Remy used to hear it sometimes, how kids were too young to know what love was. That he'd understand when he was older, just give it time, don't grow up too soon, but it always confused him. Of course he knew what love was. Why wouldn't he? He was surrounded by love daily, and was smart enough to recognize it. Maybe his Grandpa just didn't understand that there were lots of ways to show love. Lots of ways to express it besides kissing his cheek and hugging him.
When Remy said that to his dad, looking extremely sad, he'd laughed so hard he almost fell off his chair while his papa choked on his coffee, which came painfully out of his nose.
"What's love then, Remy?" his dad had asked him after resituating himself on his chair, leaning towards his eldest son with his arms folded against the table.
Remy thought about it for a minute, staring down, eventually lifting up his plate with a serious look on his face. "I don't like powder sugar on my pancakes but Dori does! So you give me syrup and give Dori powder sugar! Cuz you love us!"
His parents looked like they'd been stabbed in the chest, and his dad, who was closest, set a hand on his cheek, leaning closer to kiss the side of his head, grinning with watery hazel eyes.
"Yeah bud, that's excellent," he grinned. "You know exactly what love is, grandpa doesn't know what he's saying."
Remy smiled back at him, feeling like he'd gotten his point across successfully, and went back to his breakfast.
From then on, Remy was attentive around his parents, watching them curiously between his playtime and naps, between when they would come and go from work, drop he and his brother off at their grandparents for babysitting or playdates. His parents had a specific kind of love language, and Remy found great entertainment in interpreting it.
Love was the withered old copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard that sat on the bedside table in the room Remy shared with Dori. It belonged to his papa, who said it belonged to his papa, and that Remy's grandad had left it to him a long time ago. He would sit in the armchair in the corner of the room, the one with the patches on the top right, collect Remy and Dori onto his lap, and open the well-worn copy to read to them.
Written on the inside cover was a name, and Remy loved that name. He loved to trace the faded ink with his finger tip, the R of the first name and the L of the last name, scratching at the J between them with blunt nails, grinning back at his papa.
"That's my name!" he'd say. "Remus Lupin. That's me!"
"Yeah it is," his papa would smile, and it would be a sad smile, feeling the name with his thumb. "You were named after my dad, you know? This book was his when he was your age. It's very special. You take care of it, okay?"
"It's super old, huh?"
"Yeah. It's very old."
Remy thought it was falling to pieces, that his papa deserved a better copy of the book he loved so much. It was during their next trip to Diagon Alley, Remy was standing in the line at Flourish and Blotts with a brand new copy of The Tales of Beedle the Bard. That was where his dad found him, giving him a confused look as he laughed at the teller and plucked Remy from the ground, walking away and taking the book from him.
"What are you doing with this, Rem? You know we have a copy at home."
"But that one is dying," Remy argued, pouting as his dad put the book back on the shelf. "Papa says it's very old, so I was getting him a new one!"
"Really? With what money?" Remy had no answer, and his dad laughed softly. "Remy, your papa's copy may be old, but it's very special to him. How do I explain this.” They stopped outside the store. "Your stuffy, the one papa got you, you always sleep with it, and you hug it whenever papa is gone at work for a really long time. You love it, don't you?"
"Yes!" Remy nodded firmly.
"It reminds you of your papa?"
"Would it make you sad, if papa went away for a very long time, and someone tried to replace your stuffy with a new one?"
Remy's eyes were wide. "I don't want a new one! I want the one papa gave me."
His dad smiled, the green in his amber eyes seemed to be more dominant in the sun. "It's the same for your papa. He doesn't want a new book. He wants the one his papa gave him."
Remy's mouth formed an O of surprise with a short gasp, and his dad snorted, carrying him down the street. It made perfect sense now! His papa loved that book like he loved the man who wrote his name in it! Remy was careful to treat the worn copy with respect after that.
Love was a hand-knitted blanket draped over the back of the couch in their living room. It had been there ever since he could remember, made of material that was scratchy in some places. It didn't have an exact design, but was made meticulously with red, gold, yellow, and black material, stitched with little tails in the corners. The yellow yarn was soft and fluffy, the gold was rather rough, and it was a warm blanket but Remy never used to like it.
His dad said their great gran Molly stitched it as a gift when he and their papa got married, and that it was very special. Remy didn't see why. It was hideous.
Still, Remy recalled that blanket being present every time his papa came home late from work. It happened a lot, because he worked a lot, because it was very important work his dad said. Sometimes his papa would miss dinner, sometimes Remy and Dori were asleep when he returned home, sometimes he didn't even get home till the next day.
Remy would wander out into the living room to see him slumped in the chair closest to the fire, hair an exhausted shade of faded brown, head tucked in the top corner of the chair and snoring softly, that horrible blanket draped over him. His papa would end up in that chair a lot, because sometimes he was just too tired to make it to his bed, and his dad would always find him there, covering him with the blanket and stoking the fire so he'd stay warm.
Remy didn't really understand it, until one night he woke up and shuffled out into the front room, the fire flickering and his papa asleep in his armchair. There was no blanket over him, though, and Remy felt very alarmed. So he followed his instinct and crawled onto the couch, grabbed hold of the ugly blanket, and dragged it over to the armchair. He flung it over his papa, then crawled under it and onto his papa's lap, where he snuggled to his chest and fell asleep.
The next day, his dad found them like that, a grin on his face as he stole a picture before moving to prepare breakfast. That's how Remy woke up, snuggling with his papa and wrapped up in that scratchy blanket that smelt like moth balls and laundry detergent. His papa had wound his arms around him and squeezed when he realized Remy was there, burying his face in his oldest son's hair.
“Did I wake you up, Rem?”
“Nuh-uh, I was thirsty, but papa didn't have his blanket,” Remy explained simply, rubbing his eye sleepily, and his papa laughed as he set Remy on his feet and stood, folding the blanket.
“So you decided to tuck me in?”
“Well thank you very much.”
The blanket was returned to the back of the couch, and Remy always made sure to run his hand along it, even the scratchy gold bits, because it reminded him of falling asleep warm on his papa's lap, curled up in his arms. He really liked that blanket.
Love was the old tree in their backyard, the one with the twisted branches that looked like gnarled arms, where Remy's papa had secured a tire swing that both Remy and Dori had fallen off of at some point, breaking arms or spraining wrists, crying until their parents were next to them and hugging them.
Specifically, it was the shapes and letters carved into the trunk of the tree. Remy liked to sit on top of the tire and trace the crooked edges with his fingers, the boxy heart and the T+J that had been carved inside.
“Your dad carved it into the tree when we moved here,” Remy's papa had said, holding Remy propped against his hip and feeling over the carved J with his thumb. “Back then, we didn't know we would get married, didn't even know we'd stay together. We were just living, loving each other. Your dad did this so we'd always remember how we loved.”
“Didn't it hurt?”
His papa had torn his eyes from the tree to stare at him. “Did what hurt?”
“The tree!” Remy gasped. “Didn't it hurt the tree?”
“Oh,” his papa had laughed, smiling up at the branches. “It's okay, Remy. Your dad made sure to ask first and get permission before marking it. It's… kind of like a tattoo.”
“You have tattoos!”
“That's true, I have a lot of tattoos,” his papa hummed, feeling over the heart once more before turning with Remy. “You know, mine hurt too, but they don't any more.”
“So that means the tree isn't hurting anymore either?"
“That's right.” His papa's smile brought out the multiple colors in his eyes. “That's an important lesson, Rem, so pay attention. Sometimes things that hurt will be fine in the end. If something hurts you, stay very brave, because the pain will absolutely go away, and it will leave you beautiful in return.”
“I'll have tattoos!”
“Er, maybe when you're older. Let's discuss it after lunch."
They didn't, Remy completely forgot when he discovered they were eating fish sticks and coleslaw, but he remembered that tree, that tattoo of love carved into the trunk.
Love was the color blue, but not just any color blue. It was the shade of turquoise blue that colored his papa's hair when he was especially happy. Normally when he was working he tried to keep his hair neutral, a plain tawny, sometimes black, but sometimes he couldn't control the way it morphed, and it would change into that turquoise blue that reminded Remy of the sky.
His dad loved when his papa let himself go enough, relax enough, to show that blue shade. He would stand in front of Remy's papa and bury his fingers into the blue fringe, laughing and pressing up against him as his papa chuckled in return. One hand stayed in the blue hair, one arm hooked around behind his neck, foreheads pressed together and cheeks flush with laughter.
Remy used to interrupt when his parents did this, but these days he could only watch, and the moment he was near something reflective he would scrunch his nose in concentration and watch his reflection as his own hair morphed from brown to the same shade of blue as his papa's. Then he'd hop up and down proudly.
“Papa look! I did it! Papa I'm blue!”
“Look at that!” His papa would lean away from his husband, keeping his hands on the other man's elbows. “You look just like me!”
“Daddy look! I look like papa!”
“Oh I don't know, little man.” His dad crouched down as he spoke, holding his chin. “Your papa might be more handsome.”
“Only cuz he's old!”
“What does that mean?” his papa asked. “What does that even mean?”
“I think your son likes older men.”
“I don't like that. He gets it from you.”
“You like older men too.”
“Don't kink shame me, Lupin.”
Remy tugged on his dad's shirt. “What's kink?”
“Oh Godric, no.” His papa covered his face with both hands and leaned back a bit with a moan of despair, but his dad just laughed hysterically.
Love was the ring on his dad's left hand, the one that matched his papa's perfectly. Remy always liked those rings. They were completely identical, a band of silver inlaid with tiny red rubies and yellow chrysoberyl.
The wedding ring that his papa would bring to his lips and smile against, telling Remy it was for good luck, “kissing my ring is the closest thing I can get to kissing your dad, since he can't always be next to me”.
They never took them off, and Remy would often find his dad sitting at the dining room table late in the evening spinning the ring around his finger.
He would have a look of worry on his face, parchment, books, and bundles of herbs or potion ingredients laid out as he tried to concentrate on his own work. Remy caught him doing this often, but it wasn't until he'd gotten older that he understood it, because his dad only twisted his ring like that when he was anxious about Remy's papa being late coming home and not sending notice he'd be at the office longer than expected.
Remy didn't exactly know what his papa did for a living, but he knew it was very important. Sometimes his dad would give him hints, “Papa has sort of a desk job, but it can still be dangerous, because he likes sticking his nose in places it doesn't belong, to help people,” but Remy still wasn't entirely sure what his papa did. If it was dangerous, why would he keep the job? It just made his dad worry, and Remy would worry when his dad worried.
Sometimes, when it was very late and his dad was still at the dining table with his own work, struggling to complete it, Remy would carry a blanket to the end of the hall and sit there where he could see both the kitchen and the living room. His papa would come in through the front door, other nights through the floo, and his dad would immediately get to his feet, face pale.
“Are you okay? Did something happen? Is dad okay?"
“Merlin, I did it again, I'm so sorry.” His papa wouldn't even pull off his cloak before wrapping his husband into his arms, face nesting into his russet hair. “Work went on, and on, there was a meeting, people yelled at me, I forgot to send you a message that I'd be late. How is it I can never get anything right?”
Remy's dad would lift his arms behind his tired partner, hugging him and rubbing a hand up and down his back. “I'm just happy you're okay. I never know what you're doing sometimes, you know I hate that; and your tendency to hop into field missions on a hunch, or because you're restless and want to help. It's not your job to do that anymore.”
“I know it's not,” the voice would muffle in the brown hair. “I like my job, James, I know I'm helping people, I know it, but sometimes I just need to be right there at the front. It's selfish of me. The work I do, it's supposed to be safe, insurance, this way there will be no accidents at work that keep me from coming home indefinitely.”
“Rather fancy way of saying killed in action.”
“I figured you'd get mad if I said that, but yes,” another sigh from his papa. “I keep trying to do everything. Even the position I'm in, people still dislike me, don't trust me, I've made enemies. No, it's because of the position. Just because I am where I am, doesn't mean people can't disagree with me, but Merlin that's what makes it so stressful. You know what I did wrong today? Go ahead, guess.”
“Well, either you're too much of a werewolf and could go feral at any moment, or you're too much of a metamorphmagus and can't be trusted because you're two faced. Or a million faced?”
“I'm too young, Jamie, can you believe that? I'm not old enough to hold my position they say. Hermione, Shacklebolt, and Harry were idiots for nominating me to it, because I'm too young.”
“Oh for fucks sake, they can't be serious. You've done more good where you are than anyone could have dreamed. Dad is constantly awed by what you accomplish, my aunt doesn't regret her decision to nominate you, and you know Shacklebolt will back whatever you do. Young, my ass.” He pulled away, framing his hands against either side of his husband's face. “Teddy, try not to listen to them. They're idiots, you know? You're the best they could have gotten. After Hermione? There was no one better than you.”
“Think so?” but he looked tired, eyes closing when his husband pulled his face closer to kiss him.
“I don't think, I know. Come on, you need to sleep.”
“I'm sorry to make you worry and wait up for me.”
“It's fine, Ted. Just try to remember to let me know you'll be late next time? You're so good about that most of the time, the only times you forget are when you're incredibly stressed, and in those moments I guess it's good that I'm awake when you get home.” His smile was somehow secretive. “You know, that way I can help you get rid of that stress.”
Remy's papa looked dizzily hopeful. “Kids asleep?”
“Yup, it's just us. Come on now, Mister Minister, let's get you all relaxed and ready for bed.”
“Yea, yea, that sounds great.”
Their hands would hook together, fingers twisting and wedding rings clicking as Remy watched his dad, grinning from ear to ear, lead his papa down the hall, his papa waving his hand down to turn off the lights in one flick, disappearing into their bedroom at the end of the hall.
Love was the tattoo on his papa's left arm, starting at the base of his wrist and crawling all along his inner forearm. Of all his tattoos, this one was Remy's favorite. It started in a strange sort of circle inside his wrist, the silhouette profile of a woman's face inlaid next to a shadowed sort of wolf head, curling together like the symbols for yin and yang. A memorial to his parents he'd gotten after graduating, on the anniversary of their death.
It wasn't until years later he decided to add onto it, having vines tattooed around the symbol and wrapping up and around his arm. There were leaves, thorns, flower buds and blooming petals, and on each one was a name. It was right beneath his first tattoo, tattooed into a few flowers, the name of Remy and his brother. Below that, the name of his dad, and the rest of their family, the family his papa had taken for his own. A family tree, a vine of names etched into flower petals and the veins of leaves, sometimes Remy could swear he saw them move.
Parts of it were colored, and there were small details in between the leaves and vine branches. Little paw prints, crescent moons, dots that were connected into constellations, a tiny little honey badger and a lion curled around each other. Flowers like lilies, roses, wisteria, dogwood, peonies, and hyacinth. It was intricate and unique and absolutely beautiful, and Remy loved sitting on his papa's lap and tracing the waves and curls of the vines, touching his fingertips to his name, then his little brother's name. His dad's name, his grandfather and grandmother, his uncle Al, his aunt Lily, names and names and names of family, even family he'd never met but his papa wanted to honor, like Sirius Black, printed into his skin near the bend of his elbow.
“Why are there so many?” Remy remembered asking at one point, tracing the edges of the lily where his aunt's name was tattooed.
“Because they're our family, love,” his papa had answered. “They deserve to be remembered, and honored, because I love them all dearly.”
“Do you love this one?” He pointed at his own name, and his papa snorted.
“As a matter of fact, yes I do.”
“And this one?” He pointed to his brother’s name and his papa gave a hum. “You love me more though, right?”
“I love you both equally. I don't have favorites.”
“How bout this one?” He pointed to his dad’s name.
“Oh, well if I had to play favorites,” his papa teased, “then yes, I love him the most.”
“And this one?”
“That one too, Rem.”
“How bout this one?”
“Remy I love all of them, that's why they're here,” his papa traced one of the vines, “so I remember them forever. They all deserve to be remembered and loved.”
“I love them too then,” Remy decided, tracing the rough edges of the wolf silhouette inside his papa's wrist. “Papa.”
“Grandpa would like me. He would, right? Grandma too?”
There was no answer at first, until his papa squeezed him close, arm around his middle. “They absolutely would.”
“Then I like them too!”
His papa just laughed softly, setting his face in Remy's hair. “Exactly what I expected you to say.”
