The Potions Master and the Not-So-Big-Bad Wolf
Once Upon a Time In a Cottage in the Woods...
Remus listened to the retreating footsteps of the witch and began to struggle against his bonds while liberally cursing his desire for a nice quiet walk in the woods with every breath he took. If he ever got out of this alive he’d certainly never go looking for a breath of fresh country air again. It was nothing but the smoggy, grit of the city for him from now on. Yes, indeed! Dodging speeding cars and armed muggers was definitely the way to go. Much safer!
After thrashing around uselessly for a few moments, he lay still and reconsidered his options. He was stripped naked and tightly bound to the bedposts of the witch’s bed, hand and foot, with enchanted rope.
Before the old hag had opened a door and clomped off into the cellar in search of Merlin knows what, she’d muttered something about performing a “Fuck Me Forever Young Ritual” and had rubbed something on his cock that had given him a sudden and rather painful forced erection. He really didn’t want to be there when she came back and moved on to the next step in the ritual. Although he wasn’t certain what came next, he had his suspicions and just the thought of it turned his stomach, but finding a way out was proving to be a bit problematic.
Pulling and straining only seemed to tighten the grip of the ropes. In fact, the pieces binding his ankles were actually giggling as they competed to see which one of them could cut off his blood flow first. Clearly brute strength wasn’t going to get him loose. Which left what exactly? Guile? Bribery? Charm?
He mentally shrugged. Why not? If a rope could be charmed into tying him up, maybe it could be sweet-talked into letting him go. It was worth a try anyway. He could be charming when he wanted to and, Merlin, did he want to now, and he’d better hurry up and get to it before that horny witch came back.
Since the rope encircling his right wrist was the loosest of his bonds, and any fool knows that a loose bond is the most likely to surrender quickly, he put on his most charming smile and addressed the thick piece of hemp in his most charming voice.
“So, what’s it like working for a witch? I’ll bet you have a pretty easy time of it here.”
“Easy?!” squeaked the rope. “What do you know about it, buster? Day in and day out, it’s tie that fellow up or flog the skin off this one. Sometimes she even soaks us for days in icy water so we sting more when we’re crammed together and knotted up to punish some poor sod! Last time she did that I couldn’t feel my fibres for hours. It’s never been clear who she really wants to punish, her hapless victims or us! But of course, the worst is wash day...”
All the pieces of rope shuddered in unison. It sort of... tickled.
“What’s so bad about wash day?” asked Remus.
A different thready voice piped up. “She strings us all together and ties us between two trees then hangs her wet, smelly unmentionables from us with big wooden clips that pinch like the dickens! Birds peck at us and scratch us with their claws, bugs chew on our fibres, and we have to stay all knotted together for hours out in the hot sun! It’s torture!”
“That’s horrible!” exclaimed Remus, shaking his head in sympathy and hoping it seemed sincere. “I’m surprised you stay with her.”
All four pieces of rope muttered and shifted against his skin. “You think we have a choice?” asked the first rope. Mentally, he decided to call it Loosie. “In case you hadn’t noticed, we don’t have feet. It’s tough to run off without them.”
“Couldn’t you slither away, like a snake?”
“Cordy tried that,” said Loosie sadly and seemed to droop, loosening its grip a bit more.
“It didn’t work?” asked Remus as he surreptitiously pulled at his wrist, trying to slip it free while the rope’s grip was looser.
“Oh, it worked. He just didn’t get very far before she caught him. Threw him into the fire. The screams were awful.”
“Stunk up the place for days,” squeaked the rope on his left wrist in agreement.
“Yup, poor ol’ Cordy,” agreed Loosie solemnly. “Right then and there we decided it was better not to think about slithering off. It might be a tough life, binding and flogging innocent victims and getting pinched while holding up stinky laundry, but it beats facing the flames.”
“The flames!” All four pieces of rope muttered their agreement and he felt their grips tightening on him again. This conversation wasn’t going the way he needed it to. He redoubled his efforts to appear charming and flashed a wider smile.
“Look,” he said, still addressing the chatty rope, which still seemed to be the loosest. “If you let me go, I’ll take you with me. I have feet, you know. If you release me before the witch comes back, I can just pick you up and carry you along with me. We can all escape into the forest before she even knows we’re gone.”
“Sure you say that now,” retorted Loosie indignantly. “But as soon as we let you go, you’ll probably just get up and run out, leaving us here to face the flames!”
“I’d never do that to you!” exclaimed Remus with an air of injured honesty. “Listen, all you have to do is entwine yourselves around my wrists and ankles when you let me go, that way I can’t leave without you. What do you say? Do we have a deal?” He waited with bated breath.
