James spread the well-worn map out in front of him, the black pen marks like a spider web centered in Godric’s Hollow, marking all the places he had been. All the places he would go.
The summer heat came in through the window, heating James’ room, though he couldn’t be fussed to cast a cooling charm. He was too engrossed in the map, in the secrets these places had to offer. Hogwarts was out for the summer — for James, it was out forever, having just finished his last year. It had been a time of highs and lows, great happiness conflicting with his own internal feelings of melancholy.
In order to properly celebrate his graduation — and his lack of current career endeavours, much to his parent’s disappointment — James was setting off on the road trip of a lifetime. Starting in England, he and Gustavus, his car, were going to see the seven wonders of the wizarding world.
Most wizards saw cars as nothing more than metal death-traps, his nan included, but James’ parents were surprisingly okay with it. He figured he should have expected it, considering his dad grew up with Muggles and still had Sirius’ bike under a tarp in their backyard, and his mum really was Arthur’s daughter.
James had bought Gus, his well-loved, secondhand 1973 Datsun last summer, before he could even drive. It was on a whim, honestly, but he was walking through Devon with some friends and couldn’t pass up on the old 240z. He then took some time to get his Muggle driving license before going back to school for his seventh year.
He and his pop had gone to driving lessons together; Arthur’s love of all-things Muggle hadn’t faded with time, though no one thought it would. Molly had forbidden him from getting another car after the disaster that was the Ford Anglia, as she was convinced he’d blow the entire Statute of Secrecy, but Arthur still loved the whole driving experience.
And really, no one had to know that he’d driven James’ car once or twice around the backroads.
Gus was one of James’ most prized possessions. It had been parked at the Burrow for a while, and James and his pop had spent most of the previous summer tinkering with it, fixing all the little problems that had come with age. They took care of the rust and replaced the cylinder head, and restored the original paint job — a deep, metallic green.
James looked down at the map, excited for all that was to come. His honorary-Aunt Luna had added in a handful of places in purple pen, all somewhat along the way to his destinations, and told him the journey could be even better without such a strict timeline. He planned to take her advice, as she was usually right. Luna was hopeful he would see a Crumple-Horned Snorkack when in Sweden, and he had promised to find the nearest Floo and alert her if he did.
The idea of a road trip had been stuck in James’ head since Ted Thomas-Finnigan had been on one the summer between fourth and fifth year with his dads. Of course, James could Apparate anywhere he pleased, within reason, but that wasn’t the point. There was something romantic in the idea of a road trip, something beautiful in taking his time to drive through the countryside.
More than the trip itself, James was excited for the freedom. As the oldest, he’d always had a hard time asserting his independence from his parents; they oft gave him and Albus the same rules. This was the first time he’d truly be on his own: No parents, no teachers, it would just him and Gus — and miles and miles of pavement to traverse.
It seemed his thoughts of independence summoned his dad to the room, as there was a light knock on the door before Harry entered. James had Harry’s crooked smile, his knobby knees and his penchant for running his fingers through his hair when he was nervous. James was gifted with much more tameable hair though, and his mother’s freckles.
Harry sat on the edge of the bed, moving the map gently out of the way.
“You know I’m thrilled for you, right? It’s going to be a great adventure.”
“Yeah, Dad — and guess what?” James smiled at Harry. “I was able to fit in some of the places Aunt Luna suggested.”
“That’s great, James.” Harry took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. His tone became placating. “I’m just worried about you, okay? I know you can handle yourself, but I’m your dad, and it’s part of the job to watch out for you.”
Harry held up a hand. “James, I asked Teddy to go with you. I know I should have cleared it with you first, but I know how close the two of you are and I thought it would be perfect. He spent a lot of time with Muggles after Hogwarts; he can help you navigate if you get stuck or feel out of your depth.”
James’ heart sank. He remembered the time that Teddy lived with a few Muggles — it was three years wherein Teddy was distant, where James rarely saw him outside of family dinners at the Burrow. Three years where James grew up and Teddy wasn’t really there to see it.
