Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Summary: How much equality is possible in a relationship? How far can reciprocity go, particularly between people in different worlds? Bill Weasley and a Muggle during the second war. Slash.

Author's Note: I had a dream, back at the beginning of 2004, about Indiana Jones having sex with Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I decided that was simply too implausible to write, but the basic idea wouldn't leave me alone. Hence the two men in this story: Greg, a repressed British librarian, and Bill, a reasonable substitute for a swashbuckling archaeologist. A few lines of dialogue are taken more or less verbatim from my dream, but the story itself veered into a philosophical discussion of power differentials and sexual hang-ups. I'm not quite sure how that happened, but there wasn't much I could do about it.

Thanks to Lasair, Miss Cora, and laucia siandel, who beta-read this story. Any remaining canon goofs, grammar mistakes, continuity errors, implausible characterizations, bad dialogue, boring passages, and Americanisms are my fault, not theirs.

Wearing Thin

Work dragged through the afternoon, the summer heat seeping into the library despite the huffing air conditioners. Greg could feel the heavy sunlight and hear the strange, high singing of unnamed insects in the uncut grass beside the hedges. Nevermind that he stood deep in the stacks, far from any windows and seeing only by cold fluorescent lights. Summer seeped in and he wanted nothing more than to be home and asleep. Or home with Bill, but at the moment sleep was winning over lust.

At nine pm he walked the rounds, checking window locks and chaining doors, while Sally Thistlewaite sorted the last of the returns onto shelving carts and shut down the computers. They stood outside the front entrance while she smoked, chatting about the university students who had inexplicably managed to crash the catalogue last Thursday, and the trouble keeping decent volunteers to empty bins and tend the shelves.

Sally, gesturing with her cigarette, told Greg about a mother with two small children who'd come to the main desk, complaining that the copy of "The Little Mermaid" she'd hidden behind the law books had been moved. Sally had, naturally, told her that the library offered to put books and films on hold for a nominal fee and that hiding library materials was not fair to other patrons, and the woman had stormed off in a huff, muttering about how inconsiderate people were these days. Greg obligingly laughed at the irony.

Finally Sally ground out her cigarette stub and they parted at her car, she to drive to her flat and he to walk the half mile to his house. The night air was blessedly cool, though still heavy with water, and Greg felt as if he could push it aside with his hands, parting curtains of invisible fog. He thought again of buying a torch. He'd forget by the time he went shopping and of course Bill would never think to remind him, but it never hurt to try changing patterns.

Dinner was plain and hurried, merely a ham sandwich with tomato, cheddar, and mustard, and then Greg settled into his own library with a Black Russian and a book on the Norman Conquest. Dark-stained shelves rose to the ceiling along the walls, sagging slightly under the weight of his books. His family had always thought him odd for building a library at home when he already worked in one -- "Don't you ever want to get away from all the words?" his sister asked on the rare occasions she called -- but books were a comfort when he was alone. And he was alone more and more often these days. Bill was fighting a war and soldiers couldn't slip away to spend time with their lovers. That wouldn't be fair to either of them, and ultimately it would only make them both miserable.

Knowing that, Greg still dreamed of snapping Bill's wand and locking him in the bedroom. He'd have to cuff him to the bedpost as well, since Bill was an expert escape artist with or without his magic. That image brought other dreams, dreams both more plausible and pleasurable, and he was usually able to suppress his darker thoughts. Nevertheless, sometimes he watched Bill when the younger man slept and wished they didn't have to be moral. He was certain that Voldemort bastard didn't have these qualms. Life would doubtless be much easier if he did.

A soft pop and a puff of air washed from the doorway, interrupting Greg's thoughts. He turned as if magnetized, to see Bill leaning against the doorframe, a half smile quirking his lips. Red hair straggled from his ponytail, sticking to his face, and his dark green robes were rumpled as if he'd slept in them for several days.

"Surprise," he said.

It really wasn't fair of him to look so good in that state, thought Greg, trying to distract himself from Bill's sudden appearance. Just for that, no touching until he tidied up, changed out of those clothes. Hmm. He probably smelled, too. Definitely time for a shower... together.

"Welcome home," said Greg, closing his book and setting it beside his empty glass. "You reek."

Bill walked into the room and collapsed into the leather easy chair facing Greg. "I love you too, Greg. Have some consideration for my job -- it's not easy to fit into goblin-sized bathrooms."

