|gaius (ex_gaius583) wrote in snark_n_bark,|
@ 2009-01-21 18:25:00
|Entry tags:||complete, gaius, serenus, severus|
A Brotherly Chat
Characters: Severus, Serenus, Gaius
Summary: The Snape brothers catch up on each others lives, and offer advice
Gaius plumped a final pillow on the elegantly carved fainting couch, then glanced around the sun-room with satisfaction. The newest addition to Azoth House was quite a success with the whole family, with the glass on three sides and the roof allowing in all available light and staying warm no matter how cold the weather was outside. And it wasn't just the two-legged members who enjoyed it; Gaius had been allowed to decorate it, and he'd provided plenty of perches for felines and canines. It hadn't taken more than an hour on the first day the room had been finished before there had been three felines sprawled in a pool of sunlight, while Winslow and Wooster had sniffed happily around the furniture, investigating every nook and cranny.
It was a good thing that they'd made the room huge, taking up the entire back of Azoth House and its prime southern exposure. It was big enough for all the adults and children of the combined Snape households to lounge and play comfortably, and Tybalt was already making noises about adding a large soaking pool akin to the one Remus had acquired for Severus. It would have to be pretty large to accommodate six adults, five children, and associated pets and visitors, but Tybalt had only rubbed his hands together with all the glee of a little boy and declared that so long as Serenus approved, it was going to happen.
For the moment, however, Azoth House was unusually quiet. All the children were over at Snape Manor with Tybalt, Remus, and Regulus, attending lessons with Nanny Stella, and the three brothers were going to enjoy a relaxed tea together. That was the biggest challenge of having combined households; it was often a bit more difficult to have time as couples or smaller groups, but they were managing to work out things rather satisfactorily. No doubt they would be making adjustments for some time to come, but Gaius didn't mind. This was family, exactly what he'd been craving for years, and he wouldn't trade a moment of it for anything else in the world.
Except, perhaps, for naked Regulus on their bed upstairs. But he could have that, too, and that was the beauty of the situation.
Sinking down on a wide sofa, Gaius leaned back and let the sun shine down on him. It really was pleasant, and he was tempted to shift to his feline form for even more enjoyment. Alas, Anubis wasn't much of a conversationalist, so he remained in skin rather than fur and waited for his brothers to join him.
It wasn't long before Serenus arrived bearing a tray laden down with tea, pumpkin juice, and wine along with an assortment of sweet and savory finger-food, which seemed to have a distinct Italian-Egyptian influence. He settled the tray on a low table and went to join Gaius on the couch, settling in and tucking his feet under him as he looked around.
"You did a brilliant job in here," he said approvingly. "I suspect this may well become my favorite room in the house."
Gaius scooted over on the sofa so that he could lean against Serenus, and he looked up at him with a pleased smile. "Thank you. I did want you to like it, and I'm very glad you do. You're not the only one who might end up in here a lot, though. I like it, too." He gestured out at the view in the distance. "It wasn't hard to decorate the room, though, with a view like that to work with."
"Definitely not," Serenus agreed, sliding one arm around Gaius companionably. "Winter has never been my favorite season, but having this room makes it more bearable."
"I suppose you like spring," Severus remarked in a scathing tone as he entered the room in time to hear Serenus' comment.
"Summer, actually," Serenus replied, holding out his free arm and beckoning for Severus to join them. "It's about time you got here. We were about to begin the snuggling and snogging without you."
"I like fall, myself," Gaius joined in, smiling at Severus in welcome. "And you're just in time. This will be nice, just the three of us. We've not had a brotherly chat in a while." His smile took on a decidedly wicked turn, given that the last time the three of them had spent time together alone had been before he and Regulus had gotten together, and the twins had surprised him with a bonding experience he'd never forget.
"Indeed we haven't," Severus replied, answering Gaius' smile with a smirk of his own as he crossed the room and stood in front of the couch, debating whether to insinuate himself in the middle or take a place at one end.
As if divining his thoughts, Serenus laughed and moved over, making room for him between the two of them. "Come on, then. We know where you want to be."
Satisfied, Severus took his place between Serenus and Gaius. "You may cuddle me now," he said loftily.
