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 gasped at the pain and collapsed to the ground. Charlie almost cried out in sympathy as he heard the bones breaking, and Padfoot took a few steps closer to the Changing werewolf. His lover watching from outside the pen, Remus shook in agony as the bones and muscles changed shape and alignment. Unable to support himself on his destroyed limbs, he simply lay on his side with eyes screwed shut and lips pressed together against the screams. As the last of the bones snapped into place, the hair began to grow, forces the coarse strands through his skin. Finally his teeth and nails lengthened and Moony slowly gained his feet. Charlie was in awe. Standing a mere twenty feet from him was a werewolf. His lover. A werewolf. His lover. Both.
Moony threw back his head and howled.
Padfoot barked a greeting and the wolf immediately pounced on the large canine, rolling him on his back. He sniffed deeply and growled before finally giving the dog a lick on his muzzle, recognizing his old pack mate. Padfoot happily licked back and shimmied out from under the wolf. Moony gave him a friendly butt with his head before surveying his new surroundings. He barely gave the dragons a second glance, but his gaze quickly settled on Charlie, standing with hands in pockets and looking fascinated by the activity in the pen.
The wolf began to walk intently toward the redheaded human, regarding his prey with an expertly predatory eye. Charlie didn’t move except to take his hands out of his pockets. Padfoot bounded up to his friend and barked, trying to distract the wolf. Not happening. The werewolf growled and casually took a warning swipe at him with a powerful paw before continuing toward his goal. Soon he was a mere few inches from the dragon trainer. He took one more step forward and his nose knocked against the invisible barrier. Moony growled in surprise and tried to walk around the barrier, only to find that tactic ineffective. He growled again, this time in frustration.
Charlie could feel the werewolf’s warm breath filtering through the magical wards. Bright amber eyes glowed in the dark, staring intently at the human. He shivered at his proximity to such a powerful animal, but as was typically the case when he encountered some new magical creature, he was deeply intrigued. He wished that he could get into the pen with werewolf, but he wasn’t that foolhardy, so he contented himself with observing from the outside.
Eventually Moony lost interest in the forbidden prey and turned to the excited dog. They raced around the pen, playing and wrestling like puppies. When the dog seemed to be getting tired, they took a break and Moony returned to Charlie to see if the barrier had been removed. Upon discovering it hadn’t, he ambled back to Padfoot and lay down next to the canine. Padfoot laid his head on the werewolf’s side and Moony allowed it, licking his friend’s ear in affection.
The two followed that pattern the rest of the night. They would tear around the pen for a while before they tired of the game. Then they would rest a bit, and every so often Moony would return to visit Charlie, who had taken up sitting cross-legged just on the other side of the wards.
Finally the first rays of the sun chased away the moon. Moony howled in his agonies, the claws and teeth receding, the hair disappearing, the bones and muscles reforming. Padfoot and Charlie watched him Change back in silence. After a few minutes Charlie couldn’t stand it any longer and burst into the pen, running to kneel at Remus’ side. The last few bones slid into place as Charlie watched. The fair-haired lycanthrope lay there, unmoving.
“He’s passed out,” said a tired-sounding voice from behind Charlie. “From the pain and exertion. He’ll wake up in a few hours, I think. Best get him to bed in the meantime.”
Charlie didn’t even look back at the transformed Sirius. “Could you grab his clothes?” he requested in the same quiet tone. Standing up, the redhead bent back over to scoop the unconscious man into his arms. With Remus’ head resting limply on his shoulder, he let Sirius leave first with the clothes before exiting the pen with Remus, closing the wards behind him.
At the cottage Charlie laid his battered lover tenderly in the bed before turning to Sirius. “Will this do?” he asked in a hushed tone, transfiguring the kitchen table into a comfortable looking bed.
“Lovely, thanks,” Sirius replied gratefully. “And Charlie?” The redhead looked up at him. “Are you…okay?”
Charlie flashed a weary but genuine smile at him. “Yeah, fine.”
Sirius smiled back. “I told him you would be.” He nodded toward the bedroom. “Now go be with him. He’ll want to see you when he wakes up.”
Charlie shot him a grateful glance and slipped into the bedroom. Kneeling next to the bed, he examined Remus closely without touching him. The werewolf seemed merely bruised for the most part, with a few scratches but nothing serious. The redhead sighed and gently brushed a lock of blonde hair out of his lover’s face. Of all the emotions he had felt tonight, disgust was not among them; it was mostly sympathy and horror at the pain. He couldn’t fathom Remus enduring this every month for so many years; he would have done anything to save the werewolf from his agonies.
“Oh Remus,” he whispered. “How could you think I would ever feel anything but love for you?”
