|cymbeline_snape (cymbeline_snape) wrote in snark_n_bark,|
@ 2008-02-23 18:35:00
|Entry tags:||complete, cymbeline, gaius, lysander, remus, serenus, severus, tybalt|
A Stormy Celebration
Characters: Remus, Severus, Serenus, Tybalt, Gaius, Cymbeline, Lysander, and other Snapelets
Summary: It's not smooth sailing at this nauticul birthday party.
As Cymbeline's birthday approached, Severus and Remus had consulted her on what she would like for her birthday party. They hadn't made much of a fuss over birthdays while the children were too young to remember or do more than smear cake on their faces, but Cymbeline was getting old enough now to appreciate a real party, even though it was only with her family, whom she saw quite a lot of anyway.
Having just had a series of history lessons on the golden age of piracy, she had requested a nautical theme for her party with the addition of costumes for herself and Lysander. She wanted a naval officer's uniform for herself and a captured pirate's costume for Lysander, although her request for shackles for him was denied.
The ballroom of the manor was modified for the occasion, a complicated charm making it look like a beach on a deserted Caribbean island; although the palm trees and blue skies were purely magical, there was real sand on the floor, and a few of Cymbeline's presents had been put into wooden chests and buried. She would be given a map and have to find them later.
The cake - chocolate, of course - was in the shape of a black flag with a skull and crossbones, and there were dark chocolate coins wrapped in gold foil and punch that was being called "grog" for the occasion, along with plates of fruit with a hand-written label reading "For the prevention of scurvy". Lurch had also prepared jerk chicken, coconut shrimp, rice and beans, and johnny cake, although where he'd got his knowledge of Caribbean fare, Severus didn't dare guess.
In previous years, he and Remus had chosen something and wrapped it up as a gift from Lysander, but this year, Lysander was old enough to help choose his own present for his sister, and so Severus had taken him shopping one afternoon. Their faith in his discernment was justified when he bypassed all the pretty dolls and cute stuffed toys in the toy shop and went straight to a beginner's potion kit adorned with an illustration of a boy with a smoking goblet in his hand and warts popping out all over his body.
"Mine want that," Lysander had said, pointing at the kit, and Severus wasn't about to disagree. He had bought it and helped Lysander wrap it when they returned home; the wrapping paper was wrinkled and untidy, but Lysander was proud of having picked it out and wrapped it, and he seemed eager to bestow his gift as soon as possible.
All was in readiness, and Severus made one last round of the ballroom to make sure nothing had been forgotten before the guests arrived; he was carrying Gaia, whom someone - he suspected Remus - had dressed in a red and white striped shirt and black breeches with a bandanna tied around her head and a clip-on gold hoop attached to one earlobe. He had already decided which hex to use should anyone imply he had anything to do with the costume.
Dressed in a nautical uniform of his own - every captain needed a first mate, after all - Remus led Cymbeline into the ballroom, giving Severus a wink and a mouthed promise of "later" as he waggled his brows beneath the broad brim of his hat. At his side, Cymbeline surveyed the surroundings with growing astonishment.
"Well, what do you think, Princess - er, I mean Captain?" he asked. "Will it do, or do I need to send someone to the brig?"
"It's great!" Cymbeline gazed at the transformed room, wide-eyed, and she nodded her approval. This was the perfect place for her to search for buried treasure; she just wished she could have had those shackles after all, because it wouldn't do for her to let pirates run around free. "Thank you!" She flung her arms around Daddy's waist and hugged him, and then she hugged Papa too before darting away to investigate the palm trees and sand dunes.
Severus sauntered over, giving Remus a leisurely once-over. "Well, well. I feel under-dressed," he drawled. "Perhaps I should have donned a uniform as well, and I could have punished you for mutiny later. I understand it would involve stripping you half-naked and flogging you until you begged for mercy."
"You can flog me anyway, uniform or not," Remus murmured, his eyes glinting wickedly as he winked at his mate. "I was thinking of transfiguring our bed into one of those swinging bunks for the occasion... I think the motion would be interesting, don't you?"