Gaius couldn't help but laugh at that; Severus truly was the diva of the family, but none of them minded. Remus indulged him shamelessly, of course, but it had become almost second nature for everyone else to do it as well, which Gaius suspected Severus accepted as his just due. Snuggling up against Severus' side, Gaius wormed his way under Severus' arm; he might be on the end, but being smaller than his brothers at least meant he could be where he wanted to be as well.
Pulling his wand, Gaius gestured at the tray Serenus had made. "So, what is your pleasure to drink, Your Majesty?" he asked, then batted his eyes coyly.
"Tea for now," Severus replied. "With the option to switch to wine later if things become interesting."
"You pour the tea, and I'll prepare a plate of suitable offerings," Serenus said, looking at Gaius with amusement in his eyes. "Then perhaps we lowly servants may eat and drink ourselves."
"Pfft!" Severus rolled his eyes at their nonsense, but he didn't argue either. He knew a good thing when it saw it, and he'd always been a pragmatist at heart.
"All right." Gaius poured the tea, but he did it via his wand, which had the advantage of allowing him to remain cuddled against Severus. Another swish and flick levitated a cup - prepared just as Severus liked it - to Severus' hand, and then Gaius summoned his own, leaving Serenus' at hand as Serenus parceled out the tidbits. He took a sip of the hot, sweet beverage, then sighed in contentment. "Everything a hedonist could desire. Sunlight, cuddles, tea, and snacks. Absolute heaven."
Serenus loaded up their plates with samples from each dish and passed them along before settling in with his own tea and plate of goodies, leaning against Severus since he didn't have a free arm at the moment. "Indeed it is," he agreed, echoing Gaius' sigh. "All is right with the world." He glanced at his brothers, one eyebrow raised. "At least I assume it is. Are there any pressing problems or concerns we need to discuss?"
"Nothing that I can think of, really," Gaius said, giving a happy sigh. "Everything seems to be rubbing along very well in every way. Except perhaps for Tybalt wanting to work us all to death to put in a pool. Although that has possibilities, even if it's going to be a pain to do."
"The children would enjoy it," Serenus said, nibbling a morsel of cheese. "I think we all would, for that matter, but I'm concerned about things getting too crowded."
"Who cares?" Severus shrugged and sipped his tea. "If there is room and we would enjoy it, I say indulge him. Life is too short to put off the pleasures in favor of practicality."
"All right, who taught you that?" Serenus gave him a mock-glare. "Is it the result of Remus' spoiling or have you been listening to Gaius and Regulus again?"
"Who cares where he got it? He's right!" Gaius nodded firmly. "Besides, we're wizards! If we can link two houses at different ends of the country so that we can pass through, what difficulty is there in making a pool that we can put in a wizarding space so you don't have to see it all the time?" He laughed. "Hoist by my own petard! Here I am, complaining about all the magic involved, and I further complicate it. Ah, well. We hedonists have learned there is often a price to be paid for our indulgences."
"A wizard space sounds perfect," Serenus replied, grinning at Gaius. "There, you've solved all our problems. Now you and Tybalt can put your heads together and make some plans. You may even decorate the pool space, if you like," he added to sweeten the pot.
Gaius slapped his forehead and sighed, but his eyes were dancing. "All right, all right! You know my weak spot. You know, I don't mind Snapes being prime manipulators, but can we have a gentleman's agreement not to do it to each other? Significant others, children, pets, and the general population are fair game, but we ought to have some fraternal pact or something!"
Severus and Serenus exchanged looks, and then they turned in unison to Gaius. "No," they said, speaking as one.
"You are the little brother," Severus pointed out. "If we cannot manipulate you, what use are you?"
"Think of it as making up for all the lost time since you didn't have us around while you were growing up," Serenus added, his grin widening. "Besides, if we make a pact, then you can't bat your lashes and wheedle us into cuddles or a foot rub or the last slice of chocolate cheesecake."
"Oh, all right," Gaius replied, sounding as grumbly as Severus or Cymbeline. "The things I do for the two of you! Good thing you're both cute, or I'd definitely feel out of sorts."
Serenus laughed, but Severus scowled and shook his head. "I am not cute," he said quellingly.