“Okay, that sounds reasonable. What do you say, guys? Shall we make a break for it together?” Loosie asked the other ropes.
There was more rustling and muttering, which definitely tickled. Then suddenly, Remus felt all four ropes unknotting themselves and wrapping their lengths around his wrists and ankles. He wasted no time in sliding off the bed and hobbling over to the door.
“Hurry, up!” squeaked one of the ropes. “I think I hear her coming back.”
“I’m moving as fast as I can, you ankle bonds did a pretty good job of cutting off my circulation. I feel like I’m walking on pins and needles.”
“You’ll really be walking on needles if you don’t hurry. Oh, I knew this was a mistake...” muttered the rope on his left wrist as it scratched nervously at his skin with its stiff fibres.
Finding the door locked, Remus turned and scurried over to the window. Shoving a couple of pots containing some straggly blue flowers to the side, he climbed awkwardly over the windowsill, trying not to injure himself. Climbing out of open windows without clothes and with a painfully stiff prick wasn’t as easy a task as one might think. Just as his feet hit the ground, he heard a wild shriek behind him and knew that the witch had spotted his less than graceful get-away.
Moving as quickly as he could under the circumstances, he headed straight for the woods on the other side of the clearing. He’d almost made it in under the trees, when he heard a loud curse being flung into the air and something hit him in the small of his back. Green tendrils encircled his waist and something nasty and sharp seemed to bite him in the butt.
He yelped and tore the offending thing, which felt like some sort of plant, off him, flinging it to the ground as he finally reached the shelter of the tree line. Without a backward glance, he sped deeper and deeper into the woods until the shrieks and curses finally faded from his ears.
Leaning against the side of a handy tree, he tried to catch his breath. “What the heck was that thing that bit me on the butt?” he asked the ropes who were untwining themselves and dropping to the forest floor.
“It looked like Angry Aconite to me,” squeaked the chatty rope. “Turn around.”
Remus did as the rope asked. “Yup, looks like it got a thorn into you all right.”
“What do you mean it got a thorn into me? I pulled it off and threw it away.”
“Sure you got rid of the plant, but not before it stung you. Angry Aconite is the witch’s favourite cursing plant. Once it gets its thorns into you, your goose is cooked.”
Remus looked down at the coils of rope at his feet. His back was beginning to itch. “Why? What does it do?”
“Haven’t you ever heard of Aconite?” Loosie sounded astonished at his appalling ignorance. “It’s also called Wolfsbane, which I’d think, taken with the fur that’s currently growing down your backside, should be pretty self-explanatory.”
“Wolfsbane!” Remus looked down at himself and, sure enough, patches of thick fur were growing all down the backs of his legs. As he felt a sharp stab of pain in his posterior, he twisted around and noted with horror that a bushy tail had begun to sprout from the place where the plant had stung him. Suddenly he clapped a hand to his face as he felt his nose beginning to swell.
“What’s happening to me?” he cried.
“I’m afraid you’re turning into a wolf,” said Loosie as it began to slither toward the nearest bush. “It doesn’t look as if the plant managed to get too much of its poison into you. The fur isn’t moving too fast. It could take hours or even days to complete the transformation, but it’ll happen eventually. Better get used to romping around on all fours!”
“How can I stop it?” asked Remus, feeling even more panicked than he did while he was tied to the witch’s bed.
“Beats me. I never saw anyone stop it. They all just drop to the ground and start growling and slobbering,” said the rope as it followed its friends into the undergrowth. “Old Biddy Bella has been great for repopulating the forest with wolves. Hey, thanks for setting us free, if we can ever do anything for you in return, just give us a holler!”
“You could help me out right now!” exclaimed Remus, but he was talking to empty space. The ropes had slithered away into the dark green of the forest.
“Swell,” he muttered to the gloomy woods. “What the hell am I supposed to do now?”
At the Apothecary Shop...
Severus locked his door, settled his best scarlet cape on his shoulders, hefted his basket of potions and headed off into the woods. He was highly annoyed and wasn’t about to take it anymore. For reasons that he had yet to discover, but damned well was going to, he’d lost three stunningly adequate assistants because of that nasty granny in the woods, Bella the Breathtaking, a nickname she’s apparently bestowed on herself, which was reason enough for him to feel sceptical of its veracity.
The old witch had a habit of owling in an order and asking him to send it along with one of his assistants. At first he didn’t think twice about doing it, but then the first assistant never came back. Since Bella had sent her payment with the order, Severus had simply shrugged, chalked it up to a poor work ethic on the young man’s part, and hired himself another assistant. Then it happened again.
