Dude Looks (too much) Like a Lady Characters: Remus, Severus, Serenus, Gaius Summary: Severus gets stuck.
For a Muggle event, the charity fashion show was quite enjoyable, and Severus hadn't regretted accepting the invitation to participate; he had enjoyed strutting down the catwalk, and he hadn't felt awkward despite having an unfamiliar female form. He felt sexy, and he thought he looked good in the designer clothes that had been donated to the event. He was still tall and slender as a woman, and he took to the "runway walk" with gratifying ease, showing off his outfit without a trace of self-consciousness while cameras flashed and the audience applauded. He even thought he could hear Serenus whistling.
His family were in the audience, which added to his enjoyment of the experience; Remus had invited Serenus and Tybalt to accompany them and had even rented a limo for the occasion, and it had given Severus an extra boost of confidence to know he had support from the audience as well. All in all, Severia Blythe's first outing had been a good one, and Severus had liked modeling as much as he'd thought he would, but he still didn't want to make a habit of it.
Now they were home, and Severus was in the bedroom, preparing to cast the spell that would transform him back to his normal form, which he would do without regret. He liked his female body, but as much as he enjoyed cross-dressing, he didn't really want to be a woman. He liked his male body... although he would have remained female and done a little experimentation if Remus had any interest in doing so. But the fact that Remus had zero interest in women made Severus all the more ready to get back to normal.
He drew his wand, cast the reversal spell, and waited to feel the transformation.
Frowning, he moved to stand in front of the full-length mirror to see if perhaps he'd changed without realizing it, but no, he still had visible breasts. Lifting his wand, he tried again, speaking the words in a stronger voice and putting more force behind his magic, but he felt nothing, only a fizzle as if he'd tapped the dregs of his magic and come up empty. An icy shudder rippled down his spine, and he gripped his wand until his knuckles turned white, staring at his reflection with wide-eyed apprehension.
Downstairs in the parlor, Remus heard Severus' shout, and he stood up immediately, settling Gaia on the sofa and passing over the long, brilliantly colored silk scarf he'd be dangling in front of her over to Nanny Stella. Severus had been a real triumph at the fashion show, and they had been gifted with a few nice little trinkets that he was sharing with the children. Lysander, seated on the floor playing with a fedora hat one of the models had worn, looked up with wide, anxious eyes at the sound of Severus' voice.
"Papa okay?" he asked rather pensively.
"I'm sure he is. Maybe he's dropped something," Remus answered reassuringly.
"Maybe he just wants to snog Daddy," Cymbeline interjected, apparently not terribly worried about whatever was making her Papa yell. Or at least not worried enough to stop in her fascinated perusal of the black leather handbag and matching high heeled shoes she'd been given.
"I'm sure that's part of it, Princess." With a smile that didn't quite reach his eyes, Remus hurried from the room, then ran up the stairs, taking them two at a time before bursting into the master bedroom. He, for one, had heard the real distress in Severus' tone, and as he entered and saw Severus standing in front of the mirror in his dressing gown, he drew up short. Nothing looked wrong, at least not from this perspective.
"What is it? What's happened?" he asked, eyes anxiously searching Severus' face.
Severus whirled to face Remus, still clutching his wand. "The spell," he said, his voice betraying his agitation. "It didn't work. I can't change back."
"You can't?" Remus' eyes went wide, and he felt a flare of panic. "You've still got... girl bits? What's happened to the spell?"
"I don't know," Severus replied, shaking his head. Some of his apprehension was fading now that Remus was with him; they were both clever, talented wizards, and he was sure they would find an answer between the two of them. "It felt as if..." He groped for words, trying to explain the odd experience. "It felt as if I'd run out of magic. Like I didn't have enough to make the spell work properly."
"Okay... okay... We can fix this, no need to panic." Despite his words, Remus could feel his heart racing, and he drew in a deep breath, forcing himself to calm down and not be freaked out by the thought of Severus not being able to return to his normal form. "Right... magic has been really unpredictable lately, right? So we just need to keep trying. If you can't do it, maybe I can help. You'll just have to teach me the spell."