"Of course not," Serenus replied soothingly, but the look he gave Gaius said that he quite agreed with Gaius.
Gaius snickered. "I can say that. I'm the little brother, right? If you can manipulate me, then I can be an insufferable brat." He winked at Serenus. "So, enough about me. What about the two of you? Any concerns? Problems? Enemies to be slain?"
"You are indeed an insufferable brat," Severus grumbled as he finished his food and put his plate and cup aside. "At any rate, there are no problems that I am aware of. Nothing beyond the usual issues of children who refuse to eat their vegetables and accuse each other of stealing toys."
"Lucky them... Just look at all you missed out on, growing up," Gaius said, giving a fond chuckle. He finished his tea, then levitated his cup back to the table. "You realize you probably have close to the three of us in miniature, so we have a good idea of how we would have interacted as children."
"You think?" Serenus put his food and drink aside as well in favor of snuggling closer to Severus, who let him. "I know who we'd cast as young Severus, but which of us is Lysander and which is Gaia?"
Gaius cuddled in close as well. "Oh, that's obvious," he replied. "Lysander is you, Mr. Worrywart. And Gaia is me, the spoiled younger sibling that the diva picks on. I bet you would have picked on me, too, Severus. I would have wanted to cuddle all the time and you'd have grumbled about what a pain I was, right?"
"I pick on you and grumble when you want to cuddle now," Severus pointed out. "However, at least my grumbling and picking do not stem from genuine dislike."
"It's strictly for appearance's sake," Serenus piped up, earning a glare from Severus.
"I don't think Cymbeline genuinely dislikes Gaia," Gaius replied, his voice thoughtful. "She simply doesn't want her place put in danger. Oh, I know she calls Gaia 'Troll' and says things, but I bet you if the chips were down and someone seriously threatened Gaia, Cymbeline would be there for her. Blood is thicker than water, of course, but even more than that, Cymbeline has had two years of proof that Gaia isn't going to take her place, and she's seen that it's true. I think she just keeps acting the same way out of pure orneriness." He gave Severus a guileless look. "Not that we know any Snapes with that quality, do we? She must get it from Remus."
"Very amusing," Severus said, giving Gaius a quelling look. "I'll remember you said that the next time you want something from me."
"Oh, you will not." Serenus shouldered him affectionately. "You'll have forgotten all about it by then, and besides, we're all stubborn in our own ways, even you, Gaius."
"Me?" Gaius' eyes widened. "I'm not stubborn! I'm the hedonist, remember? Go with the flow, that's me!"
"You were certainly stubborn when it came to pursuing Regulus," Serenus said, his dark eyes alight with amusement. "Under the proper circumstances, even you can get your Snape on."
"Well..." Gaius flushed and lifted a hand to rub the back of his neck. "I like to think I'm just persistent when it matters. But let's talk about Severus instead of me. What is Remus going to give you for St. Valentine's Day? The way he keeps escalating things, I expect to hear he bought part of the crown jewels for you."
"Pfft!" Severus shook his head. "I have no idea what he is giving me for Valentine's Day beyond lots of sex."
"You get that all the time anyway," Serenus exclaimed.
"Yes, but it is a gift I will always be certain to like," Severus replied calmly. "At any rate, I don't make any efforts to wheedle the truth out of him beforehand. I rather enjoy the element of surprise."
"Sex is a great present, one I never get tired of receiving," Gaius agreed with a wicked grin. "Although I'm surprised you don't try to wheedle, Severus. I would think you'd be dying of curiosity!"
"I am curious, of course," Severus agreed. "However, I find the payoff is always worth the wait. Besides, Remus enjoys these soppy little occasions, and I would dislike spoiling his fun by getting the surprise over with early."
"How thoughtful of you," Serenus said, straight-faced but with a gleam of amusement in his eyes.
"Oh, indeed," Gaius agreed, nodding solemnly. "It would be a pity to spoil it for Remus."
Severus glanced back and forth between them with narrowed eyes, aware he was being humored. "Indeed it would," he said quellingly, and then he turned a gimlet gaze back on Gaius. "Speaking of sex, how is it?"