Coincidence, he told himself as he hired yet another assistant, but he was beginning to wonder. The most recent assistant was a mouthy, but reasonably competent, girl named Millicent. When the order from Bella came in, as it always did sooner or later, he figured that Millie the Mouth could take care of herself, but although she made it back out of the woods, she never uttered another word. Now Severus might have counted this as a plus, except that thoroughly muted Millie threw her apron in his face and stormed out, leaving him shorthanded once again.
Unfortunately, proficient potions assistants didn’t exactly grow on trees, which was a shame considering his location on the edge of the woods, and, so far he’d found it impossible to replace Millicent. Word seemed to have got around somehow even though Millie wasn’t talking. So when yet another order came in from the highly annoying Bella, Severus decided to deliver it himself and find out what the heck was happening to his assistants.
Now Severus hadn’t gone walking alone in these woods for some time. Most of the potions ingredients he needed could be found within a few feet of the edge of the forest, and those that had to be gathered deeper inside the woods had always been available in a small but dense patch of forest on the other side of his shop. So he hadn’t gone very far along the path before he found himself confused in the murky shadows under the trees, much to his chagrin.
The directions had said to follow the main pathway and then to take a small side path off to the right after a mile or so of walking. It had sounded pretty simple back at the shop. But once he’d got in under the trees, things had become very gloomy and the path had dwindled to practically nothing. As he walked along, pulling brambles out of his way and wondering if either of his wayward assistants had even made it to the old hag’s cottage, he suddenly heard a noise.
He froze in place and listened intently. Yup, there it was again. Someone was swearing a blue streak at a briar bush of apparently questionable parentage. “Who’s there?” he called out.
Abruptly the swearing stopped and the woods fell silent. Drawing his knife, because only a fool would go unarmed into wolf-infested woods like these and Severus was many things but never a fool, he moved slowly off the pitiful excuse for a path and towards a large tree with a faintly rustling briar bush on the far side of it.
“You might as well come out, I know you’re there,” he said dryly. “There’s no wind to rustle the bushes, and I definitely saw that one move a moment ago.”
“I don’t want to frighten you,” said a low, pleasant voice from behind the large tree.
Severus snorted, really who was this guy kidding. “You’re the one shivering in the bushes, and you’re afraid of frightening me?”
“I’m rather an awful sight,” replied the voice.
Tightening his grip on the knife, Severus said, “I’m willing to take the chance. Now are you going to come out on your own or do I have to come around that tree and haul you out?”
“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t warn you,” responded the voice. Then, slowly, a strange sort of man-wolf hybrid slid out from behind the tree holding his long bushy tail between his hands... ur... claws. The strange creature was tall and slender with a rather well toned chest and nicely shaped legs that ended in much less attractive, large clawed feet... ur... paws. The creature’s face had a snout in place of a mouth that was filled with sharp teeth set below a compelling pair of warm, brown eyes.
“Well, you weren’t kidding. You’re certainly a sight all right. What are you anyway?” asked Severus, finding himself strangely attracted to the creature’s undeniably beautiful eyes.
“My name is Remus Lupin and I’m a victim of a curse... or perhaps a plant allergy. I’m not entirely certain.”
“Why not?” asked Severus with a frown.
“Why not what?” asked Remus.
“Why aren’t you certain? People usually tend to know if they’ve been cursed or not and most people steer clear of plants that could do this sort of damage to them.”
“Well, I’m rather new at this possibly-being-cursed thing,” said Remus a bit tartly. “I just wanted to take a walk in the woods, get a little fresh air; I really didn’t think I was going to end up getting all furry like this.”
“Ah, so the fur is part of the curse or allergy then?”
“Yes, absolutely!” exclaimed Remus and in his excitement at finally getting his point across, he accidently released his hold on his tail. The bushy thing immediately slipped from his hands and began thrashing from side to side, and Severus’s eyebrows rose to his hairline as Remus’s rather impressive erection was revealed.
Remus gasped and made a grab for the wayward tail, nabbed it, and brought it back around to hide himself once more, blushing furiously.
“I take it you’re glad to see me,” said Severus dryly, rather sorry to see Remus hide himself away again. It had been too darned long since he’d seen anything quite as tempting as that erection which was now once more hidden behind the furry tail.
“No... I mean yes, of course, I’m glad to see you. I thought I’d be lost out here forever, but it’s not what you think. It’s really rather a long story.”
