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Purgatory, Prophets, and Potions

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Kevin traveled to Grimmauld Place by Floo. Teddy told him that it was the most comfortable form of Wizarding transportation. Kevin decided that, if that were true, he wasn’t looking forward to trying the other ones.

The house itself was amazing. Where Ron and Hermione’s house could have been any modern house really, Grimmauld Place was old, with narrow hallways and high ceilings. Teddy and Nate were excited to give him the tour. The antique furniture seemed to be at odds with the two eighteen year olds who lived in the house, but Teddy explained that it was all included in the estate.

When they got to the study, Teddy proudly showed him a wall that had two photographs hanging on it. One of Teddy, whose hair was constantly changing colours while he smiled and waved at them, and one of Nate whose picture smiled as though he were humouring someone and then burst into genuine laughter, only to reset and repeat. Above the two pictures was written “The Noble House of Lupin and Friends” and someone had placed a sticky note between “Noble” and “House” that had “and Attractive” written on it in.

“We had an argument about that,” Teddy explained. “We got worried that we were being exclusionary - we could very well meet someone lovely but not conventionally attractive, and we wouldn’t want them to feel as though they weren’t welcome in the Noble House of Lupin and Friends.”

“We could take your picture,” Nate added. “Just while you’re live here – that’s why we didn’t go for a tapestry, because we figured some friends might come and go, and really Teddy might only want to keep track of his own family in the long run.”

“That’s another argument we had,” Teddy sighed. “Adopted family is still family.”

“You haven’t adopted me, Teddy,” Nate shook his head.

“Don’t tell me what I have or haven’t done,” Teddy smacked Nate’s shoulder. Then he gestured to the other wall of the study for Kevin, “Anyway, eventually it’ll look something like that.”

Kevin turned and saw the tapestry that was The Noble and Ancient House of Black, but before he could read much of any of it, Nate and Teddy were sweeping him out of the room to show him the bedrooms, so he could tell them which he would prefer. Teddy, as owner of the house, was in the master bedroom, with Nate just down the hall.

“There are larger bedrooms than mine upstairs,” Nate explained, “but I decided I wanted to be closer to the kitchen – and also sometimes Teddy and I sleep together, so it made sense to have the bedrooms close together.”

Kevin wasn’t really sure what to say to that, because despite the affection between the two friends, he had been fairly confident that Teddy was straight. So, he just said, “uh, okay,” and let Teddy drag him into a room that apparently used to belong to someone named Romulus, but more recently had been James’ room. Kevin took that one, because being more than three flights away from the kitchen seemed a little ridiculous to him too.

It wasn’t as though he had very many belongings to place in the room. He had his notes, the books and papers that had been in the portkey bag when he had escaped from the bunker, and the pajamas and second hand clothes that Harry had brought over to Ron’s for him. They were Harry’s old things, because they were similar sizes. Of course, that meant that Kevin now kind of looked like he should be picking up his kids from school somewhere. Kevin placed the small bag on the bed and shrugged at Nate and Teddy.

Teddy furrowed his brow. “Uh, I guess you don’t have much, hey?”

“I had a few things at the bunker. I can probably get Sam to send them,” Kevin said. God, his life was pathetic.

“Hey, we’re about the same size,” Nate interjected cheerfully. “You can use my clothes until you get your own. Come on, I bet I can find you a shirt that doesn’t look quite so much like... uh, well...”

“Like he’s about to take me to the Hogwart’s Express for the first time?” Teddy suggested. “To be honest, I’m starting to have flashbacks.”

Nate laughed and led the way back to his room. Kevin smiled, he already felt at home.

“Hey, can I ask you guys a question?” Kevin said. “Uh, a personal question?”

“Of course,” Teddy smiled, settling himself on Nate’s bed.

“What would you like to know?” Nate asked from the depths of his wardrobe. He pulled out a rather glittery shirt, laughed, and then thankfully tossed it back whence it had come.

“It’s just, I thought Teddy was straight.”

“I am,” Teddy smiled, picking up a glass of water from Nate’s nightstand and taking a large sip, as though it were his. Kevin looked across the bed at the other nightstand and noticed a second glass of water, and realized that the one Teddy was drinking from probably was his.

“But you guys have sex?”

Teddy spat water all over the bedspread.

“Oy!” Nate yelled, emerging from the wardrobe. Kevin jumped, worrying that he had offended him, but apparently the exclamation had been directed at Teddy. “You better clean that up, Wolfman!” Nate then turned to Kevin, and thankfully, his face softened. “We don’t have sex with each other.”

“But you said-”

“I never said-” Teddy interrupted.

“We sleep together,” Nate answered. “I said we sleep together. No sex. We both like cuddling and we’ve spent the past seven years sharing a dorm room. We got... used to it. To be honest, it’s a bit of a problem.”