Teddy returned from his time in London with a new nose ring and a handful of Muggle tattoos, his smile a little bit brighter. Gone was the ever-changing appearance that had defined his youth, and in its place, someone who was more true to himself. He rarely changed his eye colour, and stopped morphing his nose, slightly crooked from where James had hit him with a Quaffle when they were little. Teddy returned and was still the only one to call James “Jamie,” but there was a distance between them that they had yet to recover from.
Three years was a long time apart.
“It that all right?”
He had a moment where he thought about telling his dad off, telling him that no, it actually wasn’t bloody all right, but the moment passed.
“Yeah, Dad. That’s fine, I just wish —” that you trusted me, James’ mind supplied. He knew that wasn’t the problem though. “— that you’d asked me first.”
“I know,” Harry said, and to his credit, he did sound apologetic. “I just thought it would be okay; you and Teddy have always been close. At least I didn’t invite myself along,” he joked, trying to lighten the mood.
James shrugged. “Not sure that would have been worse.”
Harry grimaced. “He’s downstairs, he wanted to talk to you about the particulars of the trip.”
“Okay,” James said, looking back down at his map. “I’ll be there in a minute.”
He felt the weight on the bed shift as Harry stood, listened to the creaking of the stairs as his dad made his way back to Teddy. James took a moment to compose himself; it had been a couple weeks since he had last seen Teddy, and the other man always seemed to take his breath away.
It was hard to remember a time when he hadn’t been hopelessly in love with Teddy, because, well, James wasn’t sure a time like that had ever truly existed. As a child, he loved Teddy with the exuberance of youth. He would bring Teddy his favourite flowers from Molly’s garden and make Teddy play Quidditch with him. James idolized him.
As a pre-teen and then a fully-fledged teenager, Teddy was his role model and featured in all of his late-night fantasies; love blurring the lines into lust, and still, Teddy remained at the center. Teddy was his best friend, his partner-in-crime, his confidante.
There had never been anyone else James had felt so strongly about, so certain about.
But that didn’t mean Teddy felt the same.
James sighed and flopped backwards on the bed, his head landing on the pillow. He didn’t want to face Teddy, didn’t want to go downstairs and pretend everything was fine and act like he was excited about this change of plans, but he knew his dad and Teddy were waiting, so he pulled himself together, folded his map, and made his way down.
The sound of Teddy’s laughter reached James before he made it to the kitchen. Like Teddy, it was loud and bright; the kind of laughter that made you want to join in, even when you had missed the joke — honestly, even if the joke was about you. It was infectious, all-consuming.
“Jamie!” Teddy turned, hesitation evident on his face. “You took so long, I thought you might not have wanted to see me. Your dad said you wouldn’t mind me tagging along?”
“Of course I want to see you, Teddy.”
Teddy’s hair was a pale lavender today. It shouldn’t have worked with his ratty, orange Chudley Cannons shirt, but somehow, it did.
“That used to belong to me, you know,” James said, gesturing at the shirt.
Teddy laughed. “And before that, it was Ron’s. Can’t complain to me when you stole it in the first place.”
James couldn’t help but grin; Teddy did have a point. “So, about this road trip. Sure you want to spend hours and hours in a car with me?” James pulled a face, trying to keep the mood light.
“As long as you don’t prank me like you used to do to Albus, then I think we’ll be good.”
“I don’t know if I could find enough Fire Crabs to pull that stunt again.”
Harry coughed, clearly trying to cover a laugh. “I never should have named you after two Marauders; I don’t know why your mother agreed.”
He grabbed his cup of coffee and let the room, still trying to conceal his grin. James had been in a hell of a lot of trouble at the time, but it was good to know his dad thought he was funny.
He spread his arms. “Well, Tedward, I make no promises.”
“Just know I’m older than you, and bigger, and I will retaliate,” Teddy said, his tone serious but his grin giving him away.
James smiled back. Maybe they could do this. Maybe it would be fine. Yes, he would be pining after his unattainable godbrother for the entire summer — and stuck in a car with him for hours on end — but maybe this would be fun. “All right, Teddy. We leave in a week.”
Whatever trepidation James felt, he was still looking forward to the trip. He had been planning it long before his N.E.W.T.s, with his map spread out in the Gryffindor common room. Many of his evenings were spent in the library, looking at the history behind the most magical places in Europe.
