Home Again, Home Again Characters: Severus, Serenus, Gaius, Remus, Regulus, Tybalt Summary: After a holiday weekend apart, the clan reconvenes to share the latest developments.
The trip to Casablanca had been, at least in Gaius' opinion, the most incredible, romantic experience of his life. The time he and Regulus spent together had been fantastic, both in and out of bed, and it was with regret that he packed up all the treasures and trinkets they had purchased for the family and made himself ready to return home. He was sad for the trip to end, but at the same time, he was also eager to bring home the gifts they'd selected and also to show off the rings he and Regulus were sporting, knowing that it was going to generate some amount of excitement.
When the Portkey deposited them in the parlor of Azoth House, he wasn't surprised to see the whole family gathered around, waiting for them. They'd sent a message ahead to let everyone know when they would be arriving, and they'd no sooner materialized than five small missiles were launched at them, as the children immediately began to clamor for hugs and kisses and cuddles. And, of course, presents.
Laughing, Gaius removed his arm from around Regulus' waist in order to pick up Gaia, who had attached herself with leech-like tenacity to his leg. "There's my girl," he murmured, kissing her soft, pink cheek affectionately. "And the rest of you lot... well, don't my brothers look well-shagged, Regulus? I might be jealous, if we both didn't look the same."
Serenus stood back, content to wait until the children had finished swarming to collect his own hugs and kisses, and smiled warmly. "I have a feeling we all have good reason to look quite sated indeed after this weekend," he said, casting an affectionate look at Tybalt.
"Where did you go?" Severus asked from his place on the couch, where he intended to remain, preferring to let anyone who wanted a welcome from closer than across the room come to him. "Did you actually see any of it beyond the walls of your hotel room?"
Regulus bent to pick up Etienne, who was clamoring for attention, and slid his free arm around Gaius' waist. "We went to Morocco," he replied. "Casablanca, specifically, although we did get out of the hotel long enough to explore the city a little, and we did even make it outside the city, albeit briefly. There was too much to see in one weekend, and we had limited shopping time," he added, feigning a somber expression, amused when five little faces fell simultaneously.
"Limited, but we used it to good effect," Gaius hastened to say when he saw Gaia's lower lip tremble. The children all smiled at that, and Gaius chuckled, turning to brush his lips against Regulus' cheek. "Uncle Regulus is very naughty, isn't he? In more ways than one!"
"I'm not surprised to hear that," Tybalt chimed in standing behind Serenus and smiling at the returnees in welcome. "And I suspected you knew better than to come back empty handed, if you didn't want five pairs of tragic eyes following you around for the next several days." He slipped his arm around Serenus' waist from behind, pulling Serenus back against his body and grinning wickedly. "As far as satiation goes... yes, I think we had as good a time here as you did in Africa."
"Absolutely," Remus added, pulling Severus closer to him on their perch on the sofa. "We explored a little of Greece ourselves, even if it was in our own backyard."
"Literally or figuratively?" Gaius asked, raising a brow in curiosity. Then he was distracted by Gaia tugging on his hair, and he laughed, setting her down and reaching into the pocket of his caftan, where he'd stowed the gifts for the children after shrinking them down to fit. "All right, all right, let's get this going so the adults can talk." Producing a silk bag, Gaius reached in, unshrinking the gifts as he pulled them forth. There were stuffed camels for the boys, as well as caftans similar in style to the one he was wearing, a traditional Moroccan garment that was loose and colorful and very comfortable. There were silk Takshitas for the girls - green for Cymbeline and blue for Gaia - as well as fine silver bangle bracelets. Once these gifts were distributed, the children made their thanks, and after a round of hugs and kisses, they went upstairs to the nursery to examine them closely.
"There, now... although if I know Severus, he wants his gift, too," Gaius said, grinning at his brother. "Am I correct?"
"Hmph!" Severus lifted his chin proudly and folded his arms across his chest. "I'm not a greedy toddler. I can wait." He paused and added in an insouciant voice, "Unless you really want to give it to me right now."
