I Howl and I Whine... Characters: Remus, Severus, Serafina Summary: Severus consults with an expert.
It wasn't difficult to procure permission to use Serenus' old house in the village where he'd grown up; it had been re-furnished for the purpose of providing a place to stay when Serenus took his family home to visit, and he had no objections to letting Severus and Remus use it for a weekend get-away. Severus only said that he and Remus wanted some time alone, not that they intended to consult with Serafina; if it turned out the traits he thought he'd developed were only his imagination at work, he didn't want to give anyone else in the family reason to tease him about it.
Once they arrived, they opened up the house and let it air out while they unpacked. Although the kitchen was still equipped for cooking, they hadn't brought any supplies; Serenus had promised to owl ahead and let Serafina know they were coming, and in turn, she would let everyone else in the village know, which Serenus had assured them meant they wouldn't have to prepare a single meal for themselves during their stay.
"I wonder how long it will be before someone shows up with food or an invitation to dine," Severus mused as he flicked his wand around the master bedroom, casting a few cleaning charms to clear away the dust.
"Probably any minute," Remus replied with an amused smile as he plumped up the pillows on the bed. He was happy for the excuse to have some alone time with Severus for a day or two; he loved their big family, but it was nice to have some time as a couple sometimes as well. "Goodness knows everyone here is like Serenus, or even worse. They'll be convinced we haven't eaten since the last time we were in the village and are on the verge of starvation."
Severus thought about the array of pasta, vegetables, and rich desserts that were likely to be paraded in front of them over the next few days, and he licked his lips. "No doubt," he said. "We'll have to take long walks to counteract the high caloric intake. Or perhaps find other ways to exercise," he added with a coy look from beneath his lashes.
Remus answered the look with a wolfish grin. "Oh, I can think of a few ways to burn off those calories, most of which involve satisfying another appetite as well. How is that for efficiency?"
"Most commendable," Severus replied as he perched on the edge of the bed. "Just think: no interruptions for glasses of water, snacks, retrieving lost toys, or breaking up a squabble. We have the whole house entirely to ourselves."
"Yes, indeed," Remus replied. He stalked toward Severus, his smile feral, then pounced, pushing Severus back on the bed as he captured Severus' lips in a deep, hungry kiss.
Severus tasted delicious, rich and spicy and sinful, and Remus pressed him back into the mattress with a growl. He heard a pounding, deep and steady, and for a moment, he thought it was the sound of the blood pulsing in his ears. But then he realized what it really was, and he groaned as he pulled back, pressing his forehead to Severus' and smiling wryly. "No children, but the neighbors here are almost the same thing!"
Severus grumbled, but he wasn't really surprised. No doubt Serafina had been looking for signs of their arrival, which he supposed was just as well since they wanted to talk to her especially anyway. "I don't suppose we can get away with not answering, so we had best get down there before whoever-it-is decides we aren't quick enough and finds a way in."
Sighing, Remus nodded, then stole another brief, hard kiss before moving off of Severus. "You're right, we probably should," he replied as he stood. He held out a hand to Severus. "At least once it's night, we'll have the whole house to ourselves. And then there will be no interruptions."
"Indeed not." Severus clasped Remus' hand and reluctantly left the bed, not releasing Remus' hand as they made their way downstairs to answer the summons. If he couldn't have shagging now, he would at least have a bit of hand-holding to tide him over, damn it. A little contact was better than none at all.
Remus clasped Severus' hand happily, leading he toward the front door. "We're coming!" he called out, then gave Severus a wicked smile and dropped his voice. "Although not in the way we'd prefer at the moment."
Severus snorted. "Damned right we're not," he muttered. "There had better be some bloody brilliant pasta waiting on the other side of that door to make up for this."
Laughing, Remus leaned in to kiss Severus again before opening the door, smiling at the sight of Serafina on the other side. "Hello there!" he greeted her, releasing Severus' hand to give her a warm hug.
"There is my pretty wolf," Serafina said warmly as she returned the embrace. "It has been too long!" She looked him up and down and then pinched his cheek. "You're too thin, both of you. Obviously, my grandson hasn't been feeding you well enough. Fortunately, I brought a little something," she added, gesturing to a basket hooked over her arm, from which the scent of rich alfredo sauce wafted.
