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My Favorite Time To Stare

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Teddy brings his beer bottle to his mouth and takes a distracted sip. The glass is cold against his lips and the dark beer slides smoothly down his throat. His eyes though, stayed fixed on the broom currently hovering beside him. Or really, he can admit, his staring has more to do with the person sitting on the broom than the actual broom itself.

Jamie.

He’s chatting away, one hand wrapped loosely around his broom and the other holding onto his beer. Teddy has lost the thread of what exactly James is talking about at this point but he floats there and listens anyway, a content smile on his face as James’ voice wraps around him like a familiar embrace.

Teddy’s eyes catch on the movement of James’ wrist as he twirls his wand and with a careless flick, vanishes his empty bottle. Teddy has the most ridiculous urge to wrap his fingers around that wrist and pull James closer. Close enough for Teddy to cover those perfect pink lips with his own, to slide his tongue into that warm mouth and just lose himself. Teddy’s breath hitches as James shakes his hair out of his eyes, leaving the wavy auburn curls in a disheveled pile on top of his head. Teddy wants to bury his hands in it, wants to feel the soft strands sliding through his fingers. The desire, the want, everything, is spiraling out of control inside him, pulling him into a hazy fog of lust. The longer he stares at the perfect boy beside him, the deeper he sinks into the feeling.

Showing an impressive amount of self control, Teddy takes all of those maddening thoughts and feelings, and shoves them firmly from his mind. It works, mostly. Teddy is finally able to tear his eyes away and slow his breathing. He has become well practiced at clearing thoughts of James from his head, he’s been doing it for nearly three weeks now after all. Three weeks. It seems like so much longer than that since the realization that he was in love with James had smacked him square in the face. Three weeks since his entire world was flipped upside down, since every disregarded tingle of attraction, every flare of jealousy, suddenly took on a whole new meaning.

Three weeks ago, Teddy was at the Potters’, which was packed full, the whole extended brood there to celebrate Harry’s birthday. When the party had started to dwindle down, the younger half of the group had gathered around the fire. A bottle of cheap Muggle vodka passing from hand to hand as music and chattering voices filled the air. The adults drifted inside, crowding around the island in the kitchen as they picked at the leftover food and shared wine and small talk. That was when a bright-eyed James had appeared out of nowhere, clamped a hand around Teddy’s wrist and dragged him around to the front of the house.

 

“Jamie, what the hell are you doing?” Teddy asked as he stumbled along behind James.

His firewhisky, pressed into his hand only minutes earlier by a tipsy Harry, splashed over the side of his glass, a few drops landing on his finger. The skin it touched tingled unpleasantly and Teddy sucked the digit into his mouth to soothe the slight burn.

James looked over his shoulder and put his own finger to his lips.

“It’s a surprise,” he murmured, his brown eyes twinkling in the moonlight.

And then James had smiled at him. It was the kind of smile that overtook his entire face, softening his features and radiating warmth and happiness. His chapped lips were stretched wide, making the dimple on his right cheek stand out. The tip of his nose scrunched up, causing one freckle to blend into the next and his tongue was caught between slightly crooked teeth. Even in the darkness Teddy could see the light flush that was spreading across James’ cheekbones, a result of good food and alcohol and possibly standing too close to a bonfire in July.

He was easily the most beautiful thing Teddy had ever seen.

James tightened his grip on Teddy then and Apparated without warning, their feet touching down a moment later on soft sand. Teddy stumbled, disorientated from the sudden change of location and looked around trying to get his bearings. The beach was empty, save for the two of them, nothing but white sand stretching out in both directions. The moon was bright in the sky, reflecting off the waves that were gently crashing against the shore.

Teddy had no idea why James decided to drag him along on an impromptu beach trip at nearly midnight but he hoped the meaning would become clear. It didn’t. James simply pulled a blanket and a bottle of Ogden’s from his backpack without a word, settling everything into place before taking a seat and looking at Teddy expectantly.

It was in that moment, James sitting cross-legged on a faded red blanket looking up at Teddy, his eyes glowing amber in the moonlight, that Teddy realized with stunning clarity that he was in love with James. And that he had been for as long as he could remember. It was an inescapable truth, shaking the foundations of everything he had previously believed about himself.

 

“Remember when we snuck out on Christmas Eve and came here?” James asked with an amused smile when Teddy finally had the presence of mind to stop staring like a tit and sit down.

“Yeah of course,” Teddy answered, still off balance but returning James’ smile anyway. The smell of sea salt in the night air was like a balm for Teddy’s battered nerves and he breathed it in deeply as he thought back to Christmas four years ago.

Teddy had stayed at the Potters’, just like he did every year on Christmas Eve, but unlike every other year, James had appeared in his room in the middle of the night, insisting that Teddy get under the invisibility cloak and come with him. Teddy had given in quickly, of course, because no matter how ridiculous or ill-advised the adventures James came up with were, Teddy was always along for the ride. Teddy had Apparated them to this very beach on James’ request and they had sat together, enveloped in Teddy’s warming charm, finding shapes in the clouds.

“That was a good night,” James said, fondness and nostalgia coloring his tone. He took a sip of his drink, little clouds of steam escaping his mouth when he exhaled.

“It was. But we could have avoided the part where your parents sent out a search party consisting of half the Auror force,” Teddy said laughing as he remembered Harry’s exasperation at James' simple excuse of ‘Sorry dad, me and Ted fancied ourselves a trip to the beach, we didn’t mean to fall asleep there. Can we open presents now?’

“I don’t think that’ll be a problem this time, I’m not sixteen anymore..” James’ words seemed to trail off, as if there was more he wanted to say but he just sat quietly next to Teddy, their hands resting close together on the blanket.

Teddy wanted so badly to grab that hand, to thread their fingers together and just spill everything out but he resisted, firmly telling himself it wasn’t an option. James wasn’t his and never would be and that was fine. Teddy would get over this.

 

Three weeks later and Teddy was nowhere near getting over it.

“Want another beer?” James asks, snapping Teddy out of his thoughts.