"Right." Severus drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I can do that easily enough. Hopefully, it isn't dependent on me reversing my own transformation."
He went through the spell slowly, repeating it a couple of times to make certain Remus had the inflection clear.
Remus followed Severus' tone carefully, not wanting to mess this up and by some horrific coincidence with all the magical weirdness make the situation worse. "Right... I think I've got it," he said, repeated the incantation again. Then he lifted his wand and looked at Severus, giving his mate a smile that - he hoped! - hid his trepidation. "Ready?"
Straightening his shoulders, Severus lifted his chin. "I'm ready," he said firmly.
With a brief nod, Remus waved his wand and spoke the words of the spell, concentrating and focusing every bit of magic he could summon and binding it to the charm. He felt a hum of power, seeming to gather in the pit of his stomach and then sing out along his arm toward his wand. His arm was vibrating with it, but as it left him, it was almost as though there was a stumbling block, and he could feel his power draining away into nothingness. "What in the Hell?" he gasped, looking at Severus in consternation. "Did anything happen?"
Severus peeked down the front of his dressing gown, his confident stance deflating, and he looked up and shook his head mournfully. "No change," he said. "Do you want to try again?"
Biting his lip, Remus nodded. "Yes. Maybe it was a fluke, since I've not thrown it before." He drew in another deep breath, calling on every reserve of magic he possessed, even tapping the wolf to add its strength to aid in the return of its mate. Magic had always seemed so easy, something that he had done more on instinct than with thought, but he knew that he needed more than that now.
The feeling of potential built again, and he let it continue, drawing out every bit of power he could summon. When he felt like he was about to burst with it he released the dam holding it in place, letting it flow toward Severus. And again, it was as though the moment it left his wand, the magic lost its focus, not a beam but an amorphous cloud that dissipated into uselessness, leaving Remus feeling drained.
"Something's wrong, very wrong," he said, giving Severus an agonized look. "It's not working!"
Severus clutched the lapels of his dressing gown with one hand as he gazed at Remus, stricken. "I'm stuck, then." He took a tentative step toward Remus, his expression uncertain. "It's only temporary, I'm sure." I hope. "We'll sort this out. We'll keep trying."
"Right, right, we will... we'll try until we get it right. It'll be fine!" Remus couldn't bear the look on Severus' face, so vulnerable that it broke Remus' heart. He moved forward quickly, pulling Severus into his arms and rubbing his back soothingly. "Perhaps Gaius can help, or Serenus, since they are both masters of transformation, right? Or maybe we need to do it somewhere that isn't having such a problem with this draining problem. We'll find a solution, no matter what it takes, all right?"
Severus wound his arms around Remus and relaxed in the embrace, leaning his head on Remus' shoulder; part of his concern had been that Remus wouldn't want to touch him at all while he was like this, but fortunately, that didn't seem to be the case. "All right," he murmured. "Should we go to them now? Or tell the children? I don't know if there is anywhere that isn't being affected by this drain. It seems to be widespread, but perhaps there is somewhere less affected than here."
"Let's not tell the children. No sense in getting them worried, right?" Remus smiled as Severus relaxed against him, glad that he could offer some comfort in what was proving to be a very trying situation for both of them. "Let me tell Nanny Stella, and we can Floo to Azoth House. We can call Gaius from there. Does that work for you?"
"All right." Severus lifted his head and nodded, clinging to Remus for a moment longer before releasing him and stepping back. "I'll get dressed while you talk to Nanny Stella."
"I'll be right back." Remus pressed a kiss to Severus' lips, then turned and hurried back downstairs. It took only a few moments to set everything right with Nanny Stella, the information changing hands in a very calm manner between them so as not to alarm the children. Then he headed back upstairs, eager for them to be off so that Severus could be returned to normal.
"Ready?" he asked.