Severus glanced at him with a small, wicked smile. "Indeed it would be." But any further banter was interrupted by a sudden exclamation of "Brilliant!" from the doorway, and Severus looked over to see Serenus walking in with one of the twins - Etienne, if the near-scowl was anything to go by - in his arms.
"You've really outdone yourself," Serenus continued as he approached and kissed Severus and then Remus on the cheek. "I want to have my next birthday party here," he added with a cheeky grin. "Although the costumes would be different."
"I rather like pirates, personally," Tybalt chimed in as he followed in Serenus' wake, a wide eyed, smiling Serafino cradled against his shoulder. He, too, kissed Remus' cheek, then with a droll smile, he placed one on Severus' cheek as well. He looked Remus up and down. "Although I must say there appear to be definite charms to those who follow the rule of law as well. If I might be so forward as to admire the cut of your jib, Mr. Lupin-Snape."
"You may," Remus said, his tone a dead ringer for Severus' at its most haughty, although he couldn't keep a straight face long enough to pull it off. Chuckling, he slid an arm around Severus' waist. "I was just telling Severus that I was quite prepared, even eager, to be boarded."
Severus allowed himself to be kissed while Gaia burbled happily at the sight of her cousins, and he nodded, obviously proud that Remus was being admired. "Indeed. I believe a thorough plundering will be in order later."
"Sounds fun." Serenus joined in the admiration of the dashing figure Remus cut in the uniform. "I like the costume too, but I was thinking more along the lines of eye patches."
"So you want pirate costumes too." Severus raised a questioning eyebrow, and Serenus smiled blandly in return.
"No, just eye patches. Where they're worn is optional."
"I think we can accommodate," Remus said, turning to a side table. There were eye patches and bandannas there, just in case the other children were feeling left out, and Remus smilingly handed over two. "I suggest wearing only one at a time, though, unless you're planning to play Blind Man's Buff."
"That might be fun, if it truly was in the buff," Tybalt observed, giving Serenus a suggestive look. "You could practice reading through touch."
"As if I don't already have you memorized from cover to cover," Serenus replied, a little gleam of heat in his eyes as he pocketed the eye patches for later use. But there was a party to think of, and he turned his attention to Etienne, bouncing Etienne a little as he carried him over to the side table. "What do you think, hhm? Do you want a bandanna like your pretty cousin?"
Etienne stretched out one chubby little hand, opening it and closing it, and Serenus chuckled, taking that as a definite yes. He selected a black bandanna and went off to find a place to sit so he could tie the bandanna in place. Meanwhile, Severus turned on the music - a selection of sea shanties - to complete the atmosphere just as Nanny Stella brought in Lysander, who looked as thrilled with the decor as Cymbeline had.
"Pretty!" he exclaimed excitedly.
"It is, isn't it?" Tybalt asked, kneeling down so that Serafino could see his cousin. Serafino beamed, burbling happily, and Lysander gave the baby a gentle hug.
"Hi, baby," Lysander said, patting Serafino on the head. "You want banananana too?"
"Bandanna," Remus offered, picking up a red one and passing it to Tybalt. "What do you think, Lysander?"
"Wed," Lysander agreed, then tugged on Remus' coat. "Time to give Mine pwesent?"
"Not quite yet. After we have cake, all right?"
"Awight," Lysander agreed, but he sighed as dramatically as Cymbeline could when disappointed.
"We must wait for Uncle Gaius to arrive too," Severus said, offering Lysander an eye patch.
Cymbeline came running back to the group, adjusting her plumed hat which was askew thanks to her enthusiastic exploration of the room. "Is Reg'lus coming?" she asked hopefully.
"No, this party is for our family." Severus knew she was quite fond of Regulus, but they had chosen to limit the guest list to avoid conflict, especially since Severus didn't want Gaius bringing the damned mutt. "But he sent a present."
She was a little disappointed that her friend wouldn't be there, but the additional present made up for it a bit, and she nodded. "Okay!" She glanced over at the door as if willing her other uncle to hurry up and arrive so they could cut the cake and get to the important part: opening presents.
"Did you hear that?" Serenus asked Etienne as they rejoined the group, the black bandanna in place. "Uncle Kitty is coming."
"Ki'y!" Etienne exclaimed, kicking his legs excitedly.
