Disclaimer: I don't, or never will, own the Harry Potter characters. But my birthday is coming up, Ms. Rowling - could I have Sirius and Remus as a gift?

Warnings: SB/RL SLASH; AU; no magic, no werewolf-ness; language.

Summary: Remus Lupin is a shy, innocent London schoolboy. Sirius Black is a intimidating, mysterious young man with a startling background and attitude to spare. When the two cross paths, it becomes a matter of fate... and obsession.

To save space, the above applies to ALL chapters of this story.


Chapter 1 - The Kindness of Strangers

Remus J. Lupin couldn't have been having a worse day.

It had started out with porridge for breakfast - not the best of meals, and as far as Remus could recall, every bad day of his life had started out with porridge for breakfast. He ate it without complaint, however, and hurried off to school after kissing his mother goodbye.

Naturally, as early as he had left home (Remus was a very punctual lad), there was almost no one at school and the doors weren't even open yet. The only students who were present were the biggest, meanest upperclassmen, who came early to play football or smoke cigarettes. Remus really couldn't see how blokes who smoked that much could even run; but he kept quiet and tried not to attract attention as he stood under a tree to wait for school to open. But, as always, it was no use; more than a few of the upperclassmen noticed him standing alone, and sent their usual shouts and slurs his way - Looking tired, Lupin - hard night last night? Hey, there's a couple poufs down Kent way that need a little lad like you! - until Remus had to look at his feet in an effort to hide how red his face was, and had to struggle to hold back tears.

Remus was a small, slender sixteen-year-old with light brown hair, hazel eyes, and pale, creamy skin. He always dressed neatly and meticulously, his maroon blazer buttoned, his navy trousers pressed, his navy-and-ivory striped tie perfectly knotted and his shoes polished to a high gloss. He wore glasses for reading and gave off an air of fragility and femininity - which was why the bullies picked on him. He was no good at anything physical, except for running, and hated physical education. But in the classroom, Remus was in his element - he was an excellent student, attentive and diligent, always being praised by the teachers. This didn't bother the other students too much, but some of the other boys were intent on punishing Remus for it during break. Remus felt he could have probably set a world record for Most Times Getting Sent Home To Change, or Most Ties Lost, or something of that manner.

But since today was a very bad day, Remus ended up leaving school during lunch to change his entire uniform - the old one so muddied and torn it was nearly unrecognizable. His mother wailed when he entered the house.

Another uniform ruined! Don't you care about the money your father and I have to sacrifice to keep you in uniforms? Those clothes don't come cheap - and your sister needs clothes, too -

And so on and so on, until Remus ended up being ten minutes late back to school because of his mother's lecture, and receiving a blow across the knuckles with a ruler for it.

It just seemed like one bad thing after another. And it got worse. As soon as Remus emerged from the front door of the school that afternoon after the end of lessons, a few of the upperclassmen approached him. Remus eyed them warily, preparing to run; they were some of the worst bullies in the school.

What are you backing away for, Lupin? the biggest of the lot, a brute named Williams, inquired. I just wanted to ask you if you're free tonight - you're just so cute, I can't say no to a shag.

That was it. Remus sprinted away, gazelle-like, without responding. He heard Williams and his cronies drop their bags and take off after him.

It turned into a furious chase through the crowded London streets. Remus dodged people, jumped over fire plugs and fallen dustbins, narrowly avoiding lampposts and postboxes. The five boys chasing him were not as fast or agile as he was; it wasn't long before he had lost them. But in the process, Remus had wandered into a part of the neighbourhood that was unfamiliar to him - the streets were dirty, the buildings that rose around him shabby and in desperate need of new windows. The few people he passed kept their heads down and hurried along their business as if they didn't see him. Remus swallowed nervously, adjusting the shoulder straps of his bag and looking up at the slowly darkening sky. Then, quite suddenly, he collided with something solid.

Ouch! Watch where in the hell you're going! an angry voice spat.

Remus realised he had walked headlong into a young man about his age or a little older, who was now glaring at him. He was quite intimidating-looking : he had glossy black hair that came to just past his shoulders, snow-white skin, and dark blue eyes that looked positively lethal. He was dressed entirely in black, accented with silver jewelry. His eyes were lined with kohl, and his lips painted the darkest shade of red Remus had ever seen. As Remus gaped at him, he raised a pale hand, encrusted with rings, to his lips and took a drag on a cigarette. His fingernails were painted black.

I - I'm sorry, Remus stammered, taking a few steps backward. I - wasn't l-looking where I was g-going...

Bloody obvious, the stranger muttered. He turned and started to walk away. Remus bit his lip, looked back up at the fading sky, then hurried after him.

Hey - wait up!

The stranger turned, a very nasty look on his face.

Um - I don't need to be rude, but - I'm lost, and -

Not my problem. You were the one stupid enough to wander down here. the stranger brushed his long hair away from his face and took another drag on the cigarette.

Please, could you help me? Remus begged. I've got to get home - my mother must be starting to worry.

I don't know who the bloody hell you think I am, but I'm not a bobby! The stranger growled and rubbed his forehead. Fine, fine - I'll help you, but I'd better not see you again after this!

Thank you, Remus said, enormously relieved. Thank you so -

Can the shite. Let's go. The stranger dropped his cigarette and ground it out under the toe of his boot. Remus hurried to follow him. He had very long legs and took great strides that were hard to keep up with, especially with a heavy bag on one's back. He led Remus through alleyways and down streets that Remus couldn't even remember passing down; it made one dizzy to think about it. But after thirty minutes or so, they emerged from behind a warehouse, directly across from Baker's Sweet Shoppe - a blessedly familiar sight.

I know where I am now, Remus spoke up to the stranger's back. I'll be all right now... thank you for helping me. I wish I could repay you....

The stranger turned and looked down at him. Could - Could I give you some money? Remus asked timidly, looking up into the stranger's unfathomable midnight eyes.

Nope. I've got a better idea.

Before Remus could even ask, the stranger caught Remus' chin roughly between his thumb and forefinger and kissed him. It was a sloppy, wet kiss, the other man's tongue slipping between Remus' lips. Remus could taste the tobacco on the stranger's breath, mingled with the slightly waxy taste of his lipstick. Stunned, Remus couldn't even think of pulling away. He was completely frozen, and anyway, the young man had one arm around his waist, pulling Remus against him, a stray hand resting momentarily on Remus' behind. The mingled smell of cigarettes and cologne coming from his hair and clothes was nearly intoxicating. Remus couldn't help himself. He moaned softly into the stranger's mouth, pressing his body firmly against the other man's, kissing back hard.

The stranger finally pulled away and lit another cigarette. Thanks for the reward, he said with a slight smirk, winking at Remus before heading back the way they had come.

Remus stood stock-still, staring down the dark alleyway the stranger had disappeared down. Slowly, as if in a dream, his fingers wandered up to touch lips that felt almost numb. He had been kissed - by a total stranger, a man! Eyes wide, he sunk slowly to the ground, utterly bewildered. And what was more, it had been immensely exciting and arousing. What had that been all about?

As Remus struggled to his feet and hurried home on legs that felt curiously weak, he couldn't help but regret not getting the young man's name... and he couldn't help dwelling on that kiss.

To Be Continued...