|Severus Snape (ensnared_senses) wrote in snark_n_bark,|
@ 2009-05-27 09:12:00
|Entry tags:||complete, gaius, regulus, remus, serenus, severus, tybalt|
Characters: Severus, Remus, Serenus, Tybalt, Regulus, Gaius
Summary: The family convenes for an intervention to ease the tension between Severus and Serenus.
"Thanks, Stella. I'll call you if it's longer than expected," Remus said to the Nanny, who was straightening Gaia's pigtails, in preparation for taking the children out for a special treat: a Muggle movie at the cinema in London, complete with popcorn. All three of them were excited about the outing, and Remus smiled as they all hugged him and headed toward the Floo, disappearing and leaving the house much quieter, at least for the moment.
Soon, however, Serenus, Tybalt, Regulus, and Gaius would be arriving. The others wanted a chance to talk to Severus about the problems arising between the brothers over Serenus and Tybalt's wedding, Severus' continued distance from his twin, and what could be done about it. Remus had some misgivings, knowing that sometimes Severus simply had to work through things in his own time, but he would rather if they were going to do it that he was present, in order to help judge if Severus were going to feel ganged up upon. He sympathized, and he, too, wanted Severus to be able to move past it so that he could feel close to Serenus once again, but he simply wasn't certain that there was anything anyone could say to help. He'd tried himself and had decided that Severus needed time to work through his feelings.
Turning from the Floo, Remus checked the teapot on the parlor's sideboard, making sure it was hot and that there was plenty of sugar for Serenus and anyone else who wanted tea. For the rest, he'd also put out plenty of alcohol, which might be more conducive to easing the tension. Now he needed to find Severus and tell him what was going on.
He made his way to the catacombs, where he knew Severus was in his workroom. Pausing at the door, he made certain Severus didn't seem to be busy with something delicate before knocking lightly on thedoor-frame. "Severus? Do you have a moment?" he asked, smiling apologetically.
Severus glanced up from his notes and gave Remus a curious look, wondering what the sheepishness foreshadowed. "I was merely tinkering with a recipe," he said. "What is it?"
"Your brothers, Regulus, and Tybalt are planning to come over," Remus replied, deciding to be upfront about it. "They'd like to talk to you about things. I nearly put them off, but I was worried they might shanghai you when I'm not around, and then I wouldn't be there if you needed me."
"What things?" Severus asked warily. He suspected he knew, but he wanted confirmation before he jumped to any conclusions.
"The tension between you and Serenus," Remus replied. He stepped into the room, crossing to his mate and reaching out to caress Severus' cheek gently, his expression pensive. "I know you don't like feeling the way you do, and I've not known how to help you, other than to support you and be here for you and love you. I told them that sometimes you just have to work out things in your own time, but I think they believe they can help. I'm not about to let them gang up on you, though, and if you feel pressured or as though you're withdrawing, I will boot them out, all right? Do you think you could try talking to them? Or should I tell them no?"
Severus moved closer to Remus and rested one hand at Remus' waist, drawing on the comfort Remus' presence offered as he considered the question. He didn't like feeling estranged from Serenus, but he hadn't been able to move past the hurt and disappointment on his own; he didn't know how to move past it, since letting things go had never been one of his strong points. Deep down, he was concerned that maintaining distance might eventually become a habit, so perhaps letting the others arrange a talk would help. And if it didn't, all he had to do was let Remus put an end to the proceedings.
"I will try," he said at last.
Remus smiled, feeling relief that Severus didn't seem to feel defensive or upset about the others coming over, and he put his arms around Severus, drawing him into a gentle kiss. "That's all anyone can ask of you," he said. "We can go upstairs, if you're amenable. I can make you a drink if you think it would help you to relax a bit."
"It might be a good idea," Severus replied. "It wouldn't hurt."
"True. Come on, then, and we'll get you settled." He smiled softly as he guided Severus toward the door. "If it will help, I'll give you a foot rub, too."
"Afterward," Severus suggested as he followed Remus out of the workshop and back upstairs. "I may need it more afterward, and at the least, it will give me a reward to look forward to."
"Anything you'd like - anything at all," Remus promised. He entered the parlor, then gestured to the sideboard. "What's your pleasure, love? There's even absinthe if you want it."
Severus went straight to the sofa and sank down at one end, settling in. "Let's start with brandy," he said. "I'll upgrade to absinthe if things get difficult."
Remus gave a small chuckle, but he poured the brandy for Severus and brought it back to him, presenting the snifter with a courtly bow. Then he settled down on the sofa beside Severus, putting his arm along the back in a quasi-embrace that still gave Severus some space if he needed it. "They should be here soon."
Accepting the glass, Severus shifted closer to Remus and leaned against his side. "I suppose I shouldn't be surprised they are staging an intervention. Whose idea was it, anyway?"
"I think Regulus'," Remus said, turning his head to press a kiss to Severus' temple. "I suspect he and Gaius want to help you, as they are overflowing with love and beneficence like everyone is when they're about to get married. If they can help, that's wonderful, but if you think it's making things worse, just let me know."
Severus snorted at Remus' observation; no doubt they were so deliriously besotted that they wanted everyone else to be blissfully happy as well. Then again, knowing Regulus as he did, it could be Regulus' way of turning the tables since Severus had put him in the hot seat once upon a time. At least it had helped in the long run.
"I will," he assured Remus. "I'm sure you will be able to tell, but if not, I will inform you in no uncertain terms."
"Good." Remus nodded firmly, then turned to look toward the corridor, his sensitive hearing catching the sound of footsteps. Gaius and Regulus entered the room, Gaius smiling pensively as though he half expected to be snarked at as soon as he showed up.
"Hello," he said, moving toward the sofa to press a kiss to Severus' cheek.
Severus tilted his head to accommodate the kiss, although he fixed the pair with a stern look, letting his gaze linger on Regulus. "You aren't even officially part of the family yet, and already you have adopted the familial penchant for meddling."
"Consider it my way of proving I fit in," Regulus replied mildly as he took a seat in one of the nearby chairs.
"We meddle because we care," Gaius said, relieved that Severus didn't seem angry or inclined to scowl. He kissed Remus' cheek too, for good measure, then moved to Regulus, sitting on the arm of the chair and leaning against Regulus.
"Would you care for something to drink?" Remus asked, rising to his feet.
"Yes, please," Gaius replied with a nod. "It might help to take the edge off. I'll have what Severus is having." He looked down at Regulus. "What about you, love?"
"I'll have what everyone else is having," Regulus said, sliding one arm around Gaius' waist and holding him securely. "What are we having?"
"Arsenic," Severus replied, earning a Look from Regulus.
Gaius chuckled, relaxing a bit at the dry joke; if Severus was willing to share his wit, perhaps things would go smoother than he thought. When Remus returned, bearing two snifters, Gaius took his with a murmured thanks, then lifted his glass to Severus. "At least I'll have a glowing complexion for the wedding," he said jovially. "Ah, how we suffer to be so stunningly beautiful!"
Severus grunted, but before he could make more than a nonverbal response, the sound of approaching footsteps reached them again, and a moment later, Serenus and Tybalt entered the room. Serenus looked around somewhat hesitantly and mustered a smile, not certain what sort of atmosphere they were walking in on.
"Are we late?" he asked. "I'm sorry if we kept you all waiting."
"No, you're not late at all," Remus said, stepping forward to greet Serenus with a warm hug. He ached for the distance between the twins, and while he understood Severus' feelings, he didn't share the distance. "Come in, I have tea for you, Serenus. Tybalt, would you care for something stronger?"
"Please," Tybalt replied, putting an arm around Serenus supportively as Remus stepped back; he smiled a greeting, first at Severus, then at the others. "Looks like brandy is the poison on tap, so I'll join the crowd."