As if summoned up by his nieces and nephews, Gaius peeked his head in the door. "Am I late?" he asked, grinning as the kids turned to look at him. He hadn't bothered to cover up the cat ears which still graced the top of his head, and he'd even gone so far as to transfigure his trousers to allow his black tail to escape. Sirius had done much to help him come to accept his condition, and he was certain that within a day or two, he'd be able to change back.
"Not late at all," Remus replied, raising his brows at the sight of Gaius' fuzzy black ears. Gaius was also wearing a black jacket that bulged rather oddly around the middle. "That's an interesting costume."
"Indeed it is," Tybalt said, tilting his head to one side as Gaius walked toward them with an oddly rolling gait. "Although I'm not certain it fits with pirates and naval officers."
Severus studied Gaius, his eyebrows climbing, and the twitch of Gaius' tail didn't escape his attention. He moved to meet Gaius and snaked one hand out to curl his fingers around Gaius' tail and stroke it. "Is this thing prehensile?" he asked, surprised anew to find it warm. "What in the world did you do?" he asked, continuing to stroke it gently and considering the possibilities having a controllable tail offered.
Gaius chuckled a bit breathlessly; it felt very good to have his tail stroked, and he wrapped the tip of it around Severus' wrist to demonstrate that he could control it, at least to an extent.
"I seem to have, um, gotten a bit stuck in the middle of a transformation," he said, flushing slightly. "So far I've not been able to fully change one way or another. It's not ideal, but it's not all bad, either."
"Lots of possibilities, I would imagine," Remus laughed. He glanced at the children, then shrugged. "You'll have to tell us all about it later."
"Kitty!" Lysander said, running over to throw his arms around Gaius' knees, hugging him tightly.
At that moment, Gaius' coat squirmed quite obviously. "Uh oh, are you hiding any other anatomical irregularities we should know about?"
Cymbeline ran to greet her uncle as well, and she seemed as fascinated by his tail as Severus was, but she caught the strange movement too, and her eyes widened with surprise mingled with curiosity. "What's that?" she asked, wondering if she dared to hope it was her present.
Severus released Gaius' tail, wishing Gaius had made the comment about things not being all bad before he touched the appendage; the curl of Gaius' tail around his wrist was quite intriguing, but now he suspected that tail had been places he didn't want to think about.
"That, mein prinzessin, is your gift," Gaius said, kneeling down so that was on Cymbeline's level. "If I may steal a march on the rest of your royal court, I need to give it to you before something scary and painful happens."
He unzipped the black fabric, and immediately a small, furry white face peeped out, pointed ears standing at attention and wide green eyes looking about with curiosity. "Mrow?" the fluffy white kitten inquired, tilting her head at Cymbeline as though trying to puzzle out the odd hat on her head.
Cymbeline gasped, her golden eyes widening even more, and she clapped her hands gleefully; it wasn't possible to literally see the red hearts popping over her head, but from her rapt expression, it was certainly possible to imagine them. "A kitten! Thank you!"
Gaius extracted the kitten from his jacket gingerly, and placed her in Cymbeline's arms. "You're welcome - happy birthday, sweet girl. I do hope you enjoy her. I thought you'd like her, as often as you've asked me about kittens!"
"She has at that," Remus said, his eyes glinting with humor. He raised a brow at Severus, wondering how his mate would feel about yet another addition to the family.
"Oh, joy," Severus grumbled, shooting a Look at Gaius. "As if this household isn't boisterous enough."
But Cymbeline was obviously overjoyed, and she cradled the kitten in her arms with tender care and nuzzled her cheek against its soft fur. "I'll take good care of her," she said, offering a solemn promise to Gaius.
"I know you will," Gaius smiled, reaching out with one hand to stroke Cymbeline's cheek. He glanced up at Severus, giving his brother an apologetic smile. "And I would think as big as this household is, what's one more?"
"Bite your tongue, or we'll end up with a menagerie," Remus said. He thought the kitten was cute, and he doubted that it would be as much trouble as Severus seemed to be thinking it might.
"Very cute," Tybalt chimed in. He looked at Serenus. "No doubt we'll be having ours pleading for kittens soon enough too."