While Remus was gone, Severus had dressed in a conservative black dress, one that didn't put his new assets on display, along with stockings and sensible heels; he rotated slowly in front of the mirror, still liking what he saw - but still not wanting to remain this way, if only because he didn't want his sex life to come to a screeching halt. After a steady diet of fabulous sex for so long, he couldn't imagine returning to a life of celibacy. And what if Remus decided he didn't want to stay with Severus now that he was Severia? What if Severus being female broke the bond with the wolf and Remus left him? That possibility alone was enough to make him eager to do whatever necessary to revert to normal.
As soon as Remus returned, Severus moved to meet him, nodding his assent. "Yes, I'm ready. Let's go and see what my brothers can do."
Remus was a little surprised that Severus had opted to dress as a woman rather than in his usual attire, but he only mustered a smile and nodded, quelling the distressed whimper the wolf wanted to give. It had been one thing to deal with Severus having emasculated himself when it had been basically a costume, or something akin to Remus' own monthly transformation, but facing the prospect of having his mate actually be female for an unknown amount of time was something he didn't like to contemplate for too long. He'd never been remotely tempted by sex with a woman, found the thought of it distasteful at best, so this situation was disturbing him on levels he'd never dealt with before.
"Yes, let's," he said, and gestured toward the Floo. "You can go first."
Severus threw a pinch of Floo powder onto the flames in the fireplace, thankful for having one in the bedroom so they didn't have to go downstairs to the parlor, and hoped for the best as he stepped in. Luck was with him this time, however, and he found himself at the right destination. He stepped onto the parlor rug and looked around; no one was about, but before he could call out, Serenus peered into the room curiously. As soon as he spotted Severus, he smiled and hurried forward.
"I thought I heard the alarm," he said. "Tybalt installed an alarm system on the fireplace, so we'd know if anyone came in - or tried to go out. With the twins walking now, we thought it might be a good idea in case they decided to take a little jaunt like Cymbeline did. Isn't that clever of him?"
"It's a good idea," Severus replied tersely.
As he drew nearer, Serenus' expression changed from welcoming to worried, and he reached out to clasp Severus' hand, gripping it tightly. "What's wrong?" he asked, searching Severus' face with growing concern.
Remus stepped through the Floo in time to hear Serenus' question, and he moved up behind Severus, wrapping an arm around Severus' waist supportively. "We seem to have a little problem with magic at the moment," he said softly, not wanting to alert the whole household in case Tybalt's mother or grandmother happened to be about. "We were wondering if you could help. Or you and Gaius. I was going to call him to come over."
"I tried to transform back, and I couldn't," Severus explained, and he felt Serenus' hand tighten around his. "I think perhaps my magical reserves have been drained."
"I'll see what I can do," Serenus replied, offering a comforting squeeze of Severus' hand. "If it's simply that you don't have enough magic to cast the spell, that could be fixed, especially if Gaius and I combine our efforts. But the spell might be keyed specifically to you," he said, giving the two of them a sympathetic look. "What I mean is, you might be the only one who can do it, since you cast it to begin with. I'm really not sure."
Severus grimaced and released a frustrated sigh. "You try first. If it doesn't work, we'll call Gaius. If neither of you can manage it, separately or together... I suppose I will remain like this until we solve whatever has been affecting magic of late."
"Thanks, Serenus," Remus said, giving Serenus a grateful smile. "Maybe if it's keyed to Severus, it will still work for you since you're his twin. It's trying to return him to his natural form, after all. Usually magic to go back is easier than changing away from your natural state." He kissed Severus' cheek gently. "I just want my mate back the way he should be."
"I'll do my best," Serenus replied as he drew his wand. "Ready?"
Severus nodded, and Serenus gathered his energy and prepared to cast the spell; he'd been the one to help Severus find it, and he remembered the incantation from their research. With any luck, his affinity for Alchemy would help, but there was no way of knowing until he tried.
Aiming his wand at Severus, he cast the spell in a firm, clear voice...
And nothing happened.