Receiving no answer from the unconscious man, Charlie crawled carefully over his lover and settled gently next to him. He pulled up the sheet, letting it drift on top of them. Wrapping a protective arm tenderly around the bruised torso, Charlie fell asleep tucked alongside the man he loved unconditionally.
Remus stirred. A familiar ache consumed his body, but that was not what set the werewolf’s senses to full alert. There was someone in bed with him. Never in his entire life had he woken up after The Change with a bed companion. Charlie? he asked himself. Or, a less generous part of his mind speculated, Sirius, to comfort him after Charlie had left? Remus closed his eyes again. If it were the latter, he would rather never wake up. He sighed. Should he look? There was really nothing else to do; he couldn’t lay there wondering all day. He sighed again.
“Remus? Are you awake?”
Remus’ breath caught in his throat. He opened his eyes a crack, only to see an ocean of copper in his field of vision. He opened his eyes all the way and found himself gazing into Charlie’s concerned countenance.
“Charlie?” he managed faintly.
“Yes? Love? Are you all right? Can I get you anything?”
“Water, please?” Remus asked unsurely, his voice a mere croak from strain.
“Of course, don’t move, I’ll get you a glass.”
Charlie hastened out of bed while trying not to disturb the frail occupant. As he stepped into the bathroom, Remus irrationally squeezed his eyes shut and began to chant silently “Come back come back come back please come back…”
“Remus?” He opened his eyes to see Charlie beside the bed, holding a glass of water and looking especially concerned. “What’s wrong? Are you sure you’re all right? What can I do?”
Remus ignored his screaming muscles and pushed himself into a sitting position. Reaching out, he plucked the glass from Charlie’s hand and brought it to his lips, drinking half of it before setting it on the nightstand. Patting the bed next to him, he scooted over to make room for Charlie’s long limbs. “I just didn’t expect to see you this morning, that’s all,” he explained simply in a subdued but stronger voice.
“Oh, Remus,” Charlie whispered, sliding in beside him. He leaned forward and caressed his lover’s cheek gently. “Don’t ever think that again.” He kissed Remus tenderly, and when he pulled back, he was surprised to see tears glistening in the once again chocolate brown eyes.
“Thank you, Charlie,” he murmured.
“Knock knock,” announced Sirius’ voice as he did just that on the doorframe. He swept in, not waiting for acknowledgement. “Remus! You’re alive, lovely. I need to steal Charlie for a bit, do you mind?”
“Fantastic, I’ll bring him back soon,” Sirius interrupted. He swept back into the kitchen.
Charlie looked questioningly at Remus.
“I have no idea what he wants, but go with him,” Remus said.
“Are you sure?” Charlie asked in a worried tone. “I don’t want to leave you.”
Remus patted his hand reassuringly and gave him a peck on the lips. “Go. I’ll sleep while you’re gone.”
“All right…” Charlie said, still sounding unsure.
“Really, I’ll be fine.” Remus offered him a smile, which seemed to relieve Charlie a bit.
“I’ll be back soon, I promise,” he declared as he stood up.
Charlie beamed at this and bent down for one last kiss before leaving the cottage.
“Now, what exactly was so important that you are taking me away from the man I love when he’s in pain and needs the extra reassurance that I’m not leaving?” Charlie burst out when he joined Sirius outside in the clearing.
“I am sorry,” admitted Sirius shamefacedly, “but I need your help. Dumbledore is delivering a message to the village for me today, but I can’t very well waltz in and pick it up as myself. I’d go as Padfoot, but I think an unaccompanied dog collecting a letter would also be rather suspicious.”
“All right, that’s understandable” Charlie relented. “But let’s hurry.”
“Thanks, I appreciate it,” Sirius replied gratefully. He hesitated briefly. “And…I also wanted to talk to you alone.”
“Oh?” Charlie looked at him. By then they were walking swiftly down the overgrown path that would take them to the small village, which was really just a couple of farms and houses.
“Yeah. I just…” He gave an exasperated sigh. “Listen, I’m not eloquent like Remus, so you’ll just have to deal with me being straightforward here. The man is in love with you.” He held up a hand to stay Charlie’s protest. “Whether he’s said so or not, and as of this morning I’m back in the dark about that, he does. I’ve never seen him like this, Charlie. He’s not as shy as he usual is, he’s much more forthcoming and…well, like his old self when we were in school. I half expect him to sneak a dungbomb into someone’s cauldron or something.” Charlie smiled at the image of a young studious Remus playing a prank. “I’ve also noticed that you two aren’t buried in books. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Remus without a book; what he’s discovered has to be pretty powerful to distract him from his normal bookworm state. So basically I’m glad he’s found you.” They were approaching the village now. “Hold on, there’s more, but I’m going to be Padfoot now. Stop at the second farmhouse and see if they’ve accidentally received a letter for ‘Snuffles.’”
