wolfsbane was sort of...fun. Harry took them out to an area of the Forbidden Forest remote enough that so long as Gerard kept even a vague eye on Mikey, everything should be fine. The transformation was still as wrenchingly awful as always, and it wasn't like Mikey could remember the night, not really, but he woke with far less damage to his body and a calm that felt like freedom. Gerard told him, "You run lots, Mikey," before passing out from exhaustion. Mikey laughed, and he was sore enough to feel it straight to his toes, but he couldn't mind, not when he had found something to laugh about.

*


Ray said, "No, really, I kind of, I've been thinking about different rhythms for this album. Beats that are more about-- I mean, we've all got the wolf thing on our mind. And we're living in the fucking woods. I just. There's a lot of music out there that we've never even thought about because it was too far from our genre, or whatever, but then we got all pissy when people tried to pigeonhole us."

"Power to the people," Frank said, nodding only slightly ironically.

Gerard, though, Gerard said, "Have you got anything?"

Ray shrugged. "Mostly just stuff I've messed around on."

Mikey had found that Ray's "messing around" was often better than some people's final products. He rested his chin on Bob's shoulder. "Are you gonna let us hear it, or not?"

Ray leveled a look at Bob. "You're turning him in to a demanding little shit."

"He's just coming into his own," Bob said mildly, but Mikey felt the contentment swaying over him, a sort of back and forth that Mikey could almost fall asleep to. He made himself not.

Ray rolled his eyes. "Okay, but I'm gonna need some help. Any of you fuckers actually remember how to play an instrument?"

Frank raised and waved his hand. "Oo! Me! I do!" Then he hopped onto Ray's back and instructed, "Take me to my instrument, worthy steed."

Ray dropped him on his ass. "Come along, then."

*


Mikey was sitting on the forest floor, just listening when he heard Draco coming. He looked up. "Something-- Did you need something?"

Draco said, "I don't have any ethics."

"All right," Mikey agreed easily. After all, who was he to argue?

"And Ron, he doesn't-- You would think he would know better, you would think that we would all know better."

"I'm not actually legilimizing you, you realize?" Mikey laid back on the floor of the forest, looking up through the trees.

He heard Draco sigh and pretty much expected him to walk off, only he didn't. He settled on tree stump nearby and said, "I legilimize Ron all the time."

"Hence the ethics thing."

"Hence," Draco said, darkly.

Mikey waited. The forest was mostly quiet, except for whisperings that Mikey wondered if Gerard could imitate with his voice. Finally, Draco said, "I couldn't have said anything to him. Not ever. Not-- The Mark's still on my arm. I think-- Sometimes I wish Snape had made it. Just to have someone to, I-- My parents don't really get it. They just stay with all the people who are like them, and I could have, I guess, but I didn't really, I mean, he tried to kill us. My family. He ground us--"

When Mikey peered over, Draco was holding himself so tightly Mikey thought he might just shatter in the breeze. Eventually, he took a breath. It was tightly controlled, but a breath, all the same. "I couldn't stay there. And I couldn't imagine ever being anything more than, than a Malfoy anywhere else."

Mikey couldn't help but feel the conflict that came with Draco's name. He said, "Yeah, I know that feeling."

"The Muggles seem to like you."

"If you're talking about the audiences, they don't know me. What do you think they would think if they did?"

Draco nodded after a moment. He said, softly, "I didn't think I could have him. That even if, even though he wanted me, that he would find some solid, Gryffindor girl."

"I think he'd already tried that."

Draco laughed, a startled sound, less dignified than normal. "Someone with less teeth, perhaps."

"He failed at that, then."

"Rude."

Mikey shrugged. "American. Heathen. Werewolf."

Into the not altogether uncomfortable silence that followed this pronouncement, Draco said, "I owe you. For whatever it was you said."

"No," Mikey said, and closed his eyes. "I didn't do it for that."

"Doesn't change the result."

"Just perfect the Wolfsbane."

"That was already part of the deal."

"It's the only thing I need."

"Liar," Draco said, so fast it had to be reflexive.

"Maybe. Or maybe I just already have everything else I need." Mikey stood up. He missed his band.

Draco stood up next to him. "Mind if I?"

Mikey held out a hand. "Lead the way."

*


At first Mikey didn't understand that it had worked. The disorientation of having his own thoughts inside the wolf's body, the lingering aftershocks of the pain of transformation, in combination they felt a little like the madness of the wolf. Only then, Mikey realized he wouldn't be able to think that through as the wolf.

The third thing he realized was that Bob smelled really good to him--not like a meal, just comforting. The experience was so bizarre that at first he wasn't sure what to do, so he just sat down and stared at everything. It looked different. He was sure it had looked the same every month since he was born, but he couldn't remember those times. It was so much sharper, but also had less color.

After a while, Gerard padded over to him and sniffed cautiously. Mikey didn't blame him. Mikey bumped his nose against Gerard's. Hi.

By way of expressing his pleasure at their progress so far--Mikey had a feeling that his wolf counterpart wasn't quite so gentle in his greetings, not even with the other wolf--Gerard licked all over Mikey's face. Mikey giggled. Gerard's tongue tickled. Gerard butted his forehead lightly and then ran in circles around him, yipping out nonsense that was mostly just happiness. Mikey felt for him. He didn't think he could say much of substance right now either.

