|Serenus Snape (serenus_snape) wrote in snark_n_bark,|
@ 2008-08-13 15:03:00
|Entry tags:||complete, cymbeline, etienne, gaia, lysander, remus, serafino, serenus, severus, tybalt|
Snips and snails and puppy-dog tails
Characters: Remus, Severus, Serenus, Tybalt, Cymbeline, Lysander, Gaia, Etienne, Serafino
Summary: The family convenes, the children play, and Severus is the beautician in demand by toddlers.
"'mon, Daddy!" Serafino said, latching onto Tybalt's hand and pulling with all his strength toward the hearth. "Want to go!"
Tybalt laughed, lifting his arm up and letting Serafino dangle with his kicking feet a few inches off the ground, before grabbing the little boy's ankles in one hand and then turning him upside down, head and arms flailing toward the parlor floor. "I know you're anxious to see your cousins, but we've a few minutes yet before it's time."
Serafino squealed happily, content for the moment to play in this fashion, although where he really wanted to be was at Snape Manor, along with all his cousins and the associated chaos five children and the assorted pets and toys could raise. Normally Serafino was their quiet child, but he was comfortable enough among the familiar surroundings of Severus' and Remus' house to play with as much enthusiasm as the other children. It was mostly around strangers that he became shyer, preferring to sit back and observe for a time before joining in a game, even when encouraged.
"Serenus, is the other young prince ready to grace us with his presence?" Tybalt called out, even as he lifted and lowered his arm, making Serafino laugh harder as the floor grew near and then receded again. "Someone's getting anxious!"
"Just a minute!" Serenus called back. Etienne was perched on the bathroom sink, scowling as Serenus finished combing his hair, which was getting long and wavy, with a texture more like Tybalt's. It meant the twins required more care, but at least their hair wasn't stick-straight with a cowlick as Serenus' had been when he was their age.
"Wanna go!" Etienne exclaimed.
"Not until you're presentable," Serenus replied calmly, although why he was bothering with hair-combing and face-washing, he wasn't sure. Both of them would look like they'd been dragged through a field within five minutes anyway, but he supposed he wanted to make sure the rest of the family knew they could clean up well. At least for a short while.
Finally, he put the comb aside and scooped up Etienne, cradling him on his hip as they went downstairs to join Tybalt and Serafino.
"Here we are!" Serenus smiled at them, chuckling when he saw Serafino being dangled by his father's strong hands. He never worried when Tybalt played with them like that; he knew Tybalt's strength, and the boys loved it. Besides, he imagined there was something nostalgic about it for Tybalt, given he'd said more than once that some of the few memories he had of his father were of rough-housing. "Are we all ready to go see your uncles and your cousins?" He would have rattled off their names, but there were just too many now.
"Yes!" Serafino said. "Down, Daddy! Time to go!"
"Oh, all right," Tybalt sighed, giving a woebegone expression as he righted Serafino and placed him on his feet, bending down to look into Serafino's eyes. "Somebody doesn't want to play with me?"
"Play with you, too!" Serafino replied, nodded his head firmly. He pulled down his shirt over the small jeans he wore and patted Tybalt on the head as he would have a big dog, before giving him a smacking kiss on the cheek and running to Serenus. "Papa! Go now!"
Tybalt laughed, straightening up and following in Serafino's wake, scooping the boy up to carry him much as Serenus carried his twin. He leaned in to kiss Etienne's cheek, then Serenus'. "Okay, I think the masters have spoken. After you, love. This little guy can hold his horses for a moment."
Smiling affectionately at them both, Serenus returned the kiss and leaned over to kiss Serafino's cheek as well. "I'll see you there. Just go ahead up to the nursery when you get there. Severus said he'd have the brood in there, since that's where all the toys are."
With that, he went to the fireplace and threw a pinch of Floo powder onto the flames; Etienne flung both arms around his neck and clung tightly as he stepped into the fireplace, and they were whisked away to Snape Manor. He didn't wait for Tybalt and Serafino once they arrived; instead, he headed upstairs to the nursery, and he could hear voices as soon as they reached the top of the stairs. Etienne began to wriggle, but Serenus didn't put him down until they were in the nursery.