Teddy risks a quick glance in James’ direction and sees that nearly his entire arm has disappeared into his small backpack. Undetectable Extension and Lightening Charms were truly a wonderful thing, especially when one wanted to transport an entire case of beer while flying on a broom. Although, Teddy didn’t think flying while drinking was the most sensible idea—even if they were hovering close to the ground—with James’ balance as shaky as it was these days. But he knew better than to voice his concern.

Teddy sighs and turns away again, breathing in the warm summer air and focusing on the sound of the crickets chirping in the distance, needing to give himself a moment before turning back to James and producing an answer.

Another beer, or ten, was tempting. Teddy would love nothing more than to be pleasantly drunk and oblivious to the whole, I recently realized that I’m in love with my best friend and have been, possibly forever and Merlin now he’s smiling at me again and I think I might just die thing. Wonderful. Now he sounded like a lovesick teenager, not a twenty-six year old accomplished Healer. Which he was, thank you very much.

“Nope. I think I’m good,” Teddy finally says. His head was just the right amount of fuzzy and his thoughts were starting to run away from him. Another beer and he would end up saying or doing something that they would both regret, something that could ultimately ruin their friendship.

Teddy could never let himself cross that line. He couldn’t kiss James or do anything really, about these complicated feelings swirling around inside him. James didn’t want him like that. There was no way. And that was fine. Totally acceptable. Really, James would probably think Teddy a complete perv if he knew. They had grown up together after all and James probably still saw Teddy as someone to look up to, a brother. Family.

But Teddy had never looked at James like a brother. Yes, they were family but the way Teddy felt about James had always been different. From the time Teddy was six years old, James had been by his side. His best friend, his partner in crime, the most important person in Teddy’s life. James was his favorite, the person Teddy was closest to in the entire world. He couldn’t risk losing him.

But sometimes James would look at Teddy and it was like he was the only person who existed, like Teddy was the only thing he could see. And Teddy would wonder. He would wonder if the lingering hugs and comforting touches meant something else, if it was real or if he was imagining it, like some kind of twisted wishful thinking. In the end, he always wrote off the behavior. James was a tactile person, especially with Teddy, and it was delusional to think it meant anything more.

“Well if you’re gonna be a Debby Downer about it,” James says with a teasing smirk, “You hungry? Cuz I could bloody destroy some fish and chips right about now.”

The thought of greasy bar food in his already rolling stomach doesn’t appeal much but Teddy agrees with a nod and turns to angle his broom towards the ground. He takes one last glance at the peaceful countryside they’re currently floating above and admits to himself what he already knows; he is well and truly fucked.

 

****

 

Teddy rubs a hand over his face, pushing the sweaty, teal blue hair off his forehead. The headache that has been building all day has finally manifested behind his right eye, creating a pounding pain so terrible that Teddy feels nauseous. His shift at St. Mungo’s had been chaotic, the Pediatric Ward overrun with concerned parents and injured children, keeping Teddy in a constant state of movement all day. Thoughts of tea and his warm bed propel him faster down the hall towards the Floos as he pulls his hideous green Healer robes over his head.

“Teddy!”

He slows his steps as he hears his name being called, internally debating whether he should turn around or just keep walking and get the fuck out of there. Ultimately, his manners and genuine concern for his tiny patients win out.

Teddy is so unbelievably happy to see that it’s just Albus.

“Hey!” Teddy says, turning and walking back in the direction he just came from. He finds a smile for Al despite the tiredness creeping into his bones and the throbbing in his head, “What are you doing here? Everything alright?” Teddy’s brain unhelpfully starts to conjure up images of worse case scenarios. It must show on his face because Albus nods and pulls him in for a quick hug.

“Everything’s fine Ted, calm down. I just dropped by to see Scorp, his rotation’s in Curse Damage this month and he got stuck working afternoons.” Scorpius was currently in the Healer Trainee program and from what Teddy had heard so far, he was the best in the new class of interns.

As for his relationship with Albus, things seemed to be going well. They had officially been a couple since they left Hogwarts the previous year and everyone had adjusted rather quickly. They had been inseparable since the age of eleven so it really wasn’t too much of a change. Except now they kissed and held hands and whispered things to each other at the dinner table, heads close together, their cheeks flushed with love and happiness. Teddy was thrilled for them, he really was. He just wished he had that with someone.

Teddy had never been one for casual hook ups and he’d only had a handful of serious relationships, all of which had ended in varying levels of disaster. Of course, Teddy was no monk. He went to clubs when the need for human contact became too much but it never completely satisfied him. He wanted someone to share his life with, someone to come home to, someone he could build a future with. He wanted someone that was his to keep, not only for a night but for all the other nights too.

“I’m glad I ran into you though, I need to talk to you about something,” Al’s words drag Teddy back to the present and his cautious tone has Teddy’s defenses on high alert.

“Yeah of course, what’s up?” Teddy shoves his hands into his pockets, rocking nervously back and forth on the balls of his feet.

“It’s about James,” Al says, a hint of sympathy in his tone that Teddy doesn’t like one bit.

“What about James?” Teddy asks, trying to sound unconcerned and casual but not sure he actually accomplishes it. Albus just gazes at him knowingly, the truth swimming in those green eyes, so like Harry’s, that Teddy has to drop his own eyes to the floor.

“I know, Teddy.”

“You know what?” Teddy mumbles, still refusing to look up. Why was this happening to him? It was like the universe was playing some cruel trick, the ultimate goal to make his life as awkward and miserable as possible.

“I know that you’re in love with James,” Al states matter of factly, his words echoing down the corridor that’s bustling with people.

“What the fuck Al!” Teddy hisses, finally looking up and pinning Albus with a glare, “Say it louder why don’t you, I don’t think the patients up on the fifth floor heard you!” Teddy’s eyes dart around nervously but no one seems to be paying attention to them.

“Shit sorry, sorry,” Albus says, holding up his hands and lowering his voice.

Teddy groans as his headache flares, sharp and heavy, making his stomach flip. He brings both hands up to his temples and rubs hard, “It’s not true anyway.”

“Teddy,” Albus says in a disbelieving tone, eyebrows raised and disappearing under his messy fringe.

“Can we not do this, please? I have a bloody headache, I’m hungry, I’m tired, and I really don’t want to talk about it,” Teddy says, he doesn’t deny Al’s assertion about his feelings for James again, there’s no point.