"Hope you brought a bezoar," Gaius said, lifting his snifter in a salute.
"Tea would be lovely, thanks," Serenus replied, giving Remus a grateful look for more than just the tea. He patted Tybalt's chest before heading for an empty chair and taking a seat, ignoring the little flutters of apprehension in his stomach.
Severus watched everyone get served and settled impassively as he sipped his brandy, letting the alcohol warm and relax him; he hadn't called this meeting, so he was going to listen, but not volunteer to get the proceedings started.
Remus served up the rest of the drinks and placed a tray of Serenus' favorite biscuits close to him with a slight wink. Then he returned to Severus, resuming his place and pulling Severus back to rest against him.
Gaius took a stiff sip from his glass, then cleared his throat into the silence. "Well, then... We're all here," he said pensively. "Um, I guess it's not a surprise to say we're concerned about... how you feel, Severus. Toward Serenus."
"So I gathered," Severus said dryly as he leaned against Remus, feeling a little flutter of apprehension. Emotional issues were still not his forte, and he suspected this was not going to be an easy conversation.
"It seems you aren't angry, which is good," Regulus said encouragingly. "But disappointment can often be more difficult to move past than anger. That is what we would like to help with, if we can."
"Definitely," Tybalt said. He had placed himself next to Serenus' chair, resting a hand on Serenus' shoulder. "You already know how sorry we are for what happened, but... we miss you. We want to have back what we had before."
"That is a nice idea in theory," Severus replied, gazing at Tybalt with even neutrality. "But how exactly do you think it can happen? How do I know you won't 'forget' to include the rest of us - me - on some other important occasion?"
Serenus listened quietly, gnawing his bottom lip as he watched Severus and thought about what Severus had said, but he had no easy answer and no idea how to reply as yet.
"Because I have perfect recall, and believe me, I don't forget such a hard learned lesson," Tybalt replied. He sighed. "It's my fault, Severus. I've told you that - but not because you were forgotten but because it never occurred to me that you'd even want to be there for a Gypsy ceremony. I'm human and fallible, and as a Gypsy, I'd been raised knowing that outsiders often look down on our customs. When I'm with them, I become as insular as they are, and I admit it was wrong. But it was in no way malicious. I'd never knowingly hurt you! What would be the point? We've been lovers, Severus, and you're Serenus' twin. I'd never knowingly hurt you, and I've felt like utter crap for having been the cause of the rift between you and Serenus."
"I understand that, but the cultural aspect has nothing to do with it from my perspective," Severus replied. "The point is that you both completely forgot to include anyone not once, but twice. Once is a mistake. Twice is a pattern. You may have perfect recall, but memory could fall by the wayside if you get caught up in the moment again."
"I'm sorry," Tybalt repeated, dropping his gaze and sighing. "I wish you knew how much. I do have perfect recall, but I'm not perfect, not by long shot. No doubt there will be times over the years when I will hurt you, and hurt Serenus, and hurt Remus and Regulus and Tybalt, and you'll all hurt me, somehow, even without meaning to. But we're family, right? Doesn't that mean we somehow can forgive and move on, since it wasn't intended?"
"You know what they say about good intentions," Severus pointed out, crossing his arms across his chest. "I simply do not wish to be forgotten and left out again."
Serenus nodded, things finally clicking into place in his head. They had inadvertently pushed Severus' old rejection buttons, so it was little wonder he was having such a difficult time forgiving and forgetting; Serenus knew from listening to both Severus and Remus over the years that those wounds ran deep.
"I get it," he said at last, trying to find a way to explain what he meant in a way that wouldn't turn the conversation into a game of one-up or make Severus feel defensive. "I understand why it hurts and why you're wary of being hurt again."
Severus frowned slightly, trying to figure out what Serenus meant - and then realization dawned. "Because you were afraid I would reject you again."
