|Severus Snape (ensnared_senses) wrote in snark_n_bark,|
@ 2009-06-29 17:12:00
|Entry tags:||complete, gaius, serenus, severus|
Greece Is the Word
Characters: Severus, Serenus, Gaius
Summary: The brothers take a holiday for a little sun, surf, and bonding.
The holiday had been Serenus' idea, one he had conferred with Tybalt, Remus, and Regulus about before making any plans since it would involve spiriting away their partners and leaving them to their own devices for an entire weekend, but they had all agreed that if it helped heal the lessened-but-still-present Issue between the twins, they would somehow find a way to go without sex for three days.
"I understand I'm asking you all to make a considerable sacrifice," Serenus had said with mock-solemnity, his dark eyes gleaming with amusement.
"It will be a test of our strength of will, but I believe we will manage somehow," Regulus had replied, equally amused.
With the blessing of their partners procured, Serenus had set about planning the holiday, picking a date, arranging for the rental of a private beach-front villa on the island of Mykonos; he had been to Greece once many years before - and still had the faded but beloved Oracle of Delphi tee shirt as a souvenir - and he'd wanted to return ever since. It would be a gorgeous setting, beautiful and luxurious, a place where they could relax and perhaps do a little brotherly bonding away from the pressures and distractions of everyday life. Away from everything, they would have little choice but to interact with each other.
There had been some progress, which gave him cause for hope, but it had been glacial at best. Not for lack of trying on Serenus' part. He understood why Severus had turned into a hedgehog with him and Tybalt, and he was willing to be patient, making slow and careful moves and not pushing Severus too far too quickly. But he hoped having some time away would fast-forward the process a little, since it would give them uninterrupted time in a relaxing, non-threatening environment that would, with any luck, remind Severus how nice it was to be close and unguarded with his brothers. Both of them.
He'd coaxed Remus and Regulus into helping with the packing so that everything would be ready, and he could present Severus and Gaius with a fait accompli, and fortunately, his plan had gone smoothly. Gaius had been quick to agree, especially when Regulus offered assurances that he would survive Gaius' absence and wanted Gaius to go and have a good time with his brothers, adding that he would make up for lost shagging time when Gaius returned. Severus had been less outwardly enthusiastic, but he didn't protest either, agreeing to go with a diffidence that was belied when Serenus caught him checking to make certain his bathing suit had been packed.
When they arrived at the villa, they found it fully furnished and the kitchen stocked, the sound of the ocean drifting through the open windows. A short walk would take them to a nearby village, where there was, among other things, a fresh seafood market, which Serenus intended to take full advantage of. There were beach chairs and umbrellas available for their use, and they each had a small but luxuriously furnished bedroom, the mattresses thick and the decor restful.
"This is even more beautiful than I anticipated," Serenus said, smiling broadly as he dropped his luggage near the door and looked around, pleased by what he saw. He glanced sidelong at Gaius. "And if this beauty isn't enough, I've arranged for someone to keep house for us over the weekend. I specified we'd prefer a young man," he teased.
Gaius laughed, delighted with Serenus' idea and the chance to spend time with his brothers - especially if it would help to ease things between the twins. He would miss Regulus, of course, but a little longing would be good for them, he suspected; or at least it would make the shagging when they were together again quite spectacular.
Holding up his hand, Gaius pointed to his wedding band. "I'm a married man," he replied primly, then couldn't keep from snorting at his own nonsense. "Of course, that doesn't mean I can't look, right?"
"I think it would be a shame if we didn't enjoy all the scenery," Serenus replied solemnly. "Somehow, I doubt Tybalt, Remus, or Regulus would blindfold themselves every time a handsome young man in a skimpy bathing suit walked by if they were here."
"They'd be aiding and abetting, I suspect," Gaius said, nodding in agreement. He pulled his wand, levitating his bag and Serenus' up. "Best use magic while I can, right? Wouldn't want to freak out any Muggles who might happen by." He glanced at Severus. "Want me to take your bag upstairs too, Severus? The sooner we get settled in, the sooner we can get out on the beach to sunbathe. And since it's Greece, we can do it nude and not get any conservative British knickers tied in knots!"
"Not to mention, this is a private stretch of beach," Serenus replied. "It isn't very big, but we won't have to worry about tourists wandering along and disturbing us, no matter what we choose to do." He wasn't certain if he would indulge in nude sun-bathing; he had brought the same modest bathing suit he'd worn in Bermuda even though he wasn't as far along as he had been then, but he certainly had no objections if Severus and Gaius wanted to have a "clothing optional" weekend.
