For once, the weather was appropriate to the job the Watcher's Council had him doing. Giles stood and stretched, looking around himself. It was no hardship trying to find the source of a strange magical reading in Scotland on a beautiful May afternoon. The reading appeared to have begun in this deserted area, a wooded field covered in wild flowers. Judging from the sounds, there was even a brook in the vicinity. It was tempting to skive off, find the brook and have a bit of a kip, but his sense of duty was entirely too loud for him to get away with it.
Maybe the strange reading was nothing more than someone's attempt at creating a peaceful area. That would be nice; the last several assignments the Council had sent him on had been unpleasant, to say the least.
Giles was a scholar by nature, not any kind of sorcerer, so he couldn't trace the magical signature on his own. One of the members of the Council who was proficient at magic had created a map he could use to trace different magical energies. At one time, it would have been she who was doing this job; unfortunately, she was now over eighty and too frail for such adventures. Giles smiled. Elderly and frail Amelia McGillicuddy might be, but she still had a lively sense of humour. When she'd handed Giles the map, she'd asked if he wanted her to add a charm for finding "someone to keep you warm at night".
The energies weren't currently showing on the map anywhere, so Giles sat down to examine it more closely. He pulled out the tuna sandwich he'd packed for himself and began chewing absently when he heard a loud bang. Looking around, he saw a man standing in the middle of the field where there hadn't been anyone before. A quick glance at the map showed two new energies as well; one already fading, but the other, while faint, still there. Standing, Giles called out, "Excuse me; may I ask who you are?"
The man turned, looking startled to hear another voice. "Er, yes, Remus Lupin, and you?" He was looking around the field, his movements jerky and ungraceful.
"Rupert Giles," Giles said, walking toward this Lupin. "Pleasure. Beautiful day today, isn't it?" By this time, he was close enough to extend his hand to be shaken. Whoever, or whatever, the man was, there was no reason to be rude.
"Nice to meet you," Lupin said, sounding distracted. He was looking at the map. "You don't often see parchment used these days."
Giles was about to say something about being very old-fashioned when he took a second look at Lupin. While Giles himself was wearing jeans and a collared shirt, Lupin was wearing robes. Actual robes, brown and a little threadbare.
Now, what was it he'd heard? "You're from the Wizarding World, aren't you?" When Lupin looked surprised and took a step away, Giles smiled and said, "I'm from the Watcher's Council myself. I don't think I've ever met anyone from your world."
Lupin relaxed a bit. "Same goes here. Some of my friends have, though. So, what are you up to?" Giles suspected that he was resisting craning his neck to get a better look at the map from sheer willpower. His brown eyes had lit with interest. While opening the map so the other man, the wizard, could get a better look, Giles looked the wizard over.
He was probably a few years younger than Giles, in his mid twenties, but there was something about him that made him seem older. He was a little shorter than Giles, and very slender, and he looked worn. As soon as he could without being impolite, he looked over the map.
"This is incredible work," he said, smiling. "Yours?"
"No," Giles said, shaking his head. "One of the older members of the Council is good at this kind of thing."
"Hm," Lupin said. "What are you looking for?"
"There's some strange energy we've been-- There!" Giles said, as the energy appeared on the map again.
"That's right over there," Lupin said, starting to run, Giles right on his heels. When they got to the location, they both looked down. An ordinary brown and white rabbit sat there, looking up at them. Lupin grabbed the map and looked at it, and then back at the rabbit. Then he cast a spell that made the rabbit glow. Unlike a normal rabbit, it sat quietly while the light slowly faded. Lupin looked up at Giles. "Do you have any ideas?"
"Not a one," Giles said, looking at the map, "unless it's the Rabbit of Caerbannog. That's pretty unlikely." He looked up, keeping his face straight. By all accounts, typical wizards had very little contact with things like films.
Judging from his twitching face, Lupin was far from a typical wizard. After a moment, he broke out laughing. "I swear, Killer Rabbits exist only in the deranged imagination of whichever member of Monty Python wrote that film."
Giles grinned back. Then he sighed. "How are we going to trap it?" He'd had enough experience to know that rabbits were fast.
"Watch and learn," Lupin said, his grin impish. Pulling a wand out of his robes, he pointed it at the rabbit and said, "Impedimenta!" The rabbit froze. "Now what?"
"Don't let it unfreeze," Giles said as he ran back to his car. He was back several minutes later with a cage he'd retrieved from his boot. He held the cage while Lupin carefully dropped the rabbit in.
Once the cage door was closed, Lupin cast, "Finite Incantantum." The rabbit began exploring the cage. Giles picked the cage up. "Giles," Lupin said, "d'you mind if I come with you? Unless you know what it is. I'm curious."
Giles looked back. "Dusty work," he said, with a wistful sigh. "And it's a beautiful day."
Lupin smiled. "I do well with dust," he said, "and well, curiosity trumps sunlight for me."
"Come on, then," Giles said.
Giles had brought the most likely texts with him so they didn't have to go clear back to London. Instead, they set up camp in the hotel room where Giles was staying. When he realised that his stomach had been growling for over an hour, Giles looked up. "I'm going to order some takeaway," he said, standing and stretching. "Any preferences?"
"None for me, thanks," Lupin said, looking up from the book on shapeshifters he was reading. He'd had a few things to say about the information in the books, so Giles had been taking notes.
"You sure?" Giles asked. "My treat; you've been a big help."
Lupin's cheeks turned pink. "No, thanks," he said again.
His refusal was just making Giles more determined, but it was clear that sneakier methods were called for. "Are you from around here?"
"Yes," Lupin said, putting the book down and picking up another on magical fauna.