Serenus glanced up from watching Etienne reaching out, although it wasn't clear whether he was more fascinated by Gaius' twitching tail or the new kitten, and he smiled at Tybalt. "I still owe you a dog to go with the house, family, and white picket fence," he said. "Maybe for your birthday."
Cymbeline gave Gaius a one-armed hug and a smacking kiss on the cheek before hurrying off to show her new kitten to Lysander, and Severus watched the two of them coo over the ball of fluff, shaking his head.
"I hope you recognize revenge when you see it," he said, a warning note in his voice as he wagged one finger at Gaius.
"Me?" Gaius widened his eyes as he stood up, trying to look as innocent and appealing as he could. "I'm at fault for trying to make a little girl happy, then? Oh, the irony..." He pressed a hand against his heart as if mortally wounded.
"Drama queen," Remus murmured. "Must run in the family."
Severus spared a side-glare for Remus. "Behave, or there will be no flogging later," he said before turning his attention back to Gaius. "You won't be the one dealing with clawed furniture and fur shed all over the place."
"Bad kitty!" Serenus scolded Gaius playfully in an attempt to diffuse the situation before it cast a real pall over Cymbeline's party, wagging a mock-stern finger, his dark eyes dancing with amusement. "No cream for you because you've made our brother cross. For shame."
"Hmph!" Severus rolled his eyes, but he backed down and decided he had fussed enough. For now.
Gaius gave a sigh of long suffering patience. "I've learned my lesson," he said, then leaned over to give Severus a kiss on the cheek. "Besides, mein bruder, I don't believe there is any cat you can't handle. A stern look and a growl, and she'll be baring her throat for you."
Remus pressed against Severus' side. "Besides, I'll keep you so busy, you won't even notice she's in the house. The kitten, that is. There's no ignoring Cymbeline."
With a laugh, Tybalt reached out to ruffle Etienne's hair. "There definitely are some who make their presence know, aren't there?"
Etienne scowled and squirmed, letting his father know exactly how much the hair-ruffling displeased him, and Serenus laughed as he carried the baby over to what appeared to be a designated sand box area, complete with toys that looked as if they were made out of bone. Severus' doing, no doubt, he thought with fond amusement as he lowered Etienne to the sand, and Etienne immediately grabbed a shovel and began flinging sand around with apparent glee.
"Indeed there are," he replied dryly as he went back to Tybalt and held out his hands. "Here, let me have Serafino, and we'll let them play together in the sand while we get the party started. That food smells delicious, and I'm anxious to try it." He tilted his head and gave Tybalt a coy look. "It reminds me of what we ate on the beach in Bermuda."
Tybalt passed Serafino to Serenus, leaned over the baby to steal a swift, hard kiss from his husband's lips. "I have very fond memories of everything about Bermuda," he drawled, his blue eyes darkening. "Maybe we'll have to steal some of the food and the sand and have a private party back at home. It would be shame to waste the opportunity."
Gaius snorted. "Oh, please, as if you two need an excuse for shagging!" he laughed, his tail switching back and forth, unconsciously reflecting his amusement.
"Pot, Kettle, Snape," Remus chimed in, pressing close to Severus and nuzzling his neck. "Not that that is a complaint. At all. In fact, I think it's one of the most wonderful things about Snapes in general, and mine in particular."
Severus cradled Gaia against his shoulder and wound his free arm around Remus' waist, the flattery and nuzzling helping to soothe his annoyance. "We can hardly help being what we are. Passion is bred into the Snape line, and it will have its outlet, one way or another."
Serenus carried Serafino over to the sandbox area and settled him next to his brother, who cooed a greeting, and they immediately began playing together, seeming pleased over the opportunity to fling sand everywhere without repercussions. "Fortunately, we have partners who are willing and even rather enthusiastic about providing that outlet," he said, smiling fondly at Tybalt.
"That you do," Tybalt agreed, nodding vigorously. "I take my spousal duties very seriously. All of them."
"Even to share and share alike," Remus said, a gleam in his eyes as he looked at Serenus. He began to say something else, but at that moment, Cymbeline came running back over, the kitten still clutched to her chest, but fortunately the wee cat didn't seem to mind. Lysander was hot on her heels.
