|gaius (ex_gaius583) wrote in snark_n_bark,|
@ 2008-10-16 20:05:00
|Entry tags:||complete, gaius, regulus, severus, tybalt|
What you see isn't always what someone was getting...
Characters: Regulus, Severus, Gaius, Tybalt
Summary: Regulus sees something disturbing and seeks advice on what to do about it
"Night! See you in the morning!"
Miriam's cheerful voice came from the front of the shop, and Gaius stood up and smiled, waving a farewell as she exited, the bell tinkling in her wake. He drew his wand, flipping the sign from "Open" to "Closed" and locking the door, then heading toward the area behind the counter where Severus was still working. Gaius had been waiting all day for a chance to catch his brother alone, and this seemed like a perfect time.
Stepping to the curtained-off area, Gaius knocked lightly on the door frame. "Severus? I've locked up. Er... do you have a few minutes to talk?"
Severus had just finished washing and putting away his equipment, and he glanced over at Gaius, one eyebrow raised, and gave him a terse nod. "Yes, I suppose so," he said as he moved away from his workbench and approached Gaius, regarding him curiously. "What do you want to talk about?"
"I need your advice," Gaius replied, his expression revealing his pensiveness. "It's... well, it's Regulus, of course. I don't know what to do." He shrugged, then turned and beckoned for Severus to follow him. "It's a bit crowded back here, and I think I'm going to need to pace while I explain."
"Are you certain you want to discuss this with me?" Severus asked dubiously as he followed Gaius into the front of the shop. "If you need advice about love and romance, you probably ought to talk to someone else. I am not good with all that soppy, sentimental nonsense."
Gaius stopped near a display of perfumes near the front of the shop, reaching out to straighten the bottles with finicky precision. He sighed. "I don't need advice about love and romance. I need advice about Regulus. You're a Slytherin, and so is he. More than that, you are his friend, and you understand him in ways I'm not certain I do. Or at least not yet." Meeting Severus' eyes, Gaius gave a lopsided smile. "I may have been his cat for a few months, but while I know his habits and many intimate details about him, it doesn't mean that I can read him. Unfortunately."
"I see," Severus said, rubbing his chin speculatively. "You may have come to the right person after all, then." He leaned against the nearest shelf and folded his arms, watching Gaius closely. "What exactly are you having trouble figuring out about the elusive Mr. Black?"
Running his hands through his hair, Gaius drew in a deep breath. "He has been... inconsistent," he began, resisting the urge to tug his hair hard in frustration. "At first, he was wonderful. He arranged this fantastic picnic in the desert, out among the ruins, with food and music, and we danced, and I was beginning to think that perhaps, maybe, he was beginning to think of me as more than a friend. It was more... intimate, I suppose... than even our date at Vesuvius. Regulus laughed. He smiled, and he seemed more carefree than I can ever remember seeing him. He looked happy, and... I started to hope. Then, seemingly overnight, he changed. We got to Luxor, and he was suddenly back to being nervous and pensive, and I swear, I didn't do anything! I didn't press him, but I was careful to be responsive when he initiated things. But something changed, and I can't figure out what it was!"
Severus frowned, feeling almost as puzzled as Gaius must have felt. "Are you certain nothing happened?" he asked. "You didn't hit on any touchy subjects, you didn't push, nothing was done or said that could possibly have rattled him?"
"No, nothing," Gaius affirmed. He brought his hands together in front of him, twisting them together as he gave in to the anxiety he'd repressed ever since he'd arrived back in England that very morning. "We arrived at Luxor, we had dinner, we watched some dancing, and it was fantastic. We went to bed that night, and then the next day, it was as though we were back to where we had been right after he found out Anubis was really me. Well, maybe not quite that bad, but bad enough. If I did anything, I can't figure out what it might have been, and believe me, I've been wracking my brain for days trying to figure it out!"
Severus' frown deepened, and he shook his head. "I don't understand it either," he said slowly. "Regulus was never one to blow hot and cold that way. If he was angry, he was angry until he got over it, and then he was all right again. He didn't vacillate back and forth." He paused, trying to make sense of it. "I don't suppose you know if he received any correspondence? It could be that he was preoccupied with matters that had nothing to do with you at all."
"He didn't receive anything that I know about." Gaius sighed again. "And if that had been the case, I could have understood a day or two of fretfulness, perhaps, but it was as though he took a giant step back from me or perhaps two. If it would help, I'd let you search my memories to see if you could tell what I might have done."
"I can if you like," Severus replied, pushing himself away from the shelf and approaching Gaius. "There must be something, because that does not sound like him at all, and I do not believe he has changed that much."