"Ooo, that smells wonderful," Remus replied, reaching for Severus' hand again. "Come inside, and we can sit down. Although I have to defend Serenus; he has done a fantastic job of feeding the whole brood."
"Then you two must work it off," she replied with a knowing look as she followed them inside to the parlor and took a seat in one of the comfortable chairs by the hearth. With a wave of her hand, she lit a cheery fire to take the morning chill off the room, and she placed the basket on the floor beside her before settling in. "Not that I blame you," she added archly. "A pretty wolf with a handsome mate. It's little wonder you don't have twice as many children as you do."
"Three is plenty - and sometimes they seem like twice as many," Remus replied. "So, can I offer you anything to drink? Serenus usually has tea in the kitchen. It's a bit early for wine."
"No, I require nothing, thank you," Serafina replied. "I simply came by to deliver a small meal and to see how you are."
Privately, Severus suspected her idea of a 'small meal' would suffice for several meals, but since it seemed she had brought something in alfredo sauce, he wasn't about to complain. "We are quite well, thank you," he replied. "Although to be honest, we have come for the purpose of seeking information."
Remus moved toward the sofa, sitting down and patting the cushion beside him in invitation to Severus. "We know you're an expert, and we need your opinion," he said.
Moving with alacrity, Severus sat down on the sofa beside Remus and rested his hand on Remus' thigh. "We have some questions regarding being a Lupicinus."
"Oh?" Serafina looked back and forth between them, obviously curious. "What about it? Are you having difficulty maintaining control of the wolf?"
"Oh, no, not at all," Remus replied quickly, laying his hand on top of Severus' and squeezing gently. "My wolf knows that Severus is its mate, its master. But Severus has wondered if being a Lupicinus means... more."
Serafina's eyebrows climbed with that, and she regarded them with growing curiosity and surprise. "More? In what way?"
"I've noticed certain... tendencies emerging," Severus said, regarding her steadily. "I have begun viewing the rest of my family as my 'pack'."
"And yourself as the alpha, no doubt," Serafina interjecting with a chuckle. "Have you noticed this, too?" she asked Remus.
"I'm not certain, really," Remus replied, flushing slightly. "Severus has always been forceful, but I think I'm just too close to notice if it's really different, especially if the change was gradual. Certainly none of the family seem to mind, as far as I can tell."
That made Serafina chuckle again, and she cast a knowing look at Severus. "A Lupicinus must be strong of will or they will not survive long," she said. "I have not experienced anything like you describe, but I have had little chance to exercise my skill over the years. I imagine being mated to a werewolf and using your ability every month makes a difference. When you exert control over the wolf, you establish a connection with it. If you are simply driving away a wandering wolf, then the connection is broken once you go your separate ways. However, you have maintained and strengthened your connection with your pretty wolf, thus you influence his wolf... and it influences you, bringing out your own strength and dominance. If you have begun to see yourself as a pack alpha, I do not doubt that it is a real instinct rising up, not a passing fancy or a trick of your imagination."
Severus nodded, relieved to have confirmation of what he felt and to know that he was not imagining things or worse, going mad.
Smiling, Remus turned his head, brushing his lips over Severus' cheek. "There, feel better?" he asked, squeezing Severus' hand again. "Now you know it's not anything odd."
"It is a relief," Severus admitted, leaning into the kiss. "It explains a few things, as well."
"I am pleased to have helped," Serafina said, smiling at them both, and then she laughed. "So you are an alpha of your own pack? I do hope Remus is correct and no one minds. Otherwise, you may have a dominance battle on your hands."
"No one would do that - we get along in the family," Remus replied easily. "I think everyone is happy to let Severus have whatever place he desires. I certainly am, and Serenus is more of the caretaker type to all of us. Gaius is happy being baby brother, I think, and Regulus doesn't seem inclined to try to take over. Tybalt... well, he's an Auror, and is used to being in command, but he hasn't mentioned being bothered by it."