“Well then it’s lucky for you I have headache potion at home. C’mon we can talk more there,” Al grabs Teddy by the elbow and starts to steer him towards the line of fireplaces that are spitting wizards and witches out into the lobby every few minutes.

“What—no! We can’t go to your flat to talk about this. Your flat is literally James’ flat!”

Al just rolls his eyes and continues to drag Teddy along with him, “James won’t be there. He picked up a shift and he’ll be at the Leaky til last call.”

“Fine,” Teddy agrees begrudgingly as he stumbles along behind Al.

Al steps into the Floo first and disappears in a flash of green. Teddy’s positive a trip through the Floo network is going to do nothing good for the pounding in his head but he swallows thickly and throws a pinch of Floo powder in, calling out the address.

He steps out a moment later, his eyes sweeping over the flat he’s been in many times before. The living room and kitchen are one big open space. Bright afternoon light streams in from the three large windows that look out over Wizarding London, making the spacious room look even larger. It’s cozy and welcoming, the light blue walls and black leather sofa compliment each other well, and Teddy smiles as he thinks back to the argument James and Al had over the colors and decorations when they moved in; James insisting on red and Al, of course, fighting for green.

Al immediately heads into the kitchen and Teddy, without a better idea, collapses into a defeated pile on the sofa. When Al returns a moment later with a potion vial, a glass of water, and a small smile, some of the tension drains out of Teddy’s body. He gratefully accepts and gulps down the headache potion, before chugging the cold water to get rid of the bitter aftertaste.

“I ordered some takeaway. It should be here soon,” Albus says as he takes a seat next to Teddy, pulling his legs up and turning to face him.

“Thanks.” Maybe this will be okay. Maybe all Teddy needs is someone to talk to and Al already knows. Why not get some much needed advice?

“So. Scorpius and I have decided to move in together.”

Whatever Teddy was expecting, it certainly wasn’t that.

“Oh. Well congratulations then,” Teddy is happy for them and honestly he’s shocked it’s taken them this long but he doesn’t understand how this has anything to do with him. Or James.

“Yeah thanks,” Albus says sheepishly. He sits up a bit straighter and gives Teddy a weary look before continuing, “Right. So, I’ll be moving out,” And that shocks Teddy a bit. He assumed Scorpius would just move in here, “Me and Scorp want our own space. We’ve already signed a lease.”

Teddy nods, still a bit baffled as to how this affects him.

“And I think you should move in. Here. With James.”

Teddy’s mouth drops open and his eyes go wide. “WHAT?” Teddy demands. He’s sure that his hair is flickering between a rainbow of colors but he can’t be arsed to care, “Why in Merlin’s name would I do that?”

Al sighs, his face a mixture of determination and stubbornness. “Just listen okay. You know as well as I do that James won’t do good on his own. He can fool everyone else with that ‘I’m just a carefree bartender and I don’t care that I can’t play quidditch anymore’ bit all he likes, but I know him better and so do you,” Al pauses and looks at Teddy, his eyes blazing with some emotion Teddy can’t quite discern, “I think you two could be great together Ted. You moving in here will be the best thing for both of you.”

Teddy sits quietly on the sofa, stunned, and tries to process Al’s words. There’s a loose thread on one of the cushions and he twists it around his index finger, cutting off the blood flow until the tip turns purple. He has to admit though, that Al makes a good point. James would be terrible at living on his own. James has always been a loose canon, never the most responsible or mature. But ever since James got injured—a bludger to the back of the head—during his first, and only, season playing for Puddlemere United, he has become downright reckless, seeming to not care at all about his future or his well being. He drinks, excessively. Going to muggle bars, drawing attention to himself and flaunting his magic, unconcerned about the Statute.

But what Al is suggesting is just ridiculous. This isn’t how relationships are built, moving in with the person before you’ve even started dating, before you even know if the person reciprocates your feelings. It’s backwards and stupid and will most definitely end in disaster, and Teddy knows he’s going to do it anyway.

“How do you even know that James would be alright with it?”

“I just know,” Teddy gives Al an unconvinced look, “Trust me.”

“It’ll be a disaster. And James...” Teddy sighs and cards shaking fingers through his hair. He catches a glimpse of the bright red tips out of the corner of his eye and engages his Metamorphmagus ability to change his hair back to his normal teal with a streak of bubblegum pink, “He doesn’t feel that way about me. Even if he did, it would never work out. We’re practically brothers, people wouldn’t accept it. God what would your parents think?”

“I think they would be happy that you two were happy. As for everyone else, fuck them,” Al gives him a small smile and lays a comforting hand on Teddy’s shoulder, squeezing gently. It’s grounding and Teddy’s able to reign in his mounting panic, “Ted, you know you’ll end up regretting it if you don’t try. Believe me I understand—“ Al takes a deep breath and then lets it out in a rush of air, “I felt the same way about Scorpius. I was terrified that I was going to ruin everything, that I would lose my best friend if he found out how I felt. I thought no one would accept it because our families had this stupid life long feud going on and now look at us. Don’t you want that with James? Don’t you want more?”

Teddy should be shocked by Al’s openness about his feelings for Scorpius. Other than the public displays of affection, Al tends to be tight-lipped about the whole thing. But all Teddy can think about is how much he does want more with James. He wants everything. He wants to fall asleep next to James every night and wake up next to him every morning. He wants to hold onto him and never let go. He’s tried to convince himself that he’s happy with what they have but deep down he knows it’s not true. Can he really stand to live the rest of his life as only James’ friend, could he handle watching James meet someone else and fall in love?

If the way his chest clenches and his throat constricts is any indication, then no, he can’t. Maybe Al’s right, maybe this is his chance to finally get everything he’s ever wanted.

“Merlin help me,” Teddy mutters under his breath, ”When am I moving in?”

 

****

 

Teddy moves into James’ flat on a rainy Saturday in September. Albus, Scorpius and James all help, making numerous Floo trips, bringing box after box of Teddy’s possessions through.

By evening the rain has stopped, the sky outside a brilliant orange-red as the sun starts to dip below the horizon. The four of them sit, exhausted and sweaty, on the plush grey rug around the coffee table, eating Thai food from the cartons and sipping the Elf wine that Scorpius nicked from the Manor. Teddy is too tired and full and pleasantly buzzed to worry about how he’s going to handle living with James. It’s a problem for another day.

When Teddy had made the offer to move in, James had been thrilled—and a little surprised judging from the way his face went slack and wide-eyed. Teddy’s heart had stuttered in his chest when James had pulled him into a tight hug that lasted just a few seconds too long, James’ fingers twisting in the material of his shirt as if he thought Teddy was going to disappear.

“Teds are you listening?” James asks, waving a hand in front of Teddy’s face, a fond expression on his own.

“Sorry, zoned out there for a minute,” Teddy says, shaking his head and trying to remember what it was they had been talking about.

“I still think you should call the landlord and complain,” Scorpius says.

Right. Annoying Trumpet Guy, as James likes to refer to him as, the neighbor one door down that James has an ongoing feud with.

“I mean obviously you can just cast a charm so you can’t hear him but really, he should be casting his own instead of subjecting everyone in the building to that horrible racket. It’s just rude,” Scorpius continues, well and truly on a rant now, he waves his hand distractedly and almost smacks Al in the face. But Albus just catches his wrist, laces their fingers together and brushes his lips against Scorpius’ knuckles. Teddy looks away, the intimacy of the simple gesture too much for him.

“Well you’re right about him being rude. Yesterday he called me a heathen and claims I close the dumpster lid too loud when I take the trash out. It’s upsetting his kneazle,” James says with a roll of his eyes, “But calling the landlord just seems like taking the easy way out. What we need to do is come up with something that’ll really piss this guy off. Then maybe he’ll move,” James has a thoughtful look on his face, his eyes glazed over and his bottom lip caught between his teeth.

“No no no. You’re not dragging me and Scorp into this. I am officially moved out, it’s Teddy’s problem now,” Albus says with a laugh and a sly look in Teddy’s direction, as if them bonding over an annoying neighbor will solve all of Teddy’s problems.

“C’mon Albie,” James whines, his lips pull into a pout that Teddy wants to kiss away, “It’ll be so much more fun if it’s a group effort.”

“Don’t call me that,” Al grumbles, scowling at James, “I’ve put up with that guy for over a year, I’m done.”

Teddy thinks Al could have warned him about this, the fucking wanker.

After a few more minutes of good natured bickering, Al and Scorpius head home through the Floo, leaving Teddy and James alone in their flat for the first time. James pulls out his wand, his long fingers wrap loosely around the smooth ash wood as he flicks it and sends the leftovers flying towards the kitchen. They’re sitting close enough together that Teddy feels the tingle of James’ magic against his skin, making goose flesh break out over his arms.

Teddy watches as James tops off his glass of wine and knocks it back all in one go, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he swallows. Teddy wants to suck a bruise there, wants to know what kinds of sounds he could coax out of James with just his mouth on that neck. Teddy stands up quickly, suddenly needing to put some space between himself and James.

“I’m knackered,” Teddy says, covering a yawn with the back of his hand, “I’m heading to bed.”

James stands too, wobbling slightly. He pulls Teddy into a hug, his arms wrapping firmly around Teddy’s waist, his face pressed against Teddy’s neck. Teddy hesitates before wrapping his arms around James’ shoulders, letting himself melt into the embrace, just for a moment.

“I’m really glad you’re here Teds,” James whispers and Teddy swears he feels the drag of lips against his neck but before he can be sure, James pulls back, “Goodnight.”

“I’m glad I’m here too,” And Teddy can’t help himself, he presses a light kiss to James’ hair. It’s something he’s done a million times, a comforting gesture, always platonic but somehow this time it feels different, “Goodnight Jamie.”

Teddy hurries off to his room, not wanting to linger and give himself the opportunity to do anything else stupid. Teddy strips off his clothes and curls up in bed, his yellow duvet pulled up to his chin to ward off the chill in the air from the cooling charms. The sliver of moonlight coming in through the curtains illuminates the room enough for Teddy to see just how disorganized everything still is. Boxes half unpacked and clothes haphazardly thrown onto the chair in the corner.

But Teddy thinks once he settles in he’ll be content here. And he thinks that maybe, just maybe, everything will be okay.

 

****

 

Teddy sits bolt upright in bed, heart pounding in his chest, eyes still blurry with sleep.

That fucking alarm clock.

Teddy groans and shoves his face into his pillow. Every single morning, James’ alarm goes off, blaring, so ridiculously loud Teddy’s certain he’s charmed it. There’s no way a normal muggle alarm clock is that ear-deafeningly loud.

Teddy lays there, the noise coming through the wall with no hint of stopping anytime soon. He swears and gets out of bed on unsteady legs. After only two weeks of living together, he’s already so used to this routine that he doesn’t even feel weird anymore about going into James’ bedroom without knocking first. As if knocking would wake James up. No. If that bloody alarm doesn’t do it, nothing will.

Teddy’s irritation vanishes in an instant when he pushes open the door and finds James sprawled on his stomach, his lean body bathed in the early morning sunlight that’s streaming through the window. The blue sheets have been kicked away, giving Teddy an uninterrupted view of that perfect body, clad only in a pair of tight black boxers and, on closer inspection, what looks to be Teddy’s old Hufflepuff Quidditch t-shirt. The shirt has ridden up, leaving the smooth, freckled skin of James’ muscular back on display.

His messy auburn curls fan out across his pillow, a beautiful rusty-red in the sunlight. Teddy wants to drag his fingers through it, wants to bury his face in it and inhale the intoxicating scent of coconut and vanilla and that spicy, leathery smell that’s uniquely James. He wants to climb into bed and wrap himself around James’ sleep warm body, wants to trail his fingers over every inch of exposed skin, count every freckle and press his lips to each and every one.

Instead, Teddy slaps a hand on the alarm clock, putting an end to the ear shattering noise and shakes James’ shoulder. “Jamie,” Teddy says, his voice too loud in the now silent room, “Jamie. Wake the fuck up!”

James mumbles something into his pillow that Teddy doesn’t quite catch so he shakes him again, harder this time.

“I’m up, I’m up,” James groans, batting away Teddy’s hand and rolling over onto his back. He stretches, his whole body arching beautifully, and Teddy catches a glimpse of his, impressive, morning erection.

Merlin fuck, this boy is going to be the death of him.

Teddy quickly averts his eyes and starts to retreat from the room on shaky legs, his heart pounding as arousal courses through his body. He’s only wearing a pair of thin joggers himself and he silently sends up a prayer that his own dick doesn’t respond.

“I’m going back to bed then. It’s my day off and I hoped for a bit of a lie in,” Teddy complains but there’s no bite to his words. He’ll never admit it, especially not to James, but this strange ritual of waking James up every morning has become one of his favorite parts of the day.

“You aren’t gonna have breakfast with me?” James asks and the defeated tone has Teddy halting his steps and glancing back at the bed.

James has rolled to his side, his head propped up on one hand and the sheets, thank Merlin, have been pulled back up to his waist. The teasing pout on his pink lips makes Teddy’s breath catch and his cock twitch. Teddy swallows hard and tries to look away but his eyes stay firmly fixed on James. He looks so soft and sleep mussed and fuck but Teddy really is screwed isn’t he?

“I’ll put the coffee on while you drag your lazy arse out of bed but I am not cooking you breakfast,” James just raises an eyebrow, “I’m serious Jamie.”

Teddy forces himself to step from the room and head towards the kitchen but he doesn’t miss the mumbled We’ll see.

 

****

 

They’ve been living together a month the first time James comes home drunk and crawls into Teddy’s bed, giving Teddy a minor heart attack in the process.

“What the fuck Jamie,” Teddy yells, letting his wand clatter to the floor now that he knows it’s just James and not some Dark wizard who broke in with the weird intent to cuddle him to death.

“Shh,” James mumbles into Teddy’s bare chest, his hand is resting on Teddy’s hip, his fingers caressing the skin there.

“James, this isn’t your bed,” Teddy says through gritted teeth, trying and failing to keep his traitorous body in check.

“I know. Now shush, m’tired.”

Teddy supposes he has two choices. He can either lay here and give into the intoxicating feeling of James’ body pressed against his own or he can go sleep on the couch. Teddy quickly decides that nothing short of a giant Acromantula crashing into the room could make him move right now.

James' breathing evens out after a few minutes and Teddy knows he’s asleep. Teddy carefully lifts a hand and cards his fingers through James’ hair, smoothing it back from his forehead. James doesn’t wake but he does burrow further into Teddy’s chest, his warm puffs of breath ghosting across Teddy’s skin, setting a fire burning through his body. God, he wants this every night. He wants James here, in his arms, warm and safe and his. He wants this forever.

Teddy has never felt this way about another person. It’s overwhelming and terrifying and Teddy knows it will probably end in a broken heart but he can’t force himself to move, can’t leave James when he looks so vulnerable and young as he sleeps in Teddy’s arms. Teddy breathes. In. Out. Fingers still sliding through James’ soft hair and eventually he drifts off to sleep.

 

When Teddy wakes up the next morning he’s alone in his bed and he’s half convinced that he imagined the whole thing. But no, when he rolls over and presses his face to the sheets he can smell James’ cologne there.

James is quiet when Teddy finds him in the kitchen. He mumbles a sorry, his eyes downcast, shoulders slumped, and Teddy can’t bring himself to demand an explanation. Maybe he should have though because a week later James comes home drunk again. This time, he doesn’t crawl right into Teddy’s bed. Instead, he stumbles into the bedroom, banging into Teddy’s dresser and sending objects scattering across the floor.

Teddy startles awake and casts a Lumos to see just what the fuck James is doing. When his eyes adjust and finally focus on James, he’s up and out of bed before he even registers what he’s doing, because James is there, on his knees in the middle of the room, blood pouring from his mouth.

“Fuck. Jamie what the fuck happened?” Teddy’s frantic, falling to his knees in front of James and gently tilting his head to assess the damage. His bottom lip is spilt wide open and there’s a bruise starting to bloom across his cheekbone.

“Some arsehole got handsy so I punched him,” James mumbles. Teddy notices his hands are shaking and he has a feeling there’s more to the story than that but he doesn’t press. Not yet.

Teddy carefully taps his wand against James’ lip and murmurs Episkey. James is apparently very drunk as he doesn’t even flinch at the sensation of the skin stitching itself back together. Teddy aims a Tergeo at James and then at the floor where the blood has started to dry in spots across the tan carpet. With another wave of his wand the bedroom lights spring to life, causing James to swear and bury his freshly healed face in his hands.

“James look at me,” Teddy pleads but James just groans and shakes his head.

“Jamie, please,” the please works and James slowly drops his hands to his lap and looks at Teddy with glassy eyes, “C’mon up you go,” Teddy says as he stands, pulling James with him and leading him over to the bed.

“I’m fine Teddy,” James says defiantly as he pulls his knees to his chest and wraps his arms around them. He looks so lost and it makes Teddy’s chest ache.

“I’ll be the judge of that. I am the Healer after all,” Teddy says trying to lighten the tense mood that has fallen over the room. James doesn’t laugh but he also doesn’t protest when Teddy shines light from his wand into his eyes, checking for a concussion, and heals the bruising on his face.

“What happened James?” Teddy asks softly, his hand rubbing soothing circles against James’ back.

“I told you, it was just some drunk arsehole.”

“A muggle?” Teddy asks and he feels James tense beneath his hand, “Jamie?”

James blows out a breath and meets Teddy’s eyes. His lashes are wet, a constellation of tears gathered there, threatening to spill over.

“It was a wizard. I was at that new club in Diagon, Wicked Wands. He got in my face, spewing a bunch of bullshit about how disappointing it is that Harry Potter’s eldest son is such a waste of space. He said the only thing I was good for now was getting on my knees,” Anger floods Teddy’s body and it takes an immense amount of effort not to Apparate straight to the club, find the fucker and beat him bloody, “I mean he’s right,” James says with a humorless laugh, “But I still punched him in the face and then, well..” He waves a hand at himself and Teddy sees the exact moment James loses the thin thread of control he had on his emotions and the tears begin falling freely down his face.