"Yes," Serenus replied, nodding. "I don't say that to imply we're now even or to make you feel badly. I just mean that I get it. After you disowned me, it took a while for me to stop being afraid you'd do it again if I made you angry. I'm not afraid anymore, although I admit the thought did cross my mind once or twice during the last few weeks. So I understand how you feel about me, and I don't blame you. We aren't all that different in some respects."
Remus stroked Severus' arm soothingly, looking between the twins with hope. "There are similarities," he agreed, smiling softly.
"I suppose so," Severus said, mulling over what Serenus had said. It helped that Serenus did understand how it felt and that the fear was difficult to release, especially since Severus had spent far more years feeling insecure than he had feeling confident and secure. As with his depression, it was disconcertingly easy for him to be knocked back into old negative thoughts and feelings that he suspected would always haunt him to some extent. "How did you get past it?"
"Time," Serenus replied with a wry smile. "Plus an elaborate Alchemical cleansing ritual that helped me let go of the rest of the baggage I'd been carrying. I don't think you need to go so far, though."
"No, I think not. You were quite damaged for a time. It was different for me," Severus murmured, resting his hand on Remus' leg. His damage hadoccurred slowly over time, as had his healing, which had come thanks to the unique form of Alchemy offered by Remus' love and devotion.
Serenus paused, watching Severus somberly, and then he decided it was time to take a risk and say how he felt. "I miss you, you know," he said quietly. "I know you're still upset with me and Tybalt, and I know it's going to take time before you move past the hurt and disappointment, but I feel like there's a wall between us, and that hurts me, too. I miss our closeness, I miss sharing things with you, I miss being able to touch you."
Severus glanced down, uncertain how to respond to that, and for the moment, he decided to say nothing.
Remus rested his hand on top of Severus', offering his silent support. Tybalt stroked Serenus' shoulder gently. Gaius, too, clung to Regulus, watching his brothers and holding his breath, afraid to add anything less he say something wrong that threw things awry. He glanced down at Regulus, his eyes showing his hope that perhaps there would be a breakthrough for the twins, and that they would be able to be close to each other again. Regulus gave him a reassuring little squeeze, hoping a turning point had been reached.
Severus bowed his head, lost in thought as he tried to decide what to do. The safe thing would be to keep his distance so that he wouldn't risk the rejection, disappointment, and hurt again, but he was tired of the wall as well. He didn't like taking emotional risks, but obviously things couldn't continue as they had been, not when it was spilling over to everyone else. Maybe it was safe to let the wall crumble around the edges a little. "I won't disown you again," he said at last.
"I know." Serenus smiled, relieved that Severus hadn't ignored his overture. "We're beyond that, thank Merlin. I'll try very hard not to exclude you again."
"I'd rather you didn't," Severus replied with a haughty lift of his chin.
"I know," Serenus said quietly. "I do want to share things with you. It was stupid, selfish, and thoughtless of me not to include any of you, and I've learned my lesson too. The only thing I can say in my defense is that I lived more years without all of you than I have with you, and I'm still adjusting to thinking about a large, extended family, but I'm learning." He paused, then added with a cautiously hopeful note in his voice, "Even though you missed out on the wedding, there's still something very important we can share."
Tybalt leaned down to press a kiss against Serenus' hair. "Oh, yes, that's right!" he said. "Very special, indeed. Go on, Serenus... why don't you tell them what name we picked for our girl?"
"Yes, we chose a name for your niece," Serenus said, feeling a little bolder since Severus wasn't snarking at them.
"Are you so certain it's a girl?" Severus asked, raising one eyebrow.
"Celestra is, and I trust her insights." Serenus glanced up at Tybalt and smiled before turning his attention back to Severus. "We decided to name her Serena Remy."
"I'm sure you have just pleased and flattered a certain werewolf," Severus replied with a snort, knowing better than to take the name as a reference to himself, although he supposed it was in a way, since Remus had created Serena to be a female version of him. But still, he knew Serenus had a hand in choosing that name, reflecting his obsession with the John Wolf books, although he was pleased that Remus had gotten a nod as well.