"Good, good." Serafina nodded, seeming pleased by that information. "The longer Severus serves as your Lupicinus, the stronger the bond between him and your wolf will grow. His own alpha tendencies will grow stronger as well, not weaken. He will continue to perceive his family as his pack." She turned her attention to Severus, her expression growing more serious. "You must be careful. You may find yourself reacting badly to anything that can be perceived as a challenge to your authority, especially from another male. You must be aware of your reaction and control it so you do not inadvertently cause strife."
"I will try," Severus replied. "I imagine Remus will be better at defusing situations like that than I will be, however."
"I'll definitely keep an eye on things," Remus replied. "I'd hate to have a minor squabble over what's for dinner erupt into a dominance battle."
"I doubt it will be quite so incendiary a situation," Serafina assured him, smiling warmly. "Minor disagreements have not been a problem, have they?"
"No, not at all," Severus replied.
"Good." She nodded in satisfaction. "I doubt they will become so. Your instincts will only flare when you feel challenged for authority, not for dinner."
"So I suppose it depends on what Severus feels is a challenge to his authority?" Remus asked. He gave Severus a playful glance. "Perhaps we ought to do a little judicious experimentation to see what buttons shouldn't be pressed."
Severus arched one eyebrow as he shot Remus a dubious look. "What sort of experimentation?"
"Oh, I don't know; maybe saying no sometimes and seeing when it does more than annoy you?" Remus replied, his smile turning wicked. "Although perhaps with me, it wouldn't be the same as if someone else did it. Or..." he paused, his expression thoughtful. "Who do you feel now is a challenger?"
Severus considered the question in silence for a moment, giving it serious thought. The first time he'd become aware of his new tendencies had been in connection with a conflict with Tybalt. He remembered that Tybalt had been defending Serenus, and Severus had felt he hadn't been given proper deference in the matter. Now he was reconnecting with Serenus, but he was still peeved with Tybalt, who had the instigator of the second wedding.
"Tybalt, I think," he said slowly. "As you said, Serenus is too much of a caretaker, and Gaius isn't at all dominant. Regulus has it in him to be, but I don't think he cares enough to exert it, especially not within the family circle. Besides, given our history, going all the way back to our school days, I doubt he would have any qualms about submitting to me," he said, remembering their old dynamic and how easily and quickly Regulus had surrendered the one time they shared a bed. Now that he thought about it, he realized he had bedded all of the adults in the family, and he had topped them, no less. The only one for whom he had bottomed was Remus, and he had allowed it only after he had come to trust Remus and be comfortable in giving up control to him. Perhaps, he thought, that had something to do with his perception of himself as "pack leader".
Remus nodded. "That makes sense. About Tybalt, I mean," he said. "I wonder if that is part of the reason you still seem so prickly with him and Serenus." Then he smiled. "And I think I know what to do to help."
"Oh?" Severus stroked Remus' leg absently, turning a curious look on him while Serafina listened and looked on with calm amiability. "What do you have in mind?"
"A little talk about how to deal with an alpha," Remus replied, his eyes gleaming. "Just as I've had to teach some people to speak Snape, I need to each him to speak Wolf."
Serafina laughed and nodded her approval. "That will help, no doubt. They must learn how to communicate with Severus' wolf as well as yours now."
"I have a wolf?" Severus glanced at her, startled.
"Not the way Remus does," she replied. "You are not a werewolf. Nor will you become one unless you are bitten as Remus was. But there is something in you, drawn out by your role as Lupicinus and by your bond with Remus. You may as well give it a name and call it your wolf."
"That makes sense." Remus nodded, thinking that she'd struck something fundamental about what Severus had been describing. "I think that we've both always felt that there was something in each of us that was drawn to each other. My wolf has always been part of that, and so I think it makes sense that whatever part of you is drawn to that would express itself like a wolf." He smiled. "I wouldn't be surprised that if you became an animagus, your form would probably be a wolf."
"Perhaps," Severus agreed, squeezing Remus' leg lightly. "If nothing else, this emphasizes our connection. You have said before that you thought our mutual darkness drew us together. Now I have something almost tangible to show for it." He leaned over and nuzzled Remus' ear. "My wolf likes your wolf," he murmured.