"What kept you this time?"

Bill grinned. "Working out a curse-blocking spell. We think -- mind you, we aren't about to start human testing until we're bloody sure of this -- that it should tone down Cruciatus without letting the bastard casting the curse notice that it's not working right."

"That's wonderful!" said Greg, leaning forward. "What's the catch?"

"Who says there's a catch?" asked Bill.

"If it had worked perfectly, you would've brought some peculiar magical beverage and lured me into the kitchen or bedroom within seconds of appearing. You didn't and haven't; therefore, it wasn't an unqualified success." Greg stifled a grin at Bill's discomposure. "You're quite easy to read, lately."

Bill raked his hand through his hair, disheveling it further. "It's the war," he said. "It wears us all down, grinds you flat. Even Fred and George aren't playing jokes anymore, just working on hexes and ambushes. I'm glad you aren't part of it."


Bill looked sharply at Greg. "You do not want to be part of the war. Trust me. I know it's not fair to shut you out of so much of my life, but I sleep better knowing you're safely outside it all."

"As you say," said Greg, and changed the subject. "What's the catch to your curse-blocking spell?"

"You need a wand to cast it, and you can't cast it beforehand," said Bill, sinking back into his chair and scrubbing at his face. "And what Death Eater would let a prisoner have his hands free, let alone still have his wand, I have no idea."

"I see. That would be a bit of a problem."

"A bit? A bit?" Bill waved his hands wildly, nearly hitting the floor lamp behind his chair. "Greg, you are one cold bastard, I ever tell you that? A bloody disaster, that's what it would be! Fleur's working to adapt the counter-curse into a charm and we're trying to work out a way to bind it into an object with automatic activation, but no luck so far." He slumped again.

Defeat was not a good look on him, not during a rare evening visit. "Binding spells into objects. That's what a Portkey is, correct? Or a broom?" asked Greg.

"Yeah," said Bill.

"Hmm. Have you thought about using potions?"

Bill pulled a sour face. "Tried that. We have three Potions masters in the country who might be able to pull it off. One's a Death Eater, one's swamped at St. Mungo's, and the third is Snape."

"I suppose a double agent is more useful in the field than in a laboratory," Greg allowed. "Still, you have the beginning of something marvelous. And you say Fleur is good with charms."

"Good? She's brilliant!" said Bill. "The goblins are falling over themselves making employment offers for after the war. They're practically drooling."

"As long as they're the only ones."

Bill dragged himself up and walked over to Greg, laying a hand on his shoulder. "You know it was only a fling," he said, his face reflecting the serious tone in his voice. "She's part-Veela, we were together a lot, and she had a crush on me. I have you now. I'm not going back."

"I tell myself that," said Greg, not looking up even while he leaned ever so slightly toward Bill, "and then I remember that she's part-Veela, she's frequently around you, and she's a witch. I'm not a wizard. She's also female."

Bill knelt and leaned against the chair, propping his chin on Greg's arm. "Look," he said, "I'm not going to let my mother decide my love life. She'd love grandchildren and a fancy wedding, but she'll be happy with you so long as I'm happy -- she cares more about keeping the family together than winning every little argument. Mostly."

His lips shaped the half smile Greg could never resist. "Hey, if I did everything based on what Mum wants, I'd be some stodgy Ministry functionary just like my brother Percy. And even if she objects, the rest of the family will make her miserable until she gives in. So no worries, right?" He patted Greg's thigh reassuringly.

"I know I worry unnecessarily," said Greg, covering Bill's hand with his own, "but I still can't figure out what you see in me. I'm thoroughly boring and anti-social -- you remember how long it took you to convince me to go for a drink while we were looking for those occult books."

"Yes, but you're smart. You're funny when you forget to freeze up. You don't look half bad, especially when you get all serious. I love the way you never use short words when a long one will do. And you give damn good head for a prude." Bill smirked at Greg's startled flush. "Come on. I didn't bring any butterbeer, but I can drag you off to bed anyway."

They walked to the front room and up the stairs to the first floor, Bill making certain to step on every creaky floorboard and grin at Greg's suppressed winces. Greg knew, logically, that the groaning, cracking sounds could not carry to his neighbors, but he had always been an intensely private person. The thought that others might realize what he and Bill were about to do burned in his stomach. Ten years knowing his orientation, two years of therapy, and acceptance by his family, grudging though it was, and he was still terrified of exposure.