"Oh, yes, do tell!" Serenus leaned forward eagerly. "We haven't had a chance to quiz you properly. Everything working as it should? Is he keeping you quite satisfied?"
Inevitably, Gaius flushed again, but he nodded vigorously. "Oh, yes. Very well satisfied," he purred with a smug expression. "He's wonderful. Thoughtful and attentive and quite indulgent. I just hope that I make him as happy as he makes me."
"I'm sure you do," Serenus said, patting Gaius' leg reassuringly. "It's hard to tell with him sometimes, but he seems to be content, even in the midst of the perpetual chaos."
"Regulus has always been stand-offish," Severus said. "Rather than keep the world at a distance with prickles and ice like me, he does it with charm. It's more difficult to recognize his brand of reserve for what it is, but he is reserved, and he always has been to an extent," he added by way of offering reassurance. "I imagine his encounter with Bellatrix made it worse, but it didn't cause him to become that way by any means."
"It is hard to tell, sometimes," Gaius replied thoughtfully, then sighed. "Sometimes I do worry I rushed him into a relationship that I was ready for but he might not have been. I suppose my one concern would be that if he were unhappy, he might not tell me, and, as you said, he's so charming, I couldn't see him hiding it. I don't want that. He's been through too much, suffered too much. I couldn't bear it if I made him unhappy and he couldn't even tell me why."
Serenus immediately got up and moved to sit on Gaius' other side and pulled him close. "I don't think you need to worry that you make him unhappy," he said, pressing a kiss to Gaius' temple and rubbing his back soothingly. "As much time as you spend together, I think you would see some signs, however slight, if he was truly unhappy."
"For that matter, I doubt he would remain here if he was unhappy," Severus chimed in, giving Gaius' shoulder a little pat. "If he has anything in common with Serenus, it's that he's good at leaving."
Serenus stuck his tongue out. "Once. I left one time, and you're going to hold it over my head for the rest of my life."
"Are you talking about the time you ran away from home or the time you ran away from Tybalt?" Severus retorted with a wicked smirk.
"Oh, shut up," Serenus grumbled. "We're comforting Gaius, not talking about my sordid past."
"I don't want anyone to leave," Gaius sighed, threading his arms around the waists of both his brothers and leaning his head on Serenus' shoulder. "I want us all to be happy. Perhaps it is simply my insecurity speaking. Having been left once in a very sudden, permanent way, I suppose it's only natural that I worry about my own adequacy from time to time."
"That's entirely understandable," Serenus replied, nuzzling Gaius affectionately. "Abandonment issues are difficult to shake, and even though I know you've said time passes differently while you're in Animagus form, it still hasn't been all that long since Sirius left. It's only natural that you'd have residual concerns, especially since things did develop between you and Regulus rather quickly, and he isn't the warm, open, effusive type that Severus is," he added with a wicked grin at Severus, who glared. "Have you told him how you feel and why you have bouts of insecurity?"
"Not specifically, no," Gaius admitted. "I suppose I'm worried that I'll make him feel bad or worry him in turn." He shook his head. "I'll get over it. I think it will just take time and knowing he's still here."
"Doubtless that will help," Serenus agreed, nodding.
"Although there isn't anything wrong with telling him either," Severus said matter-of-factly. "If you worry about making him worry and therefore don't say or do anything about the thing you are worried about, then how is that helping anything? It isn't promoting security or good communication."
"Remus has done an amazing job with you," Serenus said, giving him an admiring look, earning a derisive snort in response.
Gaius chuckled. "Remus is a miracle worker, but Severus is probably right. I should say something. Not confrontationally, just... mention it, I suppose." He looked at Serenus and squeezed him close. "I know you understand the feeling, mein bruder. It's something that lurks in the back of your mind."
Serenus nodded and smiled ruefully, giving Gaius a squeeze in response. "Yes, it does," he agreed softly. "But on the positive side, it does go away. At least, it did for me, thanks to Tybalt. Granted, he's considerably less reserved than Regulus, but I think it was mostly time and making a solid commitment. For me, getting married helped considerably. I know marriage can end in divorce, and nothing is guaranteed, but for me, just knowing Tybalt was willing to make the commitment in the first place helped settle my fears, especially since I was jilted on my wedding day the first time around. For you, it might be something else that works. I don't know, but I think the two of you need to find it together. Severus is right: you should let him know."
