Disclaimer: The plot's the only thing that's mine. Oh, and the evil witch. Any other characters belong to J.K. Rowling.

Summary: A witch who longs for eternal beauty sets her sights on the most beautiful young man in the village. Unfortunately, this young man has a lover who would kill to protect him.

Warnings: AU, violence, S/R SLASH.

Comments:
Inspired by a nightmare I had about an evil old woman chasing me and my brother around the house. No, really.

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-In Pursuit of Beauty-

---

Long, long ago, a village deep in the forests of Sweden was home to a very old, very wicked witch.

Her name was Valborg, and she was widely known for her cruel ways, her all-encompassing enchantments, and her ability to converse with all kinds of foul creatures. It was even rumoured that she could turn herself into a dragon.

In her youth, the witch had been a terror unlike any other, her almost daily assaults on the village becoming known throughout the country. The villagers' voices trembled with fear when speaking about her, and none dared utter her name aloud. But for almost a hundred years, Valborg had chosen to remain in her castle high above the village, never appearing outside again. It had been so long since she had hidden herself away that most people now merely laughed at the old stories, thinking of them as the fireside stories of grandmothers and grandfathers. Some even dared to mock the memory of the witch, thinking she was dead.

Valborg was far from dead, though she was growing very old. She was nearing her six hundredth birthday, and the thought of leaving her tower filled her with dread. She knew it was stupid to be afraid, but she could not help herself. Instead of terrorizing the villagers, she now spent her days either gazing at herself in the mirror or paging through huge, dusty books.

Her reason for being afraid to leave her tower was quite simple. She was very vain. She had come to hate herself as she looked now, her long hair growing whiter by the day, lines and age spots appearing on her fair skin, her breasts sagging and her thighs getting fleshy. It was a great blow to her ego. Once, men had fought over her. She had had the power to seduce people in order to make them do her bidding. At the sight of her terrible beauty, kings had fallen to their knees before her. She could have ruled the world.

But it made no difference now. She was old, and ugly, and no longer possessed those kinds of powers over men. She was forced to hide herself in her tower, fury boiling inside her at the knowledge that her memory was being mocked. If she was beautiful and young again, she could return to her old ways, and punish the people for taking her so lightly. She would rule the world.

There was only one way to restore herself to her former appearance. But to do so, she needed to capture a beautiful young virgin of either sex, and preform a particularly difficult spell during the height of the full moon, with the help of a certain potion. The spell didn't worry her; nearly six hundred years of practise made her well-versed with every incantation known to magicians. The one problem was finding anyone in the village who possessed the beauty she desired.

One family, the Blacks, possessed this great beauty, but to Valborg's discontent, not one member of the family was a virgin. The three girls were married, and two had children; the two boys used their looks to get what they wanted, which included their selection amongst the wenches who frequented the local tavern. The witch had long since been resigned to the impossibility of using one of them. Unfortunately, this also meant resigning herself to the fate of growing ever older in her tower, since it now seemed impossible to get the beauty she hungered for.

Or so she had thought.

Valborg received a shock one night when gazing into the basin of silver liquid which served her as an eye into the village. Her attention was focused on the eldest Black son, a lad named Sirius, whom she had wanted the most to use in her spell. He was wandering amidst the trees, whistling, probably avoiding going home to his abusive parents. He did this for a very long time, and Valborg began to grow bored with watching him. She was about to switch her attention to something else, perhaps what was going on at the tavern, when Sirius stopped and looked behind him. He suddenly seemed very... strange. As if he were expecting someone.

And someone arrived. The witch sucked in her breath.

It was a young man of perfect, ethereal beauty. He had soft, short, light-brown hair. His eyes were gentle and friendly, a beautiful golden-brown colour, fringed by long, dark lashes. His lips looked soft, luscious, kissable. His pale, creamy white skin looked as delicate as porcelain; his hands were lovely, so smooth and white, with long, thin fingers. His slender body was dressed in a threadbare brown tunic and a equally careworn cloak, but she could see that he was in good shape. The moonlight seemed to glow on him, highlighting his pale skin and streaking his hair with silver. Valborg leaned closer to her basin. If she focused hard, she could see the aura around him. An aura of the purest white, not tinted with the crimson of blood or the ebony of lust. He was a virgin, then.

Tearing her eyes from the young man's aura, the witch realised that he was approaching Sirius. Sirius stepped forward, his arms held out. Both boys hesitated, then slowly moved together. The young man was folded into Sirius' embrace, and their lips met in a shy kiss.

Valborg clenched her teeth. Sirius' aura was dark with suppressed desire, and she knew that if she didn't do something, her last chance would be gone. Though Remus' aura showed only the pale pink of love and devotion, she knew it wouldn't be long before he gave in to his lover's lusts. She had to do something. Cursing under her breath, she quickly turned her attention to Sirius' younger brother, Regulus.

---

Unaware that they were being watched and plotted against by a vengeful witch, Sirius and his lover were sitting with their backs against a tree, talking quietly. The young man's name was Remus, and he had just recently come to live in the village with his grandmother after the death of his parents. A few days after arriving, he had met Sirius... and fallen in love. A boy with eyes and hair darker than the night sky, a boy with gentle hands and a loving touch... Remus had never been so powerfully attracted to anyone before. Sirius was an ideal lover, nothing but sweet and kind. Remus loved him so much. It had been three months since they had met, and already Remus knew he wanted to spend the rest of his life with Sirius.