"Damn," he muttered, and he glanced at Severus questioningly. "Want me to try again?"
But Serenus' second attempt fared no better than the first, and he tucked his wand away, shaking his head. "I'm sorry," he said, offering an apologetic smile. "Maybe Gaius will have better luck."
"I'll call him." Remus squeezed Severus' waist before stepping back toward the Floo. He tossed in a pinch of powder and stuck his head into the grate, calling Gaius at Haven's Loft.
Gaius had been marking papers all evening, and he was actually relieved when the grate flared and he saw Remus' face appear. Or at least he was until Remus explained the situation; at that point, he grabbed up his wand and hurried back to step through to Azoth House, almost knocking Remus over in his haste.
"Stuck? My poor brother," he said, lifting a hand to touch Severus' cheek. He personally couldn't imagine a more awful thing than being stuck as a female, unless it was sleeping with one. He looked at Serenus. "So, what is the incantation you found? Perhaps there is a different way to reverse it."
Severus rolled his eyes, amused despite himself at Gaius' attitude. Gaius and Remus seemed to think it a fate worse than death, while Severus himself wouldn't have been all that concerned if it didn't mean a complete shut-down of his sex life and possible estrangement from Remus. He could definitely think of worse fates than being the opposite sex and having a brand new body to explore, but he couldn't think of much worse than forced celibacy or losing Remus.
"There might be," Serenus said hopefully. Gaius was an expert in Transfiguration, after all, so he could focus on the other component of the spell that Serenus wasn't as adept with. He swiftly went over the nature of the spell and its incantation, repeating it a couple of times while Gaius got the hang of it.
Gaius listened carefully, going over the nuances of the transformation spell in his mind. It wasn't a difficult incantation, and he felt pretty confident he could reverse it. "Right, got it. I think we can get this taken care of." He smiled at Severus and lifted his wand, speaking a slightly different counterspell in a firm voice.
Then he stopped, blinking in annoyance as he looked at his wand. "What in the hell? That should have worked!"
Severus scowled, sickened by a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, but he refused to give up yet. "Both of you try it together," he said. "The spell is a blend of Transfiguration and Alchemy, so perhaps if you both cast the reversal spell together, it will work."
Serenus glanced at Gaius and shrugged. "I'll give it a go if you will," he said.
"Of course!" Gaius didn't hesitated to raise his wand, and he clasped his free hand on Serenus' shoulder for an added connection. "Let's do this!"
Serenus wound his free arm around Gaius' waist and lifted his wand. They counted to three together and cast the spell in unison, but other than knocking Severus backward a step or two, it had no effect.
"Well, I felt that," Severus groused, rubbing his chest and glaring at them.
"That's progress, isn't it?" Serenus looked him over carefully. "You don't feel any changes at all?"
"No, I felt the impact, and then it just seemed to fizzle," he replied.
"It can happen to the best of us," Gaius said, but he didn't mean it humorously. He remembered being stuck in a half-feline state, and he felt for Severus in this case. Tapping his chin with his wand, he mulled over various options. "If it is keyed to Severus, perhaps what we need to do is focus the power through him. Lend him ours, if you will, so that he can focus it on breaking the spell." He gave Severus an apologetic smile. "That's the best I can come up with, I'm afraid, but it's worth a try."
"I'm willing to try anything," Severus said, immediately drawing his wand. "What do we need to do to make it work?"
Gaius moved to one side of Severus, motioning Serenus to the other. "We will cast a different spell, one that will let you tap into our power, then you will cast the spell. This is a fairly easy incantation, but unfortunately, it only will work for people with blood ties." He smiled apologetically at Remus, who was hovering anxiously and not quite wringing his hands. He spoke an incantation so that Serenus could repeat it. "That's all there is to it. Got it, Serenus?"
"Got it." Serenus nodded firmly, and he raised his wand again, glancing back and forth between his brothers. "Ready?"