Instead he just took a flying leap and tackled Gerard, who went down in a flurry of limbs and confusion. Then he got into the spirit of things and wrestled back, giving Mikey a run for his money. Mikey won, he had the feeling he always did. Then he held Gerard down while he gave him a good cleaning. It was odd, that was sort of more important to Mikey in his wolf mind than in his human one. Gerard whined the same way he would have in man form.

Mikey heard laughter and looked over to where the other guys were sitting, looking pleased. Mikey would have to tell them it had worked in the morning. They seemed pretty sure, but he got that they couldn't really take the chance. He wanted to run. He wanted to run, and play fetch, and maybe lick Bob's face. Yeah, that sounded good.

Having decided that, he went back to torturing Gerard with the scary scary spectre of cleanliness.

*


Bob played frisbee with Mikey. Mikey's wolf mind was convinced that Bob was the greatest frisbee artist ever to have lived. He threw long. He was also brilliant at petting. The wolf had thick fur, but Bob just buried his fingers in it, digging until he hit skin, where he would scratch and massage a bit. Somewhere in the back of his mind, even wolf-Mikey knew it wasn't dignified to loll on his back, his tongue hanging out of his mouth, but he couldn't help it.

Among other things, the Wolfsbane made it easier not to fight the transformation, which, in turn, helped his muscles to stay more relaxed, tear less. It still wasn't fun, but it was bearable, and when he woke, he could cuddle into Bob, Gerard at his back, Frank and Ray there in case they needed anything, and falling asleep didn't bring the same nightmares as it always had before.

Mikey awoke after the third night and said, "That was. Different."

Bob said, "You lick the back of Frank's knees much more and you might make me into a jealous man."

Mikey stretched cautiously. "His giggle sounds different. I like it in that form. It's, I mean, I'm me, but I'm kinda...elemental."

"I could giggle," Bob said, completely straight-faced.

"Uh huh," Mikey told him.

"It can't be that hard. Frank does it all the time."

"You get to work on that," Mikey said, patting his arm. He tucked his face in Bob's neck, held on lightly with his teeth, and fell back asleep.

*


The first song on the album came together a week after the full. It wasn't finalized, by any means, but it was finished, rough edges and all. Mikey liked its edges. He hoped they got to keep some of them.

Ray and Frank were down on the floor, guitars actually tangled in each other and Gerard went to help, but Bob just pulled him off by the back of his shirt and took care of it. Mikey patted Gerard's arm but couldn't keep from saying, "That's my man."

"I could've done it," Gerard said.

"Mm," Mikey didn't-quite-agree.

"You suck," Gerard told him.

Mikey nodded easily. Gerard threw his hands in the air and gave up. Ray, newly untangled and lying on his back, staring at the ceiling, said, "I think we should stay here."

The statement was greeted with resounding silence. Finally Frank asked, "Is there some sort of qualifier to that? Because, I mean, I need more time here as much as the next guy, assuming the next guy is Mikeyway, but Jersey's home, dude. And we should tour again, at some point, what with that being how we make our living."

Ray rolled his eyes. "I just meant while we were writing. We have good momentum here."

"Isn't that a little Panic at the Disco?" Mikey had told Pete leaving four nineteen to twenty-one year old boys in a cabin by themselves was a bad idea, but he'd just said, 'they have to learn on their own, Mikeyway,' whatever the fuck that was supposed to mean.

"And didn't they trash that album?" Bob asked. Mikey nodded dolefully and pointed at Bob.

"We're older and wiser," Ray argued. "And they, like, constructed that experience. We just came to get our favorite werewolf fixed."

"Hey!" Gerard said.

"We love you too, Gee," Frank said soothingly.

"Fuck all of you," Gerard groused.

"Focus," Ray said.

After a bit, Mikey said, "Draco'll be thrilled. He's been fussing about having to conduct the rest of the research trans-Atlantically."

"Fussing." Frank snorted. "In my day and age, we called it being a whiny bitch."

Mikey shrugged. "He grows on you."

Frank looked at Gerard for some back up. Gerard said, "He kinda does, really. Also, he fixed my brother."

"Whatever," Frank said.

Mikey looked at Bob, who hadn't said anything yet. That wasn't unusual, but it generally meant he was thinking about what he wanted to say. Bob looked back for a few minutes and said, "I'd rather be here if anything goes wrong. What's another ten months? Frank might actually get the girl."

"I only need another couple of weeks, I'll have you know," Frank said, drawing himself up to his full, not terribly impressive, height. He added, "Asshole," for a little bit of emphasis.

"You said that a month ago," Gerard said.

"You're pretty much the worst best friend ever," Frank informed him.

"Mikey's my best friend," Gerard shot back. Frank pouted. Gerard said, "But I think if we stay she'll see your charms. Eventually."

Frank folded his arms over his chest, but didn't argue. Ray laughed. He said, "So. Staying?"

Mikey smiled. "For a little while."

Ray said. "Good. Let's play that song again."


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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile