I'm getting married in the morning...
Characters: Regulus, Gaius, Severus, Serenus Summary: Plans for the wedding are discussed, and some extra plotting takes place.
Gaius opened the door of Egyptian Dreams and stepped inside, the two large bags he was juggling forcing him to push the door with his hip. He put one of the bags on the floor long enough to turn the sign to "Out To Lunch", and then he picked it up again and made his way to the back of the shop. He was looking forward to a shared meal with Regulus and his brothers to make plans about the wedding, which was fast approaching. Since quiet time at home was at a premium these days, it seemed best to pick up Chinese take-away and meet at the shop, where they'd be able to plan without children and pets rushing around underfoot.
"Regulus?" he called out when he didn't see his lover. "I've brought the food! Are the twins here yet? And do I need to make tea?"
Regulus poked his head out of the back room and beckoned for Gaius to join him. "No, they aren't here yet," he replied, smiling a welcome as Gaius approached. "And I've already got tea in progress back here."
"Excellent!" Gaius smiled, hurrying to join Regulus. He passed over one of the bags. "I think I got everyone's favorites; we can just put it all together and share, don't you think?"
Regulus led the way to the back room, where he'd set up a makeshift dining area. However, since he had a vast stock of antiques at his disposal, "makeshift" in this case meant a small oasis complete with fainting couches, plump pillows, a low table for the food with a modest floral centerpiece, and a self-pouring samovar, all situated on a plush rug with a couple of small Egyptian statues strategically placed for aesthetic value.
"I think sharing is a good idea," he said as he took the second bag from Gaius and set both bags on the low table. He unpacked the cartons and dished up the selections into antique serving bowls, and then he set out the black and silver plates Gaius had made for him, along with silverware set with onyx in the handle he had bought to match. "There." He stood back and regarded the dining area with satisfaction. "It's more primitive than I'd like, but it will have to do."
Gaius laughed and wrapped his arms around Regulus' waist, hugging him hard. "Only you would call this 'primitive'," he said. "I'm certain you'd call the Pharaoh's palace at Luxor a 'simple summer retreat', too!"
"Well, it is primitive by our standards," Regulus replied loftily even as he wound his arms around Gaius in return. "Although I do think more highly of the palace at Luxor than a mere retreat. It's suitably luxurious for our needs."
Rising up on his tiptoes, Gaius pressed against Regulus' body. "I love that I'm marrying a fellow hedonist," he murmured, raising his hands so that he could sift them through Regulus' hair. He pressed a light kiss to Regulus' lips. "Mmm... and one that tastes good, too."
Regulus slid his hands down Gaius' back and groped his arse as he returned the kiss, drawing back with a mock-stern look. "Now, now. Your brothers will be here any minute, and since they likely won't be able to join in, there isn't any need to torment them."
"I suppose so," Gaius replied, but he couldn't resist thrusting his hips against Regulus before pulling away reluctantly. "Can I say that I'm looking forward to the honeymoon? Perhaps we should start with that first. Where should we go?"
"Do you have anywhere you particularly want to go?" Regulus asked, settling on the widest fainting couch and patting the space beside him in a silent invitation. "My first suggestion would be that we ought to go somewhere new, not revisit anywhere we've already been."
Gaius wasted no time settling down next to Regulus and cuddling against his side. "I'm game for that," he said, resting his head against Regulus' shoulder. "Where have you not been? Greece? South America? Some tropical island with scantily clad beach-goers and drinks with umbrellas in them?"
"All of the above," Regulus replied, wrapping one arm around Gaius securely and pressing a kiss to his temple. "I've traveled extensively on the African continent, but not in Europe or the Americas, much less anywhere that serves drinks with paper umbrellas. I do like the idea of going somewhere warm. Fewer clothes will make things much easier and more convenient."
"I like the way you think!" Gaius tapped his chin, considering the options. "How about Hawaii or Tahiti? Somewhere that we can make love on a beach?"
"That sounds ideal." Regulus smiled and nuzzled Gaius affectionately. "We can return tanned all over. You will have chafing from the sand on your arse, and I'll have sunburn on mine."
"And we can take turns rubbing lotion on each other," Gaius agreed contentedly. "I'm looking forward to it already. But I'm looking forward to the ceremony, too. You'll be all mine, forever and ever. And I'll get to show off to the whole world that I belong to you."
"Yes, you will," Regulus replied, giving him a little squeeze. "You'll belong to me, and I will belong to you for the rest of our lives." He nudged Gaius' robes open and stroked the collar around his throat. "No impermanence here."
Gaius tilted his head back to give Regulus better access to the collar, which he never took off. He purred softly in pleasure. "Mmm.... if Severus and Serenus don't get here soon, I'm going to be tempted to have my wicked way with you right here on the couch. What do you think? Should I lock the door and put up a sign telling them to come back later?"
"Too late," said a new voice in a quelling tone. "One of us is already here." Severus stepped into the room, eying their position on the couch with the snark all but visible in thought balloons over his head as he approached. "I see you've started without us."
"Well, that sort of means we have to put things on hold, I suppose," Gaius sighed, but he didn't move from his position. "We've only planned the honeymoon, nothing more. The rest of it we'll just have to work out with you and Serenus. I hope you're hungry, though." He gestured to the food by the table. "I bought everything I know you like."
"As it happens, I am." Severus chose one of the other couches and sat down, although he didn't lounge. "You said there would be food, and so I haven't eaten lunch yet."
"Good, because there is more than enough for all of us," Regulus said, smiling at Severus, although he didn't move away from Gaius or sit up either.
"Even if one of us is eating for two?" Serenus asked cheerfully as he entered the room. "Sorry, I'm late. I got distracted," he explained, holding up a bag from the children's shop three doors over.
Gaius laughed at the sight of Serenus' bag. "Between you and Tybalt, you're going to buy out every frilly bit in Diagon Alley!" he chuckled, vastly amused. "I think the shopkeepers are onto you, and they're stocking up with the girliest things because they know you'll buy them!"
"That's likely so." Serenus was unrepentant as he put his bag aside and took his place on one of the remaining two couches, stretching out comfortably. He was wearing robes, and the fabric outlined the slight swell of his abdomen. "Something smells good! Chinese food?" he asked hopefully.
"Oh yes. I thought we might share," Gaius replied. "Go on, serve yourselves. No need to stand on ceremony, right?"
"I will help," Regulus said, untangling himself from Gaius' embrace slowly. With Severus and Serenus still being careful with each other, he thought it might be best to keep the waters calm by indulging Severus, and he had felt a little protective of Serenus himself, falling into the practice of taking care of him, even if not to the extent that Tybalt did. He served up a plate for Severus first, choosing a little from each carton and offering him a cup of hot tea, and then he did the same for Serenus and Gaius before serving himself. Severus accepted the plate with a nod of thanks and sipped his tea, and Serenus offered his thanks with a warm smile. "So we've decided where we're going on our honeymoon, but we wanted to discuss the ceremony itself with you two."
"Well, the garden is prepared exactly as you wanted," Serenus replied, tucking into his food eagerly. "All it needs is tending until the big day."
"Thank you," Gaius said as he accepted the plate from Regulus, then he smiled at Serenus. "Thank you for that. It's perfect. Now we just have to work out the details of the ceremony itself. But there's one thing I'd like, if you are willing." He paused, then widened his eyes at the twins appealingly, anxious for them to agree. "Both of you, that is. I'd like both of my brothers to walk me down the aisle and give me to Regulus. It would mean everything to me."
Serenus looked at Gaius with wide eyes filled with pleasure and pride, but before he answered, he glanced hesitantly at Severus. "Is that all right with you?"
Severus took in Gaius' mute appeal, not needing any keen emotional perception to see how much it would mean to Gaius, and even though he still felt withdrawn from Serenus, he wasn't so thoughtless that he couldn't cooperate long enough to make Gaius' wedding perfect. "I would be happy to do it," he said, gazing steadily at Gaius. "I appreciate being included, and I will do whatever you please to make it special for you."
"I'd be happy to do it too," Serenus replied, mustering a smile for Gaius, although Severus' words had hit their mark, and he resisted the urge to squirm in shame.
"Thank you!" Gaius beamed with joy, his happiness lighting his whole face. He sprang up from the sofa, moving to hug Severus first - since he was closer - then Serenus. "I can't think of anything more perfect than the two of you giving me away." He didn't miss the way Serenus seemed uncomfortable, and he gave his eldest brother a softly sympathetic smile before moving to sit next to Regulus again. "Now that that's settled, we have all the rest to plan. Robes and music and whatever ministry official... oh, and the children! I suspect Cymbeline would mutiny if she wasn't a flower girl, right?"
"Do we have enough roles for all five of them?" Severus asked. "If not, perhaps it would be best not to favor one or two over the others."
"I think we can come up with enough," Gaius said, looking at Regulus. "You'll need attendants, after all. Perhaps Lysander could be one? And the twins could each carry a ring, and Gaia could be a junior flower girl? What do you think?"
"You need an attendant too," Regulus pointed out. "What if Lysander stands as my best man, and Cymbeline stands as your maid of honor?" he suggested with a wicked grin. "The twins will be ring bearers, and Gaia will be the flower girl. How does that sound?" he asked while nearby, Severus snorted with amusement.
"Perfect!" Gaius nodded enthusiastically. "You're brilliant, love. That must be why I'm marrying you. Well, that and your fantastic body and hedonistic tendencies." He glanced over at Severus and Serenus again. "What do you think? Will the children go for that plan?"
"The twins will be delighted, I'm sure," Serenus replied. "They're old enough now to understand, and they'll take their duty seriously, I think, especially Etienne."
"I'm sure my lot will be in favor of it, especially since it means a promotion for Cymbeline," Severus said. "Just don't be surprised if she asks permission to wear her tiara."
"It's fine with me if she does," Gaius said. "After all, I'm not a bride afraid of being outshone by the younger set. We can get all five of them robes to coordinate with ours. So now we just need to figure out what we're going to wear. Severus, do you have a preference?"
"No, but if you're asking my opinion, I'd say neither of you ought to have the bare-faced audacity to show up in white," Severus replied, dead-pan.
Gaius laughed again at that, and he squeezed Regulus' arm. "I'm very, very pleased to say we don't qualify for that, and I'm not ashamed. So what color, my love? Silver to match your eyes?"
"Silver would look nice with our dark hair," Regulus mused. "Perhaps accented with another color. Blue to reflect Anubis' pretty eyes?"
"That works for me!" Gaius replied, flushing with pleasure at the compliment. "Green for you, Severus?" He paused. "Oh, dear. We can't leave Remus and Tybalt out! That wouldn't be fair - what shall we do with them?"
If things hadn't been strained, Serenus might have made a bawdy joke in response to that innocent question, but he knew that wasn't a joking matter right now, and he felt more than a little awkward about suggesting any role for Tybalt given the reason for the current tension. Fortunately, Regulus spoke up before he had to say anything.
"They could stand up with us, second to Cymbeline and Lysander, of course," Regulus said, knowing better than to suggest stripping Cymbeline of her maid of honor title and the tiara that went with it. "Tybalt helped me a great deal, not only with sorting out my feelings about you, but also with gaining a sense of family and belonging. He helped me recover from what Bellatrix did to me, and that helped lead me to you." He reached out and stroked Gaius' cheek tenderly. "For that reason, I have no objection to asking him to stand up with me, if you feel you have enough of a connection to Remus to accept him."
"Of course," Gaius replied, leaning into the touch and smiling at Regulus, moved by his words about Tybalt's role in their relationship. "I'd be proud if Remus would be one of my attendants, given that he's always been so kind to me, and never once begrudged sharing Severus with me." He looked at the twins. "We'll have to ask them, of course, but hopefully they'd accept."
"I think it's safe to say Tybalt would be honored," Serenus said, pleased and proud himself to hear Regulus speak so well of Tybalt.
"I believe Remus would be pleased to accept as well," Severus said, nodding. "That covers everyone, it seems. You have managed to fit in the entire immediate family and will still have a small, intimate ceremony."
He didn't say See? It can be done, but it hung in the air between himself and Serenus, and Serenus heard it loud and clear nonetheless, the silent rebuke making him feel as if he ought to apologize again. As happy as he was to help out with Gaius' wedding, he also felt increasingly guilty as he saw how easy it would have been to accommodate everyone without the event turning into a circus. The worst thing was, it was too late for that; Severus would know Serenus was only trying to placate him by planning another another ceremony, and it wouldn't work. Besides, three weddings to the same person was definitely overkill.
"Yes, that seems to be settled," Regulus said smoothly, sensing tension growing and hoping to diffuse it. "Now back to the issue of clothing. Did we decide on formal robes for everyone, since we drew the line at indulging Severus in Vera Wang?" he asked lightly.
"I think that would be ideal," Gaius said. He felt bad for Serenus, since Severus seemed determined to drown his twin in guilt; Gaius didn't know how to stop it, and he was afraid that if he bungled it, he'd simply make things worse. He'd simply have to make certain to give Serenus lots of extra cuddles to help make up for Severus' cutting remarks. "So, a small guest list, I believe. I'd like to invite Harry and Faelan. Who else, Regulus? Would you like to invite some of your friends from Egypt?"
"I believe so," Regulus replied, catching Gaius' tactic and latching on to it obligingly. "Asar, at least. He has been quite accommodating to us when we stay at his hotel, and I think he would enjoy seeing the results of his efforts. There are two or three others I will contact as well. What about old friends from Germany?" he suggested.
"I don't have anyone left in Germany," Gaius replied. "Not anymore. But Asar, definitely. We could have it catered. Perhaps Asar's staff could do a traditional Egyptian feast?" He turned to look at Serenus. "And before you offer to cook for a bunch of people, my brother, I want you to be enjoying the day, not working your pregnant arse off!"
Serenus stared at him in dismay. "But you aren't going to have a bunch of people," he protested. "You just said it would be a small guest list. I can cook for a small guest list and still enjoy the day!"
"I know you could, but I'd rather have you relaxing and being spoiled and pampered along with the rest of us," Gaius said, shaking his head. "You are a fantastic cook, and I love the food you prepare, but this is one instance where I think you should have a break from being the one always feeding the rest of us. Besides, you might enjoy sampling some different items." He looked at Regulus with a smile. "If you're amenable to the Egyptian theme, that is. Don't you think Serenus would love some of the dishes Asar serves?"
"I believe so," Regulus agreed, nodding in support of Gaius' idea. "An Egyptian theme would be appropriate, since some of our most memorable moments, good and bad, have happened there. It would be very us." He looked at Serenus, offering a smile as well. "Besides, I agree with Gaius. You should be a guest at this event and enjoy it fully - and not as one of the helping hands. As honored as we are that you are willing to offer your services in that respect, we would rather have your time and attention on our special day."
"Well, since you put it that way..." Serenus smiled and nodded, accepting their decision. As difficult as it was for him to imagine not cooking for a family celebration, he could - and would - make an exception for this one.
"Severus, do you have any thoughts or ideas to add?" Gaius asked, turning his attention to Severus. "You're going to be pampered and spoiled too, you know. I'll make certain of it!"
"As long as Remus is there, you won't have to worry about it," Regulus said, flashing a teasing look at Severus. "It'll be taken care of."
Severus gave a hmph!, but he didn't refute the claim; he couldn't, not with a straight face. "I suggest establishing a play area for the children and hiring someone to help Nanny Stella and Nanny Deb for the occasion. That will allow the adults to enjoy the reception without worrying about the children growing bored or disruptive."
"Excellent!" Gaius grinned, pleased with the suggestion. "We can ask them to recommend who they would find suitable. And we'll have some more normal fare for them, as well, in case they don't care for the exotic food. So that leaves... what? Music? Cake?"