Teddy gathers James up in his arms, pulling him closer until he’s practically sitting in Teddy’s lap. Teddy gently rocks from side to side, his hands moving over James’ back, through his hair, up and down his arms.

“Jamie you know none of that shit is true,” James laughs but it’s really more of a choked sob and Teddy tightens his grip, “It’s not true James. You’re perfect.”

James lifts his face and meets Teddy’s gaze, he’s trembling slightly and a few tears are still escaping his eyes. Teddy brushes a thumb across his flushed cheek to catch them.

“You really think that don’t you?” James asks, astonishment clear in his voice and it breaks Teddy’s heart.

“Yeah Jamie, I do,” Teddy admits quietly, unable to tear his eyes away from James, “So please stop doing this to yourself. It kills me to see you like this, I wish I could make it better.”

“You already do Teds,” James whispers, and for a moment Teddy thinks James is going to kiss him but then James turns away and falls back onto the bed, curling into himself, “Is it okay if I sleep in here tonight?”

“Of course.”

They fall asleep wrapped together under Teddy’s warm duvet and before Teddy drifts off completely he vows to make sure James knows, every single day, how special he is.

 

***

 

Over the next month, Teddy starts to notice subtle changes in James. He hasn’t been out drinking since that night he came home bloody with his spirit broken.

He’s also been doing research, which he refuses to tell anyone about but his whole face lights up as he sits with Teddy’s iMagik laptop and fills page after page of a notebook, mumbling happily to himself.

For his part, Teddy is content to just sit across from him, sip his tea, and stare at the look of absolute absorption on James’ face. Whatever it is James is up too, it agrees with him.

“Hey Jamie, I—Um,” Teddy taps his fingers against his leg nervously and clears his throat but the words get stuck.

“Yeah Teds, what’s up?”

Teddy shakes his head and sucks in a deep breath, letting it out slowly and finally lifting his eyes to meet James’ questioning gaze.

“The hospital is having their annual charity ball next weekend and I—well. If you’re not busy, I was wondering if you might, you know. Want to go with me?” Teddy can feel heat flood his cheeks and he curses himself for being such an awkward human. But the smile James unleashes on him steals his breath and makes him feel like his heart is slowly melting into a pile of goo in his chest.

“I would be honored,” James says, and maybe it should sound mocking but the look in James’ eyes shows he’s serious. Teddy exhales and returns James’ smile.

 

Later that night, Teddy paces the length of his bedroom and worries about what this means. Is it a date? Teddy doesn’t think so but maybe James does. And that thought makes his heart thud erratically in his chest. What if it is a date? Oh Merlin. He needs to talk to Al, he’ll know.

Aware that he’ll be unable to sleep until he gets this sorted, Teddy pads quietly out to the living room, the floor cold against his bare feet. He throws a pinch of powder into the Floo and calls out for Al.

A moment later, Al’s head appears in the flames, hair a mess and eyes concerned. “Teddy, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Shit I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have called so late,” Teddy says, worrying his bottom lip with his teeth.

Al exhales, relieved. “No it’s fine, I was just worried. What’s up?”

“Alright. So I asked James to go to the charity ball at St. Mungo’s with me and now I don’t know if it’s a date or if we’re just going as friends. What if he thinks it’s a date? Christ this was a terrible idea,” Teddy groans and covers his face with his hands but Al’s delighted laughter has his head snapping back up.

“You tit,” Al says fondly, “Treat it like a date.”

Teddy gapes at Al, suddenly unsure if he’s really the best source of advice on the matter. A minute later there’s a commotion through the green flames and Scorpius’ head appears beside Albus.

“Al’s right Teddy. It’s definitely a date. Just be yourself and you’ll be fine. Trust us.”

“You guys are sure?”

“Yes!” they both say and even though their faces are a bit distorted, Teddy can tell they’re amused.

“Okay. Right,” Teddy says with a nod and he knows he wouldn’t be able to contain the grin that spreads across his face if he tried, “I have a date with James.”

He’s closes the Floo connection a few minutes later, after Al and Scorpius have gotten their good natured ribbing over with and goes back to bed with a smile still on his face.

 

****

 

“Fuck!” Teddy exclaims, irritated and already hot and uncomfortable in his dress robes.

He’s wearing tailored black trousers and a black waistcoat over a lavender shirt underneath the robes, and he looks good he thinks, eyeing his reflection in the mirror. Well except for his bloody tie, which refuses to lay right no matter many times he re-ties it.

“Having a problem Ted?” James appears in the doorway to Teddy’s room and holy fuck, he looks edible. He’s went muggle, his long body clad in a grey suit that fits him like a second skin. His hair is artfully tousled and his eyes are glowing with amusement and affection and Teddy’s doomed isn’t he?

“This fucking tie hates me,” Teddy sighs and rips the offending garment from his neck.

“Here let me help.” James steps closer, they’re almost chest to chest and Teddy can feel the heat radiating from James’ body.

As James starts to fix the tie, Teddy can’t help but let his eyes roam over the cluster of freckles right below James’ left ear. He wants to press a kiss to each one, wants to worship every inch of the perfect boy in front of him, he just wants. James' fingers brush against his neck as he pulls the knot into place and Teddy can’t suppress the shiver that shoots down his spine.

“There. You’ll do,” James says stepping back to examine his work.

 

When they step out into the lobby of St. Mungo’s a few minutes later, Al and Scorpius’ words swirl in Teddy's mind.

Treat it like a date. Trust us.

So Teddy offers James his arm, which he gratefully accepts with a smile. James looks slightly nervous and it makes Teddy feel a little better. It’s not just him then.

They walk into the cafeteria, which has been magically enlarged and completely transformed into a beautiful ballroom. Fairy lights are strung across the ceiling casting a warm glow over the room where people are already mingling. Some dancing, some gathered in small groups, drinking and laughing. Teddy’s nerves settle just a bit and he appreciates James’ presence at his side as they make the rounds and each place a donation.