There were times he badly wanted to be promiscuous and flaunt himself before all of England, but those dreams were no more practical than the ones of breaking Bill's wand. Hmm. Breaking a wand... there was something Freudian about that image, he thought, dragging his mind away from shame and fear; Bill did not deserve to be saddled with his lover's sexual hang-ups.

"I haven't ever asked," Greg began as Bill shut the bedroom door behind them, "but do wizards have sexual jokes about wands?"

Bill laughed. "Yeah, and broomsticks too. You should hear the ones about Quidditch -- a game where you ride a broomstick and play with four balls? Too much opportunity there."

Greg blinked. "Yes, I suppose there would be." He sat on the end of his double bed and began unlacing his shoes; Bill simply yanked off his boots and bundled his robes over his head. He wasn't wearing much underneath, merely boxers, socks, a spring-loaded wrist holster for his wand, and a short-sleeved shirt that pulled up as he stretched. His fang earring glinted in the artificial light. Greg shivered, watching as Bill moved to the dresser, unbound his hair, and ran a brush through it. Greg's brush. In Bill's hair.

"You can watch me all you want, but don't stop what you're doing." Bill didn't turn as he spoke, but his eyes met Greg's in the dresser mirror, each staring at the other's reflection. Greg swallowed and began unbuttoning his shirt.

His trousers were somewhat harder to remove, both because he was watching Bill and because his fingers brushed over his growing erection while fumbling for the belt buckle and zipper. Greg hissed softly, closing his eyes for a moment, only to open them in startled shock as Bill's fingers took over the abandoned task. His head was bent over Greg's lap, red hair falling in a straggly curtain that obscured Greg's view of what Bill's hands were doing. He could feel it, though; he could definitely feel it.

"Never did understand briefs," muttered Bill, as he hooked his fingers under the elastic of Greg's underpants. His breath tickled as he spoke. "I'm not as bad as some wizards -- don't wear a bloody thing under their robes -- but briefs... ugh." He yanked Greg's trousers and briefs to his feet, leaving warm friction marks where they scraped between Greg's legs and the bed.

Greg pulled the hem of Bill's shirt upwards and stuffed it into his mouth, sneaking a look at Bill's boxers. It had been far too long since the last time.

"Pfah!" Bill spit the fabric from his mouth and rocked backwards, sitting heavily onto the carpet. He glared at Greg over his dampened front. "That was cruel."

"It was justified retribution," said Greg, yanking his eyes upwards and trying to appear dignified despite the trousers pooled around his ankles. He kicked his feet free of the fabric and leaned forward, pushing his legs apart and bracing his hands on his knees. "Take off your boxers; if I'm naked, you have no right to be clothed."

"Aah, you just want an eyeful," said Bill. He briefly disappeared behind his shirt, then slung it aside and stripped off his boxers. "William Weasley, for your approval." He rested a hand on his right hip and thrust his pelvis forward.

Greg stared at Bill's erection. He never ceased to be fascinated by how attractive it was, when by all logic it should appear ridiculous or mildly disturbing. And yet his hands ached to reach out and grasp it, to run all over Bill's body, to make it his.

"You pass inspection," he managed to say.

Bill sat beside him on the bed and nudged his leg with a sock-covered foot. "In case you wondered, you pass too. Can we get on with it?"

Greg nodded and reached for the other man, who caught his hands and tipped them both back onto the bed.

The sex was good. It usually was -- unsurprising, considering they'd had nearly two years to practice. Greg had learned the exact way to use his teeth on Bill while fondling his testicles to drive him slowly over the edge. He'd learned where to kiss, and when, and which places earned a moan or uncontrollable movement when pinched or stroked. Most especially he'd learned the convulsive shiver that warned him to switch his gaze to Bill's face, to watch his eyes stare into infinity when he came. Bill could reciprocate equally well, though not at the same time. They'd tried a sixty-nine a few times and discovered that, while intense, the experience ended far too soon, each man losing his ability to control anything while under stimulation from the other.

Afterward Bill sprawled facedown over the bed, left arm and leg flung across his lover. Greg drifted in peaceful lethargy for several minutes, then wiggled his left arm up from under Bill's chest and tiptoed his fingers along the other man's shoulder. Bill twitched.

"Stop that."

Greg rolled sideways to lean over his lover, now also walking the fingers of his right hand up and down the back of Bill's thigh. Bill squirmed sideways in a vain effort to escape Greg's fingers.