Gaius laughed. "Well, what do you say, Regulus? Should we indulge the Diva?"
Regulus smiled and gave Gaius a little squeeze. "I leave that decision entirely up to you."
"Which means he shares the thanks for indulging without risking any of the wrath for making Severus wait," Serenus said, chuckling. "Very cunning!"
"I wasn't Sorted into Slytherin for nothing," Regulus replied, bowing slightly.
"That's my clever love," Gaius said affectionately, then reached into the bag again. He pulled forth a length of gossamer green silk, which was embroidered with heavy silver thread in an intricate pattern. There was a wide matching belt to go with it, as well as a dozen silver bracelets. "This is a takshita for you, a rather elaborate one, I must say, but I suspect it will look fabulous on you. The belt will draw attention to how slender you are, and with a little kohl around your eyes, you'll look fit for any sultan in his harem. As if you didn't already, of course."
Severus decided it was worth standing up for, and he rose to his feet and moved closer to examine the garment; he accepted it and held it up, peering down at himself to see how it looked, and then he glanced up and nodded his approval. "Very nice," he said, an appreciative note in his voice, and he looked over at Remus. "What do you think?" he asked. "Would this meet a certain sultan's approval?"
Remus stood, moving closer as well and looking at the takshita. "It's definitely your colors," he said, then looked at Severus with heat in his golden eyes. "I approve. I look forward to seeing you in it... then taking it off of you."
With a snicker, Gaius reached into the bag again, pulling out a caftan for Remus, done in a thicker cotton fabric and richly colored in reds and golds. "Well, you can both have fun stripping each other, then," he said, offering the garment to Remus, who accepted it with a smile and a murmur of thanks. Then Gaius looked at Regulus, his expression playful. "Caftans are surprisingly sexy, I find... especially on a certain exotic looking Slytherin."
"Pfft!" Severus made a rude noise and rolled his eyes. "You would probably say he looks sexy in burlap," he scoffed.
"Remus would probably say the same thing about you," Serenus pointed out mildly.
"Probably," Severus conceded. "Which only means they are both hopeless Slytherin addicts wearing rose-colored glasses twenty-four hours a day."
"And there is a problem with that?" Gaius asked cheekily.
"Of course not," Remus said, sliding his arm around Severus. "There are worse things to be addicted to, aren't there? And if I wasn't addicted to you, you'd miss me."
"I suppose so," Severus admitted grudgingly, draping one arm across Remus' shoulders in return. "I've grown rather accustomed to having foot massages on a regular basis."
"That's not all you would miss having on a regular basis," Serenus said with a wicked grin, earning a swift glare from Severus in response.
Tybalt chuckled, nuzzling the back of Serenus' neck. "Now, now, love... as much as you love twitting your twin, it's delaying the rest of us getting our gifts!"
Gaius laughed and proceeded to hand out caftans to Serenus and Tybalt, as well as a large, ornately patterned Berber rug. "I thought this might look good in your sunroom, Serenus. I'll put a stain-repelling charm on it, just so all the little feet and paws and such don't stain it. And as far as the caftan goes... Regulus thought it might do well as a maternity garment for you."
"What a wonderful idea," Serenus replied as he held up the caftan and examined it curiously, and he smiled his thanks at Gaius and Regulus. "If Celestra is right, I'll be needing it sooner rather than later. You two aren't the only ones who went away for the weekend," he added playfully. "Tybalt took me to his home, in a manner of speaking, and Celestra made a prediction about our attempt to conceive."
"Oh?" Gaius raised a brow. "I knew she and Ethelenda are convinced you'll be successful, which is encouraging. I am not much for Divination, to be honest, but... well, Celestra does seem to have a gift." He glanced sidelong at Regulus and smiled. "I wish I'd asked her for reassurance when I was tormented over my feelings for you. If she'd told me just how well things would turn out, it would have definitely set my mind at ease."