Sirius was just so stunned at finding such a beautiful, wonderful, sweet lover that he could barely believe his good fortune. He thanked God every night that Remus had come into his life. It was more than he could have ever asked for just to sit and gaze at Remus, drinking in his loveliness. It was almost as if an angel had chosen to come to him. Sirius was almost afraid to touch him, frightened that he might be unworthy of doing so. Though he loved Remus with all his heart, he was afraid to take him to bed. Remus was so beautiful, so perfect, that making love to him seemed like a grievous sin... he didn't want to take away Remus' sweet innocence. He was nothing at all like the girls Sirius had bedded before.

But it was chilly tonight, and such thoughts were ignored as Sirius hugged his lover close, trying to warm him. You're so cold, my love.I don't feel cold. I feel so warm and sleepy in your arms, Remus murmured.

Sirius raised Remus' hand to his lips and kissed it softly. It was shockingly cold under his lips. Your hands are like ice.I can warm them up. Remus reached up and ran his hands through Sirius' long, silky hair. At the same time, he leaned up to give Sirius another kiss.

Remus and Sirius jumped; they scrambled to their feet. Scant moments later, Sirius' younger brother Regulus emerged from amidst the trees. He bore a great resemblance to his older brother; his sleek black hair fell almost to his shoulders, curling up slightly at the ends. His dark-blue eyes were framed by elegant dark lashes, and he was dressed in fine clothes. He cast a disdainful look at Remus' shabby cloak before turning to Sirius. Mum and Da are looking for you.What have I done now? Sirius demanded.

It's what you haven't done that's got them mad. They want to talk to you about Anya.

The young man bared his teeth. I refuse to marry her!Then you can jolly well tell it to Da, Regulus said with a smirk.

Sirius sighed. Anya was a young girl who lived in the village, the eldest daughter of one of the merchants. She had been betrothed to him since they were seven years old, the marriage arranged by their parents. Anya was a pretty enough girl, with cornflower blue eyes and soft dark braids, but she was insufferably stuck-up and demanding. She was nothing like Remus, and Sirius was beginning to loathe the very sight of her. Regulus' enthusiasm at his brother's betrothal was likewise sickening; he wanted his brother to hurry up and get married so that he could marry Anya's sister, Kirsten.

Fine. I'll be along in a minute. Sirius sighed. As soon as Regulus had disappeared, Sirius turned to Remus. Don't fret, my love. I will never marry that girl. I love you, and... he blushed, a rare occurrence. I won't let us be separated.I love you, as well, Remus murmured. They kissed, and Sirius turned in a swirl of black cloak and headed off the way his brother had gone. Remus departed in the opposite direction, shivering but not noticing as he headed for home.

---

The witch smiled as she watched the two lads depart in different directions. Regulus had been looking for his brother for quite awhile without success, so she had used a little magic to guide the boy to the right place. She passed a hand over the basin, and the scene in the silver liquid changed. She could see a small house, warm candlelight flickering in the windows. Remus was there, giving his grandmother a kiss goodnight. She watched him as he headed upstairs to his bedroom. In the light of a single guttering candle, he shivered out of his cloak and tunic and into a long white nightshirt. He climbed into his bed, blew out the candle, and snuggled down to sleep.

Valborg passed her hand over the basin again. Sirius was walking along the deserted main street, looking sullen. He was obviously upset over his arranged marriage. Valborg turned to the window, where an old raven sat watching her. A word, and it was gone. She looked back in the basin. The raven glided silently over the sleeping village, its beady eyes fixed on the streets below, then shot straight down. It attacked Sirius, who cursed and swung at it; the raven squawked indignantly and retreated. Cackling, Valborg went to the window to wait for it.

Well done, she croaked as the raven landed and dropped a few strands of silky black hair in her palm. Clutching the hairs, she hurried down the tower stairs and to the damp, gloomy basement of the castle. Here, there was a room containing bottles, jars, and casques of every potion ever discovered. Valborg looked carefully through the shelves before she found what she was searching for. Taking the small bottle down, she uncorked it and dropped the hairs inside. The potion bubbled and frothed for a moment; then settled. The witch drank the whole bottle, and waited.

It happened instantly. She could feel herself growing taller. Her shoulders were broadening, her arms rippling with strong muscle. Her ankle-length hair grew shorter and darker, becoming a waist-length mane of shiny, deepest black. Smiling, she returned to her tower to admire the effect in her mirror. She was an exact double of Sirius, down to his strong, high cheekbones and pierced ears.

That done, she tuned back to her basin and preformed a tricky little charm. It was a charm that would put everyone in the village into a deep sleep for the rest of the night. She couldn't have any witnesses to what she was about to do.

She used magic to teleport to Remus' house. Another charm unlocked the front door; she slipped inside silently. Remus' grandmother was asleep in her chair, and did not stir. Smiling, Valborg headed upstairs to Remus' bedroom.

He was beautiful, lying fast asleep in the patch of moonlight coming through his window. She crept to the side of his bed and looked down at him. He was breathing slowly and quietly, curled up under several blankets. Valborg leaned down to pick him up.

As she lifted him, amazed at how light and impossibly delicate he seemed, his eyelids fluttered. He blinked up at her, and a sleepy smile appeared on his face.

he murmured in a thick, syrupy tone. My Siri. He reached up to touch Valborg's hair.

