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Another James Story - Or So Teddy Thought

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The young man in the mirror is too tall. Why does Teddy need to be extra-tall? It's just the Potters.

The young man in the mirror is too short. Is he trying to fit a certain redhead's height? It's not like he's going to kiss anybody.

The young man in the mirror is too muscular. It's stupid.

The young man in the mirror is too lean. It looks like he's bloody trying too hard, what is he, a model?

The man's hair is too short now; Teddy has never put on a buzz-cut, and honestly can't think of why he did now.

The man's hair is too long. Teddy usually goes to clubs with this haircut; wavy, neon turquoise, a small braid on the left side, or half a ponytail, and he's usually almost always lucky.

Quickly the long hair disappeared; getting lucky is the last thing he needs tonight, where he's going.

Eventually Teddy finds himself so overly transfigured he's turning unrecognizable. He can use it for work, but not for tonight.

He lets out a great sigh.

He focuses his Metamorphmagus abilities. When he opens his eyes he stares at good old Teddy whose hair is the appropriate length for the guy usually left babysitting a clan of mischief-making redheaded kids, and the height is the one he's most used to, and has no bearing related to a certain Potter's recent growth sprout.

Yeah, Teddy nods at his mirror-self, has nothing to do with it at all.

Finally getting his look ready, Teddy turns to the six different pants laid out on his bed. He rolls his eyes and grabs faded loose blue jeans and a Weird Sisters T-shirt from the closet, muttering about thinking too much. Tomorrow he'll shove all the fancy pants back into the closet.

It's been awkward ever since Jaime graduated Hogwarts.

Teddy would've seen it sooner with anybody else, but because it's Jaime – totally blindsided.

It took him five months to figure out Jaime started having feelings toward him; avoiding Teddy's gaze, blushing more often than usual whenever Teddy was around, sort of sticking close but at the same time keeping an embarrassed distance.

Teddy keeps pretending not to know. He treats Jaime the same as usual, only he doesn't ask 'what's wrong' whenever something like that occurs; he knows what's wrong, after all.

 Ever since his break up with Victoire he's dated and shagged many men and women, and he's gotten used to the game (alcohol and the ability to change your body at will helps a great deal). He didn't think some kid ogling him from a distance would be so hard for him to handle, except of course it is, it's James.

Teddy's been altering between hoping this crush fades away as James realizes it's a bit weird, and occasionally praying James won't actually start flirting with him.

Teddy's been avoiding James for almost a month by this point, but can't bring himself to miss out on the Potters – no, not even James. He misses him, misses his loud and usually mistaken opinions on anything and everything. Misses how much James loves the room's attention, loves talking and telling stories, loves Teddy. Teddy is lost as to what to do by this point, but he refuses to hide away from the people he loves any longer.

Teddy is genuinely considering telling the story of how he once changed James' diaper tonight.

"Potter Cottage!"

Teddy stumbles out of the fireplace, coughing ash, but quickly finds his feet in the familiar hard throw of a floo travel. He shrugs the soot off his favorite shirt just as a voice calls warmly;

"Teddy! Still can't get down the way you manage to walk through a floo so damn smoothly."

 Teddy smirks. "Human superiority. How's it been Al?"

Albus Severus Potter rolls his eyes. "Loud and obnoxious without you around, is what I was gonna say, before you declared yourself oh-so-superior."

Teddy chuckles. "Your family giving you headaches?"

"They keep forcing me to do things… like participate in gogo tournaments and sudden Quidditch games, and talking, like, with people."

Teddy walks up to him and hugs him while laughing. "Unacceptable."

When they pull apart Albus nods solemnly. "Finally, somebody gets it. Come on, Mom's going mental – she promised to inflict physical harm onto Dad if you don't show up again because of work."

Teddy feels a pang of guilt go out to his godfather; he's blamed his absence on his job taking out all his energies, and though Harry's not his direct superior and has no control over what Teddy faces daily at work, he gets the blame around the family for keeping his younger Aurors working too hard.

But Teddy doesn't feel too bad, since Harry does actually work them for long hours often.

"So what I'm hearing is – go back through the fireplace you've come from, and you'll probably get more vacation days?" Teddy says, pretending to truly mean it.

"You try to be the best Godfather you can, you give and you give, and yet at the end this is how they repay you. Hello Ted." Harry comes around the corner from the corridor Teddy knew leads to the living room.

Teddy smiles brightly at Harry's indignant expression. Teddy missed Harry a great deal this past month, not seeing enough of him at work. "'lo."

Harry raises his eyebrow, unimpressed, as Albus laughs freely. "A phenomenal defense."

"Thanks." Teddy chuckles, a great heavy stone dissolving out of his stomach; he feels ridiculous that he was so nervous before, when he knows these people, when they are his people.

