Author's Notes: This story is a WIP, but chapters should be submitted regularly. Feedback is always appreciated in any form. Email me with suggestions, pleas, or criticism! The basic beginning premise of the story was vaguely borrowed, with permission, from the lovely Lady Feylene's story "Beautiful Stranger."
Taming the Beast
By Lady Grey
Remus Lupin sat on a fallen at the edge of the clearing, carefully hidden from view by various convenient bushes. He watched the redheaded man walk from the large pen back to the small cottage, a spring in his step. The observed man clearly had no idea that he was being so closely watched, and the werewolf allowed his eyes to take in what was admittedly a beautiful sight. The man’s red hair just dusted the tops of his shoulder blades, whipping back from his face as the wind seized it. The face itself was finely formed but not effeminate, and a fine sprinkling of freckles illustrated a path to vibrant blue eyes. If the face revealed a quiet, internal strength, the bare chest exposed the man’s physical strength. Hard muscles defined his torso, flexing easily as he picked up a large box of equipment, covering the expansive chest that boasted the light, even tan of a man who enjoyed the outdoors. He wore tired old trousers that looked like they were made of dragon hide and a pair of sturdy work boots. A wand stuck out of his back pocket, although Lupin was amazed that he had fit anything in the pocket, the pants being rather tight.
He shook himself out of her reverie. He still wasn’t sure that this was a good idea, but after leaving Hogwarts he didn’t have many other options. Gathering the bag that contained his few possessions, he stepped into the clearing and headed toward the cottage that the object of his scrutiny had just entered.
The man was startled to hear a knock on his door. He frowned. No trainer was due to stop by and check on him for another week or two. Wiping his hands on his pants – he had been doing the breakfast dishes - he reached for the handle and pulled open the door.
Standing in the doorway, looking distinctly nervous was a man with sandy brown hair clutching a tattered sack in one hand. The man had almost flinched when the door opened. Despite his slim build, he looked as if he had a kind of wiry strength.
“Erm. Charlie Weasley?” the smaller man inquired shyly.
“That’s me,” Charlie said in a friendly manner. It seemed relatively clear that this visitor was no threat, and the redhead was curious what had brought him to such a remote area.
The mysterious visitor extended a hand. “I’m Remus Lupin,” he introduced himself quietly.
Charlie’s eyebrows shot up and he reached forward to grasp the proffered hand. “The DADA professor at Hogwarts?”
An unidentifiable emotion flickered briefly in the guest’s eyes. “Former; I resigned at the end of the year.”
“Ah,” Charlie said, hoping he hadn’t made the nervous man even more uncomfortable. “Well come in, come in, let me fix you some lunch. I was about to make some myself.”
Remus looked chagrined. “Sorry to interrupt your meal, I can come back…” he trailed off.
Charlie snorted. “Right, where would you go? I’m sure you’ve had quite the trip just getting here, so toss your stuff in the other room and come back to have a seat.”
The guest smiled at this motherly attitude and didn’t object any more. He poked his head into the second room in the house. A large bed dominated the space, accompanied by a dresser, mirror, and nightstand. A small fireplace hovered in the corner for colder nights, and a bathroom was visible through another doorway. All in all, it was a snug if simple room. Remus carefully set his bag next to the dresser and returned to the kitchen.
“Do you need any help?” he offered.
“Nope, thanks though,” the redhead returned. “Chicken sandwich okay with you?”
Remus nodded and slid into a seat at the small wooden table. He watched Charlie busy himself with sandwich making, humming a tune under his breath. The former professor smiled when he recognized it as a song from his own childhood.
The happy homemaker turned to the table and presented two dishes with a flourish. “Chicken sandwich with a side of coleslaw.” The man flashed a broad grin. “My specialty,” he winked.
Remus found himself smiling in response to his companion’s genuine good mood. Charlie plunked down into the chair across the table and immediately started in on his sandwich. Remus followed suit, taking a big bite of his own chicken on thick wheat bread.
They didn’t speak for the next ten minutes, each concentrating on consuming the simple but tasty meal in front of them.
At last, when he had finished the last bite, Charlie sat back in his chair and looked intently at the man across from him, who was chewing his own final morsel.
“So,” he said, deliberately casual as Remus swallowed. “What brings you to this remote corner of the world?”
The werewolf steeled himself. He really ought to come right out and say it and he had to be honest, it was his only chance. The truth was going to be humiliating, but rejection would be worse.
“I have something of a proposition for you,” he started slowly.
Charlie’s eyebrows shot up again, but he said nothing.
Remus took a deep breath. “You know I’m a werewolf,” he said bluntly.