Shh, my love, she said softly. And what came from her throat was not her own voice, but Sirius' deep, husky one. Remus' smile grew even wider.

Are you taking me away? he asked.

Yes, my love.I'll miss Grandmamma. But I want to be with you... forever... Remus' eyes closed. The witch gazed down at his perfect beauty, entranced. Slowly, she leaned down to kiss him.

He kissed back, his hands going to her hair just the way they had when he had been with Sirius in the forest. His lips parted slightly, and she kissed him more firmly, her tongue slipping between his lips. At last he stopped, asleep once more, his head resting against her chest. The witch smiled. He thought Sirius was taking him away from their problems. It was all right. By the time he knew what had happened, she would have already taken his divine beauty and returned him to his lover.

She brought him back to the castle. She had decided to lock him in a tower on the north side, a tower with enormous stained-glass windows and a glass ceiling that provided a wondrous view of the night sky. He slept peacefully as she laid him there, on a bed of white furs. She turned at the door to look at him once more. He smiled softly, and murmured, Siri. My Siri...

Remus' grandmother was frantic. Her grandson had not come when she called him for breakfast, and when she had gone up to see if he was perhaps ill, his bed had been empty. Yesterday's clothes had been folded neatly on his chair, and his wardrobe had not been missing anything, except for his nightshirt. And the front door, which she remembered shutting and locking last night, had been ajar when she got up.

she called, ignoring the stares she got from the people in the streets. She shuffled along, looking everywhere at once, calling and calling. She wasn't paying attention where she was going, and so ran straight into someone.

She nearly fell, but strong hands grabbed her.

Mrs. Lupin! Where are you rushing to? It was the eldest Black child, the boy named Sirius. He was dressed in a fine array of black and maroon, his long hair highlighted with gold in the sunlight. But Remus' grandmother had no time to marvel at his beauty.

My grandson is missing! she said. I can't find him anywhere!

Sirius swallowed hard. Remus is gone? she looked frantic, and would have dashed off, but Sirius kept a firm grip on her arm.

You can't go looking for him yourself, he said. I'll go. You should go home, and see if he's come back.

She nodded. He escorted her home, like a perfect gentleman, and departed after asking Mrs. Stevenson from next door to stay with Remus' grandmother.

Remmie, where could you have gone? he muttered.

---

The tower room was flooded with warm sunlight. Bright patches from the stained-glass windows turned the stone floor to chunks of pastel colour. Valborg walked into this pleasant haven, her eyes narrowed against the light. The effects of the potion had long since worn off, and she had returned to her usual self. A set of chains and manacles gleamed in her hands.

She put the chains down on the floor and knelt to her task. She pulled the covers off Remus, and unbuttoned his nightshirt. She slipped it off, her eyes wandering down his slender frame, taking in his beautiful body, memorizing the location of every birthmark. Her fingers roamed over his skin, tracing his collarbones, running along his spine, mapping out his body. He was so thin his ribs showed slightly; but his arms and legs were nicely muscled, his thighs smooth, his buttocks firm and taut. Her fingers paused momentarily between his thighs, and he moaned softly when she stroked him. he whispered, still lost in dreams of his lover.

Satisfied, Valborg murmured a quick spell. The manacles rose in the air, snaking around Remus' wrists and ankles, binding him to the bed. He slept on, completely powerless against her magic, and she rose with a smile on her face. The full moon was fast approaching. Soon, that heavenly beauty would be her own.

---

It was nearly midnight before Sirius admitted defeat and returned to Mrs. Lupin's. Remus' grandmother made him a mug of hot tea as he sat in front of the fire, shivering violently. You did your best, Sirius. Please don't be upset.I am upset, he growled, his teeth chattering. Wherever he is, he's in danger. He's out in this cold wearing only his nightshirt...

She smiled sadly at him. You love my grandson very much, don't you?

He looked up at her, taken aback. How -?Your family can't see what is right in front of them, because they are blinded by greed and power, she said softly, raising a hand to brush his hair out of his eyes. But everyone else knows that you and Remus are in love.And I thought we were being discreet, Sirius muttered, taking a long draught of tea.

She smiled. It's very sweet. I do love him, Sirius stared into the fire. He's the person closest to my heart. I'm going to refuse to marry Anya. Then I will take Remus into my home. His parents, anticipating his marriage to Anya, had had a house constructed for them. It was fully Sirius' now, though he was not allowed to live in it until he was married.

She took his hand and squeezed it. We mustn't give up hope. Remus will return to us.

He finally smiled back. You're right, Grandmother. He'll be back. He loves us both too much to leave us. He sipped at his tea. I just wish I knew where he could have gone!

Mrs. Lupin looked into the fire. I had the strangest dream last night, she said softly. A woman came into my house. She was dressed in black, and she was demanding that I give Remus to her. She said something about needing him for her spell. I didn't think much of it... it was just a dream... but...But what? he pressed.

She shrugged. I don't know. I... I think I've seen her before... Her brow furrowed in concentration. Perhaps she was someone I knew when I was young... I just... don't know. Her eyes rose to the window. She bit her lip. I can't remember. She gazed outside, staring up at the castle atop the mountain. Snow was beginning to fall, looking silver in the light cast by the moon.

---

Remus remained missing for several days. Sirius went doggedly about his search, questioning everyone in the village. No one could remember seeing Remus. He couldn't just disappear into thin air. So where was he?