Harry huffs, and Teddy knows there're no hard feelings. Harry walks up to Teddy and hugs him tightly, and Teddy smiles and hugs him back.

"What kept you?" Harry demands and Teddy's chest swells knowing he was missed too.

"I meant it before Harry; some more vacation days would be nice."

Harry shoves him in good humor, throwing him a sharp look. "I can get you plenty of vacation days; they call it getting fired."

Albus guffaws, jumping in "Shots fired."

Harry rolls his eyes at the dramatics. "Come now, I'm not letting you back through that chimney before Ginny gets a good look at you."

"Yes sir." Teddy mock salutes, and the three head to the living room where they hear chatter. "Is Lily home for Christmas too?" Teddy asks Al.

"Yep." Is all Teddy hears from him before long ginger locks of hair race towards him, knocking into his chest.

Teddy laughs, wondering if she heard him say her name before they rounded the corner.

"Hey Lils." He greets kindly, hugging her back. "Your hair grew longer."

"Teddy! Being a fourth year is so much work! And we don't even have the exams yet – they're only next year! Merlin!"

Teddy can sense the general chatter around the corner stop, and knows they're close enough to be heard in the living room.

"Yep, work hard." He says encouragingly, half already focused on what's ahead of her.

"Right!" Lily declares, straightening her back.

"How come when it comes from your mother and me you don't respond half as well?" Harry asks his only daughter dryly.

When Lily ignores him Teddy has to smile. "How are you Teddy?"

"Great," Teddy says, raising his voice on purpose "swamped with work usually."

Albus sniggers behind them.

Harry groans heartily when a shout is heard from the living room "I knew it Potter!" Ginny's voice calls.

"Thank you Ted." Harry tells him sarcastically, making the last two strides into the open living room.

Teddy winks at Lily and Albus scandalously and the three round the corner in the sound of their laughter.

They walk in and Teddy spots James immediately; he doesn't miss that James is the last to approach him, or how he stays away until the last moment, when Ginny finally lets Teddy go.

James doesn't avoid his gaze anymore, but instead watches him hesitatingly, unsure.

Teddy grows uneasy, wondering if next James will decide to simply cut Teddy off and it'll never be like how it used to.

Whatever this is, Teddy knows he's not going to lose James no matter what – he won't let it get to it. So with that fiercely in mind, Teddy flashes back to when James was ten and sick and stuck to Teddy's side without letting go, even though both of his parents were there with him, and remembering how much he loves this 19 year old love-struck fool, Teddy offers him a warm smile and a kind hug.

Either Teddy shot shorter than usual or James' growth sprout was bigger than he remembers, because the tips of James' red hair brush across his chin softly as they hug, and the smell of James' shampoo hits Teddy's nose pleasantly.

"Hey Jaime, how you been?"

"Guess I missed you around too." The tips of his ears are red.

Teddy smiles again, genuinely pleased, as Ginny calls "Hear that Harry? You've upset your firstborn."

"I did not! And could you all stop acting like this is my fault? It's a demanding job, Teddy knew it beforehand." Harry grumbles. "I'm not even his boss, technically…"

Ginny sends Teddy an amused look that tells him she is enjoying riling Harry up, whether this is true or not.

Teddy snickers but answers truthfully when Harry looks at him imploringly. "Yeah it's like that Ginny."

Ginny immediately drops the pretense of her disgruntlement and smiles fondly. "Oh shame."

Lily and Albus laugh at their dad's expression.

Teddy winks at James before he can think about why that might not be sending the correct massage, and says innocently "On an unrelated topic, if you get a howler from my Gran, don't open it Harry."

Ignoring Harry's indignant spluttering, Ginny leads everyone to the table.

When Teddy gets seated next to James, for once in a long time, he doesn't worry about how to act or what to say, he hopes that James resolves his feelings, and makes it a point to talk to him as much as he had in the past, and halfway through dinner Teddy is proud to see the old James; loud and unapologetic as he holds everyone's attention with an unrealistic story.

"And then – CRUNCH – his great fangs sank into the three girls and I just –!"

"Wait, how did the werewolf eat the witches? You said it was daytime, he'd be a regular wizard." Lily interrupts, frowning. "He wouldn't have fangs."

Teddy chuckles into his soup.

"A fifteen headed hydra popped out of the Great Lake ten minutes ago and that's what you want to question?" Albus asks, rolling his eyes.

"It can really happen!" Both Lily and James shout passionately together.

"Of course it can." Albus said in a cynical tone, displaying his disbelief. "I think I'm having a premonition; neither of you will have a career in Magical Creatures." He states dryly. "Professor Trelawney will be so proud."

Teddy glances at Ginny and Harry who seem to listen in every once in a while and smile, but otherwise talk to each other quietly from their corner of the table.

"But the werewolf!"

"The werewolf took a potion Lily - to, er, become more wolfish during the day –"

"There's no such potion."

"Yes there is Albus!"

Teddy, somehow pulled into the tale, coughs to quiet their bickering and asks "So then what did you do Jaime?"

James nearly glows by Teddy's question. "Thank you!" He calls, making sure everyone hears. "Now on to what's important!" He glares at his siblings. "So I see this, right? And like I said, everyone else – including you two – are inside the castle under the Sleeping Potion. So I can't just do nothing! The three witches are turning into snacks in front of my eyes!" he calls, looking pained from remembering.

Lily nods along, serious.

Albus pretends not to hear the story as he keeps eating.

"So I run up to the third hydra head and I say clearly 'Will you –' DAD!"

The whole table jumps.

"…Yes James?" Harry inquires, about two seconds from scolding his son.

"Are you even listening?!" James demands, seemingly unaware of Harry's scowl. "Anyways, since dad ruined the mood," Teddy snorts into his tea upon Harry's magnificent expression as James goes on casually. "long story short – the Forgetfulness Potion was put on everyone so they all woke up and nobody remembered a thing. 'Cause that's the kind of hero I am – I don't do it for the fame." He finishes with an air of self importance.

"My most humble child." Harry mutters, turning back to his wife, who is laughing madly.

"That's what being a true Gryffindor is all about!" Lily calls; joining in the cheers, as though she herself was the one James has been talking about all along.

"Lying your arse off?" Albus asks innocently.

"Don't be mad 'cause the Ravenclaws couldn't figure out the truth, baby bruv." James says patronizingly, eyes smug.

Albus nearly snaps. "There is no truth! It's all a bunch of made up bullocks!"

"Albus." Harry frowns.

"Al." Ginny warns.

Albus flushes, shoving his fork into his potatoes moodily.

"So how's Hogwarts doing Lils?" James asks lightly; Teddy knows it was his plan all along to get a raise out of poor Albus.

"It's weird not having you around!" she calls.

"Best year of my life so far." Al says dryly, still upset about getting scolded.

"I mean, I guess I miss some of it – but I sure am glad not to have to do homework anymore." James says as though he's been asked, as Albus' comment went completely unheard.

Teddy smiles fondly at the three. "Any news from Puddlemore United?"

"Still waiting around for the season to end, I guess – when Clarkes finally retires his spot's mine." James smirks proudly.

"So what've you been doing for the past four months?" Albus asks, curious.

"Probably still sleeping." Lily answers, sniggering.

Teddy chuckles as James turns pink and glares at his baby sister; it was an ongoing joke during the summer vacation's two months that James spent it all sleeping he's went to bed right after graduation and only woke up on September first to walk his siblings to the train.

"I'll let you know I've been practicing really hard!"

"Oh, back in the days when I used to play they called that partying." Ginny says from across the table, raising her eyebrow.

James smirks unapologetically. "I'm practicing for when we go with the team after victory matches."

"Well ease up a bit young man, Freddie and Dominique do have to work – you'll end up getting them fired." Harry warns.

James sighs dramatically, like the weight of the world is on his shoulders, and rolls his eyes very obviously.

"James." Harry says curtly.

"Alright alright, geez!" He relents, now the one who sticks his fork in his potatoes.

"So Teddy, tell us something new." Ginny says, jumping in to fill the silence her oldest son dropped, cheerfully.

Teddy smiles, wondering how much is genes, and how much James grew up trying to imitate his mom's behavior.

"I dunno, my head's in reports all day long –" he starts, wearing a long-suffering expression.

"Don't even!" Harry warns sternly, as Ginny, James, Albus, and Lily all burst out laughing at the same time. "Go on, tell us something true." He emphasizes much to everyone's enjoyment. "I've heard around the office you're dating someone?"

Teddy grits his teeth and Harry smiles; pleased he seemed to stumble on a good piece of office gossip. But Teddy's mind is 100% focused on James, who from the corner of his eye Teddy sees, is hiding his face and looking down at his plate, no longer laughing.

"That's long over, really!" he clarifies, hoping not to hurt James' feelings too much.

"Come on, tell us! Why's it over!" Ginny asks, encouraging him.

Teddy winces, of course they want details. "Ah, well… he said something about me working too hard –"

Harry looks tired, simply staring at Teddy dully as Ginny and his two youngest snicker at his expense.

Teddy grows worried James is still focused on his potatoes.

Dinner goes by quickly after that, as Teddy mostly doesn't focus much on the general conversations anymore, waiting for a moment when the other four Potters are all immersed in their own conversations, to lean close to James and ask quietly "You alright Jaime?"

James snaps up, his face serious and closed off. "Yeah, fine. Headache."

"Right, right. Listen, since you're mostly free how would you like to work for me once a week?" Teddy asks impulsively.

"What?" James asks, stunned. "Work for you?"

"Yeah, I have too much paper work, as you might've heard, and I'm pretty scattered. You could drop by once a week for a couple of hours, help organize a bit, and earn some extra money. We'd get more of a chance to spend time together, and I dunno, I'd rather have you then a stranger for the job. It's not hard, I promise, and we could have lunch together afterwards, it'll be fun. What do you say?"

"Alright desert!" Ginny calls happily, as Albus and Lily groan, both full.

"Think about it, lemme know." Teddy smiles at James and turns back to the commotion.

"Mom! You always make too much when Teddy comes over!" Albus complains.

"Nonsense, your father made the desert." She says strictly, her lips twitching.

"Great, treacle tart to last us for a month!"

Harry has the grace to look embarrassed. "It's healthy and tasty –"

"Thanks Teddy." James tells him slowly, only to their ears. "I'll think about it."

Teddy grins, happy to have cheered him up.

 


 

"Hey Eddy, listen to me!"

Teddy jumps in his seat but it's so sticky it doesn't show much. He's spent all night wondering why he hasn't heard back from Jamie yet, as it's been three days already, and has completely neglected his date. There's only so far one can take the –'quietly mysterious' – excuse.

"Sorry, I'm a bit tired." Teddy tells him, downing his shot, not really sure what it is, until the taste of Tequila hits him.

"Hey let go! I said let go! If you weren't a muggle I swear to Merlin's shaggy testicles –!"

Teddy's head snaps around him quickly at the familiar voice and he shouts a quick "Sorry a friend –" to his unlucky date and pushes his way through the crowd until he reaches the pair of people that caught his attention; the man is drunk and swaying, a bit too old to be in such a young-adult friendly bar, the girl is beautiful, has silver-blond long straight hair she has tight in a high ponytail, neon-blue high heels, very little cloths and lots of glitter on, she pulls to free her hand from him, furious.

And she is nineteen, five years younger than is allowed at this bar.

Teddy sighs; the duties of a babysitter are never over.

But first thing's first. Teddy embeds his arm in the man's and uses it to throw him sideways and he has no choice but to either let the girl go or fall to the floor.

When the man lets her go Teddy rises to his full height – which is rather impressive tonight – and looks at him coldly. "Fuck off." He tells him, loud enough to be overheard over the music.

The man scampers away, and the girl throws her arms around him "Teddy! Thanks! I was this close to breaking the statue of secrecy –"

"Dominique – shh! People around us can hear you!" Teddy says exasperated, smelling the alcohol on her breath. "Lead me to the others." He yells in her ear, well aware that where one mischief-maker goes, its cousins tend to follow.

She sniggers and salutes. "Sir yes sir – you won't tell Vic about this, will you?"

"DOM!" they hear.

"Here we go." Teddy says to himself, as he spots Freddie's dreadlocks in the crowd.

The song ends and there is momentary silence before the next one, which Freddie takes advantage of to say "Shit I thought we lost you in the crowd! It's bleeding packed tonight –Ah, this is bad for us." He calls, stopping as soon as he spots Teddy next to her, and Teddy spots him tugging James behind him, who can't see clearly why Freddie stopped, because people are pushing from all sides and Freddie is taller.

Teddy smiles coolly and points at the exit.

Freddie and Dom wince at his expression; they know they have no choice.

 Half way there Teddy catches the words "Why are we leaving?"

And Freddie says sadly "Because we're busted Jaime!"

Ten minutes later in the clean air Jaime finally sees him and smiles lazily "Teds!" hiccupping.

"How slossed are you three?" Teddy demands.

"About the level we were aiming for." Dom smirks, just as Freddie gives a great hive and turns to the alleyway wall to empty his stomach.

"Come on, don't start lecturing us Teddy! We're mature, and we can hold our liquor." She argues, just as Freddie makes a loud sound.

"Clearly." Teddy says dryly.

"Still alive Freddie?" James asks still mostly staring at Teddy up and down happily.

"You can't tell us what to do Ted." Freddie rises, like nothing happened. "We're 19."

"Good point." Teddy concedes, and all three cheer childishly. "This place only lets you in if you're 24 or older."

All three sober up quickly, looking guilty.

"Hand over the fake IDs."

"Er – we don't have any…" James admits.

A group of people left the club, passing by them loudly.

"…Tell me you didn't use what your parents bought you when you were 11 to get inside that place." Teddy begs.

James opens his mouth but Teddy holds his hand up. "Better for all of us if you don't tell me, legally." Teddy sighs. "It's fine to have some fun you rascals, but don't lose each other, don't drink more then you can handle, and don't perform illegal activities – surely your parents covered that much when you started going out at night."

Freddie mumbles something incoherent.

"It might've been mentioned…" Dom chuckles.

"Sorry Teds." James cries, still hiccupping.

Teddy shots him a concerned glance; James never calls him Teds.

"Donnvorry 'bout it Teddy, Jamie is a bit funny when he's drunk." Freddie tells him, before he turns green and goes back to the wall, bending down again.

"Yeah, it's why Freddie went after him – we didn't try to separate!" Dom calls, trying to defend their actions.

"I'm fine! What's wrong with funny?" James demands petulantly, taking off his shirt suddenly, without warning.

"James?" Teddy asks, growing very worried, and scolding himself for looking until he sees something that shouldn't be there and freezes.

"Freddie I told you to stop him!" Dom yells.

Freddie glances at them. "Yeah, I tried." And goes back to vomiting.

"James Sirius Potter is that a tattoo?" Teddy breaths.

"Yes! It's a chair and a bottle – funny right?!" he demands of the night, scaring three people who are passing by.

"…It will be in the morning, or at least your face will be, after you realize what you did." Dom tells him, looking both disturbed and amused. "I swear we tried to stop him Teddy." Dom tells him, trying to stay serious.

"You think Aunt Ginny will behead us?" Freddie wanders back over and asks Dom solemnly.

"Yes." Teddy answers for her. "Now go to your homes, it's late and you're all three well partied-out."

"Yes Mom." Freddie mutters, tripping on his own feet and ends up throwing up a little on Teddy's shoes.

"How did you plan on getting back to your homes before I showed up?" Teddy asks sadly, disappointed.

"I can apparate – I'm good I never splintered anyone even when drunk." Dom says proudly.

"Did you just say splintered?" Teddy asks incredulously, marveling one of them hasn't been splinched beyond repair by now.

"I'm goinn with Teddy – don't any of you try an stop me 'cause you won't get it!" James calls, bolder drunk then he's been sober in Teddy's presence these past several months as he clings to his arm, and doesn't let go.

"Er –" Teddy stumbles with the added weight.

"Works for me – one less cousin to puke on me when I apparate." Dom waves and grabs onto Freddie who can barely keep himself upright and Teddy casts a quick Notice-Me-Not charm before they vanish on the spot and Teddy is surprised to not find any leftover body parts of theirs.

"Well at least they made it safely – if they actually ended up at their houses." Teddy says, mostly to himself. "Let's take you home Jaime?" Teddy asks gently, pulling away from him a bit to pick up the fallen shirt.

"Hmmm I said nobody fight on me on this!"

"Right right, no use asking, got it." And Teddy apparates them to his flat.

"S'Teddy's!" James calls happily. "Let's keep the party going!"

"No!" Teddy hurries to pull him towards the fireplace. "Only way to your house is through the floo – you have to stand straight –"

"But I'm gay!"

Teddy freezes, but James doesn't particularly seem aware that he just came out of the closet to Teddy, who isn't supposed to know about it.

"… Jaime."

"Mm?"

"How much do you remember in the mornings after you're drunk like this?"

"Everything! Weeeeeeeeeee!" he calls happily, making a jump into the flames. Teddy grabs him around the waist in time to stop him from burning.

"James! Without floo powder – it's just a burning flame!" Teddy scolds, his heart nearly dancing in his chest.

"Okay." He says sadly, dejected he got caught.

Teddy holds him tightly in case he makes for another try, and they both stand, chest to back, watching the strong orange flames burn for a minute.

"…Jaime, er, I sort of like you." Teddy's mind races; where did that come from? What is his deal with James lately? He's so lost as to how to deal with him, so afraid he'll lose him somehow if this goes badly, that it's hard to breath, but now that he has him in his arms as he tries to make a run to a burning fire (probably because it'll be funny) he's content.

"We like you too!" James calls wishfully, jumping up and down where Teddy still holds him.

"Er – we?"

"Sober James and Drunk James!"

"So you are aware that you're currently drunk?" Teddy realizes dryly. "At least there's that." And still hugging him to his chest closely, Teddy throws floo powder into the fireplace and jumps in with him, and calls "Potter Cottage!"

They are thrown on the rug, and Teddy manages to hold his own and holds James upright with him.

"Alright Drunk James, deliver Sober James a message from me?" Teddy asks, hearing voices start up in the kitchen. He guesses either Harry or Ginny waited up for James and the wards told them someone flooed in.

"Okiiiiiiiiiiiii –"

Teddy leans down and gives James a light kiss on the mouth, effectively shutting him up. Then he pulls away, letting him go.

"Tell Sober James to come find me tomorrow. Good night." He hears footsteps but he already threw the remaining floo powder in the fire and jumps in, returning to his flat.