“Snuffles?” Charlie snorted, but Sirius had already transformed. Padfoot sent him a glare. “All right, all right. Second farmhouse, letter for Snuffles.”
They approached the indicated farmhouse and Charlie knocked on the red wooden door. A plump witch in a skirt and blouse opened the door. “Yes?”
Charlie was momentarily alarmed by the whirling dervishes swirling about her surprisingly dainty feet until he realized they were scrubbing the floor. “Oh, erm, yes. This is rather awkward. You see, I’ve been inquiring…you haven’t had a letter for a Snuffles, have you? It was supposed to get here today, but her owl isn’t terribly reliable, so…”
“Oh!” The witch exclaimed. “You’re Snuffles!”
“Well, you see, um, I suppose, yes,” Charlie finished lamely.
She giggled at his blush. “Girlfriends never remember to avoid the pet names on the outside of letters, do they?”
Charlie flushed a deeper red. “Er, no indeed.”
“Well, here you go.” She snatched the scroll from one of her pockets and handed it to him. “Unread, of course. We were going to send it to the Ministry’s Lost Letters Division this afternoon, so it’s lucky you came by now.”
“Thank you so much,” Charlie said sincerely. “I’ll let you get on with your work now.”
“Oh,” she dismissed the dervishes with a wave of her wand. “There’s always something to do, isn’t there?”
Charlie smiled. “Always,” he agreed. “Have a good day, and thanks again!”
“No problem at all.” She returned the smile before shutting the door.
Charlie and Padfoot walked in silence until the passed back into wooded area. “Snuffles?” Charlie exploded. “Could you have picked a worse name?”
Padfoot shimmered back into Sirius. “Believe me, there are worse out there. I chose it as my codename on a whim; Remus used to tease me by calling me that when we were lovers.” He shot a guarded look at the redhead. “Uh, he did tell you we were lovers, right?”
Charlie nodded. “He did, don’t worry.”
Sirius relaxed. “Good, didn’t want to dredge up any complications now.”
“Speaking of Remus, you were going to continue?”
“Oh yes.” Sirius looked more severe. “My point was that I’ve never seen him like he is now, and if anything ever happened he’d be devastated.” The black-haired man stopped in the path to face Charlie. “Don’t be offended, but if you ever, ever deliberately hurt him, I swear I will track you down and make your life miserable.”
Charlie looked taken aback. “Sirius…I would never do anything to harm Remus, never.”
“I believe you.” They began walking again, but Sirius still had a frown on his face. “Remus doesn’t have anyone to protect him,” he continued eventually, “you just needed to know that there was someone who would do so if it was necessary.”
Charlie nodded. “I know. I do appreciate that you feel so protective of him.”
Sirius finally smiled. “It’s good that I’m not the only one anymore.” He draped a friendly arm around Charlie’s shoulders. “Now, moving on to pleasanter things, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.” Charlie looked questioningly at him. “Remus’ birthday,” Sirius confided, “is a week from today.”
“Really?” Charlie looked surprised. “He hasn’t said anything about it.”
Sirius shook his head. “He’s never been the type to make a big deal of it. Plus I bet that being a bit older than you he might be a little self-conscious about it.”
Charlie bit his lower lip. “So what should I do? Should I throw a party? Invite people? Or keep it simple?”
“I’d keep it simple,” Sirius suggested. “Spending it with you is all he’ll want. But if you threw in a small cake and a couple of presents, that would probably add something special.”
Charlie smiled. “Good plan. It’ll just be us, a cake…what kind of cake does he like?”
“Everything chocolate,” Sirius replied. “Despite being related to canines, the man is simply mad for chocolate.”
“All right then,” Charlie resumed. “Us, a chocolate cake, and presents.” Charlie seemed struck by an idea. “Has Remus read any muggle books?”
Sirius shook his head. “I’m not sure of course, but I don’t think he ever got into them. He’s from a wizarding family, no squibs as far as I know, so he probably never had a great deal of access. It’s a great idea,” he added, “but aren’t those hard to get, especially out here?”
Charlie shrugged. “My father handles muggle artifacts for the Ministry, I’m sure he can get me in touch with something.”
“Sounds like a good idea. So are you going to tell him you know or keep it a secret?” Sirius inquired.
Charlie smiled mischievously. “Oh, keep it a secret, definitely. The man deserves a shock for keeping this from me.”
They reached the cottage just then. “In that case, my lips are sealed,” promised Sirius. “Now,” he nodded at the cottage “go in and be with him. I have a feeling that this latest missive will require a few protective measures for reading. I’ll be back in an hour or two.”
“All right,” agreed Charlie. “Signal if you need help.”
“Will do,” and with that Sirius trotted into the forest again, scroll in hand.
The redhead entered the cottage and returned to his room, only to find the bed empty.
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