Lysander and Gaia looked up from their game, and both of them got up and went to greet Serenus and Etienne. Over at a low table, Cymbeline sat in a child-sized chair, extending both hands to Severus, who sat on his knees on the opposite side of the table. As he lowered Etienne to the floor so he could greet his cousins, Serenus watched Severus and Cymbeline curiously, trying to figure out what they were doing - and then he realized Severus was painting Cymbeline's fingernails.
"Are we playing beauty parlor?" he asked, earning a glare from Severus in return.
"She wanted to have her nails done," Severus replied haughtily. "I thought we would be finished before you got here."
"Papa always paints my nails for me," Cymbeline said, tilting her chin up with regal pride. "He says I can't wear real make-up until I'm fifteen, but I can wear nail polish." She held out the hand Severus wasn't carefully applying polish to. "See?"
"Ah, you like our sparkly polish," Serenus noticed with a grin, not the least bit surprised. That particular shade was a pale pink that shimmered in the light and glowed faintly in the dark. "It's very becoming," he added.
"Thank you," she replied, smiling as if pleased by the compliment.
"So Papa always paints your nails?" Serenus asked innocently, giving Severus a knowingly amused look.
"Well, I am the most proficient," Severus replied loftily.
"It just goes to show practice makes perfect," Serenus said, his smile turning into an evil grin.
Tybalt entered in time to hear this comment, with Remus - whom he'd met at the bottom of the stairs - entering in his wake. "Tell me something Severus can't be perfect at," Tybalt drawled, placing Serafino down as well. The little boy immediately went off to greet his cousins, wrapping his arms around Lysander and then Gaia in a big hug. "Especially since he makes the stuff, right?"
"Severus is perfect at a lot of things that I still like to practice," Remus said, blinking innocently as he moved to hug Serenus and kiss his cheek. "After all, just because it's perfect doesn't mean it isn't fun!"
Serenus embraced Remus and kissed his cheek affectionately. "I couldn't agree more," he replied, grinning. "But we were talking about Severus' proficiency as a beautician."
"Papa is making my nails pretty!" Cymbeline added as if to support Serenus' statement.
"They're very pretty," Tybalt agreed. "Although that must be your own special color; it doesn't look like one that would suit your Papa." He winked at Severus, his eyes sparkling with amusement. "Are you going to have your toenails painted, too?"
Remus snorted, and took a dramatic step back, pulling Serenus with him. "Uh oh... Tybalt just loves to play with fire, doesn't he? I think he keeps begging Severus to spank him." His eyes held the word "again", but he wasn't about to say that in front of the children.
Serenus huddled in mock-fear with Remus, pretending to shiver and quake. "Please don't burn him too badly. Leave me enough for later," he pleaded, a mischievous light in his eyes.
"I think someone is begging for a spanking," Severus said, glaring up at Tybalt, although there was no real anger in his voice or eyes.
"Papa wears darker polish," Cymbeline said, oblivious to the undercurrents of the conversation between the grown-ups. "This is my color. I like the sparkles."
Etienne, who had avoided hugging and being hugged, approached the low table and peered at Cymbeline's hands; he appeared to study what was going on for a minute, and then he climbed into one of the little chairs and slapped his hands on the table. "Paint me too, Uncle Sev'rus!"
Tybalt was about to make a tart rejoinder - after all, the children had to go to bed sometime, and the adults would be free - when Etienne suddenly decided to enter the conversation. It wasn't his demanding tone that surprised Tybalt, but the request itself; and he could hardly say "boys don't paint their nails" after Cymbeline had just announced that Severus did!
"Er... isn't he a little young?" he asked, turning to look at Serenus for support.
Serenus gazed back with wide, innocent eyes. "You're never too young to look pretty," he replied, managing to keep a straight face, but barely. He moved closer to Tybalt, lowering his voice. "If we make a fuss, it may confuse him because Uncle Severus dresses up, and it might send him the message that it's wrong somehow. The best thing is to let him do it and behave as if it doesn't matter." He raised one eyebrow and fixed Tybalt with a steady look. "Because it doesn't."