“It’s not a problem,” Teddy argued.

“Maybe not for you,” Nate rolled his eyes at Teddy, then turned back to Kevin. “Teddy’s biromantic. You know what that means?”

“Yeah,” Kevin said, starting to understand.  “It means that he likes being affectionate with guys, but doesn’t want to have sex with them.”

“It means that guys take one look at Teddy and I and they start thinking we’re a couple – and even if they don’t, they end up getting jealous that someone else is meeting most of my emotional needs.” Nate sighed.  Teddy looked chastised.

“Sorry,” Kevin said, because he felt that someone should say it.

Nate shrugged. “Well, it’s my own fault, really. In any case, I think we’ve finally worked out a system for when we go out.”

Teddy smiled at that, but neither one of them elaborated.

“You should come out with us when we go to the clubs,” Teddy suggested. “I can make some polyjuice and you can go as me.”

“What?” Kevin asked.

Teddy and Nate both smiled. Kevin wasn’t sure if he was excited or anxious about the look of delight in their eyes.

*

They had a month to wait until the potion would be complete. Teddy had it slowly brewing in the attic, which he had converted into an odd little workroom that kind of creeped Kevin out a bit. They could have gone out on the town without it, but they made the mistake of asking permission first. Harry didn’t want Kevin going anywhere unnecessarily, and since Kevin didn’t really have any place to be, that meant that now, instead of the Bunker or Hermione’s house, Kevin was now stuck at Number 12 Grimmauld Place.

Thankfully, Kevin was allowed out in the backyard, and, most importantly, the garden shed, which, although small, was insulated and had a precious internet connection. Teddy gave Kevin permission to do whatever he liked with the computer and to just tell him whether he needed Teddy to buy anything new... which meant that Kevin had the fun task of completely overhauling Teddy and Nate’s computer system to be state of the art, both in terms speed and security.

Kevin was thrilled with the project, and he honestly didn’t mind being confined to the house – because it meant that, most of the time, he could ignore the fact that it was getting closer and closer to Christmas.

He couldn’t ignore it forever, however.  Nate was making plans to travel home for a bit and whenever Teddy wasn’t working at Ron’s shop, he was cleaning another one of the bedrooms, or hanging decorations, or washing drapes.

“Does he really need to wash the drapes?” Kevin wondered aloud as Teddy walked by him and Nate with his arms full of material.

“This is the first Christmas in Grimmauld Place since Teddy took ownership,” Nate sighed. “He just wants it to go well.”

Later, after Teddy had not only finished with the drapes, but had also gone out and bought an entire grocery store’s worth of food, he explained everything to Kevin.

It was, apparently, tradition for the Potter-Weasley-Lupin-Tonks family to have a party at Grimmauld Place on Christmas eve. Teddy’s Grandmother and Harry’s family were both planning to spend the night, and then wake up and have Christmas morning together. Teddy did mention that when he was very young, he’d just have Christmas with his grandmother. The joint-Christmas was really only a tradition of the past seven years or so, when Harry’s kids had reached an age where they didn’t understand why Teddy didn’t live with them.

“I usually have supper with them nearly four times a week,” Teddy explained while Kevin helped him put away the groceries. “But, I suppose that’s what led to the confusion in the long run. They didn’t understand why I was there sometimes and not others. It’s nice to have more family around on Christmas though, so I don’t mind. Not that I didn’t like the quieter Christmases with Gran, but I still kind of get that on Boxing Day morning.”

Kevin nodded, reaching to another one of the grocery bags for something else to put away. For Kevin, Christmas had always just been him and his mother. He tried to imagine what it might have been like with younger siblings, or more than one parent, or... just other people, but he couldn’t. Even the previous year, on Garth’s House boat, it had still just been the two of them. His mother had even gone out and bought a little fake plastic tree and some presents. Kevin couldn’t get her anything – firstly, because he had no money, and secondly, because he couldn’t leave the boat for fear of angels or demons finding him. She had told him that having him as her son was gift enough. And then only a few months later, Kevin had sent her away, because she was too distracting.

“Kevin?” Teddy voice caused Kevin to blink himself back to the present and realize that he was just standing there holding a bag of apples.

“You want these in the fridge?” Kevin asked.

“Yeah, that’d be great,” Teddy said. “Are you alright?”

“Maybe I should just stay out in the shed,” Kevin said by way of answer. “Out of the way, you know?”

 “What? No,” Teddy said, pausing in what he was doing mid-task to focus solely on Kevin.  “I mean...  I know you’ve only been here a short time, but you’re a member of the Noble and Attractive House of Lupin and Friends now and... that means that you’re welcome to all family gatherings, just like Nate.”