While there was no official list for the wizarding wonders, James had taken inspiration from Muggle counterparts and put together his own, determined to see them all.
As they packed the car, and Teddy’s backpack landed on top of James’ own, James couldn’t help but smile. Front and center was a bumblebee-shaped pride pin that was a gift from James when Teddy came out.
James turned and caught the small bundle being tossed at him by Teddy. He opened the bag to find a handful of CDs.
“Teddy. How old are these? I don’t think my car can even play them!”
“Nonsense. We’re wizards, there’s a spell to make them compatible — and they aren’t old! I finished burning them the other day; I thought it’d be good to have some music for the trip.”
James rolled his eyes, his MagiPod a heavy weight in his pocket. He couldn’t bring himself to tell Teddy that he already had music planned — not when Teddy looked so excited — so instead he put the stack of CDs on the front seat.
After some (slightly tearful) goodbyes from Harry, Ginny and the Potter siblings, James and Teddy pulled out of the driveway of Godric’s Hollow.
James knew his family didn’t understand his need for the trip, his purpose behind it, but they were still letting him go — had been encouraging him to go, and that’s all that really mattered.
It took a few minutes for Teddy to flip through the CDs and peruse his choices. James thought it was mostly for his benefit — they were Teddy’s CDs, after all — but James let him make a show of it. Teddy had always leaned a bit toward the dramatic side, though it was probably hard not to when your hair colour seemed to be directly tied to your emotions. Subtle, Teddy was not. He slid one of the case and put it in the player.
“Every road trip has to start with a song by David Bowie,” he said over the music.
“Jamie, I don’t make the rules, but we still need to follow them.”
James rolled his eyes but acquiesced. Teddy had always been more into music than James, listening to Remus’ old records in his room while James and Al played Quidditch in the yard. He had never officially lived with them, he was Andromeda’s charge, but the guest room in Godric’s Hollow had always unofficially belonged to Teddy. The weeks he spent there were always the highlight of James’ summer and the best part of winter hols.
He let the lyrics wash over him as they drove, tried to find the meaning behind the words.
Still don't know what I was waitin' for
And my time was runnin' wild
A million dead end streets and
Every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
He had to admit, Teddy was right. It was the perfect way to start a road trip.
t l . j p . t l . j p . t l . j p
Teddy Lupin could look like anyone, but sometimes, that made it hard to be himself.
His long nose had never been quite straight after James hit him with a Quaffle — he didn’t have the heart to tell Harry or Ginny and get James in trouble, so it healed like that. Leaning slightly to the left, and so he began morphing it away. He had a smattering of freckles across his cheeks and shoulders, but one of the boys he kissed at Hogwarts told him freckles looked like dirt, and so he began morphing them away.
His eyes were too bright and his hair not bright enough, his teeth crooked and his whole body too lanky.
He learned to check himself in the mirror every morning before he left, making sure the undesirable areas were covered, hidden, the real bits of himself tucked away with just a thought. Changing his appearance was a sleight-of-hand trick compared to what he could do with a wand, so Teddy thought it was fine. Thought he was doing everyone a favour by being a better version of himself, but eventually, he realised that came with a cost.
It was hard to get to know yourself when the version you presented to the world was lacking everything that made you special. Hard to feel accepted when the bits people liked about you were the pieces you spent time perfecting in the mirror every morning, instead of what you were born with.
As the music thrummed through the car, Teddy tried to remember what he was born like. Crooked teeth, straight nose (now leaning to the side). A smattering of freckles across his cheeks, his father’s eyes.
James had always liked his eyes when they were natural.
One of the reasons Teddy had always been drawn to James was because he was so unashamed of himself. He was born covered in freckles and they only seemed to multiply as he grew. They were like the stars in the night sky; Teddy could trace constellations into James’ skin if given the opportunity — and Merlin, he wanted the opportunity. James was the golden boy. More so than Harry, he didn’t mind the spotlight growing up. With two famous parents, he learned to deal with the press, learned to give them a cocky smile and walk right past, just as Teddy had learned to hide in the shadows.
He was the last of the Lupins, the last of the Tonks. One of the last Blacks, if he was permitted to count himself among their noble.
James was the embodiment of his namesakes, in the same way Teddy was his. James was brash where Teddy was quiet, James pulled pranks and Teddy was a prefect.
James was the sun and Teddy was the moon, circling the same sky yet destined to be apart.
Teddy knew he would do just about anything to let gravity pull them together — maybe that’s why he agreed to go on this barmy road trip in the first place. James was eighteen. He was a more-than competent wizard, the well-known child of Harry Potter. It’s not like James would be needing Teddy to cast spells or help him figure out directions.
The way Teddy saw it, James didn’t need him for much of anything, but he couldn’t bring himself to say no when Harry had asked.
And now, well, they’d been in the car for a couple hours, and they were nearing their first destination. After a few songs from the late David Bowie, the music had shifted, and they were now listening to The Arctic Monkeys.
“Jamieee,” Teddy sighed. “How much longer?”
James gave him a good-natured shove. “This is the fifth time you’ve asked in the past half an hour!”
He laughed, and Teddy smiled. “Less than an hour. You better get used to long drives — the first few days are going to be easy, but we have some long legs to come.”
“I know, I know. So we’re checking into the hotel first, then heading out when it gets dark?”
James nodded. “Yeah, dawn is supposed to be the most magical time, so we’ll go out around half past three? Gives us a little while before the sunrise.”
Teddy groaned. “So early!”
“I know, but it’s technically closed to the public. Wizards are only allowed to enter when it’s dark enough that we can’t be seen — they don’t need more Muggle hippies damaging the intricate magic.”
“They did that?”
“Not on purpose, of course. Everyone’s drawn to Stonehenge, if you’re allowed to get close. Muggles just don’t realise why, so they can get a little crazy. Wizards recognise the deep-seated magic.”
Teddy nodded, and they fell into silence for a while. It started to drizzle, and Teddy watched as they passed by the little towns. The drive so far had been beautiful. Harry had never sold Grimmauld Place, but after the third time Teddy had stayed over and found a cursed object hidden in the shadows, Harry had decided it wasn’t a house he felt comfortable raising a child in.
After he and Ginny were married, they moved to Godric’s Hollow. It was close to the Weasleys, so Molly was thrilled, but far enough away that it did feel like their own place. Teddy spent much of his time there before starting school, giving Andromeda some time to relax from her rambunctious grandson. That time tapered off as he entered Hogwarts, but he still managed to be there during many of his school holidays.
What would it be like, he wondered, to live somewhere over here? They had taken a bit of a detour while driving, and passed through the East Devon Area of Outstanding Beauty. Luna had first fished for Freshwater Plimpies there, so the location came highly recommended. It was beautiful, and incredibly secluded. Would the city be overwhelming, if you grew up in one of the little farmhouses dotting the countryside?
A life like that was so foreign to Teddy, so unbelievable. He loved the city, went to London every chance he had. After school, he actually lived there for a while, in a flat with a couple of Muggles and a Squib. It was, for lack of a better term, safe. They just thought he was a bit eccentric and skilled with a bottle of hair dye.
He wasn’t Edward Lupin, the son of Remus and Tonks, casualties of a war he was too young to remember. He wasn’t the godson of the Saviour of the Wizarding World. There was no speculation that he was a werewolf hiding his powers through his metamorphmagus abilities.
It was nice.
He took a couple years off, away from the pressure that had unintentionally been put on his broad shoulders. Lost himself in the crowd of anonymity.
He sighed and ran his fingers through his hair.
“Whatcha thinking about?” James asked.
Teddy shrugged. “Nothing much.”
“Liar,” he replied. “You always get all scrunched when you’re overthinking.” He made a bad attempt at wrinkling his forehead.
“I don’t look like that, you prat.” Teddy paused, waiting a beat too long. “I was thinking about London. The countryside’s a nice change.”
James fell silent and fiddled with the music, turning it up.
Teddy knew he had said something to irk Jamie, but he wasn’t sure what. He didn’t know how to fix whatever it was that was broken between them, so they sat in silence, just the sound of Teddy’s CD reverberating through the car.