 


 

Teddy's night is short; it is half past five AM and he is already back in uniform, on his way to a mission with his team.

"This one's the big one!" Seamus Finnigan is the highest ranking amongst them, but Teddy still spots some of the others rolling their eyes; he says that every time. "If you lose focus you'll find yourselves paying for it. Now, be on the ready from this point on for anything! Let's proceed."

Three hours later and Teddy is sitting next to Flanker behind their barricade, waiting for an enemy attack that might not happen.

Teddy sighs; he could've used this time to get a start on that pile of paperwork on his desk. He really does need someone to help him with it.

That drives his mind to James, and to yesterday, as he wonders how long until James wakes up, hangover. And how long until last night returns to him.

Nervous as he is he also looks forward to it.

That is until Flanker pulls his wand and Teddy takes too long to react.

"Expelliarmus!"

Teddy's wand flies across the battlefield, as Flanker, his partner, waves down the barriers and the barricades and allows the enemy through.

'Lose focus you'll find yourselves paying for it'

Shit, Teddy is about to pay for it.

 


 

"If you wanted vacation days so badly you could've just asked Teddy." Harry says, offering his godson a brave smile.

Teddy snickers, though it hurts his ribs when he does. "Mornin' Harry." He tries sitting up in his bed and looks around not surprised to find he is in a room at the hospital.

"I heard what happened Ted. Good job, you managed to handle yourself well despite having lost your wand." Harry tells him proudly and gives him such a careful hug Teddy feels like he is missing something.

"Thank you Harry… how long was I unconscious for?"

Harry sighs, and Teddy sees how tired he looks. "A week."

"Shit! I'm sorry! It was Flanker he –"

"Yeah we got him already."

Teddy breathes for a moment, calming himself down.

"Okay how angry are they?" he asks.

Harry doesn't even grin. "They're not angry at all."

Shit, they're very worried then. But Teddy doesn't say it out loud. He remembers James – it really feels like only yesterday they were hugging in front of the fire in his flat (not for the romantic reasons Teddy might have wanted).

"Er – so what did the healers say?"

"…A few more days of rest, you should be fine."

Harry's tone is clipped, and Teddy wonders if there were moments they weren't sure if he is going to be okay. He decides not to ask.

"You know you're the best godfather a bloke can ask for, right?" Teddy says conversationally, and is pleased when Harry rubs the back of his head uncomfortably.

"Been in the hospital for a week, now you're trying your luck with flattery are you young man?"

"Hey Harry… I think I like Jaime." Teddy doesn't look at him, he knows it is cheating, telling him right after Teddy wakes up, still lying in a hospital bed.

"You 'think'? James has been demanding he should hear what's going on with you from every healer in St. Mango's since you got here because apparently you're dating."

Teddy bursts out laughing; James will always be James.

"News to me, honestly." They aren't dating yet, they haven't even talked properly.

"Figured as much." Harry admits. "If you're waiting for me to approve or disapprove, don't; I'm taking the same stand as when you went out with Victoire. I'm here if either of you needs me, but I won't make any decision for you."

"Thanks Harry… Let them in." Teddy says before he can regret it.

Harry finally laughs. "You would've done well in Gryffindor."

Teddy gives him a mock glare as Harry goes on to open the door and stick his head through.

"He's up, who wants to come in and say hello?"

Teddy was at a Weird Sisters concert last year; the noise from the crowd was somewhat like the one he can hear beyond that door now.

Harry is pushed aside and the door bursts open as people just keep swarming in.

First are the Potters and all the Weasleys follow them in.

Ginny runs to his side, and hugs him, just as carefully as Harry did, then smacks him painfully on the arm.

"Ouch!"

"You idiot!"

"Yes ma'am!" Teddy smiles, showing her he is fine now.

"Teddy you alright?" Albus asks soberly, pale and worried.

Before he can answer Lily jumps on him and wraps him in a hug just as James reaches them. Feeling her weight on his sour muscles Teddy appreciates the gentleness Harry and Ginny gave him.

"Oi! Get off Lily I'm supposed to do that! We're –"

"Dating!" almost all the younger lot screams in frustration as James tries to unglue his baby sister from Teddy.

Teddy wonders how many times they've heard it as he smiles at James, sees his red hair more upturned then usual with the lack of sleep.

"Hey guys, I'm alright, don't even worry about it." Teddy says earnestly and the four Potters stop and stare at him (Harry is still getting trampled on by the door).

"Obviously we'll worry about it Teddy!" James splutters.

"Lily sweetheart move for a second, I need to hit him again." Ginny states lightly and Teddy has no doubt she'll do it.

Freddie and Dominique burst through then, and call in sync "We're sorry we puked on you Teddy!"

"You did what?" demands Hermione, she and Ron settled on the other side of Teddy's bed, across the Potters.