Severus lifted his chin smugly. "See? Even the Italian housewife thinks I'm right," he said, earning a swat from Serenus.
"Both of you are right, and I have the most fantastic brothers in the whole world," Gaius replied. He kissed Severus on the cheek, then turned to kiss Serenus as well. "I can't imagine how I lived without you both for so long. Finding you has been one of the very best things that has ever happened to me, and I wouldn't trade either of you for the most hedonistic things in the whole world."
"I don't know how you got along without us either," Severus said, and Serenus rolled his eyes at his twin before kissing Gaius in return.
"We wouldn't trade you either," he said, and Severus nodded.
"I don't consider you a troll, and I wouldn't sell you to the gypsies if given the chance," Severus agreed somberly.
"High praise, indeed! Although if you sell me to the gypsies, please made it Ethelenda and Celestra; at least I know they like me." Gaius laughed, feeling lighter. "This conversation keeps coming back to me. If I didn't know better, I'd think you two were doing it on purpose." He raised a brow, looking at Serenus. "So, let's pry into your life, brother-dear. I'd pick on Severus, but he scares me."
Severus smirked, not offering to assuage any of Gaius' fears, but he did accept the change of topic with alacrity. "Yes, let's pry into your life," he said, peering around Gaius at Serenus. "I take it from the lack of ear-splitting squeals that you aren't pregnant yet."
"No, not yet," Serenus said, smiling wryly. "Not for lack of trying, of course, but it hasn't happened yet."
"It will happen," Gaius said encouragingly. "It happened for Severus, and it will happen for you. Has Severus let you borrow the pot to put next to your bed?"
Chuckling, Serenus shook his head. "No, but perhaps that ought to be the next step, right before I steal Tybalt's underpants."
"Pfft!" Severus huffed with annoyance. "It worked, didn't it? Between that and the herbs, I got what I wanted."
"Indeed you did," Serenus replied soothingly. "It's just that I'm not trying to get pregnant by a certain time like you were. I've done what I can, and if it happens, it happens. If it doesn't..." He shrugged and spread his hands. "Then it obviously wasn't meant to be."
"That's sensible of you," Severus said, nodding his approval.
"But it will happen," Gaius said staunchly. "I have it on good authority."
"Have you been talking to Celestra, by chance?" Serenus asked, laughing. "I wouldn't be surprised if she and Ethelenda have been enacting fertility rituals on a daily basis. If I end up with another set of twins, I'm putting all the blame on them."
"Something like that," Gaius admitted, his eyes dancing with amusement. "I saw Celestra knitting something. Turns out said something was a baby blanket. I won't tell you the color, though... that might give too much away."
Serenus' eyebrows climbed at that, and he felt a little surge of hope. Normally, he put no more stock in Divination than Severus did, but Celestra was different. He'd seen too much evidence for himself that her predictions weren't a lot of mumbo-jumbo born of a clump of wet tea leaves.
"Well, I certainly hope her track record holds," he said lightly. "I don't care whether it's a boy or girl myself, although I admit I'd like to see how quickly it would take a little girl to wrap Tybalt around her fingers."
"Probably all of ten seconds after she was born," Severus replied.
"Ten seconds? I give it five," Gaius chuckled. "The boys already own him, but I think you're right: a little girl would have him as her personal slave. What is it about big men and little tiny daughters? I've seen it happen over and over when I was a teacher. Merlin help you if you had to discipline daddy's little girl. There were times I thought I was taking my life in my hands!"
"She would have to find very brave significant others, too," Serenus said, grinning. "I can see Tybalt standing at the door with his wand drawn, interrogating every date as if they'd been brought in for being an alleged criminal."
"What exactly is wrong with that?" Severus demanded, sending Serenus into peals of laughter.
"That's right, mein bruder. You think Severus isn't going to be equally as bad?" Gaius patted Severus on the knee. "Cymbeline and Gaia be lucky if anyone even asks them out, given that the parents of most of their prospective dates will probably have been your students and be petrified that if their child hurts your daughter, no one will ever find a body."