Baby, baby, baby
Your good old days have died
Baby, baby, baby
Now won’t you dry your pretty eyes
Baby, baby, baby
Your good old days are dead
So come on
They were starting to see signs for Stonehenge and their hotel when James broke the silence.
“There’s a good chips place up the road, if you want to stop there before the hotel?”
“Sure, Jamie.” Teddy knew James only said it for him — while James had been on a health-food kick recently, Teddy would never turn down a beer and some chips.
And James was right, the place was delicious. It was a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, catering to the small number of locals and tourists looking to eat somewhere cheap. They got a couple of beers and an order of fish and chips to share. They relaxed, and whatever weird tension had come over them in the car seemed to dissipate with every sip of their drinks.
Teddy was starting to look forward to the trip again.
t l . j p . t l . j p . t l . j p
Of course, dinner was great. Delicious. James actually let his guard down, started to relax. He and Teddy were joking like they used to — before Teddy’s time in London, before everything.
Then they got to the hotel.
James looked around the room, and realised a major flaw in this whole “get along with Teddy and pretend you aren’t totally in love with him” plan, which he thought had been working rather successfully so far.
It was a gaping hole of a flaw, a jump-in-the-Thames-without-knowing-how-to-swim level problem.
In the room was one bathroom, one little end table, and one fucking bed.
To be fair, it was a massive, king-sized monstrosity. But because it was a huge bed and a regular-sized room, it wasn't like they’d even have room to put a rollaway.
His face burned, and he studiously avoided eye contact with Teddy.
And then he realised the worst part.
James hadn’t planned on spending the trip with anyone else (well, anyone else that would need a second bed). He hadn’t planned for Teddy to tag along, and because of that small oversight — failing to remember how overprotective his dad could be — none of the hotels would be booked for two beds.
They were on a fucking Muggle road trip, staying in a string of hotels that would only have one bed.
James heard Teddy start laughing. “Maybe I should have checked on the accommodations before I agreed to come along.”
“Fuck off,” James mumbled. It wasn’t his fault his dad had surprised him.
“It’s fine, really. I don’t mind sharing. Unless...” Teddy frowned. “Unless you do? I can always see if they have another room available.”
And that couldn’t be further from the truth.
“No, don’t bother. We’re barely sleeping here anyway — we need to get up early.”
“Right. Like three in the morning, you said?”
“Yeah.” James nodded. He made no movement towards the bed, still staring at it.
He couldn’t believe it: As if spending a couple of months with Teddy, travelling in James’ Datsun and sharing hotel rooms wasn’t going to be hard enough, now they would be sharing a bed.
“Jamie,” Teddy said, his voice soft. “If it makes you uncomfortable, we can figure something else out.”
“No, it’s fine.” James knew he sounded stilted, sounded like this wasn’t okay. He couldn’t seem to shake off the surprise of the situation.
It’s not like he and Teddy hadn’t shared before — even when his grandparents expanded the Burrow with wizarding space, there were never enough beds for everyone. He was usually set to share with Albus, but Albus snored, so James would always end up sneaking into Teddy’s bed.
It was almost a tradition for them; Teddy would always leave the door unlocked and a soft
Lumos filling the room, waiting for James.
But that was before James could put words to his feelings, before he knew that the Wrackspurts in his stomach were more than innocent excitement at seeing his best friend.
Before Teddy had gone to London.
Before James had come out.
“I’ll just.” Teddy gestured vaguely to the bathroom before grabbing his clothes and walking in.
James hurried to throw on an old t-shirt and a pair of joggers, thankful that he planned ahead enough to have something to wear. He took one deep breath after the next. He could do this. He could do this.
Teddy stepped out, wearing an old Hufflepuff Quidditch shirt and his own pair of grey joggers. James loved him like this, especially — all soft-looking and ready for sleep. He couldn’t believe the domesticity as they both pulled down the corner of the duvet on their respective sides and prepared to get in.
He could do this. He could do this.
“G’night, Jamie,” Teddy said, his voice disconcertingly close in the dark.
“Night, Teddy,” James responded. He blushed, hoping Teddy missed his high his voice was.