"Daddy, my kitty is hungry," Cymbeline announced. "Can I feed her cake?"
"No, no cake," Remus said, releasing his hold on Severus so that he could crouch down to Cymbeline's level. "We'll need to get special food just for her, Princess, and make certain that Winslow doesn't eat it." Reaching out, he scratched the kitten behind its pointed ears, surprised at how soft its fur was. "So, what are you going to name her? We can't just call her kitten."
Cymbeline studied her kitten, considering the question seriously; she didn't want to pick just any name, and even though the kitten was pure white, she wasn't going to name it anything soppy and stupid like "Snowball" or "Puff". Instead, she thought about what other white things the kitten's fur reminded her, and after a moment, she nodded, her decision made.
"Cyanide," she said firmly.
Severus gazed down at her, eyebrows climbing, and then he shook his head. "None of you can blame me for this. I didn't say a word."
"Cyanide?" Gaius' eyes bugged out, and then he clapped a hand over his mouth, making slight choking sounds as he tried to suppress his laughter. Tybalt looked like he was about to die, and he looked away up at the ceiling, obviously not commenting on Severus' influence on his daughter.
Remus was a bit more used to the odd twists of Cymbeline's mind, but even he blinked at the odd name. "Ah. Well, that's a sensible name," he said, his voice sounding a bit strangled. Turning his head, he looked up at Severus, raising a brow. "Blame you? Oh, no, but you have to admit she's definitely her Papa's daughter." His amber eyes gleamed with amusement. "I will find it most amusing when her Snapean passion manifests itself and needs an outlet. I imagine life will get even more... interesting."
Severus scowled and shook his head again, more vehemently this time. "Don't say it. I don't even care to think about it."
Chuckling, Serenus moved closer and clapped his twin on the shoulder. "Cheer up. Perhaps her outlet will be Quidditch or potions. Something that won't require you to answer the door with your wand drawn and or slip Veritaserum or an anti-aphrodisiac into her date's tea."
"Any boy Cymbeline dates will be very lucky if a drawn wand or a potion is the only thing he faces." Remus stood up, pressing close to Severus again. "Okay, Princess, take Cyanide to play, and after we have the food and open your presents, I'll get some food for her, all right?"
"No need, I brought a bag of supplies," Gaius said, reaching into this trousers to pull out a small bag. He enlarged it and handed it to Cymbeline with a gravely courteous bow. "I will happily take you shopping to pick out a collar for her, too. Collars are a very personal thing to a cat, and I didn't want to pick one out for you."
"Any boy or girl she dates," Severus corrected grimly. "We are passionate. We also tend not to be picky about gender." He glanced at Gaius. "With notable exceptions."
Cymbeline accepted the bag with utmost dignity. "I'll feed her," she said, and then her expression turned hopeful. "Then we can have cake?"
"Yes, then you can blow out the candles on your cake," Severus assured her, and with a gleeful cry, she darted off to find a suitable spot for Cyanide's bowl.
Gaius crossed his hands over his chest, lips twitching. "So I'm the picky Snape? Now what cauldron is calling the pot black?"
"Oh, don't go there!" Remus groaned, shaking his head. "That's all we need, a one-upsmanship battle between two of you. We'll be here all night!"
Tybalt chuckled. "Oh, lord. Definitely don't want to try to get two Snapes outstubborning each other," he said. "Shall we get the party going instead?" He took off his jacket, revealing his favorite, eye-bleeding Hawaiian shirt. "I dressed for the occasion!"
"Yes, you are the picky Snape when it comes to gender, because you only want one," Severus retorted, refusing to be put off. "At least Serenus and I have given both a try."
"Yes, yes, and now we're Remus-sexual and Tybalt-sexual," Serenus said soothingly. "We're happy, Gaius is happy, and Cymbeline is never going to have sex. There. All better?" He leaned over and bussed Severus' cheek, earning a glare and a grumble, but only mild ones. Leaving Severus' side, he joined Tybalt, looping his arm through Tybalt's and pretending to shield his eyes from the glare of Tybalt's shirt. "One of these days, I'm going to regret creating that shirt for you, but since we're with family and not out in public, today is not that day."