Remus' eyes widened. "Really?" he said, unable to believe he'd heard correctly. Then he grinned, beyond pleased at the triple compliment; to him, particularly, as both he and his character creation, and to Severus, who was the living embodiment of that creation. His throat was tight, and he knew his smile was probably soppy enough to make Severus roll his eyes. "Thank you so very much. I am honored!"
"All of you mean a lot to us," Tybalt said, looking at Severus and Remus, then at Regulus and Gaius as well. "Serenus and I have often talked about how the two of us grew up without a large family, and both of us wanted more. And we got it - not just the children, but brothers, too. I want you all to know that you all mean as much to me as any brothers I could have had. You are my family. Our family. No matter what."
"I'll drink to that," Regulus said, lifting his glass. "Although I must wonder if this is the right time to ask who is going to provide my namesake in this family."
Remus smiled, his expression teasing. "I'd suggest you do it yourself, but it's far too easy to see just who is the submissive one in your relationship." He lifted a brow at Gaius. "I believe Cymbeline already asked you for kittens."
Gaius sputtered into his brandy, looking at Remus with an expression that was torn between amusement and horror. "Me?"
"You," Tybalt agreed, relieved that things seemed to be going well. Perhaps things weren't back to normal, not yet, but he had hope that they would be eventually. "Better save your maternity robes, Serenus, just in case Gaius needs them. A honeymoon baby, you think?"
Regulus smiled evilly at Gaius. "What do you think?" he asked with faux-innocence, knowing what the answer would be. "Shall we try for a honeymoon baby?"
Gaius was quiet for a moment, his expression giving away nothing. "Would you like that, love?" he purred softly.
Regulus gazed up at him, one eyebrow raised as he tried to decide whether Gaius was teasing him or had changed his mind since he had been adamant about not having children so soon, if at all. At last, he shook his head and chuckled. "All right, you have called my bluff. I admit, I am not ready to commit to parenthood at this point. Nine months of married life is not enough before adding another person to the mix."
Chuckling, Gaius leaned down to kiss Regulus lingeringly. "I agree. I just didn't want to be predictable. You might get bored with me, and I'd be heartbroken." He looked at Remus. "Cymbeline has her kitten, so don't going putting thoughts in her head!"
Remus held up his hands defensively. "It wasn't my fault! Regulus just asked!" he said, before looking at Serenus and Tybalt once more. "But I really am touched about the name you've chosen... As if the wee girl wasn't going to be spoiled as it was, now it will no doubt be even worse!"
"No doubt," Serenus said, pleased that Remus approved of their choice. "I hope it doesn't seem too odd or fan-boyish, naming her after a fictional character, but I've wanted to name a daughter after Serena since I read your first book."
"No, it's not odd at all," Remus said, shaking his head. He hugged Severus close. "Serena is very special to me, because for a long time I thought she was the only bit of my fantasy I'd ever really have. And writing her helped give me the courage to go after Severus in reality, so to me it's a perfect name. Thank you so much for choosing it!"
Severus rolled his eyes, but he leaned into the embrace and rested his hand on Remus' arm, pleased by the compliment to Remus. That, at least, was a point in their favor.
Deciding to take a chance, Serenus rose to his feet and crossed the room to kneel in front of Severus, resting one hand lightly on Severus' knee. "I've got months to go, and I'd like to share this with you," he said softly, stroking Severus' knee. "If you're willing."
"I'm not an unreasonable ogre," Severus muttered, glancing away.
"I know," Serenus replied soothingly. "You've just been protecting yourself, like a prickly hedgehog all curled up in a tight ball, until you feel like it's safe to show your belly again."
Severus glared at him, wanting to protest the comparison, but it was too spot-on; all he could muster was an indignant, "Hmph!"