Remus' grandmother continued to ponder her dream, focusing on the woman. Where had she seen that face before? She knew she hadn't seen this person in many years... she looked out the window at the castle, clutching her shawl around her tightly. A mysterious woman... the castle... something that happened a long time ago...

Then it hit her, hard, and she gasped. The door slammed open, and she turned, suddenly afraid. But it was just Sirius, shaking snow from his hair and cloak, stomping it from his boots.

No luck, he said, his back to her as he hung his cloak by the fire. I just wish - he turned, and saw the look on her face. Grandmother? What' wrong?

She felt faint. Sirius lunged to catch her before she fell, his eyes wide. Are you okay?Her - Mrs. Lupin pointed a trembling hand towards the window. Sirius followed the direction she was pointing in, focusing on the castle. The witch...The witch? Sirius repeated, stunned. But -She has him, Mrs. Lupin was trembling. She has my grandson!

---

It took awhile, but Sirius finally got Mrs. Lupin to her bed, and Mrs. Stevenson was there to sit with her. Sirius took the old woman's hand. I don't believe there's a witch up there, Grandmother. But I will go, and see if Remus is indeed there.Thank you, she whispered, squeezing his hand. Please, Sirius... bring him home.

He nodded, fastening his cloak and pulling up the hood. I will.

He stepped out of the house into the swirling snow, hurrying down the road to his own house. He slipped inside only to find it deserted. His family had most likely gone visiting. With a satisfied smile, he slipped into the library.

Above the mantle hung a shining sword with a magnificent silver hilt studded with precious gems. Below it hung a beautifully worked sheath and sword-belt, decorated with ancient runes and symbols. It was the talisman of the House of Black, rumoured to have defeated countless dragons and evil wizards in the past. Sirius hated to trust the bloodline he despised, but it couldn't be helped. He took the sword down from its place, strapping the belt on, sliding the beautiful sword into the sheath before fastening it to the belt. The blade was still razor-sharp, and it seemed to glow with a kind of powerful energy.

Sirius carefully covered the sword at his side with his cloak, and returned out into the snowy night. He stopped only once more to retrieve his horse from the stables, and started off for the castle as fast as he could.

---

Valborg entered the tower room, smiling. Remus remained chained where she had left him, still deep in the magical sleep. She waved her hand so that the chains pulled her captive upwards, hanging in midair. His head lolled against his shoulder, and he moaned softly. She looked outside. The moon was full, but it was not yet at its peak, and would not be for several hours. She felt quite impatient.

A loud squawk interrupted her thoughts. The raven was flying around the room in frenzy, making an awful racket. Valborg hurried to the window.

A black horse was galloping across the drawbridge. Its rider was none other than Sirius, his hair and cloak streaming out behind him in the wind. The witch snarled. He was going to try and rescue her prisoner. Well, she wouldn't allow it. She was so close to regaining her beauty, and she wasn't going to be stopped now. She turned to her cauldron, furious. A quick wave of her hand, a few muttered words, and the castle was suddenly alive with the howls of vicious wolves.

Sirius pulled his horse to a stop, his heart pounding. The courtyard was filled with slinking, snarling shapes - wolves. The horse whinnied in terror, its eyes rolling. Sirius held it still, sliding off. The instant he let go, the horse was gone. Sirius didn't care. He drew his sword, the blade glimmering coldly in the moonlight. There was a long pause.

Then the first wolf lunged. Sirius slashed it across the chest as it jumped at him, and it rolled away, its blood staining the snow. The other wolves advanced, growling; one by one they launched themselves at him. Sirius fought back, swinging his sword so fast it was a blur. Wolf after wolf fell, and still more appeared. Panting, Sirius turned to meet them, the wind sweeping his hair out of his eyes. He bellowed, meeting teeth and claws with his blade, ignoring everything but the thought of Remus, desperate to get to him in time.

A wolf's claws raked his arm, tearing his tunic and drawing blood. The other wolves howled in delight at the smell of their tormentor's blood, and attacked with renewed zeal. Sirius gritted his teeth, taking them down as they attacked him. Give me strength, if you truly are the sword my ancestors believed in! he growled to his weapon.

And quite suddenly, he felt power surging through him, warming his body. The wolves shrank back, howling; they wanted to attack, but found their target impossible to touch. Sirius' eyes blazed as he brandished the sword at them. Go on! Get out!

They fled, tails between their legs; Sirius raised his eyes to the towers. Remus had to be here. He could sense powerful magic in this place, but he was not afraid. He started up the stairs of the castle. A glow was emitting from his sword, lighting the way for him.

---

Valborg cursed. Her wolves had failed. Sirius was coming. She couldn't let him take Remus away. Normally, she wouldn't have been afraid, but this boy seemed to have some kind of immense power. He was a lot braver than she had anticipated, as well. He was being driven on by the thought of his lover, supported by an enormous power that she didn't understand. But it was no problem. She would take care of him.

She muttered a word, and one of the enormous statues on the floor below trembled slightly. It was an gargantuan knight, who raised his great stone sword and stomped his stone feet. He roared. The sound vibrated throughout the castle, making glass shake in the windowpanes and causing things to tumble from their shelves. Sirius' heart went into his throat at the sound; and up in the north tower, Remus jerked awake, trembling.