“Nate’s going home to his family,” Kevin shrugged.

“Well, I’m not going to keep anyone here against their will,” Teddy argued, and then seemed to deflate. “If you want to hide out in the shed all Christmas, I won’t stop you – but don’t do it because you think you’re in the way.  You aren’t in the way. Christmas is a more-the-merrier situation. And I thought it’d be fun to have someone older than eleven, but younger than thirty to spend time with... but, it’s not like I’m not used to it, so...” Teddy trailed off, looking down rather sadly at the bag of nuts in his hand as though they had somehow let him down.

Kevin looked down at the bag of apples that he himself was still holding and felt bad for ruining Teddy’s mood. He just wasn’t sure if he could handle a family Christmas after losing his mother and, effectively, losing Sam and Dean too.

Nate chose that moment to saunter into the kitchen, a bag slung over his back. He paused in the doorway when Kevin and Teddy both looked up and over at him.

“Are you two planning to make a sad apple crumble?” Nate asked.

“What?” Kevin and Teddy both said at the same time.

Nate shrugged. “I’ve never seen anyone look that distressed about apples and nuts before. I thought maybe you were doing an experiment – cooking with sadness, not love.”

Teddy and Kevin both looked back at the ingredients they were holding and started to laugh.

“Did I just ruin it?” Nate asked, eyes-wide. “I just ruined it, didn’t I!”

Teddy just shook his head. Kevin turned to put the apples in the fridge.

 “You’re off then?” Kevin heard Teddy say while his back was turned.

“I am.”

“Come ‘ere then.”

Kevin turned back around to find Teddy hugging Nate so hard that Nate was wincing – or perhaps the wince came from Nate squeezing Teddy back with equal vigor.

“Happy Christmas, Puppy,” Nate said softly.

“Happy Christmas, Kitten,” Teddy answered.

Kevin really didn’t blame himself for getting confused about their relationship. Because, honestly – it was a little ridiculous. Teddy’s hair was getting black stripes in it to match Nate’s hair colour, only the tips were going pink.

“Okay, that’s enough,” Nate declared. Then he winked at Kevin and said, “I still need to hug the repressed American before I leave.”

“Oh, right.” Teddy let Nate go, and Nate walked over to Kevin and pulled him into a quick one-armed hug. “Happy Christmas, Kevin.”

“Uh, Merry Christmas to you too,” Kevin said. “Have a good trip home.”

“Thanks,” Nate smiled.

“Where is home, anyway? I don’t think you’ve said where you’re going – is it far?” Kevin asked.

“Oh no,” Teddy muttered. Nate, however, just smiled.

“llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.”

“...What?”

“It’s in Wales,” Teddy rolled his eyes. “I’ll show you on a map later. Right now, this Welsh bastard has a fireplace to jump into.”

“I’ll be back after New Years,” Nate reminded them, as he walked over to the large fireplace. “The polyjuice will be ready by then, and we can have a proper Welcome to London night out, yeah?”

Kevin nodded. The thought of the potion bubbling upstairs and a night out on the town with the two teenagers kind of terrified him, truth be told. But, he knew part of that was just because he had grown far too accustomed to being trapped behind wards. Safe, but ultimately miserable.

“Wait,” Kevin said, as Nate’s earlier words caught up with him. “Aren’t the British supposed to be more repressed than Americans?”

Nate and Teddy just laughed. “Not us, mate.”

*

Christmas wasn’t as bad as Kevin had been picturing. The family party on Christmas Eve was really too chaotic to allow time for Kevin to feel melancholy about his own life. The Potter-Weasley extended family members also all seemed to be well trained in avoiding certain conversation topics – namely, they never asked Kevin anything about himself or his life before he came to England. They asked how he was settling in and what he was most excited to see in London, once Harry gave him permission to leave the house, but that was really it. Mostly, everyone seemed to delight in teaching Kevin about the Wizarding World, and regaling him with stories of bank vault robberies and dragons. Well, the dragon stories were mostly from Charlie Weasley, who was visiting from Romania.

Teddy, for all his talk of wanting to have someone older than 11 to talk to, seemed delighted to sit and listen to James tell Kevin all about his first term at Hogwarts, from the sorting ceremony to a description of all his classes and professors. He was proud to have been sorted into the Gryffindor house like his father and thrilled to have “Uncle Neville” as his head of house.

Kevin also met Victoire, who Nate had insisted was Teddy’s cousin, even though it pissed Teddy off when he did so. Kevin started to see why when he saw Teddy and her in the same room together – Teddy seemed to have a bit of a crush. The two had clearly been friends for a long time, and Victoire was gorgeous – almost unnaturally so. Her mother and siblings were the same.