Severus glanced over at them, waiting for the verdict. He'd finished Cymbeline's second coat, and she was happily blowing on her nails to dry them. "Well?" he asked.
"Er... I suppose, since Serenus thinks he's old enough," Tybalt replied. He gave Serenus a rather rueful smile; it wasn't that he had any concerns about nail polish signaling Etienne's future preferences, as though that would matter to him anyway. He supposed it didn't make a difference, really; it was just an instinctive reaction based on the culture he'd grown up in. Bisexual as he was, he'd never felt any desire to paint his own nails, but maybe if he hadn't been raised in a rather aggressively masculine culture, he'd feel differently. Severus' preferences didn't bother him a bit, either, but Severus was a grown man. "But Etienne, you know what to say to your Uncle Severus."
"Please!" Etienne piped up immediately, widening his big blue eyes to enhance the appeal.
"That's my big strong Auror," Serenus said with a warm smile, and he craned up to kiss Tybalt affectionately. "It might be like other things: he'll try it once and never want to do it again." But even if Etienne did share his uncle's fondness for cosmetics and dresses, Serenus didn't care; he'd spent enough time letting conventional notions of masculinity cause stumbling blocks for him, and he didn't want the same thing happening to his son.
Nodding with satisfaction, Severus clasped one of Etienne's small hands and began to work, taking care to keep the polish thin and light.
"You're right. I'm your big, strong, stupid Auror," Tybalt replied, but he accepted the kiss gratefully.
"It'll be all right," Remus said, patting Tybalt's shoulder sympathetically. "We have one who goes opposite, too." He lifted his chin in the direction of the other children. Serafino had placed himself in Lysander's lap and was happily rearranged the letter tiles Gaia had been playing with earlier, spelling out the simple words he knew with pride. Gaia, however, had moved a chair against the toy cupboard, and stacked several books on it, which she proceeded to climb with surprising agility. Reaching the top of the stack, she craned up to reach for the top of the cupboard where several games were stacked, her tongue poking out from between her lips, her dark auburn braids trailing down the back of her blue romper as she rose up on bare tiptoes.
Lysander was watching with worried dark eyes, and he moved Serafino from his lap gently, then hurried over to Gaia, holding out his arms. "Come down, Kitten, please!" he implored her, not reaching for her lest he knock her down or cause her to lose her balance.
"He's going to have an ulcer by the time he's ten, the way he hovers over her," Remus said, his voice full of amusement. "But she never falls. We did right naming her after Gaius; she has the reflexes of a cat."
"Apparently she has the right nickname too," Serenus said, watching Gaia climb. It took effort not to join Lysander in hovering with arms outstretched in case she fell, but Remus and Severus seemed unconcerned, and Remus had quicker reflexes than any of them anyway.
"Cymbeline is our girly-girl, and Gaia is our tomboy," Severus remarked, not looking up from his work. "Sometimes I wonder if Gaia's penchant for climbing everywhere and romping through mud is innate or an unconscious reaction to Cymbeline, a desire to be as different as possible."
"Are they still having difficulties?" Serenus asked.
"No open hostilities," Severus replied, glancing at Cymbeline, who had scooted her chair closer to Etienne and was stroking his hair as she watched him have his nails painted too. "But the truce is an uneasy one at times."
"Indeed it is," Remus murmured ruefully. "Excuse me." He moved between Serenus and Tybalt, reaching out to pluck Gaia off the stack of books by the back of her romper, the game held triumphantly in her hands as she beamed victoriously. He lowered her down into Lysander's waiting arms. "How did you think you were going to get down, Kitten? You wouldn't have hands!"
"Jump," she replied without hesitation, and Lysander shivered, before taking her hand and leading her back to Serafino, chastising her softly for worrying him.
Remus returned to the others, and raised a brow at Tybalt. "Want to trade? Or is nail polish preferable to fearless explorer? I swear I should call her Monkey instead of Kitten!"
"We'll take the nail polish," Serenus said, laughing. "I think you're better equipped to deal with a fearless explorer. We've got enough rough-housing as it is."
Lysander shook his head. "She's not a monkey!"
"She looks like one," Cymbeline muttered, and Severus frowned at her.
"Behave," he warned sternly.
