|Regulus Black (mummys_boy) wrote in snark_n_bark,|
@ 2009-01-31 09:29:00
|Entry tags:||complete, gaius, regulus|
I touched you once, I touched you twice...
Characters: Gaius, Regulus
Summary: Fears are voiced, sharing is discussed, and reassurances are given.
The candles were lit, soft music played in the background, and the delicious scents of exotic dishes floated on the air. Gaius adjusted a napkin folded in the shape of a lotus blossom which rested in the center of a plate intricately decorated in a Middle Eastern pattern, then nodded in satisfaction. Everything was ready for Regulus' arrival, and he hoped his little surprise would be well timed, rather than catching Regulus at the end of a trying day where he wanted a bath and bed rather than to be wined and dined by his lover.
It would be easy enough to change plans, although Gaius was hoping to have a talk with Regulus about a few different things, and that was why he'd decided to have their dinner in private for once rather than with the family. He'd gone for relaxing as the motif, opting for a low table and floor cushions for seating rather than a more traditional dining style. This way, they could lounge either separately or together, and the transition from meal to the massage Gaius had planned for after would be virtually seamless.
He'd dressed in loose robes he'd bought in Egypt, and he was wearing a spicy scent Severus had created called "Desert Moon". He'd even given in to the temptation of kohl, outlining his eyes so that they were quite startling. All he needed now was his lover, and then the evening could begin.
After closing up the shop for the day, Regulus took the Floo directly to the sitting room in what he thought of as their flat on the third floor of Azoth House. It had been connected to the Floo Network separately so they could come and go directly to their quarters instead of traipsing through the sitting room downstairs. He'd been taking that option more often of late, feeling a little paranoid about what he might walk in on and a little awkward as well, thus he'd kept more to their quarters and to Gaius' company.
When he arrived this particular evening, he was surprised to see the relaxing, almost romantic atmosphere, and he looked around for Gaius, even more surprised to see Gaius dressed in flowing robes and his eyes enhanced with kohl.
"Am I forgetting a special occasion?" he asked as he approached Gaius, holding out his arms. "It isn't your birthday or mine, and I didn't think we had an anniversary coming up."
"No, you aren't forgetting a thing," Gaius said, smiling as he stepped into Regulus' embrace, flowing against his body with easy familiarity. "I wanted to give you a nice surprise and give us both a little privacy. I've even put together everything for a massage afterwards, if you'd like."
"That sounds promising," Regulus replied, although he raised his eyebrows questioningly. "Is there any particular reason why or is this random spoiling?"
"Well, I do need to ask for some Slytherin guidance in a certain matter," Gaius replied, batting his eyes coyly. "Something that couldn't be discussed in front of the children, but that's not the main goal. I just wanted to do something special for you. To show you how special you are to me."
"Ah, now the truth comes out," Regulus said, chuckling. He took Gaius' hand and led him over to the low table, and he sank down on one of the plump cushions. "Come and sit with me, then, and tell me how I can guide you. I'm curious why you should need Slytherin assistance in particular. Have you discussed the matter with Severus as well?"
Gaius went willingly, squeezing Regulus' hand as they settled down in front of the table. He pressed against Regulus' side, drawing his wand and summoning the wine bottle and filling their glasses before beginning to speak. "Yes, I've spoken to Severus," he said, looking at Regulus with amusement in his eyes. "As to why I need Slytherin assistance, I believe the phrase is 'it takes one to know one', yes? Severus is too involved with the situation, and he's leaving it in my hands, and so I'm turning to you. You have a rather unique perspective on the situation as well, having had a rocky relationship with your own sibling. I'm talking about Cymbeline, if you've not guessed. Or Cymbeline and Gaia, actually."
"Ah..." Regulus nodded, understanding where this was going. He had noticed the rift between the sisters hadn't closed despite time and distance from the initial hurt and fear Gaia's arrival had caused Cymbeline; there wasn't open hostility in the form of quarrels as there had been between him and Sirius, but there was plenty of cold-shouldering. "What can I do?"
"Help me to understand what she might be feeling, really feeling," Gaius replied. He took a sip of his wine. "Of course, the dislike is obvious, but it's so... impersonal, if you understand what I mean. It's not as though she is rejecting Gaia for being Gaia, but simply for being a female, and I suppose she still considers that a threat to her position. But perhaps I'm missing something. Cymbeline is so much Severus' child, I thought you might have some insights that I can't quite understand."
Regulus stretched out on the pillows and propped himself up on one elbow as he considered the question. "I'm not certain," he mused. "If she takes after Severus as much as she appears to, perhaps she also has his capacity for nursing resentment and grudges. She could resent Gaia merely for existing because she never wanted a sister, and we both know how long it can take Severus to let go of a grudge."
"Yes," Gaius said, sighing slightly. "But... do you think it possible that she might be simply holding to a line because it is familiar? She's grown old enough to realize that no one treats her differently because of Gaia, and I thought perhaps she could be saying the same things because she doesn't want anyone to know she's changed her mind."
"Or she might not have changed her mind," Regulus said with a slight shrug. "She might feel as though she doesn't need a sister, she never wanted a sister, and she has no use for a sister. I felt that way about Sirius for most of my life. Before my encounter with Bellatrix, I never tried to mend fences with him because I didn't consider them worth mending."
Gaius bit his lip, his expression pensive. He'd hoped Regulus might have a bit more encouragement for him, and he was beginning to think perhaps Severus was right and his plan was doomed to failure. "I see," he said, looking down into his wineglass. "I had rather hoped she might feel differently, especially as everyone has tried to be so reassuring to her. I can't help but be a bit protective of Gaia, too, and worry about what Cymbeline's continued rejection will do to her. It's not like you've told me your family was, where your parents set you and Sirius against each other from the start. Gaia is old enough now to want her sister's approval, and it all seems so sad."
"It is, yes," Regulus agreed, nodding somberly. "You and I have a unique perspective on siblings. So do Severus and Serenus, for that matter. We can appreciate the value of having a sibling, but it is difficult to convey that value to someone who hasn't been cut off from the sibling bond the way we have." He rolled onto his back and gazed up at the ceiling, sighing quietly. "I don't know what to suggest. It took nearly dying for me to realize I craved a connection with Sirius, and I don't think we want anything so extreme to happen in this case. Perhaps we could talk to Cymbeline and see if her feelings are grounded in habit or not."
Gaius placed his wine on the table, then lowered himself to lie down beside Regulus and snuggled against his side, stroking Regulus' chest through the fabric of his shirt in slow circles. "I would hate to see Cymbeline throw that bond away without giving it a chance," he said, then sighed. "I had a thought, actually. A way to see if Cymbeline is really as resentful as she seems. An experiment in blood being thicker than water."
"Oh?" Regulus slid his arm around Gaius and rubbed his back idly. "What is your idea?"
Gaius nuzzled Regulus' cheek, relaxing against him and enjoying the stroking. "To take the two girls out somewhere," he said. "Just them, without Lysander since he's so protective. I thought of having someone we trust either disguised or using polyjuice try to lure Gaia off, giving the illusion of her being in danger. Then see how Cymbeline reacts. Whether she would decide it is better to protect her sister than to allow her to come to harm."
Regulus considered this for a moment, trying to think how he would have reacted as a child had he been in a similar situation. "I suppose it will depend on which of her parents she reacts like most under duress," he said slowly. "You might learn she has a bit of Gryffindor in her after all, or her Slytherin side might come to the forefront if she weighs getting rid of a disliked sibling versus getting in trouble for letting Gaia be taken and makes a pragmatic rather than emotional decision. Would that be a good sign as far as you're concerned?"
"Put that way, I don't know." Gaius sighed again. "Perhaps I should forget the whole thing and not interfere, and try to give Gaia as much reassurance as I can. It's just hard, watching the two of them and wondering if Cymbeline's actions are a result of some sort of insecurity, and knowing that whatever happens, Gaia is probably going to end up insecure as well. And it's all so pointless."
"I know." Regulus pressed a kiss to the top of Gaius' head. "You want everyone to be happy, love one another, and get along. Unfortunately, things don't always work out that way. We could still talk to Cymbeline, or I could, if you like. It might not help, but it couldn't make things worse, either."
"Not much could make it worse, no," Gaius replied, giving Regulus a squeeze. "And she likes you a lot, so perhaps she'd talk to you in a way she wouldn't to her parents or to me or Serenus." He paused, growing pensive again. "Only if you wish to do it, of course... I... well, I don't want you to feel as though you're being thrust into the middle of a situation you'd rather not be in."
"It isn't as if Cymbeline and I haven't had a conversation about siblings before," Regulus replied. "In that sense, I am already a part of the situation, and if I was not willing to talk to her, I would not have suggested it."
"All right." Gaius hesitated again. "I do hope you'll let me know if you feel you're being pushed into circumstances that make you uncomfortable or unhappy. Sometimes... sometimes I worry a bit that you might not want to tell me when something bothers you, that you might hold it in because you are naturally reserved."
"All the talking you lot do is new to me," Regulus admitted with a wry smile. "But I am growing accustomed to it. I cannot say I will discuss every little thing that bothers me with you. There are things I may want to sort out myself or that I do not feel merit a discussion. However, if something arises that could affect our relationship, I will tell you."
Gaius lifted himself up and searched Regulus' face intently. "Promise?" he asked, his gaze suddenly far more somber and intense than it usually was. "Promise me that if you are unhappy or if you are thinking of leaving, you'll talk to me first and not just go."
"Yes, I promise," Regulus replied, searching Gaius' face in return, a puzzled frown forming on his own brow. "What brought this on?" he asked. "Is there something I should know about?"
Relaxing a bit, reassured by Regulus' promise, Gaius sighed. "I'm sorry. My brothers have a way of making me realize things I might not have given much thought to." He lowered his gaze. "I realized I'm afraid of losing you. Specifically of doing so without even knowing you're unhappy. I suppose it is all related to the way Sirius left me... I seem to be a bit more insecure than I thought I was."
"I see," Regulus said softly, and then he wound his arms around Gaius and pulled him close. "I can understand why. Sirius left so abruptly and without warning, and it was a shock to all of us. Understanding his reasons for doing so is one thing; reconciling your heart to it is something else entirely. But you needn't worry. I will never leave you without warning if it is in my power to do so. You will not lose me as you lost him. I promise."
Gaius wrapped his own arms around Regulus and held him tightly. "Thank you," he murmured, pressing his lips to Regulus' tenderly. "I think I've not dealt with my self-doubts about the situation as thoroughly as I'd believed. As you said, I understand why he did it, and I've even forgiven him, but... I suppose I've not stopped doubting myself yet. I've never had cause to do so before this, not that I can ever remember, and it's proving a bit more difficult to shake than I'd thought."
"Which is understandable," Regulus replied, stroking Gaius' back soothingly. "Not only did Sirius hurt you by leaving you behind, he also dealt a blow to your self-confidence. I wish you wouldn't take his departure personally, though. Sirius had many good qualities, but thinking overly much about the feelings of those around him and how his actions would affect them did not seem to be one of them."
"I'll try," Gaius replied, smiling ruefully. "I'm sorry, this wasn't something I'd intended to bring up tonight. I do want to show you how special you are to me, love. You mean so much to me, and you make me so very happy... perhaps that's why I'm so afraid of losing you."
Smiling, Regulus slid his hand up to the back of Gaius' neck and drew him down for a light but lingering kiss. "You needn't apologize," he said. "If it is something that has been troubling you, then tonight is as good a time as any to bring it up. I had rather you mention it in the middle of a romantic dinner than not at all." He kissed Gaius again, briefly this time. "You also needn't keep doing things like this to show me how you feel. I know. If it's something you enjoy doing for its own sake, that is one thing, and I certainly am not going to turn down sensuous dinners and massages. But if you are doing it out of insecurity, thinking the more attention you lavish on me, the better your chances of keeping me, then I would be concerned. You needn't bribe me to stay with you. You being you is incentive enough."
Gaius melted, Regulus' words a balm to heal any self-doubt he could have had. He loved Regulus, and knowing that Regulus wanted him in return was exactly what he needed to hear.
"I do things like this because I enjoy doing them, believe me," he replied softly, cradling Regulus' cheek and smiling at him in a way that would have no doubt had Severus rolling his eyes and making retching noises. "I know I couldn't bribe you, and I wouldn't want to. I just... I want to make you happy, because you make me happy. Because I love you, and I never feel more alive than when I'm in your arms."