“Which, regrettably, I don’t have the time to wait around and hear,” said Severus. “I have to deliver these potions, along with a piece of my mind to some old granny who lives in a clearing in the woods, and I’d like to do it before it gets dark so I can find my way back again!”
“Oh, you shouldn’t go there!” exclaimed Remus. “She’s the one who threw the cursed plant at me! She might do the same to you.”
“Oh, really.” Severus’s eyes gleamed as he thought about his two, well-built, attractive, and still missing assistants. Had they ended up all furry with huge erections, too? The mental images that idea conjured up were almost too heady to contemplate. “That might explain a few things. Nevertheless, I’m going.”
Severus turned around and headed back toward the path, saying, “If you follow this path back the way I came, you’ll come to my shop. Once I’ve dealt with Granny, I’ll come back and see if there’s anything I can do to remove this curse or allergy.”
“But what if you don’t come back?” Remus called after Severus’s retreating back, but the man merely waved a negligent hand.
“I’ll come back,” he responded as he continued on his way.
“Famous last words,” Remus muttered to himself as he stood where he was for a long moment, torn between wanting to get the hell out of these woods and never come back, and wanting to help the incredibly attractive stranger in the red cloak who he was sure was walking into certain danger.
Thinking with his engorged cock helped him to make up his mind. So, with a sigh, because he knew in his heart it was probably a foolish thing to do, Remus turned and plunged back into the woods. If he went back the way he’d come, through the trees instead of using the path, perhaps he could get back to the witch’s house before the handsome man arrived and he could save him from certain furriness, though he did find himself wondering what the man would look like naked with a huge erection. Maybe he could hold back on helping the guy out until the witch had cast her first spell...
No! Remus shook his all too shaggy head. What kind of a hero would he be if he allowed the handsome stranger to come to any harm at the witch’s hands even though seeing him naked would no doubt be extremely drool-worthy? A small voice at the back of his head told him he was nuts to think he could be any sort of hero, but he silenced the voice with a growl and sped off through the woods as fast as his feet... ur... paws could carry him.
At the Cottage in the Woods... Once Again
Remus burst out of the forest and found the quaint little cottage just as he’d left it. There was no sign of the handsome man with the big nose and the dark, sexy eyes. Hopefully he’d managed to get there first after all. Remus crept up to the side of the cottage and peeked in through the window he’d left by such a short time before.
Granny was sitting beside the fireplace, rocking back and forth and muttering angrily to herself. The coast was apparently clear as the proverbial crystal. All he had to do was get inside and overcome one old witch. What could be simpler?
Practically anything, apparently, because before he could move a muscle, he suddenly felt the sharp, cold blade of an axe pressed to his throat as a huge burly arm grabbed him around the waist and pulled him back against a rock hard chest.
“Don’t move if you value your life you mangy mutt,” said a cold voice.
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” whispered Remus as the man with the axe dragged him toward the cottage door. Great, now he was right back where he started. Some hero he’d turned out to be. Apparently the little voice in his head was alarmingly prescient.
Flinging open the door, the axe-wielding behemoth in the red and black plaid shirt shoved Remus inside as he called to granny. “Hey, Bella, look who I found creeping around outside your window? Did you lose one of your mutts?”
The witch rose to her feet and strode across the floor to stand in front of Remus with a nasty grin on her wrinkled face. “Thought you’d get away did you, my pretty? Well think again. No one ever gets away from Breathtaking Bella.”
As Remus looked askance at the name the hag had given herself, the witch chuckled and reached out to caress his still straining erection with a liver-spotted hand. “Well, the name would be more apt if I’d been able to complete the “Fuck Me Forever Young Ritual” as I’d intended. It’s a shame you can’t help me now, since you’re clearly still so primed and ready, but now that you’re becoming a beast, it won’t work right. I need a real man’s essence, not the seed of a man in wolf’s fur in order to complete the rejuvenation ritual. Not that it matters, I’ve invited someone else to come and play. I’m sure his essence will do the trick.”
“No, I won’t let you hurt him!” exclaimed Remus as he lunged for the witch but found himself jerked back by her axe-wielding protector.
“Well, well, well, so you’ve returned to try to protect the potions master, have you? How precious is that! It won’t do you any good, you know. He’s as good as mine, just like his two attractive, well-endowed but dim-witted assistants were, but I can still make use of you as a diversion.”
Turning back to the man with the axe, she said, “Macky, tie the cur up in my bed and put one of my old bonnets on him. That should be enough to fool the potions master long enough to get the drop on him. Then once he’s in our power, he can take the wolf’s place in my bed long enough to perform the ritual.”