Sirius entered the next room to find what had been making the noise - a giant stone knight, who turned towards him. The blank granite eyes narrowed, and the knight started forward, each step making the castle tremble. Sirius stood his ground, his sword held out in front of him. It vibrated slightly with that unseen power, its glow seemingly intensified. Sirius focused on the gleaming blade. Please, help me again, he whispered, and strode forward to meet the statue.

It towered over him. It laughed, a sinister sound. Sirius stood firm, staring up at it. Where is Remus?

The statue made no reply. It swung its sword down, and Sirius dove out of the way. The great blade left a foot-deep furrow in the marble floor, sending chunks of it flying. Sirius cursed as one flew past him, cutting his cheek. He lunged, intending to strike - but had to dodge again as the sword swept by him.

Valborg cackled, turning back to Remus. He was awake, his hazel eyes wide and terrified. She smiled at him. Hello, my pet.Who - where - he was trying to cover himself, but the chains wouldn't let him reach that far. Where are my clothes?You don't need them, she said sweetly. Hold still, now.

She grabbed his hair and pulled his head back. When he cried out in pain and fear, she poured a goblet of potion down his throat. He spluttered, and she let go of him. He looked at her, terrified. What did you do to me?

She smiled. Just wait. You shall see. Soon, the potion will take effect, and I will have what I want.

Sirius jumped aside again, shouting an oath. He couldn't get near enough to the knight to attempt anything. The statue laughed again, its booming voice echoing around the chamber. Tired yet, little man? How do you feel? Sirius spat. Come and get me.As you wish! The giant swung its sword straight down. Sirius lifted his own, expecting death any second - and was stunned when a force surged through him, making him feel stronger than he'd ever been. The giant's sword clanged down on his - and bounced off.

The giant reeled backwards, suddenly ungainly. It lost its balance and toppled over, shaking the entire castle. Now was his chance. Sirius darted forward, and jumped in the air with a triumphant yell. His sword swept down in a glowing arc, slicing the statue's face in two. The giant bellowed, cracks spreading across its face, along its temples, down his neck. With a great roar, the knight crumbled into dust. Sirius wiped his brow on his sleeve, feeling curiously shaky. A shriek echoed down to him, and he gritted his teeth. It was no time to be afraid - Remus was in danger.

Remus was writhing in his chains, crying out in pain. The potion was a very slow one, but it caused great suffering as it did its work. Valborg was lighting candles, her eyes glowing. Yes... yes... my pretty... give it all to me... she hissed, her lined face splitting in a malevolent grin. Remus screamed again as a particularly painful surge gripped his thin body.

There was a loud clang. A candle stand had toppled over. Beside it lay a chunk of granite. Remus' eyes flew open.

Sirius stood in the doorway. He looked furious. Blood was streaming down his arm and dripping from a cut on his cheek. His long hair glinted in the candlelight, and he was surrounded by a mystic glow that seemed to be coming from the magnificent silver sword clenched in his hand. His midnight eyes were blazing with rage as he turned to the witch. Give him back. she smiled sweetly. I need him. He's working quite nicely. Her snowy-white hair was slowly darkening, her wrinkles disappearing. Remus shrieked in pain again, and Sirius saw with a jolt of terror that Remus' hair was growing steadily grey.

Give me back my Remus, he ordered, keeping his voice firm. He tilted the sword warningly. You can have him when I'm done.Give - him - back. Sirius' voice was trembling with fury. Or I will kill you.

Valborg continued to smile at him, trying to appear unruffled. Inside, she was stunned. No one had ever stood up to her like this before. In the past, men like this would have been at her feet. And yet, Sirius remained adamant. The sword in his hand gave off a power that was terrible for her to withstand. Its unearthly glow made her think of the death of her father, almost five hundred years ago. He had fallen to a man wielding the very same sword. She was sure it was the same. But she merely turned her back on him, instead reaching up to touch Remus' cheek. A few lines had appeared near his eyes, and were slowly deepening.

I suppose you want to know why I am doing this?I don't care. His low growl made her scalp prickle. I want my Remus back. The way he was.So you only love him because of his beauty? the witch asked casually. Remus' head jerked up; he looked at Sirius with worry in his eyes. Sirius, however, was still staring at the witch.

I love him because he is sweet and kind. I love him because he's smart and funny and caring. I love him because he's the first person who has ever loved me for myself, not for my money or sex. I don't care about beauty. But what I do care about is the fact that you're hurting him, and that you're taking what's not yours. Sirius swiped blood from his cheek and strode forward, the sword pointed at Valborg's heart. Now. Return him to the way he was, and give him to me.

Remus cried out again, pain twisting his body and creeping up his spine. Sirius' eyes flashed dangerously, and the tip of the sword came to rest under Valborg's jaw. Butterflies of panic, a new feeling to her, fluttered in her stomach. Surely this boy couldn't be this strong! He was a runt, a nineteen-year-old child. He didn't have the hundreds of years of learning and research she did. And yet he was the fiercest, most determined foe she had ever encountered. She gritted her teeth. She knew one way to kill him, but to do so would require letting go of Remus temporarily. She had no choice. She closed her eyes, murmuring the counter-spell under her breath. There would be time to restart the experiment after she killed this insistent brat.

Remus screamed even louder, the pain doubling as Valborg released him from the spell. He went limp, hanging in his chains, unconscious. He was restored to the same heavenly beauty as before, but with a pained expression on his face. Sirius turned to the witch; his eyes widened in horror.