"I mean it. Stop that."

"Why?" asked Greg, smiling.

"I'll do something dreadfully perverted to you," mumbled Bill into the pillow. He was probably drooling, thought Greg idly. Fine, then. The feather pillow went to Bill tonight; he'd take the one without saliva.

Greg switched to a gentle brush of fingertips, touching only the scattered red hairs on Bill's arm and leg. Bill's skin raised into tiny goose bumps, forming an intricate mosaic pattern among his freckles. "I thought you already had?"

"All right, that's it." Bill twisted around and grabbed Greg's hands. "I should never have told you I trained myself not to be ticklish."

Greg tried to keep a straight face. "I have always liked to find solid evidence for blanket assertions such as that."

Bill groaned. "Blanket assertion, my arse. Slide over and let me be perverted and abnormal, my dear analytical Gregory."

Greg stayed still. "We could try the other instead," he said after a moment.

Bill stopped moving, his hands on Greg's hips. "Greg," he started, "you don't have to--"

"I know," Greg interrupted. "But sometimes I want to. At least to some extent. I've been thinking about it more these past weeks, and I have concluded that I will never be ready simply under my own willpower. However, with a certain degree of preparation I might be able to work past myself."

"In English, please?" said Bill, keeping his eyes fixed on Greg's.

Greg looked away. "I have certain... issues with intimacy. We both know this. You remember how long it took before I could even think about using my mouth. But my mental definition of sex includes penetration of some sort -- I tell myself it's foolish, but I can't change that. And I want... I want to try."

Bill thought for a moment. "We could do it the other way 'round. You can be on top."

"No! I won't ask anything from you that I can't give back."

"I don't need you to give it back," said Bill, pulling Greg close. "I've done both and it's fine both ways. Actually, I got more out of being on the bottom."

Greg frowned, his fingers twirling a piece of Bill's hair around and around as if the flyaway strands could help him explain. "That's not the point. You would be giving up something I can't give back to you. This is supposed to be about sharing, not taking."

"Greg, what the hell is eating you?" asked Bill, sitting up. "Every time you bring this up we get nowhere, and I thought we were done with it. But if we did... well, I'm not giving anything up, because I don't need to get it back. We're not the same person; we can't share everything equally. Merlin's beard, you're a librarian and I work with goblins!"

Greg turned away.

"Oh," said Bill.

"Exactly," said Greg, sliding a hand under his cheek and mouth to protect his pillow.

Bill laid a cautious hand on Greg's shoulder. "I don't care that you're a Muggle, you know. I can't say it isn't inconvenient some ways, that there aren't things we'll never be able to share completely, but I'm glad you don't live in my world just now. I'd give anything to get out of it!"

"No you wouldn't," said Greg, refusing to face the other man.

"I would."

Greg rolled over. "So if I offered, right now, to find you a job at the library and register you as a Muggle, you'd take it? You'd leave magic behind, never see your family again until the end of the war, never be able to help if that bastard attacks them, never know--"

"Stop it!"

There was a tense pause, and then Bill lifted his hand from Greg's mouth. "Okay. You're right. I wouldn't leave. I can't leave. And you can't get in -- which is not a bad thing! Still..."

Greg traced his fingers over Bill's face, never quite touching. "I dream, sometimes," he said, "of breaking your wand, tying you to the bed, and never letting you go back there. They don't deserve you. It's all madness in any case, this magic. Men weren't meant to play God with such forces."

Bill sighed. "I could say the same about electricity and those big exploding things you have -- the ones that destroy cities and go on killing for months after. Listen, Greg, love, this isn't about everything being equal. Nothing's ever perfect; that's what makes life interesting."

"But it should be," said Greg, frowning. "Aside from my physical attraction to men, I've always felt that a relationship between a man and woman had inherent difficulties, what with the implicit power differential and the different cultural expectations. And men and women can never share the exact same feelings... not that two men can either, but we can come much closer. But..." He stared at his fingers, which had somehow moved to from Bill's face to trace circles on the pillow.

"But you're a Muggle and I'm a wizard, right?" asked Bill softly.

"Yes. Perhaps it's not as great a difference as gender, but I still worry," said Greg. " I want us to be equal. You can learn to use technology, but I can't ever use magic."

"Argh!" Bill ran his hands through his hair. "Listen, you want equality? Well, I can't give you magic, but I can give you me. Think of it as a trade; that way you don't have to feel bad about 'taking' anything from me."