Love was Remy's little brother, christened with the name Dorian Lyall Lupin but called Dori by everyone around him. He was a little over a year younger and looked just like their dad, though his eyes had great tendency to change or morph. The skill inherited from their papa, but subdued and not as powerful because of the diluted blood mix of both their fathers, and the surrogate chosen to carry him. It was a wonder that any part of him morphed at all, actually.
Dori was a quiet boy who rarely spoke, preferring to stand to the side or hide behind others in avoidance of socializing. He was by no means shy, rather he was cautious and cynical, which was remarkable for someone so young. He even refused to share words or hold conversations with others from his family. The only people he seemed to respond to were his parents, Remy, and his great grandfather Lyall. Everyone else was incapable of so much as holding him without him complaining or fussing.
Sometimes Remy fought with him, over little things like toys and blankets, and he would look at his dad desperately after the fact. “Why did we have to get him?”
His dad would snort and crouch down, sit on the floor and pull him onto his lap with a sigh. “Your papa and I didn't want you to be lonely, that's why.”
“I'm not lonely! I have you and papa!”
“Well, we can't always be there to play. Dori ensures you'll always have a companion.” Remy just pouted, so his dad hugged him tightly. “Your papa didn't have a little brother or sister like you do, like I do. He said often that he found himself very lonely, very jealous of me and other people who had siblings. He said he wished he could have had a sister or brother. Me, I had your uncle Al and your aunt Lily, my younger siblings. I love them a lot, Rem. They made growing up fun. We fought of course, Al annoyed me and wouldn't play with me sometimes, and Lily took my toys, but I was grateful to have them and I still am. I was never lonely when I had them.” He reached up to smooth Remy's messy hair. “In the beginning, we always planned on having two kids, because we didn't want you to be lonely, because we love you and want the best for you.”
Remy seemed to think hard about this, nose scrunched up. “So Dori is… mine?”
“That's right. He's very special because he's your little brother. We had him so you would have a friend growing up that would never leave. You're going to fight and argue, he may annoy you, but he's going to stay with you.”
Remy looked like he was in awe, staring at his dad. “But he takes my toys.”
“Because he wants to play with you.”
“You'll understand when you're a bit older.”
His dad gave a single, loud laugh. “Well, maybe. This is very important. Your papa and I love you and Dori so much, so you have to look after each other. Protect Dori, and he can protect you too. Okay? Look out for each other, show him how much you love him, and you'll always, always have him. He's a friend who won't ever leave, just show him how much he means to you.”
“That means I have to share my toys?”
Remy sighed. “Fine. I still think we should get a different baby from the store, but if we can't return him, I'll just try to train him to be nicer to me.”
“Oh Godric.” His dad covered his face with his hands, shoulders shaking in laughter. “Oh I have to remember that one, I gotta tell my dad that one.”
“Can I go play with my pet brother now?”
“He's not a pet, Remy, but yes, go ahead. Be nice to him.”
His parents love language was the biggest example of love that Remy ever saw growing up, so it seemed every little thing they did was love to him. Even when they got upset at him for something and scolded him or put him on time out, they always assured him they still loved him, and merely disciplined him so he can wisen up and learn from his mistakes, so he can grow into a proper adult.
After all, what better way to learn about love than to watch the way your parents love? Remy considered himself lucky, because the way they loved was pure and genuine. Most importantly, the way they loved was fun.
It was well known his papa wasn't exactly good at cooking, but he tried all the time to make something passable, and his dad would eat it all. He wouldn't lie at the end of the meal, looking his husband dead in the eye and saying “It sucked, but you didn't overcook the carrots this time, so you get two stars.”
He would try to help the man cook, with the kids joining in, and it would start serious but end with them covered in flour, oil, and food. They'd try to scold each other but just end up laughing.
Their love was expressed in the way Remy's papa changed his hair unconsciously whenever his husband was around, going turquoise blue and letting a smile engulf his face, because somehow the other man just made him happy inexplicably, no matter what.
It was expressed in the way they buried their faces into each other when they hugged, arms tight and fingers clinging to each other's clothes. Expressed in the way Remy's dad would throw things like spoons at his papa when he made a stupid joke, and how his papa would just sigh if it was the other way around (always ending in laughter because bad joke or not, seeing each other happy was all they seemed to care about).