It wasn’t a question, but Charlie nodded anyway.
“I had to leave my post at Hogwarts because this became public knowledge. People think I’m dangerous, and I am, to a certain extent. I am completely unable to control myself the night of the full moon. On other days, control can be difficult, but I’ve very rarely lost it.” He paused, took a deep breath and looked directly at Charlie.
“You have a reputation for taming even the wildest magical creatures. I know it’s never been done, but I want you to…tame me, or rather the beast in me. If you can. Or at least try. I can’t pay you, but I can help you with your dragons; I’ve worked with them before and I know how to handle them.” Remus stopped. “I don’t know what else to say. Please,” he mumbled.
Charlie looked at the humbled man in front of him, considering. Finally, he spoke up. “I don’t know if I can do it,” he warned. “As you’ve said, it’s never been done. But I like you, and I want to help you. If it’s at all within my power, I’ll do it, and I’ll certainly try my best.” He watched the werewolf’s eyes blaze with hope. “I just need you to promise me two things. One: I’ll need the truth, the complete truth, at all times to keep you from being a danger to yourself and me. Okay?”
Remus nodded readily.
“Two: I need you to stop berating yourself for who you are. You have a disease, but you’re still human. Remember that.”
Remus looked surprised and nodded hesitantly.
Charlie broke into a grin and tipped his chair back, settling his hands behind his head. “Great! Now, let’s see, when’s the next full moon?”
“Two weeks from now,” Remus answered promptly.
Charlie nodded thoughtfully. “Good, that gives us time to figure out each other’s idiosyncrasies and such before then. Okay, I’ll give you tour of all the dragon stuff this afternoon. Since you say you’re familiar with them, it won’t take you long to catch on to the routine. Oh, I’m sure you noticed that there’s only one bed, but it’s big, so I hope you don’t mind sharing it.” He quirked a flirtatious smile at the slightly overwhelmed man in front of him, who shook his head to indicate that he didn’t mind in the least. “Meals are at the usual times, I suppose, or whenever we feel like eating, whatever works. Any allergies, particularities, etc. with your food?” Remus shook his head again. “Great,” Charlie repeated. He continued his rapid-fire speech, explaining the daily routine to a quiet but smiling werewolf.
Soon they were strolling around outside, enjoying the warm weather. Charlie pointed out the supplies and the equipment, and showed Lupin the spells that controlled the dragons’ pen. He introduced the new trainer to the dragons, who seemed to take to him readily; even Charlie was surprised by their immediate acceptance. When he questioned Remus about it, the quiet man answered: “Werewolves and dragons have always had an affinity for each other, although it’s not often documented since both species are generally loners. It has something to do with both being dangerous magical creatures, I think.”
Charlie absorbed this piece of knowledge, then continued the tour. It was nice to finally have someone else around, he noted. Remus seemed easy to talk to as well, and interested in the details, as evidenced by his occasional questions. He was going to enjoy this new friendship, he decided. Especially since Remus was quite attractive…no, stop, there will be none of that, he chided himself. The poor man comes to you for help in defeating his inner demons and you want to jump him. For good reason, snickered a mischievous inner voice. He’s decidedly handsome and it’s been way too long for you Charlie… Stop it. He’s probably not even gay, Charlie tried to remind himself. Just let him be and enjoy his friendship.
By the end of the day, Remus found himself buoyed into a cheerful mood by the physical labor and Charlie’s own jovial spirits. The dragon trainer had been surprised at Lupin’s superhuman strength, and he had explained that it was one of the effects of lycanthropy. Charlie nodded merrily and handed him a particularly heavy box. At least, thought the former professor, I’m not entirely useless.
As they headed into dinner, he was fairly basking in the glow of his new life. He chatted with his new companion amicably as they made dinner: steak and eggs. Over dinner, the two discussed in detail certain herbs said to aid in healing burns. By the time the sun set, in fact, Lupin was exhausted. What with traveling, working, and talking, he looked about ready to collapse. Charlie noted as much.
“Hey, how about we hit the sack? We’ll have a lot of work to do tomorrow, and I want to start working on this werewolf thing in the morning.”
Remus nodded wearily and headed toward the bedroom, followed shortly by the other man. The werewolf was grateful for his companion’s apparent acceptance of his lycanthropy; so many people were frightened or distrustful. It was just nice to pretend to be simply human for a little while.
Charlie collapsed face down onto the bed with a loud moan. “Gods I’m tired, what a day.”
Remus smiled and sat gingerly on the edge of the bed, stretching his legs out before him. “Indeed.”