Gaius bit his lip, then nodded. He was desperate at this point to find out what could be wrong; he'd been so certain he and Regulus were making progress, and now it seemed as though he might lose Regulus even as a friend, a thought he couldn't bear. "All right," he said, then drew in a deep breath. "I'm ready."
Drawing his wand, Severus aimed it at Gaius. "Legilimens!" he exclaimed, and an instant later, he found himself sorting through Gaius' most recent memories. He saw the evening the desert and watched the two of them talking and dancing; certainly nothing seemed to be wrong there. He moved leisurely through the memories of clothes shopping in Cairo and the trip to Luxor via magic carpet, but their interactions seemed easy and friendly, and he saw nothing that raised any red flags for him.
He saw their first night in Luxor, pausing for a moment over Gaius' memory of wanking; it wasn't difficult to imagine whom Gaius had been thinking of at that moment! Then Severus moved on, and he saw Regulus' odd behavior while they were shopping at the marketplace. He frowned and moved back, but he saw nothing from their time together the night before to the following morning that he thought could have caused Regulus to retreat.
Puzzled and more than a little annoyed that he couldn't figure out the mystery, Severus withdrew from Gaius' mind at last. "Whatever happened, I do not think it was anything you said or did," he said, tucking his wand away again. "I saw nothing that made me think it might have been the trigger. Either it was something that happened while he was alone that night or it was an internal matter in his own head or heart." He paused, then added with a little smirk. "I did notice you... enjoyed yourself in Luxor."
Gaius flushed; he knew what Severus had seen, and he chuckled. "Well... I couldn't help it. After sitting pressed against him all the way to Luxor, so close and yet so far away, I felt more than a little in need of some, er, relaxation." Then he sighed again. "But if you didn't see anything, and it wasn't me, so far as you know, then..." Gaius swallowed hard. "Do you think he figured out how I feel about him, and he doesn't like it?"
"I couldn't say," Severus said, shaking his head. "You didn't seem to do anything too obvious, but viewing the memories second-hand is not the same thing as being there." Although he was frustrated at not being able to provide any answers, he felt sympathy for Gaius too, and he reached out and drew Gaius closer. "If I were you, I would see how he behaves now that you are both at home. If he still seems skittish, then perhaps you ought to ask him if something is wrong and see what he says. You needn't reveal your feelings; even as a friend, you can notice dramatic changes in behavior."
It was a bit of a relief to know that Severus hadn't seen anything, and yet at the same time it left him with the same problem: not knowing what was on Regulus' mind. He was almost afraid to bring the subject up in case he made it worse, but it looked like he was out of options.
Sighing, Gaius returned the hug. "Thank you, Severus. I appreciate you helping me in this. I'm just afraid of making things worse by probing, friend or not. I know that in some ways he thinks I already know too much about him, and I don't want him to resent me questioning him, friend or no."
"You could approach it from the angle of being a concerned friend," Severus suggested. "Set it up by saying that you care about him and worry about him, and you want to be certain he is all right. You needn't even ask him anything, merely explain your concerns and leave it up to him to respond or not."
For several moments, Gaius considered that, then nodded, although he still looked unhappy. "I think that might be the only option, as little as I like it," he said. He hugged Severus tightly for a moment. "Thank you, mein bruder. I knew you were the right person to ask."
"I only wish I could have been more help," Severus replied. "This behavior puzzles me as much as it does you. It is quite unusual." Lifting his hand, he rested his palm against Gaius' cheek. "At any rate, you needn't blame yourself. Whatever is going on with Regulus, I suspect it stems entirely from within himself."
"I just want to make it better for him." Gaius gazed up at Severus. "I love him, Severus, and I can't bear to see him looking so full of doubt and unhappiness."
"Of course," Severus said, caressing Gaius' cheek gently with his thumb. "But some things you cannot fix. It seems to me that this issue, whatever it is, is entirely his to fix. What you can do is offer to listen and provide support. Be his friend first and foremost." He paused, then rolled his eyes. "Clearly Remus and Serenus have rubbed off on me. I never would have been able to spout such drivel on my own before they came along."
"I'd say both Remus and Serenus have rubbed off on you in more ways than one," Gaius replied tartly, before sighing again. He leaned into the caress of Severus' hand. "Well, I suppose I should let you get home to Remus and the children. Give them my love, will you? And let them know that I'll be 'round with presents this weekend?"
"Perhaps I had best not let them know that," Severus replied. "Otherwise, I will be asked every hour how much longer it will be before Uncle Gaius is coming with the presents." Caressing Gaius' cheek, he bent and brushed a kiss against Gaius' lips, lightly at first but returning for a deeper kiss, enjoying the taste and feel of Gaius' kisses, which were still new.