Meanwhile, Severus set down his luggage and nodded to Gaius, accepting the invitation to have it taken upstairs, and he looked around at the interior of the villa while he listened to the conversation, some of his reservations about the holiday fading now that they were here. He had wondered if it might be awkward or uncomfortable, but it was difficult to remain tense in surroundings like these, and he had to admit that getting away for a few days would probably be quite nice, even if he would miss Remus, especially at night when he had no one to curl up in bed with.
"Good to know," he said.
"Sounds perfect!" Gaius grinned, pleased at the thought that they would have privacy, even though he would have sunbathed nude anyway. Perhaps solitude would inspire his brothers to join him, and he rather thought being naked might help to lower other barriers as well.
He gathered up Severus' bags and headed toward the bedrooms, which overlooked the ocean. They all seemed to be quite charming, and so he put Severus' bags in the center one, which had primarily green decor, and he put himself and Serenus on either side, letting Serenus have the one closest to the bathroom. After an experimental bounce on his bed, he hurried back to the twins.
"This really is fantastic," he said, slipping his arms around Serenus and giving him a squeeze, careful of the swelling at his abdomen. "You're brilliant, and this will be a nice getaway for all of us. With the madness at the houses and the shop, it's rather nice to have some time with just my brothers." He patted Serenus' tummy, then stepped back. "So, what are we going to do first?"
"We have lots of options," Serenus replied, pleased that Gaius was so enthusiastic about their outing. "We could take a leisurely walking tour of the area, we could find a restaurant if you're hungry, we could go snorkeling, or..." He grinned playfully at Gaius. "We could hit the beach and spend the afternoon lolling in comfortable chairs under the umbrellas, sipping refreshing drinks and letting the ocean breeze cool us. Clothing optional."
Gaius considered, then turned to Severus, reaching out to take his brother's hand. "And what would our resident Diva prefer? I'm more than happy to go along with whatever would make you happy."
Severus raised one eyebrow, surprised by the question, but he allowed Gaius to clasp his hand, and he considered the question for a moment before answering. "I believe it might be pleasant to spend the afternoon on the beach," he said at last. "We can take a walk once it turns cooler this evening."
"All right, then." Serenus smiled encouragingly, pleased that Severus was willing to express an opinion and seemed genuinely interested. "Let's get changed or naked," he added, winking at Gaius, "and we'll go."
"That's easy for me," Gaius said, but he headed back toward the bedrooms again. "I do want to get some sunscreen, though; it wouldn't do to burn parts that get used vigorously."
"Check in my bag," Serenus suggested as he followed along behind Gaius. "I packed some of Severus' home-made sunscreen. There's enough for all of us."
"Good. Some of us need it more than others," Severus said as he too went up to investigate his designated bedroom and change clothes.
"Ah, but think how much our significant others will enjoy exploring our newly bronzed skin," Gaius said, giving Severus a wicked look. "I'll even volunteer to smooth it on for you, my brother. You can trust me to make sure you are quite thoroughly covered!"
Severus snorted, but the look he gave Gaius in return was haughtily challenging. "Oh, really? I thought you had declared your disinterest in touching anyone but Regulus. If I decide to take advantage of the clothing optional rule, you might end up having to cover more than you expected."
"You think so, eh?" Gaius asked, lifting a brow in return. "And I never said I wasn't interested. I simply said that I was married and would only look. I'll consider it a sign that I'm dead when I don't find the sight of an attractive naked man arousing."
Severus snorted again, louder this time, and Serenus laughed. "I won't be naked, but do I get to have some sunscreen applied to what I do show, too?" Serenus asked, giving Gaius a look of exaggerated wide-eyed appeal.
"Of course you do!" Gaius said, patting Serenus' arm soothingly. "And you can be naked if you wish; there is no one here but your brothers, and we've seen you naked before - and you're beautiful because you are pregnant and happy."
"Well, we'll see," Serenus demurred, although the idea of getting an all-over tan was an appealing one, especially when he considered how Tybalt would react to the sight. "I'll think about it while we get changed." He swatted Gaius' backside playfully and gave Severus' a little pat as well before disappearing into his bedroom to unpack and change clothes.
"I suppose it would only be fair to help you apply your sunscreen in return," Severus said loftily, as if conferring a great favor before he too went off to change.
"Why, thank you!" Gaius replied, sticking out his tongue at his brother playfully. He moved to his own room, stripping quickly, although he did retrieve a towel and a pair of sandals before stepping back out into the hallway.