"You do make me happy." Regulus leaned against Gaius' palm as he met Gaius' gaze steadily. "Even without the dinners and massages, although those certainly don't hurt," he added with a smile. "I realize I am not the most demonstrative man, and perhaps my reserve has inadvertently contributed to your self-doubt, but I assure you I am happy with you, and I have no thoughts of leaving."
"Good." Gaius punctuated the word with a lingering kiss. "You deserve to be happy. And I don't want you to leave me, because for once in my life, I feel quite possessive, and I want to keep you all for myself." He moved against Regulus sinuously. "You are the most sexy, desirable, incredible man I've ever met, and I'm lucky you want to be with me."
"We are both lucky," Regulus murmured, sliding his hands down to Gaius' hips, although the mention of Gaius' possessiveness reminded him of the conversation he'd had, and a pensive look flickered across his face at the memory.
Gaius caught the expression, and he brushed a finger between Regulus' brows, feeling a flare of concern. "Is there something bothering you, beautiful one?"
Regulus smiled wryly. "Not bothering me per se, but..." He released a sharp breath, uncertain how to articulate why the conversation had unsettled him. "While you were with your brothers, I had an... interesting discussion with Lu - Remus. Tybalt was outside, so it was just the two of us, and he took the opportunity to tell me he hoped we could put the past behind us and be friends. That in itself wasn't so bad, although I don't know how feasible it is. But he went on to point out how - ah - close your family has been at times and might be in the future, and he said if I felt like an outsider, it would be my own fault because I had a choice about being close as well."
"What?" Gaius listened, eyes wide as Regulus recounted his conversation with Remus. "I'm... surprised. Not that he mentioned that, but that he would have said something so crass, something that sounds like it was meant to be insulting." He sighed. "I'm sorry, love. I don't know why he put it that way, when he's been so complimentary of you to the rest of the family. He seemed to be genuinely trying to put the past behind in relation to you, and he seemed happy that we are together."
"He did say he was glad we are together." Regulus sat up and reached for his glass of wine, needing some fortification. "In hindsight, I don't suppose he meant to be insulting, but I dislike the responsibility being pushed off on me, as if everything should be sunshine and flowers simply because he extended an olive branch, and if it isn't, it will be entirely my own doing. Technically, that may well be true," he conceded with a grimace. "However, it is not nearly so easy or simple as he seems to think it is. And..." He drew in a deep breath and let it out on a huff, his frown deepening. "I have undergone considerable transformations already in order to repair the relationships I had damaged and to create connections. That conversation has left me feeling as if everything I have done is not enough."
"My poor love," Gaius said, sitting up as well. He rubbed a hand over Regulus' back soothingly, wanting to make Regulus feel better. "You've done a lot, and you are a different man than you used to be. I know it hasn't been easy for you, and you should be very proud of all you have done. If you'd like, I could talk to Remus. Perhaps he meant to convey a different message than what you thought. No one could say that you haven't done enough. More than enough. You're a good man, Regulus Black. You are the man you are now because you're a good man."
Regulus drained his glass and leaned against Gaius, letting the stroking of Gaius' hand soothe him. "Perhaps he did. Perhaps it sounded harsher than he intended. If that is the case, I would like to know. But that is not the only thing that unsettled me." He sighed and rubbed his face with one hand. "He said one reason why he wanted to smooth things over with me is that you and I might be invited to participate in the closeness, and if we do, he thought it would be easier if things weren't awkward and comfortable between him and me." He glanced sidelong at Gaius. "I hope it will not upset you to hear this, but he also said he wouldn't have a problem with me... being intimate with Severus. I told him you are not interested in sharing, and I am..." He shook his head, grimacing again. "I cannot think of participating in such a thing."
"He did?" Gaius was completely taken aback by that. He had imagined Remus was thinking along the lines of Gaius and Regulus perhaps making love with each other as the others shared whatever partners they wished between the four of them. He'd gotten the feeling from his brothers and their partners before Christmas that such a thing wasn't too far from their minds, especially on the night when they'd all been decorating the house and then the three couples had retired to their respective rooms to "rest". He'd thought Remus was indicating to Regulus that he'd be fine with the close proximity, not that Remus, and, he supposed, his brothers and Tybalt were considering inviting them to share as he knew they shared with each other.