Charlie shifted a little so he could turn his head sideways and look at the man next to him. Remus was smaller than the redhead, but certainly not diminutive in size. He had long legs and broad shoulders, evident even under his robe. His face was well formed, but it was his eyes that caught attention. Large and open, they flashed a deep chocolate brown flecked with gold. Framed by long lashes and the occasional errant golden hair, they gave him an innocent, shy look that Charlie found positively charming. He flashed a smile at the object of his admiration, if only to see the hesitant grin he received in response.
“I’m glad you’re here, it will be nice to have someone to keep me company,” he offered quietly.
Remus cocked his head slightly, caught somewhat off guard. “I’m happy to be here. It’s nice to feel…” he shook his head, not sure what word he was looking for.
“Something like that, yeah.”
They smiled at each other again, just enjoying sharing a tiny bit of space and time.
Remus broke the silent companionship by levering himself off the bed. “Sleeeeep!” he groaned.
Charlie chuckled and pulled himself up as well. “I concur.”
The guest rummaged around in his bag for a moment before coming up with a toothbrush and toothpaste and heading to the bathroom. Charlie pulled off his boots and threw them into a corner next to three identical pairs. It was important, he had discovered, to have multiple copies of clothing when working with animals that routinely and sometimes unpredictably breathed fire. The dragon-hide pants followed in a tangle, leaving Charlie stretching broadly in boxers.
The water stopped running in the bathroom and Lupin stepped back into the bedroom. “I really ought to take a shower, but I’m so tired that at this point…” he trailed off as he took in the elegant site before him. Charlie had turned, hands on hips, grinning at Lupin’s words. And he appeared to be wearing only…wait, were those… “Are those little dragons on your underwear?”
The redhead blushed slightly, whether from the intense gaze of his houseguest or the comment he wasn’t sure. He looked down at the tiny green dragons that were breathing fire over his nether regions. “Er, well, I thought they were rather cute myself.”
Remus smiled, shaking his head slightly. “They’re adorable, just amusing.” He suddenly seemed to realize he was staring at Charlie’s crotch a little too long and blushed lightly, looking away. “Um, anyway, bathroom’s all yours.”
Charlie was looking at him a little oddly but strode past him into the other room. “If you want, you can throw your stuff into one of the empty drawers,” he tossed over his shoulder. Remus tried to shake off the lust that tried to settle in and moved to do so. The bottom drawer of the dresser proved to be empty and he dumped his few spare robes and boxers into it. Shrugging off his robe, he dropped that on the pile followed by his shoes on the floor beside Charlie’s. He hesitated. He heard Charlie come back into the room and fiddle with something on the nightstand. He was bound to see the scars sometime, he tried to tell himself. Charlie would understand, really. Besides, he couldn’t hide it, not when they were living together. It had been a long time since he had been self-conscious of the long white lines that recorded every transformation on his body, but then it had been a long time since anyone else had seen them.
Remus slowly reached down for the hem of his shirt and pulled it slowly over his head. He heard the barely perceptible change in Charlie’s breathing telling him that the dragon trainer had noticed the scars. Still facing the dresser, his back to his companion, he folded the shirt, hands trembling. He pulled off his pants next, folding those as well and placing them in the drawer.
He was startled when he heard Charlie step forward and even more surprised when he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder.
“These are from the Change?” he inquired softly.
Remus nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He shivered as Charlie’s quiet touch traced the semi-circle on his neck, the mark that had begun a lifetime of agonies. Charlie’s hand shied away at his reaction returning to the less-scarred shoulder.
“I hate them,” Remus croaked out. “I hate what they mean, I hate that even when I’m human my physical appearance screams what I am. They’re so…ugly. Horrible.”
Charlie was shocked by the misery in Remus’ tone, the obvious disgust with his own appearance. He wanted to pull the man into bed and wrap his arms around him, holding him and stroking his hair and whispering that he was beautiful and it was all right, it was fine, it didn’t matter, not a bit. He couldn’t do that though. He finally settled on squeezing his shoulder before impulsively ducking his head and planting a ghost of a kiss on the other shoulder.
“You’re still beautiful to me,” he whispered, squeezing the shoulder again before dropping his hand back to his side.
He felt the other man tremble at the intimate gesture and when he turned, saw the unshed tears in his eyes. He wanted to kiss them away, but again he reigned in his impulse.
“Bed?” he suggested soothingly.
Remus blinked away the tears and nodded. Silently they stepped over, Charlie whispering “Nox,” to turn out the lights before slipping into bed first. Remus slid in beside him. They lay there, not touching, listening to each other’s breathing, before one then the other fell asleep for the night.
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