When Severus returned, he wore a robe, although he was naked underneath, and sandals, and he had a beach towel draped over his arm. "I am ready," he announced. "Where is the clothed slowpoke?"
"Right here," Serenus replied as he emerged from his bedroom, wearing his bathing suit for now. "I've got the sunscreen and some books for us," he added, holding up a bag. "We can get some snacks from the kitchen, if you like."
"Sounds good - especially since we need to keep you hydrated!" Gaius said, wagging a finger at Serenus admonishingly. "I don't want to be the one Tybalt holds responsible if anything happens to you or to that baby girl."
"Don't worry, I'll take care of myself and her," Serenus said, patting his rounded abdomen gently. Without comment, Severus reached out and took the bag, answering Serenus' inquisitive look with a bland look of his own, refusing to admit aloud that he was making certain Serenus didn't try to carry anything too heavy. "Anyway, are we ready?" Serenus asked, seeing he wasn't going to get a verbal response and giving up the bag without protest.
"Why don't the two of you start out, and I'll fetch snacks for us all?" Gaius asked, smiling at the two of them. He was ecstatic to see Severus take the bag, and he thought a few minutes alone wouldn't be amiss for his brothers. "I promise to lay in a decadent spread."
Severus snorted and rolled his eyes at Gaius' blatant tactics. Really, neither of his brothers had any sense of subtlety, and he supposed he and Regulus would remain the sole representatives of Slytherin until Cymbeline went to school, the only ones in the family capable of subtlety. But he didn't argue, letting Gaius have his little moment of maneuvering. "It had better be suitably decadent," he said as he headed downstairs. "It will have to be in order to match the surroundings."
"I'm sure Gaius will do fine," Serenus said, oblivious to the maneuvering as he followed Severus down. "He's the biggest hedonist of all of us, so I trust his judgment when it comes to decadence."
"It will be," Gaius promised as he followed them down the stairs, not minded Severus' eyerolling. He patted each of them on the arse before slipping away with a wicked chuckle and heading toward the kitchen.
Once they were outside, they spent a few moments setting up their little oasis in silence, arranging the umbrella and chairs and positioning a couple of small tables between the lounge chairs; Serenus unpacked the books and distributed them on the tables while Severus arranged the thick beach towels on their chairs. By the time they were finished, they had a comfortable area in which to relax and enjoy the view while remaining close enough to the villa that they could go back inside for anything they wanted or needed.
"Ready for this?" Serenus asked, holding up the sunscreen. "I'll do your back if you'll do mine since Gaius is busy with the food."
Severus hesitated before nodding slowly. He'd shied away from more intimate touches than casual pats, but he supposed allowing this would be harmless. He knew he wasn't the most emotionally astute man in the world, but he was aware that Serenus had been patient with him, not pushing him beyond what he was willing to give. If he refused, Serenus would back off, but he also knew the rejection would probably hurt Serenus or disappoint him even if he didn't show it, and Severus didn't want to ruin their holiday in the very first hour.
"If you like," he said diffidently as he sat down and loosened his robe, baring himself only to the waist for now.
Serenus was too pleased that Severus had agreed to let him touch at all to care that Severus was still shielding himself; this was progress, and Serenus was grateful for it. Unable to keep from smiling to himself, he knelt behind Severus and began coating Severus' back with the sunscreen, rubbing it in thoroughly. The feel of Severus' warm skin beneath his palms was a pleasure in itself, and he savored the luxury of being able to touch Severus again, caressing Severus with all the affection he felt for his irascible twin.
Despite his apprehension, Severus found himself able to relax as Serenus massaged the sunscreen into his skin. Serenus' touch was a familiar one, a touch he hadn't realized he had missed until now, and he closed his eyes and bent his head, focusing on the pleasure of the moment rather than the pain of the past. Touch, it seemed, was a better tool of communication and healing for him, far more effective than words.
"I see you started without me," Gaius said teasingly as he approached them, although he was very happy to see Severus allowing Serenus to put sunscreen on his back. This was definitely a step in the right direction, and with any luck his intervention wouldn't even be necessary. He held up the big picnic hamper he'd found in the kitchen. "I lugged this all the way out here, without magic! I brought drinks and fruit and cheese and crackers and I even made some finger sandwiches. Hopefully it will suit, but if not I can run back to the house for anything we're missing."
Serenus finished up with a gentle little squeeze of Severus' shoulders before turning his attention to Gaius. "It sounds like more than enough," he said reassuringly as he rose to his feet and went to help Gaius.