After what seems like no time at all, dinner is being served and they take their seats at a big round table near the stage. Albus and Scorpius make their way over a moment later and take the two empty seats beside them. The food is good and the wine is even better. James fits in easily with Teddy’s Healer friends, chatting away happily, telling jokes and stories about all the mischief they used to stir up at the Potter house during long, warm summers. Unsurprisingly, James has everyone at the table completely enamored with him.

Maybe it’s the way James smile hasn’t left his face all evening. Maybe it’s the way he leans in close to Teddy, their shoulders brushing, knees bumping together under the table. Maybe it’s the wine. Regardless, Teddy feels bolder then he ever has and he decides to go with it, laying a hand on James’ thigh beneath the table to get his attention. James nearly jumps out of his seat at the contact and looks at Teddy with a questioning smile.

“Dance with me?” Teddy asks and he honestly can’t believe himself right now. He holds his breath, expecting James to turn him down but instead James laces their fingers together and stands from the table, apologizing to Scorpius.

“My assistance is required on the dance floor,” James tells him with a blinding smile and Teddy doesn’t miss the wink Scorp sends his way.

Teddy loses track of how many songs they dance to, completely entranced with the way James’ body shifts beneath his hands.

It’s intoxicating.

Eventually they both need a break and James goes off in search of refreshments. Teddy leans against the wall watching the graceful way James moves through the crowd of people.

“I’ve barely been able to get a word in with either of you tonight,” Teddy turns his head and is surprised to see Harry leaning against the wall beside him. He’d completely forgotten that Harry and Ginny were in attendance tonight, his brain occupied with James.

“I know. You having a good time?” Teddy knows that Harry hates these types of functions, but he’s always there to support a good cause.

“Surprisingly, yeah, I am,” Harry says and before Teddy knows what’s happening, Harry has pulled him in for a hug, “I think I have you to thank for that,” Harry says quietly as he pulls back.

“What are you on about?” Teddy asks, genuinely confused. They’ve barely spoken all night, surely Teddy isn’t the one responsible for the content look of happiness on Harry’s face.

“James. He’s—“ Harry waves a hand towards the dance floor and Teddy laughs when he sees James dancing with Ginny, both their faces alight with pure joy, “I’ll admit, I was more than a little concerned when Albus told me he was moving out but then you...I don’t know what you did Ted but please keep it up. I haven’t seen him this happy since before he got hurt.”

Teddy is speechless. He knows his mouth is hanging open but he can’t seem to do anything about it.

“You know you two don’t have to hide anything from us. I’d be a fool not to see how perfect you are for each other.”

“What?! No! I mean we’re not—I haven’t—“ Teddy stutters out and then groans as Harry just laughs.

“Well you should probably get that sorted then,” Harry says with a cheeky wink and then he claps a hand to Teddy’s shoulder, “Love you Ted, take care of him for us, yeah?”

“Yeah. Love you too, Harry.”

And with that, Harry disappears back into the crowd and Teddy is left reeling.

What the fuck was that?

 

It’s after midnight when they tumble out of the Floo and into the cozy flat that has become home to Teddy these past few months. They both stand near the fireplace, an awkward silence stretching out between them. Now that they’re back in a familiar space all of Teddy’s confidence seems to have disappeared.

“Thanks for tonight. I had a great time,” James says and Teddy should just kiss him. He should just do it, close what little distance remains between them and finally taste those lips. But then all the reasons why that could potentially ruin everything comes rushing back and Teddy steps away instead.

“Yeah me too. Goodnight Jamie.”

“Goodnight,” James says with a soft sigh.

 

****

 

The next morning, Teddy is standing at the stove flipping pancakes as James sits at the table and grumbles at the Sunday crossword. Teddy hums to himself as he plates the food and levitates two cups of coffee over to the table.

Teddy walks up behind James’ chair, eyes the only unfinished clue on the crossword and sets the plate down in front of him. James tips his head back and meets Teddy’s eyes with a smile.

“Thanks Teds,” James smiles, head still tipped back, eyes still locked on Teddy.

And Teddy has no idea what happens. It’s as if something in his brain just snaps.

“You’re welcome Jamie,” he says softly and then he kisses James. A hard, full on the mouth kiss. Like it’s a perfectly natural thing to do, like it’s something he does every morning.

A second later he registers what he’s doing and jumps back, his hand flies up to his lips, still tingling with the taste of mint toothpaste and coffee and James.

What. The. Fuck.

It has to be the conversation with Harry the night before or maybe all the desire that has been building for months has finally exploded out of him in the only way it knows how. Teddy tries to come up with an excuse for his, frankly insane, behavior but he comes up with nothing.

He means to apologize, means to say I’m sorry but instead he blurts, “I love you.”

Teddy clamps his mouth shut, horrified at himself but James just smiles at him. Teddy has seen a lot of James’ smiles over the years but never has he seen James’ face light up quite the way it does now. He’s like the physical embodiment of the sun. Bright and beautiful and capable of burning Teddy to ash.

“I know you do. I’ve known for awhile now Teddy, but it’s nice to finally hear you say it,” James says quietly, his hand gripping Teddy’s on the back of the chair.

And then James is standing up and pushing Teddy back against the countertop. The edge digs into his lower back uncomfortably but Teddy doesn’t care because now James is kissing him. Those lips he’s longed to taste are covering his own, coaxing his mouth open and then James’ tongue is sliding in against his and Teddy feels like he’s flying.

“I love you too, by the way. It’s always been you Teds,” James whispers against his lips when they finally pull apart.

“Fuck. Jamie, do you have any idea how long I’ve had to fight the urge to look at you, to not touch you the way I want, to not kiss you, to not make you mine in every way possible?”

Now that Teddy’s started to touch James he can’t seem to stop. His hands roam restlessly over James’ body, as if they can’t decide where they want to touch the most.

“Show me,” James says breathlessly, “Please.”

The little bit of restraint Teddy was clinging to evaporates at James’ words and he Apparates them straight to his bedroom, their breakfast forgotten. James laughs and when their eyes meet, Teddy can’t believe he didn’t see it before. The love and affection and need he feels is there, reflected back at him and Teddy hates himself just a little bit for denying them this for so long.