"Nicely done," Remus said admiringly, impressed with Serenus' easy defusing of the situation. "Well, now that that's settled, shall we get the babies settled with food and get something to eat ourselves? I think we're all going to need our strength. Five little Snapes, five adults... we're outnumbered at least three to one."
"Precisely why I was attempting to permanently put a stop to the kitten questions," Gaius said, giving Severus a kiss as well. "I do hope you're not really upset about the present. She just seemed so perfect for Cymbeline."
Leaving the others to work out the kitten situation, Tybalt grinned down at Serenus. "I happen to be extremely fond of this shirt. A present given with love and appreciated by the recipient should never be regretted. Now, about that food... shall we spread a blanket in the sand and feed each other? The babies will be eating with their hands, after all."
"Who needs utensils in a tropical paradise?" Serenus agreed mildly, pressing against Tybalt's side as they headed off to the buffet table where all manner of sumptuous food awaited. "I think food tastes better when eaten with the fingers anyway."
Severus allowed the kiss, and in his arms, Gaia made an unsuccessful grab for one of Gaius' furry ears. "A little forewarning would have been nice," he said sternly. "We already have a mutt and a dragon, and at least neither of those claw or shed. What's done is done, but next time you decide to bestow any gift that is alive, sentient, and ambulatory, clear it with us first. That goes for you too," he added, directing a stern look at Serenus, who drew an X over his heart with wide-eyed faux innocence.
Gaius nodded. "I promise, too," he said, then held out his arms for Gaia. "Here, let me take my namesake, so that you and Remus can indulge for a bit. Isn't that what doting uncles are for?" He batted his eyelashes. "And maybe that way I can earn your forgiveness for bestowing a live, sentient, ambulatory gift on Cymbeline. I'll have a talk with the kitten when I can change again, though, and I'll make sure she knows who's boss - and that there is to be no clawing. Shedding there are charms for, you know. I imagine that between wolf and Criffler fur, it won't be as noticable as you think."
Remus looped his arm through Severus', not hesitating to take Gaius up on his offer. "Your beach blanket awaits, my captain," he murmured with a wicked smile. "I promise I'll make you forget all about Cyanide - both the cat and employing the poison on your brother."
Handing Gaia over to her uncle, Severus let himself be led away, responding to Remus' smile with an arch look. "You're setting yourself quite a challenge. I shall make you work for it, you know. We captains are quite exacting on our crew."
"I shall endeavor to please you. I desire in all ways to be your first mate. And your only mate." Remus chuckled, then drew his wand to summon a blanket from a neatly stacked pile near the table. He caused it to spread itself out on the sand, then summoned a few pillows for good measure. "Here, you relax, and I will bring you everything you want."
After making certain Severus was settled and comfortable, Remus joined Serenus and Tybalt at the buffet table. Smiling, he reached out to steal a piece of cheese from Serenus' plate. "Mmmm... tastes better from someone else's plate."
Tybalt slapped at Remus' hand playfully. "You have your own Snape, this one's mine," he said, his tone one of mock warning. He lowered his voice. "Besides, do you want to scandalize Gaius? Or worse, make him feel left out?" He glanced over to where Gaius was crawling about on the floor, a squealing Gaia sitting on his back, clinging to his feline ears. "Well, maybe he can't hear us at the moment, but you know what I mean."
"Yes, we must behave ourselves," Serenus agreed quietly. "You'll have to steal my cheese another time," he added with a wink. "For now, I must exert monumental effort to keep from groping you and Severus shamelessly and grope Tybalt instead." He matched word to deed, sneaking in a surreptitious grope of Tybalt's arse before turning his attention back to the food.
"Besides, I can think of numerous ways to keep you occupied with a single Snape," Severus said, reaching out to stroke a sensitive spot beneath Remus' ear. "You won't feel the lack."
Tybalt wriggled against Serenus' groping hand, then leaned down to kiss Serenus firmly on the lips. "I like groping. Grope me enough for all three of us, I don't mind."
Remus laughed, although he shivered a bit as Serenus caressed him, warm fingers seeming to instinctively find the right spot. "Oh, yes, I know plenty of ways to be occupied with only one Snape - and I'm looking forward to enacting them. I was just stealing cheese, you know, not making a pass." He winked. "Okay, not necessarily making a pass, although I'm always open to suggestions."