"You carried it the vast distance of a few meters without magic? Truly commendable," Severus drawled as he shed his robe entirely and draped it over the back of his lounge chair, and he began applying the sunscreen with a liberal hand, not wanting to return to Remus with a painful sunburn that might hinder their reunion activities.
"For a hedonist such as myself, it's a Herculean task," Gaius replied, heaving a dramatic sigh. He couldn't keep a straight face, however, and he waved Serenus toward a chair. "You sit down. I've got this, and then I'll do sunscreen duty." He wriggled his hips, which were encircled by his towel, since that had been the easiest way to carry it outside, and put down the picnic basket. "I'm happy to play cabana boy for now."
Tybalt wasn't there, but Serenus could hear Tybalt's voice in his head, cautioning him to take things easy and not overexert himself nonetheless, and so Serenus nodded and retreated to the lounge chair beside Severus, not wanting his brothers to have any tales of overexertion to carry back home. "Well, since you've volunteered..." he said, giving Gaius a teasing smile as he settled in.
Severus finished applying the sunscreen and tossed the bottle to Serenus, who caught it neatly. Severus wasn't quite up to volunteering to return the favor of treating Serenus' back, but he did feel a little better. "What sort of drinks did you bring, cabana boy?" he asked. "I'd like to be served."
"I have ice cold lemonade, some colas, and a thermos of iced tea," Gaius replied as he bent over the basket and began rummaging out the cups and plates. He raised a brow at Severus. "What does our resident Diva desire?"
"Lemonade," Severus replied promptly as he stretched out on the chair without a trace of self-consciousness. "Some fruit wouldn't go amiss either. Preferably sliced."
"Are you sure you want to handle serving the Diva by yourself?" Serenus teased, although he would gladly help if Gaius needed it.
"I think I can handle it. If not, you can just toss my crushed and mangled sense of self-esteem into the ocean." It took Gaius only a moment to pour the lemonade into a tall glass, and then he withdrew a knife from a pocket in the lid of the basket and began to slice up the strawberries and melon, arranging them attractively on a plate before carrying them over to Severus. He gave a wink and a cheeky bow as he offered up the refreshments. "So, shall I be allowed to keep my manhood, brother-mine?"
Severus eyed the glass and the plate critically before accepting them. "Yes, you will," he replied. "Your services as a cabana boy are acceptable, and besides, I should hate to deprive Regulus of something he seems fond of."
Laughing, Gaius clasped his hands together under his chin and heaved an exaggerated sigh of relief. "I thank you, and I'll make sure Regulus thanks you as well," he said, then leaned down to kiss Severus on the cheek, before sauntering away with a wriggle of his hips. "So, Serenus, since I've been allowed to live for now, what can I serve you?"
"Lemonade, please," Serenus replied, smiling up at Gaius. "And then a pair of hands for my back, if you don't mind."
"Absolutely," Gaius said, hastening to retrieve Serenus' lemonade, offering it up and then reaching for the bottle of sunscreen. "Turn around and I'll get your back and arms first, then work on your legs. Let no one say I'm not a conscientious brother!"
Serenus accepted the lemonade and took a sip before putting it aside so he could slip off the top of his modest, old-fashioned style bathing suit, and then he presented his back to Gaius. "You're very conscientious and very good to both of us," he said, smiling over his shoulder.
Beside them, Severus nibbled his fruit and lounged indolently, basking in the heat like a contented lizard. "Yes, you've done very well," he said. "You might even get a tip later."
Filling the palm of one hand with the lotion, Gaius sat the bottle aside and then began to carefully apply it to Serenus' back, not wanting to miss a spot. He grinned at Serenus' response, leaning forward to kiss the corner of Serenus' mouth. "You're always so good to me, I just enjoy a chance to return the favor to some small extent," he replied. Glancing over Serenus' shoulder at Severus, he gave his middle brother a wickedly teasing look. "Tip of what, might I ask?"
"That depends," Severus replied without hesitation, smirking. "If you see a tip you like, you can have it. If you're very good, you might even get more than a tip."
Gaius waggled his brows. "Ooo la la," he said, then continued to apply the sunscreen to Serenus' pale skin. They could tease, and he had no doubt that he'd be welcome in either of his brother's beds, but as much as he teased about sex, the truth was that Regulus kept him very well satisfied indeed. The time he had been with the twins had been wonderful, special, and had helped him to heal from Sirius' death, but he preferred to let it stand as a singular event, something to be remembered with fondness because it proved just how much his brothers loved him and how far they would go to help him.