It took ages to fall asleep; James could hear Teddy’s quiet, even breathing as he quickly succumbed to sleep. James was close enough that he could look at the light freckles across Teddy’s cheeks, watch as his hair — as it always did when Teddy slept — slowly changed from lavender back to his father’s tawny-brown curls. The colour spread slowly in sleep, starting at the roots and moving to the tips, like ripples in water.
He was beautiful.
James turned away — away from Teddy, away from temptation — and closed his eyes. It was weird enough to stare when Teddy was awake, but James knew it was infinitely creepier when Teddy was unaware.
James growled when his wand began to shake in the morning, his three a.m. wake-up call. It was pitch black in the room, and he didn’t want to move, didn’t want to lose the warmth of the bed, but he knew he needed to. It was the true start of their journey, the first of the seven wizarding wonders, and James was excited.
His wand alarm went off again and he shoved it off the bed, taking a moment to savour the weight of the duvet before throwing it off and getting dressed. Teddy, the lucky bastard, was still sound asleep, his rest uninterrupted from the sound of James’ alarm. James was quick to remedy that, throwing one of the pillows at him while pulling on his jeans.
“Oww, what was that for?” Teddy’s voice was soft and sleepy, and James refused to think about how they were sharing a bed.
“Rise and shine, Tedward. The darkness and the magic await.”
Teddy groaned, pulling the blankets closer around him. “Can you at least cast a warming charm?”
Laughing, James complied. “Now get up!”
It took a little while for them to get dressed; the summer heat had faded overnight, leaving them both with a need to pull on extra layers. Their hotel was chosen specifically because of its location — it was not only close to Stonehenge, but it was also a little out of the way of everything else.
James didn’t want to draw any attention to themselves, so they walked for a bit to find a deserted area before Apparating close to the monument of rocks.
Teddy had been there before, James knew that. Andromeda and Narcissa had made their amends after the war, so Teddy often spent time at Malfoy Manor, which was close to Stonehenge. For some reason though, James’ parents had never brought him, Al and Lily. While his dad may not have fully learned the significance — having been raised by Muggles (and sleeping through most of the History of Magic) — James was surprised that his mum never had the desire. She may not have thought James or his siblings would have cared enough to make the trip worthwhile.
But James did care.
Staring at Stonehenge, even in the dark, was magnificent. They started walking closer, and James could feel his magic interacting with that of the site. The rocks let off a steady, soft stream of magic, their tendrils reaching out and touching James’ own.
He’d never been so aware of what his magic felt like.
“This is amazing,” James breathed, his voice quiet as to not disrupt what was occurring around him.
He felt Teddy nod beside him. “I know. I was absolutely overwhelmed the first time I was here.”
They continued walking and made their way to the center of the circle. The magic was strongest there, as they stood on top of the crossing ley lines, but it also felt more protected. The circle seemed to keep out any noise, any wind, and they stood there in what James felt was a protective bubble of ancient magic.
“This is where wizards used to come,” James whispered. “Before wands, before there were really spells. They put these stones in place to harness the magic of the area.”
“It’s said that the first wands were made out of rock, because people knew how effective sites like this were in allowing people to connect to their magic.”
“Why’d we switch to wood?”
James shrugged. “Someone realised that while the stones were able to hold magic in and connect to the earth, allowing people to harness it in the circle, wooden wands were better at connecting to individuals. We draw on the magic from within ourselves more than the ancient witches and wizards ever did.”
He felt Teddy look at him. “How do you know all of this?”
James shrugged again. “I did a lot of reading this past year — I wanted to be prepared for this.”
“I’m glad you are.”
They lapsed into a comfortable silence, standing in the dark in the middle of an ancient circle. James felt like his magic was being both drained and renewed, almost like he was leaving a piece of it in that circle, and taking a piece of the magic from there in its place.
It was unsettling, but also incredibly moving.
When the sun started to rise, the sky beginning to turn pink and orange, they walked out of the circle and Teddy held out his arm for James to hold onto.
James nodded and took hold; Teddy Apparated them back to where they had left from, a grassy knoll not far from the hotel.