Macky grabbed Remus and pushed him across the room and onto the bed, where he tied him up with sadly un-enchanted cord –it seemed that charm wasn’t going to cut it this time. Then he stuck a large apple into Remus’s mouth, shoved a bonnet down over his head, and pulled the covers up to his chin.
Turning back to Bella, he said, “You know, you wouldn’t have to tie me to the bed to keep me, Bella, unless you wanted to, of course. I’d stay with you forever, no matter what.”
The witch smiled slyly and ran a coy finger up the front of his massive chest. “I know, Macky, but the ritual drains a man of his essence and transfers that lovely rejuvenating substance to me. If I used you for the ritual, you’d be of no use to me again. We wouldn’t want that now, would we?”
A sudden knock at the door, announced the potions master’s arrival. “Quick,” whispered Bella, “hide behind the curtains! We’ll grab him when he crosses the room to talk to “me” in the bed.”
Nodding his agreement, the big woodsman and the old witch hid themselves behind the curtains just as Severus opened the door and looked inside. “Anyone home? Bella? I have your latest potions order here.”
Stepping inside, Severus looked around the seemingly empty room until he spotted the form huddled beneath the bedclothes. “Ah, there you are,” he said, setting his basket down on the table and crossing the room to stand at the side of the bed.
He frowned down at the figure peering up at him from under the frilly bonnet. “Hm... what a big nose you have, Granny, and what large teeth, too. Not what I was expecting from someone who refers to herself as Bella the Breathtaking.”
“Thas cas I’n no’ Be-a,” muttered Remus around the apple that was wedged into his mouth.
“Really? What a surprise,” said Severus with a sly grin.
Suddenly Remus’s eyes opened wide, and he tried to yell, “Loo’ ou’ be’ hi’ yu!”
With a gleam in his eye, Severus spun around and caught Macky and Bella in the act of sneaking up on him. Swiftly, he pulled four lengths of rope out from under his crimson cloak and flung them at his attackers. The enchanted ropes eagerly wrapped themselves around the wrists and ankles of Bella and Macky, and the two villains ended up on the floor trussed up like a pair of chickens for the oven.
Severus then turned and untied Remus before removing the bonnet from his furry head and the apple from his mouth.
“Thank you,” exclaimed Remus gratefully as he rubbed at his elongated jaw. “I came here hoping to save you from harm, and you ended up saving me instead. I’m sorry I wasn’t more help.”
“Oh, you were plenty of help. I came across those lengths of enchanted rope in the woods as they were fleeing from a pack of angry squirrels. They were only too happy to come along with me once I’d saved them from the indignity of lining a nest in some hollow tree somewhere. As I made my way here they explained just how they happened to be slinking around in the forest in the first place. They seemed to like the idea of getting back at Bella.”
Remus sat up and smiled as well as his snout full of fangs would let him. “I find that idea rather appealing myself. Any idea how to reverse this curse?”
“It’s an Angry Aconite sting,” squeaked one of the ropes cheerily.
“Ah, well, why didn’t you say so in the first place,” said Severus as he rummaged in his basket for a long, thin, blue vial. Handing the vial to Remus, he said, “Drink this. It should reverse the spell. I wondered why Bella always asked for vials of that potion. Angry Aconite stings are fairly rare.”
“Not around here,” piped up the rope.
“Yeah, they happen with frightening regularity,” added a second stringy little voice. Bella just squirmed and glowered darkly.
Remus hooked a claw into the cork and pulled it out of the vial, then he threw back his head and downed the contents in one gulp. Dropping the vial, he fell back on the bed gagging and rolling around in the bedding. For a moment, Severus was concerned that he might have given him the wrong vial, but then he noticed that the fur was beginning to recede. In a twinkling of an eye, the fur was gone, leaving behind an attractive, naked young man with shining brown eyes and what was still the most amazing erection Severus had ever seen.
“I see the Angry Aconite sting wasn’t responsible for everything,” said Severus as he eyed Remus with appreciation.
“No, the witch smeared something on my cock and it’s been stiff as a board ever since,” replied Remus with a twinkle in his gorgeous eyes. “I get the impression that it’ll stay that way until I put it to good use. You wouldn’t happen to know how I might be able to do that, would you?”
Severus’s smile broadened. Removing his cloak with a flourish, he draped it over Bella and Macky to attain a measure of privacy, ignoring their muffled shrieks of indignation. Then he headed for the bed with a spring in his step. While tossing his apron aside and untying the laces in his shirt, he said, “I just might be able to help you with that.”
Remus grinned happily. “I rather hoped you could.”
And they both lived happily ever after...