"No, she's a pretty girl and our Kitten," Remus said soothingly, wanting to smooth over any possible conflicts. Lysander seemed mollified, while Gaia herself appeared completely unconcerned.
"Does she not care what Cymbeline says about her?" Tybalt asked softly.
Remus shrugged. "It's hard to be sure, but I suppose she might think monkey is a step up from troll." He looked between his two daughters and sighed. "You see about the strained nature of the peace, though."
"Yes, indeed," Serenus said quietly, sliding one arm around Remus. "But it's better than it was. Perhaps they'll grow closer as they grow older."
"One can hope," Severus murmured. He finished applying a single coat to Etienne's nails and closed the bottle. "There you go," he added at a normal tone. "You are painted too, just like Cymbeline."
A rare smile curved Etienne's lips as he held up his hands and compared his nails to Cymbeline's.
"What do you say?" Serenus prompted.
"Thank you!" Etienne replied promptly.
The sight of Etienne's pleasure made Tybalt smile as well, especially since his serious son so rarely seemed joyful about things. He watched as Etienne showed off the polish, then chuckled and shook his head. "I have no idea where he would get any budding diva tendencies. None at all." Giving Serenus a slow wink, he turned to Severus. "You don't know of anything in the Snape family that could possibly be linked, do you? It's such a mystery."
Remus laughed. "Oh, no, here he goes again," he said with a long-suffering sigh. "Cymbeline, you and Etienne can play now, all right?"
"All right," Cymbeline agreed. She clasped Etienne's hand and led him away to find something to play with, and it wasn't long before they were as engrossed in their own game as Lysander, Gaia, and Serafino were in theirs.
Meanwhile, Severus rose to his feet and slipped the bottle of polish into his pocket as he approached the other grown-ups, fixing Tybalt with a hard stare. "It is a mystery, isn't it," he drawled. "I'm sure I have no idea where the diva tendencies come from, but I do know where any tendencies to court trouble and spankings comes from."
Tybalt shivered at the tone of Severus' voice, but he didn't look away, his blue eyes darkening with something more than amusement. "Oh, yes, I'll take the full blame for that," he replied, wrapping an arm around Serenus' shoulders. "I can't help it, though, not when it makes you go all sexy and dangerous like that!"
"It is irresistible, isn't it?" Remus asked, tilting his head to one side and watch Severus with a feral glint in his golden eyes. Then he turned to look at Serenus, reaching out to caress Serenus' cheek gently. "Not that the sweetest smile in the known universe isn't just as appealing."
"Indeed it is," Tybalt agreed. "Ah, so much variety, and all of it devastatingly attractive. What are we mere mortals to do, Remus?"
Remus laughed. "Count our blessings!"
Severus moved to stand beside Remus and slid his arm around Remus' waist, smirking. "For that, perhaps I will spank you later after all," he said, his voice soft and husky.
"We're all quite lucky," Serenus said, leaning into the touch of Remus' hand. "Variety is the spice of life, and our lives are exceptionally spicy!"
"Oh, yes." Remus leaned against Severus, sliding his free hand behind them to grope Severus playfully out of sight of the children. "And I'll collect that spanking happily. Maybe when the little ones go down for a nap."
Tybalt grinned, holding Serenus close. "Sounds like a plan!"
At that moment, there came the sound of scurrying feet, and a wild-eyed Winslow came flying into the room, dodging around the adults and heading for the children. Remus looked toward the door in surprise, as Nanny Stella, who had the day off, came hurrying breathlessly into the room.
"That little magpie stole my cloak pin!" she said, pointing toward the criffler, who was attempting to hide behind Cymbeline.
Remus chuckled, squeezing Severus before releasing him and moving toward the cowering Winslow. "Come here, you bad boy!" he said sternly, although he couldn't help his lips twitching in amusement at the sight of Winslow's huge, tragic eyes. "Give me that! And no, don't try looking as though you don't know what I'm talking about! Out with it!"
Winslow whimpered, his tails tucked between his legs, but he dropped the jeweled pin into Remus' hand. Remus grimaced at the saliva on it, pulling his wand and casting a quick cleaning spell before moving to the doorway. "Sorry about that," he said to Stella, offering her the pin with an apologetic smile. "I don't know that he's ever going to outgrow his thieving ways, and no punishment seems to affect him for long!"