Finishing up with Serenus' back, he scooted down the lounger and patted it. "Here, put your legs up and I'll get them next, all right?"
Serenus paused, debating whether to keep his bathing suit on or shed it and join his brothers in baring all to the sun, and after a moment, he stripped off the suit, blushing a little as he did; he hadn't revealed so much of himself when he was this far along to anyone but Tybalt before, but these were his brothers, and he knew he was safe. Then he swung his legs up and stretched out, already enjoying the warmth on his bare skin.
"Somehow, I don't think our little brother is going to take his tip. We've been replaced," he said in a mock-mournful voice.
"Understandable," Severus replied drowsily, leaning back and closing his eyes. "Once you go Slytherin, etc. We Slytherins are hard to top in bed."
"Not according to Remus," Serenus replied wickedly, earning a loud snort in return.
Gaius laughed heartily at Severus' joke, pleased that his brothers weren't offended. "Well I am extremely easy to top in bed, but for all the right reasons," he said smugly. He looked at Serenus' body with frank appraisal, then at Severus'. "Although I must say that I believe Regulus' preference for Snapes is certainly well deserved. We're a handsome lot, aren't we? No wonder our partners are crazy for us."
"No wonder indeed." Surprisingly, it was Serenus who spoke up without his usual modesty. He returned Gaius' appreciative once-over, and he dared to admire Severus as well; he found both of them attractive, and while he was whole-heartedly in love with and devoted to Tybalt, he wasn't about to pretend he wasn't interested in any affection they cared to bestow. "We may be an acquired taste, but I'd say we're well worth appreciating properly."
"Acquired taste is a good way to put it," Severus agreed. "Fortunately, there are three men who have not only acquired it but seem to be addicted."
Gaius snorted. "We're definitely lucky - but I like to think they are, too. How many gay men have partners who are willing to carry children for them?"
"Or in Severus' case, who are beyond willing and into the realm of pregnancy exhibitionism," Serenus said, giving Severus a teasing smile.
Severus shrugged insouciantly. "Remus carried a child for me too," he pointed out. "Although I doubt he enjoyed the experience as much as I did. I found it quite satisfying on levels I cannot even fully articulate, and if it weren't for the fact that I would like to enjoy time as a couple before we're at the point that we risk breaking a hip every time we have sex, I would have had more."
"Understandable." Serenus nodded as he smoothed his hand over the curve of his abdomen. "I'm not sure I'll want to do this again. Tybalt and I didn't have much couple-time before the twins were born either, although that was a choice on our part, not a surprise like it was with you and Remus. Still, three may be a good stopping point, especially since you'll get yours sent off to school and out of the house before we will." He glanced at Gaius, raising an eyebrow. "That was interesting wording, by the way. Did you intentionally imply that you're willing to carry a child for Regulus or were you referring only to us?"
Gaius blushed, suddenly realizing what he seemed to be saying, even though he hadn't really wanted to think about it. "We aren't thinking about children yet," he said, giving a slight shrug. "We've not been a couple long enough, and I'm not positive that Regulus even wants children. We're happy being uncles, at least for now. If that changes, we'll have to... discuss it."
"If I can do it, so can you," Serenus replied encouragingly. "Of course, if you and Regulus decide having children isn't for you, there's nothing wrong with that, and you'll have plenty of uncle-time when you want it, but really, it's not so bad, and it is rather satisfying."
"He says that because he's forgotten how miserable the last few weeks are," Severus said. "But on the whole, no, it isn't so bad. I enjoyed it, and oddly enough, I enjoy being a parent, if only because I know the next generation won't be entirely populated by dunderheads or Weasleys."
"No, I think we've surpassed the Weasleys in terms of fertility," Serenus said, grinning.
"Much to Harry's chagrin," Gaius added, shaking his head and chuckling. He squeezed Serenus' leg gently. "Thank you for the support - both of you - and I'll definitely let you know if we ever reach the point of deciding definitively one way or the other. There are certainly enough Snapes to carry on the next generation, but... well, I think Regulus might someday wish to carry on the Black name. Not that he seems to care about the legacy of his parents, but there were good parts of his family, too, and he's the last of them."
"Indeed he is, and as much as he has changed, I must wonder if he would be able to shake the ingrained sense of importance of blood and lineage," Severus mused. "Members of some pureblood families, especially the Blacks, seemed to stress the importance of carrying on the line. I wouldn't be surprised if he feels something along those lines. The question, I suppose, will be whether he acts on it or not."