Recovering from his shock, he bit his lip, trying to sort out his own feelings about that. He knew Regulus had been desperately in love with Severus for a long time and was finally over him, seemingly, from his words, to such an extent that he had no desire at all to be intimate with Severus. It was easy enough, in a way, to put himself in the same position, and he drew in a breath, hoping he could say what he needed to say in the right way.
"I understand," he said, holding Regulus close for a moment, both offering and taking comfort from the embrace. "I admit I'm very surprised and a bit flattered, in a way, that they would be thinking of us along those lines. It doesn't upset me, really; I know how my brothers are, and I think it is meant to be a compliment to you that they accept you to that extent. I suspect Remus is the one who mentioned it to you because, quite frankly, he is the one you'd likely have the most problems with. But..." Turning his head, he nuzzled Regulus' cheek. "You're right. I have no interest in sharing you or myself with them. As much as I love my family, I'm not drawn to them in that way, despite the fact that I've been with the twins. That was... special. Something they did to help me heal, to show me that life goes on and that they love me. But more than that, I do understand your feelings. I can honestly say that if by some happenstance, Sirius walked through that door right now, hale and hearty and the same man he was when he left, I could not conceive of being his lover again. That part of my life is over, as the part of your life that centered on Severus is over. We have each other, and that's all I want or need. I've surprised myself, turning into such a monogamist after my wild, misspent youth, but there you have it. I had no lover but Sirius while he and I were together, and the only man I even considered other than him was you. Now you are my lover, my love, and I have no desire to stray, and moreover, I have no desire to share you, even with my brothers. My tom-catting days are long past, and I'm selfish enough to want my lover all to myself."
Regulus glanced at Gaius in visible surprise at learning Gaius felt he wouldn't go back to Sirius even if he had the chance; he hadn't expected that, and it was both surprising and gratifying, another affirmation that he wasn't the second-best Black.
"From things you've said before, I felt reasonably certain you weren't interested in sharing," he said, learning his head on Gaius' shoulder. "But if there ever comes a time when you do want to be with your brothers again, don't deprive yourself for my sake. This relationship business is new to me, but I realize we are in the midst of an unusual situation in more ways than one. I have no desire to share you with just anyone, but your brothers are different, and I could accept that, should the situation arise." He paused and sighed quietly. "I have no real interest in participating myself, however," he said in a low voice. "My libido was dormant for so long, and while it has revived well enough with you, I don't think that revival extends to other people even if I wanted to 'tom-cat' around. However, my roving days are over as well; I've had no interest in casual sex since Bellatrix, and it isn't entirely because that encounter withered my sex drive. After that, I wanted connections, and casual sex is not the best means of creating them. Besides, being with Severus..." He rubbed his forehead as if staving off a headache. "I am no longer in love with him, but such intimacy, given the weight of our history, might do more harm than good. At the very least, it is not something I could be casual and relaxed about, especially with his 'mate' looking on."
"That's understandable," Gaius replied, turning to press a gentle kiss to Regulus' forehead. "It's been rough for you in many ways, but you can be proud of your own strength in overcoming some formidable obstacles. And you're forging connections, building a family, and that's something that will last a very long time. Despite any uneasiness you feel about Remus, I am certain he genuinely doesn't bear any ill-will toward you, and his acceptance of you into the family is whole-hearted and without reservations. Remus may not be quite as strident when he objects to something as Severus is, but he does make his feelings known. I'm so sorry he made you feel uncomfortable and made you doubt your efforts."
Smiling, Gaius caressed Regulus' cheek with his free hand. "As for my brothers... thank you for your trust, but I can honestly say I doubt the situation would arise again, nor do I really wish for it to do so. I am grateful to them for what they did for me when I truly needed it, but you're the only lover I desire or need. I'd choose a single kiss from your lips, or a caress of your hand, over shagging anyone else. I love my brothers, but I am not in love with them, and to me, that makes you desirable beyond measure."