"We can order a cake easily enough, either in Diagon Alley or Hogsmeade," Regulus said. "As for music, I've no idea. What sort did you have in mind?"
"Nothing specific, really," Gaius replied, tapping his chin thoughtfully. Then he smiled. "If we're going with Egyptian food, we could have low tables and cushions for the guests rather than European style. And appropriate music, and perhaps even dancers? Or is that going too over the top?"
"I like the idea for the decor, but at our reception, I want to dance with you, not watch other people dance," Regulus replied, giving Gaius a little squeeze. "I'll do some research on whether there are any suitable bands for hire. Do you approve of that idea?"
"Wholeheartedly," Gaius agreed, turning to give Regulus a kiss on the cheek. "And I adore the idea of being in your arms." He glanced at the twins. "So... have we covered everything? I can order the tables and cushions for the reception, then sell them at the shop. Serenus, do you think we could set up the reception at the back of the garden? If the weather is fair, it would be a lovely setting."
"I believe so, yes," Serenus said. "It shouldn't be difficult to move the chairs off to the side and set up tables for the food and dance space. It's large enough to accommodate everything back there."
"Perfect!" Gaius clapped his hands, his face shining, then he turned to cuddle close to Regulus, giving him a squeeze. "I can't remember ever being so happy and excited about anything as I am about our wedding," he said, looking up at Regulus adoringly. "And I know it's nothing compared to what I'll feel on our wedding day!"
"I hope so." Regulus pulled Gaius close and smiled at him fondly. "I want it to be special and memorable for you. This is our day to celebrate finding each other, and..." He cut himself off before he could finish his thought about being pleased to share the occasion with their friends and family, since Severus had rubbed in enough salt without Regulus inadvertently helping him. "And for me to celebrate finding a Snape of my own," he said instead, making a mental note to tell Gaius what he'd meant to say later, when they were alone.
Gaius craned up to kiss Regulus lightly on the lips, then turned to his brothers again. "Thank you so much, both of you, for helping with this. We value your input very much!"
"You're quite welcome," Severus replied. "If there is anything else you need, simply let me know."
"You're welcome," Serenus said, putting his plate aside and sitting up. "I'll be happy to help too, if I can."
"Thank you - don't worry, we'll take you up on it!" Gaius laughed. "So, now that business is taken care of, does anyone want seconds? I'll playing serving boy."
"No, thank you," Serenus replied as he rose to his feet. "I should be getting home. I promised the twins I'd take them to the park this afternoon, and they're probably driving Nanny Deb mad asking her how much longer before I get home."
Gaius rose as well, and moved to wrap his arms around his eldest brother, hugging him hard. "Thank you so much," he said, then pulled back to look into Serenus' eyes, his own holding his sympathy for what Serenus had endured from Severus, since he knew Severus couldn't see. "I'll see you later at the house, and maybe we can talk over some of the details, all right?"
Wrapping his arms around Gaius in return, Serenus smiled, not surprised to see the sympathy in Gaius' eyes, although he thought it was unwarranted. "Of course," he said warmly. "We can talk any time you like."
"Good!" Gaius hugged Serenus again, then released him and stepped back. "Give my love to the boys, and tell them that Uncle Regulus and Uncle Gaius have a very special thing to ask them tonight." He laughed. "Or maybe not, since they'll drive you crazy asking what we're going to ask, right?"
"Indeed they will," Serenus replied, smiling widely. "We'll keep it to ourselves and spring it on them tonight. I'll see you all later," he added, waving as he turned and left the stock room, heading for the fireplace in the showroom.
"I should return to the shop," Severus said as he stood as well. "I have some brewing to finish this afternoon."
Gaius turned to Severus, and hugged him hard as well. "Thank you for everything, Severus. I'm so glad to have you and that you'll help give me away." He looked up into Severus' face and smiled playfully. "You might want to tell Regulus it's a no-return policy, too!"