"He should probably make up his mind soon. None of us are getting any younger," Serenus pointed out. "That's another reason why I may call it quits after Puddin' is born. Tybalt is young enough to carry on, but as you said, Severus, I don't want to be at risk for breaking a hip by the time we finally get some couple-time."
"But we're wizards," Gaius protested. "We're not old!" He paused for a moment, thinking of everything Severus and Regulus had both been through during the wars, and then what Regulus had endured at the hands of his cousin. Certainly that could make one feel old, but he was loathe to think of himself as being past his prime. Yet eighteen years to raise a child was certainly a long commitment. "Then again, maybe we are."
"Of course we aren't old!" Severus said indignantly as he reached for another piece of fruit. "By wizard standards, we're just reaching our prime, but I would like to enjoy some of my prime time alone with Remus before we reach the doddering stage."
"Exactly," Serenus agreed. "I suppose what you and Regulus will need to decide - assuming you decide you want children in the first place - is whether you want to enjoy your time together now or later. I don't think there's anything wrong with doing it either way, but Severus and I got a late start with marriage and an early start with children, which makes a difference."
Gaius nodded, frowning thoughtfully as he considered their points. He didn't have a strong feeling about it one way or the other, so he was more than happy to go along with whatever Regulus wanted. He'd never considered fatherhood to be even a remote possibility in his case - much less motherhood! - so he'd never had to really think about it before. But it seemed as though the twins had a point, and that sooner as opposed to later would be preferable, if they decided to do it at all. "I suppose Regulus and I will have to discuss it in the next few years," he said, sighing and rising to his feet, then giving a wry smile. "I think I'll get a drink, too - although all this talk of babies is making me want to go for something stronger than lemonade!"
He retrieved the pitcher, refilling Severus' and Serenus' glasses before pouring one for himself. Then he whisked off his towel and took the third lounger, arranging himself on the cushions with a sigh. He still had a nice tan from the time he and Regulus had been spending in Egypt, but he wasn't averse to darkening up a bit, either.
"We can change the subject, if you like," Serenus said, taking a sip of lemonade. "Don't we usually talk about your sex life, too?" he added wickedly.
"I think we talk about sex a lot in general," Gaius replied, waving an airy hand. "Which I suppose isn't surprising, given the, um, intensity of our various sex lives and the fact that we live in each other's pockets." He returned Serenus' wicked look. "Although that's one thing where I'm certainly glad I'm not a parent, at least not yet. You lot have to figure out how to explain not just the birds and the bees to the brood, but the fact that women can have babies, too. Plus there is the whole thing about why all three of the Snape men are bent; I suppose it's going to make life at school rather interesting for the whole lot of them."
"No doubt," Serenus replied, laughing. "I remember Cymbeline being quite confused when Debi turned up pregnant. I imagine trying to explain the birds and the bees to this lot will involve lots of reference books, diagrams, and illustrated examples that yes, men often do choose to marry women instead of other men."
Severus snorted. "Although genetically speaking, it seems heterosexuality is the recessive trait in this family. Personally, my predictions are that Cymbeline will end up with someone just like Remus, gender optional - if she ends up with anyone at all. She may decide no one is good enough for her and be quite content alone. If any of our lot is likely to end up with someone of the same sex, I would place odds on Lysander."
"I think the twins will break the hearts of both men and women, if I do say so myself," Serenus said, puffing up a little with pride. "They're going to be gorgeous, although I wouldn't hazard a guess about their preferences at this point."
"They are going to be stunning," Gaius agreed readily. "They all will be. Cymbeline is going to have the boys trailing after her in droves." He glanced over at Severus with evil amusement. "So, who is going to be worse, you or Remus? Either way, I'm sure that potential suitors are going to be scared out of their minds!"
"I'm worse," Severus replied matter-of-factly. "Remus is too nice. If I threatened to poison one of the snot-nosed brats chasing after one of my children, I would follow through."
Serenus laughed and shook his head, but he didn't disagree. "Tybalt will be far worse than me. I can be protective, but I like to think I know when to let go. I wouldn't put it past him to put tracking spells on them every time they go out on a date."
"Given how excited he is about having a daughter, I think she'll have it the worst of all of them." Gaius grinned. "I wouldn't be surprised if he locks her up in a tower like Rapunzel to keep her safe."