"Ready," Severus replied as he drew his wand, bracing himself for another spell impact. He sent up a silent plea that Gaius' idea worked, because if it didn't, he didn't know how long he would be like this. That the Order might not be able to figure out, much less fix, the on-going problem with magic so that he ended up remaining a woman for the rest of his life was something he didn't care to think about.
"Please work," Remus whispered, crossing his fingers like a hopeful schoolboy. It was silly, of course, but given the alternative, he wasn't above indulging a little superstition.
"On three, then," Gaius said, and counted to three before speaking the incantation to transfer his power to Severus. He felt it flowing from him, tingling out along his arm to where he touched Severus, waiting there for Severus to draw on it.
On three, Serenus spoke the incantation as well, feeling the flow of power from himself to Severus, and he silently hoped it would be enough.
Severus felt an odd surge, and he raised his wand with renewed hope, and he spoke the incantation in a strong voice. He felt - something. It was as if his own magic was trying to flare, like a flame sputtering in the wind; he could feel energy flowing from his brothers trying to feed the flame, but it only flickered weakly and dwindled to an ember once more.
"Nothing," he said flatly, shaking his head. "Apparently, my magic needs more of a jump-start than even the two of you can provide."
"Oh, no," Remus said, moving forward so that he could wrap his arms around Severus, looking to comfort him and reassure him that everything would be all right. "Well, we won't give up, love. We just need to do some research. I'm certain we'll be able to make this right."
"Of course," Gaius said, mustering a smile even though his eyes were concerned. "We'll figure something out, certainly."
Severus wound his arms around Remus and held on tightly, closing his eyes briefly. Had he thought there was nothing worse than being celibate? Celibate and without magic was certainly worse. Far, far worse. It was as if he was being stripped of his identity, inside and out. No, he chided himself sharply. He was still himself, even in a different body and without strong magic. His sense of self hadn't changed, and he could adapt to the rest.
"If there's anything I can do, I will," Serenus said, reaching out to rub Severus' back first and then Remus', knowing this was going to be a difficult time for both of them.
"Thanks. To both of you." Remus meant it, even though their efforts hadn't worked. "Let's go home, Severus. I think we should talk for a bit."
"Right." Gaius nodded, also touching Severus and Remus gently, reassuringly, before stepping back. "I'll look through all my books and see if there is anything I can find to help. Don't hesitate to call me if you need me, all right?"
"All right." Severus nodded, releasing Remus with reluctance and heading for the fireplace. "We will be in touch if anything changes."
Serenus slung his arm around Gaius' shoulders and pulled him close as he watched them go. "Want some tea before you leave?" he asked. "The boys will be up from their nap soon, too, and they'd love to see Uncle Gaius, I'm sure."
"I'd love tea," Gaius said, waving farewell as he watched Remus follow closely in Severus' wake. He sighed, leaning his head against Serenus' shoulder. "I just hope that this really is all going to turn out all right."
Remus emerged back in the master suite of Snape Manor, and immediately drew Severus into his arms again, rubbing his hands over Severus' back. It was easy enough to ignore the slightly fuller press of Severus' chest, and he wanted to make certain that Severus felt secure that Remus wasn't going to ignore him or push him away.
Severus wound his arms around Remus' waist and leaned into the embrace, releasing a slow, deep sigh. He wasn't certain what to say under the circumstances, and so he simply held on tight and said nothing, waiting to see what Remus would say or do.
"It will be fine," Remus said firmly, his lips close to Severus' ear. He lifted a hand to stroke it through Severus' hair, knowing that physical contact was what Severus needed right now to show him that Remus wasn't about to give up. "We can get through this, you'll see. You're my love, my mate, and that hasn't changed. It will never change, you know that, don't you? You still love me when I wear fur, and I still love you, even if your body has changed. You're still Severus, my Severus. You always will be."
The words were like a balm to Severus, and he released a shuddery breath, some of his tension flowing out with it. "Yes, I am still your Severus," he murmured, nuzzling his nose against Remus' throat for comfort. "I am still the same inside, even if I am different externally. My self hasn't changed, and my feelings certainly have not."