"It isn't the same."

"So? You buggering me isn't the same as me buggering you either, since I don't mind and you obviously do!"

Greg propped himself up on his left elbow and caught Bill's eyes. "Bill."

Bill took a deep breath and settled against the headboard. "Yes, Greg?"

"I love you."

Bill snorted. "Given what we've just been doing, I certainly hope so."

"Idiot. I accept that we're not going to solve this tonight. I still want to try sometime -- I suppose I feel it might solidify our relationship."

"And what we have now isn't solid?"

"Yes. No. Yes." Greg realized he was tracing circles again and shifted his sketching to Bill's abdomen, watching the tiny quivers as his fingers ghosted over soft hair. "I don't want you to leave. I worry that the war will destroy you, or I'll wake up one morning and not remember any of this. You have an easy escape -- you can simply erase my memory and vanish back into your world. What do I have?"

Bill grabbed Greg's hand, his fingers warm as they clasped around Greg's. "You have me. And I won't Obliviate you. Ever. I can't promise I won't die, but I won't leave you." He sighed. "What if you leave me? I'm no prize, I know that. Never here, always a mess, can't tell you half of what I'm doing, haven't told my family about you for two years... why do you put up with me?"

"I think we've been over this before," said Greg.

Bill's lips twitched in a tiny grin. "Yeah, I suppose we have. Mind repeating it?"

"Yes, actually I do."

"Coward. Seriously, though, Greg, why are you so set on messing around with our sex life?" Bill raised their clasped hands and looked inquiringly at Greg, who sighed.

"This is going to make me sound like a teenage girl," he said.

"Oh, now this I have to hear!" said Bill, tugging Greg upward until he could lean against his shoulder; Greg ran a hand absently through Bill's hair. "Go on."

"I told you that my mental definition of sex includes penetration of some sort. I'm quite happy with what we do now, but there are times I feel we haven't properly had sexual intercourse yet."

Bill stared for a moment, and then a slow smile spread across his face. "You feel like a virgin?"

"Must you put it in those terms?"

"You feel like a bloody virgin? Hah!" Bill collapsed across Greg's chest, toppling them sideways to the rumpled sheets, Bill laughing all the way.

"It isn't all that amusing."

"Yes it is! I remember you told me you were a virgin back when we met, and after two years of me sucking you off, you still don't think you've had sex? 'S the funniest thing I've heard in weeks!" Bill trailed off into muffled chuckles.

Greg sighed. While it was nice to know he could still drag Bill out of his war-inspired depressions, laughter wasn't the response he was looking for just now. He dragged his nails along Bill's side, the one that wasn't pressing him into the mattress, darting lower to brush across his hipbone and other areas. Bill sucked in a startled breath.

"Are you quite finished?" asked Greg.

Bill groaned and rolled sideways, freeing Greg and allowing his hands access to his stomach and groin. "Oh yeah, I'm done."

"Are you sorry for laughing at me?"

"Hmm. Maybe."

"I could stop, you realize," said Greg, his fingers dancing over Bill's nipples.

Bill gasped. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!"


Bill snaked his right arm from between their bodies and grazed his nails down Greg's chest. "Are you sorry for being a git and bringing all this up now, when we ought to be grateful to see each other?"

"Maybe. We do need to face it sometime."

"Yeah, but not now. Right now I want to make you so incoherent you forget all about your stupid penetration theories and realize we've been fucking for two years and you bloody well aren't a virgin." Bill pressed a kiss into Greg's neck. "You reek of sweat."

"You likewise."

"Yeah, but I have the excuse of several days around goblins." Bill bent and kissed his way down Greg's collarbone to his chest. "You, on the other hand, have only had one round of sex. Something must be done about this.

"Are you volunteering?" asked Greg, trying very hard to keep his fingers moving despite Bill's distracting mouth.

"I might be. Do you want me to?"

Greg smiled. "Yes. Make me feel a bit less of a virgin."

Bill lifted his head to look at Greg. "You do realize this doesn't solve anything in the long term."

"Yes. But it will make us feel better." Greg reached over and stroked Bill's penis, feeling the pulse of blood through his fingers. "Get on with it."


AN: Thank you for reading, and please review! I appreciate all comments, but I'm most interested in knowing what parts worked for you, what parts didn't, and why. That helps me make future stories better for you. :-)