"What's good, then?" Giles asked, pulling the phone out from under a stack of notes and the local phone book from the middle of a stack of medieval journals. Clearly, he was going to have to be careful when he packed.
"Can't go wrong with the Chinese," Lupin said. "Would you say-- Giles, get over here!"
Giles put phone and book down and moved to Lupin, who was staring into the cage.
"Check me on this," he asked Lupin. "Rabbits give birth, right? They don't spontaneously divide."
"Normal mammals," Lupin confirmed.
They both looked into the cage. What had been roomy for one rabbit was crowded for four. They weren't identical, though. They were different sizes and colours. In fact-- "The one we picked up looks smaller, doesn't it?" Giles asked.
"Mm-hm," Lupin hummed as he tried to reach into the cage for their original rabbit. While he tried to grab it, and block any of the others from getting loose, a fifth appeared.
Giles could feel his hair standing on end from the growing magical energies in the room. He looked at the map. Not only was there a growing bright spot where they were, but there were half a dozen others in the original field. "Can you tell if they're harmful?" he asked.
"I'm not seeing anything harmful," Lupin said. He stood, placed the cage on one end of the room, and cast, "Diagnostica!" The cage glowed with a bright yellow light; as it died down, another rabbit appeared. "Nothing harmful in and of itself, but anything growing like this is dangerous simply for that."
Giles scowled. He was beginning to think he would have to call for help, something he'd really prefer to avoid if he could. Glancing down at the book Lupin was reading, an entry jumped out at him.
Of all magical Leporidae, it read, the most dangerous of all is the one that appears the most innocuous. It is currently best known as "Plot Bunny". When conjured, it continues to proliferate, generating more and more creativity until insanity occurs. In order to eliminate the danger, all instances of the conjuration must be destroyed.
Giles read the passage out loud. "According to this, they can generate spontaneously; however, they are usually conjured by someone trying to increase creativity." He looked up at Lupin.
"So," Lupin said, his eyes unfocused, "we have someone out there, someone capable of magic, who decided they needed some ideas and conjured—" He looked into the cage, which now contained seven rabbits. "Dear Merlin, we're in trouble. How do you kill them?"
"Normal methods, mostly," Giles said absently. "The problem is that they're resistant to most forms of magic, they're fast and they multiply rapidly." He took a deep breath. "I'm calling for takeaway; we're going to need fuel."
"Thanks," Lupin said. He looked thoughtful. "Tomorrow's the full moon," he said. Giles couldn't read the emotion in his voice.
"Sounds right," Giles said. He found his planner on the coffee table, and turned to the current week. "Yes, tomorrow night. There's nothing about their sensitivity to the full moon."
"No," Lupin said, "but I happen to know that that field will contain a werewolf tomorrow night. I suspect that a werewolf could clean out that field without any problems."
Giles thought about it while he called the restaurant. "How do we keep the werewolf limited to that field?" he asked. "They're beasts; we can't just tell it what to do."
Lupin winced, but said, "We string barbed wire around the field. It doesn't need to be too sturdy; this wolf knows barbed wire."
"Oh," Giles said as he realised what Lupin was saying. "Hell. Do you at least like rabbit?"
"I don't mind it," Lupin said, his smile bright, "but I suspect this will be one of the few times the wolf will be satisfied. I may not even have any new scars this moon."
By the next afternoon, there were nearly two hundred rabbits. Lupin had cast a spell that created a fence the rabbits couldn't get around to keep them contained. Finally, he looked at his watch. "Giles, you have to leave. There's only an hour left until moonrise; you have to be gone."
Giles looked around at the field. It was surrounded by conjured barbed wire and a spelled fence. "All right," he finally said, "I'm gone." He smiled at Lupin. "I'll see you in the-- What the hell?"
Lupin was stripping out of his clothing. "Forgot to ask you to hold onto these," he said. "No cupboard here to lock them away. You don't mind, do you?" His expression said that he wouldn't be surprised if Giles said, "Yes, I do."
"Of course not," Giles said, taking the folded pile of cloth. "Sunrise, right?"
"Right," Lupin smiled. "Then we'll see what we have left."
Even though he liked Lupin, Giles made sure it was well after dawn when he returned to the field. Lupin had changed back to human. "Hey," Giles said, shaking the other man, "I brought your clothes."
Lupin woke slowly. "Morning," he said, looking confused. "It is morning, right?" When Giles nodded, Lupin sighed. "It's been years since I felt this good the morning after the full moon." He laughed. "And I don't think I've ever felt this full. Have you checked the rabbits yet?"
"Not yet," Giles said. While Lupin dressed, Giles looked at the map. Then he noticed something. "I thought a werewolf in wolf form was, well, doesn't have human intelligence."
"It doesn't," Lupin said as he put on his robe. "Why?"
Giles silently pointed to the neat pile of rabbits near where Lupin had been sleeping. "Do they generally stock up for the winter?" Then he noticed something very odd. "Why piles?"
Lupin looked over and sighed. Then he shook his head. "The wolf has a very long memory," he said quietly. "Do we need to do anything further?"
"I think you should take them," Giles said. "After all, you're the one who stopped the problem. Seems to me you should get the benefit. I'll see if I have a bag or something."
"Don't bother," Lupin said. His smile was still off-key as he pulled a small box from his robes. After casting a couple of spells on it, he began to load the rabbits into it.
Giles watched, impressed, as the entire pile fit into a box he would have thought none of them would fit into. "I'm impressed," he said.
Lupin grinned. "If you think that's something, wait until I find a hat." When Giles looked puzzled, Lupin said, "So I can pull a rabbit out of it."