Their genuine love was expressed when they were both curled up on the couch, somehow slotted against each other like perfect puzzle pieces, a blanket draped over them and fast asleep. His dad would have his head pillowed on his papa's chest, high enough that his papa could bury his chin in the other man's auburn brown hair, arms wrapped around each other impossibly tight despite the fact they were unconscious. As if they couldn't bear to release each other.
The way that his dad would sometimes wear his papa's clothes because he “couldn't find his”, and even more amusing when his papa came out in a shirt obviously too tight for him, his dad staring blankly.
“That's my shirt.”
“I make it look good.”
“Teddy if you flex you're gonna rip it.”
“Is that a challenge?”
“Take it off, bitch, I like that shirt.”
“Then where's your old jersey I wanna wear that instead.”
“You'll rip that too!”
Remy's papa would always greet or say farewell with a kiss, but it was never the same kiss, because “that would be boring”. He would kiss his husband on the lips, the corner of the lips, on the scars on his cheek or under his ear. His chin, his throat, his forehead and temple. He would kiss his fingertips, knuckles, wrist, the back of his neck or his shoulder. The tip of his nose and his eyebrows, his ears and behind his ears and his eyelids. There was nowhere free of his papa's kisses, on either his husband or his kids.
He took advantage of his height over his husband and would scoop him off the ground, hugging him tight and swinging him around laughing at the way the other man cursed at him.
“I'm an adult, stop doing that!”
“Nah, never, not till we're both dead. Then it'll be easier to do this cuz ghosts don't have any weight.”
“I hate you.”
“Hate you too.”
Their vocal love language was just as unique as their physical. To a lot of people, from the outside, it may even look like a sort of abuse, but it was simply how they communicated and expressed how much they loved each other. They would address each other through curses and insults, gently smack each other in the back of the head.
Remy's dad saying, “Eat your vegetables you half-wolf fuck,” was essentially his way of saying, “Take care of yourself please.”
His papa saying, “If you don't get in the bed now I'm dragging you by the ankles and using a gluing spell and I will not reverse it ever,” was his way of saying, “You've overworked yourself again, you need sleep.”
And somehow, they both understood the nuance of their cursing and insults. They'd been together so long that anything they said to each other was interpreted by the other as love and adoration, and they were usually never wrong. It was like they had a psychic link, could read each other's emotions, expressions, and posture like a book.
His papa framing the other man's face with his hands and holding him in place as he touched their foreheads together, whispering to each other, something private between the two of them, or the way his dad would sit on the counter as his husband stood in front of him, hands propped on the edge of the counter either side of the man in front of him, smiling and laughing at something stupid.
Days of stress where his papa would lie his head on his husband's lap and sleep with the other man's fingers threading through his hair. Sitting in a seat with the other man standing beside him, burying his face into his husband's stomach.
They expressed love in the way they cried and comforted each other, in the way that even if they were truly angry at each other, they would manage to talk through it, because no one else could understand them like they did each other.
They loved each other so entirely, and Remy loved them too. He loved Dori as well, just not as much, because Dori took his toys. Well, maybe he did love his brother, but it was still annoying.
Early morning, a morning like almost all of them, where Remy would wake first and pounce over to the other bed, shaking Dori awake and pulling him from the bed by the hand, dragging him down the hallway as Dori rubbed sleep from his eyes and creep into their parent’s bedroom.
Remy had to help Dori onto the bed before climbing up himself, fumbling over the blankets and falling over the forms of their parents, jumping up and down on his knees to wake them up as his dad laughed and his papa cursed.
“Up! Wake! Daddy, let's play, come on papa!”
“You used to do this,” his papa would grumble into his pillow. “Harry told me so.”
“Slander, Lupin.” His dad would grab a pillow and smack it over his husband's head. “I won't stand for this insult to my good name. I demand you fire yourself. Fire my dad first.”
“I guess I could put myself on suspension for the day.” Remy's dad rolled over and grabbed Remy, dragging him down as he squealed and hugging him. “You, young man, need to learn to sleep past six.”
Dori was gentler as he crawled over their dad and flopped down, the other man sitting up and collecting the youngest into his arms, hugging him tight and planting a kiss into his hair.