Chuckling, Serenus stroked his knee reassuringly. "I don't mean that as an insult. Hedgehogs are cute." That earned him another glare, and he grinned. "But fierce," he added. "Very fierce and intimidating."
Severus knew better than to believe his brother's nonsense, and he continued glaring. "You have no idea how fierce I can be," he retorted.
"I have a pretty good idea." Serenus smiled wryly. "Sorry, maybe it's too soon for teasing. I just want things to be a little closer to normal."
"One step at a time," Severus replied tartly.
"In that case, I'll settle for knowing you accept my apology and acknowledgment of how stupid I was, even if you aren't ready to say you forgive me yet," Serenus said, gazing up at him in hope.
Severus grumbled under his breath for a moment, but then he nodded tersely. "I accept it," he said, and Serenus squeezed his knee, awash in relief at that hurdle being overcome at last.
"Thanks," he murmured, unable to keep from smiling soppily, much to Severus' disgruntled dismay.
"I think this calls for a celebration," Tybalt said, rising to fetch the bottle of brand to refill everyone's glasses. "To first steps?"
"I'll drink to that," Gaius agreed. "I'm just glad both my brothers will walk me down the aisle."
"Yes, we will," Serenus said as he gave Severus' knee one last squeeze and stood up again, not wanting to push his luck or push Severus too far; he was grateful for the progress they'd made, and he hoped things would get a little easier from this point on. "Gladly."
"Indeed." Severus nestled against Remus' side, feeling as if he'd had quite enough for the time being.
Remus cuddled Severus closely, then turned his head, whispering softly in his ear. "You're wonderful. I'm going to take you upstairs and reward you for being so tolerant."
Sensing that Severus was done for the moment, Gaius finished his brandy, then flowed to his feet. "Thank you for listening, Severus," he said, smiling at Severus fondly. "I suppose we should go now, since we've presumed upon you enough for the moment." He crossed to his brother, leaning down to kiss his cheek again. "I have the best brothers in the world, you know that? I'm very lucky."
Severus made a noncommittal noise, but he allowed himself to be kissed again, heartened by the promise Remus had whispered to him. He hadn't done it in expectation of a reward, but he wasn't going to turn it down either, since he had a fair idea of exactly what sort of reward it would be.
Serenus returned to Tybalt's side and slid one arm around his waist. "We should go too," he said. "But before we do, I have to agree with Gaius. I feel very lucky, especially right now."
"Good," Tybalt said, smiling down at Serenus lovingly. "Later, then, family. I need to get Serenus home for some pampering." He smiled at Remus and Severus, then led Serenus back out, intent on taking him home and making him feel as good was possible.
Gaius held out a hand to Regulus. "Shall we go, then, love?" he asked.
Regulus clasped Gaius' hand and stood. "I believe we shall. I suspect neither of your brothers want an audience for what they are about to do." He arched one eyebrow. "For that matter, I don't either."
Gaius grinned, then waved to Remus and Severus before eagerly pulling Regulus out of the room. "I think we need more practice for the honeymoon at that," he said as they left.
When they were alone again, Remus caressed Severus' thigh, his golden eyes warm. "Shall I carry you upstairs? That way you can save your strength for enjoying everything else."
"I wouldn't object if you did," Severus replied, relieved to be alone with Remus. The "intervention" could have been much worse, but it was difficult enough for him, and he needed to decompress after the ordeal of discussing feelings.
Smiling, Remus rose, then turned and scooped Severus up, lifting him easily. "We still have plenty of time before the children are home," he said, turning and heading toward the stairs. "I'm going to make you feel so good you won't be able to remember your own name. How does that sound?"
Winding his arms around Remus' neck, Severus relaxed in Remus' embrace, feeling the last bit of tension fade. "It sounds quite acceptable," he murmured, nuzzling Remus' temple.
"I do aim to please," Remus laughed, and carried Severus up the stairs to keep his promise.