Christmas morning was a far more intimate family affair – and it was only then that Kevin started to really feel the loss and grief for his mother. Kevin, of course, hadn’t been able to buy gifts for anyone, but Harry and Teddy both gave him small gifts, mostly clothes and other practical things to replace the items he had lost over the course of the past year – through his various kidnappings and forced relocations. There was also a gift under the tree from George Weasley, who gave Kevin something called a “Hogwarts Starter Kit.” There was a note inside that explained each of the items and how to use them.

In the lull between opening gifts and making supper, Kevin slipped upstairs to the study and left Teddy and his family to spend time with just each other. He appreciated the gifts and he appreciated their attempts to make sure that he felt included, but the fact remained that he didn’t really belong there.

He pulled a random book off the shelf and sat on the reading bench by the window. The friendly chatter from downstairs soon faded away as he became immersed in reading. A good half hour passed before someone found him.

“Have you gotten to the story of the three brothers yet?” Teddy asked from the doorway.

Kevin shook his head.

“It’s a good one,” Teddy offered, as he wandered into the room and sat down across from Kevin. “Is everything alright?”

“Yeah,” Kevin nodded. “It just... got to be a bit too much, I guess. Usually Christmas is just me and my mom.”

Teddy nodded. “How long has it been since...”

“I don’t know,” Kevin said, honestly. “I... last saw her in January, I guess, and... and then it was April when Crowley told me that he had killed her, but then he said later that he hadn’t killed her then, so I don’t actually know when she died.”

“I’m sorry,” Teddy said. “I shouldn’t have asked.”

“It’s okay, it’s just... it’s been a long year,” Kevin replied. “Part of me just wishes I knew the truth, but then... I don’t really want to know, right? I mean – is it any better? Knowing exactly what happened?”

Teddy shrugged. “I know my parents died in the Battle at Hogwarts – but I don’t know where or how exactly it happened. When I went to school there – sometimes I’d find myself walking down a corridor and thinking I could have been walking past right where it happened, you know? I could be standing on the same spot that my father last stood, or going through the last doorway that my mother went through. I don’t know if there’s such thing as better when it comes to dead parents, just different.”

“I know Crowley tortured her to death,” Kevin said. “That’s what Dean said – that even if... even if she was still alive when Crowley told me she was dead, too much time had passed for her to have survived.”

Teddy gave Kevin a sympathetic look and they lapsed into a momentary silence.

Someone cleared their throat in the doorway. Both Teddy and Kevin jumped.

“Sorry,” Harry said softly. “I really didn’t mean to sneak up on you, but... I couldn’t help overhearing.”

Across from him, Teddy narrowed his eyes at Harry, which made Kevin immediately doubt Harry was being truthful about that last part.

“How much did your mother know about demons?” Harry asked.

Kevin shrugged. “Everything – I taught her everything I knew.”

Harry nodded with a considering frown.

“Why?”

“Nothing,” Harry shook his head. “It’s just that I’m sure she was really proud of you.”

Kevin nodded.

“I just came up to tell you that we’ll be eating in about five minutes,” Harry said by way of a topic change.

Kevin nodded again, closing the book he still had open on his lap.

“You can take that one to your room for later, if you like,” Teddy offered. “You haven’t reached the good bit yet.”

“Thanks,” Kevin replied, though, Teddy had already told him that he could help himself to any book in the library he wanted – and he often did. When Teddy didn’t make any move to stand, and Harry was still leaning in the doorway, Kevin got the hint.

“I’ll go drop it off and wash-up a bit before dinner,” Kevin said a little awkwardly, and left Teddy and Harry alone in the room to have whatever private discussion they needed to have.

Before he was out of earshot, all he heard was Teddy say, “You’re such a liar, Harry.”

*

“It was the truth until I got to the top of the stairs,” Harry replied.

Teddy rolled his eyes. There were things about Harry that just never changed and one of the more annoying ones was his constant need to poke his nose into other people’s business. They had many a fight when Teddy was younger about Harry ‘accidentally’ overhearing Teddy’s private conversations.

“That’s not the lie I was talking about,” Teddy raised an eyebrow. “But good to know that you’re becoming self-aware.”

“That wasn’t a lie either,” Harry replied, and of course he knew exactly what Teddy was talking about. Teddy wanted to roll his eyes again, but he settled for a small glare. “I’m sure she was very proud of him.” Harry paused for a moment, looking out into the hall where Kevin had disappeared, before turning back to Teddy. “I just think there’s a possibility that she still is.”

“You think...” Teddy said slowly. Was Harry really thinking what he seemed to be thinking?

“It’s just – what Dean said, about too much time having passed to save her – Sam once said the same thing about Kevin.”