"No, I wouldn't let him do that," Serenus replied, smiling with fond amusement at the thought of his protective spouse. "I doubt Ethelenda or Celestra would either. I rather hope she's a free spirit," he said, patting his stomach affectionately. "That would cause some clashes, though, I imagine."
"I'm sure you'll work it out," Gaius said supportively. He thought it was very cute, the way that Serenus and Tybalt and Remus and Severus were toward their children. He sighed. "They're lucky, you know. All of your children. They all have two adoring parents who want nothing but the best for them, as well as uncles and cousins and a big extended family, what with the Gypsies and your village. It makes me quite envious sometimes, I must say. I'm just lucky to have found the both of you. If I have any real regret in my life, it's that I didn't get to grow up with the both of you."
"That wasn't something you could have prevented, though," Serenus said, reaching out to stroke Gaius' arm soothingly. "Neither could I, and neither could Severus. I dare say we all wish we could have remained together rather than spend forty years apart, but we found each other, and we have that big, loud, annoying family now."
"Better late than never, I suppose," Severus said contemplatively. "Although I could do with a bit less volume at times."
"Well, with five children running around..."
"I was talking about Gaius in the throes of passion, actually," Severus retorted, but the evil gleam in his dark eyes showed he was only twitting Gaius.
Gaius smirked, catching on to the teasing, and he put his nose in the air in a fine imitation of Severus' haughty disdain. "Complaints on that score should be filed with Regulus. Although I warn you that given his Slytherin bent, he just might decide to try to increase the volume, to prove that he can. And believe me, you'll get no complaints from me on that!"
"Hmph! No doubt," Severus replied, although without rancor. He stretched languidly, and then he rose to his feet. "I am going down to the water," he announced, snagging another piece of fruit to take with him. "Do you two want to accompany me?"
"I do," Serenus replied, sitting up. Severus stretched out his hand in a silent offer of assistance, and Serenus smiled as he clasped it, letting Severus help him up; he wasn't quite at the stage where getting in and out of chairs was difficult, but it wouldn't be long, and besides, he wasn't about to refuse any overture, however small, from Severus at this point. Once he was on his feet, he didn't release Severus' hand, holding it firmly instead, and Severus let him.
"Oh, all right," Gaius said, rolling to his feet with an exaggerated sigh that was belied by the gleam in his eyes. "I'll just follow along behind; the view is quite nice, I must say. Almost enough to make me think about topping."
Severus made a scoffing noise as he sauntered toward the water with Serenus beside him. "Enjoy the view all you like," he drawled, "but somehow I doubt you could handle topping either of us." He paused, and then added, "Well, maybe Serenus."
"Pfft!" Serenus elbowed his twin affectionately. "I happen to have developed a keen appreciation of the act, that's all," he said.
Severus snorted, letting that stand as his response, but they both put a little extra sway in their hips as they walked, as if having reached a silent accord to tease Gaius.
Gaius laughed at the twin's teasing, but he did enjoy the sight of them cooperating to twit him. "I could handle it, but I definitely have a preference for bottoming; it makes me feel cherished," he said quietly.
Serenus glanced over his shoulder at Gaius and smiled. "Yes, I understand exactly what you mean. It makes me feel that way too. I do top sometimes," he added, giving Severus a mock-aggrieved look. "I like making Tybalt feel cherished and desired in that way, too."
"Yes, yes, agreed on all counts," Severus said, waving away the possibility that he might be admitting something intimate and soppy.
"You big softy!" Gaius said, swatting Severus' arse playfully as he suddenly sprinted past the twins and dashed into the warm water. "Come on, you slowpokes - the water is great!"
The twins exchanged glances, and as one, they went after Gaius, and a great deal of splashing, dunking, and frolicking ensued; by the time they returned to their chairs, they were drenched, and the rest of the afternoon was spent lounging with the occasional foray back into the water. That night, they were all pleasantly tired from the sun and their after-dinner walking tour of the area.
Despite his fatigue, however, Serenus found it impossible to drift off to sleep. He lay in his bed, listening to the sound of the waves through the open window, the filmy white curtains gently stirred by the ocean breeze; it was as relaxing an atmosphere as he could ask for, but he couldn't get to sleep. He tossed and turned and punched his pillow to no avail, and at last, he got up in search of a cup of warm milk in hopes that would help.
He stood in the darkened kitchen, sipping his milk, when the sound of footsteps made him glance up, and he saw Severus enter the room.
"Couldn't sleep?" he asked sympathetically, and Severus grimaced and shook his head.
"It isn't because I'm not tired either," Severus grumbled. "I don't know what it is."
