The events described in this story are fictional. The author makes no assertion about the lives or characters of the real people whose names and identities she has used in the writing of this story, and makes no money from it.

The Moonlight and the Brandy

Brandy. A lot of brandy. Orlando doesn't know why brandy; that was Billy's idea. This was all Billy's idea. Norfolk was Billy's idea. Well, not the whole of Norfolk, obviously -- Billy didn't invent Norfolk. Just this bit -- this weekend in a cottage belonging to one of Billy's friends. Getting Away From it All. Catching Up. Having a Laugh. Going to the pub and drinking a lot of brandy, and now Billy knows a shortcut. Says he does. He's standing a little way ahead and staring into the night.

"It's absolutely fine, we're not lost," he says.

Orlando stumbles, tripping over something grassy or muddy. Something generally fieldy. This field is really ... fieldy.

"Hey Billy," he says. "This field's really fieldy. Have you noticed?" Then he laughs because well... Really, really funny. He tries to remember how long he's been a fucking genius. Maybe he should ask Billy. Maybe not.

Billy says, "Have we seen this tree before, do you think?"

Orlando neither knows nor cares, because there's a full moon and it paints everything white and silver. The field is a lake: tall wheat rippling and shimmering all the way to the horizon. He touches the wheat, and it feels scratchy. He holds an arm out before him, gesturing wildly at the field and the rippling wheat. He needs to acknowledge it somehow, and then he needs to run, panting and feeling the breath rough in his throat, up to where Billy stands, looking at a tree and scratching his head. He hooks an arm around Billy's right shoulder and swings him round. The brandy sings songs inside his head.

"Billy," he says. "Did you know I'm a werewolf?"

Billy laughs distractedly, trying to crane his head around and examine the tree again. "You're an idiot," he says, and Orlando holds onto the sleeves of Billy's green jacket that he keeps for Going to the Country, and Pretending to be a Local, and he rubs his cold nose and lips into Billy's warm neck, just to feel the contrast, and Billy lets him. "It's the full moon," Orlando says. "It has an effect on me."

"Does it?" asks Billy. He sounds as though he's really interested, and his hands curl over Orlando's hips.

"It might do," says Orlando, and then he says it again, "It might do," just because he really likes talking; he like the feeling of words bubbling up and coming out of his mouth and bouncing hot and giggly on Billy's neck. He pulls on Billy's sleeves and they sway a litte, and maybe they'll fall but Orlando doesn't think so, he doesn't think so.

And then Billy sort of stiffens, and jerks away. "Oh, hang on," he says, his voice rising about an octave because he 's just thought of something. "I know where we are. I know where we went wrong. I know exactly... "

He bounds a few steps back down the footpath again and then he stops and holds out a hand to Orlando. "Come on," he says.

And Orlando steps forward to take Billy's hand, and he looks at Billy, and for a moment Billy looks different, like he's a shining Billy. A silver, shining Billy with gleaming eyes. But not really. Really, it's just because of the moonlight. And the brandy.