The witch's face was stretching, lengthening, becoming scaly. Her eyes turned yellow, with slits for pupils; her teeth were becoming pointed fangs. Her body was lengthening and writhing; enormous wings erupted from her shoulder blades. She rose, letting out a roar and belching smoke and fire to the high ceiling. She was now well over forty feet tall; she had deadly-looking talons on her hands and feet. She was covered with deep purple scales. This was her ultimate form, her last resort. She had transformed into a dragon.

Her horrible yellow eyes focused on the tiny man below her. His sword was still blazing, but she no longer cared. She was going to kill him.

Her head lowered. Her jaws opened, spurting flames. Sirius dove aside; the flames singed the hem of his cloak. She breathed fire at him again. Instinctively, Sirius held the sword out in front of him like a shield. The sword glowed brighter, and the flames parted around it, never touching Sirius.

The dragon roared in fury, and whipped her tail around. It connected squarely with Sirius' side, sending him flying. He yelped in pain as he hit the wall. The sword flew out of his hand and spun away across the floor.

Remus groggily opened his eyes. The horrible witch was gone; but there was a huge dragon in her place. Sirius was kneeling at the base of the wall, panting. His sword lay several feet away.

Remus cried. His lover turned towards him, shaking his long hair out of his eyes. He was wide-eyed and terrified, blood smeared across his cheek. Your sword! get your sword!

Sirius nodded, avoiding the dragon's talons, which dug deep grooves in the floor. He made a mad dash for the sword. The dragon's tail hit him again, knocking him down. Remus cried out, and Sirius reached blindly for this weapon. His fingers grazed the hilt, and he grabbed the sword. He swung it up just in time to slash the beast's paw as it swooped down on him.

The dragon bellowed, pulling its paw back. Sirius scrambled to his feet as drops of the dragon's hot blood splashed on and around him, holding the sword out in front of him. He had no idea how he was going to kill the dragon - after all, he had never fought a dragon before. A cut on the paw was all very well and good, but that wasn't enough to kill the beast. And its hide was tough and scaly, almost as hard as diamond. A simple stab with the sword wasn't going to work, no matter how much magic was in his blade.

Remus was struggling to escape from the chains which bound him. He was no longer aware of his nakedness, or of the cold which numbed his skin; his only concern was Sirius. Tears spilled down his cheeks as he watched his lover duck and dodge the enormous wyrm, but he was unaware of them as well. Sirius couldn't stand up to a dragon forever, not even with a magic sword. Every inch of the dragon's body was covered with hard armour, and Remus was certain that the sword couldn't penetrate it. His hazel eyes searched frantically for something, anything, that might be a weakness to the dragon.

The room lit up and became hotter as the dragon spit fire at Sirius. The young man managed to block the flames with his sword, but the glow around it was starting to fade. Sirius clenched his teeth and tried to focus. he begged silently, lend me your power just for a little while longer... just long enough to defeat this evil witch.... please, help me....

The sword's glow was renewed; it gleamed brightly as Sirius concentrated his will on keeping it alive. The dragon roared in irritation and anger, rearing up onto its hind legs. Remus' eyes widened as they saw what the sword's glow revealed.

he cried. The left arm! Underneath it! Aim for that spot!

Sirius saw what Remus meant. A spot just under the dragon's front left leg was strangely bare-looking fleshy and soft rather than hard and armoured. He swallowed hard. It was going to be some task to attack that spot, but he had to try.

Come and get me! he shouted up to the dragon. She opened her jaws and hissed in irritation, her long, snakelike neck stretching out. Dark grey smoke billowed from her nostrils, smelling of burning wood and roasting meat; her huge front paws hit the ground with a tremor that made the stained-glass windows behind Remus shatter. It became even colder in the tower as the freezing winter air howled through the openings, making Remus shiver helplessly as he watched the battle going on before him.

Valborg was incensed. Her entire being was focused on utterly destroying the insignificant insect down by her feet. She loathed him, wanted him dead, but couldn't seem to hurt him. He was as difficult to kill as a cockroach. She roared, bringing one huge paw down in an attempt to crush the boy. He slashed out, cutting her paw again. Her anger increased, burning hotter than her flames. Never had anyone made her this furious. She lunged at him again and again, longing to feel the crunch of bones and the hot surge of blood between her fangs, but it never happened.

Sirius continued to leap aside, keeping well out of the dragon's way. He was beginning to see how irritated she was becoming - she was getting more and more careless as the fight continued. Her anger was taking over all her other senses and thoughts, and she didn't even realise it. She was constructing her own doom.

She hissed furiously, bending closer to the ground in attempt to get closer to him. He saw what she was doing, and jumped out of the way as her head came down. His leap carried him right below her huge, scaly chest. Directly above him was the weak spot he and Remus had noticed.

There was no time for thought. Sirius stabbed upward, burying the sword up to its hilt in the dragon's flesh. He was immediately drenched in blood, as Valborg let out a horrible screech that echoed throughout the tower and the surrounding mountains. It echoed down into the village, making people run to their windows and doors to see what was making the noise.

The dragon writhed in throes of pain, its tail whipping back and forth. Blood flew everywhere, making a horrible mess. Sirius wrenched his blade out of the dragon's heart and backed away, his eyes wide as he watched the beast die.