"Maybe we're overly tired," Serenus suggested. "Or maybe it's because we're in a strange bed." He paused, mulling over the problem. "Or maybe it's because we've shared a bed so long, it's difficult to sleep alone anymore. I don't know about you, but I've grown rather accustomed to having a big, strong Auror use me as his personal teddy bear every night."
Even in the dark, he could tell Severus looked sheepish. "Yes, I have... grown somewhat acclimated to sleeping with Remus in my arms as well."
Serenus squelched the urge to comment, not letting so much as an "aww" slip out. Instead, he moved closer and reached out to clasp Severus' hand lightly. "Maybe we could help each other?" he suggested. "You're used to holding someone at night, and I'm used to being held, so..." He let the invitation hang in the air between them for Severus to accept or reject as he pleased.
Severus hesitated, considering the wisdom of such intimacy, but he didn't fancy spending the entire weekend suffering from insomnia either, and so he nodded. "Perhaps it might help."
At that moment Gaius came into the kitchen, looking tired and uncharacteristically grumpy. "What might help?" he asked, looking between his brothers hopefully. "I can't sleep without Regulus. Did you happen to bring some sleeping potions, Severus?"
"No, I didn't think of it," Severus replied.
Serenus stretched out his free hand, silently amused at the picture their little brother created; all he needed was to be wearing footie pajamas while he knuckled his eyes, and he would look like a grumpy toddler. "We can't sleep without our men either," he said. "But we thought perhaps sharing a bed might help."
Gaius didn't hesitate to reach out and take Serenus' hand. "If that's an offer, I'm accepting," he said promptly. "Dark circles under the eyes is a horrible look for a holiday, and we're supposed to come back well rested!" He smiled, the grumpiness banished. "I can transfigure one of the beds bigger. I would think you'd prefer that to me being Anubis and getting black fur all over the sheets!"
"You think correctly," Severus replied with a haughty sniff. "Go on, then. Pick a bedroom and enlarge the bed. We will join you, and then we'll see if Serenus' idea works."
"All right." Gaius craned up to kiss Serenus' cheek. "You're brilliant. I know it will work!" With that, he let go and hurried upstairs, quickly deciding on Severus' room so that Severus would be forced to kick them out rather than just slinking out if he didn't like the cuddling. He retrieved his wand, then expanded the bed until it nearly filled the room, before levitating the pillows from his and Serenus' room in.
Leaning out of the door he called out for the twins. "Ready when you are! All we need to know is who gets the middle of the cuddle!"
When they reached the bedroom, Serenus glanced questioningly at Severus, not wanting to claim a position that he wasn't certain he ought to claim; now that Gaius had been added to the mix, Severus might be more comfortable with Gaius between them as a buffer from intimacy he wasn't ready for. But Severus nudged him toward the bed with a hand at his lower back.
"Serenus does, if he wants it," Severus said. "Pregnant Snapes always get first pick."
Relieved, Serenus smiled and nodded happily. "Yes, I'd like the middle," he said.
"Sounds good to me," Gaius said, shucking his robe and heading for the far side of the bed. He turned back the covers and slid between the sheets, then patted the mattress next to him. "Come and get cuddled, you knocked up man, you."
Laughing, Serenus climbed into bed and gestured for Severus to join them, and Severus did, silently urging Serenus to lie on his side for a little spooning. Once he was settled in, Serenus reached out for Gaius.
"Come on, little brother," he murmured. "Join in the Snape snuggle pile."
"You don't have to ask me twice," Gaius replied, rolling over and pushing back toward Serenus, giving a happy sigh at the feel of Serenus' warmth against his back. "Mmmm... this is better already. Much better."
Serenus draped one arm across Gaius' waist and snuggled close, nuzzling Gaius' hair affectionately. "Yes, it is," he agreed drowsily, already feeling more relaxed with Gaius in his arms and Severus nestled against him from behind. It was different from feeling Tybalt's taller, bigger body against him, but it was a solid, comforting warmth that he needed, and he wriggled happily when Severus flung one arm around him. The walls had crumbled a little, perhaps even more than he realized, and he was grateful for the progress, especially since he'd missed this closeness. "Good night," he murmured, stroking Gaius gently. "Sweet dreams."
Gaius purred softly at the way Serenus was caressing him, then he yawned widely. "Mmmm... 'night. Sweet dreams," he echoed, and between on breath and the next, he drifted off to sleep, comforted by his brothers' presence.
The only response from Severus was a soft snore.