Tightening his arms around Severus' waist, Gaius closed his eyes and relaxed into the kiss, cherishing the moment of closeness and connection with Severus, needing the affirmation that someone cared for and about him. He returned the kiss leisurely, but then pulled back and blinked against the sudden mistiness in his eyes. Severus had the love of Remus, a deep love that Gaius desperately wanted to share with Regulus, and he wondered with a sinking heart if he ever would. As much as he loved his brothers, and even with the intimacies they had shared, he knew that he could never be on the inside, would never matter more in that way than their partners did. Not that he wanted to, really; he wanted a partner of his own. He wanted Regulus.
"Thanks again. I'm going to putter around here for a while longer," he said. "Think over what I want to say to Regulus. I'll let you know how it goes, all right?"
"All right." Severus drew back and released Gaius. "If you need to discuss the matter again, I will be home all evening. Good luck," he added as he moved away, heading to the fireplace to take the Floo home.
Gaius watched Severus go, biting his lip, his expression one of doubt and misery. He swallowed hard, then moved toward the back of the shop, wondering if he would ever be able to find the right words to say to Regulus, the ones which would return them to that night under the desert moon and give him back the sense of hope and connection he'd felt - the hope that winning Regulus' love was only a matter of time.
Outside the shop, Regulus stood peering in the window, his hands curled into fists by his sides, and he glared at That Man's retreating back. He had come by Alchemy & Ecstasy after he had closed up his own shop, tidied the shelves, and locked up, thinking he would say hello to whomever might still be there - particularly Gaius - and perhaps see if Gaius wanted to have dinner with him. But he had been frozen in his tracks when he glanced in the window and saw Gaius kissing someone.
They were far enough away from the window that he couldn't see the other man clearly, especially since the man was standing in the shadows of some shelves; all he could see was how That Man was holding Gaius close and kissing him - and how Gaius still looked miserable.
Jealousy surged within him like molten lava, and he wanted to burst into the shop and tear the two of them apart, and then he wanted to tear That Man apart for making Gaius look so unhappy. How could Gaius look unhappy after a kiss like that? Had That Man done or said something to upset him? And more importantly, what did this mean for Regulus' chances?
He was jealous and confused, and he didn't know what to do, and so he turned on his heel and marched away, trying to cool off before he made any decisions. Lost in thought, he walked the length of Diagon Alley and back again before giving up; his mind was roiling, and he knew he wouldn't be able to sort this out by himself. He needed a sounding board. He needed someone who had given him sensible advice before.
Five minutes later, he was back at Azoth House and searching all over for Tybalt, eager to get some advice.
Tybalt was in the nursery, straightening up the complete chaos left by two small boys playing merrily amidst most of the toys in the known universe. Serenus had taken the boys off with him to help with the shopping, and they would all cook dinner together upon their return. In the meantime, Tybalt was trying to return the house to some kind of order, even though it would be destroyed again the next day.
Hearing a sound at the door, Tybalt looked up, not surprised to find Regulus standing there. What was surprising was the look on Regulus' face, and he straightened and raised a brow. "I only hope that your expression wasn't put there by one of my boys," he said pensively. "Because if it was, I'm not quite certain I want to know what horror a toddler could have done to earn it."
"No, it was not one of the boys," Regulus replied as he stormed into the nursery and flung himself into one of the rocking chairs, not quite pouting, but close. "I saw Gaius with That Man. Kissing."
"You what?" Tybalt's jaw dropped, and he stared at Regulus as though he'd lost his mind. Which he must have, since Regulus himself was That Man, and obviously it hadn't been Regulus Gaius was kissing. "Are you sure? Perhaps you were mistaken? Maybe it wasn't Gaius you saw?"
"I was not mistaken," Regulus retorted, glowering. "I stopped by the shop to see if Gaius would be interested in having dinner with me, and I saw him through the window. He was in the arms of another man, and they were kissing." He folded his arms across his chest, fresh jealousy rising up. "I know it was him, and I know what I saw."
Tybalt frowned. It hadn't been a lover Gaius was kissing, of that he was certain. And it hadn't been Serenus, because Serenus was in Hogsmeade with the twins. Which left only one logical choice: Severus. Regulus obviously didn't know about the more-than-fraternal leanings of the Snape brothers, nor about the fact that their partners had allowed the elder Snape twins to indulge with both each other and with Gaius.