"Well, the offer stands," Regulus said, smiling. "That goes for displays of affection other than shagging as well. I've seen enough to know the three of you share an unusual bond, and you needn't hold yourself back in how you express your feelings for them out of fear of making me jealous or unhappy. There isn't any reason for me to be jealous when they are both devoted to their respective partners and you are just as devoted to me," he added, although after years of dealing with unrequited love, he found it odd to be the focus of someone's ardent devotion. It was, for him, quite a new experience that he was still growing accustomed to. "Anyway, I suppose you are right: I am forging connections as I'd wanted to do at last. I suppose one reason why the discussion was able to rattle me is that it is still easy to feel like at outsider who is trying to fit in at times. It will take time, I suppose."
"We have time," Gaius replied, relaxing now that the serious discussion seemed to be winding down. "You don't have to feel rushed into finding your comfort zone with the family. It will be more natural if you take it at your own pace and don't try to force anything. And if you feel like it isn't working, that you aren't comfortable living here any longer, all you have to do is tell me, and we'll find a place of our own, all right? I don't want you to feel like you have to be barricaded up here because you don't want to be ambushed."
"I had thought of it after he made it sound I could open a door and walk into an orgy at any given moment," Regulus replied, a hint of tartness in his voice. "But I would hope if anyone gets carried away in a designated common area, they would at least lock the door or something."
Gaius chuckled. "I suspect he might have been teasing you on that, love. I've never walked in on any of them doing more than snogging in all these years. They do have the children to consider, after all, and as far as they've mentioned to me, most of the sharing has been very much behind closed doors. When the twins decided to comfort me, it was in the flat above the shop, and I believe when Serenus and Severus were together, they were out of the country. So you don't have to walk around with your hand over your eyes; they're hardly cold to each other, but it's nothing you wouldn't see between love-struck adolescents at school."
Regulus breathed a quiet sigh of relief at that, and he nodded. "I'm glad to hear it. After the picture he painted, I've been half-afraid to walk into any room in the house without knocking loudly and announcing my presence first."
Wrapping his arms around Regulus' shoulders, Gaius lifted himself so that he could slide into Regulus' lap, tilting his head back so he could look up into Regulus' face with a wicked smile. "If you'd like, we could turn the tables on them in that regard. If Mr. Lupin has decreed that semi-public shagging is acceptable, we could steal a march and see how quickly they change their tune."
"Ah..." Regulus demurred, shaking his head. "Perhaps not. Semi-public shagging is fine as long as the possibility of being caught involves only people who do not know us. Besides," he added, winding his arms around Gaius' waist, "you know this lot wouldn't be embarrassed. They would conjure score boards or start calling out advice or critiques of the performance."
"Perhaps you're right," Gaius replied, giving a melodramatic sigh, although his dark eyes were alight with amusement. "Ah, well, I'll just have to settle for you shagging me into the mattress, or into the floor, or into the pillows, or over the sofa without an audience. How ever will I survive?"
"I'm certain you will find a way," Regulus replied dryly.
"Yes, I will." With a haughty, Snapean sniff, Gaius began to nibble the side of Regulus' neck, proceeding upward toward his ear. "Mmmm... Yes, I think this could sustain me quite adequately. Quite intoxicating, in fact." He pulled back just enough to look at Regulus' face. "There must be something addictive in the bloodline."
Regulus snorted quietly. "I would comment on your obvious penchant for Blacks, but I don't suppose I am in any position to throw stones."
"Only one Black interests me now," Gaius purred, then began to nibble at Regulus' earlobe.
Regulus tilted his head slightly and tightened his arms around Gaius, a little shiver rippling down his spine. "I take it you are in the mood for dessert first?"
"If you are, love. My hunger for you knows no bounds." Gaius nuzzled Regulus' temple affectionately. "I want to make you feel fantastic, whether that means wining and dining you, giving you a massage, or doing my best to make you scream as you pound into me. This evening has been a bit more serious than I'd planned, but my desire to romance you hasn't changed. What do you want? That is what I desire as well."
"Then let's start with dinner," Regulus suggested. "I will be better able to satisfy your hunger if I am not hungry myself."
"An excellent suggestion," Gaius replied. He kissed Regulus' cheek, then his lips, before slipping from Regulus' lap and reaching for his wand. "I have some of your favorite dishes, all warm and ready for you." With a gesture, he levitated the covered dishes to the low table, removing the tops and smiling as he gestured to them. "Eat up, my love. You don't have to worry about gaining weight, because I'll make sure you burn those calories in very short order."