Teddy brings their lips together again. Its messy and desperate, teeth catching on lips and hands gripping too hard. It’s everything Teddy thought kissing James would be. He walks them slowly towards the bed, never breaking the kiss and when James’ knees hit the edge of the mattress, Teddy pushes him down gently, immediately covering James’ body with his own.

Teddy lays nestled in the v of James’ long legs, fingers searching out warm skin beneath James’ shirt, lips pressing against his neck over and over again. After a few minutes, Teddy gets annoyed with the barrier of clothes separating them. He distractedly gropes around and finally closes his fingers around his wand that was lost in the tangle of sheets. With a flick, he vanishes their clothes and he can’t stop the whimper that escapes his throat at the feeling of James’ skin against his own. James’ body is warm and pliant beneath his and he wants to go slow, wants to savor every glorious second of this but he doesn’t know if he’ll be able to.

“What do you want?” Teddy asks, finally removing his mouth from James’ neck. He lets out a groan when he sees the purpling bruises he’s left there. Mine.

“Everything,” James says and the promise of a whole future shines in those brown eyes. The rush of emotion Teddy feels is overwhelming. He buries his face in James’ neck and tries to breathe, but his lungs don’t seem to be working properly.

“Teddy,” James says, his hands stroking over Teddy’s back, and suddenly he can breathe again, “I know.” And Teddy doesn’t have to ask because he knows too. He knows that James is right there with him.

Teddy presses a kiss to James’ shoulder and lifts his head. “I want to be inside you,” Teddy murmurs and his breath catches as James’ eyelashes flutter and he sucks that full bottom lip into his mouth.

“Fuck yes. No spells though, I want your fingers.” And oh god, James really is going to kill him.

Teddy reaches across to the bedside table, rummaging around until he finds his jar of lube. He sits back on his knees and takes a moment to look his fill. James is stretched out beneath him, hands clenched in the sheets, eyes almost black with desire. His cock is long and hard and perfect, the tip a rosy pink that’s already leaking against his flat stomach. Teddy can’t believe that he gets to have this.

He slicks two fingers and teasingly rubs them against James’ entrance. He opens James slowly, stretching him with two fingers and then three. The sounds escaping James' mouth have Teddy’s cock harder than it’s ever been, leaving a sticky trail of precome on James’s thigh.

“Fuck. Teddy, please. I’m ready.” Teddy crooks his fingers one last time, rubbing over that sweet spot deep inside James that has his back arching, before he pulls his fingers out gently.

Teddy slicks his own hard length and he can’t help himself, he bends forward and sucks James’ cock into his mouth, not stopping until the head nudges at the back of his throat. James’ body lifts almost entirely off the bed and he hands go to Teddy’s hair, pulling roughly as Teddy swallows him down, again and again.

“Unless you want me to come down your throat—fuck Teddy—you need to s-stop.” Teddy grins and pulls off with an obscene pop.

Teddy scoots forward on his knees and thumbs his cock into place. He slowly presses forward and they both moan as his cock breaches the tight ring of muscle and then there’s nothing but James. He’s tight and warm and perfect, and Teddy has to stop moving, close his eyes and just breathe.

James, impatient as always, rolls his hips and Teddy sinks in a few more inches. Teddy is light-headed with the feeling of being buried inside James’ body, the only coherent thought left in his head is, Jamie, Jamie, oh god yes Jamie. They move together, perfectly in sync. James is flawless beneath him, writhing and moaning and absolutely ruining Teddy, and he knows then that there will never be anyone else for him.

James comes first with Teddy’s name on his lips and Teddy’s fist closed around his cock, pumping in time with his thrusts. The feeling of James’ body tightening around him sends Teddy over the edge a moment later. He collapses on top of James, not caring that they’re a sticky, sweaty mess.

“Fuck. That was—“ Teddy says, trying to catch his breath.

“Yeah it was,” James says, equally breathless.

Teddy’s still half hard, still buried inside James and neither of them seem to want to break that connection. It’s intimate and overwhelming and it’s then that Teddy notices that James’ entire body is trembling.

“You okay?” Teddy asks as he brushes James’ hair back and places a soft kiss on his forehead.

“Y-yeah,” James clears his throat, “I’m more than okay Teds. Just. Please don’t move,” James tightens his arms around Teddy, and Teddy falls just a little bit more in love with him.

“I’m not going anywhere Jamie,” Teddy whispers, “Promise.”

 

****

 

Teddy doesn’t know how long they lay there, bodies still connected. It could be minutes or hours, all sense of time passing has ceased to exist. It’s just them. Teddy and James. Jamie and Teds. The way it was always meant to be.

Eventually, Teddy softens completely and slips from James’ body. Both of them wince at the unpleasant feeling. They share a shower, during which James drops to his knees, expertly sucking and licking Teddy’s cock until he’s coming down James’ throat with a choked sob. After Teddy returns the favor, they raid the kitchen cabinets and spread an array of snacks across the bed, laughing and teasing and god, nothing has ever felt as easy and as right as this does.

They talk about what bedroom they should share (James’) and what they should do with the other, soon to be unoccupied one. They talk about Teddy’s newest little patient at work, who is full of mischievous energy and keeps sneaking out of bed. They talk about James’ most recent idea for getting back at Annoying Trumpet Guy, which has Teddy laughing so hard tears leak from his eyes. And James finally tells Teddy about what he’s been up to with all his secret research.

“So yeah. Aunt Luna officially offered me a job last week. You’re looking at the new Phys Ed teacher for Bowtruckle Academy. After I get everything settled, we’ll start the Quidditch Little League program and we’re going to have all kinds of muggle sports for the kids to try too. I think it’s going to be great,” James says with a blinding smile and Teddy has never been more proud of someone in his life. It’s the perfect job for James and Teddy knows he’ll be a brilliant teacher.

As they lay there, warm skin pressed together, sharing smiles and kisses, Teddy sends a thank you out into the universe because he finally has everything he’s ever dreamed of. He has James.

James. He’s everything good in life. He’s the burn of aged firewhisky on your tongue. He’s warm hugs and lazy Sunday mornings. He’s brown eyes glowing in the light of Lumos. He’s home. And most importantly, he’s Teddy’s.