It was on the tip of his tongue to tell Regulus that it had to have been Severus, but then he looked at Regulus more closely. Regulus was seething, so jealous that he looked ready to kill, and that was something that meant Regulus' feelings for Gaius were deeper than they had been before.
Crossing his own arms over his chest, Tybalt snorted. "All right, you saw him kissing another man. The Man, perhaps. I take it he looked transported with happiness, and they took off to shag madly?" It was a gamble, but Tybalt was willing to bet that it was simply a good-bye kiss and therefore perfectly innocent.
"No, they did not," Regulus said, the words ground out through clenched teeth. "Gaius looked miserable. How can he persist in thinking That Man is the right man for him after everything he has said and as unhappy as the man obviously makes him, even after a kiss like that?"
"A kiss like what? Deep and passionate and soul searing?" Tybalt pressed just a little harder, wanting to send Regulus close to the boiling point. Maybe if he could get Regulus fired up enough, he'd stop tiptoeing around his own feelings and put both he and Gaius out of their misery.
"Yes!" Regulus exclaimed. "It was not some chaste peck. If That Man really was the right one for him, Gaius should have been giddy and happy and barely able to stand up because his toes were curling and his knees had gone weak. He shouldn't have looked like he had been cast into abject misery."
No doubt Regulus was reading more into whatever he had seen than was really there, but then again, Tybalt had been kissed by Severus too and knew how Severus could focus on the task with single-minded determination. But no matter, Regulus was jealous, and Gaius had probably been unburdening himself to his brother about Regulus, and enough was just about enough.
"So That Man makes him miserable," he said, crossing over to the rocking chair and poking Regulus in the chest. "So what are you going to do about it? Seems to me like the door to winning Gaius is wide open, and you're sitting here railing to me when you could be with Gaius, kissing him and proving that you can do it and make his toes curl and his knees grow weak!"
Regulus sat up straight, staring at Tybalt in shock. "Do you really think I should?" he asked hesitantly. "I want to, but I don't want to move too quickly and risk pushing Gaius away. If he really believes he is in love with That Man, then my advances could be unwanted."
"Yes, I think you should," Tybalt said firmly. "He's miserable, and maybe he's just realizing it for the first time. Maybe at the moment, he's swearing off love forever or about to do so. You're his friend, and he will listen to you, if you tell him now that this other man isn't right for him. Make him see that you are the right man. He needs you, Regulus. He's unhappy, and you want to make him happy. He's not foolish enough to turn that down, trust me. Friendship can turn to love easily, and all you need to do is show him."
Regulus bit his thumbnail absently, mulling over what Tybalt had said. "Perhaps you are right," he said slowly. "Perhaps now is the right time to lure him away from That Man. I really don't have anything to lose, do I? And we both have everything to gain." He was nervous, but the truth was, he wanted to take Tybalt's advice; he wanted to seduce Gaius away from That Man, and Tybalt was essentially giving him permission to do what he wanted to do in the first place.
"You don't have anything at all to lose," Tybalt agreed. "I would say that this is the perfect time. And yet you're still sitting in that chair! On your feet, man! You have a Snape to woo, and trust me, I know for a fact that timing with Snapes is everything!"
Without a second thought, Regulus surged to his feet and drew himself upright, filled with a sense of determination and purpose. He had been careful and moved slowly, but now was the right time to make his move, and by Merlin, he was going to do it.
"Right," he said firmly. "It is time to plan a seduction." He smiled, apprehensive but hopeful too. "Wish me luck."
"Good luck - but remember that your fate is in your own hands," Tybalt said, returning the smile. "You can do this! All you need to do is open Gaius' eyes and get him to see you as a lover rather than as a friend, and I suspect you'll be able to coax him into bed before you know it."
"I hope so. At any rate, I will keep you informed, although it might be a while before I check in if things go as I hope they will," Regulus said. "Take care of Sekhmet for me, and tell the boys Uncle Regulus said good night," he added even as he headed for the door.
"I will. And if the next time I see you, you don't have that 'shagged into ecstasy' look, I'm going to be very disappointed!" Tybalt chuckled.
"So will I," Regulus retorted, and with that, he disappeared, bounding down the stairs with his head already full of plans.
Tybalt listened to Regulus go, then sank down into the chair Regulus had vacated and gave in to the urge to laugh. He would have to call Severus and tell him all about it, but not yet. Right now, he needed to let out his desire to laugh himself sick, and then no doubt, he would have to explain himself to Serenus. But then he was definitely going to call Severus and let him know that he'd best watch out, that a jealous Black had cast him in the role of the Other Man, and Severus might be the one responsible for bringing Gaius and Regulus together at last.