Valborg fell to the floor with a monstrous thud. The castle quaked violently under her weight. Then, slowly, she began to shrink. Scales gave way to pale flesh; long white hair cascaded down her back. The witch raised her head to look at Sirius, and he screamed. Her face was decaying rapidly, flesh dripping from the bone, her skull gaping at him through the mess. Her teeth were bared in a terrible grin as she collapsed. Her skeleton turned to dust; her robes were suddenly empty. She was dead.

Remus' chains snapped suddenly, sending him tumbling to the floor. He landed on the soft bed of furs with a surprised cry. He sat up, rubbing his wrists. Sirius approached him, looking both tired and relieved.

Remmie -

He fell to his knees on the soft bed, dropping the sword and pulling Remus into his arms. Remus shivered as the cold air brushed his skin, and leaned up to meet Sirius' lips. They kissed hungrily.

Sirius finally remembered that his lover was naked as one hand brushed Remus' bare thigh. He swallowed hard, unclasping his cloak. Here, wrap up in this - you must be cold. Remus took it, but didn't wrap up in it, instead using it to wipe the blood and gore from his lover's face and hands. His hazel eyes met Sirius' dark blue ones.

But you're so cold -I won't be for long. His lips were an inch away from Sirius' ear. Not if you make love to me.But -You risked your life for me. Remus was smiling, tears in the corners of his eyes. If you didn't love me with all your heart, why would you have even bothered? It's okay, my love. I want you. Please, make love to me. He shifted slightly. Sirius suddenly felt very hot as Remus' slender body pressed against his.

He couldn't refuse. His previous fears about taking Remus were gone as he touched Remus' body. Remus was willing, and his beautiful body was too tempting to resist. He had nearly died, without experiencing the feel of his lover's bare skin against his, without knowing how it would feel to be inside him, without ever hearing Remus' cries of ecstasy. He undressed quickly and took Remus in his arms.

Remus shut his eyes and wrapped his arms around Sirius' waist as Sirius kissed his throat. Siri.. my Siri..My Remmie. Sirius murmured in his ear. All mine. I swear to you, as soon as we return home... I will tell everyone how much I love you. I will not marry Anya.

The full moon shone down on them, bathing their bodies in silver light as they joined. Remus cried out softly with every movement, his slender fingers buried in Sirius' silky hair. Sirius' kisses were hot on his neck, his shoulders, his lips. Remus had never felt as wonderful as he did in this intimate embrace.

When it was over, Sirius drew the covers over them. He was tired and sore from his battles, but he barely noticed as he kissed Remus goodnight. I love you. he whispered.

I love you, too.

---

The next morning was bitterly cold. Sirius managed to find Remus' nightclothes, but the thin nightshirt wasn't much protection against the cold. Instead, he draped Remus in one of the fur blankets like an enormous cloak, smiling to see his lover dressed like a huge white bear. He carried Remus out into the courtyard, then set him down long enough to put his fingers to his lips and whistle sharply. For a few moments, it was quiet; then they distinctly heard the clatter of hooves on stone. Sirius' magnificent ebony steed appeared, its saddle slightly crooked, but otherwise in good shape. Sirius patted its nose and murmured to it before fixing the saddle and helping Remus up onto the horse.

Let's go home. he murmured, taking the horse's reins. I think we've had enough of this place to last a lifetime.

It was a slow, cold, wet journey back down the mountain. It began to snow around midday, and Remus was soon shivering despite his fur wrap. Sirius looked even more miserable; his clothes were soaked through, and his hands and feet were growing numb. The horse plodded glumly on, its head down. Remus shut his eyes and tried to block out the cold by imagining being back home. It would be warm in his grandmother's house; he and Sirius could have steamy baths and a hot supper before curling up in his bed.

Sirius paused to wipe at his streaming nose with his sleeve, the only thing handy. His nose and cheeks were red with cold. All right, Remmie?

Remus' misery was small compared to the trouble Sirius was going through - and the poor horse, too. Remus scratched the animal gratefully behind the ears. Yes, Siri, I'm all right. He did his best not to shiver. Sirius nodded tiredly.

Hold on just a little longer. We'll be home soon.

They started again. Sirius strode through the deep snow that covered the road, his thighs aching with effort and cold. The sword at his hip had developed an unpleasant habit of hitting him on the leg as he walked. His ears and nose were just as numb as his fingers. He tried not to think of baths and supper, knowing it would only make his troubles seem worse. He gritted his teeth. Remus was probably even colder than he was; the snow had turned into a slushy, rainy mixture that had left his fur blanket matted with ice. And he was only wearing a nightshirt underneath. Sirius pulled the horse forward harder.

It was completely dark by the time they reached the village. Remus' spirits lifted as they passed down the familiar streets. Sirius and the horse were having a easier time walking here, where the snow wasn't as deep.

Mrs. Lupin had been dozing in her chair by the fire. A sound made her sit upright. It sounded like hooves. She threw on her shawl and hurried to the door. Light spilled out on the snow before her home, and she was stunned by what she saw. Sirius was standing there, looking very wet and bedraggled. He was helping someone down from black horse - someone completely covered in yards of white fur. A pair of familiar eyes peeked out from under the damp fur.

Mrs. Lupin cried, overjoyed. She reached out for her grandson, pulling him indoors. Sirius led his horse away, heading for the small stable behind the house, but Mrs. Lupin barely noticed. She reached up to push the wet wrap off her grandson, taking in his mussed hair and red cheeks. Oh, Remus -!