"Silly kitty." Regulus smiled fondly at Gaius and pressed a kiss to his temple. "You were foolish to doubt I could possibly hold out against your charms for terribly long."
"Mmm..." Gaius closed his eyes, humming contentedly as he leaned against Regulus, savoring the warmth and closeness. "Well, at least the outcome was to both our benefit." He opened his eyes, glancing at his brothers with a "cat who ate the canary" smile, lifting his left hand and casually stroking Regulus' chest. "Not that my brothers seem to have noticed anything new. Perhaps we were too hasty in distracting them with shiny gifts."
For a moment, the twins looked eeriely alike as they frowned in puzzlement and then the confused faded, and they fixed Gaius with identical looks of bland amusement. "Do you think he's trying to tell us something?" Serenus asked, feigning bewilderment.
"I'm not certain," Severus replied. "I think perhaps he is being too subtle for us to grasp it."
"I'm a Gryffindor, so I'm oblivious to anything except a certain naked Slytherin," Remus said, shaking his head and sighing.
"We Ravenclaws don't notice anything that isn't in a book," Tybalt chimed in. "Why do you think Serenus keeps a copy of the Wizard Kama Sutra handy?"
"Oh, you," Gaius said, caught between a Snapean scowl and laugh. "I'm going to start thinking none of you love me anymore!"
"Of course we do!" Serenus drew away from Tybalt and went to wrap Gaius up in a tight embrace, kissing him soundly on the cheek for good measure. "Congratulations," he said warmly. He'd had his doubts about how quickly the relationship had moved, but they both seemed happy, and he and Tybalt hadn't exactly moved slowly, and so he had put his reservations aside. Drawing back, he glanced back and forth between them questioningly. "Does this mean you're going the same route as Severus and Remus and not having any sort of formal union?"
"Actually, we intend to have a spring ceremony," Regulus said, glancing at Gaius with obvious pride. "But the rings," he added pointedly, holding up his own hand, "will serve as a sign of commitment in the meantime."
"Outdoors with lots of flowers," Gaius added, returning Serenus' hug warmly. "We decided that already." Releasing his brother, he slid his arm around Regulus' waist again, holding him close. "That way everyone can witness our happiness and celebrate it with us."
"That sounds lovely," Tybalt said, catching Serenus' eyes and smiling into them, remembering their own ceremony and the incredible joy he felt as Serenus agreed to be his husband forever. "Weddings are happy things and worth sharing."
"Which is why you two ran off to the Bermuda Triangle and didn't invite any of us," Severus said dryly. "At least one of us is going to have a wedding we can all attend. Congratulations," he added belatedly.
"Well, ours wasn't planned," Serenus replied mildly. "It was completely spontaneous. It was also beautiful and perfect," he added as he returned to Tybalt's side and slid his arm around Tybalt, leaning against him. "I do regret the rest of you weren't there, but we wanted something small, simple, and quick. I didn't want to plan another wedding."
"Understandable," Severus conceded, remembering the planning that had gone on for Serenus' first wedding - the one that hadn't happened. "Well, if you aren't interested in helping Gaius plan his, I suppose it will fall to me."
"I didn't say that!" Serenus protested. "I didn't want to plan my wedding. Theirs is another matter entirely." He looked at Gaius and Regulus expectantly. "If you want an outdoors wedding with lots of flowers, you could have it here," he suggested.
Tybalt held Serenus close, nuzzling his temple. "Our wedding was perfect... both the first one, and the second one," he whispered to Serenus. Then he raised his voice. "I concur, having it here would be wonderful, if you were so inclined."
"We rather hoped you'd feel that way," Gaius said, smiling at Serenus and Severus both. "But neither of us are going to wear a dress or high heels!"