He began to fill two plates, making certain one of them was piled high with grapes suitable for peeling. It was something of a joke between he and Severus, but Remus actually enjoyed feeding his mate, and Severus didn't seem to mind the pampering. He returned to Severus, settling down next to him on the blanket and passing over a plate. "Peel you a grape?" he offered, a wicked smile curving his lips.
"Yes, do," Severus replied, reclining comfortably on the pillows. "If you serve your captain well enough, I might be persuaded you don't have mutiny on your mind."
With a full plate in hand, Serenus drew his wand and summoned a blanket for himself and Tybalt, positioning it near the twins, and he conjured some pillows as well before sitting down with a sigh of contentment. Before he could offer Tybalt a piece of fruit, however, he was distracted by the artificial blue skies overhead suddenly growing cloudy and grey. He peered up at the ceiling, his brow furrowed. "It looks like rain," he said, surprised at the sudden change. "Did you plan that?"
"No mutiny, although I wouldn't mind be bound and gagged," Remus said, busily peeling a grape as instructed. He looked up, however, as Serenus spoke, surprised to see what looked like very impressive thunderheads gathering in the "sky". "Er... that's not me. Severus?"
Severus shook his head, gazing upward with as much confusion as the rest of them. "As little as I like parties, even I wouldn't do something like this to spoil the occasion."
A loud crack of lightening echoed through the room, and that was all the warning they got before the deluge began - a heavy, cold rain that beat down and soaked everything.
"GAH!" Tybalt hadn't been expecting the rain, but he reacted with the speed of his Auror training, snatching up one twin in each arm and bolting from the room, trusting Serenus to follow.
Gaius had felt the electrical charge of the lightning setting his fur bristling, and he rolled immediately, catching Gaia in his hands and covering her with his body as the water began to pour from above. He blinked against the pelting "rain", looking toward the others. "What the hell?" he gasped, shivering a bit from the cold wetness, liking it as little as any feline.
Remus blinked in shock, then groped for his wand. "Where are Cymbeline and Lysander?" he shouted over the incredibly loud noise of the water. Thunder continued to rumble, and he lurched to his feet, feeling a wind from nowhere beginning to roar around the room. He held out a hand to Severus to help him up against the force of the deluge.
Grasping Remus' hand, Severus stood and looked toward the grove of palm trees just in time to see Cymbeline running out, clutching Cyanide and shrieking with glee. The wind was howling, gusting too strongly for him to hear more than snatches of what she was saying, but he thought he could piece together enough to make out that she thought having a hurricane for her birthday was the best present ever. Moving swiftly, Serenus went to help Gaius and Gaia out of the room, and Severus released Remus' hand and ran to Cymbeline.
"Where is your brother?" he asked, shouting to be heard above the wind, and she pointed back toward the trees. Turning back to Remus, he too pointed to the grove and shouted the information, hoping Remus could lip-read the words if he couldn't hear them; despite her protests, Severus snatched up Cymbeline and hurried out the room as well.
Remus understood enough to know that they were indicating Lysander's location, and he nodded before darting toward the trees, which were bent nearly double from the force of the wind. Lysander was sitting on the sand in a spot that was actually somewhat sheltered, although water dripped from his hair and his wide, dark eyes were full of fear. Remus scooped him up, holding him close, then shouted a spell to keep the water off of them as he, too, ran toward the doorway and out of the ballroom.
Just outside, in the hallway, things were almost normal, except for the panting dripping people standing in shock on the wood floor, and the gusts of wind which blew through the narrower space to ruffle the heavy draperies at the far end. Tybalt held the twins, Serafino clinging to him and shivering. He turned to look at Serenus. "Are you all right?"
Gaius was holding Gaia, who seemed annoyed at the water but otherwise unafraid. He assured himself of her well being, before glancing at Severus. "I take it that wasn't planned?"
Now that the adrenaline rush was over and everyone was out safely, Severus was less than pleased at finding himself cold and wet and having a ballroom sustaining hurricane damage. "No, that was not planned," he said sourly.