Laughing, Remus tilted his head to accommodate the nuzzling. "Well, we have definitely proof that mine likes yours," he replied huskily. "And it shows we are even more alike than ever."
"Indeed," Severus replied, a small but distinctly pleased smile curving his lips as he drew back. He liked anything that brought him closer to Remus and underscored their similarities, and he had no qualms about accepting a "wolf lite" within himself.
"Have you any other questions?" Serafina regarded them curiously, but with obvious amused affection for their little byplay. "You needn't worry that you will require a Lupicinus of your own," she added, winking at Severus. "Fortunately for me! I should quail at the thought of trying to tame you."
Severus snorted, but he was pleased as well. "No, I can't think of anything else. However, we will be here for a few days, so if I think of any, I will let you know."
"Thank you, Serafina - I think you've done a lot to ease his mind," Remus replied, giving her a grateful smile. "And perhaps that makes a bit more for you to add to any future Lupicinus you train! Beware being mated to a werewolf, you might end up wolfish yourself!"
"It is a rather interesting phenomenon," Serafina replied, nodding. "The Lupicinus skill has been passed along from one to another, but perhaps it is time for some written notes."
"That would be helpful," Severus agreed. "If we could bring the skill to England, it might make life easier for werewolves there, especially for those who cannot afford the Wolfsbane potion."
"I am an old woman with weak eyes," she said, giving him an arch look. "It is a task that should be undertaken by a younger person."
"You don't mean me?" Severus looked at her, startled by the implication.
"Why not you?" Remus asked, squeezing Severus' hand. He looked at Serafina playfully. "Although I think someone is exaggerating both age and infirmity, probably because she thinks English food is abysmal. But still... you know a lot, and you have me to experiment on."
Serafina smiled innocently and said nothing, and Severus mulled over the idea for a moment. "I do have experience in writing articles for potion journals," he said at last. "This might not be much different. I could write an article, perhaps even a book since I have the expertise of a published author to draw on," he added with an arch look at Remus. "It might be interesting to explore the history of the skill as well as the technical aspects of how to master it."
"There," Serafina nodded with obvious satisfaction. "You are engaged already. I will, of course, be happy to serve as a resource, and I can introduce you to other practitioners."
"Good for you!" Remus smiled at Severus approvingly. "I'll definitely help however I can. And it will give us a lot of excuses to come back to Italy, so that you can confer with your main resource."
"Well, that is one benefit," Severus said, inclining his head slightly. "I would prefer to come here and eat your food than oblige you to come to us and eat ours."
"I would, if Serenus prepared it," she replied, her eyes crinkling with mirth. "Otherwise, I might have to take to my bed."
"That'll be the day!" Remus laughed and shook his head. "You'll just take over the kitchen, I suspect."
"Perhaps!" she agreed cheerfully. "For now, however, I shall leave the two of you to explore your wolves together."
"That won't be a problem," Severus said blandly, earning a peal of laughter from Serafina as she rose to her feet.
"I'm sure it will not be," she said, waving to them. "Don't get up. I can see myself out, and I will instruct the others to leave you in peace for a few hours," she added, giving them a knowing look over her shoulder as she headed for the door.
"Thank you!" Remus called after her. "For everything!"
Turning to Severus, he reached out to frame Severus' face with his hands. "So, my mate, would you like to let your inner wolf out to play with mine?"
"Yes," Severus replied promptly as he slid his arms around Remus in return. "Here or upstairs? If you think the play might get a little rough and tumble, we should at least move some furniture out of the way if we remain down here."
Laughing, Remus leaned forward to playfully rub his nose against Severus'. "Why don't we go upstairs? There are fewer breakables and more soft surfaces, not to mention the sound proofing charms. If we get too loud, I don't want the neighbors to decide to drop by to see what's wrong!"
"A sensible plan." Severus drew back and rose to his feet, reaching out to tug impatiently on Remus' arm. "Well? Come on! We don't want to make the wolves wait, do we?"
Remus rose to his feet as well, and swept Severus up in his arms. "No, we don't," he murmured, then headed quickly for the stairs, as anxious as Severus to discover just how deep the wolfish traits went.