"How are you Teddy? Thanks for helping my stupid little sister by the way." Victoire says dryly from next to Roxanne and Lucy, clearly told what happened the other night at the bar.

"Stuuupid!" Louis echoes her childishly, provoking Dom.

"Domi don't!" Fleur calls.

Teddy chuckles as Dom starts chasing her little brother, no thought about being in a hospital.

"Ted!"

Teddy's smile slips as his Gran walks in, supported by her walking stick and Arthur Weasley, Molly behind them.

When she comes over the others move a bit to make room. "If I could, I'd ground you for a month young man!"

"You can always ground me Gran." Teddy says softly. It won't be long now before she passes away. She can barely keep on her feet. "Sorry I worried all of you." He says clearly, making sure they all hear.

He hears Ginny grumble something.

Andromeda puts a hand on his head and calms him down like he loved when he was a little boy, stroking his hair back. Embarrassed by how much the gesture means to him and their audience he blushes and looks at his blankets.

"You hair is just like your father's."

It happens sometimes, Teddy knows. Once in a while he'd wake up with either dirty sandy hair or black thick curls; like one of his parents woke up for the day to spend it with Teddy. He always makes sure to make those days special (though as an adult he can admit to himself it is probably his unconsciousness that is the perpetrator).

"But your ability to make everyone around you worried, I'm afraid, is my daughter's fault." She says dryly and Teddy chuckles, hearing both tiredness and fondness in his gran's voice.

"You'd be surprised." Harry tells her kindly, coming over with a smile, making his way through Bill and Percy. "His dad made me worry occasionally too."

Teddy smiles in thanks. "I'm sure he just wanted to make sure your life wasn't too boring Harry."

Harry laughs heartily, as do most of the adults around Teddy's bed.

"Yeah Harry!" Ron encourages, sniggering. He puts a hand on Teddy's shoulder. "You're gonna be alright, won't you Teddy?"

"You said he was going to be alright for sure!" Rose yells, eyes popping at the betrayal.

"Yeah you said not to even bother asking!" Hugo calls, aghast.

Hermione winks at Teddy who laughs. "How many times did I tell you two not to bother listening to your father?"

"Yeah how many? Quick Rose it's a quiz – aren't you excited?!" Ron claps.

2 hours later, Teddy is left alone with the Potters and Ron, Hermione, Rose and Hugo as everyone else has to go back to their everyday responsibilities (Andromeda can't sit for long on the hospital chairs and Teddy assured her he'll come over as soon as he's discharged so she'll go home and get some rest).

"Hey Teddy is it true you and James are dating?" Hugo asks, helping himself to some of the candy George and Angelina brought over earlier.

"Would I ever lie to you?" James asks dramatically.

Hugo ignores him. "So is it?"

"We're still figuring it out." Teddy tells him, trying not to grin.

"Ha!" Lily calls in James' frowning face, triumphant, and Teddy knows she didn't believe him when he said it.

"What are you on Teddy?" James demands. "You asked me out after the troll incident – how drunk were you to forget that?!"

Teddy stares at James, stunned. "How drunk was I?" he makes sure he heard right.

The four adults are already chuckling at the entertainment.

"Yeah!"

Teddy rolls his eyes, wondering why he took Drunk James at his word when he said he remembers everything after he's sober. Serves Teddy right for believing a drunk.

"My mistake. Since you're clearly more acquainted with the story, why don't you tell it?"

Albus rolls his eyes and mutters "Just great, another James Story."

"What kind of troll was it?" Lily asks, flopping down into an empty bed.

"The most vicious kind," James pauses and glances at Rose.

"Mountain Troll." Harry Ron and Hermione say at the same time, sharing secret smiles.

"A Mountain Troll!" James says dramatically. "But really, let's start at the beginning here, when I rescued Dom from a muggle who had needles instead of hands –"

"Edward Scissor-Hands." Rose says, bored.

"No, no –needles –"

"Like the ones tattoo artists use?" Teddy guesses.

"Yeah –"

Teddy snorts as James doesn't react to that, nor do either of his parents seem to catch the hint; did he really not see it yet? How?

James gives him a weird glance but shrugs it off and goes back to his audience. Ginny and Harry, however, both turn pale, look James over critically.

"Wait!" Hugo stops him after ten minutes. "You walked through lava?"

"I did."

"Not a scratch on you? I don't believe you!"

"Took you way too long little brother." Rose tells him, already immersed in a book.

"I didn't say that! I was full of burns! But Teddy here confessed his undying love for me –"

Teddy makes a face; too corny.

"- and he was so surprised when I told him I was gay -"

Teddy raises his eyebrow but doesn't interrupt the story.

"And his surprise surprised me so much so my accidental magic activated and here you have me, good as new, not a scratch on me!"