"Well, as long as you don't prohibit Severus from doing so, there shouldn't be a problem," Serenus teased, leaning against Tybalt's side and giving him a little squeeze. For his part, Serenus was glad Tybalt had whispered, and he made a decision not to mention their second wedding to Severus tonight; he would tell Severus eventually - he couldn't keep something like that from his twin - but he suspected learning he hadn't been invited to their second wedding either would upset Severus, and Serenus didn't want to derail the joy of discussing Gaius' wedding. "I can even landscape the grounds if you'd like certain flowers or colors blooming at the time. Oh! We'll have to look at arches and gazebos. I think either one painted white with climbing flowers or vines would be pretty."
"We can talk about it," Gaius agreed, glancing up at Regulus with a wry smile, recalling Regulus' words about not letting the twins take over. It might be harder than either of them had thought! "There's plenty of time, I think. Nothing has to be elaborate, really."
"No, of course not," Serenus replied reassuringly. "We'll keep it simple and easy."
"Actually, we haven't had a chance to discuss anything specific," Regulus said, deciding to step in before their entire wedding ended up being planned for them on the spot. "We were... otherwise occupied this weekend," he added with a wicked smile at Gaius. "But we can decide what we want and get back to you. I'm sure we'll want to consult with you about the flowers, since what I know about flowers could fit in a thimble, but I think we need to have a better sense of what we want and don't want before we start making concrete plans." He inclined his head and smiled. "Simple and easy sounds good to me. The important thing is the commitment, not the trappings."
"A sensible decision," Severus said, returning to the sofa to nestle against Remus' side. "If it turns out I can create something specific for the occasion, I will be happy to do so."
"Thank you, Severus." Regulus' smile widened as he glanced at Severus, surprised and pleased by the offer. "That's very kind of you."
"Yes, thank you - both of you," Gaius said. He returned Regulus' wicked smile with a heated look of his own. "Yes, we'll come up with a general plan, and then we can fill it out and organize the details. We want to share our happiness, but it definitely doesn't have to be a circus."
"The children like circuses," Remus commented with an evil smile as he wrapped an arm around Severus' shoulders. "You'd have fans for life if you rode down the aisle on the back of an elephant or something."
Gaius groaned, turning to bury his face against Regulus' shoulder. "Now I see why people elope!"
Chuckling, Regulus wound his arms around Gaius and rubbed his back soothingly. "It will be fine," he said, amusement lacing his voice. "We have an excuse in that an elephant won't fit on the grounds anyway. We wouldn't have any room for guests."
Gaius leaned into the embrace, wriggling happily. "You're brilliant," he said, craning up to kiss Regulus softly. "Okay, let's get this discussion away from weddings before we find ourselves locked into all manner of appalling things. I know the perfect thing to distract Serenus... babies!" He smiled coyly at his eldest brother. "So, did you convince Celestra to tell you what you're having? Or did you want it to be a surprise?"
Serenus glanced at Tybalt with fond affection before turning his attention back to Gaius. "We asked her," he said, beaming proudly. "She said we would be having a girl. Of course, I'm not pregnant yet," he added quickly. "But we're doing all we can to speed along the process."
"You put that much stock in her predictions?" Regulus asked, sounding skeptical.
"Yes," Tybalt said, his voice holding a certainty that was indisputable. "I know that most divination is nothing but nonsense, but you should know that with Gypsies, it's just... different. Celestra is as good with predicting the future as Severus is with potions. It doesn't mean she doesn't make mistakes, or that she can see everything, any more than even someone with a gift in any other type of magic gets everything perfect every time. But in this case... yes, I do put that much stock in her." He grinned. "Care to make a wager, my friend? I'll bet anything you'd like that my grandmother is correct."
"That hardly seems fair," Regulus replied. "She has a fifty-fifty chance of being right, after all. I'd be more impressed if she predicted something with lower odds."
Tybalt laughed and shrugged. "I'll have to let you speak to her about that, then, and you can make up your mind. Or you can ask Severus what he thinks."
Regulus turned to Severus with a questioning look, and Severus merely shrugged and spread his hands. "I put no more stock in Divination than you do," Severus said matter-of-factly. "But if Celestra says something is so, I am inclined to believe her."