“Well, dad did warn us sleep would be impossible when we had kids.”
“I slept like an angel when I was younger.”
“Now I know you're lying.”
“Papa, up! Can we go? I wanna go outside!”
“I want to sleep a full eight hours, Remy, we can't always get what we want.”
“Listen to your father.”
“But he didn't say anything!”
“I'm going back to bed,” his papa murmured, so he squirmed furiously in his arms.
Dori pulled on their dad's sleep shirt. “I would like toast and peanut butter.”
“Sure, love. Ted, what do you want for breakfast?”
“A nice hot cup of naptime.”
“Coffee it is.”
Remy's papa groaned and sat up, his hair sticking up and his eyes bleary as he squinted at his husband. “Who's responsible for this?”
“Well normally I'd blame you,” his dad admitted, grinning, leaning over with Dori still on his lap and kissing his husband.
Remy made a gagging noise and scrambled away. “Yuck!”
His papa just laughed into the kiss and turned to grin at his oldest son. “You’re gonna wanna kiss someone one day too, Rem. Better get used to it.”
“Gross! I'm never gonna kiss anyone!” and he slipped off the bed, yanking at the blankets. “Come on! Please? I wanna play!”
“Alright, alright, let us get up,” his papa sighed, rubbing his eyes with the heel of his palm as his husband leaned over to set Dori onto the ground beside the bed.
“Might be nice for you to take a day off,” he said, watching the two boys run from the bedroom. “They miss you when you're gone. So do I.”
Teddy sighed, tilting so his head was against James’ shoulder. “Yea, I know you all do. I'll send Harry a note telling him I'm taking a day. We should do something.”
“Let's take the boys to the lake,” James suggested, one hand carding through Teddy's hair. “They'd like that.”
“Sounds fun,” Teddy agreed, pulling back just enough so he could lean higher and kiss James again. “You should brush your teeth first though.”
“Yeah, after breakfast. You can't trick me into orange juice and toothpaste a second time.”
“Really? I fell for it that many times?”
“Yes you did.”
“Wow I used to be stupid.”
“You're still very stupid, James. You did agree to marry me.”
“You're right.” James leaned away. “What in the world was I thinking? We're getting a divorce.”
Teddy laughed, but frowned as James slipped from the bed. “Wait, what? That's a joke, right?”
James gave him a smile. “I don't know, maybe.”
“Call of the wild, better get going.” James snorted. “Coming!”
Teddy jumped from the bed, following close enough behind James that he could wrap his arms around him and press a kiss against his shoulder.
“I love you.”
James laughed. “I know, I was kidding.”
“I know you know, but I wanted to say it again. I love you, and I love the kids, even though they keep waking me up.”
“Well, excellent.” James reached up and squeezed Teddy's arms. “So do I. Now let me go so I can cook breakfast before the kids eat each other.”
He let James go, letting him carry on down the hall, following after and standing in the doorway to the kitchen to watch James pull a chair back for Remy to scramble onto, then pick Dori up and set him in a second seat, leaning down to kiss his forehead again and turning to the fridge.
It was so domestic, Teddy always found himself in awe of it. That he'd grown up almost entirely alone, and somehow was blessed with this family. He'd had his grandmother, his grandfather, Harry, Ginny, and their extended family, even Draco and Narcissa Malfoy, yet there had always been an empty space in his heart that could never be filled by those he grew up with.
It was an empty space that ached unimaginably whenever he looked at pictures of his parents, whenever he visited their grave or saw it was May second on the calendar. An empty space that started to heal over the instant he had Remy in his arms.
What he longed for the most was family of his own, his parents, shared blood, and now he had that.
“Well are you going to sit down?” James asked, setting down a mug of coffee. “Or do you just want to stare at us?”
Teddy grinned, shaking his head and stepping forward. “Yea, I think I will sit down.”
“Please do, make yourself at home. It is half yours after all.”
Teddy had the cup in his hand before sitting down, still grinning. “How lucky am I?”
“Pretty lucky, but that was probably a hypothetical question, huh?”
“Yeah,” Teddy snorted, “but that's fine. I love you after all.”
“I know, Ted,” James laughed. “We all know.”