"That should go without saying," Severus replied archly, allowing the embrace and unbending enough to return it. "Once you take your vows, you're Regulus' responsibility. Good luck," he added dryly, looking at Regulus.
"I think I can handle him," Regulus said, chuckling quietly. "If all else fails, I know how to stroke him to settle him down."
"For Regulus, I'm just a kitten," Gaius said, stepping back from Severus. "We'll come talk to your brood, too, and I'll talk to Remus. I'm sure Cymbeline will be polishing her tiara five seconds later!"
"No doubt," Severus said. "Then she will begin practicing how to be a perfect maid of honor. At any rate, I am certain they will all be quite pleased." He waved and turned away. "Until tonight," he said as he too headed out the door.
"Later!" Gaius said, then turned to Regulus with a wry smile, waiting until Severus was gone before speaking. "Well, that went better than I'd hoped. Severus didn't actually draw blood."
"Not physically." Regulus shook his head as he approached Gaius and slid both arms around his waist. "If I were Serenus, I'd much rather have Severus angry with me. Disappointed is far, far worse."
Gaius shivered and pressed close to Regulus. "You're right. I'd be miserable if he talked to me like that, and I know it must really hurt Serenus, since they're twins." He sighed. "What can we do? I am terribly afraid of meddling and making it worse than it already is. Do you have any ideas?"
Regulus tightened his arms around Gaius, holding him close while mulling over the problem. "Well, it's been a fair amount of time, enough that Severus' hurt shouldn't be fresh and raw any longer. I think perhaps it's time the two of them had a talk, but I doubt Serenus will risk treading on Severus' toes, and Severus certainly won't make the first move. I think an intervention is in order," he said, thinking about the intervention he'd been on the receiving end of. It had worked, in the long run, and he was grateful for the help, but he thought it was high time he had the opportunity to put someone else in the hot seat.
For a moment Gaius mulled it over, and then he nodded. "I agree - if we can get Remus in on it," he said. "Personally I don't want to take on Severus without Remus there, since I think Remus would keep Severus from hexing off certain bits of which I'm rather fond."
Regulus rolled his eyes and smiled with fond amusement. "Remus ought to be there so Severus won't feel ganged up on, but I don't think any of us need to worry about Severus hexing us. I've noticed the change, if you haven't. He isn't as quick to lose his temper or fling hexes as he used to be, especially not with family. Your bits will be perfectly safe."
"I certainly hope so!" Gaius laughed, giving Regulus a playful swat on the arse. "I'd hate to lose them this close to the wedding! But yes, you're right, Severus' temper isn't what it was when I first met him. I think a life of happiness has mellowed him. But he deserves it, considering all he went through. And you deserve happiness as well, and I'm going to do my best to make you as happy as you make me!"
"I am happy," Regulus replied, swatting Gaius' arse in return. "Just be here and be yourself, and that will suffice."
"That won't be a problem, because I'm exactly where I want to be." Gaius' smile turned wicked. "Well, almost exactly where I want to be. Horizontal would be even better."
"Well, there do happen to be several couches conveniently nearby," Regulus said, giving Gaius an arch look. "The shop is still closed, and the boss may take a long lunch if he likes."
"Ah, the benefits of leadership," Gaius drawled, batting his eyes coyly. He began to walk backward toward the couch they'd been sitting on. "This one looks comfortable, don't you think? I'll even add a layer of aroused wizard between you and the cushions."
"How thoughtful of you," Regulus drawled as he followed Gaius to the couch. "Always seeing to my comfort. It was wise of me to choose you to marry." He wound his arms around Gaius and lowered him to the couch, bending his head to purr in Gaius' ear. "The meal was delicious, but now it's time for dessert."
"Mmmm... I feel like being devoured," Gaius murmured, falling onto the sofa and pulling Regulus down with him. "I hope you're ravenous!"
Regulus stretched out on the couch with Gaius, combing his fingers gently through Gaius' hair, and he leaned in to press a lingering kiss to Gaius' lips. "When it comes to you... always."
Gaius returned the kiss. "Always," he murmured, holding Regulus tightly. "That's what we have - always."