"But it was fun!" Cymbeline piped up, stroking Cyanide's bedraggled fur soothingly, and Severus was amused to note that the kitten looked no more happy about the situation than he was.
Serenus gave both Gaius and Gaia a fleeting caress as much to reassure himself as them before hurrying over to Tybalt and reaching out to take Etienne, who looked cross over being wet and cold. "I'm fine," he said, drawing his wand to cast a drying charm on himself and then Etienne before he could work himself up into a real fuss. "Just wet and very surprised!"
"That makes ten of us," Remus said, cuddling Lysander close. He was relieved no one was hurt, and assured himself of Gaia and Cymbeline's wellbeing before moving to Severus' side. "Drying charms? Then we can figure out what to do about the um... disturbance."
Gaius was already pulling his wand, drying Gaia and himself, then Cymbeline and the kitten. "This is like some weird conspiracy," he muttered, casting a baleful eye at the sheets of rain still pouring down only a few feet away.
"What?" Tybalt looked over, frowning. "How could it be a conspiracy?"
Gaius shrugged, obviously rattled at the storm. His feline side certainly didn't care for being wet, and even though he was now dry he could feel his fur standing on end. "It's not, I guess. Just too many odd things happening. Me being stuck, that - " he pointed into the ballroom " - and it seems like my students have been especially fumbled fingered as of late." He thought about mentioning Sirius' own transformative oddities in relation to Stubby, but he decided he didn't want to get Severus even more perturbed than he already was, given the circumstances.
Cradling Etienne against his shoulder, Serenus went to put a comforting arm around Gaius, who seemed to need it. "Not a conspiracy, perhaps, but it does seem like an awful lot to chalk up to coincidence," he said, stroking Gaius' back gently.
"It is rather suspicious indeed," Severus said, frowning. "I can't think what might cause so many magical mishaps, however, especially given the distance between Hogwarts and the manor."
Gaius was grateful for Serenus' support, and he leaned into the embrace for a moment, until Severus' words made him stiffen. "What about me?" he asked, biting his lip and feeling a bit sick. "There have been... things going on at Haven's Loft, too. Weirdness here, and at Hogwarts, and there... I'm the only one that goes to all three places, as far as I know. Maybe... maybe I've been cursed?"
Severus' frowned deepened at that as he considered the possibility. "It isn't out of the question, I regret to say," he said slowly. "You are a common link between the three locations, which none of the rest of us are."
"We can check you," Serenus said, tightening his arm around Gaius. "I mean all four of us. We may not be healers, but we have an Auror, a Defense specialist, an alchemist, and a potions expert. Between us, if we can't find out what's wrong with you - if anything is - then no one can."
"Yes, yes of course," Gaius said, but he shivered slightly, worried now that all the strange things that were happening might really be his fault. Not that he meant it, of course, but magic was a powerful and very dangerous thing. It might even be something Bellatrix had done to him, back when she had attacked him, a curse that hadn't triggered until now. Given what she had done to Regulus recently, it wouldn't be surprising if she had somehow decided to give him a little "gift" as well.
"Why don't we get the children fed and settled, and deal with this, er, incident?" Remus said, smiling at Gaius reassuringly. "Then we can run every detection spell we know between us."
"That sounds like a plan," Tybalt agreed. He reached down to touch Cymbeline's hair. "Besides, someone hasn't gotten all her presents yet, right? It is your special day."
"Yes, presents!" Cymbeline bounced excitedly and beamed up at Uncle Tybalt. She supposed the storm had ruined her cake, which was disappointing, but there were still presents, which ranked higher than cake, if not by much.
Severus drew his wand and dried off himself, Remus, Cymbeline, and Lysander. "Right, come on. Tybalt has a sensible plan, and we'll all work better once we've eaten anyway. I imagine the food in the ballroom is wrecked, but we can find something in the kitchen. Perhaps Lurch didn't set everything out all at once."
"If I know Lurch, there is lots more food where that came from," Remus replied. He slid an arm around Severus' waist, and beckoned for the others to follow. "The Captain's birthday party is being relocated belowdecks due to rough weather, that's all. The British Navy knows how to roll with the punches, after all. Everyone hurry before she makes us walk the plank!"