"Not without good reason," Severus said in a dire tone, setting off Serenus again. "Anyway," he continued, elbowing Serenus sharply. "How do you think the twins will react to having a sibling? Are you concerned about sibling rivalry?"
"Not really," Serenus replied, wiping his eyes as he settled down again. "Being twins, they've always had to share everything, including parental affection, and they've shared attention with both boys and girls equally thanks to their cousins, so I don't think it'll be a huge issue for them. I hope not, at least!"
"You'll be lucky if it isn't," Severus said. "Gaius may be optimistic about Cymbeline's true feelings, but personally, I wouldn't stake the farm on her being there if Gaia needed her. Lysander, certainly, but Cymbeline?" He shook his head.
"You could put it to the test," Gaius said thoughtfully. "Nothing dire, though. Perhaps take the two girls out somewhere, say Diagon Alley, or Muggle London. Serenus or I could be polyjuiced into someone doubtful looking and attempt to lure Gaia away. Then you could see if Cymbeline would protect her sister or not."
Severus hesitated, considering the suggestion. "On the one hand, it would be nice to know whether she feels anything for Gaia," he said slowly. "On the other, it would be quite disheartening to receive proof that she doesn't should her reaction be along the lines of 'Go ahead, take her'."
"I think she might surprise you," Gaius said, but he patted Severus' knee again. "Perhaps I'll have a talk with Cymbeline myself. About how siblings are special and are the only people you can really count on when things go bad. Perhaps she's even old enough, now, to know the circumstances about our lives. She was too young to know what was happening, and probably doesn't remember it being any other way than the three of us, but it might be a nice object lesson for her to know that the three of us were lonely for many, many years without our siblings."
"I predict she'll say 'I have Lysander'," Severus replied. "But you are welcome to try if you like. I dislike the thought of there being a rift between any of the children, and I do worry how it will affect both of them as they grow older." He drew in a deep breath and released it slowly. "My biggest concern is that Cymbeline will withdraw from the rest of us and that Gaia will end up with rejection issues. She is old enough now to realize that she is consistently ignored and left out by her sister whenever possible."
"Perhaps having such a doting brother and cousins helps even things out," Serenus suggested.
"I think she wants Cymbeline's approval," Gaius said with a sigh. "I think you can't help looking up to your eldest sibling, in their case especially as they are both girls. Gaia is a sturdy little creature, that's certain, but it couldn't help but affect her, eventually. The question is how to fix it without Cymbeline being made to feel she's having something forced on her. But we're Snapes, aren't we? We're tricky creatures. If we can't figure out how to manipulate a small girl into appreciating her sister, then we should all change our names to something horrid."
"One would certainly think three adult heads are better than one small child's," Serenus said, chuckling. "Then again, this is Severus' apple that definitely didn't fall far from the tree, so perhaps we're about even."
Severus gave him a quelling look but didn't deign to reply, turning his attention to Gaius instead. "If you have any ideas, do let me know," he said.
"She's Remus' daughter too, so there must be some small bit of soppiness in her," Gaius said consideringly. "I'll talk to Regulus and see if he has any ideas. Since he didn't like his brother, he has a certain perspective, even though that was mostly because of their parents. But perhaps he might remember things he wished might have happened between he and Sirius that could have made a difference."
"Excellent idea," Serenus said, nodding his approval. "I think that's a good place to start."
"Indeed," Severus said. "I am happy to entertain any ideas that might help at this point."
Pleased that his suggestion seemed to have met with approval, Gaius smiled and leaned back, enjoying the warmth and camaraderie. "Well, since we've thoroughly covered all the skeletons in our various closets, what's next?"
Serenus and Severus looked at each other again, silent communication seeming to pass between them, and then they moved as one, grabbing Gaius and planting double kisses on each corner of his mouth - just before beginning to tickle him mercilessly.
"GAH!!! I give up!" Gaius gasped, rolling over and flailing uncontrollably beneath their hands. He couldn't even change form, and he knew they weren't going to cut him any slack until he was red-faced and incoherent. Not that he minded, really. Or at least he wouldn't when it was over and they were cuddling and petting him affectionately. That was his prerogative, as the baby brother. And he wouldn't give it up for anything in the world.