Regulus' eyebrows climbed at that, surprise evident in his pale eyes, but he nodded slowly. "Well, if you say so," he said. "Although I hope you'll forgive me if I retain a little skepticism."
Tybalt merely smiled. "Of course. But I'm ready to paint the nursery pink the moment Serenus is starts nesting."
"When I saw her knitting a pink blanket, I started picking out baby gifts for a little girl," Gaius added, giving a wry chuckle. "Not that changing color is difficult, just in case."
"A little girl will even up the numbers among the younger set," Remus mused. "It will be interesting to see how the social dynamics are worked out, don't you think?"
"I hope it helps," Serenus said quietly. "I don't want another girl to cause further problems. I hope perhaps it will ease the rivalry rather than exacerbate it."
"Gaius asked if I would have another talk with her," Regulus said, turning his attention to Severus and Remus. "I haven't yet, but I will if the two of you think it would help rather than hurt."
"Thank you... that might be a good idea. She likes you a great deal." Remus smiled at Regulus with gratitude. "Sometimes children don't really seem to believe their parents and need to hear things from someone else."
"I can try, I suppose," Regulus replied. "Perhaps it will do some good. I can understand her perspective, to a certain extent, since I had little use for my brother for quite some time as well," he added wryly.
Gaius tightened his hold on Regulus. "She does seem to respect your opinion, which is very wise of her."
Tybalt stroked Serenus' back gently. "I'm sure it will be fine, and even if it takes some adjustment, we'll make it. As much as all of us love our opinionated little princess, it wouldn't do to let her dictate what any of us do."
"True," Remus said, turning to kiss Severus' cheek. "There's only one diva in this family!"
"Hmph!" Severus snorted, but he smiled slightly as well, not taking offense. There were perks that came with being the diva of the family, and he didn't mind. He was what Remus had made him, after all, and he liked the man he had become far more than the insecure, lonely man he had been.
"Well, it isn't as if I can change anything anyway," Serenus said, leaning into Tybalt's touch. "Aside from giving up the idea of another child, which certainly isn't going to happen. Perhaps Celestra is wrong, but I doubt it, and frankly, I'd like to have a daughter." He grinned mischievously. "If nothing else, it'll provide years of entertainment watching her wrap Tybalt around her finger."
"Hey!" Tybalt said, then, flushed, lifting his free hand to rub the back of his neck. "Er... well, okay, I'll give you that one. Just the thought of a daughter makes me feel a little bit mushy inside."
"And this is different from normal how?" Remus asked with a snicker.
"It's not!" Gaius chimed in.
"Definitely not," Serenus agreed, giving Tybalt an affectionate squeeze and craning up to kiss his cheek. "All right, I think it's time to celebrate with something to eat! I can open some wine, and I have some leftover alfredo. I'm sure there's more in the fridge too, maybe even some tiramisu."
"That sounds wonderful," Gaius said, giving Serenus a grateful smile. "If Regulus and I can run up to our room, we'll put away the rest of our things and be back in just a few minutes."
"Right..." Remus said, giving a snicker. "Better make that at least thirty minutes, Serenus. But I'll help get the food together."
"Thirty minutes sounds about right," Regulus said, grasping Gaius' hand and leading him to the stairs, intending to make good use of the time. "But if we aren't back in time, save us some tiramisu."
"I make no such promises," Severus called after them, and Serenus laughed as he disengaged from Tybalt's embrace and headed for the kitchen.
"It'll give me time to make some garlic bread and maybe some spaghetti sauce if we need it," he said.
Remus laughed, rising to his feet and then bending to kiss Severus' cheek. "I'll get some wine, too. I have a feeling we're going to need it. Besides, we'll toast the engaged couple."
"Better make it a couple of bottles. I think we'll have a lot to celebrate," Tybalt added, giving a secretive smile as he thought about all the pleasures he and Serenus had enjoyed during the holiday. If his grandmother was right - and he didn't doubt it for a moment - it wouldn't be long before there would be both weddings and babies to celebrate in the Snape family. And in his opinion, there wasn't anything better.