There is silence in the hospital room for a minute.

"Teddy saved Dom from the muggle and there was no Troll, was there?" Albus says, stating the obvious.

"Yes there was!" James calls at the same time Lily says "It could happen Albus!"

Albus turns to Hermione. "Please adopt me Aunt Hermione."

"Well, maybe I was a bit tipsy," James allows, shrugging. "But the lava thing was real, I swear."

Everyone casts him with dubious looks, even the adults are paying attention.

"James… I mean accidental magic at nineteen? I've never even heard of that." Hermione says gently.

"Your magic saved you when you were burning?" Ginny asks carefully, unsure of what to make of the story.

Sometimes James embeds his version of the truth of things in his stories, and it is always difficult to decipher.

"Technically, Teddy saved me. Mom, have you been listening AT ALL?"

"Ted?" Harry asks, torn halfway between seriousness and amusement.

He tried to jump into the fireplace, but I stopped him. Is on the tip of his tongue, but if they are dating, they might as well date properly. Teddy decides to play around with them all a bit.

"Yeah and that's what happened. Good job telling the story Jaime."

Harry and Ginny send him unhappy looks, but James smiles from ear to ear.

"See? Like I said!"

"Great, now I've lost you too." Albus tells Teddy sourly and walks up and sits next to Hermione pointedly.

Teddy chuckles as Lily tells him "See Al? It could happen!"

"I wonder how that muggle got his needle hands." Hugo says conversationally, simply accepting the story.

Rose looks at him sadly. "Hugo, it's still not true."

"Are you calling Teddy a liar? He's in a hospital Rose, have you no shame?" James demands and she reddens, giving him a dirty look.

Ten minutes later Teddy is growing tired, and Harry and Hermione convince Ron, Ginny, and the kids that it is time to leave.

"Five more minutes!" Ron whines.

"Come on Ronald!" Hermione grabs him by the arm and waves Teddy goodbye.

"About time! I've been waiting forever for you guys to get the hint!" James calls, walking up to one of the chairs and sitting down, putting his legs up on the edge of Teddy's bed.

"You want me to take my firstborn hindrance with me Ted?" Ginny offers kindly.

Teddy smiles as James looks thunderstruck at the implication that he might be a bother. "Thanks Ginny, but I got it."

Lily catcalls, much to Teddy's amusement and both of her older brothers' embarrassment.

"Lily don't, please! It's Teddy and James for fu – for Merlin's sake." Albus quickly corrects when he glances over at Harry.

"Close call baby bro." James tells him dryly, still somewhat blushing. "Now get lost before you see something traumatic."

Albus turns green and grabs Hugo and Lily each by the arm and sprints out the door with them.

"Never saw Albus exercise before. Good for him." Rose says casually. "Well Teddy, feel better." She waves and closes the door after them, leaving the two alone.

Teddy smiles at James. "So, we're dating, are we?"

"So, you kiss me, tell me to come find you tomorrow, and then end up unconscious for a week, do you?" James says, and halfway his tone turns bitter, and he is no longer smiling.

Teddy's stomach flips. "I'm sorry I worried you Jaime –"

"I heard already." He mumbles, looking away.

"So, um…" Teddy suddenly grows nervous. "How about next Sunday?"

James looks at him questioningly.

"Well, in order for us to date we need to have a date –"

"I know how it works Teddy!" James tells him, still in a bad mood, and Teddy sniggers.

"Jamie I'm happy you were so worried, I'll be more careful, promise." Teddy smiles sweetly, cheating, as James softens a bit, his cheeks flushing. "Come on, I'm asking you out. At least give a bloke an answer."

"Like you need one."

Teddy blinks, and has the grace to look away, guilty.

"I'll be there." James says resolutely, but Teddy can see the fight leaving him.

"Jamie," James' head snaps at Teddy's tone. "I like you too. In case you needed to hear it sober."

James, embarrassed, changes the subject, though he looks pleased.

"But really, what happened? I can swear there was lava."

"You tried to jump into the fireplace, but I stopped you."

"Cheers! Let's keep that between us, shall we?" James asks.

"Like your tattoo?"

James blinks slowly.

"MY WHAT NOW?"

Ten minutes later they're in the hospital bathroom, and James takes his shirt off.

Dominique was right, Teddy agrees, his expression when he realizes what he did when he was drunk that night is very funny.

"I don't get it." James calls numbly, not taking his eyes off the mirror.

"You said it was funny."

"I don't fucking get it."

"Yeah neither do I."  Teddy chuckles, looking at the nonsensical bottle and chair. He leans down and licks the bottle, then sucks the skin around the chair, leaving a red mark. James makes a sound.

"But I'm sure I can find a use for it." Teddy winks.

 

THE END