"I know," Stella replied, glaring at Winslow for a moment, before smiling. "Pardon me, I didn't mean to interrupt. I was just about to leave for my sister's house. Have a good day, all of you."
"Enjoy yourself," Remus replied.
With his tail still between his legs, Winslow slunk over to Severus and scrabbled at his shin, and Severus bent to pick him up, grumbling even as he let Winslow snuggle against his chest. Severus refused to admit it, but he had been more aware of Winslow's fondness for him and his own lack of dislike for Winslow since seeing how losing his pet had affected Regulus. Winslow had seen Severus through some difficult times, and he supposed he would miss the annoying mutt if something happened.
"You have plenty of shiny things," he said sternly, and Winslow flattened his ears and whined softly, licking Severus' chin.
"And Severus wrapped around your little paw," Remus said, reaching out to caress Winslow's back.
"At least your lives are never boring," Tybalt said, the whole situation amusing him greatly. "You're outnumbered, you know."
"Yes, we know, believe me!" Remus replied, sighing, although his eyes were full of amusement, too.
Serafino stood up, leaving his game and crossing over to stand in front of Severus. He reached up, opening and closing his hands. "Uncle Sev'rus! C'n I hold the puppy? I like puppies!"
"Of course." Severus bent and relinquished Winslow to Serafino's waiting arms, handing him over carefully, and Winslow wriggled happily and began licking Serafino's face.
Serafino laughed, holding on to the wriggling criffler. "Tickles!" he crowed, his blue eyes bright with happiness. He turned to Serenus, widening his eyes. "Papa, I want a Winslow! Can I have one, please? Please?"
Serenus hesitated, then glanced at Tybalt. He knew Tybalt wouldn't be against the idea of having a dog, but they hadn't talked about when; Serenus had, in fact, given some thought to getting one for Tybalt, but he'd thought perhaps they ought to wait until the boys were older. It seemed, however, that Serafino had other ideas, and it was difficult for Serenus to resist his pleading.
"What do you think?" he asked, giving Tybalt a questioning look. "Are we ready to add a pet to the household?"
Tybalt smiled, seeing the hesitation in Serenus' manner. "Why don't we talk about it, eh? I'd rather thought that the next addition to the family was going to be another two legs, rather than a four." He leaned closed to kiss Serenus' cheek, then looked down at Serafino. "Daddy and Papa will think about it, okay? A pet is a big responsibility, and we'd need to make sure you and Etienne were ready to help take care of one."
"I ready!" Serafino said firmly, hugging Winslow so tight the criffler's eyes bugged a bit. "I spons... repons... I do it!" He nodded emphatically.
"I don't think we want to be part of this particular conversation," Remus said to Severus, chuckling quietly. "Although which way would you bet, were you a gambling man?"
"My bet would be that they have a dog within the week," Severus said, and Serenus laughed.
"Well, we'll see." Serenus leaned against Tybalt's side, smiling up at him. "Do we want to have this conversation now or when little ears aren't listening?"
"Later, definitely," Tybalt said, leaning down to kiss Serenus gently on the lips. "But we will discuss it soon."
Serafino looked up at the adults. "I doan want a dog. I want a Winslow!" he said firmly, his lower lip jutting out and making him look eerily like his twin.
"We might not be able to get another Winslow," Serenus said gently.
"Winslow is very special," Severus agreed. "He is literally one of a kind. But you could have a crup, which is half of what Winslow is."
"A crup might be a good idea," Tybalt said thoughtfully. "They're very protective, and they don't go after the family jewels, so to speak!" He looked down at his son. "Why don't you go and play with Winslow for a while? Papa and Daddy will have to talk about it, but we promise we'll let you know, okay?"
Serafino hugged Winslow. "'kay," he replied, knowing that Tybalt never lied about such things, even if the answer wasn't always want Serafino wanted in the end. He ran off toward Lysander, Winslow's tails bouncing from side to side, while Tybalt winced in sympathy for the criffler.