He was only wearing a nightshirt under the fur, she noticed. She ran to get him blankets. Oh, my darling, you're so cold! she cried in dismay. I'll draw you a bath right away...Don't rush, Grandmamma, he said. I'm okay. I think Sirius needs more attention than I do. His eyes were fixed on the front door as if awaiting someone. Here he comes.

Mrs. Lupin hadn't heard a sound, but sure enough, Sirius entered a split second later, brushing the snow from himself. Even his long hair was dripping; Remus and Mrs. Lupin hurried to help him remove some of the wet clothes he was wearing.

I'm so grateful to you, Mrs. Lupin whispered. You brought Remus back to me. I can't thank you enough, Sirius...It's okay, he replied, taking the tissues he was offered. I already have my reward. He was looking at Remus, a look in his eyes that Mrs. Lupin had never seen there before. She smiled, leaving Remus to dry Sirius off and lead him to the room where the warm bath awaited, and began preparing a hot supper for them.

---

The next morning was unseasonably warm; the snow was melting at a fast pace. Sirius had risen early and snuck out before breakfast was served. Mrs. Lupin expected her grandson to be heartbroken; but he sat at the table calmly, eating his pancakes.

He saw her look and smiled. Don't worry, Grandmamma. I know what Sirius is doing. He has gone to his parents to break off his arranged marriage. He looked up at the clock. In fact, it is time I joined them. He rose, folding his napkin neatly on his empty plate, and put on his cloak. His grandmother could do nothing but stare after him, bemused, as he left he house.

When Remus entered the Blacks', he could hear shouting coming from the second floor. Ignoring the maids who stared at him and whispered to each other behind their hands, Remus headed in the direction of all the noise. He paused to listen at the closed door of the library.

-you think you're doing, breaking up this engagement?! A man's voice, probably Sirius' father.

C├ępheus, I really do insist that you get your son under control. My daughter is more than ready to be married, he is wasting our time - Another man. This must be Anya's father.

I apologise, Sven... do you hear me, Sirius?

Remus took that opportunity to knock on the door. There was a pause, and then the door was opened by Sirius. His face lit up when he saw who it was, and he took Remus' hand.

Father, this is Remus, Sirius said, leading his lover into the room. Sirius' parents were sitting across from two dark-haired people and a dark-haired girl who looked to be Sirius' age. Remus supposed this was Sirius' arranged bride, and although he knew Sirius didn't love her, he couldn't help the sharp flash of resentment and loathing he felt at the sight of her.

And why should I care? Mr. Black growled.

Well, I think you should. You all should, especially you, Anya. Sirius' eyes were sparkling with mischief. You see, for a marriage to be complete, and for our families to be connected, it has to be consummated. And I'm afraid that while you are very pretty, my dear - he bowed sarcastically to Anya - I could not possibly imagine that taking you to bed would be more gratifying and pleasurable than just holding Remus' hand.

The adults gasped; Anya was red with embarrassment and rage. Sirius continued to smile.

Remus is the one I love. I fought wolves and a dragon to be near him. I risked my life to save his. We are very much in love - and have already consummated our relationship. So you see, I can't possibly marry Anya. I'm already married to Remus.

Anya's parents looked furious; they rose as one. Their daughter was in tears as her father pointed a finger at Mr. Black and roared, How DARE you - pledging our daughter to this - this - this boy. He is a homosexual - completely inadequate for my daughter -!I will not tolerate a sexless marriage to a man who is in love with another man! Anya cried, stamping her foot. I refuse !I believe that is all that needs to be said on the matter. Good day, Mr. Black, her father said coldly, and the family marched out, leaving a stunned silence in their wake. The Blacks looked dazed; Sirius turned and headed for the door, Remus holding on to his arm.

By the way, the ebony-haired youth said casually, pausing in the doorway. Never bother me again, Da, Mum. Then they left.

Remus said softly. Did you really mean to hurt your parents' relationship with Anya's parents? They'll never speak to each other again, after this insult.

Sirius smiled down at him. He stopped walking, and cupped Remus' face between his hands. Listen to me. I love you. Nothing else matters to me but that. All I want is to make you happy, not my parents.

His words melted his lover's heart. Thank you, Remus whispered resting his head against Sirius' shoulder. I love you, too.

They stayed in that embrace for awhile; then Sirius took Remus' hand again. Come, my love. I want to show you our new home.

Remus' laughter was like tinkling chimes on a summer breeze. He squeezed his mate's hand, and they headed down the road together.

The End.

---

(A/N: Gift Art!

In other words, pictures people draw for me, without my asking, based on my stories. Though they could just be something random you just felt like drawing for me. Some artists/writers don't like this - BUT I DO!! I love it when people draw things for me! No matter what you think of your talent or whatever, every drawing someone sends me is CHERISHED! I save them on the computer, print them out, and show them off proudly to my family and friends. Some I love so dearly that I print an extra copy and tack it to the bulletin board in my room. So please! Send art my way! I would love you forever if you did!

Please, never feel bad about what you've drawn. Never say stuff like, 'Oh, it's horrible, she'll hate it". I can promise you I won't, unless it's something gross like a VERY graphic drawing of Snape and... uh... Umbridge having sex! (Ewwwww! But who would draw THAT?) I especially love Sirius/Remus, but if you want to draw any of the HP characters, or maybe characters from LOTR or an anime, I'll love it! I promise!)