"Of course they haven't. Why would they? This is like a costume you've put on, it's not you." Remus growled softly, to show that the wolf agreed with Remus' words. "The real magic here isn't the spells we throw, it's the bond between the two of us. I'd love you if you didn't have magic - if neither of us had it, if we were Muggles and living in a hut somewhere. You are my life. Nothing can change that. Nothing at all."
"Good," Severus replied fervently. He drew back just enough that he could look at Remus, his expression questioning. "You know my feelings for you will not change no matter what. My commitment to you is absolute no matter what strange obstacles life may throw in our path. But there is still one matter I think we ought to discuss."
"My commitment to you is absolute as well," Remus said, his voice firm. He tilted his head to one side at Severus' final words, although he had a notion about what Severus was going to ask; the problem was he wasn't certain how to answer. "Which other matter? Although I suppose I can guess."
"I imagine you can," Severus said dryly. "What are we going to do about our sex life?"
Yes, his guess had been right, but that didn't make it much easier to discuss. Remus sighed, continuing to stroke his hands over Severus' back as he searched for words. "I don't know," he said finally, his expression pensive. "I know you're still you. I still love my Severus, and I'm still wildly attracted to you. But you know about how I've got a bit of a... problem. With female anatomy, I mean." He shrugged. "I don't know what it is, maybe I have some weird hang up, but female bits... they scare me. I don't know why, but for some reason I feel like I want to faint or run away at the thought of breasts."
Severus nodded somberly. He'd never questioned Remus about his reaction to female anatomy before because it had never been an issue they needed to discuss. It was disheartening to hear that Remus' feelings ran so deep and were so visceral, but Remus couldn't help how he felt, and Severus had no idea how to help.
"It's all right," he said at last, resting his hands on Remus' shoulders and squeezing gently. "There isn't any pressure for you to face breasts. I can live without sex. I cannot live without you."
"You'll never have to live without me!" Remus' tone was fierce, and he pulled Severus close again, hugging him with enough strength that he knocked the breath out of Severus' body and had to lighten his grip. "Sorry! I just... I want you know I'd never leave you, not ever. It's not just that I can't, because you're my mate, but I don't want to. I never want to be apart from you, not for one moment more than absolutely necessary." He pulled back, his face flushed, a bit embarrassed by his own weakness about something as stupid as physical form. "Look, you might be turned back tomorrow, right? We don't have to look at this as the end of our sex life. Besides... I've never really thought about female bits belonging to you before. Maybe... maybe I just need to get used to the idea."
"But if you don't, it will be fine," Severus said staunchly. "I wouldn't have you push yourself into doing something distasteful for my sake."
"And I don't want you to be unhappy, or feel unloved or unwanted or undesirable," Remus replied, raising one hand to lay it against Severus' cheek tenderly. He searched Severus' face. "If this isn't resolved quickly, we will have to address the situation again, I know that. I want you to promise me that you'll tell me if you're feeling upset or insecure or frustrated, all right? Please don't hide anything from me because you think you'll be sparing me or something. The problem isn't you being female, it's with my own silly hangups, so I don't want you to internalize anything or feel like it's your fault. I'm the one with the problem, not you, and I won't have you suffer for it. We'll figure something out, I swear."
Privately, Severus had doubts about what they could figure out to solve the problem if Remus was afraid of breasts; anything lower might send him catatonic, and they'd be back at square one. Still, he nodded. "Very well," he said. "We will wait and see what happens and revisit the issue again if we must. In the meantime, just know I haven't any expectations regarding intimacy. As I said, I will not pressure you."
Remus smiled - how could he not, when Severus was stuck like this and still was more concerned for Remus' feelings than his own. "I love you, Severus - and nothing, not even this, is going to interfere with the cuddling. You know that, don't you?"
That coaxed an amused snort out of Severus, and he slid his arms around Remus' shoulders, leaning close again. "Of course. We both know nothing can interfere with the cuddling, short of the end of the world."