Remus chuckled. "Fortunately Winslow's tough. He's made it through our three, after all." He grinned at Serenus. "Actually, it's a surprise to me that you aren't already pregnant. I figured by the time the boys were done with bottles and diapers, you'd be waddling around again."
"But you're gorgeous when you waddle!" Tybalt said quickly.
A blush rose in Serenus' cheeks, and he laughed quietly, his expression chagrined. "Well, I have thought about it," he admitted. "I'd like to have at least one more child, and the boys are old enough that it wouldn't be too mad and chaotic. I'm ready, I think." He glanced at Tybalt, smiling fondly. "We just haven't talked about when we want to start trying yet."
Without thinking about what he was doing, Severus rested his hand on his abdomen, his expression wistful. "We are finished, I think," he said. "After what we went through with Cymbeline and Gaia... Well, neither of us are eager to experience that again, and there is no guarantee that we will not have another girl."
"Perhaps it's time to start discussing when," Tybalt said, leaning down to nuzzle his nose against Serenus' cheek. "But I will leave that up to you, really, since you're the one who will be incubating our little larva."
Remus tightened his arm around Severus, holding him close. "Perhaps when the Princess goes to Hogwarts?" he asked quietly. "That's not so long away, you know, and I suspect by that point, she'll have so much else on her mind, she won't be worried about her position in the family."
Turning his head, Serenus returned the nuzzling affectionately. "We can definitely discuss when," he said, smiling up at Tybalt. "I'm sure we can agree on something. In the meantime, we can practice so you'll be in fine form when the time is right," he added with a wicked gleam in his eyes.
Severus leaned against Remus, drawing comfort from the closeness. "That is certainly an option," he replied. "If we are inclined to add a new baby to our lives just when the fledglings are starting to leave the nest."
"Isn't that the best time?" Remus asked with a smile. "But Serenus has the right of it - practice, practice, practice. Just in case, you know. We'd not want to be caught unprepared!"
"Exactly!" Tybalt agreed. He kissed Serenus with tenderness, then glanced over at Severus. "And I suspect a little variety in the occasional practice won't do any harm, right?"
"Of course not," Severus replied in a tone that made it clear the answer ought to be obvious. "If nothing else, it will help you and Remus aspire to improve your techniques through comparison and competition," he added archly.
Serenus returned the tender kiss and gave Tybalt a squeeze. "I'm all in favor of variety," he said. "Variety and practice. Lots of it."
"I'm glad we're all in agreement," Tybalt said, leering down at Serenus. A squabble broke out among the children, and he chuckled ruefully. "Well, I should say all the adults are in agreement!"
Remus glanced over and rolled his eyes. "They know... I swear, somehow they sense it when parents are contemplating, um, games of their own." He sighed. "Let me go break this up before there's bloodshed. How long until nap time again?"
Serenus, who had lost count of all the times he and Tybalt had been interrupted when things were getting interesting, nodded fervently. "They do know. I'm convinced of it."
Severus consulted his pocket watch. "Not very long until nap time," he said. "We should start seeing yawns and drooping eyelids any time."
"Excellent!" Tybalt said. "And you know what, I think I can help hasten that along. If you'll excuse me, I'm about to embark upon a series of tickle attacks. Not only a great distraction, it's guaranteed to make toddlers collapse in exhaustion." He gave Serenus another smacking kiss, then bounced over to the children and proceeded to chase and tickle all five of the laughing, screaming children.
Remus stepped back out of the way, letting Tybalt take the brunt of the childish mayhem. He moved back to Severus and Serenus. "Better him than me. My old bones can't take it. Sometimes I do wonder who's the kid and who's the dad, though... he seems to enjoy this too much."
"He does," Serenus said, watching Tybalt with fondness. "He's a natural, and it's obvious he enjoys fatherhood immensely. I think maybe he wants to make up for what he didn't have, but whatever the reason, they're very lucky boys to have him." He glanced at Remus and Severus, smiling affectionately at them as well. "Just like your three are lucky too."
"They are," Remus agreed, wrapping an arm around Severus again. "And we're lucky, too; we have the best family in the world, and I wouldn't trade a single member of it for all the treasure on Earth."